As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I see clients all the time that struggle with depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, addiction, relationship problems etc... It has at times been hard for me to identify with clients who struggle greatly, as I have seemed to be able to overcome depression, anxiety, relationship issues in the past fairly quickly. Well, since my cancer/ healing journey, I can identify on an entirely different level. Many of my friends and clients who knew what I was going through were slower to open up to me because they thought that their problems were nothing compared to what I was going through. It was also very hard for me to open up to others, because many just did not know what to say or do. For the first time in my life, I knew what true heartache was. Loss. Anger. Relentless anxiety. Fear. Depression- Real depression. Even thoughts of suicide.
Now, don't freak out, I never seriously considered it, but those thoughts ran through my mind. I remember in March or April of this year crying on the couch in our living room and telling my husband Josh, "I'm not seriously considering suicide, but honestly I just don't know if I can do this anymore." I remember the look on his face, as his "always-joyful, see the glass half-full" wife spoke these words. If that gives you a picture of me in my lowest of lows. I think some still don't fully grasp how dark things were for me for a long time. I knew and know what hurt looks like and feels like. Worst. thing. ever.
It was as if I could now understand how helpless and hopeless people feel. And I had Jesus! I can't imagine what I would have done or what would have happened to me emotionally without him. I remember Josh's grandmother (who is a breast cancer survivor) asking me if I had struggled with depression. I don't think I even took a breath before I responded, "Oh my goodness, yes!" She had struggled a lot too and I could truly identify with her. It's one thing to be taught coping skills and empathizing tools---an entirely different thing to know what hurt it is- regardless of the form it takes.
My husband's choice to love me through it, my family's support and love, and my friends constant care helped me so much. But the ONLY thing that has gotten me thus far is the saving grace of Jesus Christ. He hurts as I hurt. He cries with me. He knows I can't do this alone. He knows that my family and friends can only do so much. Comfort me so much. He has heard me cry out in anger to him. In confusion. In frustration and rage. BUT I have CHOSEN to always put my faith in Him. I've learned to be honest with God- not holding back my "forbidden" thoughts, but putting it all out there, striving to follow my "muttering" with trust and praise, as David did, as I described in an earlier post. After all, I do have a relationship with God, and it does have its ups and downs, as any relationship does, but I want it to always be growing. And it has, and I will continue to water it so that my seeds continue to be sown. I've posted this verse before, and I've memorized it now.
Psalm 126:5-6 "Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest."
I always try to be vulnerable with you all and there is just so much that you don't know about my journey, and some things you will never know. But, as time passes, I will continue to give you all snap shots into my simple life that I love, filled with joy, struggles, fun, and anguish. I am reminded of my pain and how much I have struggled, as I am now enjoying relief. Yes, relief! Ever since my surgery, I have continued to feel better and better. Not just recovery wise, but my back, my hips, my head, my chest...everything has felt better. It has been one long road of pain, but I am thankful to be able to say, I feel like myself for the first time in a long time. I know there are people that live for years in pain. My 2 year journey is nothing compared to others, but to have relief has been one of the most incredible things I have ever experienced. Oh, the joys that come to those who wait in trust!
Psalm 27:14 "Wait on the Lord ;Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!"
So, we have been enjoying the last month of the summer, although it feels like summer just started for me because of my surgery! I was able to formally propose my dissertation last Tuesday, and I passed! I am so relieved and excited and can now actually start doing my research! We also headed to Houston last week for my post-op check up, and everything went well, outside of waiting in the examination room for 2 hours. It was crazy!!! Josh and I got a little delirious while we waited. Here is a picture montage...
Explanation of pics, left to right: 1.) Let's take a pic 2.) So tired of waiting 3.) Oh, I think I hear doctor coming! 4.) Nope, not him 5.) Laughing at Aly is always fun 6.) Let's play doctor
We got furniture for my office while we were in Houston, and had a wonderful time. My husband was the best, as we went from home goods store to home goods store. He deserves so many awards!!! Part of the Stanfill family was out of town, and we missed seeing them. I will go back next month for some non-surgical nips and tucks and then should be done with reconstruction very soon:)! It will also be next month that I have all of my scans (August 18th) before we can start trying for baby. Please remember me in prayer, as we are praying and believing that all scans will be completely perfect!!! I still need your fervent prayers.
I am reminded in times like these, where I can so clearly see my blessings, that I have to keep holding on in times of drought and struggle, when it's hard to believe.. When I have peace one minute, then madness the next. The following song by Jaime Grace spoke to me so much during my treatment, and it still often brings me to tears. Here are the lyrics.