It’s been a while since I’ve been regularly here at the keys.
Approximately a year since I’ve been able to regularly blog. A year, while chalk full of blessings, was also a year sprinkled with many sufferings.
I mean, even Average Joe struggles a bit with a season of transition, right?
I wager Average Joe would probably be riding the struggle bus a little longer if he compounded multiple major transitions and a few stressful curve balls on top of one another.
And then, I think Average Joe would nearly keel over if he experienced all of the above while having severe mental and physical health issues.
This last year was seriously incredible on so many levels:
- I got to see a massive dream become reality through the launching of FOCUS Summer Projects
- I found a diet that provided a lot of healing for numerous issues I’d had for years
- Jonathan was offered an incredible job in the city my family is located (seriously what are the odds?)
- We were chosen and entrusted with our second baby girl through adoption
- We found an incredible parish that we joined
- We had the opportunity to lay the foundation for our new business (Which is set to debut REAL soon!!! EEP! :))
- We moved into a beautiful home that we really love
A whole lotta good. The above are just some “bigger” things but of course there were countless blessings, graces, smiles, laughter, and memories.
I’ve got my eyes wide open and am fully aware of the gifts I received this year. Just because I see them and an grateful for them, it doesn’t mean tough stuff didn’t pop up. Joy doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of suffering. Sometimes they can exist in the same minute let alone the same week, month, or year. They don’t cancel each other out – they just are what they are. This year was the perfect storm that led me straight into burnout despite all the good that came our way.
I feel the need to really clarify that point, lest I get painted as the Negative Nancy who can’t just gloss over her pain and focus on the good things in life. I admit, I am a Melancholic to the bone. While it can be tempting to get negative from time to time, I try really hard not to stay there and to consistently practice gratitude and choose joy. This isn’t meant to be a “woe is me” blog post. It’s just me admitting that I am not Superwoman and I can still crash and burn HARD even when there are good things going on in my life. Maybe some of my readers will be able to relate. Maybe not. And that’s OK.
So, what exactly happened this year that’s left me limping out of it?
- Two back-to-back major abdominal surgeries for infertility that may or may not have been successful (no pregnancies yet…still don’t ovulate despite a paper perfect cycle…not really anticipating pregnancy unless God works a miracle)
- High levels of stress as we discerned leaving an organization we loved
- Selling a town home while our HOA was in litigation with a contractor (read: way more hoops that usual) followed by a cross-country move
- Finding a new medical team (Acupuncture, Chiropractor, OB/GYN, Functional Medicine Practitioner) to treat my underlying infertility issues and attending 15-20 appointments a month for health maintenance and taking close to 30 pills a day)
- Trying several experimental treatments last Fall (requiring 5-7 ultrasounds a month) to induce ovulation that all failed
- Stressful house hunt with multiple snafus along the way (We were thiiiiis close to having a house with chickens in the backyard LOL)
- Living with my parents for 10 months with a toddler and eventually a newborn (lot of good living there but some bad since my dad and I both have anxiety and triggered each other repeatedly, resulting in regular anxiety tailspins for us both)
- Jumping through all the necessary hoops to be adoption ready in under six weeks (Which usually takes like six months…I was a paperwork Zombie occasionally resurrected to life by coffee)
- Charlotte’s PPHN diagnosis and month-long NICU rollercoaster ride in Arkansas
- Several weeks of colicky screaming (or maybe just NICU stress detox?) upon returning to my parent’s
- Launching a business when we literally had no free time…which meant waking up at 3am, pulling all-nighters, and using every single evening after kids’ bedtime to work
- Progressively worsening luteal phase hormones resulting in PMDD
- Progressively worsening Adrenal Fatigue no matter what I did to combat it
- Jonathan’s official ADHD diagnosis and starting of treatment
- Being hardcore introverted and not making many friends because I just can’t make friends when living in survival mode
- Jonathan and I developing poor communication habits we let go on unresolved and not prioritizing time together
- Not officially diagnosed but likely had PTSD after our NICU experience and Post-Adoptive Depression (didn’t even know it was a real thing)
All of that (plus the stress and sufferings other friends and family members were experiencing that I tend to get hit with very personally) just kept compounding and compounding until I hit a breaking point this Spring. And the compounding part was likely the real kicker. Independently, given time to process many of the challenges from the year, they may have merely been minor setbacks. But when delivered one right after the other leaving no time to process, unpack emotions, or reflect – they buried me.
I was having almost daily panic attacks, regular stress-induced emotional breakdowns, and hormonal rage fits that scared the living daylights out of me (and probably more Jonathan). A couple of times I ended up on the floor in the fetal position just sobbing without really knowing why…just that I felt like I couldn’t handle anything anymore and that I was overwhelmed with anxiety and sadness.
I was so afraid of who I was becoming. I was starting to feel like a stranger to my own self.
That’s when I got my little white flag out and surrendered. Jonathan and I decided I needed to pursue counseling to help process through all the massively stressful things piled on our plate. Looking back, I should NEVER have waited as long as I did to seek out help. Seriously, therapies are best when they’re preventative, not when you’ve gone off the rails like I had.
It’s been a couple of months since I started counseling and it’s really been helpful. I also began some really targeted therapy under the guidance of my Functional Medicine Practitioner to support my adrenals. We moved out of my parents home and into our own last month and are really close to feeling settled. Our business is still keeping us busy but we’ve mapped out consistent times to work (and not work – just as important) on it. We revamped our family calendar and added a weekly date night, weekly family meeting, and weekly business meeting which has kept us feeling connected, communicating, and in the know about one another’s days. I have a few more medical tweaks to implement but I’m hopeful the PMDD will resolve to normal ole PMS.
I am starting to feel like me again, which truly is something to celebrate.
Initially I was embarrassed to admit what’s been going on with me this year (because hello, who enjoys admitting publicly they’re broken) but now I’m convinced I needed to.
I am weak. I am frail. I am broken.
That’s OK. It’s really an illusion to think otherwise. Seriously.
Jesus’ light shines brightly in the darkness and His power is made perfect in our weakness. He’s been my rock and I believe he’s led me to the right therapies and treatments I need to keep settling into our new life and heal. He has and will continue to provide for our family.
While I am journeying out of the woods and can see the light beyond the trees, I know this tough year will prove to be a year that stretched me, grew me, and matured me in ways I can’t quite see yet. It’s in times that bring us to our knees when we grow in strength, faith, courage, and wisdom. While I can’t see the growth, I know it’s there. I feel it under the surface and I will just let the Holy Spirit show me in time.
There really aren’t any big takeaways here. Just felt like I needed to let you all know where I’ve been.
Just in case anyone else out there is approaching a breaking point…seeking out help isn’t bad or weak. Don’t be afraid to admit you are needy – whether it’s needing sleep, counseling, medication, exercise, quality food etc. We’re all broken and have seasons where we need to ramp up the self-care so we can love God, ourselves, and the people entrusted to us in life. If you need encouragement or support, I am just an email away!
As I settle in more and continue to heal, you’ll see me back here at True Good and Beautiful! 😉 I haven’t forgotten about our corner of the internet and I’ve really missed you all.
And you’ll be seeing more about our new business real soon too! We’re so so pumped about it!
So grateful for you to share so honestly what’s been going on with you; so many people can relate to these struggles, myself included. Prayers for you both for more healing from all of what you’ve been going through! And solidarity, too, with much of the healthcare, appointments, and pills. We’ve been through the thick of it, too. You are not alone on this journey!
Thanks girl. It’s so good to know I am not alone 🙂 And yes, anyone with Autoimmune disease knows how it can slowly and surely take over everything. It’s intense and I know you get that too! Thank you for your prayers Annie, means a lot.
Thank you for posting this, Amanda! We are going through our foster son’s transition back to his parent’s house, and we feel broken. It’s really easy to see pictures and blog posts about all of the happy things in others’ lives and feel totally alone in that brokenness. Hope everything continues to settle for you. In the meantime, I agree it’s so much better to be honest about our struggles than to try to put on a happy face for people who would rather be able to share their suffering, too.
I am sorry to hear about what you’re going through. Understandably that would be SO SO SO hard. I am sure you’ve impacted your foster son’s life immensely and I pray God would comfort you in this transition and help him settle in. And yea, it’s just exhausting to put on a happy face all the time. Sometimes it’s just what has to be done but it’s not meant to be a permanent thing and sometimes in our culture it seems it has to be the standard. Thanks for your encouragement.
I don’t know you all but I started praying for you, your husband, and your adopted child Josephine back in 2014 when I read your all’s story of falling of love. Reading this post just now is certainly Divine Providence and I know that the Lord is asking me to renew my prayers for your beautiful family. Thank you so much for being open and honest about your struggles. I can’t tell you how helpful it is for myself and others to know that we are not alone in our pain.
You have a heroic soul, so keep your head up and stay focused on Jesus!!! I know that’s so cliché, but it is far away the best advice I have ever received.
In Jesus through Mary,
Chris, thank you for your prayers AND for your advice. You’re right – staying focused on Jesus is really the most important advice at all. Everything else isn’t as important. Thank you again for praying for our family back when Josephine came into our lives and now as we fight to settle in and find treatment for our health struggles. 🙂 God bless to you and your family.