The Struggle is Real: How Mommy Stress Ruined my Life

Disclaimer: While I hope this post gives you the tools and hope and information to make a positive change in your life, I am in no way a medical professional. I am a woman who has gone through some crap and learned a lot along the way. This is my testimony:

A friend at church said she noticed the change when my fourth baby came.

I was a mom, praise team director, and pastor’s wife. In my free time I raised kids and volunteered for anything I could to make the church a happier place. I think people knew I didn’t always have my crap together, but I was a mom of four- who could have blamed me?

Behind Closed Doors: That Time I Cried Every. Day.

Then I had my youngest child and gradually, so gradually I can’t put my finger on exactly when it started, I started crying. Like, every day. For no reason. But moms cry, I knew that. I was tired but hey, moms are always tired. That’s the cliche, right? I was just living the cliche.

I started worrying not about me, but about my kids. Seriously worrying. Tossing and turning at night because I was too preoccupied with fear to sleep. Worst case scenarios played on repeat through my mind. I woke up exhausted. So continued my tired life.

Obviously I didn’t trust God enough, right? That’s the way I took it. I was a pastor’s wife. The answer was easy. Read the Bible and pray more, duh. The thing is- the fear remained. And while singing Bible verses worked miracles in calming my anxiety, they didn’t stop my anxiety from creeping in.

So here I was. Mom of four:

Over tired-Check

Weepy- Check

Anxiety ridden-Check

And completely fueled on coffee, diet coke, and water. And unhappy with the dream life I had picked out for myself. Also, ready to punch anyone in the face for eating too loudly in the same room as me. Sounds pretty typical.

All Alone and Going Crazy

It was in the throes of this caffeine fueled angst that Scott prepared to leave for a few days to go to his pastors conference. Earlier in our marriage I absolutely loved when Scott got to take time away for a pastors conference, not because I didn’t miss him but because I knew he needed a break from the stress of family and church every once in a while. So when Scott left for his fall conference one September and I found myself unsure of how to survive, I knew something was wrong.

Check that- when I completely lost my head with my kids and saw not a look of fear in their eyes but pity, then I knew something was wrong. Very wrong. Between sobs on my kitchen floor I said, “I think I am going crazy.”

God’s intervention at this point more than warms my heart. The morning I broke down I got my kids packed up and sent to school and a friend’s house and one of my sweet friends came to pick me up for an acupuncture appointment she had set up for us weeks ago. I had never tried it before and she offered to reschedule after she heard of my rough morning, but I said no, I should just go ahead and give it a try. Looking back, I am amazed at not only how God prepared weeks in advance for this day’s appointment, but how he worked months in advance giving me this friendship, and years in advance giving my friend this relationship with her acupuncturist.

Acupuncture: Diagnosing my Desperation

I won’t go into details about the acupuncture treatment I received, but it should be known I went specifically for pain in my wrist due to rheumatoid arthritis. It had no lasting effects on the arthritis, but it did give me my first tool to healing my mind.

At the conclusion of my consultation I heard a phrase that had only recently been on my radar: adrenal fatigue.

Adrenal fatigue explained everything. Because of the constant stress in my life my adrenal glands were bugging out. Your adrenal glands sit on top of your kidneys and pump out hormones, one being adrenaline. Stress (plus caffeine, plus sugar, plus extreme working out) had forced my adrenal glands to pump out tons of adrenaline, forcing me into “fight or flight” mode all the time. Basically I was in a heightened state of stress at all times, my brain perceiving a threat, which explained the fatigue, fear, overreactions, and misophonia (hatred of sounds).

Adrenal Fatigue explained it all. My problem had a name and I wasn’t alone anymore. I cried through my entire acupuncture session.

On the way out the door I purchased some adrenal support supplements and looked forward to living life as usual with the help of my little “natural” pill friends. Because why change your lifestyle if they have a pill (and it is natural!) to fix your symptom, right?

The adrenal support helped. I felt so much better. My local chiropractor kept us stocked and I had my mind back. In fact, I could even go around diagnosing all my mom friends, because who doesn’t like to hear, “I know what you need…”?

Meanwhile, Back at the Joints…

Scott and I took our adrenal support faithfully for months, maybe even a year. My brain and stress response settled down considerably.

However, my rheumatoid arthritis continued to worsen. It wasn’t until we moved that I found out how my RA and adrenal fatigue were intricately related.

Shortly after we moved to Wisconsin God blatantly made Himself known in an encounter at a coffee shop. It was there, with a man I had never seen before or since, that I first heard of my nutritionist Karen Hurd.

I contacted her right away, watched her video, and met with her. The culprit in my joint pain- my adrenal glands. It was something I had never heard before, and yet it made more sense than anything I was ever told by my specialists. And get this: it wasn’t voodoo anecdotal nonsense. I asked questions and she gave me scientific answers. It was, dare I say it, biology.

Giving Up Everything to Get My Life Back

I have now been on Karen’s plan to healing my adrenal glands for nearly two years. It’s no joke. A strict diet sure, but also a low stress lifestyle. I have had to give up food I love, sugar and caffeine too, as well as playing sports with my kids and volunteering at different organizations. But it is temporary and healing is happening from the inside out- just like it is supposed to happen. People think it takes willpower. Maybe it takes some of that. What it really takes is desperation.

It’s not that I desire to live this way- It is that I absolutely could not continue to live the way I was living.

I am not completely healed, but I am leaps and bounds better than I was when my RA meds stopped working. Plus my brain is in a much better place without the adrenal “support” (which was actually just pure adrenaline “naturally” extracted from animals). Each day I am healing.

So Here Are a Few Lessons I Learned on This Journey

  1. Shame accomplishes nothing. I was ashamed of myself. I was ashamed of my lack of faith, my failures as a mom and wife, and my unhappiness with a life I should have been enjoying. That shame accomplished worse than nothing- it prevented me from seeking help. For that reason I don’t shame people into using the methods I use. If you want to contact Karen Hurd I will cheer you on, but if not I will not fault you for finding a solution that fits your personality. That being said…
  2. There is a point when “My kids are driving me nuts” becomes “I need help!” Maybe you aren’t there. Maybe you don’t have kids, but you have other stressful relationships. Whatever your situation, there are people who can help and that is what they are there for. That being said…
  3. There are no magic cures. No pill, salve, book, ointment or potion is going to solve all your problems no matter how hard you try. You are a whole person- body and soul. You will receive promises, and you will get relief with various products. But relief and healing are two separate things. For years I sought relief so I could continue to live the way I wanted. It took a long time to realize that first I needed to change the way I was living to bring healing to my body, and my soul. Whatever your plan, make sure it is multi-faceted like you.
  4. Not everyone knows what they are talking about. I have no agenda against the medical field, but I will say that not even doctors always know what is going on. If you find yourself facing drastic treatments like surgery or medicines that will wreck your body for the long term, always seek a second opinion. Always. You have more options than anyone else in the world.
  5. Patience required: The process takes time. Instant relief is a possibility. Instant healing- not usually. I believe God can do anything He wants, and He is the only agent of instant healing available. But if you are finding your path to healing takes time- that is ok. Be patient. God is with you in the process.
  6. Don’t get so preoccupied with the healing that you forget the Healer. My illness is one of the biggest blessings in my life not simply because it put me on a path to real health, but because it forced me into a relationship with God that requires me to rely on Him daily. I have come to expect less from myself and more from Him. Do I want to be completely healed? Heck yeah! But I don’t want Him to shorten this process one minute if it means I will fail to miss something He wants me to learn. As long as it takes, Lord. I know that no matter what I will be healed one day.

It is my prayer that my story gives you hope, or at least a different perspective. God wastes nothing, Friend. He uses everything and works everything for the good of those who love Him. May He show you His love for you today, in every circumstance.

 

 

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Amy Wesner says:

    Dear Lauren, I’m so thankful for your honest transparency. I read your post when it first appeared and am finally responding to your hard-won expressed wisdom with deep gratitude for telling the truth about what a huge toll motherhood can take on women. Motherhood is such a major transforming influence on women’s bodies, minds, souls, and spirits. This everyday, obvious fact seems to be very blithely acknowledged by our U.S. society at large, and that can be devastating for women, I believe. I remember the first time I hated football with an alarming passion. I was breastfeeding our colicky firstborn at 2:00 am, exhausted beyond description, dealing with postpartum depression, and watching reruns of some guy getting an entire arena to cheer for him because he carried a football over some arbitrary line and probably getting paid millions to do so. I sobbed uncontrollably at the injustice because I knew millions of mothers like me had to scrimp financially and give of our very bodies and lives to bear and sustain the next generations without much corresponding acknowledgement at all. It was insulting to my personhood to absurdist degrees. I suppose I could spin that envy into some sin on my part, but I don’t believe the Holy Spirit is leading me to do so. Our culture fails miserably to honor mothers (and elders, but that’s a different rant) for the priceless, eternal value of our work on behalf of our families and society. I commend you for fighting the good fight, seeking and finding peace and healing where you can, and applaud your beautiful heart and spirit. God bless you, dear Sister. Thank you for your words that break through to acknowledge the silent suffering of many mothers. Love and peace to you always. Amy

    Like

    1. Oh Amy, you said all this so eloquently. I can’t add a word to it. Keep up the good fight, Sister. Love and peace to you too!

      Like

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