The years of 2008 and 2009 we refer to in our house as the dark period. During those years we suffered two miscarriages, one unexpected surgery, one death of a family friend, our cat died, two job changes, and moving. It was a really hard time. Not surprisingly, in the midst of all that loss I was depressed. I didn’t realize it entirely at the time, it sort of snuck up on me, and one night around Christmas time I found myself calling my husband and telling him he had to come home because I had locked myself in my bedroom and just couldn’t find it in myself to come out. I was in a complete panic and just couldn’t deal with life. It was then that I realized I needed help and got some counseling for a while. Things got better and I learned to deal with my feelings, but I will never forget those years. They were really hard, but looking back I learned so much.
This past year has been similar. It has without a doubt been one of the hardest years I have ever experienced. This time it was not compounded losses but just dealing with our daughter and her needs as we adopted her into our family. We had adopted once before this, a little baby boy who also has some special needs. We knew this would be hard, we had no idea how hard. We were unprepared for the fact that adopting an older child is unlike anything we have ever done before. Our daughter has intellectual disability and she functions much like a two-year old, but she is 12. I thought that would make a difference in how she reacted to being adopted and maybe we would escape the trauma that some families go through in adopting older kids who then have attachment issues. Not so. We knew there was a problem almost as soon as she came home and so we sought out a therapist to help us. Not helpful. The therapist pretty much said we were the worst case she had ever seen and she could not help us. Our major issue was that our daughter was manipulating us and trying to come between us in our marriage. She hated me and didn’t want me to be in her life. She wanted her dad all to herself and set about to make that happen. She was sweet to him and hateful to me. She was physically aggressive with me to the point I was afraid of her and walked on egg shells around her. There were points I had to call my husband home just to get her under control because she was in a rage. I say all this so that you will understand the dark period we were in. It was hard! We got some help from doctor and got her on some medication that has helped her tremendously and we are thankful. But as I look back over this period I realize that while it is better, it’s not fixed yet, and may never be. Parenting a child who has been traumatized is always hard. While she is much better now there are still times when old habits creep up and she rages against us. But one thing has changed.
Back in the midst of the most difficult time this year, we took our daughter to have her prayed over. We were convinced that Satan was using this situation to being havoc on our family and we knew we needed to pray against that. So, we had the church leaders pray over her. We expected that it would change her, it didn’t. But it changed us. After that time we realized we were not alone in this dark pit we were walking in. God was there. He is still here. He is using this situation to change us. We are not the same people we were. After that prayer time we felt a peace and acceptance of how our life was, and it was easier to cope with the daily struggles. The storm is breaking at our house now. Things are better and not nearly as traumatic as they have been, but we are still under dark clouds. I think we will be for some time. But we realize God is with us. We have to cling to Him and to each other.
So many of my friends and readers of this blog are going through a dark pit right now. Whether it’s chronic illness, death of a loved one, financial issues or some other situation of life that has you feeling like the world is dark and no one is there, know that you are not alone. There are many people who are walking in a dark pit, myself included. What can we do about it? How do you survive the dark pit?
1. Realize you are not alone and get help. Reach out to others. One reason I write this blog is to let people around us know what we are going through and what we need. Others cannot be there for you if you don’t tell them what you need. If you feel lonely like no one cares, reach out and care for someone. Or just tell someone you need to talk. Other people do care, they just don’t know you need something.
2. Look for others to help. One of the best things you can do when you feel depressed is to help someone else out and get your mind of your troubles for a while.
3. Pray. Obviously. God has not walked away, but maybe you have. Has my prayer life been great this past year? Nope. I am the first to admit it. I will admit I spent a good bit of time being angry with God for my situation and giving him the silent treatment like a little child. In the end I realized that was not doing me a bit of good. PRAY. God is the only one who can fix your troubles so, talk to him about it.
4. Get help. If you feel depressed and find yourself unable to coup, get help. Talk to your pastor or a professional counselor. There is no shame is asking for help and admitting you cannot do it alone. I firmly believe everyone should get professional counseling a couple of times every decade or so, (but that is another soap box entirely).
You will make it through this time. The clouds will break and the sun will shine again and in the end you will realize how much you have learned in the dark pit.