Anxiety / by Patrick Stoll

I’m not sure this blog is needed, but I think it’s important to me that I explain myself. That I tell you why we do what we do and why you may have felt burned by us. I hate it, I hate that I have made people think we are unreliable or flaky, but the reality is that we had to be. Let me start at the beginning.

            Right before we got pregnant with Shiloh I would have these episodes where I would get really sick to my stomach. Essentially, I would eat and then feel terrible. We thought maybe it was just not eating healthy and we tried to do gluten free, whole 30, and all the other millennial diets, and found nothing helped. When I got pregnant with Shiloh, I felt amazing. Besides the pregnancy symptoms I had not felt that good in a long time. I was losing weight, yes pregnant and losing weight, I had energy and never had stomach aches. My whole pregnancy went like this. About two weeks after having Shiloh I gained 50 pounds and began to feel insanely sick all the time. There were days I literally could not get out of bed. My body ached like I had climbed a mountain, I felt nauseated, I would get dizzy, I had ocular migraines, you name it, I had it. Once I finally visited the doctor we went from diagnosis to diagnosis, from diabetes to brain tumor (which is a whole different story). This went on for two years, two years of pain, and missing out on life with Shiloh and Patrick. Patrick moved from husband to caretaker, and that was so hard. (just so you know I respect him so much more for how amazing he is at taking care of me)

            As all this was happening, a very long series of events led me to find out that I have a condition called Fructose Malabsorption. Fructose Malabsorption is “a digestive disorder in which absorption of fructose is impaired by deficient fructose carriers in the small intestine's enterocytes. This results in an increased concentration of fructose in the entire intestine.” This is a fancy way of saying that my body cannot break down fructose sugar, which is about everything we eat. Fructose is naturally occurring and synthetically made. So I went on a strict diet that banned me from eating apples, lettuce, bread, milk, grapes, cereal, and a whole lot more. The easiest way to say it is no fructose, gluten, lactose, or soy. Guys, this very much limits my food intake, but after one week of doing the diet completely I felt amazing. I felt better than I had felt in 10 years. But one of the hardest things was with this sickness came a ton of anxiety. When I would go to the doctors my resting heartrate would be 120 or higher, just from the amount of stress caused by leaving the house. I was constantly on guard. I remember having so much anxiety one time that I went to bed thinking I was going to never wake up because I felt so overwhelmed.

            Needless to say this overtook our lives. This became the main focus of everything we did. We had to stop doing things we loved, things we were dedicated to, and things that fueled us. My anxiety was off the charts and it was killing my spirit. While I am now feeling a lot better and feel more like a human again, the anxiety has not completely gone away. It lingers and it destroys. It is so much better but yet it comes out at times and shakes us. Anxiety is not something that empowers me, rather it destroys me. It makes it hard for me to make decisions, it makes it hard for me to step out of my comfort zone, it makes me think all my friends hate me, it makes me wonder about every aspect of my life. It is like someone is sitting on my shoulder telling me that no matter what I do, it is never good enough and that everything will go wrong. We have taken a lot of steps to help with this but coming out of this sickness and into a new world that currently involves the anxiety has made me into a new person, a person I have to learn to love. This is not the most fun, but it is refining. It is a conversation I have with God daily to improve on, and something that we are learning to overcome. I bet you’re wondering what all this has to do with you, and why I wrote it. Well really, we know that we haven’t been the most present, that we have made choices that seem strange, or done something that feels like we aren’t interested in who you are. But truthfully, we are not striving we are surviving, and we are taking it day by day to be normal. But we wanted to tell this story because we want you to know we love you, we care about you, and we want you to know who Jesus is so you can know ultimate love. Thank you for all who understand and give us grace, because we need it the most now more than ever.