Holding onto God
NOT ABLE TO
The first two months after my son’s birth were not particularly
eventful. I was exhausted like any mother with a newborn and two older children
would be. A live-in nanny helped with the cooking and household chores, but
since I was nursing, I still had to get up during the night to feed my son.
Besides not getting enough sleep, things were pretty normal at home.
However, about three months after my son was born, I began suffering
from anxiety. I had many of the symptoms associated with anxiety such as loss
of appetite, the inability to feel if I was hungry or full, tingling in my
body, numbness on parts of my head, loud ringing in my ears, difficulty falling
or staying asleep, being easily startled, and having panic attacks.
I would suddenly wake up with a racing heartbeat, gasping for air in a
state of panic. There were nights when I had only one to four hours of sleep,
and these sleep problems lasted for about six months. My inability to fall
asleep or stay asleep took a toll on my mind and body. Some mornings I would
lay in bed, and I would see frightening things in my head.
I began to feel sad, and I couldn’t feel happy even though I had many
reasons to be happy at that time. I was blessed with wonderful children, we
were living comfortably, and my family was actively attending church and
serving the Lord together.
Yet, I felt confused, could not focus or concentrate on anything, and
sometimes felt like I was going crazy. However, these feelings would begin to
subside in the late afternoon. The later into the night, the better I felt.
When morning came, it was as though a switch was turned on and those bad
feelings would come back again. This cycle continued day after day for several
My condition also evolved into obsessive compulsive disorder, and I
would go through days constantly thinking or worrying about my condition and
what I should do to get out of it. During most of the day, I lost interest in
things I used to enjoy doing. I had trouble taking care of my children, my
bills, my work, and was needy toward close friends and relatives.
One of the hardest things to deal with was that I had trouble with
prayer. I knew that prayer was vital to my recovery, but I couldn’t get my mind
to cooperate. Sometimes during prayer, my mind would play tricks on me, telling
me that my prayer did not reach God but was instead heard by Satan. It was
difficult for me to dismiss these lies my mind was telling me, but I didn’t
DESIRE TO SEEK HELP
During this period of time, I tried hard to rely on God by continuing to
go to church, praying, singing hymns, and reading the Bible. I told my
condition to ministers, church workers, and friends in church, and my name was
put on the prayer list. I knew that this was an essential part of my recovery
process no matter what course of action I took later on.
Looking back, I thank God that He allowed me to have a very strong
desire to get well and seek help. When I looked at my son, I knew that I was
losing precious time to enjoy his infancy while I continued to suffer.
It was painful to be with my young children but not be able to enjoy
their presence. Valuable time was slipping away, and that motivated me to cry
out for help. It was not easy, however, to accept my condition because I had
always been a self-motivated, disciplined, and goal-oriented individual.
Friends and family were perplexed by how suddenly my mental state had
I tried to find out as much as I could about my condition and how others
had been able to recover. I talked to people with similar problems or who were
familiar with my condition. I sought answers from the internet, tried Chinese
medicine and acupuncture, and consulted non-psychiatric medical doctors. But
none of these methods helped me, and I could not decide what I should do next.
I was not open to using anti-depressants to treat my condition due to
the stigma of mental illness and negative things I heard about such drugs. The
most worrisome ones were long-term dependency on the drug or adverse side
effects. Furthermore, it just didn’t make sense for me, a Christian, to be
depressed or on anti-depressants.
However, during the course of my suffering, I spoke to people who either
encouraged me to seek psychiatric help or had success with anti-depressants. I
spoke at length with a friend of a sister from church. To my amazement, the
lady’s condition was so similar to mine, particularly with how her symptoms
would begin to subside and improve as the day progressed. That led me to think
that perhaps my condition was due to a chemical imbalance. The thought of
seeking psychiatric help began to make more sense, and I decided to do so.
A sister who had been close to me throughout my suffering prayed with me
one day and asked God to help me find a Christian doctor. I felt it was
important that the doctor was a Christian so that I would not be swayed by
secular theories of psychology. Within a very short time, another sister, who
had heard about my condition but didn’t know I was looking for a doctor, called
me and referred a psychiatrist who was a Christian.
Accompanied by the sister who had been with me all these months, I went
to see this doctor, who understood my initial fear of anti-depressant and
anti-anxiety drugs. I felt reassured after seeing him and started to take the
anti-anxiety medication that he prescribed for my sleep problem.
I thank God that the medication worked right away—my sleep was restored,
and I was able to stop taking this medication soon after. With a well-rested
body and mind, some of my symptoms disappeared.
The doctor also prescribed an anti-depressant, which eventually helped
most of my symptoms to disappear. Through counseling from a doctor who also
believed in God, I was able to understand myself and my condition better.
THE LOVE AND
CARE OF BROTHERS AND SISTERS
Although I took prescription medication, I believe that my husband and
church members directly contributed to my recovery. Without them, I would not
be testifying to God’s mercy and grace.
I know that marriages can be torn apart by depression, and I am very
thankful to God that my husband stood by me, prayed for me in tears, and
continued to love me during my suffering even when my condition was so foreign
and confusing to him.
Many members from different True Jesus Church locations prayed for me,
ministers laid hands on me and prayed for me, and members visited me often.
Some sisters spent many hours counseling and encouraging me, and some also
brought food to my home, cooked and cleaned up for me, and provided me the
company I needed so much while my husband was at work.
I can still remember a day when a
few sisters came to my house. One of them gave me a nice blue notebook and
taught me to list the things I could be thankful for. The exercise left an
impression on me and has helped me even to this day to see the positive side of
things and to thank God for His blessings that I took for granted in the past.
As I recall those months when I struggled, I thank God that He restored
my physical and mental health, kept me in my faith, and allowed me to counsel
others using what I learned.
From this experience, I learned to be content with what I have and
discovered the many blessings that God has given me. I used to be a
perfectionist, a worrywart, and a pessimist. Now I am happier, more thankful,
more optimistic, more sympathetic, and place less emphasis on earthly things.
I used to think that my past achievements were because of my abilities,
but now I know I am nothing without God. In the past, when I prayed to God
about my problems, I would hold on to them, never truly letting God solve them.
When I was going through such difficult times, I began to learn to let go of
the problem and hand it to God.
Do not be afraid or embarrassed to seek help, and when you do, make sure
the people you talk to are knowledgeable about such conditions. God is faithful
and He will never ever forsake us. He will not let us go through a trial that
we cannot bear even though the journey can be very painful. Hold on to God and
never let go.