Post Partum Depression

~Safe In Daddy's Arms~

Wooohoo! Aren't you thrilled and excited to read a post with a title like that?! Ha! The reason I titled it so bluntly and simply is because I want it to be easy for people to find if they're searching for the topic. It's a topic that's tough to "pretty up" anyway.

Why on earth am I talking about such a thing, you ask?

Well, in an effort to be honest in this blog about who I am, I think it's only fair to be honest about this too ("keepin' it real" as some would say). I struggle with depression.

I wanted to do a post about this for 3 reasons. First, the reason I just keep things real around here. Second, I know I'm not alone. When I was first struggling, I was hurting and confused and didn't know what to do. I would have loved to talk to someone who had been there. I'm hoping to be a help to other moms out there. And third, as a Christian, I feel a duty to tell everyone who will listen about God and what He's done in my life. In my times of great pain, God's grace has been made clear to me.

This is a good place for a disclaimer: I AM NOT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. My goal here is to share my experience. I do not claim to be an expert about depression. I write this post as a friend and fellow woman only. If you are struggling, PLEASE talk to your doctor. If your doctor doesn't take you seriously, then find a different doctor. If that doctor doesn't take you seriously, then find another. Keep finding another until you find one who will listen to you and will help you. You are not crazy. You are not defective. You are not a bad mom or wife. You do not somehow deserve this. You can not reason or sleep or exercise or eat or otherwise convince yourself to get better. This is a real illness, and you need help. There are tons of online resources like this, this, this, this, and this. But there's no substitute for a real, flesh and blood doctor.

OK, back to my story.

I call it post-partum depression because it started when I was post-partum...after the birth of my second child. I had a brief window of relief just before I got pregnant with my 3rd baby, but there's something about pregnancy and breast feeding hormones that really affect me in a nasty way. And I've been either pregnant or nursing a baby for the past...holy cow...did I do the math right?...6 1/2 YEARS! I just gave birth to my 4th child about 3 months ago, and am nursing him now.

How did I know that I was depressed? I didn't. All I knew was that I cried a LOT. I was angry a LOT. And I was overwhelmed a LOT. I also didn't feel like doing much of anything, even the stuff that I used to really enjoy. I spent much of my time just walking around the house weeping. I could not, for the life of me, do the dishes or laundry or any other housework. It was almost physically painful to even think about doing housework, and having such a messy house made me feel like I was failing somehow. All I really wanted to do was to crawl under my covers and sleep...for the rest of my life.

It was finally a comment from one of my sisters (who is a registered nurse), that woke me up to the possibility that this could be depression. But I still didn't truly take it seriously. Me? Depressed? I don't think so! I thought that all I needed was some "me time"...some more sleep...some more exercise. So my dear hubby did all he could to make those things happen. He let me sleep in. He got me a gym membership, and he gladly watched the kids as I went to the gym for 3 hours, 3 days a week. I had great legs...but was still not "right". I finally went to my doctor for help.

I wish I could say that going to the doctor was my first step in getting better. In fact, I felt very patronized by my doctor. They had me take a depression screening test that had questions like "Do you always feel sad?", "Do you never feel like doing things that you once enjoyed?" I didn't feel always or never about anything, so I scored very low on their dumb test. The nurse looked over my test, said something like "Oh, you've just got the blues, honey." She sort of patted me on the shoulder, gave me a sample packet of antidepressants, and said "Take these if you think you need to. Bye now!"

Months went by without me doing anything more. I thought I could simply fight the depression, and it would go away. I thought I just needed to be stronger. I thought I just needed to pray more and have more faith.

So I prayed. I prayed and prayed and prayed. I cried out to God from the very depths of my heart, and begged him to heal me. I begged for a miracle. There were many nights that I snuck off to the bathroom that was farthest away from the bedrooms (so my family wouldn't hear me) and just laid on the floor and cried and prayed. Then I got angry...why was He not answering me? Was He real at all? If He was real, then what was the problem? Did He not care? Oh, what a terrible time!

I finally realized that I was not getting better. Even worse, I was missing my daughter's babyhood. I still grieve that lost time to this day.

I went to our family doctor (it was my OB/GYN that I went to first). That wonderful man sat and talked with me for over an hour! I can only imagine how furious the rest of his patients were! But he talked through everything with me. I finally decided to start taking the antidepressant he recommended. What relief!

I felt "superficial" results within days (the anxiety and impatience). It took several more weeks to feel the "deeper" results (that gut wrenching pain and apathy). But those too went away.

There is one day, in particular, that I remember very clearly. It was a sunny day, and I remember thinking that it was the first bright day that I'd seen in months. The truth was that the greyness...the gloominess that had been covering me was finally lifted. And on that day, my son did something silly an I laughed. The sound of my own laugh startled me so much that I jumped and looked behind me to see what was making the sound! It had been a while since I had really laughed.

But I still had to make peace with the fact that I felt abandoned by God. Where was He in my time of suffering? I finally came to the realization that, simply put, everyone suffers. Even Christians. I am a precious child of God, but I am also a member of this fallen world. God doesn't promise a pain free life. I will feel pain in this lifetime, but I am not alone in my suffering. Jesus himself was sitting there with me as I lay crying on my bathroom floor. And I have hope that my suffering is not for nothing. God will bring good out of my suffering. And the truth is that I felt the Lord's presence so clearly during some of those rough times that it seemed that if I could just look quickly enough over my right shoulder, that I'd be able to see Him. His presence was that real. In a strange way, I miss those time for how close He felt.

I still take medication for depression. I still wish I didn't have to, but mostly I'm just thankful that the stuff is available! Maybe, after I wean my son, I'll work with my doctor to also wean myself off the meds. Maybe I won't . Maybe I'll be on them for the rest of my life, just as a diabetic has to take medication for their illness. I should say this too...I feel like ME on this medication. I don't feel numb or happy all the time. I feel like me. I still cry and get frustrated and's just not debilitating anymore.

So, that's my story. If you're reading this sentence, then I assume that you've actually read this excruciatingly loooong post! You must have read it because you can relate (in which case, I hope this was a help to you), or it's because you have someone in your life that this post reminds you of (again, I hope this helped), or it's because you must care about me (in which case...thank you!).

Anonymous –   – (1/13/2008 06:24:00 PM)  


Great blog! I am proud of your insight and your ability to try to help others with the pain you went thru. Everybody should be lucky enough to have friends like you.


Go Packers!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous –   – (1/16/2008 02:51:00 PM)  

I just stumbled on your blog today after seeing your mail center transformation on Declutter It! As I was scrolling through your other posts, I saw this one. Thank you for your honesty about your struggle with depression. I am a young Christian wife who has recently begun seeking treatment for depression. It is a wonderful encouragement to me to hear about your experience and to know that other Christian women have been through this time and how God has used it to help them grow. Thank you so much for your honesty!

Daiquiri  – (1/16/2008 03:06:00 PM)  

Vanessa - your comment brought me to tears! I was nervous about putting up such a personal post, but I'm so glad I did! I recently added a "email me" link under my picture on the sidebar. Use it if you'd like a friend to talk with.


Emily (Laundry and Lullabies)  – (4/17/2008 11:21:00 AM)  

I can relate to this - oh my. You wrote it well. So far I've not taken any medication, but that was because we couldn't afford it, not because I didn't need it. Thankfully this seems to be a struggle that does end for me, about six months or so after the baby is born. I'm grateful for God's grace in that!

mzzterry  – (5/07/2008 03:27:00 PM)  

God Bless you for being transparent. I know He will. I suffer depression.I am a believer & have been on med for over 15 years. We need to give it a Christian voice. Calling it your *thorn*, wow, that really struck me!
Good Job. =)

Anonymous –   – (6/18/2008 10:03:00 AM)  

Thank you.

I suffer from postpartum depression, as well.

I had no idea it was happening until after my second baby and I realized my emotional tendencies were not normal or healthy.

My husband was at his wit's end when my midwife suggested some therapies to help me through it. It was the saving of me and my family.

My youngest is 2 1/2 yrs. old and I'm just now beginning to feel completely normal, although I still have rough days.

I appreciate your willingness to put it out there and make it visible.

Summer  – (9/02/2008 08:27:00 PM)  

OH, I believe in hormones. It's amazing how we can know how we feel, but can't recognize the origins of those feelings as hormonal vs. sensical! I remember a friend of mine calling after she had bumped into me at the grocery store. I was struggling with major grief after my first was born- for some reason my mind just couldn't reconcile itself to the fact that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't exclusively breastfeed her- I had to supplement. I was torn up about it!! My friend could tell during a completely casual, "how are ya?" "fine!" conversation that I was not quite right.

Things got better once I stopped nursing. Even my weight fluctuated. Hormones hormones. So real, so powerful. Takes guts to write about it- kudos.

(Sorry- I'm totally stalking your blog now! I'm just very intrigued by this bold woman who thinks so differently and so similarly to myself ;-)

Anonymous –   – (10/10/2008 01:45:00 PM)  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous –   – (2/06/2009 03:58:00 PM)  

Thank you for your honesty! It makes the rest of us feel better to know we're not alone =)!

Hooked by Joy  – (4/10/2009 05:02:00 AM)  

Would you be willing to share the brand of anti-depressant you are taking? I had been struggling with depression since peri-menopause and the drug I took had lots of bad side effects - I finally quit taking it after four years and the relief from that was enough to convince me I didn't need medication anymore. However, I am starting to have those feelings of worthlessness and despair again and wonder if a different drug might help me without making me feel worse in other ways. Sorry to ramble on, and thanks either way . . . depression seems to be the church's little secret sometimes and I'm glad you have spoken out in faith.

deborahjoy @

Anonymous –   – (5/07/2009 08:59:00 PM)  

Thank you for sharing. You are a great writer, so open and honest. It is good to know that I am not alone. Thank you.

Jill Beran  – (5/25/2009 08:19:00 PM)  

A friend emailed me the link to your post after I shared with her my current struggle with depression as I expect our 4th child. Thank you for sharing your story and reminding me I am not alone and this isn't necessarily the result of me doing something wrong. I appreciate your honesty and am thankful it motivated me to be real on my blog as well. I pray God continues to work through you. Thanks again, Jill

Anonymous –   – (10/03/2009 12:22:00 AM)  

Thank you for being real. I stumbled onto your blog via a friend's blog, and the title of this post jumped out at me.

I remember years ago saying scornfully, "How can a Christian be depressed?" I wish I could take back those words now that I have gone (am going?) through it.

I can relate to what you said about your special closeness to the Lord during that time. I think David also was depressed at times, and during times of depression, when I have no energy even to pray for myself, I cry out to the Lord through the Psalms.

life in red shoes  – (3/16/2012 02:34:00 PM)  

Hi, I found your blog through your pinterest, go figure?
My first bout with PPD came 3 days after our daughter was born almost 31 years ago. And like you I prayed and prayed for help, and like you, I felt abandoned.
It was only after 2 years and countless Dr. visits, I was sure there was a physical reason I felt like this, that I found help. It came in the form of a good therapist, it took years of medication changes and adjustments to get back to feeling myself. Thank goodness meds have come so far, it's much easier to find the right ones today!
Our daughter was an only child for 10 years due to the fear of this happening again. I was never going to go through that hell again, but then the Lord softened my heart, and our 2nd daughter was born.
True to form it started all over again, but this time I was armed with the ammo I needed to fight the battle. The 2nd bout lasted about 8 months, as apposed to 8 years for the 1st.
I too felt cheated out of enjoying my newborns, and I vowd never to let another mother suffer in silence.
Our youngest is now 21, I still take meds every day, and thank God that they are available :)
Thank you for your honesty.

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