Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Do you remember the game MASH? My girlfriends and I would giggle as we wrote down different outcomes for our life. A magical number that was chosen from a swirl on a page would determine the answer chosen. Who was our husband going to be? Where would we live? What job would we have? How many kids would we have? You get the idea. I always remember cheering when I was, according to the game, "destined" to have three kids. Three kids... for some reason was "the" number.

And then life happened. The real thing... not the life that I so giddily dreamed of on paper when I was ten years old. Life that was oh so sweet and magical but also so very dark and full of pain. Through its twists and turns I was given the precious gifts of Mikayla and Nolan. No complications in conceiving, carrying or delivering. I was truly blessed. However, I still felt like our family wasn't complete. Even in the midst of some of my darker days with PPD I had a small longing in my heart to add yet another to our family.

My postpartum depression lingered on and on... our world was turned upside down by it. Thoughts of another child were put on the back burner. In some respect I grieved the possibility of never having another baby. I had many conversations with God about why I had to be inflicted with such an illness and why I couldn't just move ahead with MY plan. But I waited... patient and listening. Grasping to all of the moments of joy. Soaking in all of the time spent with my children. 

Almost three years since Nolan was born passed. I was a new person strengthened by my struggles, moving ahead with the tools I had been given and excited about where I was going. I had accepted that depression and anxiety may be an illness I would struggle with on and off for the rest of my life and was at peace with it. I knew that if I had tough times in the future I would be prepared. Naturally the discussion about another baby came up. Different doctor appointments were made to discuss the potential of PPD symptoms returning, hope was made new, safety nets were put into place.

Three weeks ago we lost our precious baby. I was six weeks pregnant and yet the life inside of me
was already attached to my heart. Everyone's experience is different... my experience physically wasn't so terrible, but emotionally, it was heart wrenching. 

Miscarriage is so hard to process for me. There was a life... and then there wasn't. There was hope, joy, excitement, planning... and then there wasn't. For so long I haven't allowed myself to think ahead, I have focused on the present and for a brief moment I took a trip into the future, but that too was snuffed out. It's as if my baby were a snowflake that was sent down from the beauty of the sky and as soon as I caught it, it melted in my hands. Beautiful, perfect, one of a kind. 

God is with me always and I feel His presence through another difficult time in my life. Considering the valleys I have visited, I am doing amazing. I am again living in the present, taking each day as it comes. I am missing the person I will never get to know, never get to hold in my arms, never get to kiss... but I know with time the days will grow easier.

And so life moves ahead... and I with it... bringing along another perspective that will mold me and make me stronger. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015


What do I see in this picture? 

For the first time since my son's birth I was able to celebrate his birthday feeling free from the chains of depression and anxiety. This moment, this day, has been monumental to me. Was it perfect? Of course not!! BUT I did not feel the weight that has followed me for the past three years. Today I felt free! Today was a true gift.

I feel more alive then ever before. I have suffered, but I have come through it. I will continue to come through it. I have seen the possibilities of what I can do with God's help in many difficult and excruciating circumstances. I have pulled through and I am so thankful for all I continue to learn.

Tomorrow is a new day... and with that day I will grab a hold of my savior's hand and march into the battle taking each moment at a time. I know I will stumble and fall. I know life will continue to hurt me. But I know that I can make it. 



Monday, November 16, 2015

To Live Again - Part 3 - Interpretation

One of my favorite things to do is stare at magnificent pieces of art and try to discover their soul. What had the artist meant? What was the artist going through? But even more so... how does it impact me and how I feel? I am the one who is viewing and interpreting it. 

Part of me would like to let you interpret this piece as it is seen in your eyes. Let it speak to you without explanation. But because my personal process of the art is to write it out I am going to interpret bits of it as I have created it to be. Perhaps if you are in the middle of something as awful as anxiety or depression this will give you hope.

There are four sections to my piece, four interwoven things I would have never truly learned to be or feel empowered by if I had not gone through the deep dark valley. Courage, strength, fight and beauty. In all the sections I have used a picture I took showing myself as vulnerable, broken and yet still focusing up and trying to see God. And even in the days when I can't see God, e sees me and is shinning His light down on my face, enveloping me with His grace and love. 

Courage -

This is my anxiety. Red shows the intensity anxiety brings and I cut out the picture of myself in a way to show panic. Puffy paint was used to symbolize how anxiety distorts and exasperates everything in its path. All the words describing what anxiety makes me feel are written in mirrors that constantly glare back at me in loud and unending ways. And then a powerful quote "Don't identify yourself with your feelings, you are not your feelings, you merely have them."  Something I have learned and am still practicing when anxiety and depression want to swallow me up and overwhelm me. My journey has taught me to be COURAGEOUS! To not hide, but speak out in truth. To embrace each moment as it comes. To rise above. To live out my life as it was meant to be... a gift. To feel empowered by my story and to remember there is a God who created me in His image.

Strength -

This is my depression. Blue was chosen because I tend to identify it with sadness. I painted a cape on myself to signify the physical and mental heaviness that wants to envelope and hide me from the world. On the cape I have written how depression makes me feel and the lies that are constantly whispered into my ear. The falling hearts signify wanting to still love life and all things about it but losing the inability to do so. On one side I have the definition of depression, burnt edges signify my frustration towards the illness. Two faces are shown, happiness being covered by sadness. Trying to keep a straight face with those I love, but being eaten up inside. And then a verse from Psalm 43 that has been very poignant to me in my recovery... "Why my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." The dark and the light represent how depression has taken me to the worst place in my life but there was still light left in me to find the STRENGTH to ask for help and to keep living. The strength that I found then has followed me throughout my journey and made me into who I am today.

Fight -

This part is all about learning to live with anxiety and depression and being able to accept it. The blue and red scarf show that anxiety and depression are part of me, but I am able to subdue them because of self awareness and hard work. The eye is everyone watching me and making their own judgements, but also those who support and love me. "It's okay" has been a huge part of my journey in acceptance of myself. I have a picture of the internal critic... my giant enemy and my toughest FIGHT of all... the ability to quiet it to a dull whisper has been my saving grace. A picture of Dhrumil and the kids is surrounded by yellow to show they are my light in life and a reason I fight, and also some gray because our family is not perfect, it never will be and that's ok. "Sometimes I can imagine that one day we'll throw it all out and start again." To me this means that every day is a new day, filled with moments to be caught and time to be spent right now. Being able to fight for myself has changed by world. 

Beauty - 

The truths of who I am, the parts I have learned to embrace, the knowledge that I am broken yet free... they have taken root and grown. The weeping willow I painted represents the hope I found in the BEAUTY of these truths. Forever I have loved weeping willows... the peaceful sway of the branches in the breeze have brought me to a place of tranquility again and again. It was this image I would focus on while I made my way through labor with my babies and this image that helped me many times when panic wanted to overtake me. By the tree is a picture  of what I found in a parking garage once in the midst of my illness... it was as if God had placed it there for me to see that day... "imperfection in beauty" I have tried to embrace this statement. It is ok to not be perfect! And finally my fingerprints. Each with a color of the four truths that now encircle me on a daily basis. The final fingerprint place over my heart to signify that I am me... I have always been me... and I am thankful to be ME!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

To Live Again - Part 2 - My Art

To Live Again
My discoveries through Anxiety and Depression

*Stayed tuned for Part 3 which will cover my interpretation of the piece as well as close ups of each section. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

To Live Again - Part 1 - Art as Therapy

My freshman self engraved in ink
When I was in College I had the privilege of performing in the play I Never Saw Another Butterfly. Based on the true story of WWII concentration camp survivor Raja Englanderova, the story centers around her time spent living in Terezin. Amidst losing all whom she loved, her stories of the camp spoke of the horrors while retaining a world filled with butterflies and flowers with the other children in the camp. This play was based off of a book by the same name which is a compilation of drawings and poems created by the children who were imprisoned in Terezin. Out of 15,000 children who passed through this particular concentration camp, less than 100 survived.

When I played the role of Raja I was nineteen years old and had not yet faced any true struggles of my own. Finding her voice was difficult as I had to dig deep into the horrors of the war and attempt to wrap my head around the travesty done to millions. I barely skimmed the surface of what Raja must have felt like, but for me it was an all encompassing darkness. However in the midst of the horror was refuge for Raja and the children of Terezin. Famous intellectuals and artists who were imprisoned in the camp used art, writing and music as a form of therapy for the children throughout their stay. The children had an outlet to express all they were experiencing which shined a small light on such a bleak time.

The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun’s tears would sing 
against a white stone....

Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly ’way up high.
It went away I’m sure 
because it wished 
to kiss the world good-bye.

For seven weeks I’ve lived in here,
Penned up inside this ghetto.
But I have found what I love here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut branches in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.

That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don’t live in here, in the ghetto.

Pavel Friedman, June 4, 1942
Born in Prague on Jan. 7, 1921.
Deported to the Terezin Concentration Camp on April 26, 1942. 
Died in Aushchwitz on Sept. 29, 1944.

The art of the children and how they worked through some of their traumas within a creative outlet stuck with me all of these years. When it came to creating my own art therapy project my mind went back to this play, this story and those children.

My first doodles... and horrible spelling
I have sporadically kept a journal throughout my life, writing about things that were important to me, but also using it as an outlet for whatever angst I was going through at the time... teenage dilemmas, boy drama, college choices. I can remember first adding drawings (aka doodles) to my writing in middle school while on one of my European trips. The pictures from my mind filling in the gaps that my words could not. I by no means think of myself as an artist and have often wished I had skill in that area. I am a very visual person and see so many things in my mind which I wish I could create on paper or canvas.

During the fight of my life that depression took me on these past few years I clung to my journal and wrote and drew. I played my violin to numb my mind and silence it. I also used this blog to help me get through many hard nights. All of these forms of art provided expression and a way to work through and understand what I was feeling.

A few weeks ago a picture came to me... my journey, my recovery, my lessons and what they all looked like. I decided I had to somehow get it out and took the step to go to the craft store. Staring at shelves and shelves of every medium available to create I chose a few items. Uncharacteristically I didn't put much thought into what I hoped would translate into my vision and was unfazed by the normally overwhelming array of things. I even left the store unfazed that my two year old was having the tantrum of his life!

Excitement filled me as I took the pictures that would be the base of my project. My mind wanted to make an order to how I was going to create and my type A personality wanted it to go exactly as planned. And then I made my first "mistake" on the canvas... doubt started to creep in, perfection was screaming to take over and frustration and self criticism were lurking in the background. Who was I to even attempt "art"!? And then I came upon this quote...

"If you are willing to do something that might not work, 
you're closer to being an artist" 

I made my mind up. Be now, be focused on where being now wants to take you, use what you have learned on this journey to be your guide and do this for yourself because YOU are worth it. 

*To be continued in Part 2 - My Art

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Acceptance... again

I realize the summer has gone by and I haven't blogged. Sometimes I take an unintentional hiatus
from writing because life is... of all things... going well. I find that writing is more of an outlet for my soul when it is troubled. Just listen to the great women of old sing the blues and you'll understand what I mean... the writers of those songs were definitely feeling some intense feelings. Unfortunately this wasn't the case this time...

Living life to the fullest despite my illness
It has been two years and nine months since my precious Nolan was born, two years and six months since I realized something was uncontrollably wrong with me, and exactly two years since I completed my hours upon hours of intensive outpatient therapy which had followed my three day stay in the hospital. I honestly thought I'd be WAY over being depressed and eons past anxiety induced panic attacks by now. After all, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression/anxiety... from what certain people told me, and some articles I had read, PPD is "supposed" to go away within a year of giving birth.*** I always had an end date in mind because of that and it was not until earlier this summer did it hit me that this illness is not going away like I had imagined it would.

Do you remember that scene from A Beautiful Mind long after John Nash accepted he was ill with schizophrenia and was now older and talking to a former colleague? The colleague asked if "they" (meaning his delusions) are still with him. I can't remember his exact reply, but in the scene you see the delusions who plagued him sitting silently beside him looking bored, but also waiting with some expectation for him to acknowledge them. John Nash was trying to live his life in the best way he could even though his illness still followed him around. He recognized he was ill and yet he still tried to move ahead.

And so after that fateful moment of realization that this PPD has morphed into something more... possibly even chronic... did I come face to face with a choice. Do I sit here and wait for my illness to play its course, let it beat me down, give it what it wants, let it fester and feed on my anxiety and self doubts, let it control me... or do I learn to live with it, trying to the best of my ability to move on with it there, but not letting it take over? Was I ready to accept it?

A joyous moment
I see a pattern in this journey I'm on. Honestly it can sometimes be rather annoying. I wish I could learn my lesson and move on. Some days I just want to shout to God... HELLO!? Enough is enough! I already accepted the fact that I had a "temporary" mental illness two years ago. I accepted that it wasn't my fault that I was dealing with depression. I accepted that my life in that moment would be different and tougher than it had been. I accepted that I had to let go of control and let God be my focus because I was broken... illness or not. BUT I don't want to have to RE ACCEPT it!!!  And in my toil I felt a still small voice say to me... ElisaBeth you are my child whom I love. You are not alone. You are loved forever and always. I give you my grace over and over and over again. I am here. And though you may continue to stumble and fall flat on your face and though this horrible affliction of your mind is still upon you I will NOT leave you for you are my creation and I love you. It is ok. You will get through this. 

I am going to continue to live my life. Trying to accept where I'm at... being joyous in the moments of clarity, blessed in the moments that I glimpse God's glory in the ordinary doings of every day life and remembering that I am loved no matter what.

*** I have since read that PPD can become chronic in a percentage of women.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Climb Out of the Darkness

I bought this after my time in the hospital
"she was grateful for the brightness of being alive"
I was diagnosed with postpartum depression two years ago. Little did I know that when I took that first step to get help I was one of ONLY 15% of the MILLION women in the US who has taken that step! When I chose to push aside the shame and embarrassment that I felt of being a new mom of two whose "loving high" of motherhood had somehow flickered in a moment and was replaced with extreme darkness, I had no idea my courageous steps were saving my life.

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the first year postpartum. The stigma of maternal mental illness is glaring us in the face and many women have struggled alone and in silence... because of this many have lost their lives.

Since writing about my own experiences with PPD and anxiety I have been astounded by the number of friends who have reached out to me to share their own pain. So many of them felt they were alone in their suffering. So many found the courage to seek help. The ability to look beyond what you "should" be like to what is truth... that you may have an illness... is a VERY hard thing to do.

A friend recently shared information on an event that I am looking forward to participating in this June. It is called the Climb Out of Darkness. Here is what it is...

Postpartum Progress’ Climb Out of the Darkness® is the world’s largest event raising awareness of maternal mental illnesses like postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety & OCD, postpartum PTSD, postpartum psychosis, postpartum bipolar disorder, and pregnancy depression and anxiety.

Climb Out of the Darkness is held on or near the longest day of the year annually to help shine the most light on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. The event features mothers and others across the globe joining together to climb mountains and hike trails to represent their symbolic rise out of the darkness of maternal mental illness and into the light of hope and recovery.

For more information on the climb and the amazing organization behind it click here

Love my motivational jewelry!
"Be... free, courageous, at peace, true, brave, strong, thankful"
I decided to participate in the climb for two reasons:

First to bring awareness and to help chip away at the stigma. There is nothing to be ashamed of! Women need to know this and they also need to be aware of the signs of postpartum mental disorders. Professionals also need to be aware of how they can help. I had to see may different nurses, doctors and therapists before I found the ones that were truly able to help me and understand what was really going on with me. Possibly with more awareness this may not have to be the case for others...

The second reason is for myself. I have fought hard against this illness. Very hard. There are still difficult days but I have come SO very far. I thank God for bringing me through this time... for helping me climb this mountain. I thank God for giving me an amazing husband, friends and family. I am such a different person because of this experience and I like who I see. I want to celebrate that!

Will you join me and support me in my climb? You can donate by clicking here. 

And again here is the information on what your money will do. Thank you so much!! Let's see what else God has in store for me as I use my story and my struggles for His glory.

A Balancing Act

Balancing the littles!
The balance beam of life... ah what a tricky thing it is. Throw in a long bout of depression and anxiety and cross your fingers that your multiple tumbles off won't cause you to just want to give up. After so many turbulent tumbles it is hard to remember what the balance beam looks like, much less how to walk forward on it. Tilt too far to the left and you aren't doing enough, tilt too far too the right and you are doing too much, stop dead in the middle and you are just... stuck. Stuck thinking it was so much easier to balance BEFORE... or maybe since I was just unaware of myself and who I was... it was much easier to pretend to balance... to convince myself that I had it, that I understood how life was supposed to go.

Today I stand on the balance beam once again feeling confident and able some days, wobbly and weak others, ready to walk forward in a somewhat steady fashion. Trying to remember the feel of staying upright and yet walking with a whole new understanding of myself and learning how that feels.

Here is a very small glimpse into my balancing struggles... the middle point is where I'd love to be all the time.

On exercising:
  • I want to be a blob and eat chocolate
  • I want to run for ME! Because it makes ME feel good!
  • I want to exercise and watch my food because that is what I have to do because if I don't I will not have a good body shape and look at all those others and how they look!  I need to COUNT every calorie and exercise EVERY DAY and if I don't THAT IS BAD!
On being a mom:
  • I don't want to be a mom today! I just want to let them run a muck and watch tv!
  • Lets read together, play together, go outside, have quiet time, watch a few shows... just be
On my depression/anxiety:
  • I feel so down, why do I still feel depressed some days!? I don't want to do anything! And I am so anxious I can't even breath... why am I STILL dealing with days like this!?
  • Hey... I still deal with being sick sometimes... and it's OK... I love you ElisaBeth... it's here but you don't have to dwell in it... one step at a time
Bring it on balance beam! I know I am not going to be right on the mark every day and I know that tumbles will still come but I am thankful for this journey. I am thankful that I am able to get back up on the beam. I am thankful that I don't have to balance alone... God is with me and all I need to do is look to Him and my soul will be steadied and empowered to keep on going.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


This morning was like every other morning. Nolan woke up before 6am (um yeah) and Mikayla soon followed. Morning tv was watched, breakfast was eaten, Mikayla and Nolan were playing with the energy of toys on fresh batteries and I had a moment to mentally drift off. Lost in random scrolling of Facebook world, and munching on my "healthy" breakfast of banana oatmeal bread, I was momentarily shocked out of lala land by the sound of... silence.

  1. 1.
    complete absence of sound.

How can silence have a sound you ask? Well I have learned that after five years of continuous child noises including squeals, whining, laughter, crying and so on... that silence is actually quite deafening.

And so there I was... hand stopped mid air holding the last bite of bread... eyes quickly adjusting away from the glare of the ipad screen, darting to and fro looking for the culprit of the "noise"... and ears, slightly confused but enjoying the break. Before allowing my brain to run its normal data probe which would enlighten me on every type of crazy scenario behind the reason of the silence... I took a breath. And then I took another breath. Wow... this is nice. I slowly finished my last bite of bread. And smiled. I felt strangely calm.



Up the stairs I went. Holding my breath. Praying for grace and love to show my children who were most likely doing something that "mommy would not like."

Following the silence I approached Mikayla's room with caution and found...

Yup pure devastation...

I slowly backed out of the room trying not to make a sound and alter the moment.

I sometimes (ok a lot of the time) struggle with a cognitive distortion known as catastrophizing. Or in layman's terms... predicting a negative outcome or jumping to the conclusion that if a negative outcome did occur it would be a catastrophe. This has been one of my tallest hurdles when it comes to my anxiety.

But look... my kids were silently reading. Not exactly a thing that happens all the time... but proof that I do not need to freak myself out for no reason. A REMINDER that it's ok to think the best of a situation... of a person... of myself.

So yup. On the positive I didn't immediately go to my freaking out which means I have made progress! Hooray!  And next time I will try harder to not let the brain go into data probe mode at all.

What about the next time my kids do something "mommy would not like"? If it isn't dangerous maybe I can stop and smile at the fact that they are only kids once. And I can learn from that.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Final Night of 32

I've finally come to it... I've come to the point in life where I've forgotten my age. I was having a conversation with Mikayla about my birthday and I completely blanked on how old I would be. I almost started counting from the year I was born, but after Mikayla said...  "you will be 22? (HA!) 23? NO! 33!" I remembered... it was in fact true... 33.

My last "normal" birthday was when I turned 30. All the possibilities of a new era were at my finger tips. I was ready and excited to see what was going to come of being "thirty, flirty and thriving." I was somewhat naive to real suffering. This was a year before the storm hit. 

It was two years ago this very evening that I figured out I had postpartum depression. The next day, on my 31st birthday, I felt special and celebrated and yet I also felt weighted down by the realization that there was something wrong with me. Understanding I was sick... that I had to get help... that I had to push away the shame and feelings of not being able to "handle" life. I had no idea how tough of a battle I was starting against this illness and against myself. 

And so I sit here... two years later. Anniversaries of things that have happened relating to my depression have been tough. I've been told they will get easier. Today's anniversary is a little easier this year then last. And so in that I find hope. Hope that maybe someday these years of struggle will be a fleeting memory... maybe someday I can help women in a similar situation... maybe someday I can truly embrace the reason God chose this path for me.

I already see glimpses in the ashes... I am stronger. I am wiser. I am more courageous. I am more sensitive. I am me.