Archive | June 2012

Part 2: Down To the Bottom and Up Again

Three years ago when I started writing this blog, it was a little…cutesy. I mean it was always real, but I bet after reading it you probably thought I had a pretty swell life.

A few months later, based on a series of events you can read about here, Todd and I went through something really terrifying. Basically, Sam was three months old and exhibiting early signs of autism. We had to go through a battery of tests and clinics and prayers and tears. It ended well … Now you would never in a million years guess that Sam was evaluated for such issues. But the point was, for a while I wanted to stop blogging. I was embarrassed. I didn’t know what to say. It wasn’t going the way I had planned. Eventually I decided that, awkward or not, I still had something worthwhile to say, so I would keep writing.

I kind of feel the same way now. Part of me is uneasy to articulate what has happened in my life the past few months, but another part of me knows that what I have learned might be helpful to others.

In a nutshell, my anxiety finally got the best of me. Come to think of it, that’s literally what happened. Anxiety took all the best of me – those gifts that make me perfectly Jessica, the moments I’ve been blessed with to enjoy – and stole them.
It’s hard to make you understand, because anxiety is kind of Miss Congeniality of the sins. I have liked to think so anyways; you know – amusing, endearing, productive, etc. And I guess it can be those things…you know, when I’m scrubbing down the grocery cart with Lysol wipes, excitedly tracking the latest storm, things like that. Those are endearing, right? Oh, those are psycho too?? Well forget it then.)

But back to my point.

The thing is, worry is sin. It’s not a common cold in a world of cancer. It’s not a plastic squirt gun in an arsenal. It is the demon of sin itself, “and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

I keep picturing the language of C.S. Lewis. I think it is The Screwtape Letters book where he talks about a “pet sin” someone keeps perched on his shoulder (maybe not the right language, but you know what I mean). The guy is attached to it. It’s not that harmful, he likes it, he keeps it alive and close. For the longest time, I have been like that with anxiety.

And then it grew up. I think I’m going to blame it on motherhood, and you will all nod and sympathize. The lack of sleep. The crazy hormones. The truly terrifying reality that you love something so fragile. It all became too much.

And then I realized another thing God was right about… our health. Go figure, he who made the body knows what harms it. A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. I’ll tell you what it means for me. At the height of my anxiety, I went to see my doctor. I came for sinusitus, fatigue, “jitteryness,” headaches, weight loss, and honestly there were probably a few more random things I can’t even remember now. The very wise doctor gave me (instead of the panels and referals and screenings I expected) a prescription for generalized anxiety medicine. I still remember his words: “You know, when you start feeling better, you start feeling better.” I was disbelieving. But since then, I have realized that it’s not that my anxiety made me imagine my symptoms. No; they were real, because it created them.

Crazy as it sounds, it has been extremely therapeutic and freeing to think of myself as an alcoholic. I need help, beyond myself. At first I read the twelve steps of alcoholics anonymous a few times a day. I would take my deep breaths and soak in the truths and picture all the millions of drunks turned sober. If they can change, then I can, too.

I know it sounds like I am being overly dramatic, which, to be fair, is often the case. Maybe I am. All I know is, I was down and now I am up. I feel really grateful for the things that have helped. In the next post or two, I’m going to share some things that have been actually, clinically, helpful in treating anxiety for me.

In the meantime, here are the practical applications of this part of the story (because I’m a teacher, that’s what we do at the end 🙂

– If you are someone who struggles with “recreational” worry, beware. If I could go back again, I would take my worry habits a lot more seriously, a lot earlier.
Everyone has something. This is something my kind husband often reminded me of when I felt like the world’s biggest most secret failure. Everyone has something they deal with.
This too shall pass. God is so gracious, that for those who struggle with much, much worse than I do -there is light, and hope, and laughter, and joy comes in the morning.

I’m sorry for such a serious post here! I promise there are cute kid quotes coming again soon. In fact, I will leave you with this one, so we leave on a lighter note. 🙂 But stay tuned for Part 3! 🙂

{cute kid quote} :

Sam: Mommy, you’re beautiful.

me: Awww, thanks, Sam!
(pause) Sam, what does that mean?

Sam: It means you’re nice!

{Sigh. Good enough I guess :}

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Part I: God Loves Mommy Ducks

I am such a little kid at heart. Actually, being quite honest in many ways I’m not. I get annoyed by messes, prefer being clothed, hate apple juice, and, oh, I like to nap. But I feel like vacation brings out the fun side of Jessica. Once I smell the salt, I have a one-track mind until my feet are squishing the sand. And, every single animal sighting brings me to squeals. You would never believe all the animals we saw on our recent trip to Myrtle Beach. I will spare you the list, but – get this – A REAL 11 FOOT LONG ALLIGATOR!!!!! My husband is going to interrupt me at this point and offer a more reasonable dimension. Ignore him. It was huge. And it was looking. right. at us. Yes, I was the one jumping up and down, craning to take pictures like I have lived in Hong Kong my whole life.

Then there were your token sand crabs (but big ones with pokey eyes), skinny lizards, jumping fish, and such. And, as mentioned, the Mommy Duck. We had a kind of affinity, the mommy duck and me. She looked so pathetically pre-occupied with those ducklings. Honestly her heart looked like it was going to pound out of her chest. (And let’s be honest, she lived smack dab in the middle of a submarine splash park, so I kind of understand the apprehension.) We tried to give the ducks all crackers, and she wouldn’t even eat any of them because she was petrified something was going to happen to the ducklings. Now things aren’t so dire here that I would ever turn down a free cracker. So don’t worry. But I do feel her pain.

To explain, I need to tell you a little about our life right now. Did you ever play “Jenga” as a kid? I sort of feel like my life is like Jenga. I keep pulling out logs, waiting for the pile to crash. It is like that parenting in general, you know. The first time they handed me Sam, I thought, “Seriously? I am in charge of this?? Are you going to give me a class first or something?” And when your child has a life-threatening allergy, the perilous and fragile nature of parenting always looms a little more ominously in the background.

We’ve had two really awful medical events back to back. And I am positive these are harder for us than him, being as we are the ones in control. Not really, of course, but sort of. I fish out the peanut shells in the sand where he’s playing (most of the them?). I call the company to find out if the hot dogs are safe (enough?). I wash off the table (mostly?) before we eat at the pool. I manuever Sam around the kids with the cheeze-its. I recall what I’ve eaten before I kiss him goodnight. I always remember the epi pen. I diagnose cough as cold or asthma. I prepare, I watch, I monitor. And – I Am Tired. Really tired. It is too much. I’ll miss something. I am not smart enough. I can’t hold it all together. I’m not able to do this job.

On top of that, I feel guilty. When I think of what God thinks of me – even though a million people tell me otherwise – I feel ashamed. I know in my heart of hearts, I don’t trust Him. I know in my heart of hearts, I’m frustrated and demanding and self-centered when I should be grateful.

Exhausted, and guilty. Not a real fun place to live.

Well, I have to tell you this. A long time ago when I was only weeks into being a mom, a friend of mine shared a verse with me. For us, she said. Us moms.

Isaiah 40:11
He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.

Did you catch the last line? He leads the mommies gently. I have loved that verse ever since.

With the tired, he is gentle.
With the worried, he is gentle.
With the guilty, he is gentle.
With the frightened, he is gentle.
With the little ones over which we worry, he is gentle.

And this is the great and wonderful present of Christianity that I love everytime: that he does not treat us as our sins deserve, but He leads us gently to rest.

introducing…

Hi. The last few months have been pretty busy around here! Sam and Ty had birthdays, Cappy and Nanna took us to the “awesome ocean,” we’ve relished a few emergency room visits, I purchased an awesome new bathing suit (online, nonetheless!), we joined a meat co-op, I flew on a plane for the first time post-children for a beautiful wedding in Michigan, we planted a garden (Okay, Todd planted a garden. I actually hate dirt..love flowers; hate dirt. I know…you thought I was more Pioneer Woman than that. I get that all the time.)

but back to the updates.. we got the stomach flu, the nieghborhood pool opened, I’m getting a niece (!!!), and let’s see…Oh, I’m getting a niece!!!

Well, usually when I’m behind in blogging I just do a nice long welcome-back post to catch up on all the ways I’ve gotten smartter each day in my absence. Believe it or not, in this pause I have actually gotten so smartt that not one update will do. Folks, I have so many stories to impart that I have taken on the endeavor to begin an eight-part series (doesn’t that sound sooo official??? I’m a real blogger! I just said “series”!!!)

You can look for Part I to run shortly. It has the sensational title of “The Duck That I Saw on Vacation.” Trust me, folks, this is just as fascinating as it sounds. Dare I say, even more?? See you then!