I recently shared part of my story with a small group of ladies who met together looking for community, looking for the opportunity to be real. Since sharing this portion of my journey with them, I have felt like I needed to share it here as well.
After the birth of our last child, I was enjoying life with our new addition and everything seemed to be fine. But about a month or so after her birth, things were not okay anymore. Something had changed. My thoughts were no longer joyful, but dark and fearful. I felt out of control, full of fear and panic. Some days I felt so disconnected I couldn’t cry and other days, all I could do was cry. In the midst of it all, I felt utterly alone. It felt like my soul was aching. I felt crushed to my core. To be around people was an intense chore, trying to participate in conversation and act like I wasn’t falling apart on the inside.
I remember my family and I stopping by my best friend’s house one day just for a minute and I did not even want to see her. I remember going out to eat with extended family one evening and somehow managing to hold it together and smile and laugh just long enough to make it through supper. All the while I smiled on the outside, I felt a knot of tears at the back of my throat waiting to break forth. And did they ever when we finally got in the car to leave. I spent the 45 minute drive home, huddled into a ball in the passenger seat with tears streaming constantly and silently down my cheeks with my poor husband worried and not knowing what to do. There were days that I felt like the only thing that was keeping me from running the car into a tree was that I had my children with me. I was terrified I was going to leave my family because of the thoughts I was having.
My husband and children watched me walk through this mess. They were the ones who saw me forcing myself to do what needed to be done around the house with tears constantly flowing. They were the ones who saw their wife and mommy disappear before their eyes and turn into this sobbing, pulled inward mess of a woman.
I shared with my husband some of the things that plagued me and how I could NOT get beyond those things no matter how hard I tried. How I spent 24 hours a day filled with fear, panic, dread over the things I might do. How I cried for hours at night after everyone else had gone to sleep. How I did not want to wake up in the morning. How my thoughts were so dark and so overwhelming that I could not overcome them no matter what I did. I shared with him how often I had begun to think of taking my own life. How I felt like I was barely hanging on by a thread. How I felt so skeptical, bitter, angry, and afraid. He wanted desperately to help me out of the deep pit I was in, but nothing seemed to help. One evening as he was trying to help me and as I was sharing what I felt inside, he looked at me and said, “Julie, I don’t know what to do.” He told me that he had been so worried and concerned for my life that he had taken the two guns we had in the house and removed them from the premises. Through prayer that evening, we decided that the best thing for me would be to go and spend some time with my parents and see if they could help me.
While at my parents, we explored all the options we could to figure out what was wrong. Had I allowed the enemy a foothold in my life? As my dad attempted to sort through it all and saw the fear and panic I was dealing with, he remembered a lady in their church who had gone through something similar. We met with her and she shared what she had dealt with. It was all very much like what I was going through. She had met with close friends who had tried to help her deal with anything spiritually that might be causing it, but nothing changed. She had finally gone to a doctor who told her that what she was going through was something that happened to women often when their bodies were going through a significant hormonal change. Through our discussion with her, we came to realize that what I was dealing with was post partum depression. I had not experienced anything like what I was going through then after the births of any of my other children so I had not recognized it for what it was.
It helped to know what was causing what I was going through, but that did not make it go away. That night as I read in God’s Word before bed, He showed me Isaiah 25:1 that says,
“O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt you, I will give thanks to Your name; For you have worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.”
As I read it, I clung to what it said, to the truths it reminded me of—that my God is a God who has worked and continues to work wonders, that He has plans that were formed long ago, that He is always in control, that He is faithful and I can trust Him, that He hadn’t let go of me, that I was still safely in His hands and in His sight, that He was watching out for me, that He was with me, and that He had plans to use this in my life.
That verse spoke to the depths of my soul and became something that I clung to. In the following days, I started medication that would work to help level out what was going on in my body, but even then, that did not make it all just go away. I remember one night at home. My husband and I had talked a bit as we usually do before going to sleep and then as usual, he promptly fell asleep. As I was lying there awake, I felt everything flood in that I had been dealing with. I felt the panic and fear rising and I felt like I could not take it. I reached for my Bible and opened it to the verse God had given to me while at my parents’ house. As my eyes frantically fell over those words, I felt the panic begin to leave and peace begin to replace it. I laid my Bible down and turned to try to go to sleep and once again, I felt the panic and fear and darkness seep back in. So I sat up again and took my Bible and read that verse again. I sat there for 30 minutes reading that one verse over and over again. As long as I was reading it, I felt calm, but the minute I looked away from it, I felt overwhelmed by darkness. I clung to that scripture as I had never clung to anything before. Even now those words still speak to me, like they are forever connected to my soul because through Jesus, those words are what I clung to. They where the rock I wrapped both arms around and held on to for dear life as the waves crashed over me.
I believe that what I experienced was post partum depression with the enemy doing everything he could to compound it, to kick me while I was down, to try to finish me off. I am so thankful that through all of that, God held on to me, He protected me. He kept me from taking my own life. He gave me His Word to cling to as I walked through that darkness. He held me and never let me go. He became my Rock through His Word. He made Himself real to me! He was there in the midst of the trial. He didn’t just magically make the trial go away or disappear, but instead He spoke to me through it. He used it to help me know Him as my Rock. He used it to draw me closer to Him and help me see that He is trustworthy. He used it to cause me to look to Him rather than the world around me for answers and help. Thankfully, several months after starting the medication, I was able to stop taking it. God brought me through to the other side of that trial where my thoughts are no longer filled with such despair, but rather joy and I can see and think much more clearly again. And I know Him better and more intimately because of it.
P.S.—Has God used a trial in your life to show you who He is, who He wants to be to you? He is the Great I AM. He is everything we need and He uses the things of this life to show us how He can meet every need. Sometimes it’s hard to share with others our struggles, but so often, when we finally share our struggles and what God did through them, they help someone else who has been going through something similar. Pray about sharing with others what God has used in your life to draw you closer to Him. I would love to hear your story as well. Please feel free to share in the comments.
Also, if you are currently experiencing any of the things I mentioned above, please don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you and ask for help. Sometimes we can’t see clearly enough to help ourselves or know what needs to be done, but God does and He places people in our lives who He can use to help us through.