Sunday, April 10, 2011

Coming Out From Hiding...

The release from fear does not come quickly or easily. Fear comes from the dark. And its grip is death to the soul. The noose of fear pulls quick and hard.

Fear is a thief that suffocates all joy, all peace. Fear and peace do not, cannot, coexist. Fear is from the father of lies. Peace is from the FATHER of TRUTH.

I had my first panic attack on February 5th, 2009. It's amazing how that date sticks so clearly in my head. I was driving home from a doctor's appointment. I had been suffering from migraines and severe sinus problems for about a year. I had just received this news regarding our little boy, Jin, several days prior. My heart was heavy. And as I drove home from that appointment, my head started to spin, my heart pounded, I felt as though I was going to black out.

I pulled into a restaurant parking lot. Ice cold heat ran from my head to my toes. "I'm dying," I thought. My heart beat like crazy, so irregular. I couldn't think. I felt so incoherent.

I staggered out of my vehicle (thank God that my children weren't with me) and started pounding on the side door of the restaurant. I didn't know what I would say to whoever answered; I just needed help. No one came.

Back in my car, I called Brad. I told him that I thought I was dying. I remember crying and feeling so out of control. My heart was fluttering, flying everywhere. My body was cold then hot.

9-1-1. The ambulance arrived. The ride was a blur of anxiety. I remember seeing the road that I drove so frequently rush past me in the windows of the back of the ambulance. I thought that that would be the last time I rode down that road. Not knowing then that that road, that spot, would become such a powerful trigger of anxiety and panic.

For several months after that, I lived a prisoner in the walls of my home. Terrified to drive in fear that it would happen again. For a while I felt safe here at home. But then the fear started to overcome me here too. I knew I needed help. The anxiety, the panic, was now accompanied by the heavy weight of depression. Where is the confident girl I used to be? Where did she go???? My mind screamed this night and day. No peace in these bones when you only see in black and gray.

I reluctantly started on an antidepressant after living for a couple of months in a dark mental prison. I couldn't live like that anymore. I had no other choice. And slowly, very slowly, I began to regain my life. Slowly and with many ups and downs.

Fast forward to January 2010 - I am crushed to find out that because of my history of antidepressant use, we would not be permitted to adopt Sergei. I am feeling better. I am functioning. I successfully wean myself from my medicine under the supervision of my doctor.

July 2010 - I am in the ER at Children' hospital, 24 hours after returning from our five-week adoption trip to Ukraine, jet-lagged and sick to my stomach. My 7-year-old son is being battered with tests to rule out a stroke. What made my baby boy's face droop and what made his words come out all slurred during the dark of the night?

I'm standing in the ER room, after an exhausting night and day, watching my baby come out from the anesthesia. I haven't slept in 48 hours or more. I haven't eaten since early morning. It is around 5pm. I am sick to my stomach. I have watched my son, scared, cry and cry. That's when it comes again, spreading its poison through my body.

No! I just spent five weeks in a foreign country. I was brave enough to leave my children for that entire time. I conquered so many fears on that trip. I had felt the awesome protection and intervention of God so many ways. IT cannot come back. But it did.

Those feelings. Those out-of-control, heavy feelings. And then came our adoption transitional period, which was nightmarish in so many ways. And slowly, I felt that oppressive dark of depression creeping back. I felt in over my head. I felt out of control. I was becoming that prisoner again.

Today, April 11th, 2010 - On "the prescribed calm" as Ann Voskamp describes it in her book. And I'm living again. And the feelings, they are still there, but the medication enables me to work through them. And I'm learning how to truly be released from fear. And I've learned that, like all things worth learning, it takes time and discipline. It's training the mind, buffing up on the TRUTH, and accepting imperfection and setbacks. Freedom from fear permits the mind to see in color again...

I'm learning that God is showing me through this trial of the mind, how not to have "the spirit of fear" but how to have the "spirit of power, love, and a sound mind" that is mine through Christ.

And I've been wanting to share this with you all for the last six months or so because it's part of who I am.

And I've been praying for the words. Words that would maybe encourage someone, somewhere. I can't hide behind this anymore. I can't hide because I want God to use it. And He can't use it if I hide behind it. It's my reality, and He's using it to change me, to mold me into the daughter He destined me to be.

And, oh, how I've grown in my walk with Christ in these last two years. When you can hardly get out of bed in the morning because you're afraid that your heart will fail you, when you can't talk to anyone because they wouldn't understand these irrational feelings you're having if they've never experienced them themselves, when you feel utterly hopeless, these are the things that tend to bring one to the full realization of their need of full dependence on Christ.

And my prayer has been that this suffering, this pain, would not be in vain. That God would use it. Because that's what our God does. He takes the ugly and He makes it beautiful. He can use ALL things for His glory and the furtherance of His Kingdom when His children surrender themselves to Him. And, oh, how I desire to daily, moment by moment, surrender myself to Him. Because this life isn't easy, but it is victorious through Him.

He's conquered death. He's poured out His Spirit on His children. He lives within us, changing us, bringing into a fuller understanding of Him and His purpose and the mystery of His will.

And now my heart feels lighter knowing that you all know the real girl behind Making A Home. I'm thankful for the words, finally set free. I'm really just a sin-stained girl, saved by God's grace alone, striving to abide in Him. Learning to fall into His arms of grace and mercy. Learning about the fullness and freedom found in His love. Learning to live life fully and fearless in Him.


Unknown said...


Thank you for your post. You are awesome. You are God's creation and He did good. I always enjoy your blog. You are so refreshing. Thank you for being you.


April said...

Amber, depression and anxiety are just another medical issue. This is what I have told myself over and over on those days when I feel guilty/weak when I take my daily anti-depressant. It is simply a deficiency such as a vitamin deficiency that others have to take for medical reasons. We are strong, amazing women in God's eyes. Thanks for sharing...

Wendi said...

I know that it couldn't have been easy to put this out for the world to know. I am so glad that you did!

I have never had to use an antidepressent but I had to seek help once. I was in a relationship right after high school. It lasted for almost eight years and then one day he walked away. I thought this was the man I would spend my life with and was completely broken.

Maybe God is using you and this post to reach someone feeling the same and to let them know that it is okay to seek help. I have found that seeking help is sometimes the hardest step.

Ashley said...

I apologize because this comment is so long.

I have been following your blog for some time now and I love reading. I put a similar post on my blog shortly after coming home with our Alex, from Ukraine. I never anticipated the post-adoption depression, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was literally unable to care for Alex even while in Ukraine because I was in such a strong state of depression. I didn't understand it and I was so confused. I had no choice to deal with it except by limiting my time around Alex and completely depending on my husband for his care.

When we arrived home I was so scared because I would be completely responsible for Alex and my other son because my husband had to go back to work right away. I cried a lot! I dealt with a lot of anger and resentment. I felt deceived by God because He was responsible for bringing this child into our lives, but I felt like He didn't give me a way to care for this child. Each day was a severe struggle and it was evident in my lack of being social with family and friends and if you had walked into our home during that time, you would've thought no one did anything. The dishes had been neglected so bad that there were none in the cabinets. That is one example but everything in the house fell in line with how our dishes were. We lived in a disaster.

It hasn't been until recently that I've been able to dig myself out. I've seeked help, but like you I didn't want the medication. I've had to learn how to control my physical response to the depression feelings and also re-learn what things make me happy. I had to put a lot of energy in focussing on my happiness for the sake of my husband and children. I've had to take big steps away from my family in order to be refreshed. I've even removed things in my life that cause me anxiety. Things that I have no control over like news, political events, even certain people. It has seemed to calm my sense of depression and anger tremendously.

Through relearning the things that make me happy I've become happier. Each day I focus on these things I find myself accomplishing more and this sense of accomplishment brings me happiness. I think it is because I'm accomplishing things that benefit not only me, but my family too.

I never understood depression until walking through it these past 7 months. But as I come out of it more and more each day, I realize how important it is to be honest about it with yourself and family. I've realized that through Christ, just as He gave me my beautiful children, that He would provide me with all the necessities to care for them- and He has. I have yet to learn why I suffered through this and maybe I will never learn. But there is no doubt it brought me back to Christ. This experience forced me to reconsider my priorities in life. This experience also forced my husband to show his true colors, which are more loving and patient that I ever thought possible.

I hope you are able to find Christ's strength to pull you out of the depths of depression when you need Him. I hope that you continue to be this honest because people like me need to read/hear your story. Thank you for sharing. You are a beautiful, creation of God and I appreciate all the words you type related and unrelated to depression.

May God bless you and your family.

BurttBunch said...

Amber- You are beautiful....INSIDE AND OUT!!! God will use this for HIS good!!! I know it took a lot to share this and I have a new respect for you dear sister in the Lord!

BECKY said...

Hi Amber! Thanks for visiting and following my blog! I am so glad I came to yours. What a gut wrenching testimony to the goodness of God, and the ability He gives us to battle back from the pit of fear and despair. He helped me to conquer a different type of fear just last year. Every once in awhile, it tries to rear it's ugly head, but I do not receive least most of the time. :o)

Thank you for being so transparent! I love seeing the last photo of you smiling! That's one joyful smile! And you're adorable, too!

Have a blessed week, and know that you have blessed me tonight!

Anonymous said...

Amber - thanks for sharing and being so vulnerable - you have a beautiful spirit and that will be a testimony to many. I have never experienced what you have been through but I feel encouraged as it helps me to understand others and to love them without judging which is always a good thing. May your family be so blessed!!