I’ve been putting off writing this post forever.
The longer a silence goes on, the harder it is to break it. I’m conscious of the fact that we have hundreds of new subscribers on board since the last time I posted (thank you for being here!!)… and this is not exactly the way I would have chosen to welcome you.
The thing is, I am not exactly okay.
It’s hard to talk about, so I’m going to start with something easier. Something external to me and big and dramatic that might just take the focus away from the small and hard and personal things for just a little while longer.
It’s been approximately forever since my last post. There was a good reason for my silence at first. The day my last post went live, we were hit by a Category 5 cyclone. I live 5 minutes from the beach…. just south of that little dot on the map called “Yeppoon”.
The day before impact, the cyclone had been predicted to hit the coast quite a distance north from where we live, and then only at a Category 2-3. In the last 24 hours, it intensified extremely quickly into a Cat 5. And unfortunately for us, the path kept shifting south, until it was heading directly for us. Tropical Cyclone Marcia was predicted to make landfall in the early hours of Friday morning.
I won’t lie: I was scared. It started out kind of exciting and thrilling – a cyclone! I’d never been in a cyclone before. We bought torches and spare batteries and found candles and matches. We kept checking updates and watched the news reports.
Somewhere before bedtime on Thursday night, though, it wasn’t so fun anymore. By this time, the storm had blown up to epic proportions, and I knew too much.
I’d done some reading up on the Bureau of Meteorology website and learned these fun facts:
The wind started to pick up outside. On the news, the Premier warned us that we were about to go through a “terrifying and harrowing experience.” Amazingly enough, this didn’t help me feel any better.
Then the power went out. It was happening.
How was this possible? A Category 5 storm was supposed to flatten everything in its path, wasn’t it?
We limped into Rocky down a debris-strewn highway and couldn’t believe the contrast. Rockhampton, half an hour further inland, where the storm had eased off to a Category 3 by the time it hit. And it was like a warzone. Hundreds of powerlines down across streets. Piles of twisted steel and debris. Massive trees blocking roads. Roofs missing. Carports and sheds blown away.
I guess it really started last year, around the time we were getting ready to move. It was to be our third move in three years. I’d been planning for it, but everything changed at the last minute and all of a sudden we didn’t know where we would be moving to.
We’d put all the pieces into place for a big move to the other end of the state, but an unexpected opportunity came up and we started seriously considering a local sea-change instead, from the city to the nearby coast. We were relying on some specific external factors to help us make our decision, but the answers we needed never came. All of a sudden it was crunch time – schools needed to finalise the kids’ enrolments for the new year, and we had to make our choice.
I started having panic attacks. The first time it happened, it was triggered by someone at church asking about our plans for our move. Everyone was confused about what we were doing. Heck, we were confused about what we were doing.
I tried to answer, and found I couldn’t breathe. I could barely speak. It felt like my lungs were being squeezed and I couldn’t get enough air in. I felt dizzy. My heart battered in my chest like I was being chased. I burst into tears.
It got worse, to the point where trying to get the kids off to school in the morning was enough to trigger a panic attack. I felt anxious all the time. I’d never had anxiety before. I’d been stressed out before, of course, but this went so far beyond stress. It was a constant burning, churning in my gut. Heart galloping. A feeling of inexplicable dread and terror. It was horrible. And nothing touched the sides of the anxiety. Deep breathing didn’t do a thing. Nothing helped.
Our church held a two week revival, and things went really downhill at that point. The intensity of what I was going through reached a whole new level. I went to church every night, and every day the anxiety grew worse. I had never felt such an oppression in my entire life. I felt under attack.
Now, please understand that I’m not saying ALL depression or anxiety is a spiritual attack. It’s a real thing, a physiological thing. I know – I grew up in a family where serious mental illness was a part of our lives. You wouldn’t tell a person with cancer that it was caused by some spiritual problem. Same goes for any illness of the mind. I feel really strongly about that.
However, during that particular week of my life, I definitely felt under spiritual attack. It made me get stubborn. I knew I had to keep attending the services. I received prayer and felt God move in tangible ways. But it wasn’t until after the revival ended, at a women’s Bible study meeting when my pastor’s wife began praying for me, praying with passionate authority against anxiety, that the power of God swept through me so strongly that I was left literally on the floor unable to stand up.
And the anxiety left.
Instantly, completely and utterly gone. It was breathtaking. I could hardly dare believe it.
It has never been back.
I know without a doubt that God healed me. Pure grace, because I’m sure I wouldn’t have survived the chaos of the end of last year if things had continued the way they’d been going. I wouldn’t have coped.
In the end, we made our move blindly. Without the vital information we needed. Praying for guidance. Stepping out into thin air and hoping for the best. Feeling as if everything we’d expected to happen had been turned on its head.
And we entered a weird sort of limbo full of uncertainty and waiting.
Waiting for those thin blue lines on a stick.
We’ve been trying for another baby for what feels like forever and is actually somewhat over a year. Every month that I’m not pregnant I get really sad, and then the next week I have a bad day with the kids and I’m all conflicted over whether I could even handle another one. Basket case much? I’m 35 years old, I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and every month that ticks past it feels like my chances of ever having another child are dwindling. I know what infertility feels like – we had trouble conceiving our first child too, even with medical intervention – and it’s just not a fun place to be in.
Enter mental opponent number two… depression.
The process of meeting new people and getting involved in local groups could have happened a lot quicker except that we sold our second car shortly after we moved, and so I’ve been stranded at home a lot of the time. My routine flew out the window. I couldn’t make classes at the gym, so I stopped exercising altogether. I heard about a great playgroup I would have loved to join, but I couldn’t get there.
I’ve missed blogging. I know it all sounded good in my Balance post, but truthfully, since cutting back this year, I feel like I’ve lost part of myself. I know blogging shouldn’t determine my worth, but the fact is, without this creative outlet, I’ve felt discouraged and worthless.
|Image by twobee, Freedigitalphotos.net|
My thoughts have become increasingly negative. I’ve spent entire days either crying nonstop or slumped lifelessly at the table while Allegra watches TV. I’ve always been a highly motivated, go-getter type of person, but this year everything has felt like an effort. I haven’t been able to sleep and I forget to eat. My concentration has been shot.
And you know what… they’ve been working.
The last two weeks, things have been looking up.
Some key circumstances have changed. We bought a second car. What a ripple effect that’s had. I’ve finally been able to get out of the house with Allegra and go to playgroup. I’ve started exercising again four times a week. I’ve met some people – truly lovely people. I’ve had grown-up conversations with other ACTUAL ADULTS. I’ve joined B-school and have been ploughing my way through the work, feeling a sense of purpose returning to me, a sense of achievement and accomplishment that I’ve missed so much.
Things have changed.
I’m sure if they hadn’t, this post would have languished as a Blogger draft forever, for if there’s one thing depression steals, it’s courage, and sharing this has taken every bit of courage I possess.
I still have down days. I’m not all better yet. But I’m putting this out there in the hope that it may speak to someone else who has been through or is going through the same thing.
The first step is simply to do what I’ve done today. You don’t have to share your naked soul with thousands of readers. Just tell a friend. Tell your partner. Just say the words.
I am not okay.
And see what happens. Things can only get better from here.