A note from Chris Adams: Once in a while you will minister to a mom who is in very difficult place emotionally. She fears being honest about her struggles and thinks she’s not a good enough mom if she needs counseling and even medication. Read this personal story from Lydia Nehls as she shares about her struggles and offers suggestions for leaders of moms to know how to effectively guide during this tough season.
“For about two years I thought we were done having children. I always wanted another one, but I was fearful of all that it would entail. As I sit here and rock her, I praise God for peace and joy. We took a step of faith and trusted God with the details. He was and is so faithful. Friends, don’t live in fear! Give it to Him! Whatever it is you aren’t doing because of what could be…lay it at His feet! He loves you and will provide everything you need. His grace is sufficient in our weakness!”
There was a lot I wanted to say in that blurb, but since it was not a blog post, I gave the short version. Well, here is the long one…
After my son Ki’s birth, I experienced panic attacks, depression, and anxiety—things I have never experienced before. It came on quickly during the night 3 days after he was born. I got on medication which initially made it worst, then better. A few months later, I just decided to stop taking it. All was fine for a while.
Fast forward a couple years; I had more panic attacks. More reactions to medications. It was the lowest point in my life. I couldn’t take care of my kids. I couldn’t take care of my husband. I couldn’t take care of myself.
God intervened. He led me to a Christian psychiatrist. I started taking a medication that did not give me horrible side effects. Things haven’t been really smooth sailing since, but they are way better.
All that back story to say—I had so much fear about having another baby. It is why there is a 4-year gap between Ki and Leslie. I spent the first few years questioning God about why He would allow for me to have this. Why would He give this to someone who loves Him and has a family to take care of? There was never an answer that seemed to satisfy. There are some days it still makes me angry, but I have moved to place of acceptance. This is a result of sin. Not my individual sin but the sin of mankind. It cannot be explained, but rather I can choose to trust Him and His plan. I can lay around in self pity (which I have done sometimes), or I can use it for His glory and to help others.
I did have some mental health issues after Leslie was born, but I was much more prepared for them. And because of what I have learned through all this, I knew it wouldn’t last forever.
Here are some things that I have learned through my experience:
1. If a mom needs help, encourage her to get help.
Help her not to be afraid to tell someone what is going on. My anxiety wants me to be silent—to suffer alone and try to hide it. First of all, I am really bad at hiding my emotions. Like really bad. It helps me tremendously to talk about it. With my husband, my mom, friends, anyone. If a woman needs to see a doctor, please help them see one! I see a psychiatrist every few months, and I am not embarrassed at all about it. Help moms NEVER be ashamed to ask for help. God created community for just that. He never wants anyone to suffer alone.
2. If she needs to take medication, encourage her to take them!
This one was hard for me. On one of my first visits I told the doctor, “I don’t want to be on a pill forever.” It scared me. I didn’t want a label. I struggled with this for months. I felt that if I took pills for my sanity then I was crazy. Not everyone needs medicine, but if that’s what makes you function better in life, swallow your pride and swallow the pill.
3. Remind her it wont last forever.
Depression and anxiety put a tight grip on all reality. It makes you become irrational and self-centered. I have to surround myself with people who speak truth to me. Help moms understand that they will get better. The storm will pass. “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy” (Psalm 94:19).
4. God probably won’t take it away instantly.
Man, this is so hard. If you are like me, I just want to pray one time and it be over with. I prayed and begged God to take it from me. I wanted an instant fix. His response to me? “My grace is sufficient.” His grace is sufficient now, tomorrow, and in a year. He will carry you through. Sometimes its so tough, and it’s going to be tough at times, but He will get you through it. “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress” (Psalm 107:19).
5. Help moms to suffer well.
The second time I started going through panic attacks and anxiety, I went to a counselor. I thought I would go in and complain about everything, and she would join my pity party. FALSE. Instead she told me that I was not suffering well. We all suffer with something, and I could choose to suffer like I was or I could put my big girl panties on and suffer well. Enter in “God’s grace is sufficient” again. “But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13).
6. Help moms stop living in fear.
Fear of tomorrow. Fear of what happened before will happen again. Fear of not being in control of what happens. The truth is, fear is pointless. I knew God had put a desire in my heart for another child, but I couldn’t see past the what-ifs. I am so glad I eventually did. I am not saying it’s been a piece of cake, but He has proven Himself to me over and over again, and this time is no different. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).
Lydia Nehls is a stay at home mom who just moved back home to Louisiana after seven years of living in East Texas. She is the wife to GT and mom of three—Audrie, Ki, and Leslie. With a degree in Family & Child Studies, she is passionate about marriages and helping other moms. She loves to paint, craft, and also enjoys any time she can squeeze in writing.