Darkness heaving down upon me, swirling around beneath me, pulling me deeper and deeper into its lifeless void, until it’s a struggle even to catch a breath. Purpose and joy is a distant shore lost within the mist. I want to scream, but my voice is plastered to the walls of my chest, slowly dying from suffocation. I look at my children before me and tears well within me like giant bottomless pits filled with aching regret. An overwhelming sense of failure fills every pore of my being and even though I can say it’s a lie, the weight of it keeps getting heavier and stronger with each passing moment. I just want to sleep and forget all the pain and the hopelessness locked inside, but even in sleep there is no relief.
Nothingness surrounds the future. I try to keep going like everything is ok, because I know my kids need me, but the passion is gone, the light is put out. It’s just motions with emptiness within. Anger and rage take the place of reason followed by despair, regret and then nothingness cycling over and over and over again. People try to help by telling me what I need to do, but they don’t understand, not really. This burden I bear, they can have all the right answers, but never do they truly touch the weight and pain of what lies within.
Fear, a lack of trust. Lies, blinding the truth. Chemical, scycological, see a counselor, take medication, it’s normal, it’s not normal, lots of people deal with it, get help, don’t deal with it yourself, you’re fine, don’t worry about it, go for a walk, get out of the house, put make-up on every day, take time for yourself, switch the tapes in your mind, don’t listen to all the negative talk in your head, just stop it. It isn’t helping. I just want someone who truly understands, not to tell me what to do, but to cry with me and to see, truly see where I am at, to wrap their arms around me and physically take me by the hand and lead me up. I don’t have the strength, and I’m tired of bringing everyone down around me.
I remember writing this, three months after my son was born, and how I was ready to completely give up. Doctors call it Postpartum Depression and though, I know many women who have had it way worse than me, it was still a very real and devastating time. I had some very traumatic issues go down with my family at that time as well as being off some medication too soon. So how did I get up and over being depressed? Honestly, it was slow healing process. So slow in fact, I didn’t even realize when it happened. Everyone is different, what helped me may or may not be the answer for what might help someone else.
I hated even the thought of this! I didn’t want something to be wrong with me. I felt weak and even more like a failure when people would suggest that I should see a doctor and get some meds for it. As if I couldn’t handle it myself, I wasn’t strong enough. Pride pride pride pride pride…. in reality I wasn’t strong enough and I did need help. True strength lies in realizing when we’re weak and need help and not being too prideful to do something about it. I ended up just going back on a small dose of my thyroid medicine which ended up being a tremendous help.
I wanted to be by myself and just wither away and die. I didn’t want to see people or deal with any of their issues. I was much more content in wallowing in my own misery and though, I didn’t want to be miserable, I couldn’t think about anything else. My husband was one of my biggest supports through this time. He never left me and even took over watching and taking care of the kids a lot of the time. I even remember, one time, the nurse at my doctor’s office calling the Crisis Care Center for me and getting my husband off work to take me in, when I was to the point where I couldn’t function. (Just to brag on my husband a little bit during that time: I was devastated that I needed to go someplace to get help, I thought I should be stronger. I was even scared that he would be mad at me for making him miss work and possible getting in trouble with his boss. He reassured me that because the nurse had called, it was considered a medical emergency and he wouldn’t get in trouble and even if he did, I was more important. It was him who didn’t make fun of me or treat me like I was a worthless mother, but gently and lovingly reassured me that everyone needs help, at some point. He continually reminded me that he thought I was a wonderful mother, I was hurting, but it wouldn’t be forever.) Surrounding myself with people who truly loved me and supported me during this time was HUGE!
Remember the Truth
Lies are so easy to believe and seem to find their way into my mind faster than my child after ice cream. So, reminding myself and having others remind me of the truth over and over and over again was crucial, even when I didn’t want to hear it at the time. Eventually, it began to sink in and take root. I ended up taping 3x5 cards with verses on them all around the house. I taped them in front of the sink where I would stand doing dishes, in the shower (recommend laminating or covering with packing tape first), and on almost all my mirrors.
Around this time in my life my husband was laid off of work for the winter. It ended up I needed to get a part-time job to help out. This ended up being a blessing in disguise, as it forced me out of the house and my mind onto something other than being depressed.
Finding an activity or a job to do when you’re feeling down, even when you don’t particularly feel like doing it, does help in the long run.
Hands down, I think this was the thing I needed most, but what I got the least. With a baby and a toddler both needing my constant attention and up all hours of the night, sleep was but a fantasy dream in the world’s best fairytale. The little sleep I was able to get was marred with turmoil and restlessness. It wasn’t until I finally let people start to help me, by taking my daughter for a time, so I could sleep when my baby slept, that my mind started to function normally again. I have my sister to thank, for pretty much demanding that I needed more sleep and I needed to do whatever was necessary to MAKE THAT HAPPEN!
Eat Healthy Mood Boosting Foods
There are many lists on what are the best mood boosting foods to eat that I’m not going to post them all here. However, some of my own favorites were: Frozen blueberries (I ate these as my sweet-treat-dessert after the kids went to bed), Nuts (especially walnuts and almonds) and dark leafy greens like Kale (I started making a lot of healthy shakes for breakfast to help out with this).
I have a friend who calls this her little “happy pill.” She recommended it to me saying it was what helped her through her PPD. Especially, with it being the winter months during the time, it really did start making a difference, as I wasn’t out in the sun as much and I’m sure was lacking that essential vitamin.
Like what you read? Know someone in need of encouragement? Feel free to share!
My heart dropped to the floor and my head filled with the sound of a raging river falling thunderously over the edge into an unforeseen mist below.
Fear and panic threatened to knock me over as my gut told me something was wrong. My husband was home early, the day after we found out my 5 month old daughter was going to need surgery. He climbed into the shower with me and I knew. His face told it all.
“I lost my job.”
Defeat, failure, desperation crying out from every pore of his being as he looked at me, his wife, wondering if I would still see him the same way. A strange peace filtered in through the roar, even as my mind sped out of control with all the, what ifs, whys and what-now’s, and I did the only thing I knew to do. Wrapping my arms around his down cast shoulders, with tears in my eyes, I whispered, “I still love you, and I still believe in you.” Then in my own mind, I offered up a silent thank you to God for the unexpected answer to prayer.
I never expected my husband to lose his job, I was terrified that he did, but at the same time there was this peace knowing that God was in control and He was going to take care of us.
Just the night before, during my husband and I’s nightly devotions, a question had come up that led us to a discussion. My husband honestly confessed to me that during the 3 months after our daughter was born, when I was such a wreck emotionally and physically, he had started becoming attracted to another woman. Though, at the time, I forgave him, my thoughts the next morning started to wander and anger, fear and the feeling of betrayal had started to form in my mind, wondering how I was going to fight for him—the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. It wasn’t but minutes after this, while I was in the shower pleading with God to show me what to do and to guard my husband’s heart and mind, that he came in announcing he had lost his job.
That answer to prayer started a chain of events that sent us tumbling, head over heels, into a two-year dark valley. In the next couple of months my husband looked for a new job he thought he might enjoy, but never found one. He sunk into a depression and we ended up moving away from all the friends we had made to a completely new city. God used so many different events in our lives to prepare us and in some ways kick us out the door, into a whole new adventure where we had to rely on each other and God, in ways that we never would have otherwise. In my husband’s life, God used him becoming very discontent and hurt by the church we were in and in ministry to prepare him to cut ties and move.
Looking back, that was an incredible hard and challenging time in our lives, where we were constantly wondering what God was going to do and where we were going. However, my husband and I were able to grow closer together, which was an incredible answer to prayer. We were also able to plug into a new church where there were people who excepted us and reached out to us in love through a very difficult and long healing process.
Life hasn’t been smooth sailings since then, my husband has been through multiple jobs, but I know, no matter what happens, God will take care of us and that we can get through it together.
I have also learned that like the lyrics to In the Valley by Sovereign Grace say:
“In the daytime there are stars in the heavens
But they only shine at night
And the deeper that I go into darkness
The more I see their radiant light
So let me learn that my losses are my gain
To be broken is to heal
That the valley’s where Your power is revealed.”
I will be the first to tell you that those dark valleys aren’t fun! There are many days I find myself wondering if we’re even going to get through at all. Even in the darkest days, when I feel like completely giving up -- it is after those moments, when I turn my eyes back to God crying and screaming out to Him, sometimes wondering if He even hears me, that I get to see His goodness, His unending love and faithfulness shine through the brightest.
So my suggestion, from what I have learned and a lot of times having to find out the hard way, for those who are going through a husband losing his job is this:
1. Don’t let fear control you!
It’s a scary thing losing your source of income. You’re wondering how you are going to live and feed your family. But the more you dwell on everything that can go wrong the more everything does go wrong. I’m not saying never be afraid and act like everything is fine and put on this big front like you have it all together, but when those moments come, when you are terrified of what tomorrow might bring, don’t focus so much on the problem -- that you blind yourself to what is going right and what God is accomplishing through the situation.
2. Keep a thankful attitude
You’re kidding right?! My husband just lost his job and you want me to be thankful?! As contrary to how it may sound, being thankful during the hardest times is one of the best remedies for a down cast soul. Here are some of the things I was thankful for: Sunshine, actually being able to spend some quality time with my husband, food on the table, a warm roof over our head, friends who cared about us, clothes to wear, smiling flowers, beautiful sunrises, green trees, working vehicles, giggling babies, …ect.
3. Have honest conversations with your husband
I will never forget our first “Date Night Thursday.” My husband and I sat down to talk and it didn’t take but two minutes before everything blew up and the tension that had been building up between us bubbled over into a giant explosion of hurt feelings and fears flying unsheathed dangerously between us. I remember my husband saying, “Look, I know what you’re going to say, I need to be looking for a job harder and don’t you think I KNOW THAT but it’s hard!”
He went on to pour his heart out to me (after I bit my tongue to keep from shouting back and to just listen). He was tired of feeling like a failure and worthless because he couldn’t hold down a job and provide for his family. He was scared and tired of applying to jobs for fear of yet another rejection. He was beating himself up, because he didn’t have any idea what he wanted to do or what he should do. Everything he tried and failed at put him another step further from actually being able to get a job, because it destroyed his resume even more. Who would hire a guy who couldn’t even hold a job for longer than a year? Though, that night was thick with emotion and we were both exhausted afterwards, it was one of the best times, because we both got on the same page and were able to see exactly where we were. A lot of times, in marriage, we start focusing on ourselves and what we want our spouse to do for us and we become discontent when that isn’t met. So don’t forget to truly LISTEN to your husband, close your mouth and hear his heart. At the same time openly share your own fears and be willing to walk through them together. It always amazes me the healing that takes place when I verbally express what I’ve been thinking, sometimes even just to audibly hear how silly the thoughts, that have paralyzed so much of my time, really are.
4. Get out of the house
This is the hardest for me when I’m down. It is so easy to just make everyday a lazy Saturday and do absolutely nothing at all. Though, all that really accomplishes, is sinking deeper and deeper into nothingness and depression. Getting out of the house forces you to get dressed, get the kids dressed and to see that there really is a world out there, besides your own misery and all the difficulties you are going through.
5. Keep people interaction
One of the biggest things that helped my husband get out of his slump, was interacting with people. He started meeting with friends over coffee and getting involved with volunteer activities again. Through which, he was able to hear of job openings and get in touch with people whom most likely would never have given his resume a second glance. It also gave him a purpose to keep going and not to shrivel up and call it quits.
6. Keep or get active
Get your blood flowing, your lungs working and your adrenaline pumping. It really does wonders for your health and your mood. You don’t have to have a membership to a gym or anything like that. Take a walk with your family to the park or around the mall. Wrestle with your children or play a crazy game of hide-n-go seek. Even mimicking your baby’s planks is way harder than it looks and can get you both laughing in no time.
7. Get together a budget
It is so important to be on the same page financially! I know money can be a very sensitive and stressful topic among couples, even more so after losing a job, but that just makes it even more important to talk about. Get together a plan of action and be willing to let go of some things and change others.
8. Keep encouraging your husband
I can get so caught up in living life, taking care of my kids and/or asking my husband to help with this or that, that I forget to really think about what he is going through and how it is effecting him. Guys can be so good at covering up their true feelings and not talking about them that it’s easy to forget that they're really hurting too. He needs you to still believe in him and to think of him as the strong, handsome man you married. So what are some ways you can encourage him? Remind him daily that you believe in him. Also, don’t continually nag him about getting a job (he knows, even when he isn’t going about doing things the way that you would). Maybe even come up with activities to do together out of the house.
9. Pray Pray Pray
This is so often overlooked or a last resort option when it should be the very first thing. God is All-Powerful and All-knowing. He already knows what you’re going through but Prayer isn’t about changing God’s mind it’s about changing your mind to align with His.
10. Be prepared and alright with change
This is always a really hard one for me, as change is always a challenge. I love my routines and consistency. Having my husband home every day, though a blessing in its own way, meant that I couldn’t do things the same way as I was used to. For some reason even doing dishes and laundry just wasn’t the same. I continually have to remind myself whenever a big change is going to take place (Like my husband getting a new job after being out of one for 3 months or losing one) to breath and to calm down. I literally tell my husband I need to take 15-30 min of quiet to process and ask if he could watch the kids for that time. Everyone deals with stress differently. For me, I need time to get away, quickly run through the worst case scenario than remind myself that God is in control and that I need to trust in Him.
Melody, a proud mother of three beautiful, adventurous children and the wife of one very loving and caring husband. Molded, daily, by the Maker of the Universe and longing to become more like Him.