Friday Link Love June 5, 2015, Plus More About the Duggars

1. I enjoyed John Janaro’s post about his lovely family and about learning the value of being there for your family, even if you can’t do all the things you’d like to.

2. I’m excited for Ben & Anna Hatke’s summer in Italy, isn’t that picture of Anna and her girls the sweetest?  And I think Anna has her capsule wardrobe down to a science.

3. Also, I appreciated Erica’s post, sharing her experience with postpartum depression, especially her insight that “Looking back, I know that I should’ve talked to my doctor about postpartum depression. But when I was in the thick of it, I couldn’t make proper decisions for myself.”

4.  Pat and I have moving on our minds, and he mentioned a hilarious skit from Portlandia about a pair of movers who use a bicycle instead of a truck.  Ridiculous, right?  Except that, in Portland, it’s actually a thing.

This news clip is almost as funny as the Portlandia sketch (which is not available on YouTube).  At about point 1:07  in the video, a guy says something to the effect of, “When it’s just two guys and a truck, it takes hours, but if you have sixty-nine people with bicycles, it only takes a matter of minutes.”

I mean, yeah, if I had that many people helping me move, it would going pretty quickly even if we did it on foot!

5. Caroline’s post about the Duggars and Gothard Institute got me thinking more on the subject.

My impression is that a lot of Catholics are inclined to support the Duggars.  The Duggars don’t use birth control and they homeschool and they support traditional marriage.  So their belief system seems similar, on the surface, to Catholicism.  I never watched their show much or read their books, but I think I had that general inclination too.

As I’ve read various things about Bill Gothard  and his Institute, and the Duggars’ connections to it, I became more inclined not to think of the Duggars as part of “my team.”  This was the case even before the scandal broke, although I didn’t follow the show much so it wasn’t an important issue for me.

The Duggars are not “my people.”  Well, I can’t say that about them personally because I don’t know them.  But that whole school of thinking, which they seem to subscribe to, is not “my side.”

I think about this because my natural tendency is to rally around people I think of as “my side.” It’s an ISFJ thing, but a lot of people have the same tendency.  Take politics, for example.  It’s easy to think of Republicans as good guys and Democrats as bad guys (or vice versa!).

More and more, though, I see that we’re all just weak and fallen and we all have the potential to be good or bad guys, and to switch from one to the other depending on the choices we make on given day.

It’s normal to rally around and give the benefit of the doubt to someone we have a personal relationship with.  But it’s better to be cautions about doing the same with someone we don’t know, if even they seem to have all the right boxes checked.

And what I’m trying to get at here is that reality t.v. is not a good ministry tool.

The Duggars are poor poster children for Christianity.  (I’m sure they said all sorts of things like, “Oh we’re not perfect.”  But come on.)  For that matter, though, which of us is a poster child for Christianity?  (By which I do not mean to imply, as some have, that sexual abuse is no worse than any other sin.)  It’s dangerous to put ourselves in poster-children shoes.  We should “let our light shine” but keep it on a more personal level.  And we should be careful about putting others on a pedestal.

There’s a good reason the Catholic Church doesn’t canonize people until they’re dead!

6. Oh dear, so much has been written about this poor person already, but I like Pia deSolenni’s post on Caitlyn (nee Bruce) Jenner’s cover photo in Vanity Fair: “[T]he cover photo suggests that a woman’s identity is based on whether she’s able to arouse a man. And it’s not original in that regard.”

7. I enjoyed Rachel’s post about morning sickness, because just the other day, my chiropractor asked me, “Have you tried ginger?” when I told him I’ve been nauseous.  Being the people pleaser I am, I told him I would give ginger yet another try.

And yes, actually, I am pregnant!  I never know how to announce it, so here it is, a little bonus 8th quick take for those who stuck it through my diatribe about the Duggars.  Baby #3 will arrive in early- to mid-December.  We’ll find out in late July whether it’s Girl 3 or Boy 1.  The girls are very excited.  Girl 1 is insistent that it’s a boy, and that we’re naming him Joseph Henken. (??)  She also tells me, “Wow Mommy, your tummy is already just as big as it can be!”

Have a lovely weekend.  If you need to find me, I’ll probably be on the couch.  Click over to This Ain’t the Lyceum for more quick takes.

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Grace in a Little White Pill

Grace in a Little White Pill ~ thisfelicitouslife.wordpress.com

I’m sharing some of my experience with postpartum anxiety and depression as part of a Blog Hop sponsored by my friend Katherine at Half-Kindled.  I’ve written a little bit about it before (here and here).  It’s a topic that is still hard for many people to talk about, and I’m convinced the more we remove the shame and the taboo of talking about postpartum (and other forms of) depression and anxiety, the more we can help each other.

After I had my first baby, I didn’t experience the typical symptoms you see in literature about postpartum depression.  I wasn’t sad so much as angry and irritable and frustrated all the time.  I was angry at everyone, and then I felt a lot of self-loathing for being such a (seemingly) terrible person.  Thank God, I never came close to harming my child, but my marriage suffered, as did various items around that house that I kicked during angry outbursts.

It took me eight months to talk to my doctor about it.  He actually recognized warning signs of postpartum depression right after I gave birth: I was sobbing–apparently that’s not normal!  “No, no,” I insisted, “I’m just tired.”

And so it went for months of denial.  Two things in particular kept me from seeking treatment:

1. My symptoms weren’t typical of postpartum depression.  In fact, they were symptoms I had dealt with all my life, on and off, to some degree: anger, frustration, and irritability interspersed with self-loathing.  Before having children, I was always able to push through somehow. The hormonal havoc and sleep deprivation that came having a baby just made the symptoms worse.  I wasn’t able to push through and function normally anymore.

2. The second and biggest roadblock to wellness for me was that I felt I didn’t deserve help.  I was never psychotic.  I never lost my reason.  I always had some degree of control of my actions.  Therefore, I thought, I just needed to try harder. Taking medication was the easy route that I didn’t deserve because I hadn’t tried hard enough on my own.

I attribute this to the Act of Contrition I learned growing up.  There really is such a thing as too much Catholic guilt! The line goes, “I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more . . . .”  My understanding was, as long as there was some possibility that I could improve in the future, my failing was my fault, and I needed to just try harder.  “With the help of Thy grace,” is in there too of course, but I didn’t think much about how God’s grace could help me.  It just served as a reminder that I needed to pray harder.

The game changer was that now I had a family who suffered every time that (surprise!) my white-knuckling failed.  Thank God it became clear to me that I had to take the “easy route,” even if I didn’t deserve it, because they deserved it.

One form of the “help of God’s grace,” for me, is a little white pill.

Eight months after having my first baby, I started taking an anti-depressant, and it helped almost immediately.  At first I worried it would alter my personality, but now I truly feel that the medication helps me be my true self, the person God made me to be but that I couldn’t be under the weight of anxiety.

Throughout the years, I’ve tried going off antidepressants, but it’s never worked.  Unfortunately, whatever condition I have is not solely a postpartum one.  It just took the strain of having a baby to reveal a problem that hovered below the surface.

I don’t like the idea of taking a pill every day.  It has made me gain weight.  It’s made me sluggish.  I’m not the type-A super achiever I used to be.  I’m sure there’s some underlying hormonal imbalance or other health problem that is affecting my mental state, and I’d like eventually to figure that out.  But for now, medication is the only way I can be the loving, patient, happy wife and mother I need to be.

And that’s been the grace of the little white pill for me: it has forced me to focus on what God really wants me to do and the humility to realize that I can’t do it on my own power.

He isn’t calling me to be a super achiever.  He isn’t asking me to keep a squeaky clean house or volunteer on a dozen committees or work full time or even cook delicious meals.  All he asks me to do is love–love my husband, love my children.

To paraphrase a popular slogan, “I have one job.”

Before taking an antidepressant, I had enough nervous energy to do more things, but I was angry, bitter, and irritable most of the time with my husband and children.

Now, I don’t have as much energy and drive, but I have the underlying peace and calm I need to love my family better. It’s humbling to accept that I need medicine to fulfill the most basic requirements of my life.  That humility, too, is a grace.

Antidepressants are not right for everyone, but if you’re really suffering I’d beg you to consider it.

For all of us though, there’s truth in the saying, “Let go and let God.”  I  want to challenge everyone reading this to be open-minded about the ways you can “let God.”

God probably will not supernaturally transfuse you with peace and patience.

He might offer it to you in a pill.  (I think of Lexapro as my “patience in a pill!”)

He might offer you grace in the form of therapy with a psychologist of other professional counselor.

He might offer you grace through your helpful husband, if you would only overlook the way he loads the dishwasher incorrectly and doesn’t separate darks and whites.

He might offer you grace in the form of a friend’s offer to watch your kids, an offer you normally brush aside.

He might offer you grace when you let go of self-imposed standards for how you keep house or how many hours you work or how busy you keep your schedule.

Our calling is not to try hard and do hard things; our calling is to love.  And often we can’t love the way we ought until we stop trying so hard to do it ourselves.

Hope for the Future 2

For more on this topic, hop over to

Katherine at Half Kindled,

Bonnie at A Knotted Life

Jenna at Call Her Happy

Jenny at Mama Needs Coffee, and

Rosie at Check Out That Sunset.

Grace in a Little White Pill ~ thisfelicitouslife.wordpress.com