Three years ago I was diagnosed with PTSD. PTSD? ME? But I’m the pastor’s wife. I am a Christian. I haven’t been in a war. My son had open-heart surgery over a year ago! How can I have PTSD? And yet, here I was sitting with a counselor who loved the Lord and had become someone I trusted and looked up to and she said, “Yes. You have PTSD. But you will overcome it.”
And by the blood of the lamb and the word of my testimony, I am overcoming it.
I sat there with tears streaming down my face. I had PTSD. I needed to be put on medicine so I didn’t break to the point of no return. I had to get out of the fog. This was so foreign to me, and something I didn’t want. I was ready to be back to normal, to start running again, being who I knew I should be. But there was a journey I had to go through first.
I spent my whole pregnancy with Kaden in the bathroom. I was just constantly sick. It was a God thing that I was able to be a stay at home momma because I couldn’t do much. Payton, my then 2 year old, didn’t get the best part of her mommy then. We spent a lot of time cuddling and watching movies, but not playing. Not taking her on outings. Not doing all of the things I planned for us to do to bond before her baby brother came into the picture. I wasn’t a part of much that year. Missed a lot of church and time with family and friends. And to spend time in the Word? I couldn’t concentrate.
Then that baby boy came and my whole world was totally rocked.
A journey of drs, home health, hospital stays, and keeping Kaden away from germs. An 8 month long journey (that still hasn’t completely ended). More time away from friends and family. It was a scary journey. And sometimes a lonely journey. I had to make sure that my baby boy wasn’t dying before my eyes and I wasn’t catching it. Fear often gripped me. Sleep was far from my routine. I would keep my hand on Kaden’s belly while I tried to rest, and keep my eyes on him to make sure he wasn’t turning blue.
Then the nights in the hospital. Just me and him.
The lies the enemy would speak. The battle of fighting for Kaden’s life fell on my shoulders as Blaine still had to provide for our family and try to be there for our daughter. Oh how I missed that little girl.
I cried a lot. But I never processed what we were going through. It was fight or flight. And I had to fight. So everything was stuffed. Until a year later and my emotions began to implode within me.
Those lies the enemy would whisper became screams in my mind. There was a darkness I couldn’t feel my way out of. I couldn’t make wise decisions because I couldn’t work them out in my mind. It felt like I was surrounded by a fog and the only thing I could see before me was a challenge I couldn’t fight on my own.
“You’re not good enough. You are failing as a mother. Sure, your baby survived, but look at all you have lost. You are a burden. Your kids deserve better. Your husband deserves better. You made it through this time, but you can’t even face the next day. What is wrong with you?” Lie after lie.
I continued to break. The lies became my truth. Who am I? What is wrong with me? How can I be a mom, a wife, a pastor’s wife? Plus any other role I was required to fill. Until one day I broke. I was driving and I had the thought…”my kids and my husband would be better off without me if God would just give me a way out.” The only thought that kept suicide just far enough out of reach was not wanting to leave my kids behind. Not wanting to miss them growing up. I thank Papa for those little thoughts that kept me from that point of no return.
But I was scared. Thought after thought would flood my mind as I tried to fall asleep each night. I couldn’t take it and would get into fetal position begging God to take me. I finally reached out to my doctor and began to open up to Blaine just enough for me to begin going to counseling. Something had to give. This wasn’t okay to live in this pain.
The medicine started. I did some light therapy that is used on soldiers coming back from wars. It was so hard. But the hard got me out of that fog and slowly the screams turned to whispers and the whispers soon became silence. I was facing things head on that I didn’t even know was in me. But I still felt so out of control and any situation that I couldn’t control broke me.
One night we were having small group. I was feeding Kaden who was probably around 1 at the time and everyone else was fixing a plate. I noticed the food dwindling quickly and Kaden was nowhere near finished. Tears began to stream down my face and I had to get to the bathroom. I was so panicked that there would be no food left for me and I would be hungry.
What?! We live in America. Hunger is not an issue. It never has been. But somehow this situation broke me.
I brought it to the attention of my counselor who helped me to see that it wasn’t the fact that there was no food, but that I felt like I wasn’t being taken care of. I had no control. I had to feed Kaden and no one cared that I wasn’t eating. (why would they be?) PTSD. It made no sense until I realized that in the hospital, it wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about taking care of my needs. It was about Kaden. He had to survive. And so I pushed my needs to the side. Now those needs were screaming at me in the oddest places to be met.
Sidenote: No one saw me with tears that night. I sucked it up before I came out of the bathroom. So I didn’t have to explain the craziness in my mind.
If that wasn’t enough, food became my comfort. Before Kaden I had run several 5Ks and even completed my first 10K with beating my PR in training! I loved it. Running while pregnant was nonsense because I couldn’t hold anything down. It just wasn’t safe for me. Being trapped in the walls of our home to prevent illness and in hospital rooms week after week, exercise was the furthest thing from my mind. And who wants hospital food?! One way people like to bless you while you are in the hospital is buying you food. So I gladly accepted and food became something I could control and one of the few things I enjoyed during that time. The problem was, it didn’t end when the hospital stays ended. Food is still something I struggle with. I haven’t lost any weight since I had Kaden. And with PTSD, exercising isn’t something you jump to do.
Fast-forward 3 years. In January I began to experience more symptoms of depression. After 2 and a half years of finally having some normalcy I didn’t want to go back down the same road, so I sought help from my dr. He decided to take me off of my medicine because he thought maybe I had too much serotonin in my body. I have been completely off of Cymbalta for almost one week, and while I am having extreme dizziness and am struggling with being tired, I am not having the horror stories I have read. Praise the Lord!
My walk with Papa has become what drives me again. I am facing a few different trials right now, but these situations no longer overwhelm me. I can feel things again. The fog has lifted. I don’t have to be in control. I can minister to others and not feel like life is being taken out of me.
God allows trials like this into our lives because it grows us. It makes us more like Jesus.
He has drawn me deeper in my walk with Him. He has given me that taste of desperation that I long to always have for Him.
If I hadn’t gone through this, I would be missing the deep love He has given me for my husband. I may have never come to a place of making sure that each day and memory counts with my kids. I would have never seen the body of Christ in action. I would have missed knowing what it means to be desperate for Jesus. In the midst of the chaos, He has been my calm. My steady. My anchor.
He is good. Even in the pain, He is good.