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 (Manna 57: Christians in the Community)
Holding onto God
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Holding onto God

Summer

NOT ABLE TO BE HAPPY

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 months.

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 stop praying.

A STRONG 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 deteriorated. 

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.

Recovery

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.

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