My Struggle with Depression: Pain in the fog

My kids love to play Lego. I join them. We build other worlds in our imaginations. And I sit on the floor in front of their Lego tables criss-cross apple sauce as the kids say. My body can only take sitting on the floor for so long until my feet fall asleep. Completely numb. And when the Lego blocks are arranged and my life summons me to cook dinner, answer emails, or plan lessons; I  emerge from our kingdom, numb and tingling. I have to stand still first as the needles prick my feet and the tingling bubbles through  my nerves. I can’t find stable footing until I can feel completely.  I stand wiggling a toe at a time, before I can begin to walk.

This has been my experience when I surface from the blinding white. When the world starts to come into focus, and I begin to make out shapes in the hazy light.

After over a year of postpartum depression ,which had remained undiagnosed, I became pregnant. This pregnancy was brutal from the very beginning. I spent the first 14 weeks clinging to the toilet bowl, retching. Exhaustion claimed me and I sunk even further. I expelled everything that crossed my lips.  And then, it seemed to lift. I started to feel better physically and the nausea receded.

The jelly was warm and gooey as it spread over my belly. Josh sat in the corner of the room holding Judah. Our first meeting with our new baby.  The ultrasound wand danced over my skin and the doctor frowned. My head angled to see the grainy screen. The faint outline of a baby, my baby, floating still and silent. And then these words, ” At 16 weeks, we should see fetal activity and a definite heartbeat. I’m so sorry, but I don’t see any signs of life. It appears that the baby has passed.”

 The glare of the fluorescent lights above pierced deep and as I squeezed my eyes shut tight to block it all, my  lashes failing at  holding  back the flood of tears cascading down my cheeks.

Pain shot through me. Vibrating and jarring me awake, like the sudden blast of a shrieking alarm clock. 

And there would be more pain. Drawn out long. Operating rooms and bleeding, infection and fear. Anger at the why me? Sorrow and weeping. Loss. 

morning light

flickr photo by freewine

The world became hazy. I was no longer blinded by the white.  I could see the faint silhouette of my former soul but I was helpless to grasp her.  My doctor looked deep into my eyes and saw the despair. He scribbled out an introduction to an ally that would help me in this battle on his white doctors pad. A little white pill that would help me to find my way back. The scales were beginning to fall from my eyes and new light was coming in. Not harsh or blinding, but soft like the dawning of a fresh new morning.

And it was painful. The pins and needles shocking me as I began to move parts that had been stagnant for too long. The adjustment to all sensation coming back. The wiggling of toes and the feeling creeping in.  The ability to see where I had been and to begin to talk about it. To connect to those around me and find healing in my story. A story whose final chapter is yet to be written. But  when the tingling pain subsided, and I was finally able to move again, I could take my first step. 

There have been lots of steps since that time and the struggle didn’t end there but I am still walking and I feel it all. The good and the bad.  The first time I heard this song, I cried like a little baby. It resonated with me that God is doing things in the midst of our aching and suffering, a thousand things we may never know. And maybe, our story will make someone else feel a little less alone in it all.

 

As always, I’d love to hear you thoughts.  Do you ever ask, “Why me God, why this?”  What do you tell yourself in the pain? Have you ever had a jolt that woke you from a life lived on autopilot? Has God turned your mourning into joy? If so, how?

Comments

  1. Katie says

    I am so there with the blinding white! Well, I’m not, but I WAS. I remember 4 years ago being depressed beyond belief about my job, but too anxious and frantic to effectively search for a new job, with supposed comfort twisting the knife further: “Do you even want to be a mom? Or do you just want to be a career woman?” Hello! The option of wife/mom wasn’t even on the table then.
    I wasn’t feeling well, and I was maniacal about some things. Bizarre ones. Trying to exert control over a friendship that had gone sour well before I could admit it. Cleaning the house obsessively because I was so afraid of being infected with another family member’s MRSA.
    I could go on, but I will just say God reached down in love and mercy. Even when it seemed like the world had rejected me and spit me out, He was performing His redeeming work. He never left me alone. He was there to catch me when I fell, and He always provided the people I needed to walk with me. He did allow me to work at that job for another 1.5-2 years, but then He mercifully moved me out.
    Sometimes we just have to walk through the pain. There are no shortcuts, no praise songs that will nullify it. But God is always, always there.

  2. says

    I’m going through a period right now where I have to remind myself (almost endlessly, it seems) that clinical depression is not punishment from God, and that I am not a “bad” person. So hard, when all I am is numb.

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