As I discussed in the last post, 10 years ago after the birth of my second son, I was battling post-partum depression and chronic infections. A morning in my life looked something like this:
I wake up with a heaviness in my heart and sluggishness in my body. Brett had gotten Judah out of bed, but he needs me to come feed him. I make a bottle and sit down with Judah in the rocking chair. Logan, almost 3 now, runs up beside me, chattering, to show me a book. I try to cuddle my baby and talk to my son, but my thoughts are already anxious. I haven’t gotten enough sleep. My body is achy and I’m already starting to feel feverish. Should I call the doctor again? No, I was just there – he’ll think I’m crazy. “Mommy, can I have toast? Where is my milk?” “Say, please, honey. And I’ll get it in a minute when Judah is finished.”
I can tell Logan is full of energy. He needs to get out. What kind of outing could I manage? “I can’t,” I think and my heart sinks lower. I’ll have to try and entertain him here.
I get Logan some breakfast. As I’m going in to change Judah’s diaper, Brett comes in to kiss me goodbye on his way to the office. He pauses and looks at me. “Are you ok?” he asks. I try to put on a brave face. “I’m not feeling too well, but I’ll be ok.” “Alright,” he says, “I’ll be here for five more minutes if you need something.”
As he leaves the room, my pulse goes up. What do I need? Can I make it through the day? I just want to go back to bed. I’m hurting. I have no energy. I have nothing to give. I can’t do this. And suddenly – I can’t breathe and I’m having a panic attack.
I call to Brett and he comes and takes Judah. I retreat to my room, sobbing. What are we going to do? I know we can’t live like this. Brett has to get to work, and I hate what I’m doing to him.
He comes in a few minutes later and I’m a bit calmer. “We need to call someone,” he says, “I can’t leave you like this.”
“No!” I am practically shouting at him. “We have called everyone too much already!” I start crying again.
If you have ever been through a time like this, I am so sorry. I would like to think that I am the only one who has ever had to deal with illness, depression and small children at the same time, but I know I’m not. If you are going through it right now, please know that you are not alone. Other women have gone through it before you, and there is hope on the other side.
There were lots of factors that made that time in my life such a nightmare, and there were lots of people and things that helped me get out, but today I want to talk about a burden I put on myself that made things so much harder than they had to be – the belief that it wasn’t ok to need too much help.
How much was “too much”? For me, it was anything that felt like I was asking for more than someone might expect to give. I knew my in-laws were willing to help a lot, but if I just called them yesterday I didn’t want to call them again today. “Too much” was also asking for help when I “should” be able to do it myself. In the above story, I felt like I “should” have been able to get through that day. I had groceries. I didn’t have to go anywhere. I “should” have been able to get through a day with my two children at home by myself. But I couldn’t. So I was in agony.
I was also afraid that people would judge me if I asked for lots of help. They might think I was lazy, or incompetent or wimpy. They might never see me as a “strong” person again. I was especially afraid of this as time went on. I stayed in this particular pit for several months. I didn’t feel bad asking for help the first week or two, but as weeks turned into months, I put more and more pressure on myself to be independent. But here is the truth –
It’s OK to need help.
As I look back, I can see it so clearly. My family loves and trusts me. There was no “too much” help for them to give. My friends and sisters in Christ did not want me crying in a heap on the floor by myself. They would have come running if I would have asked. But Satan’s deceptions and lies kept me suffering alone – and put so much more pressure on my marriage than necessary too!
It’s OK to need help.
Romans 12 says that as Christians we are all members of the body of Christ. We all have different functions and gifts. Christ is the head; you might be the arm; I might be the foot. When you stub your toe and it’s screaming at you in pain, do you get mad at it? Do you punish it and shame it? Hardly. Your whole body gives its attention to comforting it and protecting it until it feels better. For a while, I was the chronically infected tonsil. But instead of letting the rest of the body care for me and support me, I hid and tried to heal and protect myself, and it didn’t work.
Jesus said, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.” So I wanted to be the giver! I felt “wrong” receiving too much. But an older sister once said to me, “If you need help, there is someone in the body who needs to give it. When you hide your needs, you are robbing that person of the opportunity to serve you.” Even though it made sense, it took me a LONG time to come to peace with that.
At any time, some of us are strong, some of us are weak. Some of us are healthy, some are sick. Some are rejoicing, some are weeping. The beauty of the body of Christ is that you don’t have to do any of those things alone! You do not need “too much” help. You are a precious part of God’s family. You are a blessing.
If you need help- ask. We will come.