The Valley: Part 5
Part of a "Journey to Charis"
A couple weeks passed, and I realized I had crossed a physical threshold. First, I made an appointment to see my general practitioner. I think I have a hormone imbalance, I told the nurse. Tears welled up in my eyes as a result of the months of emotional distress that were now coupled with very real and debilitating physical symptoms.
We all go through these tough times, he said. "Everything is going to be ok." There was the message once again. Except I didn't feel like everything was going to be ok... I felt frightened and alone.
I left the office with referrals for lab work and a psychiatrist. Did I need a psychiatrist, I wondered. I knew a psychiatrist would most likely prescribe antidepressants, and I had wondered if I had clinical depression and/or an anxiety disorder. I didn't have an objection to taking SSRI's if I needed to address a chemical imbalance, but I simply did not feel a peace about going this route yet. I prayed about it and kept feeling like my condition might have a deeper, physical core.
After I threw away the referral, I made an appointment with a local naturopath. He listened carefully as I explained all my symptoms and considered my history. He ran a panel of different tests. For one thing, your adrenals are fatigued, he diagnosed.
No... no they are not. I have a hormonal imbalance. Please just give me some progesterone cream, I wanted to plead. It can't be my adrenals. You see, I had already dealt with severe adrenal exhaustion in my early 20's. My cortisol levels had nearly flatlined back then, and I was dangerously close to Addison's Disease. Done with that season, I was not willing to revisit it, and the havoc it wrecked on my life. I had lost a job, disrupted my marriage, and done the hard healing work associated with repairing my adrenals and dealing with candida issues already.
The past fourteen years had swallowed up that story, and I didn't wish to ever talk about it again. It made me feel like a hypochondriac... well-meaning people had spoken so patronizingly and never understood what was going on inside me, because my "healthy" facade never altered. Maybe you just need a different type of job, dear. Have you tried going to bed earlier? You should eat a raw diet with lots of fruit juices (advice that was actually detrimental for my adrenals & would feed the candida). If I could just say I had pneumonia or mono, it would be so much easier.
Figuratively speaking, I put my fingers in my ears and said "La La La" while the doctor spoke. This couldn't be happening. And yet it was. In my heart, I knew it rang true. I was going to have to deal with an obscure chronic illness once again. Oh Heavenly Father... please help me.
Thus began the difficult work of acceptance and change. We would have to restore my adrenal function and rid my body of some systemic viral activity this time around... and that would take time. A lot of time. My structure and routine would completely have to change if I wanted to get well.
I stopped volunteering at my kids' schools,
I stopped ministry,
I stopped social activity,
I stopped taking my kids to the park,
I stopped singing,
I stopped teaching Bible studies...
I stopped being the wife and mother and friend I used to be.
I stopped being ME.
I felt completely barren and fruitless...
But by this time, I couldn't escape the fact I was very sick. I was so overwhelmed with people and noise, I welcomed the opportunity to become a recluse, and I needed the rest.
Still, it was not what my heart of hearts desired. I wanted to be well and thrive, a vibrant part of my family's and friends' lives... I wanted ME back.
So I chose to grieve over the truth, and then, by God's grace, I accepted it. Unfortunately, I would later come to understand, I only possessed part of the truth about my illness... the easier part.