:: Chelsey Crouch :: Writings ::


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Hidden Thoughts #2

See an explanation of Hidden Thoughts here.

Hidden Thoughts #2

I am struggling to get back to what I would consider "normal functioning Chelsey." Many mornings, especially this week, I have slept until the boys woke up (~7:30 a.m.) and many days while they rest in the afternoon, I have been unable to resist the urge to take a short nap. I have not exercised as much as I would like to. It truly isn't that I don't have the time or the desire, but rather that I don't have the physical stamina. Running two miles at a very slow pace feels equivalent to running a marathon. Prior to all of this, I was easily running five miles.

I like to get things done, and I like to feel like I am accomplishing something. But I just feel tired so much of the time, and it doesn't take much to wear me out. Emotionally, I haven't felt as down or depressed the past few days, but I have still been easily fatigued.


Lately when I have these anxiety attacks I feel very hyped up and then I feel so exhausted I could almost fall asleep instantly.


Last night I had a really hard time falling asleep, which surprisingly hasn't happened much. Most nights I can't wait to fall in bed and go to sleep, and I end up taking a nap most afternoons while the boys rest.

Anyway, last night I felt like my mind and heart were racing. I think maybe I would drift off to sleep a little bit and then I would be awake again and my heart would be racing. It was frustrating because I really wanted to attempt to run this morning before the boys got up, but when my alarm went off at 6:30 a.m., I knew that was not happening. 

I think sometimes I get angry and start to blame what has happened for how our life now is so far from what it was a few weeks ago. I was running 5+ miles. I was on my path to losing weight. I was eating well. I was getting up early to pray and read my Bible. And basically none of those things are happening now. I'm not sure if it's right or healthy to be angry, but I do know that it isn't helping me get back on track.

I even tried to set mini goals for myself with running this week. I told myself to try to run 3 times: first 2 miles, then 2.5 miles, then 3 miles. That seemed reasonable and not out of reach. I ran 2 miles on Monday. I went to the gym Thursday and ran but only made it about 2.15 miles before I felt like I couldn't run anymore. I hate that I even feel anxious about running, but I do because I signed up for a 5-mile race on September 7. I want to do it and I paid the registration fee. Not getting to do it would feel like a slap in the face. And part of me will tell myself that I have 6 weeks until then and surely I can build back up to 5 miles in 6 weeks. But I actually want to run it at a decent pace, and to me it's not worth doing if I'm going to be struggling to even complete the distance. And again, the most frustrating thing is not a lack of desire, self-discipline, or time--it is truly ability. I get to a point when I'm running where my legs get all rubbery and I feel like my heart is beating too fast.

Hidden Thoughts #1

A few weeks after our family experienced a difficult loss, I began going to counseling. My counselor recommended that I start journaling, because he could tell my mind was overwhelmed and he knew that I liked to write. It seemed hard to even put pen to paper at first, but once I did, I filled up an entire journal in about two months. I'm now on my second journal, and it has been one of the most therapeutic things I have done. I decided to start sharing some of what I have written so that those of you who have also experienced grief, depression, and anxiety will know that you are not alone. If you have never experienced those things, then hopefully these posts will help you understand the thought patterns of others you know who may be experiencing them.

Hidden Thoughts #1

I think in their efforts to encourage and just say something, people often unintentionally end up saying things that aren't necessarily untrue but that are categorically unhelpful. It is true that God is in control of all things, that he is outside of time, and that in all that I go through, his goal is to make me look more like Jesus. Even though lately it has been hard for me to believe those things, I know intellectually that they are true. But when I am struggling with anxiety and despair, guilt and anger, I am so deeply entrenched that I cannot hold onto those things.

Quite honestly, the most helpful things people have said are:

  • "I am praying for you."
  • "What can I be praying specifically?"
  • "Can I bring you a meal?"
  • "What can I do to help you?"
  • "I am here if you need anything."
Past that, I can't really hear anything.

Today my counselor said that instead of trying to understand God's ways in all of this, maybe I just need to remind myself that God is faithful. Paul Tripp says something similar in one of his books--that we must frequently remind ourselves that God is faithful, powerful, and willing.

The frustrating thing is that my eyes are at least partially open to see that. I can look at some things and truly believe, "The Lord did that." I can even look back and see how the Lord has been preparing us for this in big and small ways. But it is the day-to-day routines and tasks that have become burdensome, and at times impossible. And that is when I start to question God's goodness: "Lord, how could you allow something to bring me to the point of not being able to care for my family well?" That is the question that is buried deep, and that so far no one has had a good answer for.

Making Peace with Grief

Grief didn't knock on the door or give me any warning that it had taken up residence. It crept in while I wasn't looking and made its home in every recess of my heart, and it waited. Waited for me to notice it was there.

I felt its presence before I knew its name. My life as a functional person, as a mother and wife, slowly ceased to exist. It wasn't until a friend looked into my eyes and heard me describe what I had been experiencing that I started to grasp what was happening to me, to frame it in a way I could understand. I didn't know how it could define me so quickly and pervasively, but at least I knew what to call it.

I've learned that there is no timeline for grief. I was at the gym, listening to a podcast where a woman was giving advice to a mother whose six-year-old son was still trying to process the loss of his father, which had happened when he was three years old. She made sure to emphasize that although the freshness of pain may lessen over time, grief and the loss are always part of the story.

You don't get over grief. It's part of you. This helped me to a certain extent, because I was able to see that this grief I have experienced is not an invasive presence that I am going to be spending the next several months trying to get rid of and forget.

Maybe there is a way to make peace with grief.

To see it not as an intruder, but as another chapter of the story that the Lord is writing for my life. It doesn't mean that I rejoice in it. It doesn't mean that I want more things like this to happen to me. But it does mean that I don't have to feel like the aftermath, the sorrow, the tears, has been a waste.

When grief arrived, it found company. Some of its companions have actually been a part of my story for a very long time. Loss and sorrow woke them from their restless slumber. 

If grief was every breath, then depression was cancer. Counseling and medication and getting out of bed each day was the chemotherapy, and I am still doing chemotherapy, four months later.

The difference is, our culture has a language to talk about cancer. It's not pleasant to discuss, and I'm sure that those who have experience with cancer might be slightly offended that I would compare it to depression on any level. I certainly don't intend to offend, but I think the analogy is helpful, because in the same way that no one would ever blame someone for having cancer, when depression has any part of its source in one's biology and physiology, it is no more one's fault for experiencing it. But most people, especially Christians, don't see depression that way. So instead it is treated like a sin, or, at best, like a disease, but a disease that you brought on yourself.

And so this journey begins with me looking grief and anxiety and depression and all their associated friends straight in the eyes and saying, "I see you. I hear you. I know that you are here. But I will not let this part of my life be any kind of ending point. By God's grace, it will be a beginning of me learning how to live well in the midst of you being here. My hope is not in a cure for a disorder, but in a Person, and he has promised never to leave me or forsake me."