by Deena Staples
I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy on a brisk November night in 2010. He was a true blessing as we had conceived our other two children with the use of fertility drugs and decided to leave the conception of this final baby up to God. We conceived after only three weeks. We named him “Elias,” which seemed only appropriate.
When we brought him home from the hospital, things went really well. He was my third child and I had this “infant” thing figured out. I knew what to expect and I enjoyed every moment getting up with him at night for feedings. I assumed he would be my last baby, and wanted to savor these moments that God had given me.
I can’t say that the ball dropped gradually, because it didn’t. About three weeks after we brought Eli home I woke up one morning feeling like I didn’t want to get out of bed. No big deal right? I was up all hours of the night. It was fatigue. But it wasn’t. I soon found myself short-tempered with my kids, my husband, and those others closest to me. I went through the motions with Eli, but that was about it. The affection that I had felt for him in the previous weeks seemed to dwindle almost immediately. I didn’t bathe, get dressed or brush my hair. Smiling seemed like a task I just couldn’t perform. My anxiety was in overdrive. I remember in particular the moment we had Eli blessed. My sister sang a beautiful song at the service, and I just sobbed through the whole thing. I remember someone coming up to me afterwards and saying how beautiful she thought it was that I was so overcome with emotion. I shook my head “yes” but she was wrong, I was just plain sad. This was the darkest point in my life.
This went on for several days before I finally went seeking help. I remember thinking to myself: “Why do I feel this way? I have nothing to be upset about. My life is just about perfect.” People I spoke with told me to “smile through it” and “have more faith.” I don’t think anyone can ever truly understand depression until they go through it. I called for an Elder from our church to come and have prayer with me. I was feeling as helpless as one could be and I knew that only God was going to see me through this. It seems like as soon as I hung up my telephone, he was in my driveway. He hugged me, held my hands, and prayed with me. Then he let me cry on his shoulder for a long time. After that I called my obstetrician’s office. My doctor was not available but a nurse was there I could speak to. I honestly believe God sent this angel to me. “Erica” got on the line and she just listened. She told me that I was not “crazy” She explained to me that she had been through the same thing as few years back. She gave me some tips. She told me to get up, shower, and get dressed every day. To force myself to do it. She told me to put on makeup and fix my hair. It would make me feel better. She told me to go outside, even in the cold and get some fresh air, soak up some vitamin D. She also told me to call my friends and family. I did not have to go through this alone. I needed to let them love me through it.
The day that the Elder came to pray with me was not the day everything magically got better, but it was the day that things started to improve. That same Elder visited me often and prayed with me, because I often felt too weak to pray for myself. Erica called me every day for a long time, and then twice a week, and then less until I felt stronger. I had always felt that going on an antidepressant was showing the Lord that I didn’t have faith in him, but my attitude changed. Why would God give us this technology if he didn’t want us to use it? I took an antidepressant and it helped. I let my family love me. It sounds so simple, but it’s what I needed. Gradually things got better. After about a year, I finally started to feel like some version of myself again. I was the mother to my children I needed to be, and the wife I started out as.
I truly believe that God helped me through this time. Most importantly, I think he showed me that there is nothing he cannot see us through as human beings. What felt like the darkest point in my life back then, has become my greatest testimony today. I believe he gave me this experience to strengthen my faith and to give me the ability to help others.
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