I’ve read a few articles that say, autism moms, have similar stress to combat soldiers. As a military spouse, I could never compare my life with that of a combat soldier, but I do understand what the articles are trying to say. Special needs parents also don’t like to talk about their own problems.
Being a special needs mom is absolutely stressful and for me, anxiety started creeping into my life not long after my second child was born. Because I didn’t feel depressed I didn’t mention it to the doctor. I thought what I was feeling was normal for the life that I had. My husband is in the military, he’s gone a lot. I have a severely autistic son and my new baby had just been diagnosed with a vascular condition that is rare. I was doing the endless daily therapies for my oldest son, while also learning about a whole new condition regarding my baby. Of course, I felt stressed, who wouldn’t?
I was about six months postpartum when I realized that what I was feeling wasn’t ok, and I was struggling. I was afraid all the time. I would lay awake in bed at night worrying over things that happened that day, things that could happen and so on. I was in a constant state of fear and worry. On the outside, I would put on a brave face, smile and act like everything was ok.
I started digging deep into my Bible and pouring over scripture about fear and about worry and talking to Jesus about the way I was feeling. Words like “do not be afraid” and “fear not” are mentioned over 300 times in the Bible. I would come to Jesus in prayer multiple times a day asking for him to take that fear away from me. The fear just wouldn’t go away.
I was doing my daily devotional one morning and the devil just kept putting nonsense thoughts in my head. I was in desperation calling out to Jesus, telling him that I could not make these feelings go away. I started listing everything out loud that I was afraid of or worrying constantly over. I told the Lord, that I was too scared to go to the doctor and I thought it showed a sign of weakness in my part. I thought it showed that I wasn’t trusting the Lord and believing what the Bible says, that was when I read the words of Isaiah 41:10. I had read those words before but it was that morning that they hit me like a ton of bricks.
“Fear not, for I am with you” He was right there with me when I made the phone call to get an appointment. “I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you” He gave me the strength to walk into that office unashamed of needing help and him getting me the help I needed.
I was diagnosed with Postpartum Anxiety. I never knew it was a thing until that day. I had only ever heard of Postpartum Depression. With my amazing doctor’s help, we decided on a treatment plan. For me, it was medication and counseling. For you, it could be something else.
Mental health doesn’t get talked about like it should. I know from sitting in Bible studies with other women, that as Christians, we are afraid to talk about it because we feel like we aren’t trusting the Lord and that were not fully giving it over to him. You can be a Christian and suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. Sometimes the Lord doesn’t take things away and we have to walk through it and it’s our story to tell. It is something that you can overcome with the Lord’s help and the right treatment plan. He may choose to take it completely away or you may have it for the rest of your life. But it is manageable and you are not a weak person, you are strong.
You also don’t have to be a special needs parent to suffer from mental health issues. Anxiety and depression can happen in anyone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and seek out the best treatment options for you.
With God leading the way and me getting the right tools, I was able to overcome my severe anxiety and eventually come off medication. Some people may never be able to come off medication and that doesn’t make you weak. You are just as strong and are overcoming it in your own way.
It’s time we end the stigma.
You are not alone, you are prayed for and you are loved by Jesus.