Just the sound of that word makes me cringe, because I tend to lean toward the opposite -- to, dare I say it, vanity. (Excessive cringe here.) I have always thought myself to be strong and capable and can handle whatever comes my way. Really.
When I was 30 weeks pregnant with my first child, I began to have anxiety attacks. I'm not talking about a little racy heartbeat, or feeling nervous about something. I'm talking about an out of control feeling that I had to run somewhere. Anywhere. I had to get.away.now. To where, I do not know. To what, I couldn't tell you. I felt like I was coming out of my skin. It always happened at night, and always after I'd first fallen asleep. My theory at the time was that I would get panicky because the baby would push up on my diaphragm, making it difficult to catch a good breath, and I'd startle myself awake, panicking. My OB was magnificent. His wife had dealt with the same issues and a nice little Rx for some Zoloft and Xanax was enough to make me feel better. Whew!
No one told me about how I would feel about 24 hours postpartum, when my hormone levels plummeted. I hit rock-freaking-bottom. I was in the hospital, post c-section, when I lost it. I became hysterical. I know the nurses thought I needed to go up to the 8th floor for some serious psych help. But they were sweet and kind and my ultra-precious doctor had warned them that I may snap. And snap I did. My poor husband thought for a few minutes that I might walk out of the hospital and never look back, leaving him and a breastfeeding baby boy all alone.
This was all one week, to the day, after 9/11. Nothing good or uplifting was on the news. It's all anyone was talking about. I remember saying "I feel guilty being happy about the baby." My mother, not the most supportive or loving woman even in the best of circumstances, kept asking me how badly labor hurt and why I had to have a c-section and how she never needed one and her babies were big and I must've not been able to handle the pain and ......well, you get the picture.
My sweet husband would pray over me. He would quietly hold my hand and pray. Not always out loud, because that often would agitate me even more. He felt 100% helpless. He would pray scripture over me often. When sleep eluded me because I was terrified of waking up mid-panic-attack, he'd pray Psalm 4:8 and Proverbs 3:24. And that night in the hospital when I didn't know if I would survive (literally, I didn't see how I could go on like that), the nurse came in, told my husband to climb in bed with me, gave me a beautiful IV dose of an anti-anxiety med, found a peaceful station on the radio playing instrumental hymns, and took my sweet baby to the nursery. My husband held me all night and I slept for the first time in days peacefully, while he prayed and rubbed my head and whispered that everything was going to be alright.
I remember waking up in the wee hours and realizing that I could not do this alone. I couldn't fix it. I couldn't just suck it up. I needed help. I needed my husband. I needed my doctor. Mostly, I needed God. I needed his grace and his mercy. I needed his peace. I needed all those prayers. I needed to not be ashamed to ask for help. I was too miniature in the grand scheme of life to handle this beast on my own.
And so, slowly, over the next days and weeks, I began to reach out and ask for help. I had to confess to friends and neighbors and family that I was having a very difficult time and needed prayers and physical help and support. I can't stand asking for help in the best of times. I remember having to pray, sobbing and crying, before I could pick up the phone or tell my husband that I --gasp-- needed something.
God sent so many angels to me in those weeks and months. I ended up being diagnosed with postpartum depression which lasted for months -- close to a year, really. I needed medication and therapy and a lot of support. Women from our church brought food and cards...but more importantly, so many of them just came and sat with me. Prayed with me. And I'd cry, and they'd listen.
I learned that no matter how strong I thought I was, I was really so weak I could barely make it out of bed without God's magnificent grace. He sustained me. He drew me closer to Him through it all.
Humbling? Indeed. Oh, but girls, I've got a long way to go, because through it all, my tendency is to fall back on my "I can fix it" mindset. It takes me a lot -- a LOT -- of self control to let go and let God have it.
But I'm working on it.
Humbly (she writes with a smile),