I told Mike on a walk this morning that I wanted to write, but wasn't sure exactly what I'd write about. I have a zillion ideas swirling in my head. One was that sometimes it is okay to just accept that you aren't okay for a minute. I specifically said to him, "I'm the kind of person who says to myself or "THINK" about someone else, put on your big girl panties and keep moving! Get up! Be Productive! Go be a light! Move mountains! But for the first time in my life, I literally had days where I could not do any of those things. Now I know what it feels like to be "Stuck" in a pit of sorrow and anxiety and depression. Now I can empathize with other people who are in the same boat. Now I will be less judgmental and more empathetic of people who are struggling." Not that I haven't struggled before, but never to this degree for this amount of time.
Just a few hours later, a friend text me that she felt depressed. She said, "I know I need to just put my big girl panties on and get up, but...."
It always blows my mind how God works. She said I text her at exactly the right time, and talking to her inspired me to share a tiny part of my story. It reminded me that we are all so much alike and in this together!
It seems like just yesterday that Mike and I were walking. I asked him, "So what your number? (1-10) he was a 10. Happy. I was a 10. Happy. Life was going great for us. Then Covid - 19 hit. We were both okay still. We had been preparing. Together, we'd be okay.
And then, the school that he teaches at temporarily closed. All the Instructors and trainees were sent home. Life was scary...but still...we were together and together....we are good!
Then he got a message that he was being sent away to work. I was not happy about it, but he's been away for training for his job before, so I knew I could do it. The first few weeks, we rocked it! I was making the kids bacon and eggs for breakfast. They were schooling at home, which we eventually got the hang of and even enjoyed. Then Easter and Carly's 10th Birthday came. And all day, I was okay. Seeing all of our friends at her birthday parade made me feel SO Happy! So grateful! It was a beautiful day!
Not long after that, I felt myself sliding into sorrow. Worry. We weren't sure how long he'd be gone. There was no end date. Some were predicting mid-June, which would have been 12 weeks. Some thought maybe even longer than that. No one knew anything, and the not knowing really got to me.
I got a taste of depression that I hope I don't have to feel again anytime soon. I'll try to put it into words so that you can either think, "Me, too, thank you for putting it into words or maybe you've never experienced it, but you'll now be able to empathize with someone who is in the pits. I think it probably hits everyone differently, people certainly respond differently, but this was what I felt/experienced.
Nothing was the same. Food did not taste the same. Nothing tasted good or made me feel "happy" to eat. And normally, nothing makes me happier than FOOD! Good food is my jam. I threw away half my DQ blizzard one night. Foods that I normally love lost their zest. Nothing from my kitchen was good. Not even things that I normally love.
I felt pecked to death by my kids that I normally love and adore and treasure. They constantly said "Mom! Mommy! Momma! Moooooom! Momma Bear." All words that I normally love to hear....made me feel crazy! There were times when all I could think was I want to be left alone for a minute, but the second they were out of my sight, I felt immense guilt for not having them right under my wing. In fact, I would say guilt was my main feeling. I constantly felt guilty for my feelings. I was NOT okay with not being okay. All I could think was, "You should be treasuring this time alone with them. You should be making amazing memories....but I often felt like my gas tank was on empty.
Empty. Sometimes I'd take my vitamins. I'd force myself to eat eggs and things that normally give me energy, but NOTHING worked! Literally, no energy past 2pm. If you know anything about me in real life, you know I am ENERGY. Being productive is how I roll. I'm the queen of getting stuff done! If given the chance to work or play....I choose WORK! Thankfully Mike likes to have fun and appreciates down time, so we help to balance each other out. My love of checking things off my to-do list was gone. For the first time in my life, outside of pregnancy, I had days were I felt like I could hardly move. I was literally stuck, no motivation or energy to make anything happen. Thankfully Lilly, our 13 year old can cook, even our 7 year old can make his own bacon, so the kids were able to fend for themselves when I couldn't. Again, I felt immense guilt for not feeling like "Me".
I couldn't see the light. I'd always wake up in the night, and I'd feel overcome with a feeling of doom/guilt/worry/fear. I grew to hate being stuck at home, but every time I'd venture out with my kiddos, I'd having feelings of panic. What if Lukey's haircut was a bad decision?? What if he gets sick from that??? Normal things like going to the beach or grocery and getting haircuts all of a sudden were things that caused me such fear. Such regret. I hated the feeling of fear constantly creeping in on me and taking over my thoughts. Creating worst-case scenarios in my mind. I felt trapped by moving, so I didn't want to make a wrong move. I also could not stand sitting still. All I wanted was to be my spunky, energetic self, but could not make it happen.
I didn't want medicine. Mike suggested that I take anxiety meds. I went to the doctor and she wrote me a prescription for anxiety/depression meds, but I was so angry and ashamed of myself for letting myself get to that point. I constantly felt like, you should do better. Be better. Your faith should sustain you. I'd listen to sermons, podcast, read the bible, pray, beg God to help me find Joy again, to be less afraid and I even did a lot of things that would bring me SO MUCH JOY during the day, but then night would come and I'd fall back into the pit. The Middle of the night was the absolute worst.
In hindsight, I regret not taking the medicine. It probably would have helped me.
Sometimes I would turn on the TV during the night just so I didn't have to think my own thoughts.
I could not focus on ANYTHING!! I'd just spin around my house. Never accomplishing anything. Always distracted. One day I went into the garage to get chicken from the freezer, saw weeds in the yard, took off to pluck the weeds, frozen chicken breast in hand. The next thing I know, I am walking around my yard, a hand full of weeds and a hand full of frozen chicken breast. Zero ability to focus on a single task. I felt like I was losing my marbles! Or that all my marbles had disappeared!
I lost somewhere between 10-15 pound in those 7 weeks. Nothing stayed in my tummy. While I was happy to be at a lower weight, I often felt hungry and tired, with no desire to eat. As soon as Mike came home, I almost instantly regained the weight.
Everyone offered to help. "I will come to you." "We will come to you." But the last thing that I wanted was anyone to come near me. I'd go to people to take gifts and go to parades..but I knew that I didn't have the energy to host other people and I definitely did not want anyone to see me when night came and I felt so sad. I am so, so, so appreciate of people who respected my request not to show up. I'm so appreciate of all the calls and text that I got checking in on me from afar. They truly helped get me through.
I'm sure there is more, but that is enough to paint a good picture of my experience. I hated it. Would not wish that upon anyone, for any reason. But I am thankful for it.
Mike is home. We have never been happier to be together. We celebrated out 17th Anniversary on Sunday and it was one of the happiest days of my life. He took me to Vic's on the River for dinner on River Street in downtown Savannah. It was the best meal of my life. We came home and had a dance party with our 4 kiddos and we danced like we've never danced before. Our appreciation for life together, after 7 weeks apart is a gift.
I hope that I will never forget the struggle. When someone else is walking in the shoes that I walked, or in a totally different pair of shoes that cause them to struggle, I pray that will judge less and love more.
If I end up in that spot again, I pray that I will be okay with not being okay. Mike and so many others assured me over and over and over again....You are doing Great. You're doing better than you realize. It's okay that you aren't making the kids amazing meals and entertaining them constantly. All of this is helping them grow. At the time, I wasn't buying it, but I'm starting to see it. We just watched Lilly pack the van for a family beach trip, all on her own. The cooler. The towels. The snacks. Sunscreen. Toys. She didn't miss a thing. She's 13 years old and can make amazing pancakes on the griddle, a birthday cake with homemade icing, Tuscan Chicken...anything that she sets her mind to. When I couldn't, she realized that she could, and did, and how empowering that must feel for her. All 4 kids grew in leaps and bounds. In love. In empathy. In self-sufficiency. They're all wiser and stronger than were they were when Mike left.
I feel human again. I feel happy and whole and in the LIGHT. I'm recovering, although it still hits me. When I wake in the night, I still fret over all things corona virus. I still sometimes worry about us getting sick. I still worry about family and friends. I still hate the feeling that there are so many unknowns. How much longer and if/when things will ever return to normal. Except. now I feel like I have a normal/healthy level of fear.
I have recovered my home. All the rooms, vehicles, garage have been thoroughly cleaned out. I have energy to get me through the day, usually waking before my alarm, excited to go and ride my bike and get stuff done! I love that feeling!
I know one thing for sure. God won't waste anything. He is growing us, even when it feels like He isn't. When you feel at your absolute weakest point, you're getting stronger. You certainly don't feel stronger in the moment...but new strength is growing inside you. When you feel like you are alone in your struggle, you are NOT! If you are in the pits today, you WILL see the light again! It is coming. Hang on. Be okay with not being Wonder Woman or Superman. Let other people rise up and help you. Say YES to someone bringing you dinner or watching your kids. Remind yourself over and over, this is TEMPORARY. It will not always feel this way. I will get back into the light. I will eventually be a stronger version of ME!
God really can work all things for the good of those who love him, even when it doesn't feel good. Even when it feels unbearable. Keep running to Him in prayer, through song and music, church, books, podcast. He WILL get you through. Lean on the people that he gave you in this life on Earth. Let them do for you what you cannot do for yourself. You will get through.
You will find Joy in the chaos again!