After our conversation the other day, and after reading my post yesterday, Stephanie told me that she wanted to write a post for the blog. I was very excited since I had been trying to get her to write something for me for about four or five months. When she showed me what she had written I was very surprised and impressed with her honesty and transparency about what has been going on and how it has impacted her. This is only the first part. She will share the rest in a follow-up post.
Awhile ago my husband, Dan, asked me to write a guest post for his blog. I laughed at him and emphatically declined. I knew I would have nothing to say that would interest Dan’s smart, “wordy” readers (‘wordy’ meaning they use big words that I don’t usually understand). He asked several times only to be shut down by his stubborn wife. Now, sitting in the aftermath of the disaster that struck our family one month ago, I feel compelled to give a response to the people who held us up in prayer and kept us in their thoughts.
The day of October 20th began as every other Wednesday. Dan left for work and I got Lily and Danny ready to pick up their sister, Gracie, from her biological father. We share custody with him so he has Gracie Sunday night- Wednesday morning. I knew something was up with him because he wasn’t returning my phone calls or text messages. This is pretty typical of him when he gets annoyed with our family so I brushed it off as him being in a bad mood. In a few hours I would find that I was wrong and that I had been thrust into the middle of a nightmare.
I waited at the place I usually meet Gracie’s dad for 15 minutes. I was really irritated with him for always being late so I decided to leave after only a short time and drive to Dan’s work to figure out what we should do. I called Dan to tell him my plan when he got another call and hung up on me. In the almost 3 years that Dan and I have been together, he has never hung up on me. I felt a sharp pain in my stomach and my heart began to race. I will never forget Dan’s face as he walked toward my van that day. I’ve never seen my husband so angry. I had never seen my husband afraid. Until that day.
Dan got in the car and I demanded to know what was happening. I’m pretty sure I snapped at him for hanging up on me and for taking so long to meet me outside. I knew something bad was happening but I didn’t know how severe it was. Dan began telling me that the other call he received was from The Department of Health and Human Services. They told Dan that there were allegations of us abusing Gracie, that they were on their way to interview her, and that they would be at our house to interview us when they were finished.
Now, we’re going to take a break from this story so I can explain a few personal things about myself. Things I would normally never share with anyone but my husband, but I feel it has great importance to everything we have been through. Back in June I started to notice a change in myself. I was always anxious and always afraid. The fear would consume me…paralyze me to the point where I would call Dan crying begging him to come home. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but what I did know was that I had no control over the fear that was dwelling inside me or the games it was playing in my head. I would pray constantly, begging God to make it stop. I would stay up all night hysterically pleading with God for peace, which He always gave to me despite how wicked, doubtful and fearful I was. I wasn’t trusting Him but he still comforted me. I would Him beg for answers. I would eventually beg Him for death. It seemed like the only way to make the horrific thoughts stop. I knew I couldn’t keep living battling the horror show inside my head. I sank hopelessly into depression. Withdrawing from my family broke my heart into a million pieces. I would lay helpless in our bed as I was tortured endlessly. Tortured by my mind, by myself. I started seeking out advise on suicide. I wasn’t sure if people who committed suicide went to heaven, and I wanted to be sure before I seriously thought over that option. When I realized what I was contemplating I knew I needed to get help, no matter what other Christians or what my own family had to say about depression being a sin. I needed help. I needed relief. So we began the journey of anti-depressants and I started seeing a psychiatrist. She was nothing like the psychiatrists you see on tv. She had a warm face and quiet demeanor. I was afraid that once I told her everything she would tell me I was crazy and send me off to the asylum. But she didn’t. She looked at me with sad eyes and told me that many people suffer through the same thing. She told me I was battling with obsessive-compulsive disorder. She knew I was confused by the blank stare I gave her. I told her I didn’t wash my hands a million times a day or check the stove repeatedly or avoid cracks in the side walk. She smiled, amused at my ignorance. She told me my compulsions weren’t physical, but mental. She explained it as “obsessive bad thoughts”. After asking me my whole life story she concluded that I go through fazes of irrational and obsessive fear. It’s like a dam breaks inside my head and all these horrible, awful, terrifying thoughts come raging in, flooding my mind. Consuming me with fear. During these episodes I would usually grab my head and dig my fingernails into my scalp in hopes that the pain would bring me some sort of relief from the torture going on inside me.
She talked to me several times, helping me find ways to make it through the mental battles. At this point the anti-depressants were helping and I was having fewer episodes. We worked on acknowledging the fears instead of running from them. Instead of fighting to control my mind, I started throwing my thoughts onto the table and examining them. I began seeing them for what they really were…lies. Irrational, scary lies. Once I understood and believed that there was no truth to these lies, I started gaining control back. I started feeling somewhat normal again. The hurt became less painful, the fear became less controlling. I slowly gained the energy and courage to draw closer to my precious family. Things were slowly getting better, and I was so thankful.
The OCD is something I still struggle with. Something I will probably battle with my entire life, but things are getting better. I know I have a God who is in control and who made me this way for His own reasons. I know it hurts Him to see me suffer but I know it brings Him joy when I throw myself at His feet and trust Him completely to pull me through the dark nights.
- Read the follow-up post: The Aftermath: a guest post