The Most Loving Thing For My Family
A question I often ask myself when discerning big life decisions is, “What is the most loving thing for my family?” Over the last few years, sometimes the answer has been a part time job here or there to bring in money. Other times the answer has been to stay home and focus on raising our kids. Sometimes the most loving thing is to support my husband’s dreams, and sometimes it’s advocating for something important to me or the kids. Asking what the most loving thing is has even led us to homeschooling this year, and to transitioning my husband’s business to be home more often.
About a month ago, I had to ask the question again, and the most loving thing to do for my family was to go see a doctor. It was a realization I had while going to Confession. There was adoration at our church, the kids were in the nursery, and I was in line for Confession. The time was coming to a close and I didn’t want to miss this seemingly perfect opportunity to receive the Sacrament. And yet, the woman who jumped in line right before I did was taking forever in the confessional. I was seething, I was so irate that she was taking a long time and I might miss this chance. I literally felt hot inside with uncontrollable rage that the nice lady (who I know and respect) was blabbing away with the priest.
When I finally got my turn, I had to confess this burning fury of mine that had been spiraling out of control. Little things would make me fly off the handle so that my throat was hoarse from all the yelling. I felt powerless to stop, as a bubbling volcano threatened to erupt at any minute. As I’m confessing, I realize this isn’t normal “me” temper problems. Add to it the increased anxiety rendering me incapable of decision-making, and I recognized that the most loving thing I could do for my family was to get help. My husband needed me, my children needed me, and I couldn’t just do nothing. I believe it was the grace in the Sacrament showing me this wasn’t normal and I needed to do something.
I had been in a good regimen of taking my vitamins, exercising, and getting a small dose of daily prayer in before these changes happened. As my head grew foggy with anxiety, I was still taking supplements and exercising sometimes, but I couldn’t get my head around any mental exercises such as prayer. And without prayer, I knew I was withering. Eventually I couldn’t find motivation for exercise and was overindulging in junk food.
At this same time, my baby was 9 months old, the same age my son was when I went through a similar experience 3 years ago. This time was different, though, as I could feel the changes (most likely from hormones) so acutely.
I described my symptoms to my doctor and she put me on a sertraline, like Zoloft. Since I already had decent healthy habits and had already tried some hormone therapy, I knew medication was the one thing left to try. And now, a month later, I can say it was the right decision for this point in my life. My insides have calmed down and I don’t feel like erupting all the time. The fog has lifted over my brain and I can think, make decisions and pray again. I was present to my children today. I smiled and laughed. I started writing again. I’m not having emotional breakdowns several times a day. My husband can rely on me to share in the parenting.
I write this because people think of postpartum blues happening right after your baby is born and involves crying all the time. But for me, the effects happen months later when my fertility starts to return, and the baby starts to crawl and eat solids. I get angry and anxious and have trouble being social.
I am not a fan in over-medicating, and I believe healthy habits and counseling are also important to overall health. Still, sometimes you have to ask yourself, “What is the most loving thing for my family right now?” Then spend some time in silence, let God reveal to you the answer, and do something about it.