Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.Isaiah 41:10, NLT
“Do you want to harm yourself or your baby?”
“Okay. No Postpartum Depression then.”
That was the extent of my examination at my release from the hospital after my first son was born as well as at my six week postpartum check up with my doctor.
And since that seemed to be the only question I had been asked regarding the issue, I thought I was free and clear from the dreaded PPD.
But as the weeks went on, I began to experience behavior and emotions that did not seem normal. I was arguing with my husband (which we seriously seldom do) constantly over the most insignificant things and I felt like I had no support, even though that couldn’t have been further from the truth because my husband is the most supportive and selfless man I know. I would belittle him and snap at him at the drop of a hat. I was suffering continuously with anxiety attacks to the point of hyperventilation because I didn’t like who I was becoming.
My attitude went beyond the effects of the normal sleep deprivation you experience with a newborn- I felt out of control and miserable. When my son finally fell asleep, I was unable to doze off and would just stare at the ceiling until 4 AM.
I really noticed that there was a problem when I felt rage welling up inside me when my newborn would not stop crying, and I couldn’t console him whatsoever.
I then began to argue with God:
“When am I supposed to read my Bible? When am I supposed to have ‘quiet’ time with You? I need Your peace because I’m disconnected from the Vine, but how, Lord? How?”
Although I felt like a failure, somehow I knew that it wasn’t my fault.
I began to research hormonal imbalances after pregnancy and PPD symptoms. I discovered that there are more issues associated with commonly known PPD, such as PPA (Postpartum anxiety). The more information I read about the symptoms of PPD and PPA, the more I was aware of my behavior and the more I could control it, instead of it controlling me. As a Christian woman, I knew to also fight with prayer and focus on renewing my mind by listening to His Word day by day.
In addition to prayer, I reached out to PPD/PPA support groups and other Christian women who have walked through it. I also have been watching my diet because the food you consume also affects your endocrine system, the system that produces and releases hormones in your body, in major ways.
Everyone’s body and situation are different. Some women need to be put on medication and/or need to see a counselor. Seek medical attention if you feel as if your symptoms are severe- you want to harm yourself or your baby. You are loved. You are not a failure.
Here is some advice that I learned during my recovery process:
Do not suffer in silence. Tell someone what you are going through. Don’t hesitate to ask for prayer or a listening ear. The enemy longs for you to stay in denial and allow your symptoms to worsen and drag you down into the pit of depression.
Get as much sleep as you can. Your brain needs to be recharged, so try to sleep 5-6 hours a night and nap when the baby does (this is really true) – the house work can wait. Your recovery is more important.
Avoid or limit caffeine. Try your best to cut back on your caffeine intake. I know, I know…I need my coffee! Unfortunately caffeine wreaks havoc on your endocrine system, so try to slow down or avoid how much coffee or soda you are drinking. Your body will thank you.
Laugh! Laughing keeps your endorphins up. Find a funny movie that you enjoy or watch silly videos on YouTube. Tim Hawkins is a favorite one for me!
Listen to the Bible or teaching. You most likely will not be able to sit down and do in-depth Bible studies or devotions like you used to and that’s okay. I have the Bible on my iPod and will plug it into some speakers and let it play throughout our house while I’m taking care of my son. Your mind must be renewed with the Truth so that you can combat the lies that the enemy tries to throw at you.
PRAY! Jesus has sent us the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter and Helper so don’t hesitate asking Him for comfort and help at all times. Sometimes all you can pray is “help” and help will come!
Like I said before, you are not a failure!
Not only have you experienced a drastic change in your body, your life is forever different with the new addition to your family. Walking through these hormonal/emotional changes is all about recovery. And thankfully, as a Christian woman, you do not have to walk alone.
The Lord will help you and strengthen you. He is with you always and will see you through this!
A version of Walking Through Postpartum Depression is also posted on theprayingwoman.com!