I asked a dear friend, who has been struggling with Postpartum Depression to write on the topic for me. Since becoming friends with her, my eyes have been opened to brand new type of depression – a depression many don’t see or expect. I most certainly did not expect it from this friend; she is the most bubbly, outgoing person you could ever know. I gave her a few prompts to get her started and she poured her heart into them. These are her words:
Postpartum depression is a sneaky little thing that creeps in, sucking every bit of joy and life out of you during what should be one of the happiest times of your life. It is pure evil and a living nightmare that not many people have a clear understanding of until you’ve lived through that isolated darkness. I cannot explain why it chooses to attack one mother and not the next. It can happen to any mother, Christians and non-Christians. I honestly believe, from personal experience, that postpartum depression is total evil and straight from the enemy himself, Satan. I believe he plants the seed, our minds run away with it, and we begin to drown, barely able to stay afloat most days.
To the husband of the wife who is going through postpartum depression and/or anxiety:
do not think or call her crazy now that her once bubbly, positive and stable personality is now a tangled web of emotions ranging from screaming, crying, angry outbursts to complete silence on some days. She’s confused and trying so hard to fight this war going on inside of her. She does not understand who she is anymore – it isn’t a day by day fight; no, it’s a minute by minute battle. She feels isolated, all alone. She does not feel loved by anyone, not even by you some days. You show it – you tell her to cheer up or you try helping out with chores and with the new baby. You hold her while she cries. You listen to her scream. Nothing helps, or so it seems. But she sees and she understands.
Don’t give up on her.
Don’t get frustrated whenever she doesn’t seem to reciprocate the love – she’s still fighting, even as the months go by. She may not have much of a motherly side some days – some days she may not even want to hold or feed the new baby – she wants to so bad, but fear is in the way. Fear that she will hurt the baby or something will happen to the baby and she won’t be able to help the baby. Encourage her though – she yearns for that bond with her baby so bad. Encourage her to face her fears and tell her she is doing a great job and is an awesome mother. Pick up the slack when the fear is too much for her to face. You may feel neglected by her, physically and emotionally. Intimacy is probably obsolete in your marriage right now. She does love you though, more than ever. Tell her she’s a good wife regardless. Pray for her and with her. Pray out loud and mean it. Help her search for Bible verses dealing with anxiety and read them together and out loud daily. Read articles on postpartum depression and educate yourself. If months go by and still no improvement, take a stand and lovingly encourage her to seek professional help- you may save her life by doing so.
To the friends of the woman with postpartum depression:
do not forget her or take offense whenever she shuts herself off from everyone – she still loves you and longs for your visit, phone call, and/or text more than ever during this time. She may not return calls or texts because she is afraid you will see what a mess she is right now and how she is failing at being a mom because that is how the enemy has convinced her of handling the situation. She is weak and she is lonely, so keep trying. Don’t give up. She needs you now more than ever. Consider stopping by her house for a surprise visit – I promise she will not care, even if she has hated surprise visits in the past. She won’t care how she looks or how her house looks, she will just be overjoyed to see you. Offer to hold the baby while she gets a shower or does a little housework. Offer to stay awhile. Offer a prayer. Tell her what has been happening in your life to get her mind off of her own life for a little while. Consider stopping by once a week to check in. Check in daily with calls or texts – you may save her life by doing so.
Finally, to myself:
You are doing a great job! It has been almost eleven months now. You recently celebrated your second wedding anniversary and that is a miracle in itself. At one time you both considered giving up on one another because of postpartum depression pulling you apart. You and your husband have a bond like no other now because you both stuck together regardless of how bad it got – you two went through a very real Hell on Earth. You now have a happy, healthy almost eleven month old baby boy and it is because of God equipping you that he is the happy, healthy baby that he is. You have learned that you cannot fight this war alone. When you relied on yourself to get through postpartum depression, you wanted to run away and hide, and even die most days.
When you finally decided to let go and let God be in control, He lifted you up. He has shown you that your days are not over and that you have an amazing life ahead of you with your family.
He has shown you that you are an amazing mother and wife and you finally believe it. You have finally started hearing God again. You feel His presence again. He has torn down the blinds that the enemy had over your eyes. It hasn’t been easy, and it is still a daily battle, but look at the progress you have made and are continuing to make. You have got this – I have got this! To God be the glory- thank you, Father, for a second chance at life- You saved my life!