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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9 thoughts on “Part 2: Down To the Bottom and Up Again

  1. Pingback: Guest Post: 5 Tips on Facing and Overcoming Anxiety as a Mom | Modern Alternative Mama

  2. Pingback: Hope for the Christian Mother with Postpartum Depression

  3. Thank you for this post!!! I too suffer from severe anxiety. I just started taking medicine because it was leading to stomach issues like heartburn, diarreah, etc. Tests checked out ok, so the dr prescribed anxiety meds. I was so ashamed!! I didn’t realized how many this affected. Thank you for your honesty and the courage you gave me to start redirecting my thoughts. Pray for me, please and I certainly will for you!! 🙂

    • Emily, thank you for sharing! I too have been surprised/relieved at how many people suffer from anxiety. The first month on the medication was a little rocky for me, which I didn’t anticipate. I don’t know what stage you’re at, but I’d be happy to chat with you via email if I can help at all. And I will pray for you! 🙂 jessicasmartt (at) gmail.com

  4. Pingback: Guest Post: 5 Tips on Facing and Overcoming Anxiety as a Mom - Modern Alternative Mama

  5. Pingback: 5 Tips on Facing and Overcoming Anxiety as a Mom - Modern Alternative HealthModern Alternative Health

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