Feb 7, 2012

Spring Always Comes

It has been a very long time since I have consistently blogged. It is not because I do not enjoy blogging--I actually relish the opportunity to think things out and express them without a million interruptions such as "but Mom, you don't understand!" (I am thinking moms never do.) The truth of it is that I have not blogged because life is hard and how does one share that? We are told at least once weekly that we are "living the dream", that we are "so blessed!", that we are "an inspiration" and I suppose that this is all true--actually, I know that this is all true. I also know the other side of the truth, that this life can be gloriously, exquisitely beautiful and precious and that it can also be grindingly, brutally hard. We have been spending the last six months or so in the desolation of the hard.

We had a drought that caused hay and feed prices to double, bringing our young business to it's knees. We had a wildfire that upended everything for an evacuation and caused milk production to drop to barely over a quarter of our lowest production point of previous years--over two months earlier than our usual production drop. This brought us to a point of making barely a quarter of what we needed weekly just to pay the most basic bills. We started seeing unexplained animal losses. Mind you these animals are not bought at an auction or leased or one of thousands--each animal on the farm (with very few exceptions) were born here as was their mother and grandmother. We know their personalities and their heritage going back generations and what we hope from them for generations forward. We have cuddled them, fed them and argued over names. To lose one, then another and nothing, nothing that we did made any difference, the experts that we consulted had no definitive answers, it seemed as if it would just continue unabated--it seemed to define the word impotence.

Then we lost a baby, what was to be our thirteenth child.

And then my husband lost his mind.

I chose those words with great care. I do not want to slide into histrionics nor do I want to make light of his experience, but in a very practical sense this is exactly what happened.

Tim has struggled with depression on and off for years. Anxiety and occasional panic have been no strangers, either, but for many years now both were well controlled by a combination of medication, faith and routines. The wave after wave of challenges were too much and the boat capsized. Although in the end the diagnoses would be unchanged--Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic and Depression--these were beasts of a totally different nature and in the end I saw my husband rendered totally nonfunctional. Every moment of every day was driven by panic as if he were being chased by a ravenous lion seeking to devour. Our days were consumed by trying to keep body and soul of business and family together while his were consumed by trying to escape the pursuing beasts. Our life was circumscribed by this illness in a way that is impossible to describe--we have had two family members fight their final fight in our home, doing months of hospice care and this had the same flavor of desperation. If our family could be seen as a boat, Tim was the anchor. We were now a ship tossed by every wave and driven by wind to uncharted and perilous waters.

It was a winter of desolation.

Slowly, oh-so-very slowly Spring crept in over the windowsill. The animal losses grinded to a halt. I slowly recovered from the miscarriage that had left me horribly anemic and weak. The panic gave way to anxiety, anxiety gave up it's death grip to yield to (only!) depression.

And then...

baby goats. For many the sudden rush of new life symbolizes Spring but for us this is true not symbolically but in a very practical, tangible manner. Baby goats mean more goats in milk which obviously, in a dairy, means more income. Beyond this it is a very clear promise of new life. We are reminded of those "generations to come", of not only the business that we are invested in, but the lives--human and goat--into which we have invested heart and soul. Having baby goats drives us to look forward, to make plans, propelling us out of the sense that we are powerless to do anything but try to survive. These little babies screaming for their bottles are the future of the dairy and hence, of our family.

So where are we now? Right now our ship is moored in a sheltering bay. We have left behind the deluge that threatened to sink us. The waters are calm and we look to the shore and see green things, good things of which to partake. The ship has been battered and is in much need of repair and the crew is in need of respite but for the moment we are at peace and looking forward.

I have many things that I want to share on this blog in the upcoming weeks--how it feels to be "living the life" and know mentally that you are supremely blessed even while being buffeted. About living with mental illness. (There, I said it. The "perfect" Christian family deals with mental illness.) About seeing your dreams shattered then put together differently than you expected that they would ever come together. Basically about life, with the gloves taken off.

And even if it is hard, I will still write about it because the only thing harder than "hard" is "hiding hard" and I am not sure that I have the energy for hiding anymore.


Caprice said...

Very well said.There is ALWAYS tomorrow.

michelle habeck said...


You are still very much blessed. Blessed to have honestly faced that which is before you. Blessed to begin accepting that which is behind. Blessed for all the friends you have around you. And blessed to see the light ahead. Hang in there - hang in there, hang in there.


LeeAnne said...

Michelle your comment brought tears. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I love you all. Let me know if there is anything we can ever do to help.


Jo said...

but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

-Isaiah 40:31

Praying your family will continue to renew their strenth.

Sandra Dean-Marlowe said...

Caught your post through the Facebook share of a friend. Wow, what a winter you've had. I am honored by your candor. Tough times don't last (although it certainly feels like they last too long), but sounds like you are sturdy (yes, even with mental illness) people of bright spirit and potent faith, and have persevered. My hat's off to you for your strength, your integrity, your honesty. Keep on going! God bless you. I have family in Texas. If I'm ever close to your farm, I will make an appt. to visit.

Angel70 said...

Thank you for sharing from the depths of your heart about such difficulties. I am very grateful for your openness about depression and mental illness. I too have struggled with depression off and on for many years. As Christians, so many people have a misconception that depression is the act of choosing to be unhappy or not trusting God but we are so aware that there is more to it than that. I pray that God will bless you and your family abundantly as spring arrives and that He will restore seven fold what the winter took so violently as He has promised He would in his word. Thank you again for your transparency.

goatldi said...

Ok you said it. And believe me growing up as a child, with two younger siblings, and a mother who was mentally ill. I know of what you speak. In the 50's those words were not spoken. We all lived in a Cinderella world. NOT, the big LIE. We just didn't talk about it.

Allot of stuff came down. But now I know that we weren't alone, it just seemed like it since it wasn't spoken of in the times then.

I do understand and I do know how fearful it is to wake up in the middle of the night with a mother who is wandering the halls of the house looking for her children who are right there but for her mind cannot see.

You will survive this because you are strong. You have as a family so much to bond you together. If you want or need to talk let me know. I have been told I listen well.

And remember, God only gives what we can bear. Even if we disagree with him.

Jeanne S said...

I know how scary it is, the place where you are; my late husband suffered from bipolar disorder, for which he refused to stay on proper medication, despite my best efforts to get him help. But you can't help those who refused to be helped, I learned the hard way, when he committed suicide. I was 23 years old and had 2 small children to raise, which kept me focused even in the worst of times. Now, 19 years later, I worry constantly about my girls. They are both on psychotropic medication and I pray every day that neither of them ever takes the same route. I don't think I could handle that. You have my sympathies and best wishes, and my strongest hopes that you will continue to prosper.

Debby said...

Prayers for your family

Mary said...

My husband and I journeyed through a similar trial years ago. My sturdy, solid-as-a-rock husband had a psychotic episode that rendered us with no income and forced us to move into a one bedroom apartment with two children. I knew nothing about mental illness and almost wished for a physical ailment because to me, that seemed more "normal" and easier to handle. Looking back, I saw red flags all over the place pointing to this eventual outcome. He looked and behaved like a wounded little bird. I was challenged to change my basically passive nature and become the anchor that my husband had been in our family. With God's help and the help of a Godly doctor, my husband is healed and whole now. As terrible as it was while going through it, my husband and I see that time as a turning point in our lives. Proof of God's faithfulness, mercy and grace extended to us is a constant source of amazement even after all these years. We will never be the same.
I trust as you witness God's hand in your daily lives you will never stop being amazed as well. Much love and many prayers to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Praying for your family!

Crustyrusty said...

Prayers for you and your family from our farmette...


Anonymous said...

I am praying for all of you. God is merciful and full of grace. I pray that in the near future, you will look back on this time of trial and feel the blessings and strength that He has provided for you to get through this, and that you will all be stronger for making it through the fire.

John G. said...

Thank you for your honest, moving story, LeeAnne.

Our daughter suffered a terrible bout of depression in 10th grade. We tried psychiatric medicines, to no avail. I had many of her same symptoms, but was wary of psychiatric medicines, and looked into natural alternatives. I found out that I was allergic to wheat and dairy. I cut those out, added fish oil, and felt much better. Later, after failing in her search for a 'wonder drug', my daughter took my approach, and quickly returned to normal.

The dry weight of the human brain is 60% fat, of which omega 3 fatty acids are a significant portion. If one does not have a dietary or supplemental source of omega 3s, it can cause terrible problems. And, wheat causes psychiatric problems for many; during WWII, the Dutch noticed that many cases of schizophrenia went away after bread supplies were exhausted during the 'Hongerwinter' of '44-'45.

May the Good Lord restore your husband to good health, and please consider taking a look at dietary deficiencies and allergies/inflammatory responses. An excellent book book on this is 'Eat Right for Your Type' by Dr. D'Adamo.

Juli said...

This is as heartbreaking as it is inspirational. And real. This is something that I will print out, and give to my children when they marry, because this is reality, and more people need to know that life/marriage is not always easy, and not always pretty. You take vows, and, if you're going to keep them, you have to face tough times. Those who are successful in their marriages (and life) do it together. Thank you, LeeAnne, for writing this, it really touched me.