I was not the type of person who needed to be on anti-depressants. In the back of my mind, I had always viewed postpartum depression as a weakness and some sort of cop-out. I mean, Come on, woman! Grow up and get a'hold of yourself!
Now I know that isn't so.
I've read that the "Baby Blue's" affects up to 80% of new moms. After my first baby, I experienced the blue's, but after a week or two, those feelings subsided and I adjusted to motherhood with a sort of ease. But this....this was different. I couldn't think clearly. Everything seemed stressful and overwhelming, I was easily hurt, and I literally felt like the smallest problem was devastating. I now understand that PPD is a very real struggle. Some women may abuse it or use it as an excuse, but others - like me - really experience the desperation and the pain.
Being put on an anti-depressant - even a mild one - brought me to a new place. I was ashamed of my weakness and embarrassed by....I don't know....my lack of control? My emotions? My humanity?
I remember one afternoon, in a rare quiet moment when both of the kids were napping, I sat down and thought, "Why God? There must be a purpose. There has to be something greater going on that I don't see just yet. Help me to walk through this with grace...and golly, help me learn something - anything - from it!"
If you're anything like me - and have a lot of stubbornness in you - sometimes you just have to get to a place where you are completely humbled so you can feel the Lord in a way you never have before. I had been trying so hard to have it all together and I realized that I had stopped relying on the Lord's strength. Going through the motions is easy when you know all the right things to do and say. But going through the motions doesn't teach you anything. Crying out to God when you are desperate, out of fuel, and out-of-your-mind-tired will teach you a thing or two!
If the Lord blesses us with more children in the future, I may struggle again. But now I have a better understanding of my Lord, who offers "power to the faint," "grace to the humble," and "strength in weakness."
Don't be ashamed. It's a knock to your pride to admit that you don't have it together and that you need help. Goodness knows my hands were shaking as I sent this out into cyberspace for all the world to see. But hey, it's OKAY. Sometimes it takes desperation to give us an added "oomph." For me, I believe it took a good slap to my pride for the Lord to show me how strong and oh, how GOOD He is. If you need help, get help. The Lord uses all kinds of things to help His children. Don't be humiliated or feel guilty because of it. We all have weaknesses and we all need each other.
Don't let your pride rule. You see, I didn't tell anyone. My husband knew, but that was it. Nobody knew how helpless I felt, or how exhausted - inwardly and physically - I was. I'm not sure exactly why I didn't want to tell other people, but I know it was crazy to just smile and pretend all was well. I lied. It wasn't well. And I wasn't okay. I should have sought out some wisdom and support from other mothers but I honestly didn't want to bother anyone. And I did not know what I would get in return. But I should have put myself out there to be helped. I wasn't trying to be a tough girl, I suppose I just simply didn't want to talk about it. Maybe I didn't want pity or a firm reprimand of how I should be acting. Regardless, I should have swallowed my pride and embraced the fellowship and the purpose of the Church.
Don't tell yourself that you can do it all. Because you can't. I can't. I don't care how put together "that mom" looks, or how "that new mom" seems to have her energy and her figure back, don't compete!! It's not healthy and "that woman" doesn't have it all together either. Let me encourage you to just go ahead and plan to take the first few months after delivery to simply survive. It's going to be hard. Life completely shifts. Middle of the night feedings. Maybe colic or around-the-clock crying like I had. Juggling housework, meals, bills, maybe older kiddos, all while dreaming of showers, naps, and a nice foot rub. Just take it easy. Don't beat yourself up if you are pretty much planted on the couch for 19 hours a day nursing like mad. Don't feel like a failure if you cannot nurse your wee one no matter how hard you try. Do not let your mind drive you to insanity over the dirty dishes, the stack of laundry, or the crushed Cheerio's all over the carpet. Shut yourself in with your little family and try to cherish the greasy, unwashed hair and the sticky floors. It won't last forever. If there's a next time for me, I'm really going to try to not have such high expectations of myself.
Don't get angry. Because I was. I couldn't understand why, when I was doing all I knew to do, things were not getting easier. The Bible told me to ask and it shall be given. I asked. I begged. I cried. And nothing happened. And it made me mad when I didn't see any results. I would cry, "Lord, You know how I am when I am completely exhausted and spent! So why won't You allow this to lighten up so I can be happy and be someone people want to be around?" If I had shut my mouth for long enough, I probably would have heard Him tell me to cool it and let Him teach me some stuff. Like, "How about YOU change and let My power and My peace work in you? How about letting Me help you overcome with acceptance and joy?" Next time, I am going to try harder to just simply listen. I encourage you to do that too. We don't know how He works, but rest assured the lesson will be amazing every time if we simply pay attention.
Each and every one of us walk through deep valleys. Maybe it's grief. Or anger. Or maybe, like me, it is a darkness of the mind. No matter what it is, the Lord is always at work to bring us higher and closer to His heart. I still have days when I feel overwhelmed.... but that's just a part of life. And life isn't ever going to get any easier. Living with JOY is a matter of choice. Our choice. In fact, that's why I re-named this blog "Where JOY Is," because no matter where I am in my life, JOY is found in the same place. Every time. :)
Are you struggling with postpartum depression? Let me offer you a hug. I have been in that darkness too, even while holding my kiddos tight and smelling that sweet baby smell. Just hang on, okay? Because our Jesus truly works all things - ALL THINGS - together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
So rest in that, friend.
Rest in His arms and let Him comfort and strengthen you.
'Cause He will do it.
He really will.
'Cause He will do it.
He really will.
"Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."