5 years ago.
It was November 17, 2014.
A day I will never forget.
The days leading up to it I had been experiencing mild anxiety and “the baby blues” after the birth of our daughter, Bella. She was born on October 18, 2014. I had gone to the doctor telling her my symptoms and she prescribed me an antidepressant.
The following morning, after taking the medication the day before, is when it all began.
It’s when postpartum depression and anxiety hit me like a freight train.
It was a Monday morning, I remember Josh leaving for work, and then laying in bed and the most awful feeling of dread that I’d never experienced before overtook me. My stomach began to hurt in a way that, also, I had never experienced before. My cheeks got flushed and were burning and were visibly red.
And then the thought crossed my mind. A thought of the bottle of Ambien pills that I knew were in the dresser next to me. Why did I have that thought? I felt like I wanted to die. I felt like I was dying.
That’s when the panic set it. The first panic attack.
That’s the day postpartum depression hit.
The day the Enemy invaded my mind.
From that moment, that Monday morning in our little apartment in Denver, Colorado, where we were living at the time…from that moment is when I entered a battlefield.
A battle that I did not sign up for.
I had to leave Colorado, with our newborn daughter, and fly on a plane with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, leaving my husband behind, to go back to East Texas. To go stay with my parents for what we thought would be a short time. We didn’t know what was going on with me. Thought it was just a bad reaction to the medication.
But, as time wore on and I continued to get worse, we eventually realized that I was fighting against a mental illness.
The next three months were indeed a living hell. Every morning, without fail and like clockwork, I’d wake up with that feeling of dread, and have a panic attack – shaking uncontrollably, thinking and saying irrational things. My mind was out of control…and then I would throw up. It was a cycle, a cycle that kept me in it, and kept me terrified that I was never going to get better. Satan shouted lies to my nearly every moment during my battle.
God intervened at just the right time.
Every day I would see crows and buzzards in the towering, black, dead tree that was in the backyard. The crows “ca-cawing” sound triggered that pit in my stomach.
Until, God “sent help from heaven”, and sent me a wren. A tiny bird that sat on the red rocking chair of the back porch of my parent’s house. It looked in at me through the glass window, a mere two feet away. It looked me straight in the eyes. I felt that I was standing in the presence of God. Our eyes interlocked, and God was the gentle whisper of the wind by gently, but boldly, reminding me of His presence. That He was near. That I WAS going to get better. He whispered and breathed HOPE into my heart, mind, and soul.
Not long after that, I finally found a psychiatrist and she, after diagnosing me with “severe postpartum depression and anxiety”, prescribed me with a new medication.
I took the medicine in February of 2015, and the next day…was the first day in 3 months that I did not have a panic attack!
It brings a lump to my throat now as I write these words and remember…
God saved me.
God healed me.
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow!”
They joy that permeated throughout my entire being.
The smile on my face, the laughter.
The inexplicable happiness that my husband felt after fighting alongside me and after witnessing, helplessly, his wife suffer in agony, just as he suffered. The happiness on my Mom and Dad’s faces as they were truly also in the trenches with me every day. My sister. My brother-in-law. My in-laws. All of my family. My friends.
Oh, my precious, beautiful little Isabella. I could now finally be the mom to her that I’d been longing to be for her. She kept me going each day. Looking at her and knowing that I had to fight, I had to fight this battle, for her.
And so I did.
And, I won.
God reached His hand down to me and rescued me from the angry waves.
I, we . . . my husband and I, could finally enjoy our daughter.
Has it been a heck of a journey since finding my healing that day in February?
It has had its twists and turns, ups and downs.
But here I am.
5 years later.
Here I stand.
Here Josh and I both stand, together.
He was my rock and has always been my strength.
And here we are, our daughter is five years old now.
The joy she brings to us . . . there are no words. She is the light of our lives. She’s my best little friend, and I love her with all of my heart, mind, and soul.
Yes, both Josh and I still carry wounds, 5 years later . . . every year this time of year, I think we will always be triggered. It brings about so many emotions. Sadness, thankfulness, anger, frustration.
It was a loss.
My counselor encouraged me to give myself the permission to allow myself to grieve. You can grieve over a number of things. This is something I continue and that Josh continues to grieve over.
The loss of “what should have been.”
The loss of enjoying and soaking in those precious moments of our first child’s newborn days.
It’s okay to feel these things.
To have those moments where, you don’t feel so thankful.
Where you do feel mad, angry – feeling that we were robbed. I think it’s okay to voice those thoughts and feelings to God. He can handle what we have to say to Him.
He wants us to talk to Him.
I want to honor my feelings.
Not push them away, or feel guilt for the times when I’m not looking at things on the bright side. That’s reality. The push and pull . . . between how you want to feel, ideally, and how you really feel.
But, I cannot get stuck there. Go there, yes, but I must try and not get stuck.
And this I do know.
This is a story written by the hand of God.
He orchestrated everything.
Not saying He caused any of it to happen,
But the Great I AM,
The Creator, Artist, Master of the Universe,
He orchestrated the beautiful moments.
He allowed me to see that what I went through was spiritual warfare.
Through nature, it was such a strong visual to me,
Of God vs. Satan.
Black buzzards that sometimes even flew in circles above me as I sat outside some days when I was sick.
The Enemy. Darkness.
And then the wren. That tiny bird with the most beautiful birdsong that began to sing to me outside my window every morning, after God knew I’d heard enough of the crows taunting voices.
This is a tale of Victory!
The Light won!
Over the past few days leading up to this anniversary, I’ve been a rollercoaster of emotions.
I’ve cried so many tears.
I’ve felt deep frustration and anger at times that we had to go through it. Frustrated that anxiety is still very present in my life.
Wanting so desperately to feel gratitude and thankfulness . . . and, at times, feeling this wholeheartedly. But frustrated that I still experience so much fear. I suppose PTSD, as my counselor has mentioned to me before that it sounds like I have that a little bit.
Yesterday, I went for a run. I needed to let some energy out and all these negative emotions were building . . . I ran so hard and it was so good for me.
I had been feeling in a place of defeat.
You might wonder why would I feel that?
And that’s where I’d like to say,
That is Satan.
Satan trying to be conniving . . .
Trying to convince me of lies . . .
To steal, again . . .
To steal from me of how I truly should feel.
As I was on my run, ironically enough,
I saw my Enemy.
It was a beautiful, sunny day.
And, out of nowhere,
Appears a lone, black buzzard,
Flying in the sky.
He was flying above, getting closer.
I looked up at him
As he was right above me.
He looked down at me for a moment.
Moment of truth, it felt like.
And then, it kept on flying.
Away from me.
It was a powerful, profound moment.
Perhaps it was Satan realizing not to mess with me.
Or perhaps it was me realizing
That Satan ain’t got nothing on me!
Keep flying, away from here,
Away from me.
You were never welcome,
And you’re never welcome back again.
I’ll start seeing myself now
The way I need to see myself!
Satan’s lies are soon turned to deaf ears,
For I will not listen to him anymore.
I will see myself
How God wants me to see me.
I am not defeated.
Satan is defeated, and I shall trample upon him.
I am a warrior,
“Linzena the Warrior Princess”!
I’m a fighter.
I am strong.
God has given me strength.
5 years later.
And here I stand.
I await the sun to rise this morning,
That marks five years postpartum.
I await the sun to rise,
And rise with it I will.
I will continue to rise,
To hold my head up high,
Proud of myself
For how far I’ve come.
Rise, rise, rise.
Grow, grow, grow.
Shine, shine, shine.
Live, live, live.
Laugh, laugh, laugh.
I am a warrior.
I will raise up my sword today
Up to the sky,
I will, with strength and pride,
Carry my shield.
I will stake my claim,
Placing my flag into the ground.
My claim is the right to love myself,
After all I’ve been through,
And to not let the negative self-talk continue on.
I stand upon the enemy’s back,
Yes, he’s trampled upon beneath my feet.
Today, the time has come.
Watch me Rise!