Monday, October 28, 2013

I'd like to tell you a story that's close to my heart ( part two )

After leaving the doctor's office, I went home and starting researching all I could find on Post Partum Depression. I read that it was very common for an onset to start around the time I noticed changes in my health. Strangely, even with the facts glaring me in the face, there was still a denial that I was one of the statistics I'd been reading up on. I can be my toughest critic, and in some ridiculous way I felt that stamping 'Depression' onto my struggle was giving myself the easy way out. I wanted to take the blame on myself and would rather consider that maybe I had strayed down the wrong path or maybe I was just a selfish person?

Nevertheless, I now had a prescription for an anti-depressant tucked in my bag. My husband and I wanted to wait a few days and pray about it before making any final decision. Once you start, it's a comittment for at least six months and so you've got to be sure you want to board that train! After two days, the clearest thought in my mind was that I needed to swallow my pride, swallow the pill and be grateful for the gift of medication. I didn't want to lose any more time.

The first medication prescribed was not the right match for my 'type' of depression. It gave me migraines and far too strong a tranquilizer. I usually keep our daily house-hold conversations interesting with silly opinions and I can be foolishly passionate over the smallest things. My husband was perturbed to say the least living with this new wife who just nodded and smiled at everything. Maybe he's secretly regretting our choice to switch meds?! He didn't know what he had going there!

I tapered off the above and the next Sunday I braved a trip to our morning church service. I did not want to see a single person but I was so desperate to feel at peace. If I could zone everyone else out and find any amount of peace in the presence of my God, then it would be worth it. I sat through the whole worship and instead of singing along with the songs I would not have meant a word of, I prayed what I really felt and told the Lord how angry I was that I had taken this step to be on medication and had He abandoned me? I told him how much I loved Him and meant it from the bottom of my heart. I walked to the front, knelt infront of the whole church and wept.

The hope that the Lord would have the final say on my situation didn't ever leave me. I have experienced too many miracles in my life to doubt this truth even in the lowest of times. Having said that, there were days, even weeks where I harboured a hard and twisted heart towards ever serving the Lord again. He is so patient. I remember a specific evening where I had my worst panic attack that lasted two hours. It left me lying on my bed physically and emotionally exhausted. I asked the Lord to harden my heart because accepting to walk the road I was on with a pure heart was just too difficult. On the contrary, when I woke up the next morning I felt the best I had in days. I was full of a new love for Him and a greater understanding of what His grace is to me. Even when I am faithless, He will remain faithful. 

So at this point, am I still depressed? Check. Anxiety and panic attacks? Check. 

I started on a more specialized (see: most expensive) anti-depressant and I have to say this was an answer to prayer. Within two weeks I felt the fog begin to lift. My thoughts came through clearer each day and my energy levels were off the chart. Our doctor was so happy to see me laugh after six months of seeing my puffy eyes in his consulting room. He advised that the medication was doing a lot of help in the adrenaline department and that I would need to be sure to find time to rest. The medication was just a band-aid - it would more than likely take years for my body to recover and come right on it's own.

The tricky thing about medication is that sometimes the side effects can trigger other symptoms. It's a lot of trial and error to see what you can accept to live with. In my case, the one that suited me so perfectly, sadly also increased anxiety as a side effect. Definitely could have done without that. I felt put back together, but the social anxiety and panics kept me in-doors. I was happy as a clam spending time with my immediate family, but the moment the phone would ring or an outing presented itself, my physical breakdowns were a harsh reminder that I wasn't back on track all the way just yet. 

Ok,it gets exciting now. 

In July this year, a pastor and his wife from a partner church in Reunion came to visit and held a two-day seminar along with a few other meetings. One of these meetings was organized for all the ladies in the church and was held on a Saturday morning in a home belonging to one of my closest friends. I knew it would be a full house and my initial reaction was that I couldn't have imagined a worse scenario. That is an overwhelming number of conversations and eye-to-eye contact I'd have to endure. On the other hand, I have been to many of these types of meetings and I have always left challenged and encouraged to be a better wife / mom / child of God, not hearing what I want to hear, but what I need to. I could use whatever I could get of that.

I arrived at the meeting with a back up plan just in case I needed to duck out and had some natural remedy anxiety tablets on hand. Maybe you're not laughing, but I think back and have to laugh at how intense it all was for me then! Cue the worship and then we entered into a time of listening to testimonies from the Reunion sisters. I was holding onto every word they said. Being at a meeting was a rare treat for me and I thought for a moment that I was actually going to make it to the end.

Out of nowhere, the room started to spin and I started to feel clammy and shaky. I took some of the natural tablets, but it was already too late. The lady who was speaking sounded as if she was sitting behind a closed door and every person in that room including those sitting almost right up against me, seemed to disappear. They were there but I was disconnected. Before anything could escalate, I quietly shuffled out the back door and around the corner to find a quiet space. I knew the tears would come next and then the vertigo and I would want to somehow be tele-ported back home into my safety net. I couldn't drive so I planned on waiting out back until the meeting had finished. 

During this time, a woman who has been a great support to me in many stages of my life, called my mom over and asked if she thought I would mind being prayed for. She went on to say that she had tried to listen to the whole meeting but that she kept being distracted by the urgent prompting that the Lord was asking her to pray with me. My mom took my hand and walked me through the crowd of those precious sisters. Not one, but every single one of them joined in prayer to ask God to bring healing to my body. The meeting was over right after, and I was still in a bit of a daze. It's an overwhelming situation to be in and it goes again all reasoning.

From that very moment until now, I have not experienced another panic attack or any form of chronic anxiety. My God stood up in my boat and said 'Enough'.

And what's more - soon-after, I started to feel awful on my medication that had once been my saving grace. I thought that due to my new lease on life and with  me being out and about that maybe I was overdoing it? How silly that I didn't think right away that maybe the Lord didn't just heal me of my panic and my anxiety, but of my crippling depression too. It turns out He did! My symptoms / side effects were my body's way of rejecting the medication. I tapered off over a two week period without even one withdrawl reaction. 

Psalm 121:1 "I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help?"

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