Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tools in the Toolbox

At the end of last year, I wrote this post in which I shared with you the beginning of my depression story. In that one moment on that one night, after weeks of fog and confusion and suffocating despair - I had a divine moment of clarity... This is depression.

And I don't use that word "divine" lightly. I mean it. It was Divine intervention that shed a spotlight on the nameless dark that engulfed me. And in that moment, I knew I could no longer fight it on my own.

I told my husband. I told my mom. I called every counselor in the phone book until one said he could fit me in that day.

That began my journey out of the pit.

And it was a journey. A climbing, crawling, clawing journey. There was no Thunder Clap from on high that lifted me out and declared me whole.

There wasn't even a Voice whispering in my ear telling me which step to take.

There was silence. But there was His presence. And as I climbed/crawled/clawed my way out, I leaned on Him. We didn't speak. But He was there.

It was the most intimate of times.

And today, as I battle a new round of depression, He speaks to me and reminds me of those days. The darkest of days, when I clung to Him.

He reminds me of the tools I bought through that season. Tools He taught me how to use so I could pull myself out of the pit and build a sure-footed path.  I grappled and struggled and grasped for those tools. When I finally got them in hand, I hardly had the strength to lift them and fumbled when I tried to use them.

Now pick them up by their worn handles and wield them like a weapon against the PPD that's raging inside.

In the next few posts, I would like to share some of those tools with you. Because maybe you're in the pit today. Or maybe you're sliding down the slippery embankment towards the mire. Or maybe you have been knee-deep in mud and you're climbing/crawling/clawing your way out now.

Or maybe you've been in the pit before. Yesterday. Last year. Or decades ago. If that's you, won't you share too? What tools do you have in your toolbox?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A day with PPD

The thing about a day with PPD is that one can't trust one's feelings.

Because feelings lie.

Feelings are disproportionate to reality.

Feelings aren't real... no matter how real they feel.

In a day with PPD,  feelings don't matter nearly as much as actions.

I may not feel like getting up in the morning, or getting dressed, or getting my kids dressed. I may not feel like doing homeschool or fixing lunch or talking to people... to anyone. I may not feel like cleaning house or answering a crying baby.

But I did get up and get my entire family dressed. And though it didn't look like a "normal" homeschool day, my four year old found something she'd rather cut than paper shapes, and she finally learned how to use scissors. And my second grader pedaled two full rotations on a bike without training wheels. And they both gleaned wisdom as they learned to work out arguments and disputes in a Godly way, with life-giving words.

And they did eat lunch, even if it came from a box.

And I connected with friends via phone calls and scheduled some real-life interaction for the next two days.

And the dishes got washed.

And the laundry is going.

And my baby was comforted and fed and laid down for a nap.

And I put one foot in front of the other, and I deliberately smiled when my kids walked into the room, and I didn't lie down on the couch, and I petted the dog, and I swallowed the lump in my throat over and over again, and I did a million little things that - at one point in my life - I was emotionally unable to do.

And in the midst, my feelings tell my I can't do it. My feelings say it is too much to handle. My feelings are heavy and huge and real.

But, in a day with PPD, feelings lie.

Feelings are disproportionate to reality.

Feelings aren't real... no matter how real they feel.

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:7-9

Thursday, October 24, 2013

It's Update Time

Ten weeks after my little Penelope June came into the world, and life is just now starting to level out. So as I resume some of the day-to-day stuff of life, I thought I'd pop in to say "hi" and fill y'all in on the goings-ons of the Thixton familia.

1. Penelope is perfect. I mean, really. Bringing a new baby home injects vibrancy into our family like nothing in this world. After the initial shock of sleep-deprived nights and spit-up-covered clothes, there is a warmth and excitement that affects every person in the household. She is a doll. We are all thrilled and in love. Can you blame us?

2. Having said that, post-partum depression hit me like a mother this time around. I felt it creeping around in the corners a few weeks before she was born, and it grew and deepened in the days after her birth. Seven weeks and three days after delivery, I woke up with that familiar sinking in the pit of my stomach and numbing ache in the middle of my chest, and I said, "Nope. We're not going there." Because I've been there. And I'll do whatever it takes to never go there again. A few prayers and pills later, and the world is rosy again. I don't mean to treat this lightly. Because it's not light. The stuff is dark, y'all. But my God is bigger. And I'm learning to accept that sometimes healing doesn't look like a "miracle." Sometimes it looks like wisdom. And compassionate doctors. And good medicine.

3. Homeschool is going swimmingly... now. The first few weeks were touch and go - I ain't gonna lie. But about the time I made the decision to get some help for my depression, Sweet Hubby and I also made the decision to kick our curriculum to the curb. I won't go into all the why's and what-for's in this post, but suffice it to say: it was the best decision we've made this year. Almost instantly, our house was more peaceful and full of life. Now the learning is getting done with no tears. And the church said, Amen.

That's it. Just three little points tonight. I have lots to say. Lots of words stored up from weeks of doing all things other than writing. In time, when there's time, I'll be back with more.

Until then, here are some blogs/articles on depression that I LOVE. Happy reading!

An Open Letter to Women Fighting Postpartum Depression - "And while I still battle depression demons, PPD taught me how to fight. So when they come – and they do – I say, bring it. Let’s party, Depression, because I have been through hell and back, and I know how to roll with you old-school. Okay? Hell hath no fury like a mother who has had PPD."

an open letter (not to Miley Cyrus) - "What I know now is this: It took more faith for me to take the anti-depressant. That is not the way I expected or wanted God to heal me. I did NOT want that to be a part of the equation. But it was."

Depression Part Two - "And that's the most frustrating thing about depression. It isn't always something you can fight back against with hope. It isn't even something — it's nothing. And you can't combat nothing. You can't fill it up. You can't cover it. It's just there, pulling the meaning out of everything."

The Quote That Started It All...

I myself have twelve hats, each one representing a different personality. Why be just yourself? - Margaret Atwood