“I’m having a heart attack!”
I shouted across the parking lot of Stein Mart as I slowly sat down on the hot summer pavement. “Sir, can you help me?” I yelled at a passerby. Luckily, this Good Samaritan stopped to help me inside the store. A few more beautiful souls brought me cold water to drink and dialed 911. They used my cell phone to contact my husband, and everything else was a blur. Before I knew it, I was being wheeled into the back of an ambulance and driven to the hospital. It quickly became clear I had not suffered a heart attack. Instead, I had just experienced a panic attack that was out of this world.
To pinpoint the source of my anxiety was simple: I was a new mom, and I had two kids under two years old. The sleep deprivation, diaper dances, and feeding frenzies put me in a tailspin. On this fateful day, I hit my breaking point—rock bottom. I reached the end of the rope of the normal anxiety that all mothers have. All rational thinking had flown out the window. I was a basket case. I was in no shape to be released to go home. I checked into a behavioral hospital.
This was the day my world shattered. I spent the next two months in and out of hospitals to discover a life-changing diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Cor. 12:9 (NIV)
God’s promise in 2 Corinthians helped me understand that my weakness and my brokenness could bring me closer to Him. It took time for me to find myself again and come to grips with my new normal: the meds, the counseling, the stigma. But God’s grace was sufficient. His power was truly made perfect in my weakness. He started giving me the courage to share my testimony in small group settings. He proved over and over that my story was offering hope to others. I could feel God’s love flowing and moving through me like a vessel for His kingdom. But, I knew that it couldn’t end there. He wanted me to do more.
I started writing out of obedience to my Lord and Savior, and a book was born. My prayer is that it will encourage those who might be suffering in silence. You are not alone. Whatever battles you face today, you have a God with an overwhelming, never-ending, reckless kind of love for you. I hope my story will show you a glimpse of His faithfulness. Readers will experience my lowest lows and the miracle of how God pulled me out of a messy pit.
In the book, I share scripture that speaks truth and empowerment into my life, and I outline the tools that help me continue to fight life’s daily battles. One of my tools is surrounding myself with a caring community. It is imperative to find a support system for yourself. God created us to live in community. My community consists of different people: my doctors, my counselor, my family, and my close friends. Outside of my family and close friends, I find my greatest support groups are the women at Bible study, Jazzercise, and the CCA Moms in Prayer Group. In fact, at a Moms in Prayer meeting a few years ago, one of the women prayed over me that I would share my story in a book. Let me encourage you to find your support network. Ask God to lead you to the right people. God will open doors for friendship, and you will find you are not alone in your struggles.
Through my brokenness, I have found beauty. God created me in His image, and I purpose to use my brokenness as an ember to ignite hope in this dark world. I choose to turn my mess into a message of the redeeming power of His love. Keeping my story to myself simply seems selfish because my Almighty Savior deserves praise for all He has done.