5 and 1/2 years is a long time. Time goes by so quickly, but at the same time it feels so long ago. After being released from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in April of 2011, Bryn Mawr Rehab, back to HUP again for another month and then Pennsylvania Hospital’s psychiatric unit, my goal was recovery. That recovery meant making up for missed time with Camryn and Brynlee and bonding with Aubrey and Courtney. The time is a blur. Dave spent the summer with me, I was heavily medicated, but was recovering. I tried to meet with therapists, but felt that it was a waste of time and not the help that I was looking for. I just wanted MY life back. When Dave returned to work in September, I jumped right into the the role as a full-time, stay at home Mom. During that year (2011-2012), I had three surgeries, where I would have to depend on others yet again to help me with my babies. I was surrounded with lifting restrictions, but I took this all in stride, par for the course, one step closer to getting better. In the Fall of 2012, I moved on. I returned to work and returned to the full tilt of life. I was handling it all and felt that I had put a period at the end of the story. My faith was so much stronger because my eyes had been opened so many times, and I was so thankful to be alive. In May of 2016, that period changed to a semi colon and my healing that I thought had already occurred was just about to begin.
Doesn’t social media make everything look so perfect? We all show our highlight reels and this can cause a lot of jealousy and envy for people. If you saw a picture of me on social media in May or June, I may have looked perfectly happy, but pictures never tell the whole story.
On May 1, 2016, my world came crashing down. Dave, the girls and I were driving home from an overnight camping trip. Dave needed gas and I needed to go to the bathroom, so we stopped at Wawa. As I walked into the Wawa, I became completely disoriented, filled with panic to the point that I couldn’t even find the restroom. When I returned to the car, Dave had moved from the pump to a parking space and I felt more panic when I couldn’t find the car. I eventually found the car, got in, and instantly reclined my seat, shut my eyes, terrified of feeling this fear that I hadn’t experienced in five years.
When we returned home to our clean and somewhat organized home, I started stating that everything was a mess, getting trash bags and just dumping things in them. Dave helped, but clearly knew something wasn’t right. Finally we went to our bedroom and I broke down as I tried to explain to him and hide from the kids what was happening. It was obvious from previous experiences that we were headed down a road that we believed was closed off. I could see the frustration and fear in his eyes and felt the despair in my heart. Could we handle this again with four kids that were a lot older and aware now of much more?
I had to call out of work and let Aubrey and Courtney’s babysitter know that I wouldn’t be headed to work the next day. She instantly knew something was wrong from the sound of my voice and was persistent in coming to my house first thing in the morning to help figure out what was going on. I barely slept that night and prayed that this wasn’t happening again. I could not deal with being blindsided by depression or anxiety. In my dark, quiet room I felt so alone. It was like fear came in and happiness went out. I knew deep down that this was some form of PTSD, but facing another challenge felt overwhelming. In that quiet room though, I knew that God would give me my armor and we would battle this together, but I was afraid that fear was getting in the way of my faith.