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1:29 PM

Many people look at other’s lives as being so much better or easier or more fun than their own. I have people say things to this end all the time to me and I struggle with how to respond.

Keeping calm and as positive as possible has been my goal. Anxiety has been my struggle.

I have had heartaches and fears, and anxiety has been a real part of my life over the past 3 years. I am not talking about feeling worried. I am talking about chest pain, not being able to breathe, and feeling like I am losing my mind.

I truly believe that after my difficult surgery recovery and my endometriosis diagnosis, I struggled with PTSD. I have always been embarrassed about this fact, because I saw my struggle as pathetic, that people wouldn’t understand and would see me as weak. I was well aware that people had been through worse struggles than my own, and felt stupid for being so affected by my issues. I was constantly in a haze. I began struggling with anxiety for the first time in my life at the age of 25, directly following my diagnosis and surgery. I was panicked to go to social places where people would ask me questions, pity me, and alienate me for my issues with fertility, amongst other things. No one knows how much I fear those situations. I don’t like being attention seeking in that way, I don’t want pity, and I don’t want people saying the wrong things and hurting me further.

Being open with this struggle has taken all the fear I hold within and put it out in front of me. But being open and honest helps people…and it helps ourselves.

This entire time I have refused to believe that just because I have often struggled to cope, that I am now destined to struggle the rest of my life. That painful of crippling anxiety feels behind me now. It got a little out of control for a good year, but the episodes and struggles are so much lighter now, so much easier to resolve without panic. That hard season was a test, a journey, and often too much for me to handle. Prayer, friends, love, and support got me through…but I was not left without scars and telling signs that I had fought a hard battle. I was changed. Wiser, definitely, but also with more walls around me. Callouses formed. I had to protect myself from the hurt somehow. I think of the verse "you will walk through the fire but not be burned." When I think of what I've walked through, I did get hurt but I truly think it's miraculous how things have turned around. I really am okay. I can actually say that and believe it now.

I refused medication through this entire process. I was at no point a danger to myself or others, which is what would have made me realize that medication needed to be a part of my story of healing. Since I was not ready to be medicated, I desperately clung to the idea that I just had to get through this, one day at a time. Some days were victories, others were loses. Some pain demands to be felt (thanks to The Fault In Our Stars for that one). I had to travel through this, and often, alone. Most people who sincerely tried to help only made things worse. Sometimes the hurt is so strong you need to not even look at it, not even acknowledge it’s presence. When people brought it up, it was like peeling away the scab and forcing me to try and heal all over again. It felt exhausting. Embarrassing. Lonely.

People give you so much advice. They have only good intentions and just want to see you better, see you whole. The words always hit me like an arrow, and I smiled while it pierced. It's okay that no one truly knows what to say. Sometimes words really do fail. Friends who stuck by me and tried to make me feel normal again, helped me forget my cares, and reminded me what joy looks like have been the most valuable of all during the hard days. If I ask myself "what did you really want to hear from people?" It would be this:

"You are not a failure of a woman because you struggle to have children...you are a success in so many ways and womanhood isn't achieved or defined by motherhood."
"You have every right to be hurting. Don't feel stupid for being heartbroken."
"You are going to get through this. Whether or not you have children, your life is going to be so beautiful."
"This isn't your fault. You didn't do something wrong to deserve this. Don't allow yourself to take on the blame."

The thing with anxiety, a troubled racing mind, is that you can so easily become bitter. It’s so easy to close off. It’s so easy to feel resentment. I scroll social media and so many people seem to not even know what they have. Another pregnancy announcement. Another pregnant woman complaining about pregnancy. Another mom complaining about a messy house. It’s never ending. Sometimes I feel like Facebook has become Mombook and I'm just a spectator into people living lives worthy of mommyhood. Many times I’ve wondered if I needed to just get off social media. Hang up my hat and say adios to all the everyday grumbles and inside jokes shared among moms.  However, I have stuck it out. Even if it can upset my entire day to read a status written in two seconds by a mom at her wit’s end, I know turning away to try and protect myself isn’t the answer. Plus, I love kids. So cute kid photos never hurt me.

If you’re lucky, the pain can make you wiser. I have always focused on that when the pain hits. All of us worry, and struggle, and stress. The single, the married, the pregnant, the mom, the divorced, and the barren. We cannot look at other’s struggles as less than our own. We are united in our hurts and pain, not divided by them. It truly does suck that someone got knocked up outside of their plan, they have no money, and their partner is selfish and not taking care of them while they ache and puke. It truly does suck that someone’s entire body hurts, they can’t sleep, and they no longer recognize their reflection in the mirror. It truly does suck that after getting little sleep, a mom is left cleaning up all day after screaming, crying, whining kids while they scroll FB and see posts of people travelling, enjoying coffee at work, etc. We all have crappy days. We all have sucky situations. We all have a choice.

We all have to choose joy. To choose understanding. To choose compassion. To choose wisdom.

Love you all…know in your struggle, though different than mine, that you aren’t alone in feeling alone. You aren’t alone in feeling weak, pathetic, closed off, or frustrated. You aren’t alone in feeling like a disappointment, in feeling like a failure.

However, you aren’t those things. You are someone who has been handed a situation, and that situation can either allow you to become the worst version of yourself, or the best.

My God has never forsaken me in my struggle. Humanity has such beautiful moments, and such horrible moments where everything can feel so hopeless and dim. God has been my source of strength, an ever present refuge in times of trouble; my hope. I am never alone. He has never been anything less than what He said He would be.

And above that, I believe He heals. I have felt that healing in my life. I believe in the things He has promised me…and I will believe for those things for you too.

Today, mental health day… know that mental health is meant to be in balance with the pursuit of  physical and spiritual health. At any given point, one can be completely out of whack, and you can be left deeply affected by that unbalance. I strive for wholeness. If you want suggestions on how I cope, email me: samantha.macandrew@gmail.com. I’d love to hear your story and try to help in any way I can.

Pursue healing and wholeness.

I leave you with a quote from one of my fav childhood movies that still impacts me to this day:

“Things will happen in your life that you can't stop but that's no reason to shut out the world. There's a purpose for the good and for the bad.”
- Now & Then

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