An Advent Lament

An Advent Lament

One evening in early December, our half-hearted dinner comes to a close. Few words have been exchanged, and the children have each taken about a half of a bite of mashed potatoes and drummed the table with their silverware for the ten minutes that they have been forced to sit in their seats. Jordan and I sit wearily, lacking the energy to even mutter a few words to one another. I stare desperately at the seven candles lit in the middle of the table, longing for them to speak peace to my tempestuous heart. My heart is an impenetrable fortress and refuses to allow the light in. Jordan asks me why I am staring the candles down, and I sigh and blow them out with extended effort. Their light falls short of my desperate soul’s need for comfort and peace tonight.

The heaviness in my chest and the thickness in my throat lingers. My head aches with the aftermath of the day’s panic attacks and fits of rage. The lingering failure of the day hangs over my spirit like a cloud. And the advent candles failed me. Or I failed them. The emotional and physical pain of this advent is palpable, oppressive, and I struggle to breathe through the smog of my carnality. I feel as though I am crying out to empty heavens, staring into illusory candles, reaching for something that isn’t even there. I know that this is just a feeling, and I know, on an intimate heart level, that God is indeed with us. I just don’t feel Him or hear Him right now.

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Come, Lord Jesus. Break through the darkness and brokenness of my multi-faceted infirmities. Break into our family’s heaviness, and lighten our load. Bring illumination to our darkness. In your mercy, bring beauty and grace to the daily lives of my innocent children. This Advent season, I am beyond desperate for your light. I need a pin-prick of hope. I understand that my perceived needs are not always accurate, so I will accept whatever package in which you choose to deliver said hope. I just need something, anything, soon.

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The Mental and Physical Traffic Jam

You know when you encounter a blog that is all about a particular issue?  Like a blog about a struggle with PTSD, or a medical diagnosis, or eating disorder?  I would like to introduce you to my issues: Complex PTSD, Dissociative disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, POTS, Major Depressive Disorder, OCD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Anorexia, Osteoporosis, Kyphosis, and that’s just what I can ramble out in a few seconds. Yes, these have all been diagnosed.  I don’t know how to cope with such a wide spectrum of issues, which all seem to be horribly debilitating at the moment.

I feel very much like the people in my life are ready to throw their hands up in the air and say, “Seriously?  Enough with your attention-seeking histrionics!! No one can be afflicted with as many issues as you seem to come up with on a daily basis!”  But believe me, I too stand in disbelief, and I am so swamped by competing symptoms that I have no idea how to prioritize any kind of treatment.  Occupational therapist? Psychiatrist?  Cardiologist?  Family Doctor?  Therapist?  Dietician?  Neurologist? Orthopedist? Physical therapist?  I feel so horribly self-indulgent to think that I should see all these specialists.  I have two children under the age of two, for crying out loud!  They need space in my life!  But that is the problem, isn’t it?  Without treating all of these issues, how the heck can I care for my children?  I have overcome so much to have gained this abundant life with my wonderful family.  I cannot let shame and self-hate cripple me from taking the steps that I need to take in order to live the abundant life that is available.

But I find myself asking, “Is abundance an option for me?”  Do I need to just settle?  Do I need to just admit defeat and wave the white flag to my brain and body and try to just be content with my quality of life? Who am I to think that I should have a higher quality of life than what I am currently living with?  I’ve done alright for myself given my circumstances, so I should just suck it up and keep marching through this quick sand.

I honestly don’t know what to do.  The most squeaky wheel this week is the SPD.  I can’t seem to tolerate much sensory input, especially visual, especially when driving.  This is a problem when I feel the responsibility of driving my children around.  The weight of my precious cargo is unbearable.  But what can you do when you are constantly being assaulted by seemingly innocuous stimuli?  Toughen up? Suck it up? Just drive, for crying out loud, no one else on the road looks like their brains are going to melt out their ears any moment!   Obviously, my self-talk is lacking some compassion.  It seems functional, however.  I can’t depend on other people to chauffeur me and my children all around town.  But I can’t do this much longer.  I will crumble. Is there a chance that people are more compassionate than I give them credit for?  Is there a possibility that no one will judge me as hard as I seem to judge myself?

Just a hint: I am inviting feedback to this post. I am desperate for some reassurance.

Games We Play

Upon reflecting on my progress in recovery, I have come to a realization. My disorder-dance is kind of a like a whack-a-mole game. I clobber one of my issues with that little mallet and celebrate its retreat into its little mole-hole. No sooner does the victor’s smile creep on my face than one, no, two, no, three of my other issues raise their ugly faces. In the process of living, and whacking, I have discovered a correlation between my victory over my eating disorder and the resurgence of the depression and anxiety. Over the past twenty-something years, I have developed a pretty sound strategy of keeping the most issues under control at any given time. The only catch is that the eating disorder’s little lovely head has to be peeking out ever-so-slightly. My dietician said that I do an excellent job of “living with my eating disorder.” I remain sub-clinical and fly under the radar while continuing to maintain pretty solid negotiations with the eating disorder. To me, this has been survival. My little moles of anxiety and depression appear to be the more debilitating and even life-threatening issues, especially with my little ones to look after. Allowing the anorexia a tiny little spot in my life seems to be the lesser of all of the evils, and surely life is not so wonderful that I can avoid having to choose any of the evils altogether. The dance is tedious, however, and maintaining health while negotiating with an eating disorder can get tricky, especially while taking care of two babies under the age of two and breastfeeding and going without precious sleep. Maybe there are more options. Maybe I can figure out how to manage my other “moles” without having to use another one to hold them at bay. Are there healthy habits that I can grasp onto as I relinquish the habit of restriction? It may be a little bit more complicated to pursue better self-care and recovery-oriented behaviors in place of this clandestine relationship with the anorexia, but I am not so sure that it will be. It could be much more simple. Of course, I would love if my little horrible moles would just choose to never flash their hideous faces ever again, but history does not offer much evidence that they can be exterminated. I grow weary of this tenuous dance with anorexia, however. I long for a way to live free without having to use one disorder to hold back other more intimidating disorders. It all starts with following that ever-nagging meal plan. Simple enough. The complicated part comes when those dang moles start popping up. I certainly have the tools to deal with them without allowing anorexia back. Am I okay with “doing an excellent job of living with my eating disorder,” or do I really want to live free? Can I possibly live free of all of my disorders, or am I like Sylvia Plath, waiting for one of the bell jars to descend again? I honestly don’t know, but I am willing to step out to see.