2014 was a rough year for me. Although the birth of our second child was healing in so many ways, becoming a mother again was dreadfully difficult for me at that time. Our new daughter had an insane appetite for life and required so much attention and supervision. She also nursed constantly and I was becoming physically and emotionally drained. I began exhibiting a lot of symptoms related to adrenal fatigue.
I was exhausted and anxious. I’d start shaking uncontrollably. I would try to talk but stutter very badly instead. My digestive system was doing poorly. I didn’t sleep well. The slightest noise could startle me so bad and I could feel adrenaline pumping through my whole body. I was in constant fight or flight mode.
I became extremely depressed. We can call it post-partum depression if we want, but I’ve always thought it seemed a little silly to give it such a specific name. I’d battled depression since I was a teenager so it’s not like this depression was somehow any different. Although the circumstances were different, the effect was the same. I had my good days and moments of joy, but I felt like I was living in great darkness and I had no idea how to escape. I sought help for all my issues, but nothing really made a difference. I was slightly limited in my options since at that time I absolutely refused to take medication. I knew it wouldn’t treat my underlying problem and I wasn’t keen on dealing with any unpleasant side-effects. The only treatment that was helpful whatsoever was a massage I received during a trip to Virginia. It alieviated my severe depression and angst for at least a few days.
I was still trying to process through the grief and trauma of my daughter’s death, and how I felt about God. I could say and even at times feel that God loved me, but I seriously doubted it deep down inside where the sub-conscious is actually running the whole show. I still felt so abandoned in many ways. I felt like I had given my life to God and felt like he was cursing me instead of blessing me. I knew my life circumstances weren’t really his fault, but I needed to blame someone. I often blamed myself, but that just felt way too shitty. Better to blame the Guy who was ultimately responsible for life to begin with. God was supreme, right? He could handle my complaints and accusations.
The autumn of 2014 was truly dark for me. I often struggle during that time of year, as nature starts to slow down and turn inward. Turning inward was a nightmare for me that year because what I found was quite unpleasant.
It was during this time that something quite scary happened to me that I wasn’t able to really understand until a few years later.
We were attending our friends’ wedding, and it was an Anglican service. This was still during my serious Torah-devotion days when I questioned much of the traditions and teachings of Christianity. As it turned out, I was completely fascinated with this Anglican wedding ceremony. There was something mystical about it… which honestly made me suspicious of myself, but I couldn’t deny this feeling that was coming over me. The Priest (Father?) talked about the great mystery of marriage and everything it represents, and I just felt myself give way to awe. I was not expecting to be feeling this at all, and my brain and emotions were having quite the bickering fest while the rest of me ignored the chatter and soaked up the experience.
At one point I had to leave the service to nurse my baby. I would have just nursed her right there, but she was always such a distractible baby and I wasn’t gonna have her come off the nipple to check something out with my milk spewing out everywhere (all the breastfeeding mamas know what I’m talking about). So I went into the foyer to nurse, and felt kinda thirsty, which is a normal reaction for me when breastfeeding. I came back into the service after we were done and I meant to get some water but I forgot.
Then they opened up Communion and invited anyone who wished to participate to come forward and take of the bread and wine.
At this time, I was confused about the significance of communion. I did not deny it’s validity, but did not fully understand it’s covenant-like qualities. I felt it was a very serious activity and I did not want to partake of something of which I did not yet understand the spiritual implications. And yet, despite my previously made decision to refuse communion until I understood it better, I felt my heart longing to partake during this ceremony. I thought… just maybe… maybe if I take communiom then God/Jesus would heal me. It was a tiny mustard seed of faith, but it was more than I’d had in a long time.
No sooner did I have that thought then I started to feel faint. All thoughts of getting up and going forward vanished, as I started asking my family members if they had any water. I drank some but this faint feeling would not go away. I was going weak. My strength was giving out. The service was ending and I was just trying to sit up and act normal. I started falling over onto my husband and complaining that I was so weak. I layed down in the seats but this feeling still would not go away. They were clearing away the chairs to set up for the reception and so my husband moved me to the corner of the sanctuary to lay down on the floor. I was suddenly shaking really bad. I was dizzy and tingling all over. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. It was like an elephant was sitting on my chest. I was freezing (or so I thought?), shaking violently, trying so hard to breathe right. I became very frightened and was worried I was actually dying right there (and then thought how terrible it would be to die at this wedding and ruin the whole affair for everyone, hahahaha).
One of our friends who is a midwife was there and she happened to have an oxygen tank with her. She brought it in and had me use it but it didn’t help me feel any better. I felt like I couldn’t breathe.
As all this was happening, I was so terrified I was dying. I was literally having flashbacks of memories, and mostly surrounding my husband and new baby girl. I remember thinking, “You stupid girl, you’ve been wishing for death for months and now it’s actually happening. You don’t really want to die! This isn’t how my story ends! I’m not done!”
I honestly don’t remember how long this lasted. At some point I felt like I no longer wanted to lay down but wanted to sit up. My body eventually calmed down and I sat there exhausted, relieved, and frightened. I was given some food but had a hard time eating. We decided to go to a clinic and get me checked out, worried about possible heart issues.
So I got checked out and everything was normal. Which was a relief but also frustrating. The doctor said it was probably just vasovagal (fainting) and that if it happens again, just lay down until it passes. Ok. That didn’t really tell me anything. We drove home exhausted and frustrated.
I felt confused. It seemed odd that this episode happened right after I dared to seek healing through Communion. I felt thwarted in my attempts to receive healing and couldn’t imagine why. Was I sabotaging myself for some unknown reason? Was there demonic interference (can demons even read your mind?).
Years later I’ve come to believe that this episode itself was, in fact, a direct response to my desire for healing. I couldn’t understand it at the time, but over the years the pieces began to fall into place and things started to make sense…
Tomorrow I will continue sharing my experience with Communion.