Saturday, September 22, 2012

Lessons I've Learned on My Journey through Depression and Anxiety: Part 3

I am an over-thinker, and analyzer, a worrier, a controller. I like to have a plan. I like to have things under control. I don't like the unknown. I will run over scenario after scenario in my head or look at site after site online for an answer. I don't like waiting for things to work themselves out. I have a very hard time quieting my mind. In the midst of five minutes of prayer, I will have to interrupt my thoughts many times to refocus on God.

It's not that I have any greatly pressing questions in my life, but the ones I do have weigh on me constantly. And the influence of many sources, including my own thoughts and beliefs, have taught me that I need to be always moving forward, toward my goals. Remaining stagnant is difficult for me to accept.

Recently, one thing that is at the forefront of my mind is my boys' behavior. My older boy is a very emotional child, similar to how I was when I was a child. He gets upset easily and often holds onto his frustration well past the time it may possibly be considered constructive. He has, too many times to count, hit himself repetitively when he has been sent to time out for his behavior. I try to teach him, on his level, the things I have learned during my own similar battles. Sometimes it seems to sink in, and sometimes it seems to lead him to put up a wall of stubbornness and to fight even harder against me. I am afraid for him that he may continue to follow in my footsteps, developing substantial depression and possibly even suicidal tendencies.

My younger son is being tested for something called Sensory Processing Disorder. He is somewhat uncoordinated and lacks fine motor skills. He often rubs his clenched hands together, one inside the other, opening his mouth so that his two jaw bones are pressed together at the joints on each side of his face that they share, not realizing he is doing this. I try to give him activities to develop his coordination and fine motor skills and to give his joints the input they seem to be seeking. Sometimes these activities seem to help, but more often they don't seem to make a difference. I am afraid for him that he may never learn to adequately control these self-stimulating behaviors and that he may be made fun of for them or that they may otherwise hamper him later in life.

Also on my mind is the hope of someday soon buying a house. We moved into the duplex we are currently in over five years ago, planning to live here less than a year. It is a great duplex as duplexes go, but the lack of counter space in the kitchen, lack of a dishwasher, and lack of a playroom are getting to me more and more each year. On our tight budget, we can't afford much in a house, and finding the right house in the right location for the right price is proving to be quite a challenge. As much as I'd like to, I can't just make that house appear and then be magically put on the market. My fear is that we'll never find that house and that we'll have to raise our growing sons and possibly a growing family in tight quarters (The duplex is just over 1000 square feet). I am, of course, trying to keep in mind how truly blessed we are to have a home.

But the thing that has been most heavily weighing on my mind recently, the one for which I feel the most helpless also, is the gift of a growing life God has recently planted within me. With the fact that my two most recent pregnancies ended quickly in miscarriage is of obvious concern as I enter into my eighth week of pregnancy (according to the doctors charts). I have been looking for any sign of what may be happening to the little child inside me. While, because this is a high risk pregnancy, I was blessed and reassured to hear the heartbeat two weeks ago via ultrasound, I have more recently been noticing the morning sickness that had seemed to be setting in a week ago has diminished greatly, and I did not notice the gag reflex this morning as I was brushing my teeth that I had begun to have . It is hard to not read into these signs and hard to be patient and wait for the answers and reassurance I want right now.

The challenge for me is to trust. I know and believe in my heart that God will provide in all these circumstances and that, even if things don't turn out the way I'd like, He has His hands in it all and has our best interest in mind.

What's the point, really, in trying to maintain control of any of this? The common thread between each of these circumstances is that I have very little control. I can do what I am able to: provide compassionate discipline and use daily life circumstances as teaching moments for my older son; provide coordination, fine motor, and proprioception exercises for my younger son; keep an eye out for new houses that come onto the market and look at any we're interested in; eat healthy, sleep, and take care of myself in order to promote a healthy pregnancy. But, in reality, God has much more control over all of this than I do.

I am, little by little, learning to let go of control in various circumstances. I have become less controlling over the cleanliness of my house. I have learned to trust the teachers my kids have at the school they are in - teachers I know care greatly for their students and who teach according to great morals despite the limitations within the public school system. And I am making gains in letting go of control in regards to the above issues also. But, despite trying to let go and leave the process up to God, I still find myself anxious about each of these issues. Jesus says many times, "Do not be afraid." I am trying to trust and am praying for the grace to trust, so why am I still afraid?

It seems to me that I not only need to let go of control and leave the process up to God, but I also need to generally detach myself from being so very vested in each circumstance and the outcomes of each. It's not that I don't care what happens to either of my boys or that I don't want a house or a newborn child, and it's not that I won't do what I can for my children. But I can't do what God does not will that I do, and if something is not a part of God's plan, it's better that that thing doesn't happen. At this point, I feel the call to detach myself emotionally from caring so deeply about both the process and the outcomes and to surrender myself completely into God's hands, leaving everything, including the process, the outcomes, and the timing, up to Him.

I picked up a small pamphlet at church yesterday, put together by the Christophers, entitled "Choosing Faith Over Fear." They quote Father Walter J. Ciszek, who had been imprisoned by the Russians during WWII and tortured for 23 years, from his book He Leadeth Me: "...God is in all things, sustains all things, directs all things. To discern this in every situation and circumstance, to see his will in all things, was to accept each circumstance and situation and let oneself be borne along in perfect confidence and trust. Nothing could separate me from him, because he was in all things. No danger could threaten me, no fear could shake me..." To "accept each circumstance and situation and let oneself be borne along in perfect confidence and trust" is this detachment I feel I am in need of. The faith he shows, the loving and trusting detachment he models. The result, he says, is that "no danger could threaten me, no fear could shake me." I may not be tortured at the hands of those who despise me, but I perceive my boys' behaviors and my lack of morning sickness as dangers. When I know a loving God is in all things, sustaining all things, and directing all things, as Fr. Ciszek says, why should I see myself as being in danger? Why should I fear, despite what circumstances may await me?

No, in the face of the unknown, in the face of those things that seem to threaten my future or the futures of those I love, I must trust God completely and totally. I must abandon myself and the things I want to His holy Will. I must let go of every reservation, knowing that He "is in all things, sustains all things, directs all things." Knowing that my life is simply an unfolding of the story He is writing in me.