I've been quiet on here for awhile for a variety of reasons, but truthfully the biggest reason of all is the bout of anxiety and depression I've been wrestling with the last few months.
We recently shared our wonderful, exciting news that we have a blessing on the way, due in January. In my wildest dreams, I wasn't sure what the journey of growing our family would look like - or if it would even be possible. I'm grateful we are in this position and that God has trusted us to love, support, raise (and grow) a child. I knew pregnancy would be difficult. We've had the blessing of many friends be in this season with and before us. Approaching parenthood - whether via pregnancy, adoption, fostering, or any other way, is not for the faint of heart. I'm truly humbled in that. But - I do believe it's something any of us can do - just know it will challenge, change, and grow you.
We're barely into this journey and it's a hard lesson I've had to learn so far. It's no secret that anxiety is my biggest struggle. I don't know why it is and I don't think it's worth my time trying to figure out. What is worth my time is discerning and learning how to move forward. Prior to learning that we were expecting, I had a few scenarios earlier in the year that brought up the most anxious feelings I've had in years. And honestly - those days were debilitating. For those of you who don't walk through this journey let me try to put it in perspective: those days, my body was in a constant fight or flight mode. I couldn't eat, sleep, or live normally for days. It's one of the toughest things I've had to walk through. The desperation you feel in those moments is unreal - and at times it feels more difficult (for me, personally) because this is such an internal struggle. By the grace of God, those days passed and I felt more like myself.
These situations led up and even were a part of the time we decided to try and grow our family. I knew anxiety would likely creep in during the journey and especially if we got pregnant. I talked with my PCP for several months and set up a plan of action to try and mitigate some of the anxious feelings and everything was going well.
One thing I was not prepared for was the surge of sadness and depression I would feel early on in pregnancy. I haven't quite figured out where and why these anxious and depressive feelings have come from, but I do feel fairly confident the majority of it has stemmed from the surge of hormones a woman goes through - especially the first trimester. Unfortunately, most of the days during the first 12 weeks I struggled to feel like me: joyful, excited, lighthearted, wanting to go and do the things I love and spend time with people I care about. Some days were met with extreme emotions where I struggled to get up, be productive, or just get through my day.
At my first OB appointment, I knew I had to speak up and figure something out. The current medication I was taking was not doing the trick and I wanted to FULLY be able to enjoy this journey, while also feeling like me. Let me be clear here: during this process, I have praised and prayed for our little one. Regardless of what happens on this journey, I will forever be grateful to carry our nugget. But again - for those who don't walk through this struggle, it can be extremely difficult to feel positive, like yourself, etc. when the weight of the world is bearing down on you. The best way I've been able to describe how I feel is when you go through the worst break up or loss of a loved one and life just seems to halt. Living as your normal self seems impossible. That's been my journey on numerous days, without any real reason to feel that way (hence the hormones being the biggest culprit here).
My doctor switched medicines and the process of me actually beginning to take them was rough. On the one hand, I KNEW I needed to do something. On the other, I didn't want to do anything to risk harming our nugget. God gave me full peace to proceed and reminded me to trust my doctor - and Him.
It look several weeks to fully adjust and feel more like myself. Medicine for anxiety and depression takes time. Before hitting the second trimester, I was told the hormones will level out soon and in the mean time I kept reminding myself that I can do hard things and God will carry me through. Now, about 2 months in, I truly feel like a new person. I'm still working through some things, and those things I choose to keep private at this time as I don't personally feel ready to open up in that regard yet. (learning a lot that there is wisdom in being vulnerable and sharing your story to help others while still guarding your heart on things you're still walking through).
A lot of things I've learned the last few months:
1. It's okay to take a step back. Feeling as I have, I have not been at my normal capacity to go an do. A big part of that is because the fatigue is REAL. I already go to bed early, but in the first trimester, 8 or 8:30pm was all I could do. In this season, I let close friends and family know where I'm at so they don't feel abandoned and asked for grace where I just honestly haven't been capable. If I haven't personally reached out - please don't be offended, just know I do care, I still think and pray for you daily - I'm just at a max capacity right now.
I don't think it's any mistake that season 2 of my podcast has been delayed due to the fact that I ordered my computer 2 months ago and it finally arrived about a week ago.
Even further - I live to serve. Helping others is my mantra/fave thing/what I live for (at times to an unhealthy extent) and right now, a lot of that has taken a step back. It's hard to do so, but I can't give what I don't have. I'm in a season where I need more love, support and prayer - which is teaching me to lean into others more than I'm used to/am usually comfortable with.
2. With that, It's okay to ask for help. My close friends and family know where I'm at. I am so thankful to have my people in my corner praying for me and checking on me frequently. Even further - I've started counseling. Something I've dabbled in before but never fully took the plunge until I found myself listening to a sermon on the way home from work one day, balling my eyes out because I just couldn't stand feeling this way. I wish counseling/therapy was not set up the way it is in our country (i.e. costs, how insurance will label you if you go that route, etc), but I'm thankful to be here. Even if it means cutting out coffee runs, CFA visits and buying a new shirt. I've learned that this investment now will help me so much down the road - especially in being an example and mom to our kids.
3. Finally, I know I'll be okay. I may struggle with anxiety/depression the rest of my life, or I may not. But In my heart of hearts, I don't believe I will feel THIS way forever. Again, I chalk a lot of these days up to hormones, but even if it's not the case, I believe God will carry me through this. As my counselor said, "you've walked through some of the hardest days and came out on the other side, and you'll continue to do so. Even if you're not 100%, celebrate the progress you've made. Give yourself grace if you're not always 100%." I've begged, prayed and fought hard for this season to end - and I believe the direction God has lead me to reach that end is seeking additional help. I believe in the power of prayer, His healing and His help, but I also believe it often comes in the forms of taking extra steps when needed. Like many issues our country and world faces, we often have to go do something about it.
I want to wrap up with this: I know this post is deep. I know it's heavy. My intention in sharing this isn't to receive pity or make it appear that I'm ungrateful to be growing our family - especially when I know that's a huge battle for so many, but I wanted to share to show that while on the outside things may seem peachy keen, It's been a real battle for me. Not all battles are visible. I covet and welcome prayer and encouragement from anyone who's willing, But for those who are walking in this too: you're not alone. Whether you're pregnant or not, there are so many out there who are walking this journey. Please talk to me or someone. Seek help. It doesn't have to be this way. I'm fortunate the depression isn't at the very worst it could be - but I also want to take steps from getting to that point. Perinatal depression is more common than people realize - don't hesitate to seek help if this is you too.