Who am I? If you had asked me that question four years ago, the answer would have been something along the lines of: “I am a chiropractor, wife, and dog Mom. I am fiercely independent. I am an Auntie, a sister, and a daughter.”
Enter trauma: health concerns take me away from my career and patients; isolation; wildfire nearly takes out our neighborhood and we are evacuated for 5 days; isolation; we sell our home and move 1400 miles away to a new state; isolation; I get back to work, but we are surprised by a miracle pregnancy and so I step back; isolation; we purchase a home in our new location and move in when I am about 4 months pregnant; isolation; winter comes early and I am increasingly unwell through the last part of pregnancy; isolation; Olivia comes earthside and I am hospitalized for severe postpartum preeclampsia at 4 days postpartum having to leave her; isolation; I have severe postpartum depression, anxiety, and OCD but try to hide it by never leaving home; isolation; I am convinced everything will kill Olivia; isolation; my brain is so sick, my mind gives up on living and after a suicide near-miss, I put myself into a psychiatric inpatient unit; isolation. We come home from the hospital to a shut down nation; should have resulted in isolation, but instead birthed creative meet-ups; we sell our home and move into an apartment awaiting new construction; we are intentional about getting out of the apartment; I have major surgery over summer that inhibits my ability to get out and about; I ask friends to come visit me; I really, really struggle and backslide a bit with Olivia’s first birthday; my family is here visiting and everybody rallies around me in support that I actually accept; my husband, daughter, and I all have covid; forced isolation, but with each other, and so we both got to witness Olivia’s first steps; Gabe begins a new job requiring him to be gone a lot; I struggle, but keep showing up to my weekly get-togethers; we suddenly lose somebody so important to us; grief does not drive me down into a hole and I seek out conversation and prayer; hospitalization anniversary is a bit triggering; I just reach out more; we move into our new home; people show up to help and support us, and God placed us in a wonderful neighborhood with amazing people…
There is plenty more throughout that time, especially with Olivia constantly being ill, tons of visitors (not all things that increase stress are negative!), Gabe’s new position not being what we thought, losing friends and family to covid, and so on. But the biggest difference was in the response. Prior to my inpatient stay, Zulresso infusion, proper medication and therapy, I always withdrew. After all, I am “fiercely independent” so I should be able to handle anything. I always turned to isolation, because truthfully, it was a very comfortable place for me. I enjoy my alone time. I always have, and I likely always will. However, there is a point where it strays from being a positive time to re-charge and re-connect to a dangerous place to drown in. And I was drowning. I would have this continuous stream of tears running down my face as I cried out to God, dug into my Bible, watched sermons, sang worship, did all the things begging for deliverance from the darkness. The hopelessness was all-consuming. And not letting people in only worsened that because I never let anybody know what was going on in my mind until it was almost too late. Truthfully, I didn’t feel worthy of saving. I didn’t feel like I needed to “burden others with my issues” because I was already such a hassle to “put up with”. And the enemy grabbed on to those areas and put in more lies to fester. There only seemed to be one solution.
You know my treatment story, and the miracles that occurred surrounding getting there, having a bed available, receiving the infusion, the amazing turnaround, and making it home before the country shut down. Miracles on miracles. And it was throughout that small snippet of this story that I remembered that we are not made to do life alone. That was never God’s design. He knew we would need each other, which is why it is written about (Hebrews 10:24-25, Romans 12:4-5). Some of the simplest solutions are found in God’s word. I was just too broken and sick to fully understand, and even more so, to act on what His word says. But as you can see above, I was very intentional about not letting isolation be a “coping” mechanism going forward. Alone time to rest and “be still” is very different, I think. The motivation is different. That being said, mental illness is absolutely a continual battle. You can’t think your way out of a heart attack any different than severe depression. I am grateful for God’s vessels here on earth, extensions of His healing hands, that allow for treatment. Supernatural healing would be amazing, of course! Can God do it? Absolutely! But that is not what my path has looked like. And you know what? I am a much better human and daughter of the King because of it.
If you were to ask me now who I am, I can firmly tell you that I am a worthy daughter of God, a Mama to the biggest blessing I didn’t know I needed, a wife to the most ridiculously loving and supportive husband ever, a cherished daughter, a great sister, an incredibly lucky Auntie, still a dog Mom (can’t forget the pups!), and a maternal mental health advocate. I am a much more compassionate, loving, grace-giving, empathetic human being than I previously was. I have a heart for Mamas and want to support others. I have a stubborn spirit, it seems; but I like to think of it as that of a warrior!!
I started writing this post with a completely different intent. Isn’t it amazing when God just speaks? I had no thoughts regarding isolation whatsoever until I opened up this document and began typing. He continues to amaze me. So Mama, is there anything you are running from right now? Are there any areas where you are maybe isolating when you should be reaching out? I can promise you that people will show up for you if you just let them know you are struggling. You are a blessed daughter of God and He desires for you a life of love and joy as you shine His light in this world. You are amazing, wonderful, worthy, and needed! My inbox is always open.
“Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.”
-Psalm 73:23-28, NLT