Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Let There Be Light.......


Light is a necessity in my life. I am like a sunflower, face turned upward, soaking up the light and heat. I love my house because of the huge windows that let the light pour in. The light from my kitchen window, above, greets me in the mornings as I rise to make coffee... early light of day beginning to filter through.

My life has not always been filled with light. There have been times of darkness....emotional, mental, and spiritual darkness...darkness that sometimes threatened to overshadow the light. And during these times of darkness, I had to rely on a different type of Light....the Light of the world:
" When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12

The darkness started in my teen years, when I first started experiencing the symptoms of Depression. But back then, there weren't commercials with checklists of symptoms. I didn't understand it or have a name for it so I basically struggled through it. My solution when it would come was to try to run from it, sometimes physically, sometimes emotionally. Although I had a couple of "clinical" bouts with depression throughout my late teen years and early 20's, the Light delivered me safely on the other side .
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it." John 1:5

I had learned to recognize the triggers and warning signs by the time I was in my 20's, through good Christian counsel and the prayers of my brothers and sisters of faith. I had Scripture that I held close to my heart and spoke it into my life often. I learned how to turn my thoughts and focus in other directions. But, when I was 26, another life circumstance sent me into a hormonal whirly-dervish and I experienced one of the darkest years of my life. This event was having a child......

What is supposed to be a joyous and exciting time in most lives was not for me. I anticipated with joy and happiness the arrival of my son and he was very much wanted and very much loved, in the womb and afterwards. But what was usually just a couple weeks of baby blues for some, turned into a year of Post-partum Depression for me. I have never experienced the power of hormones so much in my life as during that time, where I felt completely out of control of my emotions and thoughts. It was actually something I could feel physically.......

My son, Sir Laughsalot, was a Christmas baby, and born during a particularly harsh, bitter, and long winter. We were living in my husband's hometown and I didn't know very many people, other than my former co-workers. My husband was working long hours, leaving around 7 A.M. and sometimes not returning home until 8 or 9 p.m....and we were living in a small house that received very little natural light. This was topped off with Sir Laughsalot getting Bronchiolitis and having to have a nebulizer every night when he was only 2 weeks old, his nursing mommy getting a case of very painful mastitis, and being surrounded by anxious and negative voices. The extreme isolation and bone-numbing exhaustion paired with no help, encouragement, or support is what I believe pro-longed my depression.

That period, what I consider my darkest days, is when I depended on Light the most. I remember every afternoon, around 4 p.m., I would feel a tangible darkness that came with the onset of dusk. As the light faded from the sky, I would feel a physical oppression come over me. I would go around the house and turn every single light on until my husband arrived home. It was so strange to me and I couldn't escape it. I hated how it felt....it was ominous. We had a wonderful CD by Twila Paris called "Bedtime Prayers: lullabies and peaceful worship" that I would play and, to this day, I still remember the lyrics to one song in particular....they helped me get through my evenings and long nights. I'd sing them in my head at night when I would nurse and when I was so exhausted and anxious that I couldn't sleep:

"Do not be afraid little lamb, Trust Him while you are sleeping.
Angels over your cradle will stand, Silent watch they are keeping.
Think about these things, And love will guide your dreams.

And He will keep you in perfect peace...perfect peace....perfect peace
He will keep you in perfect peace, If you keep your mind on Him.

You are never alone little lamb, For the Father is near you.
You are tenderly held in His hand, Whisper and He will hear you.
Think about these things and love will guide your dreams........"

And my heavenly Father WAS with me all through that time..... he knew how much I could bear and didn't allow the darkness to consume me. Sir Laughsalot was a wonderful baby, happy and content...he nursed well, and slept well......and my husband went out of his way to help when he was home. I think God knew that having a colicky baby or an unsupportive husband would have been too much to bear on top of the depression. I cried out to God over and over during this time and He heard my cry. Towards the end of that year, I started to see the light again...He began to bring optimistic, encouraging, and supportive voices into my life. He surrounded me with an incredible, loving church family. He led us to a wonderful house and neighborhood. He brought me safely to the other side.....

"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16


I am a sunflower, face turned upward, basking in the Light, love, and grace of my Redeemer....the One who replaced my spirit of despair with a garment of praise, who turned my ashes into beauty, and who brought Joy in the morning........

20 comments:

Christianne said...

What a beautiful post, Bluemountain. Thank you for choosing to share this part of your life with us. I know what it is like to walk through dark times and times when you simply can't control the feelings of intense pain or anxiety or shame or despair. I know what it is like to feel alone in it and wonder if I am crazy. I also know what it is like to gain just an ounce of strength from the grace that flows down from His throne, as I lay castrated before Him, trying with all my might to just touch the soft and velvety hem of His garment.

I've been thinking of you a lot lately, especially because you've intimated a bit about how lonely life in rural Maryland can be for you now. (It is Maryland, isn't it?) I just want you to know that you are thought of with great affection across the miles -- even when I know so little about you! -- and that I am praying God gives you exactly what you need for the purposes He is accomplishing in your life for this time -- no matter what that might be. It is another time to gain strength from a place only He can provide...

bluemountainmama said...

Thanks so much, Christianne. Your words mean a lot. And we used to live in Maryland, but moved a year and a half ago. I had actually kind of found my "niche" there the last couple of years we were there, as talked about in this post...of God providing that for me.

But, yes, moving and starting from scratch again....finding my "diana":), a good church, creative outlets, etc. has been a struggle. Luckily, we're in a friendly neighborhood, and while I haven't necessarily formed intimate friendships, I do have social outlets here.

Again, thanks for the encouragement and kindness.......

Neil said...

Your post is wonderful. We are so vulnerable and yet God is so faithful. Thanks for such a touching testimony about your journey from darkness to light.

Laura said...

Beautiful post; thank you so much for sharing your heart; it was an encouragement to me!

photowannabe said...

You have a wonderful way of expressing yourself and i thank you for sharing your heart.
When things are dark where can we go but to the Lord?
If I didn't have Him to be my Light, I don't know where I would be.

kirsten said...

I'd like to echo what has already been said by others.

Thank you for sharing such a tender, vulnerable part of your soul and your journey. Where CAN one go but to the Lord in times like this? It is so easy to feel alone until I remember that He must have felt exactly that way at times also. The Son of God on planet earth ... talk about being a fish out of water! But somehow, not. If that makes any sense ...

I would also like to echo Christianne's words - I think of you often too and wonder how you're doing, having been a bit displaced. I pray that over time, you find the kind of connection that you are looking for, and that we all need.

You are such a blessing. It is more common in the blogging world (it seems) just to share the pretty parts of our lives that we want people to see. Thanks so much for sharing and being so honest.

Anna said...

This was a great post.

I am seeing motherskylark tonight with my daughter and we are seeing Becoming Jane...about Jane Austen. Sadie just started reading these as a part of her homeschooling.

Take care....

bluemountainmama said...

kirsten- thank you, also, for your comment... i have really enjoyed the sense of community and encouragement that you and christianne have going on! :) and it's so nice to read other's posts that are on similar journeys and seeking the same things in their lives.

anna- i'm jealous! tell motherskylark to call her sister sometime! or at least e-mail me! :)
i'll have to check that movie out as jane austen is one of my faves! i was about sadie's age when i first read emily bronte's "wuthering heights" for my home-school curriculum. i was enthralled with the gothic background and romance and fell in love with her and her sister's writing.... then went on to jane austen from there. it's been a love affair ever since! :)

L.L. Barkat said...

I was reading Walter Wangerin's Lenten thoughts the other day. Somehow this reminds me of his statement that there is an essential element to joy: sorrow. This element is missing from happiness, he says. So I marvel that you end your post of sorrow with a reference to joy.

Mothering can be such a lonely time, too. I think we've got it all upside down in this culture. Women aren't meant to care for their children alone. I'm glad to see, though, that Sir Laughsalot has been a source of "right-side-up-ness" for you.

Andrea said...

Blue Mountain
I can surely relate, as I experience some post-partum depression after babies (thankfully only lasting about 3 months or so...) So I know what to expect, but it is sure tough.

What is so wonderful about this story is that you went to the Source--the One, True Source of Light--Jesus. I'm glad you did.

Blessing, to you!

bluemountainmama said...

l.l.- i agree with your statement about mothering alone. i read a really good article when sir laughsalot was young...written by a mother in similar circumstances, except she was in a big city....surrounded by people, but alone. she talked about other cultures and "village" societies where women worked together and kind of raised their children communally...and how we weren't meant to be isolated and by ourselves for 11-12 hours a day... how nowadays, most of us are raising our children far away from our family and "home" communities and we live in such a private, independence-minded culture. it all comes together to make child-rearing a very lonely and isolating task for many.

Anna said...

It was a great movie by the way...we just got back. We all loved it! :)

Carmi said...

I can only begin to imagine the courage that it must have taken to write and publish this entry. By sharing this very personal piece of yourself, you have helped so many others who also seek the light.

As the days get longer and the sun gets stronger, I will think of you deriving strength from it. It'll make me feel better knowing it's bringing good to a friend's life.

Mike said...

What a wonderful posting. I thank for you for the courage it took to write this down. I also welcome the longer days of spring and the increased light it brings. I think as we get older we need more light not only to see but to feel right. And as you have stated when there is a lack of real light there is always the light of God.

Take care and thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Mike

bluemountainmama said...

thank you all for your encouragement about this post....both those who have e-mailed and left comments. even after i wrote this, i couldn't decide if i wanted to post it....it IS personal and a vulnerable spot in my life. but i'm glad i did, as part of the reason i am blogging is to document my life... past, present, and future.

and i think there is no shame in depression... just as there is none in having a physical illness. i know many moms who have gone through the same and suffered in silence like me. so i really wanted to shed some Light on it.... pun, intended! :)

i am very thankful for all you guys and am glad i have had the opportunity for the mutual sharing that goes on out here in blogland!

Anna said...

She hasn't told me but it sounds very fun.

As were we watching last night, Jane is comforting her sister I leaned over and said...there is nothing like a sister...and she smiled. I know that she is missing you...

I miss mine so much!

BTW...my daughter started a blog...it is by invite only. I would love to invite you if you are interested. It is also a homeschool project. I just need your email address....just email me at acarson389@yahoo.com...

Later!

colleen said...

It occurs to me that sunlight is literally part of the cure for depression.

We may use different words but we are talking about the same thing, our higher purpose, the divine in everything of which we are part.

I had a major clincial depression when I was 19. At that age I had a hard time separating the illness from who I was as a person. I didn't want to live but never considered suicide. I was too apathetic for that and remained hopeful that I would be rescued. I did pray (in my own way) to be healed so I could be of service. It took two years to slowly come out of it. There were no anti-depressents then.

I know believe it was part of the Hashimotos thyroid illness I have and that is hereditary. My younger sister got the same thing at the same age. It was awful but did give me a pretty loud wake-up call to life.

bluemountainmama said...

colleen- thank you for sharing your experience....

it was probably a good thing they didn't have anti-depressants then...as you said, you were too apathetic....anti-depressants have actually been linked to suicide in teens- giving them the lift and gumption to follow through with it.

i've never taken medication for depression, but yes, light is a therapy in itself...especially for seasonal affective disorder.....

Elise said...

I'm a little late on this post, but I wanted you to know how much it meant to me! I remember going around and turning all the lights on in my little house as well. And the cd that got me through that time (well, God did, but the music that helped...) was Michael Card's "Sleep Sound in Jesus". I can remember the words..."For He grants sleep to the ones that He loves, and I live to love you as well. The last words you'll hear tonight will be 'I love you'..."
I clung to that as if the Father sang it to me.
Light. Physical world, and spiritual. We would die without it.
Thank you for sharing this!

bluemountainmama said...

elise- beautiful words from michael card....

and i recently heard an interview on oprah with some celebrity mom(can't remember who) who said the same thing about the lights in the evening...and how she felt the onset of dusk physically, too. i wish i had known at the time that it wasn't just me and i wasn't crazy! :)