At four years, I share yet one more thing.

Today is the anniversary of this blog. I've been writing here for four years. And there's no end in sight, friends, no end in sight. Because every time I think of stopping, I read through posts that encapsulate things I would have forgotten otherwise, and I'm glad for having been here, in this space, writing it all down.

Here are some posts from each of the Augusts that I've been here.

Life in the Woods

Where I Face My Fears by Being Ridiculously Open and Honest

Things are Moving Rather Quickly Now

A Story

If you read through these posts you may notice that there is a fairly big change between August '06 and August '07.

In the Where I Face My Fears post I talk about the extreme anxiety I used to experience. I don't know how to describe to you how crippling it was.  It caused rage, panic, and overreaction to very small things.  I couldn't see my way around it, when I was in the midst of it.  It was completely irrational, in the midst of it everyone around me looked like an enemy. I was wild-eyed and irrational. I hurt myself. I struck out at my husband.  I struggled with this for years. And I prayed, I went to counseling, I read fifty books, I tried everything.  Nothing would dislodge the knot of fear that went with me everywhere I went.  I completely lost the ability to enjoy myself, to have fun, to relax. This blog helped a lot.  But it didn't help everything.

There was the night that I constructed an elaborate art installation on my floor with melted wax and burnt paper and rose petals, thinking, "maybe someone will notice."  I remember the time I reached out to a woman I trusted, telling her how bad things were inside my head.  Her response was, "You're okay, Rae.  Really, of all people, you have to be okay." She was referring to the fact that we worked with street kids at the time, and quite frequently people were falling to pieces all around us. Someone needed to be strong, to be stable for everyone else.

But what if it wasn't me?

In the end, it was my relationship with my kids that was the last straw. I found myself shaking with anger and anxiety, barely containing myself, staring at three tiny children who stared back at me with huge eyes. And then I read this book.  Not any type of self-help book, just a novel with a character who condemned another character (a mother with depression issues) for not taking the steps she needed to keep her children safe from herself. And I shook myself, because it occurred to me for the first time that it was my responsibility.

There wasn't going to be any knight in shining armor. I wanted someone to rescue me, to notice my struggles and pull me out.  I needed to be the one to ask for help.  I was so close to asking already, and then two more things happened. One, I had a panic attack so severe that I had to pull the car I was driving over because I couldn't breathe.  And Two, I lost a baby due to an ectopic pregnancy. Because I was already back and forth, seeing the doctor, we talked about my mental health.  I told her everything.  She prescribed medication that deals with social anxiety disorder. It was April of 2007, a time when everything changed for me.

I remember the first day I went for a drive and found that I was happy.  It felt like the first time in years that I wasn't afraid. And so.

It's funny, before I admitted how sick I was and gave in, I was so afraid of the way taking medication would affect my relationship with God.  But without the barrier of my imbalance, I find myself walking through each day with the ability to trust, rather than the sickening feeling that I can't get out, I can't get out.

I was too concerned for my family to take serious steps towards suicide, but a day didn't go by when I didn't feel that the only way out of my own mind (which was poisoning me with a crippling) was through death.

I'm so glad that I found out it wasn't true.

When I look back on all the poems I wrote then, they all have images of hurting, clenched stomachs, of not being able to let go, of shoulders rigid and tight, of the need for escape. Images of people as wolves, of panic in the grocery store, of sabotage. I am so thankful, now, for the ability to relax in my own skin. I still have stress, I still have to remember to give my worries over to my Father.  The difference is that it is possible for me, now.

This is the way He is; Broken things are made new.

Oh friends, I am so broken.  But being renewed every day.

Me, by Chinua

Photo by Chinua