My Story With Postpartum Depression | Overcoming Postpartum Depression
Writing, along with capturing moments through imagery, has always been a form of healing for me. A way to shift my perspective, alter my reality, or in some cases bring me back to the some-days awesome, some-days messy, reality I get to call mine.
For years I found excuses to write about my story with postpartum depression.
Yes, MY story. Our Birth Story + My Struggle with Postpartum Depression.
Though I take no ownership of the hold it held on my life for a season, or the devastation that could have been lifelong to our family, it is still my story, and one that I feel like isn’t talked about enough.
The time came to first share my story, after our first child, Luella was born in October of 2015. While friends, doctors, and the internet (for the love of Pete, please do not everrrrr go to the internet for sound medical advice, contact a professional!) all gave me labor advice, and tips for adjusting to life with a newborn, no one talked to me about postpartum depression (get more info here).
No one said that it is okay if you don’t experience love at first sight of your newborn baby, because you are terrified.
Or the rage that could creep in when they just won’t stop crying.
No one told me that was okay. No one told me that these feelings could be a sign of postpartum depression.
No one told me that an emergency C-section could be in the cards, or the guilt and regret I could experience if I took my eyes off the miracle of birth in any capacity.
No one warned me of the life-sucking brutality of mastitis, or that cracked, bloody nipples were, in fact, normal in the first days of breastfeeding.
The fact that no one told me, no one warned me, or came alongside of me to tell me it was normal (because they didn’t know) only made my struggle with postpartum depression that much deeper, because as a new mom, I felt like I was the only one, and I was ashamed to talk about it.
I felt like I was the only one.
*cue: the first lie I believed*
The only one who at first, didn’t marvel at her baby’s eyelashes fluttering while she slept, because I was so desperate for sleep myself.
The only one who experienced dilating naturally to 9.75cm, only to be rushed back for an emergency C-section where my husband didn’t even know if he would see either of his girls for the first time, or ever again.
The one whose body truly experienced two births, minus the reward at the end of pushing her baby out, the way God created our bodies to do.
This story has strengthed me, but it does not define me as a mother.
The scars that once told me I was a failure, now whisper the beauty of her first breath, instead of us taking our last.
The story that lied to me, as shame tried to creep in.
The story which in fact, I was not the only one had experienced, but a story in which many friends and strangers have found themselves in this very season I was emerging from.
I knew it was time to share my struggle with postpartum depression.
My time to say, mama, you are absolutely not alone.
My time to press in, to be real, and not deny the fierce battle inside which those months held.
To be vulnerable. To find time while adjusting to a new baby at home, to allow myself to be vulnerable.
To get honest with me, and with all of you about the struggle postpartum depression, while in desperate pursuit of a perspective shift.
A perspective shift that not only would awaken me but is my prayer that will bring a greater awakening to your heart as well.
To write and breathe today, 4 years later, not from a place of perfection, but from a place of purpose.
To come out by saying postpartum is real, and it sucks.
Like, it realllllllyy sucks.
It’s messy, it’s crippling, and some days debilitating – but it’s nowhere close to the end.
Read that, again.
It’s nowhere close to the end!
In fact, for me, it was the start of a new awakening.
A new pursuit.
A new beginning.
In some of the deepest moments of my darkness the second time around when my now youngest, Chase Jeffrey, was born in August of 2017, I no longer hid from the depths of postpartum, I welcomed them.
I welcomed them because I knew that in some way, hiding from them would only catapult me into greater bondage.
That ignoring these emotions, whether hormone-induced or just because being a mom is hard, and a mom to 2 under 2 seemed impossible, that stuffing down my emotions and not addressing them would give them the credibility to take over and seem more real than the God who desired I be set free, once and for all from the crippling bondage of depression, and whatever way it chose to manifest itself!
I faced them.
I allowed myself time to heal.
I didn’t hide them from my husband, or my closest friends, and family.
My husband didn’t find me banging my head so hard on the shower walls that I left bruises on myself, without even knowing it.
He saw me, I saw me, where I was, and more importantly, I allowed the Lord to see me, and let my walls down, instead of feeling like I was failing as a Christian, mother, or spouse because I was struggling with postpartum depression.
I allowed myself a stillness in the midst of the clutter and chaos of becoming a mother to 2 under 2, long enough to hear the Lord’s heart for His daughter through the depths of depression, and the beautiful song that He sang over me through those times.
And the song that I’m singing to you, wherever you are or may be in this season of motherhood.
My heart song of freedom to the Lord will look different than yours.
For me, my first note of freedom was found in admitting my dependence on Him in a time where I felt I should run away from Him.
It was admitting that THE (not MY because I refuse to take ownership of something that was so crafted from the pit of hell) postpartum depression I was experiencing was not in any way a reflection of my inadequacy as a mother, OR as a Christian! False guilt robbed me of the freedom I could have experienced the first time because instead of running towards my Father, I ran towards the lies that told me I had to hide what I was feeling inside.
When we hide things from God, ourselves, and others, it actually gives them more power. Because the truth in God’s word says that whatever is hidden in darkness, will eventually be brought to light (Luke 8:17).
False guilt may have deceived me from seeking help, but the majesty of God’s Word gently reminded me that when we admit we are drowning, God draws us near (Ps. 34:18, Matt. 5:3).
That when my heart is overwhelmed, I can look to, lean and rely on, the Rock that is higher than I (Ps.61:2).
My prayer began weak and feeble, doubting the words I was saying, but the more they poured out of my lips, the more I believed they were true. That HE WHO PROMISED was faithful to restore, to be near, and to bring the healing that could only be found in Him, and in asking HIM to guide me with my steps of healing. Whether that was miraculous, or through contacting a doctor, or simply allowing a close friend to see the struggle and hold me accountable in seeking professional help.
So, please, if you are reading this, spouses, loved ones, mothers, mothers-in-law, friends, family…if you are out there, if you have or know someone who has carried a baby, had a c-section, a vaginal birth, a natural birth, any form of birth…
Do not tell her she is another number for doctors to tally as they get paid more for c-sections; it won’t help her heal.
Don’t tell her that C-sections are easier and that she’s lucky she “didn’t have to push”; it won’t help her heal.
When the new mom in your life comes home with the miracle she’s been carrying, help her heal.
Don’t dismiss her cries of help, or take personally the temporary abandonment to the relationship you once had with her, as a sign of her weakness. Help her heal.
She’s relentlessly fighting to “bounce back” to the woman, wife, friend, and daughter she once was, and she’s not sure yet how it will look different…so for now, help her heal…
A Prayer For Mothers Struggling with Postpartum Depression:
Heavenly Father, “Right now I’m overwhelmed by my sorrow and pain” (Psalm 42:3), but I CHOOSE to put my faith in the One who made me, knows me, loves me, and calls me His.
Thank you for guiding and leading me towards peace and healing through your words, and reminding me daily to fix my perspective back on Your goodness, on Your character, and the plans You have for me.
Help me to lift all heaviness, all weight up to Your capable hands, and not to shoulder anything that You’ve commanded me to lay at Your feet (Matthew 11:30). This includes my feelings, emotions, experiences, shame, guilt, remorse, inadequacy, all of it, I leave at Your feet; in the precious place where You died so that I could live free of the weight I’ve been carrying. So that I could live free of Postpartum Depression, and pursue peace through Your leading, and through medical professionals. I thank You, Lord, that this battle is not mine, but Yours (2 Chronicles 20:17). And while postpartum is a part of my story, it does not get the last word. Thank You, Heavenly Father, that You have given me two healthy babies, and that You are using my story for Your glory. To bring others into a relationship with You to find freedom, and You will continue to use my story, to help other new mothers know the true freedom found in You, Lord! In Jesus Name, Amen.
Treatment for PPD is effective, and you need not suffer needlessly or indefinitely. If you struggle with symptoms of depression for more than two weeks postpartum, fill out the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, a screening instrument to help physicians detect PPD. Bring the results to a doctor you trust. Voice your need for help. Bring a friend or a loved one; hold his or her hand. If the darkness progresses to thoughts of suicide or infanticide, reach for help immediately. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or use their webchat.
We’re Matt and Dayna. Life Enthusiasts in the pursuit of a life enriched in God’s sustaining grace, empowering others to pursue the same. Two very imperfect people who wake up with bad breath, have days (sometimes weeks) of losing our patience, modeling to the world, each other, and our children, a life that points to Christ through our imperfection.
Most days you can find us chasing after our little heartbeats, Luella and Chase (4&2) This dynamic duo plays a big part in the heart behind The Pause Pursuit; a ministry empowering couples and families to slow down to pursue God and each other. In a media-saturated world, the comparison game is real, but so is real life. The Pause Pursuit is a safe place that combines the two. Where real life meets the sustaining power and pursuit of a real Jesus.
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[…] survived the waters of postpartum depression, and your love reminding me at 3am feedings that this life was worth fighting […]