**Disclaimer: This is raw, very raw. I hope you read to the end to avoid viewing this as a complete “Debby-downer” and understand I am truly grateful for my opportunity to be a mom here in mortality, which so many want but can’t have (gosh, that would be so incredibly heartbreaking). I just feel a need to write down my experience to help me understand it better myself (when you get to the end, you’ll realize the final chapter’s not complete yet!) and in hopes to help someone going through something similar.
Once upon a time there was a girl. An energetic, enthusiastic, optimistic, and full of life girl–and this girl was me, for the record. 🙂 I thought I had been through trials in my life at this point–hard trials even: death of a sibling, each one of my grandparents, an over-anxious mind to name just a few. But, I had always bounced back and become the vibrant “Allie” girl everyone new me as. I always wanted to grow up to become a wife and mother, but as the time approached for each of these new chapters I found myself having a hard time letting go of the previous chapter (pretty common, right!? *Cue: typical “Type A” girl or as counselors have described: “situational depression” or “a rigid desire for comfortability”). Nothing too crazy (I did really struggle with my decision to get married, but I still feel like I came out “okay!” from that experience). It wasn’t until a couple days after my first baby was born that I became familiar with a dimension of myself I really didn’t like and…my life got rocked. You can read more about that experience here, but in short I struggled really bad with this transition. I hated it, and I wanted so desperately to give my baby up for adoption and shamefully, die myself. I was in a really dark place, and I’m not sure people can fully grasp the thick darkness depression brings about unless they’ve experienced themselves. I was also super anxious and I tried everything I possibly could do to “get out” and let go of this “demon” for lack of a better term (during the experience, it feels as if you have absolutely NO CONTROL and that’s the scariest part I feel like) but, amazingly 38 days later (August 11th to be exact–it had that much of an impression on me) I woke up and rather than having that dooming thought I became so familiar with every.single.morning, “gosh, another day to try and get through and I still feel so incredibly lifeless”, I felt a little more lively. No, I wasn’t “healed” or back to my 100% self, in fact I was very far from it. But, it was a state of being that I could handle. It was almost like I was in this state of intense awareness and carefulness. I was extra cautious and even a little paranoid about not letting that darkness drown me again (even so much as to being careful about what music I let on or what lights I turned off–as those would change the “mood” or “atmosphere”). I tried to keep my head above water, and though sometimes throughout that day I’d get worked up, “ah, ah, no don’t come back, C’mon Allie!”, I was able to make it through the day with my head above water. It took A LOT of work (mental work), but slowly as the weeks went on it didn’t take as much effort to keep myself afloat. So, there I lived for a couple years. Able to manage the state of being I was in, but yet still always feeling a little empty from having a part of me that I was so familiar with (energetic, enthusiastic, optimistic) “stolen”.
Now here’s the part I’m trying to sift through. Though many see a positive “outcome” from this experience (I absolutely love being a mom to my adorable little girl now!), I’m not the same. I know trials should change you “for the better” and make you stronger, but I feel like this experience coupled with another one I’ll tell you about here shortly has left me broken (in an unstable kind of way–not the positive humble kind of way if that makes sense), scared for what life will bring and how I’ll handle it, pessimistic and more serious about life, and a little untrusting of the words I used to once firmly believe, “Through Christ, I can do ALL THINGS!” I’ve worked through my uncertainty (“Why would Heavenly Father, who loves me dearly, let me experience something so dark–was He trying to kill me!?”) and in retrospect understand Heavenly Father was there as I knew all along and didn’t perhaps make it happen, but allowed it to happen for specific reasons as it has allowed me to use the Atonement and plead in prayer like never before. But still, I don’t feel like I ever truly got back 100% after having Lydia (though so many others may see me “functioning” and think oh she’s fine now!), in fact I’ve struggled so much more with optimism, patience, simply feeling or caring, OCD and fear.
So, now we’re expecting another baby. I can finally say there’s a little tidbit of excitement coming from me now (18 weeks along), but, it took a lot to get to this point. My amazing and patient husband was ready for another baby looooooong before I was. And to be honest, I don’t even know if I was ready when we “planned” to have this one. I was just so dang scared to do it all over again. Like, think with me for a minute–it’s human instinct to try and keep yourself alive so doesn’t it seem completely absurd to do something that I felt like literally almost killed me, well a part of me (the energetic, enthusiastic, optimistic, and full of life girl) it kinda did?? But, my courage spoke through and told me, “You can do it this time since you’ll be more prepared!”, “It might be a completely different experience”, etc. etc. Plus, I’ve been promised children (plural) in this life, so deep down I knew that at least meant I had to do it one more time and plus, I would be lying if I didn’t somewhat feel prompted to. I’ve always wanted “lots” of kids (4-5 for me), but now I’m scared to even have more than one. I had the thought of, “Maybe you should wait to feel a little more steady”, get your anxiety a little more under control, or perhaps start a low dose of an anti-depressant before deciding to have another baby, but they kinda got dismissed (and that’s okay, I’m not regretting getting pregnant). So, here I am two blue lines later. 🙂 I took the pregnancy test when I was about 4 weeks along… Okay, great! A little scared, but still hopeful and pumped that I’m going to do this again. Then on week 6, my life got rocked…again. I hadn’t felt the pregnancy symptoms hit until I was 6 weeks and it was downhill from there. I felt sooo sick. So sick. And I was not sure how to explain the sickness I was feeling (it wasn’t a typical nauseous feeling, though throwing up I became well familiar with) which was very frustrating (plus the meds and things friends had suggested didn’t work). But, worse than that I started to feel that dark cloud I knew too well from Lydia’s birth start to hover over me again. I felt the anxiety taking over again and bam, despite my best efforts felt out of control again. For weeks on weeks I felt lifeless. I went through this cycle of “No, this CANNOT happen” to “Gosh it’s so hard to experience things, especially the holidays, from this low and uncomfortable point” to “Okay, I’ve accepted this and I can find little glimpses of joy despite feeling awful”. BUT WHY!?? I’m not sure if it was the hormones, my subconsciousness remembering those hormones as “bad news”, or the feelings of sickness that sent me spiraling downward (since it was out of my control), but the fact of the matter is, I experienced this terrifying mind disease again. This time, maybe not as intense as my post-partum experience, but enough to set me back more and leave me more broken, more scared.
So here I am left feeling unstable, broken, vulnerable. I’m not certain if this is how Heavenly Father intends to teach me? But, my thought is no. I envision more strength and more undaunted faith, yet still humble and teachable–so I’m working on it. But the worst–this debilitating fear that there is a darkness out there way bigger and more powerful than me and I’m scared that if I come in contact with it any more in my future, I’m not sure how I’ll react or what I would do (maybe that’s just occuring now because these experiences are still soo recent and close to home for me!?), but the thought of having it “kill” me really weighs on me. That’s just how I feel presently and I am slowly trying to rebuild my faith in my ability to make it through life, yet remain humble enough to remember and rely wholly on Him.
So, there it is. Still working on the end chapter (fingers crossed!) of this particular experience for me. I am so grateful to have only experienced these episodes as just that, “episodes” rather than chronically. I am incredibly thankful for a loving Heavenly Father who has pulled me out of the slumps once more, Jesus Christ who I know feels exactly how I feel (even when I’m not sure how I feel) and His Atonement that brings hope, an extremely patient and easy-going husband who tries to understand me even when he can’t, the most patient and awesome 2 1/2-year-old daughter who somehow just understands “Mommy is sick”, an amazing pregnancy counselor who’s helped me see trigger thoughts that may easily be the cause of it all for me, and a close, supportive and caring family, and the best listening friends and ward family I could ever ask for.
Things that have helped me:
-Reading my Patriarchal blessing