Last Updated on February 28, 2024

Without a doubt, the last five years of my life have been stressful. From the moment I conceived our second child, she had problems; therefore, I had stress. I’ve never been what you would call a calm person, so an added layer of stress in my life has had some detrimental effects.

After Rachel was born, I noticed my decreasing lack of ability to function. Where once I’d kept a neat home and stayed up late to finish projects, I now craved sleep and felt overwhelmed by simple household tasks. Plus, our second child hardly ever slept, so I was sleep deprived. Sometime after Rachel’s diagnosis of severe autism, I developed chronic muscle and joint pain. At first, I noticed it when I was tired, but as the years went on, pain became my constant companion. Sometimes even walking became too difficult, and forget opening jars or bottles. My hands just wouldn’t work right.

I suffered and tried to live with it for a long time, but the pain became unbearable. I finally gave up and went to the doctor. He told me what I’d been dreading. He thought I needed to take an antidepressant. I must stress that I’ve never seen anything wrong with people taking many types of medication, as long as it wasn’t me.

For one, I didn’t want to be tied to something that would require taking it daily. I also feared it would change me, that I wouldn’t be me anymore, and I wouldn’t be able to find the creative side of myself. Yet, the pain was so terrible I decided I had nothing to lose.

My first foray into the world of antidepressant medications didn’t go so well. I didn’t feel much pain, but that was because I didn’t feel much of anything. I sat on the couch and stared at the wall a lot, when I wasn’t sleeping. It was exactly what I feared. I called the doctor and they prescribed me a different medicine and told me to at least try it for a month before quitting. As much as I hated the idea, I tried again.

The first few weeks were difficult. I had an incredible urge to nap all the time, and I felt quite apathetic. I even lost sight of the creative person inside of me. I couldn’t bring myself to turn on my computer because I feared I had nothing to say.

Yet, the last few weeks have been incredibly stressful, with problems at Rachel’s school and many sleepless nights. I have hardly lost my temper. I’ve been able to discipline with a calm, loving heart, I’ve handled the situations thrown at me, and most of all, I’m not curling into a ball and crying at bedtime because my body hurts so much. I’ve even gone for a few jogs with the kids. Yesterday I turned on my computer and found that the creative side of me still exists, it’s just that I’m not having to use it as an escape any longer.

I still don’t know what is the root cause of my issues. Maybe it’s depression, maybe it’s fibromyalgia, maybe it’s both. The treatment path for both issues seems to be quite similar, so at this point I’m not too worried about it. I’m glad I sought help. I’m thankful I feel better. I’m happy I’m starting to be able to deal with more issues head-on rather than just wishing they would go away.

I am not alone.

Neither are you – seek help my friend.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Psalm 46:1

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  1. I too have suffered from depression and chronic pain for several years now. It started with things in my marriage, then having a sick baby, along with several other issues and as the stress added up my health quickly went down. Medication tends to cause severe side affects with me so other than a very mild anti-depressant I haven't tried anything else. I also tend to have an overwhelming problem with anger at times, which confuses me since it happens so unexpectedly and makes me feel so guilty at the same time. I know it's just another 'symptom' of everything else but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with. Thanks for addressing this and being honest about how hard the struggle with being a mom, while dealing with your own health issues, can be.

  2. Julia DesC says:

    Thank you for openly sharing your struggles, Jennifer. You are a light and comfort to many! I have referred other moms with autistic children to your posts and your honesty has been a big help! Bless you.

  3. Jennifer- God Bless You for your honestly and vulnerability. You are willing to risk putting yourself "out there" to possibly connect with someone who might be feeling the same things. Thank you! Something that I have learned as a mom- especially a mom of a special needs child is that you HAVE to take care of yourself- what ever that means or you just can not deal with all the demands. Good for you!
    Your "Cyber RDI Friend",
    Susan T

  4. Elaine Crowell says:

    Dear Jennifer,
    As I read your post I could have been reading something from my own journal–only about 20 years ago. Although my second child isn't autistic, he has always been, and still is (at age 25), very challenging! All the other parts of your story are the same. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia before most people knew the word. I have been on at least 5 different anti-depressants over the years. Although a couple of them had side effects too severe, for the most part they do help a lot. but my attitude towards pain and suffering are what affect my well-being the most!
    I've been prayed over and annoited with oil for healing; what the Father keeps telling me is, "My grace is sufficient for you." I am slowly learning to accept that, and learn what it means for His "Power to be made perfect in my weakness." It is bittersweet!
    Even though I've gone through months (maybe years) when I felt like a complete zombie, if you asked most people about me, they would say I'm happy and bubbly and have a productive life. I guess that helps put it all in perspective.
    Thanks for sharing and be encouraged that God uses these difficult days to strengthen you and your family. May you rest in the shadow of the Almighty every hour of every day. Put on the full armor every day, as well, and He will sustain you!
    With love,
    Elaine C

  5. Ladies,
    Thanks for your honesty and encouragement. It is through your comments that the Lord ministers to me in my dark hours … such as right now! I am so thankful to know that I am not alone!
    God bless, and let us pray for one another.