“The secret of change is not on fighting the old but on building something new.” – Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman
This is so true.
I spent 5 years struggling with moderate postpartum depression. If you have ever struggled with depression you know how debilitating it is, especially as a Christian. There is this cloud of voices that is so much louder than the voice of God, and people who love Jesus and are God’s cheerleaders, just do not comprehend it. Some people even thought I was depressed because I had children. “You are so blessed and lucky to have kids. There are others who can’t have children.” People place so much judgement and condemnation on something they have never experienced and do not understand.
I was not struggling with depression because I had children. Although having children certainly caused my hormones to become so out of balanced that it sapped all my energy and caused my brain not to work properly. It was not my fault, and it certainly was not my children’s fault. Blaming and condemning the mother for postpartum depression is like blaming the innocent baby that came out of her.
However, as a result of this depression, there was fear and anxiety. I was desperately afraid in a way I cannot describe. I was afraid people would kidnap my children from me in the middle of the night. I was afraid they would use them as sex slaves. And fighting this thing inside of me, the whispering fear in my mind, left me with no energy. Staying up at night guarding my children with a baseball bat drained my energy even more. I then sat on the couch all day fighting and fighting and fighting this unseen force, while attempting to conserve energy for the fight to come that night. The guilt and self-condemnation from not being more a part of my children’s lives was enough to demoralize any mother.
Thank God my friends and family finally intervened and got me on medication. I had no idea I was spiraling into such a dark place. In my head, there was not anything wrong, but things were not right either. I couldn’t identify what it was though. After medication I began to see more clearly. Finally, the fear began to lessen, unfortunately the shame and self-condemnation did not. Here I was, a Christian, taking medication, because Jesus could not help me. It was difficult to live with. Dr. Grant Mullen, a family practitioner who specializes in mental illnesses, explained to me that mental illnesses like depression are the only illnesses that are both spiritual and physical. The brain accesses the spiritual and physical world. He explains more about this in his book Emotionally Free. I also had Skype counseling sessions with him. He explained that my spirit connection with God was sick. That medication would help balance that, so that I could truly start seeing Jesus and connecting with Him again. Then, the power of Jesus could bring healing.
After a trial and error process with several medications that made me feel more crazy, we found that my body did well on 5mg of Prozac. I took this for almost 5 years. It allowed me enough clarity to begin the fight to find the root and get rid of it. I spent a lot of time fighting the old, fighting the fear of my children being taken by strangers and mommy not being able to help them. I fought and fought using scripture, but the scripture did not work! Yes, the Word of God did not help me in the way that I was using it. One day, someone told me that God created my imagination and I should use it to heal myself, because satan was using my imagination to scare me. So, I should let God use my imagination to heal me. I was not sure how I felt about this, but I knew my process was not effective. The Lord said, “You can’t even remember what you wrote on your grocery store list 10 minutes after you wrote it, but you remember the Goonies from the 1980s! So, I let my imagination begin to bring the Word to life in pictures.
I took the scriptures from the bible and I played them out as movies in my head the same way the enemy was playing out the terrible movies in my head. God has armies of angels in the bible. So I imagine an army standing guard wing to wing around my house facing outward so they could fight off intruders. I even walked the property and poured out olive oil to mark where the line where they stood! I focused on the new movies instead of fighting the old movie. I stopped watching many TV shows that showed murder, death, rape or mass extinction. They interfered with the new movies I was creating. I started watching clean comedians like Jim Gaffigan, Brian Regan, and Jeff Foxworthy, especially at night. When I couldn’t sleep for the fear, I played these thing on YouTube or on my computer. I would actually fall asleep with all the lights on and this playing. I kept to movies that were funny or heroic like The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I started getting new pictures and new images that were movies from the Word, especially Psalms, and focused on them. I got outside more too. I started spending time in nature with my girls and imagining God creating all the trees just for us. I mean, the bible says become more childlike. When children are given the freedom to play, they play pretend a lot! I got healed enough to the point where I even started changing my diet, and that is when I realized that certain foods made the depression worse. So, I avoided them. That was HARD. Some of these foods comforted me during really hard times. I had to get up when I was mentally exhausted, emotionally destroyed, and feeling rejected by God and cook! But the Lord was very adamant that this process would heal me. If I quit fighting with the old process and focused on building the new process – foods and movies, healing would come.
And it did! What I had not been able to do in 3.5 years, I was able to accomplish in 1 year by focusing on building the new instead of running back to the old because it felt good, or was easier, or more comfortable. I won’t lie to you and say it was easy. No, I had to turn into a beast and FIGHT for the new. But my kids were worth it. Being strong enough emotionally and mentally to carry the message and calling God put into me was worth the fight. I encourage you to find your scripture. Build your movie and begin the process of change. God wants you in the high place of Deuteronomy 28:1-5. A place of being blessed going in and coming out. So whatever your anxiety is, whatever your wound is, find the opposite of that in the scripture and play a new movie. One of God loving you with an everlasting love. And God not being ashamed of you. Play a movie of God hiding you in his wings high above the battle. You are the apple of His eye. His diamond in the rough.
For more about how I came out of this check out Challenge Accepted