Tag Archives: anxiety

Before SAD

This is a piece of memoir that I wrote about 7 or 8 years ago that I find very relevant to post in this space. It is a part of my history from which I have learned and grown.

This was before knew what Social Anxiety Disorder was…

“Megan, please stay behind to speak with me,”  Jeannine requested. Only, to me, it sounded more like a command.  It wasn’t. I just couldn’t stand the thought of being in trouble. College students aren’t supposed to fear getting in trouble.

“What the heck is wrong with me?  I can’t even do that right?!” I thought, bemused; annoyed; angry

I had mistakenly thought that I was free for the day, that I didn’t have to sit scared anymore in a room of twelve people, searching for a new way to nod my head or make an affirming sound, avoiding eye contact with anyone, for fear they would expect me to say something or ask me to talk, running out of things to look at in a room that was chock full of interesting things to look at.  Books. Shelves and shelves of books that took up an entire wall on one side of what doubled as Jeannine’s office and classroom. Another wall made up almost entirely of windows that looked out on to green grass and plants and blue sky. Knick-knacks and bobbles were everywhere, eclectic pieces from trips to Germany, hiking trips, and flea markets, gifts from students and photographs. Nothing seemed to match, yet everything seemed to belong together perfectly, the entirety of the room personifying Jeannine.

There was a degree from UC Berkeley, 1972, hanging on the wall.  It said, “Jeannine Thompson, Masters in German Language and Literature,” which made me think back five years to Frau Weaver, my 7th grade German teacher.  I went to a hippie school for a couple of years, and in those couple of years, I was taught German, Spanish, and Japanese.  I remember virtually nothing from any of those three languages. What I do remember from German class is hausafgaben, or homework, and orange hest, or orange notebook.  Two things I’m sure are of no interest to Jeannine, my current seminar teacher for my twelve-unit college course, The Human Enigma, otherwise known as Libs 101.

“So, Megan,” came Jeannine’s soothing voice, shaking me from my visions of Frau Weaver in all of her burly, uni-brow, silver-haried glory.  “I need to talk to you about your status as student of the Hutchins Program. It was only October, and I was enrolled in what most students on campus referred to as the “hippie program” where getting your general ed out of the way meant way more than sitting in a lecture class of 80-100 eighteen year olds.  It meant you only had one class of 10 or 11 other students to worry about, and it was pass/fail.  There were no grades!  For this, we were the envy of all of our undergrad peers, the ones who were in those lecture hall classes striving for “A;’s”.

What no one seemed to mention was that the one class was 12 units and that you were required to read twenty plus books, an equal number of articles, studies, short stories, and research bound together in a catalogue, and that you spent three hours a day, three days a week discussing these works in addition to the paper you wrote every week.

“My status as a student?” I managed to croak out.

“Yes,” she beamed down at me, kind blue eyes from behind rimless spectacles, her always lipsticked mouth parted in an easy smile.  “Megan, if your silence continues, I will have no choice but to dismiss you from the program.” My eyes filled with tears, I refused to look up, not wanting Jeannine to know I was crying.  I felt a tell-tale drop fall on one of the hands resting in my lap. “A huge part of a seminar-based program is the conversations we have with each other in class. Now, I know you’re doing the reading, because your papers are some of the best in the class.  Why aren’t you participating?”

My already quick pulse sped up.  My palms were sweating. There was a ringing in my ears.  I felt the pressure of needing to give a response, of not knowing what to say, of feeling broken, like I was wrong and couldn’t do anything right.  I looked up at her, and tears began to flow freely. “I don’t know,” I heard myself say. “I just can’t. As I was talking, I looked up at the ceiling and then out the window and after that just beyond Jeannine’s left shoulder.  My eyes darted around as I spoke simply so I wouldn’t have to make eye contact. I was too embarrassed. It was too much connection. “It’s like the words get stuck on their way out. I often want to say something, to contribute, to pose a question, even, but I can’t…” I trailed off, still crying silently, tears streaming down my face.

I took a coy glance at Jeannine, risking the eye contact.  She looked at me with a glint of compassion in her eyes. I looked away, down to my hands in my lap.  After only a beat, she said, “Megan, what happens in those moments that the words get stuck? What are you feeling?  What are you thinking?”

I thought for a moment.  “I feel scared. I start to think about what people will think about what I’m going to contribute, and then I talk myself out of it and then back into it and then back out of it again.  When I do make up my mind to say something, by the time I’ve gathered my courage to say it, either someone has said it already, or the moment has passed and it would be stupid or inappropriate or out of context to say it.”

What struck me is that Jeannine never asked me why I had chosen this program.  She just accepted that I wanted to be there. Why did I choose this program? I knew when my mom told me about it that it would be terrifying and that it would be supremely difficult for me.  I hated the spotlight. I hated to be the center of attention. I struggled when teachers called on me in class. If I felt there was a pressure situation to speak or that there was an authority in the room or that there was a situation that was very formal or structured, you would be hard pressed to get me to speak.  So why did I decide to join this seminar based program where I would have to face all of these situations? I ignored my fears; I told myself that I would be different in college, that I would feel different, that it would be okay. I pretended like it wouldn’t be a problem, and here I was, only a few months into the semester, and I was facing being kicked out.  I never dreamed this would happen.

Jeannine interrupted my thoughts, “If you want to stay, I will consider passing you on probation with a few caveats.”

All I could do was nod my head.  It felt heavy, like I hadn’t slept in days, weighed down by grief, stung by the realization that it wasn’t different in college.  I was still the same person I had always been. I was still that little blonde girl on the kindergarten playground, the one the kids pointed at saying loudly, “That’s Megan; she doesn’t talk.”

“The first thing I need you to do is prepare for seminar.”  Jeannine was talking to me again. I fell out of my thoughts to listen.  “I know you’ve been doing the reading, but I need you to prepare notes with the specific intent of sharing them with the group.  I think if you prepare that way, you might be able to share more readily.” I nodded in affirmation. “The second thing I need you to do is go to the counseling center here on campus and make an appointment.  I want you to talk to one of the therapists there and see if they might not be able to help you with whatever it is you’re going through.” I nodded as a few more tears came out. Another adult was telling me there was something wrong with me.  Why could I not escape this? I wanted Jeannine to comfort me and tell me that everything was going to be okay. That’s all I ever wanted, it seemed, yet I never got it. Instead, she said, “Okay, please meet me back here on Monday before class so we can look over the preparation notes you make for our next seminar.”  I thanked her and left the room, heading off to my weekend, relieved that I hadn’t been kicked out but reeling in the unfairness of it all, hit with the reality that there was a lot at stake if I couldn’t get my words un-stuck.

I went straight from that meeting with Jeannine to the school counseling center.  I found out that all available counselors there were students obtaining hours towards their licenses.  I was promptly assured that they were closely supervised by seasoned, licensed therapists. That made me feel a little bit better, but then, it didn’t really matter how I felt about it.  This was just a condition of my position in the Hutchins program. So, I made the appointment.

“I’m not really going to get anything out of this,” I reasoned.  Why would I? I’ve been to therapists before. I’ve been totally open and honest with them, and they couldn’t make me better.  Why would this be any different? At least I would have someone to talk to, a captive audience to listen to me for 45 minutes or so each week.

The very first thing my nameless, faceless therapist in training asked me was if she could tape-record my session so that she could share it with her supervising therapist.  I agreed, wondering if my tape would ever actually be listened to. Knowing what I know now, I sincerely hope it never was. That would ease my mind quite a bit considering how things played out.

The very next thing she asked me was, “What brought you to therapy?”

This is what I said: “I’m here because I’m on the verge of being kicked out of my undergrad program because I can’t talk in class. It is a 12-unit class, which is a seminar of only 12 people and our professor.  I am too afraid to say anything. My professor promised to pass me on probation if I took some steps to try to fix the problem. One of those steps is for me to come here.”

What I unknowingly handed her was the diagnostic criteria for Selective Mutism, an anxiety disorder most often found in children, that is very much related to Social Anxiety Disorder.  What follows is the diagnostic criteria taken directly from the DSM IV, a tool used by therapists to diagnose their patients:

Diagnostic criteria for 313.23 Selective Mutism

  1. Consistent failure to speak in specific social situations (in which there is an expectation for speaking, e.g., at school) despite speaking in other situations.
  2. The disturbance interferes with educational or occupational achievement or with social communication.
  3. C. The duration of the disturbance is at least 1 month (not limited to the first month of school).
  4. D. The failure to speak is not due to a lack of knowledge of, or comfort with, the spoken language is required in the social situation.
  5. E. The disturbance is not better accounted for by a Communication

Disorder (e.g., Stuttering) and does not occur exclusively during the

course of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Schizophrenia, or other

Psychotic Disorder.

Neither she, nor her supervising therapist ever diagnosed me with an anxiety disorder, which is why I sincerely hope that her supervising therapist never listened to the tape of our first session.  How I wish I had researched my symptoms, Googled them, or something. I just thought there was something wrong with me. I never thought it was a disorder.  I just thought it was me; it was my fault. I needed to put on my big girl panties and get over it. Only I was trying. And I couldn’t.

The therapist at the school counseling center did little for me, although I did keep up my end of the bargain so that Jeannine would pass me on probation, as she promised, which she did.

I improved in little ways throughout the next three and a half years of seminars, but most professors came to know that I was better on paper than I was in person.  Some would prompt me to speak, asking what I thought about this or that, which, while terrifying, was sometimes helpful. Others were content to know me through my papers, allowing me to listen and nod and make affirming noises.

I would not finally get diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder until four and a half years later.  One of the things that saddens me about that is that I never got to go back to Jeannine and explain what was happening to me in that first seminar of my freshman year.  I never got to share with her that what I was facing has a name and that I was learning to overcome little pieces of it step by step.

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Social Anxiety Disorder

I have hinted at anxiety and fear a lot in the space. It shocked me today, as I was looking through past posts, that I have not done an official post about social anxiety disorder. I am fairly open about having this condition, as I believe it helps other people have an insight into me while also diminishing the stigma that surrounds mental health. If you speak it, it has less power over you. Here is a piece that I wrote several years back while I was a part of a writing workshop. It still rings very true today, so much so that I was tempted to take notes as I read back through it.

Social Anxiety Disorder rules you unless you rule it. If you want to live a “normal life”, the most important rule is that you have to do things afraid; terrified even. These things include but are not limited to: public speaking, parties, staff meetings, dinners, church events, dates, meeting people for the first time, small talk, classes, conventions, Back to School Night, conferences, shopping trips, sitting next to someone you don’t know on a plane or train, having a difficult conversation with anyone, including people who are close to you, and the like.  

You are allowed to feel your feelings, but you are not allowed to believe them. Know that they are almost always irrational. They are real, but they are not trustworthy.  

Thoughts are also key. To function “normally”, anxious thoughts must be combated. They, too, are lies and must be replaced with the truth. The problem becomes figuring out what the truth is. The lies feel more real than the truth, but then, feelings are not trustworthy.

The banter of the imaginary audience that runs like a tape loop through your head must be silenced. No one is staring at you or thinking how much they hate you. No one is thinking about how awkward you look or how socially inequipped you are. People do want to talk to you, and they will not think you’re dumb if they do. You are worth getting to know. Even if you happen to say or do something stupid, it is not the end of the world.  Feeling embarrassed will not kill you, and it is a normal emotion that everyone feels.  People will not refrain from getting to know you or being your friend just because you said or did something to embarrass yourself.  

Since neither feelings nor thoughts are to be trusted, it is important to have someone, multiple someone’s, even, who understand Social Anxiety Disorder and can remind you of the truth. They become key people when you’re in your car, driving to a function, crying uncontrollably because you don’t want to go, feeling terribly stupid for having such a gross overreaction to such a “normal” event. The anxiety can be that intense.

There is no magic pill for anxiety, but there are tools you can use to diminish anxious feelings and thoughts. The first and most important of these is to educate and prepare yourself for social situations. When going to a new location, it is always helpful to scope it out first, before the actual time of the event.  This can be done a few days before, or even the day of by just arriving a little early. Ask questions about the event you will be attending. Ask what the schedule will be, what you should wear, what to expect, what will be expected of you. Find out how many people will be there and who will be there that you know.

Establish your “safe people”, the ones you will be able to approach easily when you have no idea who to talk to and feel completely alone in a room full of people who are staring at you wondering why you’re standing alone like a deer in headlights. These should be people who you know well and are comfortable with, who know your struggles and will welcome you into their conversation without thinking twice, people who will work to engage you when you are too fearful to do the work of engaging someone else. People who will be content to have you stand with them and not say much at all if that is your need.

If there is a teacher or group facilitator involved in the event, educate them so they can meet your needs. If you don’t, you will inevitably be called out in front of a group, one of the most terrifying things that can happen to you when you have Social Anxiety Disorder. To this end, it is usually beneficial to let people know about your Social Anxiety Disorder. It can take some of the pressure off of you, and most of the time, people share that they never would have guessed you were feeling anxious.     

Plan extra travel time in case you get lost or there is traffic. The last thing you want to do is add the stress of being late to a function that is already difficult for you to attend due to your social anxiety.

Caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and lack of sleep are terrible companions to anxiety. They intensify it. Resist the urge to drink caffeine to keep you awake. It may seem like a good idea when you’re trying to be productive during your day, but it will inevitably make you more anxious, slowing your productivity. Much better to take a power nap. Try not to consume sweets as a reward or in an attempt to eat your feelings. Swings from high to low blood sugar can increase anxiety. (This part cracks me up as a new mom who consumes copious amounts of coffee. I was not yet a mom when I wrote this.)

To someone with Social Anxiety Disorder, drinking alcohol can feel like the perfect solution to facing social settings. Drinking seems to calm you down and allow you to feel more comfortable. What alcohol can actually do is cause you to have an irregular heartbeat or lower your blood sugar level, both of which lead to feelings of anxiety.  

Though the most important rule of functioning with Social Anxiety Disorder is to do things when you are afraid, there is an exception to this rule. It is important to be able to gauge when a given situation or event is too difficult or intense for you to handle. When this is the case, you should not push through to do it afraid. Pushing yourself to tackle an event or situation that is too much for you can be devastating and may even result in a full fledged panic attack; an actual panic attack, not the kind that people often say they have when they’re exaggerating the truth to prove a point or put emphasis on something.  The kind where you can’t breath and are convinced you can’t get enough air, your heart is racing, you shake and tremble, you can’t think straight, and you are fearful and have to get out of whatever situation you are in that triggered the attack. If you have never experienced an actual panic attack before and don’t know what it’s like, you may even fear you are going crazy or you’re about to die.  

Recognizing the difference between anxiety that can be pushed through and anxiety that is too intense to be pushed through can be extremely difficult since both thoughts and feelings are untrustworthy when you’re in an anxious state.  This is another one of those times to call on your friends who understand Social Anxiety Disorder and can help you to determine whether or not you should push through your anxiety this time.  Ultimately, though, you are the one who has to make the decision.  After a time, you instinctively know whether or not you are making the right decision, regardless of what you may be feeling.

Which brings us to a very important rule. When you make the decision that a given situation or event is too much for you, you must be gentle with yourself, respecting your limitations and being okay with them.  The decision to opt out of an event or situation does not mean you have gone backwards in your battle with Social Anxiety Disorder. It just means that you are respecting your own needs in that moment. You may not like that missing out on a given situation or event is your current need, but they are called needs for a reason. Just because they are needs, doesn’t mean that you want them to be needs.  

In times that you are feeling bad about yourself for not being “normal” like “everyone else”, it is important to step back and remind yourself of the truth.  Look at where you have come from and all of the progress you have made. Remember that you are not like everyone else.  Everyone else doesn’t have to deal with the anxiety you have to deal with each day.  They may face fears, but theirs is not the intense and persistent fear of social situations that lasts, many times, through entire parties, events, or presentations, rather than for just the first few minutes.  Theirs is not a lifetime of doing everything afraid. Comparing yourself to people who do not have Social Anxiety Disorder is a dangerous practice. Living with Social Anxiety Disorder is about progress, not perfection.

*Disclaimer* I am only an expert on my own anxiety, and these are my rules for myself. One size does not fit all. If it helps you, great. If not, that’s okay, too. This is an insight into me and hopefully can also be helpful to others who live with social anxiety disorder.

The H Word

Writing about my son’s physical therapy falls under the things I don’t want to talk about or write about, but it has to come out somehow.  I am having major feelings about it.  He has torticollis, likely from the way he was positioned in the womb.  I have a bicornuate uterus, which means it is heart shaped and therefore gave my baby less room to move around.  This means that he has a preference to look to his left side vs. his right side.  He also has a flat spot at the back of his head, mostly in the middle, but it is a little flatter on the left side due to him always wanting to position his head that way, even in his sleep.  (Yes, even when I reposition it.)  File this under the things that I have major mommy guilt about.  Maybe it sounds lame to have mommy guilt about something like this, but I do.  (I shouldn’t have let him sleep in the rock ‘n play.  I read about those things causing flat head.  I should have held him more and put him down less.)  I could go on.

While at first the pediatrician wanted to “keep an eye on it”, we have now landed ourselves in physical therapy as of yesterday, learning exercises that can help with his stiffness and preference of looking always to his left and now also rolling always to his left.  The exercises seem easy enough, but we are supposed to do them at every diaper change and even more if we can.  Two exercises 4-6 reps on each side.  Each rep takes 20-30 seconds with rest time in between.  So that’s a minumum of 16 thirty second exercises, which is 8 minutes minus the rest times.  If we do the 6 reps, it’s 24 exercises, which is 12 minutes.  The thing is, it takes a lot longer than that.  If he is unhappy and starts fussing at any point, we are supposed to stop and make him happy/distracted so we can try again.  One exercise he tolerates pretty well.  The other one, he hates.  I haven’t even been able to successfully do it at all yet today, though not for lack of trying.  He is also supposed to have a minimum of 60 minutes of tummy time per day (broken up however it works) and floor time on his back to help him look both right and left, which is also supposed to happen after each diaper change.

Whew, okay, so with all of that, he is 4 months old.  I think he is teething, and he is on a 90 minute wake schedule.  He wakes up, diaper change, eats, plays, and then is being put back down at about the 90 minute mark.  He is also breast fed and a slower eater, so he takes about 25-30 minutes to nurse.  Then he sleeps anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour for each nap.

It was hard to leave the house to do any errands or outings before because of this 90 minute schedule.  He typically doesn’t sleep in the car or when we’re out, even if I have him in the carrier, because there is too much to look at, so when we would go out on an errand, I knew it just meant his awake time would be stretched and we would likely not reach his 14-16 hours of recommended sleep that day.  Now, I am wondering how I can ever keep up with these exercises and go anywhere or do anything.

File this under things I really really don’t want to talk about.  When we were at the physical therapy appointment yesterday, she brought up the “h” word.  Helmet.  She wants to give him a month and a half to see how he does and then at that point determine if we need to take him to have a consultation with some cranial technologies people to assess his need for a helmet to reshape his head.  (Of course I can’t see them saying that he doesn’t need one, given that making helmets is how they make money.)

I can’t even.  I’ve been crying off and on since the appointment.  I really really really don’t want him to have to wear a helmet.   I really really really don’t want to go out of the house with him in this helmet that the pamphlet says will have to be worn 23 hours a day.  I don’t want to deal with the stares, people’s judgements and comments, and feeling like a bad mom because I allowed it to get this bad. This is why I am determined to do these exercises correctly and with the frequency I am supposed to do them despite it seeming like that will leave me stuck in the house most of these next few months.

My fear is that I will do everything I am supposed to do with him to the best of my ability, and yet we will still be told that he needs to wear the stupid helmet.  People are mean and judgmental and gawking.  I have social anxiety disorder and an extreme case of the mama bears.  I feel like I will alternatively spontaneously combust from holding things in and erupt at people who dare to make one false move or glare or comment.  I fear I will be mom shamed.  I fear even my family and friends will judge me quietly, even if they are nice to me to my face.  I fear that my baby will not be okay because of his mis-shapen head and that I will have to deal with the guilt of that as he grows up.

I feel like I did when I was having such a hard time nursing in the beginning, when the baby wasn’t taking enough out despite there being enough supply, yet his not taking enough out made my supply go down.  It looked like we were going to have to supplement with formula, which was the very last thing I wanted to do.  I spent a good few months losing sleep because of being up with a baby like a normal newborn but then also pumping every two hours right after the baby ate and taking all kinds of supplements.  It was exhausting.  In the end it was worth it because I now successfully ebf, and as of our last appointment, the baby was gaining an ounce a day.  Hooray!  But in that few months, I felt like I was doing things wrong, like I was failing, like I wasn’t going to make it out of that phase.  I feel the same fears and sadness with this new challenge.  I fear that it will not turn out as well as the breastfeeding challenge despite my best efforts.  I feel hopeless, and I feel sad that I feel hopeless, and I feel afraid and like I am not really doing very well.  I feel mad that this is another thing that is so hard, and I feel myself comparing to other moms and babies I know who this stuff came so easily to. Comparison is the thief of joy, I know.  I need to learn a lesson from my 4:8 baby who is very joyful oh so much of the time.

What Is Your Lens?

Tonight at church we were asked what our lens is.  How do we see the world?  What is important to us? How are we living that?  How do we want to live that?  The sharing was done in a big group format with at least 100 people present.  Not everybody shared, of course, and for me, that is a difficult forum to share in, although I have done it before.  I did appreciate the question, though, and part of me did want to share.  As I thought about what I might share, I realized that I do need to share, and this is the forum for me, at least for the moment.

It’s funny, because I teach a personal development class to pre-teens, and this is one of the topics we discuss: Paradigms.  What are your beliefs?  What is your point of view?  What is your perspective?  While I give examples from my life to them as I teach it, I haven’t seriously turned the question on myself and reflected upon it during a time when I don’t have a class of forty pre-teens.  

What is important to me?  What is my lens?  There are several obvious answers that first came to mind, but I feel like the obvious answers fall under a less immediately obvious umbrella.  

My lens is: Do hard things and inspire and encourage others to do hard things.  

Why is this my lens?  Because the theme of my life has been just that.  The obvious answers to the lens question were teaching and fostering, which you could basically simplify into one answer: children.  But in order to become a teacher and a foster mom, in order to remain in those roles, I’ve had to do hard things, things that I haven’t always wanted to do.  For heaven’s sakes, I work for two of the most complained about systems in the United States: the public school system and the foster care system.  If that’s not doing hard things, I don’t know what is!

So, why children?  I didn’t have the easiest childhood.  It’s not because I didn’t have two loving parents or because I had any kind of abuse or anything like that.  Things were just always hard for me.  I had an undiagnosed anxiety disorder for 20 years of my life, which affected me socially, academically, and emotionally.  The challenges that I faced caused me to constantly have to do things that were hard.  I’m not talking about hard things like singing the national anthem in front of a stadium full of people or running for class president or running a marathon, which I did do later in life at the age of 30. I’m talking about hard things like answering a question when the teacher called on me in class or trying out for the high school basketball team or going to a school dance or even going outside to play at recess.  I couldn’t shy away from doing hard things.  If I did, it would mean never leaving the comfort of my home.    

My difficult childhood is the chief reason I became a teacher.  I had so many teachers who were angels here on earth for me.  Mrs. Kuykendall, Mrs. Raymond, Mrs. Niednagel, Mrs. Rodal, Mrs. Jones.  Many of them saw tears and comforted an often scared and emotional little girl or pre-teen or teenager.  They made me feel loved and like I wasn’t crazy and like everything would be okay.  They inspired me to want to be that for someone else.

Fostering was born of a desire to be a parent, a maternal instinct that I’ve had for years, a love of  babies that rivals that of most people I know.  It became about the most selfless act I have ever attempted and about learning to become a little more like Jesus.  It became about loving a baby so much that you feel like they are your own and then giving them up to their parents or family members or adoptive parents and trusting that God has a plan for them, a plan to prosper them and not to harm them, a plan to give them hope and a future.  (Jeremiah 29:11)

So, my lenses are inspiring and encouraging people to do hard things, doing hard things myself, and taking care of children in the public school and foster care systems…always with God as my guide, loving, obeying, and serving him.

 

 

 

One Week In…A Story of Anxiety

Today is the one week mark of Little Dude’s arrival into my life.  He is the smallest baby for whom I have ever cared.  I never expected God to give me a preemie, but I am convinced He knows what He’s doing.  I’m humbled that He chose me as the best place for this little one, and I feel the immense responsibility of that.  With that feeling of immense responsibility comes waves of anxiety.  I don’t know what new moms did before the internet.  Google has become my best friend in my worry these past couple of days.  While there is a place for Google, and it is certainly helpful when I need a quick answer to a question, I want my security to be in God.  He knows exactly what he is doing, and He is protecting this little guy and myself, as I provide care and love and nurturing.  I am turning my focus from worry and Google to God, my Protector and my Safe Refuge.  The lack of sleep that comes along with such a new baby doesn’t help the anxiety, so I will continue to give myself grace and redirection as I need it in the days to come.

Even if I fully understood the lack of sleep, paperwork insanity, and broken system, at the outset, even if I knew for certain how exactly all of that would affect me and make me feel in the first week of my first placement, I would still have made the same decision to foster.  Does that make me crazy?  Maybe.  Many people think I am.  Fostering isn’t for everyone, and I don’t even think it would be for me, were it not for my personal relationship with God.  He has called me to foster, and I would not be able to do it without Him.

I love that this calling fills a desire that God put in my heart.  I love that this calling is so challenging that it calls me closer to God.  (James 4:8)  I love that this calling will help to grow my character and my faith.  I love that this calling is the pure religion that I am called to as a disciple of Christ.  (James 1:27)  I love that I get to “hold babies all day”, the job that I have always wanted.