Adoption Depression- Part 2

Ok so now you know what it is, or at least that it exists based on my last post. But what does PADS have to do with us? Do I have it?

I am sure you can understand that the fact we moved across country just days before finding out we would we would be traveling to Africa to get Jaydn would be a little jarring. We enrolled Jaxon in a new school, Jovie and he would be in a new house and attending a new church, they knew no one and we were about to leave them here for an undetermined amount of time. My mother in law and mom carried the weight of all that while we were gone for over a month and the effects of that time apart can still be felt today. We didn't have a pediatrician yet, let alone a support system and we had just met our new social worker so the relationship with him was still fresh as well. Needless to say, coming "home" to a place we had lived for only a little over a week prior to our departure was intimidating. I didn't even know where the grocery store was let alone a park to take the kids to play or any resources to go to for help with all the adjustments we would be facing. When we stepped off that plane I was overwhelmed to see about 20 people there to welcome our newest family member. These people didn't even know Nathan and I yet, let alone the story of our baby girl, so it was a very touching gesture that I will never forget.

That day in December we brought home a very quiet, typically angry looking, sleep anywhere, always wanting to be held, heavy, always hungry little girl that knew no strangers and just went with the flow of things. Over time she would not eat for days, not sleep anywhere or scream often and loudly in the middle of the night, still always wanting to be held and gaining more weight everyday, start throwing tantrums, becoming very aggressive, getting more and more frustrated that we couldn't understand her babble, walking off with strangers and then some. These are all things I expected b/c I had been preparing myself for the worst when we finally all came together. But I didn't expect to be trying to build a foundation for a new life within a family for this little girl in a place I had no foundation for a life of my own in. I had to act as if everything we did was "normal" so she would feel a sense of security when in all actuality, it was the first time for me too. I had never been there or done that so how could I make sure she felt safe enough to do it along with me. Also, she and I weren't the only two people in the family. There were two other little kids in the picture on a day to day basis who wanted their mommy's attention again and did not appreciate being upstaged by this "new" girl. Daily they fought for their own right to have a relationship with me and over time, it too just became more and more exhausting. As a result of all this new stress, I started having a lot of health issues. I gained 10lbs within a few weeks, started having major neck and shoulder pain that prevented me from performing daily physical activities and was tired all the time but I couldn't sleep. My chiropractor did a series of tests on me and his exact words about the condition of my muscles and their tension level were, "You live in fight or flight mode. That's not good." I was getting sick over and over again within weeks of each other, which to most people isn't a big deal but I get sick like once a year so it was new to me. The backdrop to all of this was winter and having just moved from FL the cold weather just presented a whole new element of chaos to our new life. Our weekly schedule typically included many trips to doctors, therapists, government offices etc to finalize adoption paperwork, catch Jaydn up on vaccinations required by the U.S. and having tons of testing done for diseases and disabilities. Traveling to all these places in a new town with three kids and waiting in clinics, offices and hospitals for hours on end really wore me out. All the kids began acting up in their own individual ways which just snow balled everything until I snapped.

I can remember a Sunday afternoon when I was sitting in my backyard just staring off into the sky when Nathan came home from services and the kids were down for naps. I softly asked him, "Can you pray for me? I am not in a good place right now." I guess you could say that I knew then where things were heading but I was powerless to stop it. Things progressively got worse and true to form, my emotional reactions turned toward anger first for fear of the depth of my sadness. I never raised a hand to my kids but many times I could not even speak to them or I would come apart at the seams.

Where do you hide when you are in a van full of screaming children? I can remember on one of my lowest days Nathan trying to call me and I couldn't even answer my phone or I would crumble at my first word. I texted him something like this: "I can't talk right now or I will fall apart. I just want to drive this van into a tree right now!" I wasn't suicidal but I was at my limit for sure. I wanted relief so desperately. I couldn't take anymore. Things didn't get any better after that day. The stress kept coming in all shapes and sizes and from every angle: finances, transportation issues, health, attachment issues, fights amongst the kids etc. I would cry at the drop of a hat when it came to issues with Nathan and every subservient task I had to perform as a mother just made me more and more mad. Nathan and I sat down at one point and agreed I needed the guidance of a therapist so we set up an appointment. I went a few times but the suggestions I was given were geared more toward changing my situation (putting kids in day care, co-sleeping with Jaydn etc) then they were about equipping me to handle the situations as they currently stood. It wasn't a good fit for my needs or the direction I wanted to head so I stopped going. I haven't replaced the need for help with anything other than prayer, time in the word, and trying to fit in old hobbies to daily life (IE reading books, writing, going back to work a few days a week, etc). This time in my life has been bitter in many ways but also sweet as I see the way God continues to give me exactly what I need for today and the courage to try again tomorrow. I can assure you that where I am now is better than where I was that day I wanted to drive my car into a tree. There is hope on the horizon.

Hopefully you can see that I do NOT blame Jaydn for my onset of PADS. She is amazing! I love her so much and Im believing that attachment between us will come over time. She was only a part of the onslaught of issues that came my way all at once. Unfortunately she isn't getting what she needs most from me right now as I claw my way out of this dark place but I am trusting that time will be on my side and I can make it up to her someday. As for Jaxon and Jovie, I owe them a better mother too so as I slowly make these steps towards healing, I do so for their sake as well. And Nathan? As always he has been the best support I could have asked for. He is dealing with his own stresses and attachment issues and yet found enough patience and compassion to deal with my rants and my silence. Its safe to say that he knows Im not super woman now :) I am thankful our marriage was/is strong enough to take blows like these without knocking us down.

Its interesting how in the midst of all this, our church has been doing a study on the story of Job. Now I am not so bold as to equate my life to the uprightness of Job's but I can totally see Satan accusing God of "buying my worship." I can imagine Satan saying something like this: "Well of course she loves You God. You gave her Nathan, the man of her dreams and a marriage that is always growing and changing in the best of ways through the worst of times. You let her have two beautiful children by birth that bring joy and light to her world all the days of her life. You gave her a ministry with high school students and other believers through the story of Your redemption and the products of faith in her life. Even now you give her Jaydn after all these years of hopeful waiting. Of course she loves you. Take something away and then see what happens to her worship." Its true, I have been blessed beyond what I deserve. But if that is what Satan has said and if the Lord has responded to Satan saying that I can take, in faith, what Satan wants to dish out then I will believe God in that too and stand for Him in the midst of this storm. He has proven Himself faithful to me always, now its my turn to repay the honor and responsibility of standing firm in what I believe to bring all praise, glory and honor to Him alone. Like our pastor, Mark Evans said in his sermon this past week, once we get to the end of ourselves God can help us.

So Lord, take me to the end of myself if it causes me to lean more fully on you. Thats all I've ever wanted. You're all I'll ever need.


Tracy said...

Thank you so much for your honesty in all of this...it is such a blessing to those of us just beginning the adoption journey! You are in my prayers and I am sending you a huge hug right now!!

Anonymous said...

What you've just written is a huge step! As a survivor of this very thing, I hope you please understand that a good therapist (and the right one for you) will help immensely. I don't know anyone near you, unfortunately, but someone will have a good recommendation. The insight that one can gain from talking to a good family therapist is worth its weight in gold!

goldentimes said...

Thank you for being so real in all of this, you are a wonderful testimony for God, will be praying for you and I like your family picture, what a great picture!

TracyA said...

A friend sent me the link to your blog tonight saying that she thought of me when she read it. We have a couple of things in common. My husband is a pastor in Little Rock. We came home in July with our long-awaited daughter from China. She was 5 at the time. We have three other children, ages 19, 16,and 13. (I know that's different, but I totally related to the part where you talk about trying to meet the needs of your other children.) Oh, and the other thing we have in common is PADS. I also relate to the part where you say you turned to anger to cover the depths of sadness.

Thank you SO MUCH for finding the energy and taking the time to write about your journey. I love to write, but have not found the energy to be able to continue blogging since we came home.

I wonder if we are not alone in Little Rock. And if we could somehow be a support to each other, and maybe even others.

I look forward to reading more of your journey.

Tracy Adcock

Tara said...

Bethany - I know you don't know me but I've been following your journey. I was one of Dr. Gaddis's students at C'ville and knew Nathan that way. Anyhow, while I didn't suffer PAD, I suffered from severe PPD after the birth of my son and was sick for a long time. I can relate to so much in that way to what you are describing. I knew about PAD as I ministered to others after I recovered and encountered it a few times (outofthevalley(dot)org) in the women I talked to. You are right - it is not talked about like PPD, or postpartum mood disorders, but I can tell you that by you taking this step and being so transparent is going to help so much - you and others. God is going to use this incredibly just as He used my experience. I know it hurts incredibly right now though. Take it a day, a moment at a time. You traced the triggers incredibly well, I remember all of mine, too. When I was sick, PPD was not talked about a lot but now it is out there in a big, big way. I hope and pray that you find this is the first step to awareness in the community, to awareness among those around you, and that discouragement stays far from you. I second Anonymous's recommendation to find a counselor you can work with - it can take time to do that and it is a frustrating process. I used to have resources for PAD on my website (Out of the Valley) but I'm not sure how current the links are. What you have found is probably much more current. I know you didn't ask for this but you are not alone in this, and you will get through it. This was not a surprise to God, He knows. He understands. If there is anything I can do to find resources for you, perhaps specialists in this area, let me know. I have some contacts in the mothering/depression field (nationally) who I can contact. God bless, Bethany, and hugs and my prayers are with you and your family.