“I don’t know who you are. You’re not you anymore. You need help,” my husband, Steve, said. He was right. I hadn’t been myself for a number of years. I just didn’t know what to do about it.
Five years prior to this conversation I’d been a joyful person. I laughed a lot and rarely got offended. So, what happened?
It all started five years earlier when we sold our house in Silicon Valley to move to a simpler, tiny-house life in the country. This was back in the ‘80s when tiny house living wasn’t hip, so people thought we were crazy! I kind of thought so too, but I was up for the adventure.
Our two kids, ages six and one, slept in the only bedroom. We slept on a sofa bed in the living room. And we had no power. Seriously—none! My husband bought a generator and was delighted to be “finally living off the grid.”
I’m pretty sure half of you reading this just audibly gasped, while the other half became giddy about our independent venture. That pretty much describes how differently Steve and I responded to our new life. He was giddy. Me? Not-so-much.
But soon we enjoyed our new kind of normal. Cleaning a tiny house left lots of time to enjoy our kids. But then one day I burped “the pregnant burp”!
If you’ve ever been pregnant you know your body shows signs that you’re expecting. For me, I’d know I was pregnant because of a particular nauseous-type burp. Gross? I know. But seriously.
When I burped that burp I told Steve I was pregnant. We’d been attempting to avoid a pregnancy amidst our no-power-tiny-house-sofa-bed-life, so Steve thought it was all in my head. One day he brought home a pregnancy test. I peed on it and left it in the bathroom for him to read the results.
When he came out holding the stick, he smiled and said, “It’ll be fun!” (And he was right. Almost 30 years later I can attest that this little girl God surprised us with is the epitome of fun!)
Once Steve found out I was pregnant, he worked to add a master suite onto the house. However, it was several months after the baby was born before our bedroom was complete. So, she slept in a bassinet near our sofa bed.
Soon I began to feel claustrophobic and edgy. Rather than the usual euphoria I’d experienced after my other deliveries, I felt overwhelmed and inadequate to care for three children. I cried. A lot.
I hate remembering those dark days because I regret them. I’d literally put my newborn into the hands of my six-year-old, turn on a movie for my two-year-old and go to the kids’ room to weep. One day it really scared Steve when he came home and found me sobbing. It scared me too!
I cried, “It’s just too hard. Please let me go to work, and you stay home with the kids.”
At this point, I wasn’t able to discern why I was such a mess. I blamed it on three kids and our living situation. But what I really had was the baby blues—postpartum depression.
Somewhere along the way, the PPD turned into PMS. Then, I wasn’t a mess all-day-every-day, but only when I ovulated and again right before my period. So basically, I wasn’t myself two weeks each month. I felt ashamed, so I didn’t tell anyone my plight. I changed my diet drastically to no avail. In my frailty, I spent hours on my knees, in the Word and laboring in prayer. When Christ was all I had, my walk with Him grew deeper.
On the day Steve said, “You need to get help.” I wanted to be offended, but I knew he was right. When I finally asked God to guide me to someone who could help, I found an endocrinologist specializing in hormonal imbalances.
After testing, the doctor pin-pointed my problem and was able to help. Soon I was myself again, elated to have returned from the dark side.
Whenever I tell my story, women line up to share their own feelings of shame, loneliness, and despair. After sharing my PMS story on an interview with Focus on the Family, my inbox was flooded with messages from women who silently suffer too. When a Christian tells others about their imbalance, they’re often misunderstood, so it feels safer to keep quiet. I’ve been there.
Wrestling with hormonal imbalances humbled me and made me rely on God like no other time in life. But I know God used my frailty to help me empathize with others. Like second Corinthians 1:4 says, we comfort others “with the comfort which we ourselves are comforted by God” (NKJV).
If you’re in this situation, don’t wait to seek help. It took me five years to visit a specialist. I wish I had gone sooner. But God used my season of losing myself to refine me and prepare me to minister to women from a place of empathy and love. Trusting in God to lead me out of the darkness has grown my faith like nothing else.
Rhonda Stoppe is the No Regrets Woman. With more than 30 years of experience as a marriage mentor, pastor’s wife, author, and speaker, Stoppe leads women of all ages to live lives of no regrets.
Using sound biblical teaching through humor and honest communication, Stoppe teaches women how to apply God’s word to live boldly through the power of the Holy Spirit. Stoppe has appeared on radio programs and has spoken at women’s events, MOPs groups and homeschool conventions around the nation.
Stoppe is the author of Moms Raising Sons to be Men, which mentors thousands of moms to guide sons toward a no-regrets life, If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy & Other Myths Wives Believe, helping countless women build no-regrets marriages and Real-Life Romance, a collection of real-life love stories. Her latest release is The Marriage Mentor, written with her husband, Steve.
More about The Marriage Mentor, Rhonda’s latest release
Grow Your Marriage One Step at a Time
Imagine if your good friends were a couple dedicated to help you build the marriage you’ve always dreamed of.
Steve and Rhonda are that couple. After three decades of helping couples build no-regrets marriages, the Stoppes have compiled their success secrets into this easy-to-read, fun, and interactive book. It will help you …
- learn to engage in meaningful conversation
- break free from regrets that hold you back
- renew your hope for lifelong love
Every page feels like a candid conversation with a friend. You will laugh and learn from a biblical perspective the secrets to enjoying a marriage that lasts a lifetime.