When I originally read chapter five a week or two ago, I really felt a disconnect with it. Sure, I remembered that I had dealt with depressing feelings before, but I was in such a good place that I basically figured I had it all under control.
Interestingly, just in the last couple of days, while I haven't been depressed per-se, I have felt "down." You know...blah. Just can't get motivated. It's hard to "get" something out of my Bible reading. Exercise? Really? Ugh. I've been a bit irritated towards my family and just haven't felt good about anything in general. Which, I guess, prepares me perfectly for this post.
This chapter seems to require two posts. The area of exhaustion is an entire post in and of itself. Let's get started.
You have what is known as, motherhood.Again, I begin to think that Sarah Mae and I are living the same life in different dimensions. Believe it or not, I also went to the doctor a few years ago because I just couldn't seem to get past a certain cold. More of the tired and run-down part of the cold than anything else. If you know me well, you know that I am not one to run to the doctor a lot...especially for myself. So, I had to be pretty concerned. The doctor asked me my symptoms. I told her I just felt run-down & tired and couldn't shake it. As it was the first time we had met, she asked me if I had children. I answered in the affirmative. "How many?" "Seven." (It may have been six at the time) "Seven?" (much like Julie Andrews did in the Sound of Music!) She then stood up and closed the folder. Basically she diagnosed me with my chronic condition: Motherhood. Twenty-five dollars to be told that moms get tired and I need more rest.
Exhaustion is key.It's true. Exhaustion is key to stress and depression. After our first child was born, my husband was befuddled at my postpartum emotions. I would cry at the drop of a hat. He saw the same thing happen during my second pregnancy. Eventually, he figured it out. His wife was tired. So, once the second baby (and the next 5) came along, when I would get tired and overwhelmed he would usually say to me, "Go on and lay down. Take a nap. I'll take care of things." Yes, this was sweet and thoughtful, but it was self-defense on his part, as well. He knew if I got tired enough, I'd start laying into him. So, I got rest and he got peace!
While several reasons for depression are listed in chapter five, exhaustion, in my book, is the foremost. I think Sally & Sarah Mae would agree as they spend quite a bit of time on the subject themselves. Sleep is essential for my physical, emotional, and spiritual health. All of my children, except for two, slept through the night by 8 weeks. The other two were 10 and 12 weeks (and one of them was my premie). I do not even begin to comprehend the moms who go through YEARS of interrupted nightly sleep. How do they function? Even with good sleepers, I still struggle with exhaustion. Being a night-owl does not help, but even the nights I get 8 hours sleep, I am so busy during the days with organizing, schooling, housework, juggling schedules, etc., that it's wearisome. The more tired I am, the more things bother me. Clutter drives me crazier. Noise drives me out of my tree. Bickering sends me through the roof. I lose my patience, then I feel like a failure. It's a fast spiral down the drain and soon, I am depressed at the lousy mother and wife and Christian that I am.
They'd be better without me.Let me open the curtain for you on a day I had several years ago. All of my children were probably 8 and under, which means I had 5 or 6 little ones in my house and care for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I don't know what exactly happened that resulted my lying on the couch with my back turned to the room, but I am pretty sure it involved losing my temper with my kids. My little sinners that just needed some guidance. But, I do vividly remember sobbing my eyes out and really thinking that these children - and their daddy - would be so much better off without me. I began to wonder if it would really hurt all that much to just end my life. Sure, they would be sad for a while, but Eric would eventually find a new wife and one that would just love on and be patient with the sweet little children she would inherit. He would be successful his second time around in finding a woman with patience and kindness. I couldn't just walk away from my family. I knew I could not live without them. I would have to just leave the earth to improve their lives.
Obviously, as I am writing this now, I didn't go far with my plan. But, it was very real. For weeks, I was tormented with the thought that, indeed, my family would be far better & happier without me. I was depressed and, at times, angry. I couldn't do it all. I had "too many" children. In short...I was tired.
Take a nap.Those years with little ones were tiring years. These years with teens and little ones are tiring years. Different kinds of tired, but tired just the same. I sit on the couch reading to my kids in the morning and try not to fall asleep mid-sentence. I stand much of the morning, just so I won't feel so sleepy. I learned my lesson years ago, thanks to my husband, that when I am getting edgy, feeling overwhelmed and tired, I need to just lay down and take a nap, if at all possible. Some days, that's not possible. But, most days, it is. It is better that my house stay cluttered for a couple of more hours than for me to clutter my children's hearts with ill feelings towards me. When I am in a good exercise routine, I need those naps less; but there are days when they are still necessary. I have learned to take the hints my body gives me and I tell my kids, "I'm going to go lay down for a while." Sometimes, I add, "...so I don't say or do something we'll all regret!"
Are you depressed, stressed, or overwhelmed right now? You may just need some rest. Even if you need to lay on the couch in order to keep an ear somewhat open to what is happening, lay down. Put your feet up. Rest your weary body so you may have the energy you need to keep going.
Rest is crucial to all areas of your health and well-being. Rest is crucial to the well-being of your home. Take some time to get the rest your body - and family - so desperately need.