Three years ago I wrote a blogpost about depression and anxiety. I remember feeling at my lowest point, genuinely worried that I had lost myself and unsure I’d ever be ‘normal’ again. I was unable to speak to anyone except my mum and my husband. As I wrote ‘Elijah Rest‘ blogpost, my Nanan was on her way to collect me and I was feeling so anxious about leaving my house to go to hers-a place that is so full of love and usually I had loved going to. It emphasised how much I wasn’t myself, yet I was more scared to be home alone so I was praying as I got ready. I would listen to ‘Come to me’ from Bethel over and over. I also sought help from the other source of answers in life- Google! After a morning of watching youtube clips about how ‘if you have depression/ anxiety/ breakdown as a Christian, you are far from Jesus and it is your own fault’ I had heard enough.
Even amongst my dry and hard wilderness the Spirit of God inside me was NOT ok with that being the answer, I didn’t understand it all but I knew it was not my fault and God had actually never been closer and more kind. So, sat on the stairs, before my gorgeous Nanan came to look after me for the day, I wrote.
Then I deleted it.
Then I posted it again.
And over time I have been amazed and encouraged by so many responses and support from people who read it having experienced similar things and having comfort in knowing it is not your fault and God has not, and will never leave you.
This was before I was a mummy, it came after a run of difficult things. I read a book that I agreed with about how only strong people hit breakdown/depression, we often think it is weak to breakdown, yet actually to even get to that point means you have been strong for a really long time. This was true for me, at work I was dealing with women with serious needs, mainly on the mental health unit (which has since been totally changed in the prison subsequently). Her Majesty’s Inspector of Prisons reported it was the worst place he had ever visited in all his time, where “the screams of the women in there still haunt his dreams”. To understand what I mean please see this report.
This was compounded by a lot going on around me and personally and after a long time in pain with my back (three slipped discs in my back, after falling downstairs). Once I’d recovered it all came to a head-emotionally impacted me physically and my body couldn’t function I guess!
I am so thankful for my Mum through this time, she always was there. She sat with me when I cried. Took me out for treats. Breathed so I could copy how to breathe right when in a panic attack. She would stop any situation whether with a friend or at work to answer the phone to me, all I could say was ‘help’ or ‘it’s happening’ and she would talk nothingness, (without any explanation!) just to get my mind off anxious thoughts and onto peace and normality. She is actually the best human God ever made, I am so grateful for her. This also taught me what it costs to help people when they are struggling, it can’t have been easy or convenient, yet she was always there. My husband and family were also so gracious and caring and Lawrence led me closer to Jesus and loved me,loved me, loved me, though I know it scared him too.
Thankfully I slowly came out of the wilderness and God lead me into a spacious place. I got steadily back on my feet but in reality feel that time robbed me. It took something out of me and I lost a lot of my joy. I used to be wildly fun and care-free and the events running up to, and including, this time stole that. Yet God has been so kind in giving me a gift-play. At the time it was playing with my nephew. I have spoken in other blog posts about how just walking slowly with a child, going on a swing, pretending to be a pirate, skipping and jumping through the Trafford Centre as you can only step on certain tiles-healed me! To just go back to imagination and playing, opened my spirit up again to worship and allowing Jesus to restore my soul.
I recently listened to a great podcast on IBethel ‘Jesus is Lord‘. Before the talk, is a testimony which actually spoke to me more than the sermon. A lady was speaking about what God had been doing in her. Teaching her to choose love not fear-something classic and not new, yet actually the more I listened the more practical and helpful it was. She was speaking about anxiety and how she knew in anxiety she was choosing fear. Yet there’s other areas in life where we choose fear and don’t even realize it, where we click into doing things in our own strength and don’t see a way out.
Her example was her 16yr old son asking for a debit card! She realised that her default was fear ‘no’ ‘sharing our account’ – ‘debt’ – ‘him being independent’ – ‘his age’ – all worries that not even consciously rose in her. So instead of react quickly in anger, from a place of fear. She handed it to her husband! Good move! Her husband responded out of love not fear to their son, he said ‘This is about connection’, she thought ‘no its about money-no!’. He further explained that at the current time they love having connection with their son, they love to know what he is doing and be a part of his life, they want to keep a good connection and to bring a card in could start to bring separation. He explained through love why they would rather help him with money than give him a card.
It is taking a second to think ‘what would love say’ rather than fear.
Yet it spoke to me as I know sometimes my own fear or anxiety (or stress) comes out in my reaction to my two year old. So yesterday when I was eating my breakfast, he had already had his yet came scrounging for mine! He is an absolute Oliver Twist, always wanting everyones food! He came over asking for some so I said no, he got upset, he kept asking, he did his best ‘pleaaaaase’. I suddenly remembered this podcast and thought, am I acting in love or fear. My fear was that if I let him do this, he will grow up to be a beggar! He will always want off other peoples plates, so I want to stop it. That was genuinely why I wasn’t giving him my food! I thought ‘what would love say’. Sharing. To give it him and explain that yes I will share, is a better answer. Simple yet great.
This morning similar happened. He wasn’t listening as I asked him to come and get his breakfast from the kitchen. I asked a couple times and he didn’t respond. Just before I shouted, I thought ‘what would love say’. So chose to engage in where he was and find out why he wasn’t responding. So I came into the lounge and found him crouching down, staring at the flowers on the table. My mum had explained to him yesterday that they would grow into flowers, some overnight have. I said ‘come in the kitchen babe’. He said
‘I am waiting for the flowers to grow’
The thing God often speaks to me about through this gorgeous bundle of a 2yr old is, perspective.
I was suddenly aware that he could sit staring at the flowers, willing them to grow and change and be beautiful. Yet I have something more for him while he waits, I want to give him food and drink and play. Then he will see them blooming too. He could sit staring and waiting for these flowers to change from buds to bloom, yet he would wait a long time and miss out on the fun we could have in the waiting..
( I am hugely encouraged by:
Psalm 30..Joy comes in the morning. Good Morning.
Song of Solomon 2:11.. For behold, The winter is passed; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time for singing has come. Welcome to spring x)