Sunday, September 8, 2013
Growing through Adversity
I was 7 months pregnant with my third child (in 3 years) when my brother committed suicide. I remember thinking that I just didn't have time to deal with it because I had to keep going. I had to take care of my two little ones and prepare for the birth of my third. I kept myself busy with baking and prepping freezer meals, keeping the house clean (that we moved into 3 weeks after my brother died), organizing, etc. I "nested" heavily for several months.
Then, Levi was born. I went through some really difficult nights because I struggled so badly with nursing. You would think that by the third, and having trouble nursing them all, I would have just given up on it. Instead, I would nurse for 4-5 hours straight with very little break, not sleep at all, pump constantly, take herbal tinctures three times a day, etc... It was tough. I eventually started supplementing (because he was dehydrated and losing weight), but then the guilt came.
Things started going downhill. When I could no longer ignore things because I was always exhausted and always awake, I began getting depressed. Robert would come home and I would give the baby to him and leave. He worked up to 100 hours a week, so I couldn't take being with the kids anymore. I went away and read, wrote, and listened to music... hoping for some relief. Praying that God would use something to help me in this really deep pit.
When I continued to just want to be away from my kids and struggled to function, my mom and husband both suggested that I go talk to my doctor.
Thankfully, I listened to their advice. I began taking some medication and it helped tremendously. I have struggled with anxiety and sometimes depression off and on for years, and I just decided that it was my life and I just needed to deal with it.
Four months later, we moved to my in-laws in Dallas. I had never lived so far from my family, and it was very difficult. We realized pretty quickly that we wouldn't be able to ever move out of my in-laws unless I got a job, so I ended up finding a teaching job at a school in Dallas (teaching mostly ESL kiddos in a low income area).
I poured myself into my work. I loved teaching the kids that I taught, but I also liked that it allowed me to stay busy and not think too much. I was able to continue living life without really dealing with my brother's gruesome, difficult death. It would "hit me" every once in a while, but at this point, I still hadn't dealt with it.
My cousin died a year and a half after my brother (at 23 years old), which brought things up again... and it was another really difficult time for my whole family.
I ended up teaching 1 1/2 years at the difficult school and left because I couldn't balance. My work was all I could think about and my family was suffering. Part of it was how the staff was treated, and part of it was just my own issues.
I taught part-time last year at a preschool and it was what I needed to be busy, but not too busy.
I thought that things were on the "upswing," then I stayed in the hospital with my grandpa in November, and he ended up dying two days after I left (on Thanksgiving day, a few days before the anniversary of my brother's death). This brought things back up. I had some very difficult days... but didn't know how to deal with it.
One day in mid-May of this year, I went for a run and struggled to catch my breath. I figured that maybe I was just extra tired, so I just tried to move on.
Then later that day when I still felt like I couldn't catch my breath, I told my co-teacher about it and she said that she thinks it's anxiety. But I was an anxiety expert... I have struggled with it for years and had never experienced this.
When it continued, I decided that I needed to go to the doctor and maybe try to see a counselor. Maybe my body was telling me it was time to deal with something. The doctor did a complete check-up, including blood work, and we both came to the conclusion that it was anxiety.
After months of dealing with being unable to breath normal, going to a counselor, and changing meds several times, I decided to go see a psychiatrist. Turns out, the medication that I had been on has not been right for me. She changed it to a new one and the breathing issues almost immediately stopped... I had other issues while I came off of a med (including extreme dizziness), but I am now breathing normal (and I'm not dizzy anymore).
Something even more amazing than being able to breathe happened... I am now able to cry.
You see, I didn't realize it, but my old medication made me numb. I couldn't deal with my brother's death because of that. When I talked about it before, it was as if it was a dream or a movie... it didn't feel as though it had happened to ME. I am finally at a point in which I can deal with the difficulty of the past few years, grieve my brother's death as it comes, and I'm able to be "normal" and balance. I allow myself to cry, and it is a relief.
I learned so much this summer as I journeyed through this difficult time:
* I am ME. God made me on purpose, for a purpose. He has a plan to use me for His glory. I don't have to apologize to people if I am not who they want me to be.
* I am not a stay at home mom. I am not a homeschooling mom. I tried so hard to be someone that I'm not for most of the time that I've had kids.
* I am a teacher. I'm not a perfect teacher, but I am one and God will use me in this area.
* I can balance. It is possible. I don't have to, nor can I be perfect at anything (or everything).
* Life is hard. Difficult things such as death, trauma, etc don't surprise me. We were not promised an easy life. I just always go to the Father with these things because it is not something that humans can truly understand.
* I am able to love others better. I can see past certain behaviors and see that there's usually more to it. I can love despite how I'm being treated or how people are acting (which is an important part of teaching).
* I can enjoy life and just pray that God will continue to get me through hard times.
* I see God's hand in most things.
* I have amazing friends and family. I am loved by the God that created me and the people that He created for me to be in community with.
* A relationship with Jesus is the only way I could have survived the past several years.
* I am imperfect and always will be, but it's also okay for me to want to be my best at what I do. In Colossians 3:23, Paul says, "Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not men."
* My husband is my best friend. I don't know what I would do without him. He has taken care of me and our family.
Well, I could go on and on... but I'll leave you with some verses that Steve Ferrar spoke on today at church:
"Consider the work of God: who can make straight what He has made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him." Ecclesiastes 7:13-14