This post has not been easy to write, and I went back and forth about whether I’d actually share it. But, although the subject isn’t easy for me to talk about, I think it’s important for me to be open and for others to know that they’re not alone.
If you read my last post, you know that I have been dealing with some postpartum depression. The truth is that I have struggled with depression to one degree or another since high school. Some times in life have been so difficult, and other times I can pretty much forget that I have struggled at all.
I used to be ashamed that I had depression, especially in high school and college. I have pretty much kept it quiet and not many people knew except for my family and a few close friends. The more I think about it now, though, the more I realize that it’s important to be open about it. First, it helps me feel less alone and reminds me that I don’t need to be ashamed. Second, who knows who I could help simply by talking about what I’ve been through?
I think depression is different for everyone who experiences it, and I can’t claim to know how others feel. For me, it’s a pervasive feeling that can sometimes fade to the background and sometimes be so overwhelming that I struggle to get out of bed. I took antidepressants for many years which helped me to feel better. However, when I started growing closer to God, I started questioning whether I was putting too much faith in medicine and not enough faith in the true Healer. I weaned off of the medication and, for the most part, did just fine.
When I got pregnant, my husband and I talked about the possibility of postpartum depression (PPD). He was pretty convinced that I would end up with it, and he was right (yes, I said it). After my little girl was born, I was so emotional that it was hard to tell if it was just hormones – baby blues, as it’s called – or something more. But as the weeks went on, it didn’t get any better. I stopped crying all the time, but I still just felt so down. I felt like I was worthless and drowning, and I felt so incredibly guilty about feeling that way because my little girl (and my husband!) didn’t deserve it. But as hard as I tried and as much as I prayed, it didn’t get better.
At my six-week checkup, the doctor asked me how I was doing and I just started crying. I told him that I had really been struggling. He asked if I’d had a history with depression and told me that this makes it so much more likely to end up with PPD. He was quick to explain that there is PPD that is more like “regular” depression, and there’s PPD that involves having weird/scary thoughts and ideas. I have the former.
My doctor then suggested that I use antidepressants. At this point I had been thinking for a while about asking for medication, and my husband and I had talked – and prayed – a lot about it. He wanted to make sure I wasn’t relying on the medicine too much and on God too little. My husband’s doubts prompted me to ask myself – had I been praying enough about this? Had I truly handed it over to God to take care of?
Because I could respond “yes” to these questions, I felt okay telling my doctor that I wanted the medication. If I had not been able to say “yes” to both questions, I don’t think I would have have been at a point where medication could even help.
It has been over a month now that I’ve been taking medication for PPD, and I do feel like it’s helping. However, I also firmly believe that it is helping because of God – because I have put my faith in Him to heal me. Some days are still really hard. Most of the time it gets better once I get up and doing things. It seems to get a lot better once I open my Bible and read (funny how that works). I have also found that if I’m open about it, especially with my husband, and if I pray and put it in God’s hands, those hard days are so bearable.
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
Psalm 30:5, 11-12 NKJV