“Postpartum Depression, what is that?” I thought to myself, while perusing a magazine in the beginning of my pregnancy. “Surely it’s something that’s been made up by women who just are just negative and can’t get themselves past the hump of the baby blues, right?! This could never happen to me.” These were my thoughts on PPD before I became victim to it.
You may be wondering about my life before I was affected by this hellish experience, let me take a moment to introduce you to the pre-mommy version of myself. “Hi! I’m Sarah. I’m a happy go lucky girl. I am somewhat harsh and critical of others when I don’t understand their sufferings or mishaps. I mean, Come on people! Get over it! Control your thoughts! Get a grip!” I bet you want to slap the pre-momma version already. “My life is good. I am married to a wonderful man who loves God and is the Associate Pastor of our church. My biggest concerns are; where we will go on our upcoming date night, when my size 00 pants are beginning to feel snug and the stupid roots I get about 2 weeks after I get my hair done, umm yeah roots are a BIG problem of mine. I will slap myself for you now… J
I became pregnant with my daughter, when I was 23. My husband and I had just experienced a miscarriage after an eight week pregnancy. I got pregnant a second time very soon after. I had some typical anxieties concerning becoming a mother; Will I be working or staying home? Will I be able to succeed in looking after another human life that God has entrusted to me? Will I put on a lot of weight? Will the bleach at the hair salon harm my baby (haha)...You know the usual. But never in my wildest dreams did I entertain the thought that postpartum depression could be a part of my experience, never.
I had my beautiful daughter Joya Isabella July 9, 2009. She was stunning. Tiny nose, perfect lips and big bright eyes.. I labored for over 12 hours, pushed for nearly 3 (ouch, I think I may have broken some sort of hospital record for that) and I lost quite a bit of blood, to the point where my nurse told me the morning after delivering Joya that if my hemoglobin levels didn’t rise, I’d be getting a blood transfusion. But they did rise, and I went home day 2 after delivery. I was exhausted, which they told me I would be since I had lost so much blood and in turn was very anemic.
Baby Joya was up a lot at first, so I wasn’t sleeping too well and on top of my already weak body this made matters much worse. The first Sunday morning being home from the hospital I woke up to a house that consisted of me and Joya. My husband and mother in law were off to church and I awoke to a crying baby. In rising to my feet to go to my crying baby girl, I felt a strange sensation come over me. I was sweating, dizzy and experiencing a rapid heartbeat. “I am dying, I am having a heart attack and I am going to die,” I thought to myself as I lay back down in my bed and closed my eyes. I had my phone in hand ready to call 911 and started to pray. The symptoms gradually did subside, but left me shaken up for a remainder of the day.
For the weeks to come I would experience panic attacks multiple times a day, accompanied by horrible thoughts that I could not shake. I wish not to share all of them, but a lot of them involved dying and many were how I didn’t know how to be a mom, and how I wished life would go back to the old way, just my husband and I. Writing this now seems SO foreign to me because I would take a bullet for my daughter. She is by far the greatest gift ever given to my husband and I. I hated myself for these thoughts. I really did, I even told my husband numerous times to please admit me to a psychiatric ward. I wanted to be away from these people that I loved, I did not want to ruin their lives. I knew that these thoughts were not me, but rather something that had over taken me. A sickness it seemed. I found myself in a war that I was not prepared for. Life in and of itself overwhelmed me. The teensiest thing would cause me great stress; examples being, something as simple as feeding my daughter or going to the grocery store would cause a panic attack. I was a prisoner of fear and panic and I was in a living hell.
My background is that of a Word of Faith Christian, which has been a blessing in many ways, but if misinterpreted as it was in my case, caused great shame and questioning. I felt like something was wrong with my faith, after all I should be able to tackle this by the name of Jesus right?! I should be able to speak to this mountain and see it moved. I was not a weak person who needed meds, I had the Lord. He is the great physician I would tell myself, you will be be-littling God’s ability if you seek out anti depressants. Boy was I wrong. Was I wrong about God having died to give me the victory? No. I am confident that he did. Was I wrong about my faith being broken and this being the reason I was experiencing PPD? Yes. Was I going through a battle that God would one day use for His glory? Yes! He had a victory plan for me. Healing doesn’t always manifest itself over night, in my case it has been one day at a time, one step at a time.
I finally sought the help of medical professionals, who got me on the right path with antidepressants and anxiety medication. At first I didn’t see a change but over the course of a month I saw some great results. My mind was calmer so I could control my thoughts more. I was bonding more with my precious daughter, feeling all the warm and fuzzy feelings new moms get. I could now go to the store, out with friends etc, I was able to be in the word of God and concentrate on it to better equip myself for the battle I was in. Medication in my case was a necessary means to healing. As were many other things, such as a having a good support system. Praise God that I have an amazing husband family and friends who were there to encourage me and hold me up when I couldn’t stand. I have God who I know will never leave me or forsake me, who when I am down will whisper 2 Timothy 1:7- That I have not been given a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and a sound mind, or Joshua 1:9 (this is getting lengthy so look that one up J).
Another battle I faced was getting past the opinions of others. It’s rare to come across people who truly understand PPD, so naturally people would make hurtful observations about me as a mother. All of you momma bears can relate to the fact that you can criticize and be-little me in many ways, but don’t you dare attack my character as a mom. I had to tackle so many feelings of shame due to hurtful words that were said, I learned quickly to disregard these comments. I said before I was very critical of those that depended on antidepressants so of course I felt guilty every night that I took my pill before going to bed. But then I thought how can I feel shameful when this is part of the equation right now that makes me a better mom to Joya, a better wife to Tai, a better friend or family member. After all I would seek professional help for cancer? Just because PPD is not as prominent of a problem and you can’t see it in an x-ray doesn’t mean it should not be tended to on a medical level.
I can honestly say that there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Some days I didn’t believe it, and I couldn’t muster up enough energy to walk towards it. I continue to walk towards that light, and I can feel the warmth of it on my skin. It’s all just one foot in front of the other and one day at a time. I have seen tremendous progress over the past year and a half. Today I am a mom who has a story that I am no longer ashamed of. A circumstance that could have ended me turned into a story that could enable me to better equip those facing similar issues. That is how God does things. I know I’m continuously being molded into the “ME” he had in mind when he made me. It’s a process, and in the mean time if my story can help to encourage one person to seek the help they deserve I know that I haven’t suffered in vein.
If any of you have any questions or are battling with something similar feel free to message me at firstname.lastname@example.org