My Story of Stress & Anxiety
The city we lived in when my son was young is where we consider our family’s “home.” It’s not where my husband and I grew up, but it’s where we moved when we needed a fresh start, where we made friends that will last a lifetime, and where we welcomed our son and watched him begin to grow. It’s where we would walk to the farmers market, or enjoy a glass of wine on the front porch with our neighbors, or have a last-minute cookout to enjoy the beautiful day. The community we had there fed our souls in ways that no other community ever had. I felt blessed to live there and was grateful that God had brought us to such a wonderful place. We knew living there wouldn’t be forever, but we were happy to have as much time as we could.
Then, one winter day when my son was just over a year old, we found out that my husband was being reassigned urgently to a project in New York. It was an unexpected change of plans when things were just starting to feel balanced again. My PPA was improving and I was getting adjusted to the ever-changing life of being a mom.
The move hit me hard. Not just leaving the place I loved so dearly, but going to what turned out to be the worst place we’ve lived. The next 18 months brought on some of the toughest times of my life. The weight of everything was just too heavy for me. It felt like one tough day after another.
I don’t know exactly when PPA stops being related to postpartum and it just becomes anxiety, but whatever the official marker, I'm pretty sure I crossed it. I tried to do more to relax and rest, but mentally, I stayed distracted. I took more supplements and made more dietary changes to manage my health, and while those things worked to a degree, it was still a mental and emotional battle.
Finally, last summer, we found out we were moving to Arizona. It was a relief that we were leaving, and I hoped that the warm, sunny environment would instantly help things.
As with many challenges, you don’t fully understand the weight you were carrying until it’s lifted off of you. That’s what happened to me when we first got to Arizona. My son and I came a month early while my husband wrapped up his other project, and the time alone was harder than I expected. I didn’t like to be in my own head, and I was exhausted from having a young child, moving, running a business, and staying busy enough to drown out the constant dialogue in my mind.
Eventually, I didn’t have the energy to be anxious and worried anymore and then the anxiety shifted to depression. I was tired. Tired like I'd never been before. Tired in my bones, in my heart, in my soul. Never knowing when sadness would overtake me, I would hide in the closet or turn up the music so my son wouldn’t notice the tears. But he did…and he would wipe them away, which just made me feel so much worse.
I didn’t feel like a good mom, like a good wife, or daughter, or friend. And I didn’t feel like a good Christian, incapable of fully trusting God and allowing Him to have complete control in my life.
I felt like I had failed everyone, and failed at everything. Up until this point, my life had been based on achievements, accomplishments, and how much I could do. Now I was in a place where I could do so little, feeling worthless and helpless.
I was broken.