Wow, where to begin. I have wrestled so many times in how exactly to share my journey and story of my postpartum Emery self. For so long I would sit down to write and things would just not come out because it would just seem so sad and dark and depressing and not to mention my mind was just swirling around with so much and with the fog of confusion over me, it was hard to even compile anything that sounded very coherent. So I stopped writing and blogging. I stopped all creative outlets...trying to dabble in some here and there when I could, but often I felt numb and incapable. I lost so much confidence in myself and part of me died a little and went into hiding. I went into survival mode. It hurt and I never thought I would be the same person and in one sense I was right, I am not the same person but now I would say I am stronger for it & an even wiser version of my best self.
See wiser woman example pic below. Duck face selfie and all ;) Making me feel very vulnerable because selfies are scary, just ask Brene Brown. Anyways...
Now I can claim to be a fighter, a warrior of postpartum anxiety/depression, a truth and light seeker, who pushed through so much sludge to be here today. Now, that's not to say I had a terrible life but physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally it was the hardest time in my life and I've never had to rely so much on God to pull me through.
The least I could do was hold on to faith and the promises I knew to be true. To put the gospel I had learned all my life into practice and experiment on the word. Even if it was just holding onto ONE thread of hope that day, I kept holding on and fought so hard to push to the light that I knew was right around the corner if I just kept hanging in there.
Newborn Photos by Art By Ashley, Greensboro, NC.
At times, I felt because I was trying so hard to do good worthwhile things, like fighting to be the best mom for my kids and best wife and support for my husband, the adversary was trying to break me into believing it wasn't worth it for me to fight for those things BUT because those things were SO hard to do, it made me think that I actually was doing something right because why then would Satan push so hard? Why then would he send in his storms and whirlwinds to rain against me if I was fighting for the harder right than the easier wrong? If I was following him he would simply back down and not at all impede my upward journey. Satan delights in nothing but tragedies for families while God wants nothing for our families but to be happy, have joy and love! God, in the midst of this storm was there the whole time watching over me even when it felt that my prayers were only hitting the ceiling, He was there with outstretched arms continually beckoning me to grow and step closer to the light.
Now that I'm on this side of the tunnel and more fully in the light again like I never imagined would happen but knew was possible...I've gained so much. I lost so much too and mourned for the happiness I could have felt and should have felt postpartum with a sweet adorable baby but now I see so much more and my bond with Emery is stronger than ever before because of how hard I have had to push through that wall. I've become better at (and still very much working on daily) replacing my negative, limiting, self doubting thoughts that so consumed me, with truth and light because, frankly, I was just so dang tired and exhausted by living in this deep low place of a muddled state of mind that I never imagine I'd be in.
I knew how to get happiness I just had to put it into action and start acting like I owned it already, because in truth I really already did and it was all right there in front of me, I just had to pull myself higher and live a different way. Changing my habits and daily rituals, aligning my behaviors with what I truly valued. I would say my very nature has changed because of all this self reflection and coming unto the Savior who helps make the most of our true self in no other way that we could do on our own. It has been my price to truly know God.
I also relied on the strength of so many sweet friends who stepped into my life at the very moment I needed them. To hear their stories and feel their strength, I knew those friendships were placed in my life by no coincidence. God's hand was in that and He continues to do that for me as I come across living angels, meeting new friends and expanding my tribe, finding support in those seeking for truth.
Through this time, as I have mentioned before on here, I also sought professional counseling & took medication for a time to pull me out of the thick of it. I used natural remedies and exercise and music and mindfulness, pretty much any help I could get...but I can boldly declare that through Christ ALONE I am healed because really HE makes ALL these things possible.
I am now more sensitive to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit than ever before. When my chest or throat feels heavy with worry I stop and ask, what is my body telling me? Why are alarms going off? What am I missing? What do I need to tune into? What do you want me to know dear Lord?
I have felt by embracing my brokenness, I no longer come to Christ's feet occasionally but stay at His feet continuously.
Sometimes it's a prayer I am reminded I need to say on someone's behalf. Other times it's a lesson I need to learn or share from a certain experience, or gospel parallel that sticks out from a Disney movie ;) Other times it's a call to rest more that day and to just relax and breathe, go watch a show on the couch with your kids and snuggle them to soak in their sweetness.
My anxiety has helped slow me down to notice the small beautiful things around me and to carpe diem, seize the day! Because if I push myself and run more than I have strength I completely falter and miss the whole point of life! The small things really are the big things.
I have come to realize and accept the fact that I. am. an. anxious. person. So no matter if I'm hiding and withdrawing from the world or out proclaiming things loudly and boldly I'm going to feel the fear and anxiety regardless...so I'm going to keep feeling the fear and doing it all anyways, shooting for my goals and dreaming big!
When I'm doing hard things like pushing out of my comfort zone it feels new and uncomfortable but we are not here on earth to feel comfortable. We are here to change (not unlike the Beast from Disney's Beauty and the Beast who needed to learn how not to be deceived by appearances but to love unconditionally) and be moldable, to learn and grow from all that God leads us to and through!
So, "If you keep on believing the things that you wish will come true!!!" (You know, from Disney's Cinderella, A Dream is A Wish Your Heart Makes song) That's called FAITH my friends and it's a good place to start on the journey to health and healing!
If you have made it to the bottom of this post & find yourself identifying with some of these same inner struggles, please know you are NOT alone. Some of the very best people around are on this hard upward path & there really is hope and happiness right around the corner.
I once felt that fairy tales were lies and full of false realities and hope, just fluff and not at all what I was experiencing but as I sang that Cinderella song over and over again, "If you keep on believing the things that you wish will come true!!!" while rocking baby Emery to sleep in the wee hours of the morn, often bawling my eyes out while squeezing the words out, I would miraculously feel the spirit flood the room and surround me with warmth and the promise that everything would work out, it will all be okay. We just have to keep on believing & "keep trying, keep trusting, keep growing. REMEMBERing that Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow and forever!" (Quoting Jeffery R. Holland)
I know now that in reality we can have our happily ever after as we put our trust in God and follow the path He has for us, no matter what that path entails! Because of Him we can declare, "Come what may and love it!"