I’m not sure if there’s anything more heartbreaking with a greater stigma attached than postpartum depression, yet, postpartum mental illness is disturbingly common. As much as 85% of women will experience some form of postpartum mood disruption ranging from the “baby blues”, to anxiety, to depression, and even psychosis. And while there has been great strides in the medical field to identify, intervene, and provide support and treatment, the fact is, many woman still suffer in silence.
I’m not immune either. After my first child was born, I remember being plagued with very real, yet completely irrational fears that disrupted my sleep and my life. Only now, seven years later, do I recognize it as postpartum anxiety.
If you are concerned for your health, think you may be suffering, or know someone who is, please contact your doctor. You are not alone, and there is no shame in seeking help for yourself and the good of your family.
Today on the blog, I have the privilege of sharing my sister Ruth’s story. She bravely explains some of her experience and shares one of the most powerful tools that helped her during her time of struggle: the Word of God.
Please note that the information on the blog is for informative and encouraging purposes only and is not to be used as medical advice. If you are experiencing signs of postpartum depression, psychosis, or anxiety, talk to your doctor right away.
Written by my sister, Ruth
Most people have busy years. Years full of stress, change, and upheaval.
I’m no exception; a lot has happened in the past year of my life. Not all of it was amazing, but not all of it was horrible. But, what happens when people get stressed? More often than not their worst sides come out.
And that happened to me.
i’m horrified to say that 4 years ago after my first child was born, my postpartum depression, and the events that unfolded in our lives led me to be not the best wife ever. And it came as a figurative slap to my face when my husband said to me “I feel like I’ll never be able to make you happy and content.”
If I was one to use colorful language… I’d insert it right…. Here. I was heartbroken. I felt like a failure. I’m a stay at home mom and wife. My job is to raise my children and keep a loving, warm, and Christ-centered home. Um. I obviously was missing the mark a bit. Now I don’t want people to be concerned or anything, my husband and I are very much in love and committed to each other, but he was expressing concern for me. I was constantly stressed. And I thank him for saying what he did because he gave me the kick in the yoga pants that I needed.
There is a quote by Martin Luther that I love:
I wasn’t doing that! And I know why. I wasn’t focusing on Christ in my marriage. I was focusing on me first, then my husband. I was so absorbed in taking care of my metal health and well-being that that became a bigger priority than most things. Don’t get me wrong. I HAD to focus on my mental health so I could be a good wife and mom. But making it my #1, my idol, is no bueno. How humbling, horrifying, and depressing is that? What’s sad is that it affects my mothering. Now I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, one of the most insidious things I experience when it comes to depression is the need to isolate myself. Not only the need, but the desire too. With postpartum depression, that desire for isolation is still there. Which begins a constant war in yourself of “I also know and desire to bond and attach with my child, but I want to be alone”. Not only that, but bouts of anger and paralyzing fear can plague you at any time. So what did I do? Well. My husband gave me a gentle-but-not-so-subtle push to the Bible. Then I remembered my Mom’s voice in my head:
Surround yourself with the Word of God.
So I took it literally. At first I wanted to get cute canvases from Hobby Lobby of Bible Passages or something and hang them up. And then I realized… IT’S GOD’S WORD…. THERE IS NOTHING MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN THAT, so I did it the old fashion way…. Thick paper and sharpies 🙂
I put passages around the house that are geared specifically toward that room or what I would be doing when we see it.
When we walk into our home….
When I am working in the kitchen…..
When I get ready in the morning…
When I go to bed….
For my husband… (If you know my husband… You know these passages were specifically chosen for him.)…
When we are in the living room…
When we leave the house….
Now I do have a Bible Passage in Baby Girl’s room that is a pretty picture from Hobby Lobby. The passage is one of my favorites:
Looking at these passages I’m vibrantly reminded of my first bout of postpartum depression four years ago. It also reminds me that even after 4 years, which include 2 children, a cross country move, and a miscarriage, the need for these passages hasn’t gone away, I’ve just continued to add to the list. When I was pregnant with my second child and living in a new state struggling with major anxiety, I relied on passages such as:
My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me. Psalm 31:15
And most recently, while I mourn the loss of my unborn child, I have daily repeated to myself from Job 1:
“The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Along with 1 Samuel 1:27:
“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.”
My husband and I had prayed fervently for a child. The Lord granted our request, and his name should be praised for that! And we rejoice in knowing that Jesus said “Let the little children come to me.”
The reason I’m telling you this is because, I needed to surround myself with God’s Word. And so do you. I am by no means the “perfect wife and mom” because of these passages around the house now, BUT they help me focus on Christ which in turns help me focus on my husband and family. Only when I put Christ first will I ever be able to be at my “mental healthiest”. And when Christ is first, I know I will be able to fill the role he has given me.
Please do not hesitate to seek help if you find yourself struggling. For more information on postpartum mood disorders, please check out the following sites:
MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health
John Hopkins Medicine
When You Feel Like You’re Burning Out
Trust Enough to Jump In
We are Never Forsaken
Something’s Gotta Give
Truth: Postpartum Kinda Sucks
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