learning to breathe

Remember how I wrote about figuring out what’s necessary in life?

Well, I’ll tell you how that’s going in a bit.

These days, I’m teaching my son to breathe. When he gets upset and I can’t talk any sense into him or get him to stop crying  long enough to look me in the eyes or answer a question, I try to breathe with him.

In and out, in and out, in and out.

remember to breatheIt often takes a long time until he can join me. But the minutes that I spend sitting with him, inhaling deeply and slowly and then exhaling fully –

those minutes are good practice for me, too.

Because I’ve been holding my breath for awhile now. Wondering what kinds of feelings each day will bring. Wondering if I’ll make it one, two, three hours before hopelessness starts to replace hopefulness. Wondering if I’ll start to know – and really feel, not just know in my head – that God is real. Wondering if it’s too early in the day to start drinking.

It’s been hard, the past few months. 

I started this blog as a place to share the struggles of being a mom and a Christian and someone who often fights depression (which I wrote about here). I wanted to create a body of honest writing that might encourage others who have struggled with some of the same questions and that would start a dialogue about these things.

I wanted others to feel less alone, and I wanted to feel less alone.

But you know what I’ve discovered this winter?

It’s hard to be open and honest and vulnerable when I’m right in the middle of it. When I’m struggling with getting through each day and wrestling with hard feelings and powerful mood swings and doubting my faith. When I just barely have the time or the energy to shower or feed myself.

It’s hard to find the time to write, to hire the babysitters, to make space for something that, at this stage, seems precariously optional in my life.

And it’s also hard to be honest and vulnerable when I’m feeling crummy, and harder still simply to care. At all.

Most of all, I realized that I want to share my life here, but I do not want to process it here.

So I’m learning. (Thanks for your patience.)

It’s been hard, the past few months, but now I’m coming back. Coming back into myself and coming back to more regular writing (I hope!). I’ve had all these ideas rattling around in my brain, but I just haven’t had or made the time – and I’m eager to share them with you. And I’m also eager to figure out how to talk about the last few months in thphoto 1is space – what to say, how to say it.

So this post launches a series of posts that will attempt to do that, while also indulging in some of the ideas I wanted to share with you while I was away. (It’s true that I did eek out a few posts since the early Fall, like THIS ONE and THIS ONE, but there are so many more still unwritten that just spun around in my head while I tried to cope with how I was feeling.)

My sweet little girl is seven months old now. She is starting to sleep through the night, which means that I am starting to feel more like a person and less like a milk machine. And now that my life no longer consists entirely of 2.5 hour chunks (which leave me about 35 minutes to “do anything” in between getting her to nurse and getting her to nap), I also have opportunity to think again about how I want to spend my time, what’s important to me in this season. (Sounds kind of new years resolution-y, right? Lucky for you I am just now getting around to this in mid-February.)

DSC_0087What’s really important to me? Now, in a season with two young and impressionable and needy (and wonderful!) little ones? Being the best mom I can be. Taking care of my kids well, giving them things that are good for them. That’s what’s most important to me, right now.

Funny enough, I’m learning that this also means taking care of myself well. And sometimes taking care of myself well means sacrificing family time so that I can have time to do other things. (Strange, isn’t it?) It means doing the work to rearrange my life and lifestyle — so that I can be healthy. It means finding my way back to God and my faith and sorting out what that looks like in this season.

So I want to tell you about the things I’m trying now (and why) and how much better I’m starting to feel. I want to tell you about the last few months and about what depression seems to look like in my life these days (which could be different from what you might think), about the mood swings that are so powerful they sometimes scare me. (And I will.)

I want to tell you more about my history with taking meds (and how much I do believe in their efficacy) and why it’s so much more complicated now, as a mother. (And I’ll do that, too.)

I want to talk about my faith, what happens when it starts to crumble into doubt in the face of depression and despair. When something that is supposed to bring hopefulness only brings emptiness. How I am working to find my way again (so I’ll do that, too).

So I’ll do these things, in the days and weeks to come. But for now, things are getting better. I feel less like I’m hyperventilating in panic and anger and confusion and sadness, like my tantrumy two year old.

Less like I’m fighting for each breath and gasping for air.

I’m remembering how to breathe again.

In and out, in and out, in and out.

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7 Comments

Filed under blogging, children, depression, family, god & faith, identity, motherhood, parenting, writing

7 responses to “learning to breathe

  1. Varuna

    I enjoyed reading this post Leah! I may not be going through what you are but I’m experiencing the same emotions, overwhelmed with disappoints, or life itself. So I do believe God is teaching me to breathe too. Thanks for sharing!

    • I’m so glad some of what I shared resonated with you! Regardless of specific circumstances, so many life experiences are truly more common than we think…a good reminder that we aren’t alone. Keep breathing!

  2. Kristen

    It’s so wonderful to hear your voice again and I really look forward to all these posts a’coming. Keep breathing, beautiful mama!

  3. Sue

    I recently started writing again. You took the words right out of my mouth. Of course your are much more elegant. 🙂

  4. Pingback: depression this time around | grace in the darkness

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