Dear Readers My Sweet Friend Agreed To Share Her Story With You Today. May Her Honesty and Openness Encourage You If You Are Going Through Post Partum Depression. Please Feel Free To Share This Story With Someone You Know Who Might Be Struggling.
My childhood day dreams were filled with fantasies of someday becoming a mom that would fully encompass all of the amazing qualities that would win “mom of the year” awards. My expectations of what motherhood would be were rooted in these little girl fantasies. They were based solely on my own strength and performance rather than in trusting that God would supply all that I would need as a mom if I would surrender and depend on Him. Fears or thoughts of post-partum depression never crossed my mind.
After my first son was brought home from the hospital, reality started to settle in that this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. I thought breastfeeding would be the most natural thing and yet my son refused to latch and became very jaundice. I felt like I was already failing as a mom and put huge pressure on myself to do everything perfectly without help. Pressures and fears started to consume my thoughts and I wasn’t sleeping and running on fumes. Six days after my son was born, I woke up and just knew that something significant had changed. My heart felt like it was beating a million miles an hour and it seemed as though an elephant was sitting on my chest so I couldn’t catch my breath. Now I know that I was experiencing my first panic attack. We frantically sought help from a doctor who prescribed some sleeping pills and told us that the post-partum blues were typical and would soon pass. Little did I know that this was the beginning of the most difficult journey I had ever experienced and one that would last almost a year, rather than a couple weeks.
My world came crashing down and for the first time in my life, I wasn’t able to just put on my happy face and be the social butterfly I was used to being. I felt like a completely different person and was a shell of who I had been. I was trapped in a prison of deep depression, suicidal thoughts, guilt, and shame that drew me to isolate myself from friends. I went from being someone who hated asking for help, to needing help for everything. Daily tasks like taking a shower or eating a meal felt overwhelming. Despite medication and counseling, I struggled with daily panic attacks and irrational fears that kept me from being able to be left alone much of the time. I forced myself to hold my son and do the things every mom should do, but I was detached from him. I never had thoughts of harming my son, but I simply didn’t want to be his mom. I would have never admitted this then, but I can remember someone telling me of a woman who lost her baby to SIDS years ago. Instead of feeling a huge sense of loss for this woman, I was shocked that I thought she was lucky. Suicidal and dark thoughts plagued me and I was so far gone mentally that I stopped believing that God was with me. I had been a Christian all my life, but in this season I couldn’t fathom why God would allow me to go through this or that He would use any of it for good.
I wish I could say that my struggle with post-partum depression passed quickly, but it was about a year before I felt more normal and didn’t have to try and convince myself to be happy as a mom. Although I couldn’t see it in the midst of my depression, I can look back now and see God’s faithfulness through it all. He taught me what it truly means that His grace is sufficient and His mercies are new every morning. He has taught me that I can’t do it all on my own strength, and that I need to come to Him when I am weary and burdened. He humbled me to learn that I need to ask and accept others’ help because we were never meant to do this life alone. Despite my plans to end my life at different times, He would very tangibly thwart those plans and place others in the way so that I would clearly see that He had a plan to give me hope and a future. Experiencing depression and anxiety has also made me very empathetic to others God has placed in my life who struggle with mental illness.
One of my biggest fears when I struggled to bond with my son was that we would never have a close relationship. Even when I felt like a shell holding him as a baby, God was so faithful to stand in that gap and supply all the love and tenderness my son needed. Almost seven years later, I can say that my son and I have a very close relationship and I have no doubt that he knows how deeply loved he is by me. My prayer for anyone struggling with depression is that you will cling to the hope of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness to carry your through, and allow Him to be your portion (Zeph. 3:21-24). I pray that you will allow other people in your life to help carry the burden, and that my story will remind you that, you are not alone. God is so faithful and you can depend on Him to be there every step of the way.