My Purpose 

“Why do I write?” 

I’ve had to ask myself this question lately and had to do some internal soul searching. 

I am a writer. 

Sometimes maybe I feel too humble to admit this or I feel not worthy of the title, but in reality, it is the truth. It has been the truth from the time I could write with a pen. In elementary school, I was already writing children’s short stories and illustrating (or shall I say attempting to) those stories as well. It was my dream as a 3rd grader to be a writer one day. As I got older, I dreamt of the day that I would be a writer and photographer for National Geographic and travel the world to all the places I saw in the pictures in their magazines. Throughout school, my teachers would commend me for my writing. And I wasn’t writing for their approval or praise. I was writing for myself. Because I loved to. Because it was a part of me. I had to write. Always a deep thinker and introspective person, the words easily flowed from my head onto paper. It gave me joy and happiness to create something from nothing. From a blank page into a work of art – not of painted colors but of words pieced together to create meaning and to create a story. 

There are boxes in our garage full of journals, my journals, that I have bled my heart into. And I keep buying those journals. I keep filling the pages, and I keep writing. 

But, there are times, when, I don’t want to write anymore. 

I feel uninspired. This happens to every writer and we automatically think of the word, “writer’s block.” It’s a real thing. There are no ideas. Or we can’t find the way to get it out of our heads….like when a word is on the tip of your tongue. 

Or, I simply want to regress away and hermitize myself. Being a writer, at least when you are writing about your own life, is highly personal. It’s risky. It’s scary. Putting yourself out there and exposing yourself takes courage. And it can take a lot out of you. For me, it sometimes creates anxiety as the writer is often wondering what other people are thinking of their writing, and, “what are they thinking about me?”

Which leads me to a reason of why I recently found myself putting my writing to a halt. I had to ask myself why I was writing. Was it for the people? Was my heart in the right place? 

In our world of social media, it is so easy to get caught up in the self-gratification of getting “likes” on what we post. It sounds silly and juvenile, but unfortunately, over time, some of us find ourselves becoming obsessed with the number of “likes”, comments or now it’s “reactions” that we get. We can find ourselves rating the worth of what we posted, whether that be a picture, a blog post, etc… based on the number of “likes” we got. Our minds, naturally so, are wired to think that the more “likes”, the better it is. And the less “likes”, we are apt to think that what we presented was not that great after all. We want what we present to the world to be perceived well. As a writer, I have found myself from time to time getting wrapped up in this. And so then I have to ask where my heart is in all of this. 

I often find myself thinking of the verse, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?” (Galatians 1:10). It was this very verse and a convicting lesson I heard in church one day several years ago, that I made the decision to get off of Facebook. And I did. For two years. Two whole years, people! That’s a long time! Especially for someone who had realized she was getting too much out of the approval or lack of approval from others through Facebook. She needed to start living more for herself, and not for others.

That was several years ago, and I’ve been back on Facebook since then, though I have had my short breaks that I’ve needed to take from time to time. 

Alas, but this post isn’t meant to be just about social media. 

I’m being honest about the struggles of being a writer, especially in today’s modern world of technology. I’m talking about the things I wrestle with as a writer. 

When I find myself getting gratification from the accolades of people and losing sight of why I wrote what I wrote in the first place….then it’s in those times when I have to take a step back. 

I recently found myself feeling a tug at my heart strings to step away from some things in my life. From a group I was leading. From Facebook. From writing.

I found myself needing to get away from people. To become a hermit for awhile. To rest. To seek God. To seek peace in a chaotic world. To see where my heart and priorities were and do some evaluating.

It was during this sabbatical, that I found myself feeling down in the dumps. I didn’t know what to do with my time. I didn’t have Facebook on my phone to scroll mindlessly through. I didn’t have my group to lead. I was losing connection with friends and feeling an emptiness and loneliness. The worst feeling, though, that I found when getting rid of several things all at once, was I was feeling unfulfilled. And then I realized that all these things that I had let go of, including the praise of man, had been giving me a lot of fulfillment. I then felt guilt because of this. But it was during this short break that I found myself spending more time with God and reading books that drew me closer to Him. I felt, at times, a sense of peace and weight off of my shoulders to have surrendered these things for a while. I felt less anxious. 

But I began wondering a question – a question we all ask ourselves. “What is my purpose?” 

I stopped writing altogether, even for myself in my own personal journals and I realized that something was missing. Something is missing when I am not writing. I am not feeling fulfilled. Writing is like life to me. It GIVES me life. And it has been this way for years, without me even realizing it. 

And I think I have come to realize that part of my purpose here on earth is to write. God gave me a talent – a passion, and I must not let it go to waste. As I was going for a run the other day, a thought came to my mind; “I love to inspire people.” 

This brought clarity and happiness to my soul. And then that was the answer to my question, “Why do I write?” I write for several reasons, but the driving force behind it is truly to inspire other people. To help people. To encourage others to follow their dreams. 

Ever since I overcame my sickness with postpartum depression three years ago, I have been so transparent and vulnerable about that time in my life and what life looks like since going through that. It hasn’t been easy to be so honest, but I have felt compelled, perhaps even called by God to do this. And the reason has been to help others. To know they aren’t alone. 

I’ve tried to write about “real life stuff”, so that people can relate. There’s so much perfection that we see on social media and perhaps I’ve even portrayed that from time to time when posting pictures of our travels that have been edited and filtered so that the picture looks like it’s from a fairy tale. But, for the most part, I have felt the calling to, on Facebook and in my blog posts, to be real. It’s kind of against the norm to talk about things like depression and anxiety, but after having gone through it myself, I want to shed light on it. And as one who is on the other side, I want to encourage and inspire others that they will get through the darkness. 

And so, I write to inspire. I write for myself. It has helped bring me healing from my battle with PPD. I write for others. 

I don’t want to get caught up in the applause of men and I think this is something I will have to constantly keep in check and not lose sight of the purpose of the piece I am writing. 

A dear friend of mine sent a message to me recently during my sabbatical from writing, and I felt it was perfect timing and perhaps a sign from God. She said, “You have a gift. Keep doing what you are doing. You have a beautiful way with words.” And her words inspired me to write again. Her words inspired me to say to myself, “I’m not meant to be here to just be silent.” 

And I will not be silent. I will not let my pen become covered with dust. I will not let the pages of my journal be left empty. 

I will fill those pages with my words. I will fill them with my heart. 

Moving Forward 

I’ll admit – it hasn’t been easy for me. Moving forward has not been easy.

Whenever any one of us goes through something painful or traumatic, muddling through the aftermath can be almost just as hard as when you were going through the negative experience itself. 

I have been striving, very hard, to move forward past my traumatic experience with postpartum depression. In three months, it will be 3 years since I suffered through the horrible illness. 

They say time heals all wounds, and there is truth to this, but there are some days when the pain can hit you just as hard as if the event happened just yesterday. 

After my healing came, I was a changed person. And I strove to help others going through what I experienced. I shared my story over and over. This helped in my healing process, but it has also been very triggering at times. 

When trying to move forward, or to put the past behind you, it’s like you can take two steps forward and one step back. You make progress, and then you’re back to where you were…hurting. Remembering. And it is deeply painful. 

My journey in trying to move forward, as I said, has not been an easy one, and I’m still on the journey of putting the pain behind me. 

When we look back to the past, we can feel a multitude of emotions. Sometimes positive. Sometimes negative. 

When I look back to when I had postpartum depression, as one could imagine, there are very few happy memories. It was the darkest, most terrifying time of my life. 

I’m not a fan of the phrase or being told to “Move on.” For it’s not that easy to do so. I have also thought about the popular phrase, “Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.” I love these words, and yet, at the same time, it irritates me. I know we do not need to dwell on the past…past mistakes, past hurts, past painful experiences; but I think we must acknowledge and give ourselves the permission to know that this experience is forever a part of us. It may get easier and WILL get easier as time goes on, but it’s a part of your story. It might have helped change the course of your history and the history of those around you. It’s natural to look back. And I think it’s important to look back sometimes…to see the positive that came from that experience. You might have to look hard to find that. There are lessons to be learned, wisdom to be earned. But I do agree that we should not wallow, or try not to wallow in misery every day of thinking about the past. 

For me, it’s been a challenge to overcome the flashbacks of the experience I went through. There are so many moments from that time that I find myself reliving from time to time as if I were literally back there again. It’s also been a huge hurdle to overcome my fear and anxiety that I get of ever having to go back to that dark place again. 

“Where’s the silver lining in this story?” You might be asking. “How are you moving forward?”

I have to move forward, first of all. We all do. We can’t stay stuck in the past. My counselor told me the other day that God doesn’t want me living this way; feeling this way. Filled with negative emotions like fear, anxiety, depression, guilt, sadness, anger, regret, jealousy and envy. God doesn’t want you living your life bound to these emotions either; imprisoned to them. 

So I must seek. I must seek and find the silver lining. I must see the beauty that came from the most painful experience of my life. 

I must look back and see, and thank God for my parents and for holding me and crying with me during those dark days. I must be thankful for the closeness and bond that was forged between the three of us because of what happened. I must see my sister, and the love and support, the empowering words she said to me.The love that I saw she had for me. For my brother-in-law and the words of comfort he gave me. I must thank God for my in-laws, who supported me and never made me feel ashamed, but who loved me as their own and who I know prayed fervently for me every day. For all of my extended family – I am so thankful for them. 

I must thank God that it CHANGED my marriage. Our marriage wasn’t sunshine and roses before I had PPD, and this experience could have made or broken the relationship between my husband, Josh, and I. He could have abandoned me or lifted up his hands in the air and said, “You’re on your own.” But I saw that man truly shine his brightest. He was an angel, a godsend, sent from above. He held up my arms when they grew weary of carrying my sword and shield. He sometimes took my sword and smote at the enemy himself. He was my hero, and I know I could not have made it through without him. We’ve both thanked God that it changed our course, I truly believe, and made our love grow indescribably closer. We have a bond. We get it. We get each other. We love and cherish one another more than ever. Our hearts have changed BECAUSE of PPD. 

I must thank God for the bird he sent my way. I must thank Him that there were crows and buzzards hanging out in the dead tree in my parent’s backyard, taunting me. I must thank Him for sending me a little wren that made a nest outside my window and sang to me every day. For the moment that bird looked in at me through the window and locked eyes with mine and I knew that it was God…his messenger sent to give me hope. I must thank God for this imagery he sent me, that he made me aware that there was a spiritual battle going on, a war between God and Satan. 

I must thank God that he saved my life. That he healed me. I must thank Him that He was near me; I felt his presence. I called in His name and clung to him. I grew closer to my Heavenly Father. 

I must thank God for my friends. For those who called, texted me, sent me letters, who prayed for me. Their prayers helped send healing my way. 

I must thank God for my beautiful daughter, Isabella. For the love that I have for her that is insurmountable. That cannot be measured. That I loved her so much from the moment I saw her, that I fought for her. I fought to stay around. I thank God for the bond we have now, and that she calls me her best friend. I must thank God that PPD did not mess with the bond between a mother and her daughter. 

I must thank God for the wisdom he gave me and the words he has given so that I have been able to relate to and help other mamas going through what I experienced. 

And I must thank God for the mamas who did not have to go through what I went through. I must thank God that they can enjoy and love on their babies those first precious moments of their life, and not be surrounded by a dark cloud. 

I must thank God that he changed me. That he opened my eyes to this life and filled me with zeal and passion. That he softened my heart in many ways. 

And I must thank God that I am here. That I am able to share my story with you. 

I am a survivor! 

Yes, I am moving forward. One step at a time. 

Confidence

If you have it — you can do anything. No one can stop you. Nothing. You can walk into the conference room with your head held up high, papers in hand, and give a presentation of a lifetime. You can hop on a plane and fly across the globe to a foreign country — where the language barrier is just one of the many odds against you. When you have it — you can climb a 14’er — summit the mountain without even thinking twice about all the dangers. When you have confidence, you can do brave things.

 

But what if you woke up one day and realized that it was gone? You didn’t have it anymore. Your confidence had left the building.

 

First, you might ask yourself and wonder, “How did that happen?” and “Where did it go?”

 

I came to a realization one day that I had indeed lost my confidence. I’m not talking about “self-confidence” in regards to how you view yourself, but the confidence you have in your ability to do things.

 

And I knew why. Why I’d lost it.

 

I’ve always been a girl who loves adventure. Who loves to do things that are brave and to be seen as brave. I wasn’t a wild daredevil, but I found exhilaration, when I was a little girl, to take my shoes off and run around barefoot — risking the chance of getting a “sticker” in my foot. Over the hot, Texas, summer days, I’d run across the street barefoot to my friend’s house — the black pavement burning my feet —but also toughening them up so they became hardened and resilient — perhaps even more resistant to getting those pesky thorns in my foot. I was a “girly-girl”, but I was also a tomboy. I loved climbing high up in the trees that grew in our backyard and sitting there feeling like I was Pocahontas and that I had a connection with the spirit of the tree.

 

As I grew up into a young woman, adventure was still on my heart and wanderlust filled my soul. I dreamed of traveling the world.

 

I met my husband Josh in December 2009. I loved this man — his passion for life and that we shared an affinity for travel. He had already traveled abroad and his stories filled my heart with a longing to see these things. But, more importantly, to see these sights with him.

 

We married in the Spring of 2011.

 

I had confidence back then. Oh yes, I had my doubts and my fears, yes — that is only natural for all of us. But I knew I could do things. I had a mindset, perhaps a bit of pride, that I could do anything.

 

And so, within the first few months of marrying, my husband and I quit our jobs, sold almost everything, packed our bags, said our goodbyes to family, and we moved across the world — from Texas to New Zealand.

 

This was brave indeed and it took a huge amount of confidence in oneself to be able to do this. With our working holiday visa, we were able to live in New Zealand for a year. And, along the way, I got to climb trees again! Well, not technically, but climbed a ladder and picked apples from the trees. It was like being a kid again. Wild and free. Yet working. So, I’ll admit, I didn’t like apple-thinning too much. I hated it. Josh heard me moan and groan a lot. It took only four days to figure out that Lindsey wasn’t meant for manual labor. But I had had my hand at apple-picking. I had tried it.

 

While in New Zealand, Josh and I hiked several trails — that’s one of my favorite activities in life to do is hike. Our greatest accomplishment was hiking the 19.4 kilometer Tongariro Alpine Crossing. I had confidence enough to do this treacherous day-long hike and to climb across volcanoes.

 

And, in New Zealand, I finally overcame my fear of driving on the opposite side of the road, and, after trying it, my heart swelled with pride and confidence. As the saying by Eleanor Roosevelt goes, “You must do the things you think you cannot do.”

 

I had a nickname growing up, given to me by my youth minister who later became my brother-in-law. It was “Linzena – Warrior Princess.”

 

New Zealand was a time when I truly felt like I was a warrior princess.

 

We eventually had to move back to the States, and our next destination became Colorado — so that we could continue to breathe in mountain air and revel in God’s creation. I “bagged” (the term used in Colorado when you accomplish summiting a peak) three “14’er”s as they are called in Colorado — meaning mountain peaks where the summit is over 14,000 feet.

 

To climb a mountain, it takes courage and bravery. It requires confidence in yourself.

 

Little did I know I was about to climb the biggest mountain — the most rugged, treacherous, dangerous one I would ever have to attempt to conquer. And I’m not talking about Long’s Peak.

 

I’m talking about postpartum depression.

 

Our first daughter, Isabella, was born to us on a sunny October day while we were still living in Colorado. It was one of the happiest days of my life. A flood of tears poured from my eyes when I saw her for the first time and heard her first cry. Everything was good — despite the anxiety that I felt intensely every day from the moment she was born.

 

A month after she was born — my mountain appeared. Postpartum depression hit me full force as I woke up on a Monday morning and had my first of what would soon be countless panic attacks.

 

I couldn’t take care of myself. I couldn’t take care of my baby. I was a wreck. The depression and anxiety debilitated me to the point where I could barely eat or drink, and I had thoughts of just wanting to end it all.

 

That is when it happened. Postpartum depression grabbed my confidence, my dignity, my pride, and it ripped it away from me.

 

I had no confidence that the “mountain climbing, world-traveler, Linzena Warrior Princess” could “bag” this foreboding summit that towered above me. That laughed at me. That made me say things like, “I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t!”

 

It made me feel weak. I couldn’t do anything. And I needed someone to be by my side 24/7, because I was afraid of being alone. I was afraid of the scary thoughts in my head.

 

But, amazingly, after four months of inching my way up this mountain towards recovery, I finally reached the summit! I conquered that which tried to take my life. I won. Postpartum depression and anxiety had been defeated.

 

When I found healing, you can imagine how my life changed. I was on fire! So thankful to be alive. Thank you, God! I had a deep appreciation for life again; for my life. A deep appreciation for my family. A bond that grew between my husband and I as we weathered this storm together. As we, like all the real mountains we climbed together before, this time, my husband carried me on his back many times along the way. I know he did. Our love for each other grew tenfold. I started connecting with my baby daughter again and not feeling so scared of her. It was all so beautiful.

 

It’s in the aftermath, after a battle as intense as the one I went through, that I realized I had suffered many wounds. One of those being, that I lost my confidence. There were ways in which I actually gained confidence after going through that. But, I felt robbed — like something was missing that I once had.

 

Even after recovery, I doubted myself.

 

That’s one of the worst feelings. And it keeps you from doing things. From doing what you used to be able to do.

 

Fear and anxiety still remain with me, even after recovery, and I struggle with anxiety to this day.

 

They say that, after falling off a horse, you have to get right back on. Shake the dust off and keep on.

 

And I have to do the same.

 

And so that is what I do. I “do the things you think you cannot do”. It’s not easy, and I’m still struggling to get a better hold of my anxiety, so that it doesn’t control my life. It’s not easy. But I’m trying.

 

I will continue to climb those beautiful mountains. I will do it with confidence —despite my fears and anxieties. I will and have continued to board those planes to foreign places that light my heart on fire.

 

And I will, despite the wounds I carry, live my life with courage and adventure. I will regain my confidence and, with hardened, tough feet — I will carry on as Linzena Warrior Princess, living out my life Wild and Free.

The Bird

[Backstory. I wrote this poem about a dark time in my life, when I suffered through postpartum depression. This is very personal to share, and a word of warning that it can be triggering and intense, but the ending of the poem offers Hope. I have felt the need to share this in hopes that it might help someone know that healing will come. Do not give up!]
 

 

I still hear the crows.

I still hear the buzzards.

I still see them.

They circle the skies above me,

Still,

From time to time.

 

And they remind.

They taunt . . . “Remember? Remember?

Remember your pain. Remember your fear.

I will always be here to remind you,”

Their screeching, ugly voices tell me.

 

I often wonder how they found me.

I’d seen them using their evil powers

In those I loved

From the time I was a little girl.

I always deeply feared them.

That one day they would search me out

And find me.

That their midnight black darkness

Would encircle me and choke out the world.

That those birds would steal my joy,

My happiness,

And replace it with tears.

 

I never knew Fear until they found where I was hiding.

I’d seen it and felt it before

But I never truly knew Fear until the birds came.

 

I brought Life into this world.

She was Beauty.

Heaven came down and Love

Came flowing from my eyes,

When I saw her for the first time

And she breathed her first breath;

When her first cries were heard

by her Mother and Father.

Yes, Heaven came down in those moments.

 

My eyes beheld Beauty

And my arms held her.

 

And then, in a moment,

Suddenly,

I thought I was losing my Beauty,

The life I’d just brought into this world.

Something went wrong with my child,

And for tortuously long moments

That will forever be immeasurable,

She was taken away from me.

 

And I was left alone.

Alone.

Alone I cried,

Alone I wondered if I’d see

The Beauty again.

I wondered if I had seen her for the last time.

I wondered if I would hear her beautiful cry,

If I’d ever hold her again.

 

My beloved husband

Returned to me,

As I lay there waiting.

There was hope in my heart again

When he whispered, “She is okay.”

That our little Beauty we’d created

Had held onto his finger tightly.

We then knew,

Our Beauty was a Fighter.

 

When I saw her again

She was under a glass container;

The artificial oxygen filling the air

To help her breathe.

But I saw a little baby,

My baby,

Struggling, crying, fighting.

Fighting for her life.

Frantically and Fearfully

I watched the numbers

And felt helpless,

As they were not where they were supposed to be.

 

I was scared.

Scared I was still going to lose her.

“Don’t grow attached,

Don’t grow attached,”

Something told me.

 

When she was finally returned to us,

Relief filled our hearts.

But something held me back —

I couldn’t believe that she was back in my arms.

Hyper vigilance set in.

Anxiety took over my entire being.

I was so thankful,

But I was stunned.

I was traumatized by thinking

That my Beauty was dying in my arms,

In those seconds when something went wrong with her.

I was traumatized —

Believing she was still going to be taken away from me.

 

“Hold on . . .

But don’t on too close.

Love her . . .

But don’t love her too much.”

Were words that echoed in my mind.

Nightmares haunted me of losing her.

 

A month after the Beauty debuted her appearance,

All was well with her.

But not so with her Mother.

For that was when they came.

 

The crows.

The buzzards.

The birds.

The darkness.

The thing I’d always feared . . .

Finally found me.

 

I watched the leaves fall from the trees,

And I watched my world turn grey.

In an instant the darkness

Surrounded me.

I watched the sky cry tears

And the sun hid its face from me,

In my darkest and loneliest hours.

 

I wanted to die.

The buzzards hovered overhead

And flew in circles above me.

Waiting for me.

“We want you,”

Their beady eyes looked down and I knew their deadly thoughts.

 

A dead tree overshadowed

And towered above our home —

And the tree became the crows and buzzards’ battle position

Sent forth from the enemy.

They wanted me to die.

They were a constant reminder

of Death.

 

I battled the thoughts —

The war that waged within

Of wanting to take my own life

And yet . . .

Fighting,

Fighting desperately for my life.

 

This battle lasted for months.

Months that should have been beautiful.

That should have been blissful.

That should have been Heaven,

Not Hell.

That should have been what they were not.

 

I was robbed.

We were all robbed.

The thief had come in the night

Stealing my joy,

And, thus, stealing all of our joy.

I suffered,

And those who loved me suffered immensely.

 

I remember the day.

The day I stood outside

Staring up at that dead tree,

Feeling defeated and completely hopeless.

I remember seeing the parting of the clouds

And seeing and feeling the ray of the sun

Finally break through the clouds

And show its face to me again.

I heard the crows and saw them.

They were so loud.

 

But then,

I saw the jay clothed in blue.

I saw the sparrow,

The robin,

And I saw the red cardinal.

I saw them flying from bush to bush,

From tree to tree,

Right in front of my very eyes,

And I heard their melodic singing.

 

And I faintly heard the song

Of a bird in the forest.

Just a tiny sound at first,

That slowly crescendoed into a loud chorus.

That would not be the last time

I’d hear that little bird in the forest.

That day, his song was too powerful

And I watched in wonder as the crows flew away

And I could no longer hear their lies.

It was a moment my heart had hungered for.

 

That tiny bird had flown from far, far away,

And had found me at last.

 

He found me one day sitting by the window

Feeling in despair again.

He sat on a red chair and looked in at me.

His eyes looked into mine

And he didn’t look away.

“Get better! Get better!” He told me.

I felt the very presence of God

And that He was sitting in the red rocking chair,

Whispering,

“I am here. You are not alone.”

 

That tiny bird had the loudest song

Of any bird I’d ever heard.

And the most beautiful.

He stayed around our house from that day on —

The days that I was still sick.

He was a Carolina Wren,

A bird known for being shy —

And yet, he stayed so close,

In the moments when I needed to hear

His song the most.

 

The mornings were my darkest, scariest hours,

When the panic would set in,

And when I’d usually been awakened by crows.

But now, that same wren had found his home.

He made a nest right outside my window,

And he sang for me.

I’d look out my window

And he’d be there looking at me,

Watching over me.

 

Time had taken its time,

But with it,

Came my healing.

The sickness, the darkness finally left me.

The crows, the buzzards, those preying birds

Finally flew away.

They had learned that I wouldn’t

Be taken by them.

I would not be their victim.

They saw that I was a Fighter.

That I had a Beauty and a Beloved

To live for.

 

To this day,

I still hear the crows.

I still hear the buzzards.

I still see them.

They circle the skies above me,

Still,

From time to time.

 

But, I still see my wren,

I hear my wren,

Still,

From time to time.

And he says, “Remember? Remember?

Remember your healing. Remember Hope.

I will always be here to remind you.”

 

He is a constant reminder

of Life.

 

 

 

 

Fear

 

Fear.

 

It paralyzes you. Sometimes, quite literally. It can paralyze your body. I can vividly remember a time when fear left me trembling at the knees, and I felt the panic rapidly taking over my body.

 

I was standing on top of a mountain. Not a small hill, let me tell you. No, we were standing on rocky boulders at 14,000 feet in the rocky mountains of Colorado—Mount Bierstadt. We only had a few more feet to go until we were to reach the summit, but the natural elements began to intimidate me and I started to lose my grip; my grip on reality. When you are that high in elevation, the winds are cruel and whip your body around and slaps your hair across your face. The wind seems angry. To me, it felt like it was out to get me at that moment. I felt so vulnerable.

 

When you stand at the bottom of the mountain looking at your task ahead of you of reaching your summit and bagging your first “14’er” as people of Colorado refer them to, it of course looks challenging. But that’s what drives you and gives you the adrenaline. The will power and desire more than anything to conquer this beast. But down below, you are safe. You have not encountered the elements yet.

 

As we were near our summit, I felt my legs start shaking as I saw the drop off of the mountain not far to our right. The boulders we had to scramble over were huge, and all I could imagine, in my fear, was that I would fall and that would just be the end of it. The “fight or flight” feelings were settling in and taking over. I wanted to escape. I wanted to escape and run away from this situation. I wanted off this mountain. To make my fear worse, I saw clouds in the distance and snow falling from them. The snow was headed our way. “We are going to get trapped on this mountain!” I thought to myself.

 

We finally made it to Bierstadt’s summit, but I was terrified. I was breathing hard and my whole body was trembling. I told my husband, Josh, “I can’t do this. I can’t get back down.” I couldn’t imagine scrambling over those big boulders again. Each step was a risk.

 

It was time to get back down, off the mountain. The snow was approaching our way, quickly. It was time to leave. But I couldn’t. I literally could not find the courage to get up from where I sat down on one of the boulders. I said over and over again, irrationally, “I can’t do this, I can’t do this!” And I started crying. I was shaking so bad from my nerves. I was paralyzed. I think I might have even said something utterly ridiculous, like, “you are just going to have to leave me here.” My safety was ahead of me, by simply taking the steps to crawl over the boulders, but my fear stood in the way. I was putting myself in danger by remaining on the mountain . . . everyone else was starting to race off the mountain for they saw the snow coming too. I could imagine the white-out…I could see it all in those moments of panic. I don’t know how Josh did it. I don’t know what he said to me, perhaps he remembers, but he somehow knocked sense into me and gave me the courage and confidence to believe in myself that I could do this.

 

So, I took the first step. And then the next step. And the next. It was difficult as my legs were trembling but each step in the right direction and knowing I was getting closer to getting out of this dangerous situation gave me confidence and I soon found the shaking was lessening and my steps were more confident. I wasn’t crawling like a baby over the boulders anymore! I was conquering them!
Fast forward about two and a half years later. I am in a similar situation. Yep, a new mountain I have to conquer. Postpartum depression.

 

It also left me paralyzed. Some days, I literally felt that I could not move. That I could not get out of bed. I could not get off the couch. I was afraid to even walk around the house, because the anxiety was so high and my thoughts might start racing or the depressive thoughts might swarm my mind. I’d stay glued to the couch, finding something to obsess over, to distract my thoughts, whether that was staying connected to Facebook or I would research all there was to know about postpartum depression. I even started working on a research paper. Knowledge is power, they say, and I believe that wholeheartedly. But I was afraid. I was afraid of being left alone, because I didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts. Thoughts that told me “You are never going to get better.” “You are always going to have this”. “This postpartum depression will just turn into regular depression and will never go away.” “You are always going to suffer.” “This is going to take your life.” These intrusive thoughts filled me throughout the day when I was at my worst. I was so depressed. My psychiatrist diagnosed me as having SEVERE postpartum depression and anxiety. I felt so hopeless. I felt afraid to walk into certain rooms because that’s where I had had a panic attack and where I’d had terrifying nightmares or feelings of impending doom and gloom. It felt like the depression was limited to those rooms, that they were dangerous rooms, and I had to avoid them.

 

These intrusive, “Bad thoughts” as I would call them, some thoughts that were even suicidal, were the boulders, like on Mount Bierstadt, that I had to overcome. With each fleeting thought that I had, I overcame them. The fear of those thoughts chilled me to the bone, but I knew they were not me, they were not Lindsey. And with each passing day of my journey with PPD, it was as though each day was climbing over another boulder. A baby step, that yes, sometimes, I literally crawled on the floor and lay there and lay crying and wailing like a baby that beat out my 3 month old’s crying episodes. I was pathetic. But I was trying. I was trying SO hard. To make it through each day.

 

When I would lay there on my boulder, or couch as it was when I was going through PPD, or even laying in bed, afraid to get up and face the day and what it might bring me, my family gave me the pep talks to get off of the foreboding mountain. To get back down to safety. On to flat ground, where the beautiful green grass and wildflowers awaited me….where happiness and normalcy was compared to the boulders that I was scrambling over at the time. My husband, again, gave me the pep talk every day for the three months that I suffered the most. Sometimes, several pep talks a day. “You can do this. You are going to get better. THIS IS JUST TEMPORARY!”

 

I remember after climbing Mount Bierstadt, I had SUCH relief when we were on straight, level paths. And when I saw our car waiting for us in the parking lot. My legs were killing me. I was in control by now, and felt so happy that I was back in the beautiful valley. As we drove back home, I thought to myself, like in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” movie with Jim Carrey, how when he’s sliding down the mountain in his sled he totally freaks out and almost throws up because he is terrified what might happen to him as their sled races down a mountain past trees and huge rocks that could crush their sled. When he gets back down off the mountain and regains control of the sled and his mind, he says, “Woah. I almost lost my cool back there!” That’s how I felt and how I felt many times during my PPD experience. I would totally lose sense of reality and rationality when I had my panic attacks.

 

But the great thing is, Mount Bierstadt didn’t stop me. I climbed two more 14’ers after that experience, and I had SO much fun and it was amazing reaching the top of those summits. My confidence was back and I didn’t let fear stand in the way. I still plan on climbing more mountains, with one of my biggest dreams being conquering Long’s Peak, known for being extremely challenging. In fact, a little side note, but we named our daughter after Isabella Bird, a brave woman in the 1800’s who rode across Colorado on a horse, traveling all around, by herself, and she climbed Long’s Peak…in a dress! Alongside Rocky Mountain Jim, a man with a bad reputation, but someone whom she had compassion on and tried to reach out and help him out of his darkness he was facing. I suggest you look up the story of Isabella Bird, and read her story, “A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains.”

 

You know what the other great thing is? Postpartum depression didn’t stop me. That beast tried to take me down. It tried so hard. I conquered that mountain and made it safely to the valley of beautiful wildflowers, which is where I’ve wanted to be all along. There are still some days when the boulders get in my way, and the Fear, but sometimes we just have to kick fear to the curb. It keeps us from living life fully….keeps us from enjoying moments, opportunities, relationships, dreams. The beautiful valley I am in now is me fully recovering. It’s me having less and less days of anxiety and depression. It’s me looking at my daughter who I used to couldn’t look at without being thrown into a panic attack, but looking at her now with love and laughter. It’s laughing at her as I’m rocking her and she sucks her thumb and tries to find the corner of her blanket and then starts flicking the corner with her tiny little finger. The wildflowers are in those little, but precious moments, moments that I want to enjoy and savor for all time.

 

You can conquer whatever mountain you are facing. You can conquer your fears! It may take scrambling over the boulders in your way, slowly, and you may feel like a baby as you crawl over them, but those boulders will soon be behind you. And you will look back behind you at them, and you will laugh. You will laugh at them. For they did not take you. You won.

 

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt
F-E-A-R
“Forget Everything and Run
OR
Face Everything and Rise”
-Anonymous