Hello friends, if any of you are still out there! I know it has been so long since I last blogged and prior to that I wasn’t keeping up with this blog consistently. I’m back for a brief update but I can’t promise that I’ll start truly blogging again anytime soon. I really don’t even have time to do this tonight, but I have been thinking about my blog lately and felt it needed a little love.
The last time I wrote, I discussed that I was dealing with some tough issues but that I was having trouble taking the time to publish those thoughts to the blogging world so I stuck with private journaling for a season.
Today I’m ready to open up a bit about what I was going through.
Anxiety – severe anxiety that I finally realized was affecting every part of my life. I think that I have always struggled with anxiety, but wasn’t able to pin down the issue until the recent past when my struggle with anxiety was growing increasingly worse over time. I think my recurrent miscarriage history obviously added to the weight of my struggle and the combination of dealing with life after multiple losses plus other stressful life circumstances led to me feeling completely helpless and frozen in a pit of fear.
I finally realized back in January that it was time to start taking some steps forward to deal with conquering my anxiety when my husband and I were going to attend a new church and I desperately wanted to go inside in my spirit and enjoy the fellowship lunch we had been invited to, but instead my body refused to move and I sat paralyzed in my car. In tears, I made my husband turn around to head home. I wanted to write about this moment when it happened, but was too embarrassed to share this with the public. Now that time has passed, I’m feeling more brave and ready to share a little bit about this struggle.
When we came home that afternoon, I started searching for how to manage extreme anxiety and social anxiety and found several helpful tips that I could start immediately implementing. Of course therapy would be a great option, but one of my current life stressors and a trigger for my anxiety is dealing with financial struggles. Seeing a therapist just wasn’t an option at the time (but will hopefully someday be one should I need it).
After researching anxiety and how I can cope with this struggle, I also did a bit of research on social anxiety within the church. I read countless stories of people desiring to be a part of community with their brothers and sisters in Christ yet feeling trapped by their anxiety that they felt prevented them from truly living the abundant life Christ promised.
Reading those stories and having a list full of resources to start applying to overcome my anxiety, I felt inspired. God did not plague me with an awful case of anxiety for my harm, but for my good and for the good of others. I felt determined and excited that although this struggle feels really big right now, I believe with every ounce in my heart that God created me to use this burden to overcome every obstacle I face and grow stronger and to help those who face the same kind of struggles. I was excited to think that although at the present time I was too afraid to walk into the church building and share lunch with new faces, someday I will be able to do so and I will also be the person who offers encouragement and true fellowship and community to someone else who needs a little help.
But to take this journey forward, was going to mean taking some difficult first steps forward. One of the first steps I took was to make a plan of action. I thought of all the problems in my life or goals for my future and made a plan for what actionable steps I could take to move in the direction to either solve my problems and accomplish the goals and dreams I have for my life.
I’m not going to go into great detail about my problems/goals and solutions bit I will talk about the biggest action step I took to move forward: I started a new job!
I have stayed home for most of my marriage, but worked briefly in the second year of marriage. While homemaking will always be my first choice for a career (it’s just the way I’m designed!) I realized that although we were “making it” on my husband’s income, we really needed a second income to accomplish our goals a lot faster.
On top of accomplishing our financial goals and saving for more personal future goals, I also realized that getting a job would be a great way to start working through my struggle with anxiety.
I was terrified to even look for a job. I had so many defeating thoughts throughout that process. I received a call back about a job offer after about a week of searching but missed the call. I was so afraid to call back that I almost didn’t. I worked up the courage and was told the recruiter would call me back shortly. A few days passed and my phone remained silent. I asked my husband if I should call back and see if maybe they just forgot about me. He thought that was a good idea. This was really breaking my rules for me. I hate bugging people. I was shaking so hard when I made that call (which makes me sound crazy I’m sure). Again the recruiter wasn’t available and after a few days I thought, “I guess they didn’t like me!”
Just as I had given up and decided to move on and hope for another job offer, I finally got the call and had an interview 2 hours later. The interview process was three hours long and I had interviews with 3 different managers throughout the process. I did a good job, but by the time I went home I had a huge headache and was completely drained from my nervous/anxious energy. The good news: I was hired on the spot and I started training a few days later.
We had 5 weeks of in-class training and 2 weeks of on the job training. I graduated from training today and officially start my first day of the job on my own tomorrow. I know that it might sound completely silly, but I feel very proud of myself for making it this far and overcoming all of the obstacles that came up over the last 7 weeks.
My anxiety is certainly still here in full force. The last two weeks of taking calls have been really rough on my body. I do an excellent job talking with customers and the majority of my customers thank me for being helpful, but the anxiety of just being new at what I’m doing and not totally confident right now has been really tough to manage. During the first 5 weeks of training, I was super motivated and productive and was able to get a lot of things accomplished before and after work: grocery shopping on the weekend, meal prepping on Sundays, laundry every day, ironing clothing, keeping the house clean and orderly, and so on. But with my anxiety kicking into full gear now that we are finally applying everything we learned over the last 5 weeks in class, I have very little energy to get things done.
On top of just the normal anxiety of starting a new position and being unsure of yourself, I celebrated my 6th due date with empty arms on March 16 for our baby Madison that I lost in July. I actually was okay on her actual due date, but the week before I was feeling very low and was exhausted from the emotions surrounding her due date. On top of the sadness of experiencing yet another due date, I was struggling with defeating thoughts of wondering if we will ever reach our goal to have living children. I always dreamed of having a large family and in weak moments like that, it’s hard to imagine any of our dreams ever coming to pass.
Again, I’m so proud of myself for not giving up during these times. It’s so hard to walk through it when you’re in the moment and everything feels too heavy to bear, but somehow God just gives me that little bit of grace and strength I need to push through another obstacle, another day, another low valley in the journey to my promised land.
Not every day is hard. I have many good days. The hard days, the days where my anxiety is exhausting me are obviously more memorable, but the good days are that much sweeter and more meaningful. I cherish every good day that I have. Don’t even get me started on how much I love Saturdays. Walking with my boys (husband and 2 dogs) on a beautiful spring day makes me swoon like nothing else. SWOON, I tell you😉
Another change that I have recently made has been to start participating in more social events and fun life events, even if they are hard to attend.
The big example: Baby events. In November, I realized that while I could be around pregnant women, families with young children, or moms with new babies, I was “faking it”. If I said I was happy for someone, I wasn’t really happy. I was jealous or just plain sad for myself. I didn’t want to feel that way. I wanted to genuinely be happy for other people. I wanted to truly be able to celebrate with other people in their happiness. I prayed a heartfelt prayer that God would start putting me in situations where I would become more comfortable being around family events and where He can work in my heart, as only He can, to truly “rejoice with those who rejoice.” The only thing I have to do on my part is be willing to say yes.
When my husband’s co worker and his wife (who I’ve met on a few occasions) invited us to attend their gender reveal party, I said yes without a second thought.
And you know what? It was so much fun. Long before my infertility, I thought that gender reveal parties were just the cutest idea and I couldn’t wait to be able to throw one. While I someday hope to be celebrating at my own party, it was really nice to be able to participate in the fun with someone else. Plus, I have kind of a sixth sense about baby gender. I’m always right. No joke! And this time, I was totally right that they were having a girl.
During the party, I also met another wife of my husband’s co-worker and she started talking about how she was doing infertility treatments for secondary infertility (her first child was conceived with treatments). I had no intentions of mentioning my own infertility, but when curiosity got the best of her, she asked me and I revealed our own experiences with IF. I didn’t want to spend much time talking about it so I just briefly said my history, but she added me later on Facebook and told me all about the Reproductive Endocrinologist and offered to be a listening ear in the future when we go down that road for treatment. It was really thoughtful.
Over the last 5 years, I have shared my journey openly with people in my life. But recently, I have become more quiet and do not feel as comfortable as I once did sharing my story. For that reason, I decided that I would not tell my story with my co-workers. I’ve even had a few people ask specifically why we don’t have children after 5 years of marriage, but I just smile and say, “just life circumstances” and the discussion dissolves from there.
I have to say, it has been really nice not sharing my recurrent miscarriage story. I’ve made a friend that was in my training class that is pregnant and due in June and it’s nice being able to talk with her about her pregnancy and baby without feeling awkward wondering if she’s worried about my feelings. I do plan on opening up more in the future, but for now, it’s nice to keep my journey private to myself.
My co-worker even invited me to her baby shower and I was very happy to attend last Saturday. For some reason, I wasn’t worried at all before the shower and never felt anxious about how it would go. And yet again, I had a wonderful time and enjoyed all of the baby games (and won a sweet prize for guessing the right size of her belly!) and even enjoyed shopping for cute baby items for her gift. I only went $4 over budget, surprisingly!
The only area of anxiety with being around my pregnant friend at work is that she shared with me that her pregnancy is high-risk because her baby is too small and they are monitoring her weekly to check on the baby’s growth. Of course with my loss history, I’m terrified for her. There was just a brief moment during the baby shower where I had to pull myself together: she was so shocked by all of the presents she received and said, “I’ve never received such nice stuff before.” I thought it was a really sweet comment and felt really happy for her and thankful to God for giving her the blessing of this baby when the negative thought came to my mind, “What if something happens to her baby?” I wanted to cry but was able to pull myself together enough to focus on the celebration.
I think God is definitely answering my prayer to be able to celebrate new life, but I think my next prayer is going to be for God to help work through the anxiety surrounding loss and pregnancy and to be able to not have those negative/fearful thoughts. I suppose before I struggled to celebrate with others, but now that I’m investing in other people and celebrating with them, I’m finding myself worrying about those I love and care for experiencing the same kind of loss that I have.
Love is hard sometimes, isn’t it? But so, so worth it!
I’m not exactly sure how to wrap up this post as I rambled on much longer than I thought I would (don’t I always), but I suppose I should say, I have this huge struggle in my life, well many struggles really, but God is so faithful. As hard as some days are to get through, I just have full confidence that He is working in my life and that all of this pain, all of this hard work and striving, all of my faith and trust that I place in Him, is going to someday be revealed. Right now, it’s hard to see that finish line, but I’m taking each step now just believing that I’m going to make it there.
Someday I’ll look back at this season of life or maybe I’ll even read this post (hi, future me – I bet you’re laughing right now!) and think, “Every hard moment, every difficult moment that I wanted to give up and throw in the towel was 100%, totally, completely worth it.”
If you are also struggling with anxiety, I hope you’ll find encouragement in this quote that showed up on my twitter the other day. I was right in the middle of dealing with a really bad day and my anxiety was making me feel like I couldn’t keep moving forward when I saw this and felt encouraged to know that not only is God for me, but caring people in this world are for me:
“I don’t think people realize how much strength it takes to pull your own self out of an anxiety attack or a panic attack. So if you’ve done that today or any day, I’m proud of you.”
The same day, I also read this verse on my bible phone app:
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
I love that the bible doesn’t shy away from difficult concepts like anxiety and depression. It doesn’t say, “Buck up and get over it.” It says to take your anxiety to God who cares for you, who weeps with you, who KNOWS you and made you uniquely in such a way that you don’t need to be ashamed of. You don’t have to feel like you’re not good enough to go before God because your life is a mess. He wants you just the way you are. It’s such a comfort to me that as crazy as I sometimes feel, God looks at me with loving adoration and calls me his beloved child. I’m not a “mess” to Him – I’m His beautiful creation. And you, my sweet sisters, are His beautiful creation and don’t ever let the world tell you otherwise.
I hope that you all have a great rest of the week. My favorite day is coming up soon, what what! To leave you with some laughs. It’s how I feel every Monday, LOL: