Thursday, November 14, 2013

Postpartum Depression: Encouragement for the Weary, Christian Momma || part 1

This post has been sitting in my Drafts for months. I just did not know when I would be ready to let it go out into the world. I guess today is the day. There have been so many times when I have clicked "Publish" on a blog post where I have shared a glimpse into my personal life, but I have never truly dug down and exposed the dark corners of my heart.

I am going to do that now.

We all go through rough patches and hard times. That's just how it is living in a fallen world. We hurt. We grieve. We fall. We learn. And I believe the Lord wants us to use our struggles and our weaknesses to offer encouragement to others. I'm not talking about airing out our dirty laundry or exposing our whole life so that we can "be real." I'm simply saying that we should let go of our pride and be honest in our humanity. We don't have it all together yet we feel the pressure to hide behind a smile that says "all is well" when in reality all feels wrong! By doing that, I really think we miss out on blessings and great opportunities to help another person who is going through what we have gone through ourselves. So I'm going to share with you a very real struggle I experienced and I pray with all my heart that if you are or ever will be in these shoes, that you can find joy and rest and an encouraging hug from this post.

Now I do not know that much about clinical "postpartum depression." But I do know a bit of what depression feels like.

It feels exhausting. 
It feels overwhelming

...and you feel desperate.

I wasn't expecting it. It hit me hard. And after a month of a crying little baby girl, I was weary. Now, I know all babies cry. When I would mention my screaming baby many people, including one doctor, basically told me that crying is what babies do. I would nod my head and give a small smile, but inwardly I was thinking, "You just don't understand!" I already had one baby. I know babies cry. (I'm sorry but, duh, right?)

I remember one evening when my husband came home from work, I all but shoved her into his hands and said something like, "Take her. Please take her. I can't do it anymore."

I was that overwhelmed. There was no question of my love, but knowing that everything - her happiness, her health, her environment - was my responsibility and yet nothing appeared to make her content, built a mountain that I just couldn't see me getting over.

A car ride often helped soothe her to sleep so I regularly took drives, disguised as milkshake runs for my little boy. I would drive and pray the whole time for God to keep me awake. At home, sometimes I even found myself wishing I could just fall asleep and never wake up.

I was that exhausted. Weary. Just bone-tired with a fatigue I had never experienced and couldn't put into words. It just engulfed me.

This picture was taken on Easter Sunday. I remember that day well.
I was so tired and so very stressed out. I spent the morning service
pacing the halls with Selah.
After three months of trying every helpful tip and "remedy," feeling helpless and at a total loss as to what to do, we finally put Selah on a Soy based formula. And she was better.

I, however, was not

Oh, I was thankful that the incessant crying had stopped, but I felt like a complete failure. See, I couldn't nurse my first child. Now, after working so hard to give my second baby milk, I couldn't nurse her either. I thought this was supposed to be a natural thing! Why did I have to have so much trouble? I felt ashamed.

Then we moved. In the midst of all the chaos, I was packing up our cozy little home. While our house was being built, we moved in with my husband's family. I was so humbled by my in-laws as I watched them shift to take in their son, their daughter-in-law, and two small children. They went out of their way to make it easy for us and as much like home as possible. I was thankful. I still am. But the change played a roll in my emotions. At first, I wasn't sure how to go about my day. We had a routine before. Now I was at a loss as to how to live and the change made me feel insecure.

I hid it pretty well. I brushed off any inquiry by saying, "Oh you know, a new baby is hard work." I'm not sure what happened to make me realize that I was at a breaking point. I just remember that I was tired of being so very tired. I didn't know what was wrong with me. I had such a blessed and beautiful life.

Why did I just want to sleep? 
Why did I dread waking up in the morning? 
Why did the smallest task seem totally overwhelming?

I did the things I knew I needed to do. I read my Bible. I listened to worship music. I thanked God for the blessing of having another baby. But it was like I was caught in a fog. I would try to write, but my thoughts were so jumbled and my mind was such a mess that I couldn't write more than a few small sentences. I was frustrated. I cried a lot. My husband would make me laugh only to see me acting like I had lost my best friend five minutes later.

Finally I had enough. This wasn't me! So I broke down and did something I thought I would never do. I called my OB/GYN and told her what I was experiencing. I actually cried on the phone with her, people! (if you know me, you know that is completely out of character.) After a gentle conversation, she put me on a mild anti-depressant. Let me tell you, I felt humiliated. Here I was - a strong, happy, Christian woman. I was not the type of person who needed to be on anti-depressants.

continue reading pt 2....


HIS daughter said...

Wow thank you SO MUCH for sharing this! I really appreciate it! Looking forward to part 2!
Hugs and blessings!

Rachelle said...

Oh sweetie, I had no idea it's been so hard. I'm sorry. :( You aren't alone in this struggle though! I reckon you know that and that's why you are sharing. :) Looking forward to reading the rest of the story. Love you!!!

Anonymous said...

I have read your blog for a while but this beautifully-written, heartfelt post really touched my heart. It's very brave of you to be so open about this and I applaud you. It is important to share our struggles so that others know they are not alone in theirs. Life is beautiful but it involves pain as well. And the pain is what often connects us so that we can create a net of support for one another. Thank you for your openness. I look forward to Part 2.


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