I don’t find myself sick very often, and even when I do, I’m normally starting to feel like myself again after a few days. Sure, I get your typical cold that my son brings back from preschool, we had our battle with COVID, and I had the flu once (that was horrendous), but usually after a few days of DayQuil/NyQuil, some rest, and herbal tea for a lingering cough, it’s back to the regularly scheduled mom routine.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been astonished at how sick I have felt without actually being ‘‘sick’’. I say this, because I never had a fever or serious congestion or anything that made me think I should probably take a trip to urgent care. However, I felt extremely fatigued, and each time I felt like I was kicking this feeling, I would develop something new a day or so later - a cough, a tickle in my throat, a migraine, an ear that felt clogged. For two whole weeks I have felt like this, to the point that Josh has had to have more nights taking care of Marsaili alone because I was terrified that I would 1. Get her sick somehow or 2. make myself worse.
In addition to feeling physically unwell, I began noticing that my negative thought patterns were becoming increasingly difficult to correct. Despite having regularly therapy sessions, the overwhelming feelings of sadness and helplessness that I felt after my ultrasound with Marsaili were beginning to resurface. Feelings that a year ago had me rightfully seeking a prescription for Zoloft. And just a few days ago it hit me…
While I initially felt that this was an episode that was ‘‘coming on quickly’’ I recognized that it had not come on quickly at all. Months ago I forgot to refill my Zoloft prescription - something that I know I shouldn’t have neglected, but I put on the back burner because the mental load I was carrying juggling everything else for Marsaili was so heavy. When I actually stopped the other day to think about my mental health over the last few months, I realized that this wasn’t something that was sudden. In reality, I was just finally reaching a breaking point in which my coping strategies were no longer effective. My mind and my body had been trying to tell me for weeks that I was struggling. In that moment, it felt like a pipe had burst - like a sudden flood of emotional and physical turmoil. However, once I was honest with myself, I understood that it could have been more accurately described as the inevitable overflow of a slow drip from a pestering leaky faucet.
Thankfully the timing of my realization regarding my mental health was lining up perfectly with a ‘‘staycation’’ I had been planning with a friend for weeks. After my last hospital stay with Marsaili, she had asked me about planning something like this so that I could spend an evening focusing on my healing and recovery. We arranged to stay at a local hotel for an evening, did our makeup and hair completely uninterrupted, enjoyed drinks and a wonderful dinner, talked, watched a movie, spent time writing and drinking coffee…things that neither of us are able to do very often as busy moms unless we schedule time away like this. While we were doing our makeup, I realized that I had not been away from my children overnight without my husband in over three years. I had not had more than a few hours of girl time in over three years.
Not because Josh is unsupportive of such outings. He FREQUENTLY encourages me to take time to myself and to schedule girl dates like this. I just have a difficult time as a mom taking that time. Why?
Because being a mother is so deeply rooted in my identity. Because serving my children has become such a huge part of who I am that I rarely make an effort to do anything that is separate from that identity. The work that I do - the ministry of motherhood in which I am blessed to serve - is a GOOD work. It is an honorable work. It is a God honoring work. However, even in my call to serve my family, there are times in which the Lord calls me to be still, to nourish my spirit through His Word, to prayerfully sit in His present, and to engage in fellowship with close friends.
So to the mama who needs this reminder today…
I know there will seasons in which even a trip to bathroom to pee in silence will be hard to come by. I know there will be seasons in which a girls’ night seems like some far off fantasy…and that some of you may be aching for a village to lean on. I know there are seasons in which you feel like you are running ‘‘on empty’’ because you have no other choice. I want you to know that I see you. I see your strength in your struggle and your valid frustrations and fatigue. I want you to know that even in this season, you don’t have to feel guilty for taking those five minutes to sit on a cold, quiet bathroom floor. You are a mother, and your ministry is beautiful, but you are many other things, too. And those other parts of you have needs.
Take the time to nourish those other parts of you when you can, however you can, mama. It doesn’t make you selfish. It just means you’re human.
*NOTE: Though I believe this goes without saying, please understand that none of the information in this post is medical advice. In these blog posts I share about my personal experiences so that some people may feel less alone. Please discuss your specific health concerns with qualified health professionals.