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it is well with my soul

it's been a month now since my last post. the last almost three weeks now have been a battle for me. my goal with this blog is to be real and honest, sharing my experiences and in doing so offering hope to those who may read it.

i've struggled with anxiety off and on, but only three times in my life to the point that it has been debilitating. the last three weeks it has come back with debilitating power as well as insomnia and depression. i've found myself up at night pacing the guest room floor and begging god to take away my fear, take away this spiral of despair that strips me of my hopes and dreams, my life. one night that worked, but then not again. does that mean god is not with me? does that mean he does not hear me? no. for whatever reason, he has allowed this season of struggle for mental health to descend on me again. but whatever my circumstance, god is good. good is sovereign. god is in control. and he can redeem all things.

its so easy to be hard on myself. to think - why can't you just be strong enough? why can't you just stop worrying? why can't you just go to sleep? why can't you just snap out of it? you SHOULD be able to do these things, you did much harder things in the last eight months preparing to move across the country and leave the life you made for yourself! why break now? why is it when things seem to be going well here that you break? there's no reason to break! if you weren't so weak, this wouldn't be a problem. if you just trusted god, this wouldn't be a problem. you are weak. your faith is weak. david and sabina would be better without you.


how easy it is to spiral into despair and hopelessness. and so fast! one day, i was seemingly ok, and the next i was up all night. and then up all night two nights later. and then i convinced myself i was stuck in a rut. that i wasn't going to get better. that this was going to be me. i felt myself creeping back to the state i was in after sabina was born and i began suffering with post partum anxiety and depression. only this time i would have entire nights awake with my thoughts and my fears, not just days. and during the day david had to go to work, whereas before he was working from home on his dissertation.

i got a recommendation for a counselor from a friend of mine from church and i began to see her shortly after this started. later that week i miraculously got an appointment with our new general practitioner. when i first called, he didn't have an opening for new patients until the end of the month and i was told they didn't keep a list for cancellations. a few days later i got a call that i could come in the next day for a morning appointment that had been cancelled. i went and felt at ease when i realized the practice was catholic and there were crucifixes and such all over. i'm not catholic, but just knowing that faith and jesus had a place in this practice made me feel better. after a depression questionnaire the doctor recommended i get back on the meds i was taking post partum. i started them the next day. i will visit him again next week for a follow-up appointment and i imagine on a somewhat regular basis to keep checking in to manage my condition.

it has been just over a week since i started the meds. they take time to work. post partum, i felt more like myself again after two weeks. i had the normal stresses of being a new mom but i could face them. now i have some good days, some ok days, and some bad days. each day is a new day. each night a new night. i'm constantly battling my thoughts and feelings.

this last week several things have been game changers for me. first, i talked with a friend from austin who shares similar struggles. she spoke life and hope to me in sharing her experiences and encouraging me in mine. after talking to her i felt peaceful for the first time that day. then at my counseling appointment my counselor helped me to take my negative thoughts and make them accurate. this involves stating the negative thought, evidence for and against it, and then deriving an accurate thought. i go to extremes when i'm facing anxiety - i'm never going to be able to do x again. my loved ones will get sick of me. i'm going to be like this forever. but i realized in that exercise of analyzing my thoughts and making them accurate that i AM doing things. i AM functioning, albeit on a lower level than i would like. the reality is, i'm doing the best i can right now. and i need to show myself the same grace and compassion that i would show a friend who is facing the same struggles.

at church on sunday, the sermon dealt with praying through loss. i feel like i've processed our departure from austin as a loss and i have been grieving the life we left there. we've endured a lot of change in the last six months. we sold our home in austin, we bought a new one in michigan. we moved across the country. david and i both made major career changes that we are still adjusting to. of course, we made these changes because we knew what we were and were not willing to sacrifice. but that doesn't make the loss go away. my resurgence of anxiety/depression with insomnia is no doubt connected to all of the change we've endured and are still processing. and then when i suffer with this, i grieve the loss of my ability to function at a level i am comfortable with. i grieve the loss of my joy and my peace. i grieve the loss of my hopes and dreams as i wonder how long it will take to get better, how long it will take before i can start hoping and dreaming again.

during the sermon at church, a member of the church shared his experience with grief and several things he said resonated with me. first, don't pray that god would take away whatever it is you're feeling. pray that god would give you courage to face it and to show up and be yourself in your weakness. i had been praying for god to just take it away, but the reality is god has allowed it for a reason and i need to draw close to him and find my strength in him each day to go on. the church member shared several verses that resonated with me.

psalm 69:1-3 save me, oh god! for the waters have come up to my neck. i sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; i have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. i am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. my eyes grow dim with waiting for my god.

this is exactly how i have felt when i have moments of intense despair in the midst of my anxiety, depression, and insomnia. i am not alone. i am not the only one who feels this way.

psalm 34:18 the lord is close to the broken hearted, he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

god is close to me. he is my rescuer.

hebrews 4:15-16 for we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

jesus sympathizes. i was reminded in the last weeks of jesus the night before he was crucified. he stayed up all night begging god to take this cup from him. he sweat blood. he took on all of that stress, all of that anxiety, all of that pain - for me. it was the will of the father so that i could be reconciled to a right relationship with him. if jesus hadn't taken that on, there would be no way for reconciliation. there would be no redemption. but because he endured it, there is. the life lived following jesus is not about remaining comfortable. it's about finding courage in jesus to face the trials that come, and to glorify god the father in doing so - drawing others to him.

at church the last song we sung was "it is well with my soul."

when peace like a river, attendeth my way,

when sorrows like sea billows roll

whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say

it is well, it is well, with my soul

it is well with my soul

it is well, it is well with my soul

though satan should buffet, though trials should come

let this blest assurance control

that christ has regarded my helpless estate

and hath shed his own blood for my soul

it is well with my soul

it is well, it is well with my soul

my sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought

my sin, not in part but in whole

is nailed to the cross, and i bear it no more

praise the lord, praise the lord, o my soul

it is well with my soul

it is well, it is well with my soul

the hymnist who wrote this, horatio spafford, wrote it after experiencing the loss of his two year old son, financial ruin because of the great chicago fire of 1871, and then the loss of his four daughters at sea due to shipwreck. only his wife survived. he was no stranger to intense suffering, loss, and grief. our hope through whatever this life may bring is in god alone and what he has done for us to reconcile us to himself.

so i press on. in good days, in ok days, and in bad days. one day at a time. one night at a time. careful to recognize and thank god for the little things that bring me joy. my daughter's laugh. the way her little arms wrap around my neck to hug me close.

the way she stands with the dogs at our front window.

the sound of her pulling around her dancing alligator.

sunshine. blue skies. the feel of the cool air on my skin on our walks in the morning. spending time with those with whom i feel safe. we are so fortunate to have family nearby that have been such an incredible help and support to me as i walk through this. i am fortunate to have family and friends near and far offering their support however they can.

though i may be experiencing inner turmoil. though i may have another sleepless night. though i may have more bad days. though i may feel tired of fighting the battle. god is with me. my family and friends are with me. no matter what i feel, i am not alone. god sees. he sees my fear and anxiety, he sees my suffering. he knows the plans i had laid that have been thwarted because of this resurgence. he also knows his plans are better than mine. and so i press on, asking god to give me courage to face each day and each night - one at a time. it is well with my soul because he is god in the midst of my suffering.

hello there.

brittain here. just sharing my journey day to day with lots of laughs along the way.

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