Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Uncertainity of the Moment

The last few days, with the exception of most of the day yesterday, and so far this morning (I've only been awake for an hour) have been a bit rough in the rocky sea of postpartum OCD. My brain felt like it was taking a landslide back into the pit and panic that arises when I allow OCD to cause fear.

It's hard for me to post in the midst of that; and outwardly all appears fine. We all wear masks, some more disguising than others. Behind my mask were moments of a quickly arising panic that if left unchecked would have gone into a full blown panic attack.

I thought about what I had been doing differently, to see if any "triggers" were making my OCD "louder". I realized after going through a few checklists that I:

1. Have not been eating enough.
2. Have not been drinking enough fluids.
3. Have not been getting enough sleep.

If my basic physical needs are not being met consistently, my mental health is going to suffer. Chronic dehydration has been shown to contribute to anxiety. Lack of sleep is a major contributor to elevating postpartum illness.

I also had not been waking up as consistently to read the Word and pray. The last week or so I had been averaging about 6 hours of sleep a night. For me, that is just not enough. I was going to bed later to take care of "Christmas stuff" (really what is there to "take care of"?) So, the last two nights I have been putting myself to bed early and attempting to get up before the kids to have my time in solitude with Jesus. Thankfully, this morning I was able to do that.

My appetite is suppressed early to mid day due to some of the medication I take, so the nutrition I needed is not there. My fluid intake was well below the recommended amount (I just learned that you are supposed to take your body weight and divide by half, and that is the number of ounces that your body needs to consume on a daily basis!).

We are complex beings, with multiple aspects of our bodies intertwined. The state of wellness that we seek to achieve cannot be found if there isn't a balance of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. I cannot achieve that balance without the help of Jesus; and boy if there isn't a balance things get rough. I might be able to go a day or two on full speed but after that everything crashes.

God has used "glitches" in my mental health (the term I use when OCD threatens to consume me again) to point me back to him.

I feel like these are elementary thoughts. If you find yourself feeling uncertain, out of sorts, fatigued, or a "spike" in your postpartum illness, consider the above and see where you are and do what you can to make the necessary changes to enhance your wellness.

Whether it's a postpartum illness you are battling, or some other equally unnerving battle, take heart. God's word says,

"Have mercy on me, O God, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. "
Psalm 57:1

Monday, December 12, 2011

My child, the redeemed sinner

Over the weekend I came upon the realization that my children are sinners. I have known this intellectually, but had not experienced it spiritually and emotionally until now. My oldest sinned against me and it left me dumbfounded and wounded when my eyes were opened to what his words meant. I won't go into detail about what was spoken, but it was the first bit of "true" sin that I had experienced from my child. This has not to say he has never sinned before. His words revealed a selfish and ungrateful heart and I was just stunned. The kicker of it all was that he had no idea. I stumbled through a response to him, trying to lovingly correct him, all the while not knowing what to say.

As parents we all think highly of our children. Sometimes we put them upon pedestals they don't belong on. We can't imagine that they would ever do anything "wrong". We are blinded by our love for them.

This "revelation" of sorts came upon me while I was driving to get blizzards from Dairy Queen for my husband and me. (The Candy Cane Chill is AWESOME!) I was hurt by his words and took them personally. I couldn't imagine that he had any bit of selfishness is him, and wondered where I had gone wrong as a parent. It then dawned on me that I hadn't neglected some major parenting responsibility, but that he, like all of us, is a sinner. It is just starting to manifest itself in a more obvious manner as his mind grows and his capacity for understanding expands.

Tears streamed down my face as I experienced the first bit of hurt from my child, despite his lack of intention. Then I grieved for the sins I committed against my parents. I recalled the many times I sinned against them in various ways and felt the pang of regret and sadness that I couldn't undo anything. (Love you Mom...)

This pondering spiraled into the next set of thoughts about how God must have felt when Adam and Eve ate the apple in Eden. How we stab the heart of God when we aren't walking in His ways. If I, a mere human being, felt the way I did at the words of preschooler, how God must feel when I sin against Him (which is daily, I might add).

What did my Jesus feel like on that cross when His father turned His back for that moment of agony when He took upon all the sin of the world?

I am humbled as a parent and as a Christian, ever so thankful for the grace that has been bestowed upon me so that my sins are washed away. I am even more aware of what it means to be a parent. So much more then providing clothing, safety, and food. What a responsibility. I praise Him that my oldest has recently asked Jesus to be in His heart, to forgive His sins. That God has given him the ability to understand what sin is, and that I never have to worry about His spiritual destination.

I didn't know it was possible, but my love for my oldest grew even more after coming to the understanding of all of this. While He is in God's hands, I have become a more fierce momma, determined to hold up a shield (or at least try) against the arrows of Satan and temptation before them. Unfortunately, I don't have that power (but thankfully God does) but I do have the ability to teach them.

Father God, I am ever so humbled before you. Thank you for using my son to teach to me a valuable lesson. Thank you for entrusting him to me. Please guide me in my words to direct them to You. Thank you for choosing me to be part of your family. Thank you for the birth of Jesus, who as an infant would one day be nailed to a cross for me. Help me to remember that my children are sinners and in need of your grace. When I feel the pain of their sin, or when sin brings pain to themselves or others, may your Holy Spirit work in our lives to correct it and grow closer to You.

"..for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."
Romans 3:23-24

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Distraction of Rest

I LOVE the Christmas season. I love the houses decorated with tacky Christmas decor. I love the decorations at the mall. I love the radio stations that play only Christmas music. I love all the Christmas specials that come on TV that I watched as a child.

I remember the anticipation of what Santa left under the tree. My family was not by any means wealthy, but somehow Santa always left me what felt like 100 presents under the tree. Being an only child probably contributed to that.

It wasn't until I matured as a Christian that I fully embraced the phrase "Jesus is the Reason for the Season". Being a mom I see things in a whole new perspective. I get to watch my children revel in the "magic" of Christmas and all the mystery it holds. We took a walk last night and looked at all of our neighbors' Christmas lights and I relished in my oldest's excitement and enthusiasm.
He understands that it is Jesus' birthday. I wonder though, why are we giving each other gifts instead of a gift to Him? After all, it is His birthday. How do we keep our perspective focused on Christ and encourage our children to do the same thing? This is a question I hope to ask myself not just during the holidays but throughout the year as well.

I mentioned that Santa was very generous to me as a child. As a result I have the tendency to want to buy my children everything under the sun. Thankfully, God has given me a husband who has helped me scale back on that; but that desire to "spoil" them is still there. This year I am looking for ways to create memories for my children that don't focus on what is under the tree.

This season I was able to get a "head start" on my Christmas celebration. I normally forget to pull out my Christmas CD's and movies until December 26th. The CD's are out, the movies are ready to be watched and my oldest and I have already began making Christmas crafts. Last year we sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus and made Him a birthday cake. I plan on doing the same this year. I love the element of tradition and ritual (you would think I was Catholic) but there is comfort found in it.

As I have been reading through the book of Hebrews, I have been learning about two types of rest that God describes. His eternal rest, which can only be found through knowing Christ, and His Sabbath rest. Most of us know that God rested on the 7th day of creation. He desires for us to rest in Him, to honor when He rested (even though he didn't "need" to rest). Sunday has been set apart as a day of rest for Christianity, though more through culture then God's command. I look around our culture and see more activity on Sundays than other days of the week. Some of us spend all day at church, which in itself isn't a bad thing, but are we resting?

I'm not talking about taking a nap here, or a vacation. Though, most days I covet them! This Christmas season I want to focus on the Sabbath rest He commanded us to have and perform it purposefully. Many of us go through this season and work frantically to check off our to do lists and then we blink and Christmas is over.

My prayer and desire for my heart is to honor God each day with a mini "Sabbath" rest. Reading the Christmas story a little each day and reflecting upon the events that took place for our Savior to be born. Sitting with no distraction, praising and thanking Him for His hand that guided Mary and Joseph during a scary time full of uncertainty. Ignore the laundry, the dusting that needs to be done, and the to do list for just a few minutes and dedicating a small portion of each day to rest in God.

It is more restorative then idly watching TV, reading a book, playing with my Android, or messing around on the computer (guilty am I!). I think of this as a mindless rest.....which really is no rest at all. The luxuries of this world can become such a distraction, a time waster.

Throughout the hardest parts of my postpartum OCD experience, the concept of rest was a joke. Sleep was merely required by my exhausted body and mind. I was trudging through the sludge with no end in sight. I couldn't shut my mind up for anything (and I wanted it to be so badly) and at times I felt like the world was spinning around me and I was stuck in the middle of a tornado with no escape.

If you are there right now, due to a postpartum illness or just as a season of life, I ache for you. I understand the fear and uncertainty. Seek His rest, ask Him to help you find peace in His Sabbath rest. Rest in His word and in His presence. Purposefully practicing resting in Him will bring restoration, rejuvenation, and can only help your recovery experience.

P.S. It only took me 4 days to complete this post...

Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest.
Matthew 11:29

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

But I'm Scared....

My oldest has been a hair twirler as early as I can remember. When his hair was long enough he used to twirl the hair right on top of his head before falling asleep. During our nursing days, he held on to my hair with a fist clenched so tightly I had to pry his fingers loose.

His hair is rather short now, so he doesn't have the luxury he used to. So, he uses mine. We were in the middle of playing and he grabbed my hair on both sides and pulled it under my chin. He said, "Momma, who do you look like?" I said, "Who?" He said, "Mary!" (Mother of Jesus). I laughed. He pulled my hair pack and put it behind my shoulders and said, "Now you look like Momma again".

His words struck me at that moment. I began to wonder about his perspective of my PPOCD. Did I still look like momma in my worst moments? Did he see the darkness that wrapped itself around my heart and mind? He many not have understood exactly what was happening, but I know he sensed it. Thoughts like "I've ruined him for life" or "He's going to be an anxious man" plague my heart. I wonder if he'll remember any of it. I did my best to protect him from it and am not sure how well I succeeded.

Recently he has been "afraid of everything". The dark, his room, being left alone, the closet, going to preschool. You name it, he'll tell you a reason why he is afraid of it. I don't know if this is stemming from normal childhood fear, or if he is emotionally scarred. As ridiculous as that sounds, that's what runs through my head....

There is a part of me that feels like the worst mother in the world, and then there is the other part of me that knows this is not true. I didn't ask for a postpartum mood disorder, but I got one. I got help for it, and I got better and am continuing to head in the right direction. God's grace has been more then abundant and his provision overflowing.

After exhausting lots of attempts to alleviate his fears, I finally found a way to at least show him a little bit of reassurance. My therapist suggested that I teach him how to be "in the moment" during times when he is not afraid. Placing his hand over his heart and saying "You are ok right now, and God will always keep you ok in your heart. When you feel scared, put your hand over your heart and remember that when you weren't feeling scared, you were ok, and that God is keeping you ok now."

It seemed to help a little, but then we integrated a concept from the book The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. In short, a little raccoon doesn't want to go to school, he wants to stay home with his momma raccoon. Momma raccoon goes through all the reasons why school is important and fun. She shares a very old secret with him called "The Kissing Hand". She kissed the palm of her baby raccoon and told him to put his hand to his cheek "whenever he felt lonely or needed a little loving from home". This reassured him greatly and he was excited that he could take her love with him wherever he went. The story ends with him giving his momma a kiss on the middle of her hand as he left for school. I think she needed that Kissing Hand just as much as her little raccoon.

Our bedtime and goodbye rituals include the kissing hands and he says to me, "Now you always have my love, Momma". I tell him he always has mine and we put our hands over each other's hearts and on our cheeks. I remind him that he always has Jesus' love in his heart as well and he can always talk to him when he feels scared. I pray this helps him work out whatever his brain is processing and he can be "himself" again....and isn't scarred for life....

I kissed his hand when I dropped him off today at preschool and he smiled shyly and kissed mine. Just like the momma raccoon I need my very own kissing hand just as much as she did, and just as much as my son does, perhaps more so.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your comfort and peace. May it penetrate my heart daily so I may be a source of comfort and peace to my children.

"For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. "
2 Corinthians 1:5

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Blog Interuppted

I woke up this morning excited to be up early and ready to write. I won't write unless I have spent some time in the Word or praying. I've realized that not doing that takes my focus away from Christ. After some time well spent, I was sat down at the computer.

Then I heard my littlest crying from his crib. Again. I had just nursed him right before my devotional time and put him back down to sleep. This time he wasn't going to go back down. He was ready to be up.

I was slightly frustrated at not having any "me" time at that moment. What I got in return was much better. For a solid 45 minutes my littlest and I were able to play on the floor together without any interruptions. A little music in the background and we were learning and discovering. I reminded myself that these opportunities to interact with him at this young age are so limited, and decided that it was okay for writing to wait.

I feel so robbed of the joy of infancy that I did not experience with him during the first few months of my postpartum OCD. Looking back on it now, much of it is a blur (Coping mechanism? Or just mommy brain...either way).

Holding on to my children and wishing these days to last forever is as futile as grains of sand falling between my fingers. I love each new discovery they find as they grow and cheer them on. As much I want them to stay little forever, I find myself growing as a mom with each new milestone they reach and looking forward to their next achievement.

My oldest played soccer this season for the first time. Peewee sports are a hilarity all in their own for the pure humor they provide with the children running the wrong way, standing still on the field, or running off the field because they have to go potty. Amidst the disorganization, every once in awhile the kids would get it right and pass the ball to each other and score a goal.

When my son scored a goal, I turned into a wild maniac screaming my head off and jumping up and down. You would have thought he had jut won an Olympic gold medal. He would run off the field and into my arms for a big squeeze, smelling of little boy sweat and dirt.

When I get "it" right in my walk with Christ, I have to imagine him jumping up and down. The applause isn't for me, but for Himself. "Yay! Finally, she gets it!" He must think. Not for my glory, but for His own.

Through my own stumbles, sin, and trials, His grace picks me back up again and points me in the right direction. During my horrid experience with postpartum OCD when the nights felt like they would last forever, somehow he worked in my heart even then and revealed Himself to me in new ways. I became a child again, reaching a new milestone with each passing day. He was bringing me through each step of healing, even though I was unaware.

I'm still licking my wounds. Occasionally it feels like salt was poured on them. I have my joy back on most days, and get to be the mommy I know God has created me to be. I am ever so grateful.

"But as for me, afflicted and in pain, may your salvation, God, protect me. I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving."
Psalm 69:29-30

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Yesterday I experienced what I like to call "intrusive memories". These stem from when I was wading through the mud of postpartum OCD. When I was struck with this illness, I was working as a school nurse. Each day that I had to go and pick up my children from daycare was so fear provoking. There were some days that I had to ask my husband to meet me there.

I remembered specifically picking my youngest up from the baby room with this big smile on my face masking the churning angst in my chest and abdomen. Intrusive thoughts ran wild the minute I pulled into the parking lot and spiraled me into a pit of despair. As I picked my infant up from the swing, off the play mat, or from the arms of his caregiver, I felt a rush of emotions.

These emotions were so overwhelming that I can only compare them to an early childhood memory of getting caught up into a wave in the ocean and seeing the water spin around me. Fear, predominantly, followed by guilt as I looked into the precious face of my son who smiled at me as I held him. Deep sadness settled with thoughts of "Why is this happening? Why can't I be a normal mom? What if I don't really love my children?" I hated myself.

Reflecting upon those early PPOCD days are hard. If I let myself I can still allow room for the deep sadness and feeling of despair to seep in, despite the progress I have made. I felt somehow flawed, a lesser woman and mother.

I am approaching the ninth month of living (knowingly) with OCD and the gratitude I have to my Heavenly Father is overwhelming. He has taken me out of a dark and deserted place and has planted me firmly under His protection and love (a place I have always been, but Satan tried to convince me otherwise). He has pulled me out of the spiraling wave just as my mom or dad did when I was young.

I have accepted that OCD is part of my life and will continue to be. No doubt, some days or moments absolutely suck and I hate them. If you are in the midst of a postpartum mood disorder, just hang on. It sounds so easy and almost insulting for me to say. There were moments where I felt as if I was hanging on the edge of a cliff by my fingernails. God has brought me off that cliff. I think just a leg is dangling now.

I don't allow the intrusive memories to take over. I can pick up my littlest and breathe him in as he rests his head against my shoulder while I settle him down for the night and be right there in that moment, praising and thanking God for this amazing gift.

At one point, I verbalized to many that I would have gladly accepted a cancer diagnosis rather than postpartum depression/anxiety/OCD. I would never, ever have chosen to willingly walk through the throes of postpartum illness, but I didn't get to make that choice. If it meant that I wasn't going to have my littlest, I would rather have gone through it.

Now my heart yearns to share with all women in their childbearing years, and those who may have gone through postpartum mood disorders without the resources available now and had to suffer in silence. I know it hurts, I know it seems like it will never end. I remember being in the fetal position of the couch in my therapist's office for the very first time sobbing, just "knowing" that I was going to feel this way forever. Praise God I was wrong.

"He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. "
Psalm 40:2

Thursday, November 3, 2011

From One Thought to the Next

I mentioned previously that we are in the process of remodeling our bathroom. We bought a townhouse 2 and half years ago and it needed some TLC. OK, it needed a lot of TLC. So, room by room we have made it ours and now we are creating what I hope to be my secret little spa sanctuary.

My husband and I stood staring at the tile that was newly caulked to our soon to be shower. "It's not straight. It looks like the leaning tower of Pisa," I commented. "It's going to bother me forever!" I have the weird ability to hang pictures without the use of a level and it being aligned . My husband stood next to me staring at it. I grabbed a level (left by the contractors, I'm not that anal that I carry a level with I mentioned I don't even need it) and handed it to him. Sure enough, the telltale bubble in the fluorescent green tube was not in the middle. Ok, not all of it. Three quarters of it was in the bubble and the rest gravitated toward the right. I felt my anxiety start to rise.

Let me insert here that I learned earlier in the day of a close family member in the hospital with chest pain. I went into protective mode and became numb. I absorbed the news as if I was back working in the ER. (Oh yeah, I'm an RN). I asked all the right questions to glean a prognosis and continued to just "go with it" until the askew tiles set me off.

Praise God I didn't go into full panic attack mode but I could feel myself headed there. My brain does this thing called catastrophic thinking where it takes the worst case scenario of a situation and carries it out from start to finish. I have been doing this for years, before my diagnosis of OCD. I imagined my loved one coding with all the medical staff rushing to her bed in an unsuccessful attempt to revive her. I went next to the receiving "the" phone call and imagined carrying out funeral arrangements and what life would be like without her. I imagined walking into her house and her not being there.

Catastrophic thinking sucks. It's different than the intrusive thoughts of OCD. It's not the same images, words, or thoughts repeating themselves over and over again. It's more like witnessing a car crash and rubbernecking to see it as you slowly drive by. You can't take your eyes away from it, but it's as dangerous as looking directly into the sun light and it blinding you. When left to it's own volition, it prompts your brain to believe in this false reality and brings emotions out associated with the rumination.

So, as my brain started to go down that path, I pictured a big red stop sign in my mind and then gave her to God. I can't do anything about it. I have no control. (Though I wish I did). I slowed my breathing, played my "sound machine" and went to sleep. I praise God that His Holy Spirit has been working in me and that progress is being made in my thought life.

My intent wasn't to share the above. I wanted to compare the leaning tower of tiles to my spiritual life and how a relationship with God demands walking a straight line that we cannot walk. We stumble along this path of life like a drunken sailor (ok I really wanted to use the term "beer goggles" here but then I thought that might reveal a bit of my previous sin) unable to choose the best for ourselves. We cannot please Him with our own efforts. Being "good" doesn't cut it.

But you know who does? Jesus. My Jesus has allowed me to know my Heavenly Father and I am accepted despite my stumbling of sin. I sit in my chair at this moment in total awe and wonder of my Risen Savior. His bloodshed for me has covered it all.

We hear that in church so often, but fail to grasp the enormity of it. We sing "Amazing Grace" but don't ponder how amazing it is. We take our salvation for granted. We can't even ask for it. He has to draw us to ourselves before our blindness can be taken away.

Recently a friend said to me "He can scrape all the gunk out that is inside of us and turn it into something beautiful." Amen sister. Gratitude fills my heart as I am healing inwardly from a severe postpartum mood disorder and it is beginning to reveal a beauty I didn't know existed.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Communication Malfunction

I rose early again, thanks to my awesome husband. I came downstairs, felt content, poured my comfort coffee, and sat down to do my devotional.

I had been contemplating what to write while I poured my coffee and "prepared" myself for my newly formed morning ritual. I was just oh so excited about being awake and having some peace and quiet.

Oh, then that was interrupted. God in His infinite mercy to convict me of a sin I committed yesterday....all day.

You see, my eldest was at my side again all day. I mentioned how I got annoyed with that at times? Yesterday, all I heard was "Mommy". It felt like he must have said my name 5,000 times. It was literally like a broken record. He wasn't even doing anything wrong. I just could not grasp why he had to start every sentence every five seconds with "Mommy?"

I finally told him, "Honey, you can just talk to me, you don't always have to start with Mommy, ok?" I thought that might deter him from using my God bestowed title, but I was wrong. It didn't help that my baby couldn't nap because of our bathroom remodeling and the noise. (Yes, poor me, I couldn't hear above the blessing of construction that we are so lucky to afford.) I know that at times I was short with him.

I read from the book of James this morning, specifically about wisdom. The verse didn't necessarily parallel yesterday's sin, but nonetheless in His word convicted me to the core. I read about the difference between wisdom that comes from Him and wisdom that comes from our ugly, sin-stained hearts (my paraphrase). James went so far to say that wisdom that comes from "bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts....does not come down from heaven, but is earthly, unspiritual, and of the devil". WHOA! Ouch. I mean, I can see it being unspiritual, but of the devil? Scary.

Somehow it clicked in my mind that my selfish ambition yesterday was a feeble attempt at getting my house in order. Cleaning, organizing, whatever, and it just wasn't getting done with the "Mommying". Yesterday was not a day he was content to play on his own, but wanted me to join him in every endeavor.

This morning as I read and felt all warm and fuzzy about being awake and being with God, he showed me that I should be crying "Lord!" or "Jesus", or "Heavenly Father" or "Holy Spirit" with as much intensity and frequency that my son used, if not more. I can say that my prayer life has definitely been revived by my postpartum experience, but today God reminded me that he does not get annoyed when I call on Him, and beckons me to ALL DAY LONG.

When my husband came home I told him about the constant sound of mommy and he said, "He just loves you."

He hit the proverbial head on the nail with that one. He just loves me. He longs for my attention and focused time and could care less about my agenda. As does our Living God. My agenda is often not what God has in mind and he longs for my attention, for me to listen to the leading of His Holy Spirit.

In the midst of writing this post, guess what I heard? "Mommy?" I had to laugh. I don't think it's in scripture that God has a sense of humor, but He certainly did with me this morning.

Lord, please help me to embrace the title of "Mommy" and carry out the duties of it with a wise heart that comes from your wisdom and not from my own selfish ambition. Thank you for the work of your Holy Spirit.

"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere."
James 3:17

Monday, October 31, 2011


I literally just sat down to blog and my little one is crying in his crib. I am praying that he settles himself down enough to go back to sleep for just a few more minutes so I can write. Actually I would like him to wait for another 50 minutes so I can get a shower in, too.

As a mom these precious moments that I have been forcing myself (ok my husband is waking me up early because Lord knows I will hit the snooze button until my lovies force me out of bed) to have some much needed alone time are so valued.

A lot of things contributed to my acute onset of postpartum depression, anxiety, and OCD. Some carried more weight than others, but one of them was not allowing myself some mommy time. Or, for me, some Mommy and God time. Early rising seems to be the only way I can find some of it. If I try to find it through out the day, when my little one is napping, my eldest is constantly at my side. As much as I love him, that can get annoying. There, I said it. I am at times extremely annoyed by my children. Normal? Yes.

When I feel like that I look to God to remind me that I should be clinging to Him the way my preschooler is clinging to me. Seeking that constant source of strength, reassurance, peace, and His presence brings me closer to Him, more tuned into the Holy Spirit's guidance, and in turn, more patience to dote on my son who loves me enormously. One day I will be clinging to his grown up leg and begging him not to leave. (How ridiculous would that look?) I am trying to savor every moment with my little ones as these days race by without my control.

I am more than thrilled that I can type those words and mean it. When my postpartum OCD hit, I was scared to be with them and felt unfit as a mother. But now, 8 months later I am in a new place. I won't pretend that I don't have OCD moments or even days that bring me down, but praise be to God that my good days outweigh my bad ones.

My therapist told me that a lot of people with OCD use the AA adage, "One Day At a Time" and taught me about mindfulness. I can recall in the thick of my battle that I sometimes had to take it one minute, or even second at a time as the pain was so intense and so thick to wade through. I felt as if I had fallen into quicksand and instead of being still I fought against it, and was sucked deeper into the abyss that is postpartum hell.

Don't get me wrong, I am glad for the strength God gave me in the darkest moments. He made me a warrior. Now I can see where being still is healing. I am learning the art of mindfulness and taking each moment for what it is and not worrying about the next one. Some days are better than others, but I am going to get there.

Deliverance from any postpartum mood disorder requires utilizing the "art of mindfulness" and just being in that moment. Allowing yourself to feel whatever it is, realizing it will pass, and it will not be forever. I spoke with a good friend of mine on the phone the other day. She asked me how I was doing and I told her about my approach to mindfulness. At that moment I was cleaning the cabinets and trying to focus on every detail of that action. She thought that must be terribly exhausting. She's right, it can be, especially when the focus is on the pain of the moment, but it gets you to the next moment when it's not so bad.

Go outside today and breathe the crisp fall air, notice every detail around you, the color of the leaves or the way the wind may be blowing. Look about and absorb what your senses collect. This can be therapeutic in itself. Practicing mindfulness is such a great tool for anyone, let alone those of us who suffer from postpartum related mood disorders.

It doesn't appear that my little one is going to settle himself back down. I guess I can't complain since he sleeps through the night.... :)

"For I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness."
Psalm 26:3

Friday, October 28, 2011

Where to begin?

I bite my lower lip as I try and figure out where to start. It's 6:38 in the morning and surely one of my kiddos will be awake soon. I love that rumpled hair, sleepy morning face that adorns both my boys faces when they greet me each morning. Hearing the "Hi Mommy" as my three year old comes down the stairs and into my arms is beyond heartwarming. Picking up my baby boy from his crib and feeling him snuggling down into me while I breathe in his scent is a moment I wish I could bottle up and let out whenever I needed to experience it.

I was inspired to start writing this blog to channel the energy of what has been the most fear- provoking and anxiety ridden chapter of my life. Three months after the birth of my newly turned one year old, I was diagnosed with postpartum anxiety and depression, specifically postpartum OCD.

I can say that I am in a place that is light years away from when the darkness settled in, but I am not quite out of the tunnel. I can see the light very clearly, and almost touch it, but I'm not there yet.

In reality, the darkness didn't settle in, it came upon me with a fierceness I didn't know existed.

All I know for sure is that I serve a God who has promised me deliverance and redemption. He has given me this priceless gift through His Son Jesus Christ, and I have never been more dependent upon Him in my life then now.

I love to write and one of my life long goals was to publish a novel. I wanted to use the talent God had given me for my own recognition and praise and wasn't seeking His particular thoughts on what to do with my flair for words. Obviously, that novel hasn't been published yet. In fact, not one word has been written. I don't even know what it's about. What I do know is that I have been humbled by my recent trial and God has used me to minister to four other women who are experiencing the same terrifying, gut-wrenching experience. So with that, I pray that other women who are going through any postpartum mood disorder may stumble upon this and find comfort in knowing they are not alone.

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself is the Rock eternal."
Isaiah 26:3-4