It's a stupid place. A muddy hole, just big enough for me to stand in by myself , unable to get a good enough grip on the edges to climb out. You probably have a hole of some sort too. Maybe your hole is deeper, or more shallow, or muddier. But we all probably agree that the holes suck.
There are some things that I know now about the hole, which is good. I know a little bit about how I got there. I know that I won't stay there. And I know that it is not my home.
How did I get there? Well, it was a little over two years ago that someone asked me why I walked around with my shoulders so high. And at the same time I'd been having stomach pain everyday, like I had swallowed a roll of quarters. It hit me. I was having problems with anxiety. And as I started to look into it, started to try to pinpoint the things that made me anxious, I begain to see that almost everything in my life gave me anxiety. And that the problem was not with my life, it was with me. (Well, my life was a little crazy at the time too, but still.) I also realized that the hormones that are delivered to my body when I am pregnant or nursing, like a shotglass full of insanity, intensify this. I have been pregnant or nursing without a break for four and a half years. But I can look back and also see that anxiety has never been a stranger. I just didn't know that it wasn't a normal way to be.
What is normal? Well. I realize that a lot of people may feel anxiety, or even struggle with it a lot like I do, but I don't think this is the way we were made to be. And there are words in the Bible that say, "Be anxious for nothing." So, you know. As in, not anxious for EVERYTHING.
I've been working on it. It's been working on me. This blog has been part of it. Writing is cathartic to me, it gives meaning to things, it makes me laugh. I can tell when I've gone too long without writing. It feels a little like bladder pain on a long car ride.
So, lately, as I've broken all of my *rules, I've been sensing the man with the bag creeping up on me. At some point along the line he caught up with me, threw the bag over my head, and stuck me in the hole. I'm almost out, I think, which is why I can even write about it. At my worst, I can't hold a normal conversation with my superstar husband. If you pressed mute, you might think it was normal, but if you could hear, you would hear things like this.
S.H.: "I'm going to clean off the top of the refrigerator. It's gotten a little out of hand."
Me: "I was JUST going to get to that! ACK! What are you saying? I'm a SLOB? Don't you realize how much I have to do around here? (I give The List) And I'm not even sleeping at nights!!! Why don't YOU try nursing the baby? Huh? Or how about that time you left me at a rest stop? I know that has nothing to do with this... but it proves that you're not perfect EITHER. What? I don't know what I'm talking about. I just want to die."
Obviously everything is not okay here.
But anyways. That's at my worst. When anxiety keeps me from focusing on anything and I have a vague sense of dread following me around. The depression that comes with it makes me want to crawl into bed forever. So the combo is a little neurotic. They're like bad teachers or the kind of bus drivers that yell at you, or like having street cleaners every other day. Do I park the car? Or not park the car?
At my worst, I'm really confused and trying to come up with a reason to not be anxious. At my best, I'm doing okay, and it's below the surface, I'm stepping on it's ugly little head but I can feel it back there waiting. Today I'm a little farther out of the hole, but waking up feeling overwhelmed made me need to write about it and gain a little more ground. One of my favorite Psalms has a part that goes like this:
If I should say, "My foot has slipped," Your lovingkindness, O Lord, will hold me up.
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolation delights my soul. **
So here I am, mind racing with scaly thoughts, and God has a way to console me. And to hold me up. A consolation even for me, even for anxiety. Even for a crazy mama who has a hard time breathing sometimes. There is goodness here, there are wide open spaces.
* These are the rules. 1. Get enough sleep 2. Take your vitamins 3. Wash your face and brush your teeth 4. Eat regularly 5. Don't be too hard on yourself. These are good rules for new moms.
** Psalm 94: 18+19