Real life isn’t all roses or maybe it is.
Here I am posting a journal entry on my anti-blog! I surprise myself sometimes.
The thing is, I’ve had an experience that the Lord has impressed upon me to share, though I really don’t want to. It is a subject not fun to talk about. The fun, energetic ambitious side of me, that’s the roses, but what are roses without thorns? I guess they are just another weed or scentless mums. Here’s to learning how to love roses, thorns and all.
I’m sitting here rocking my darling little girl while getting some much needed sun therapy, but my mind won’t stop. There are dishes in the sink, I haven’t planned for dinner, there is a load of laundry ready to go into the dryer and I can think of ten more things I need to do. The only thing I should do is rock my baby. On a normal day in a normal month it’s good to rock my baby but now it could be considered medically necessary. I have something scary and embarrassing. A real live clinical imbalance called Postpartum Depression. There, I’ve said it…
Even as I write I immediately am reminded of horror stories I’ve heard where women have harmed themselves or their children and my heart begins to race because I know that’s not me, I’m not capable of that right!? I am gently reminded, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Does that excuse me, does it doom me? NO it reminds me that this IS real and anyone is capable and able to become someone they don’t recognize whether it happens by medical condition, a condition of the heart or other factors. I’m not crazy, I’m human but I DO need to do all I can to surround myself with support, to get medical help and to make it a major priority to hold my baby.
Did you know that in cultures where women “wear” their babies the cases of Postpartum Depression are less frequent and studies have also shown that babies who are carried cry less and have less separation/ detachment issues later on.
I have four kids and had PPD two times. When I had it the first time it was with my second child. I was unaware at the time that my pregnancy had been the trigger for celiac sprue. Once I discovered I had celiac and read about how many people have emotional and mental symptoms along with (or instead of) the classic gastric problems associated with the disorder I passed it off as a one time problem due to my celiac disorder. That was certainly a factor but when I started to recognize the signs of Postpartum again about 3months after my little girl was born I recognized those ugly thorns but was surprised to see them emerge again since I thought it had only been due to the celiac. I had been on a strict gluten free diet for four years so that could not be my excuse this time and would not provide a comforting solution so I could shrug off the ugly truth.
Doesn’t it feel nice when we can justify something and identify a cause? It’s just because of the celiac, or she’s been under a lot of stress… I want to say, beware of explaining it away. Not that there are no external factors. On the contrary, there are probably tons, but mixed into those circumstantial and environmental factors are a persons health.
I am not a doctor and do not know how it is ultimately diagnosed but the key is communicating with friends, family and your health care providor about how you feel. To tell you the truth its one of those things I’d rather not investigate too thoroughly- it is downright scary- becasue yes, I am capable. On the other hand, being unaware or unwilling to recognize that it is not just mind over matter would be foolish. Prov. 1:7 says “…fools despise wisdom and discipline.”
This too is why I write. I will try to describe what it is like. If you are reading this and thing you may have Postpartum Depression, bundle up your baby, drag a chair out on the porch or by a window and read on while you take the most important steps toward healing! Hormones are released when you hold your baby close, better yet, skin to skin contact. Also sunlight helps replenish vitamins your body lacks especially in winter and in darker homes or environments. When you struggle with depression of any type you want to pull the drapes, sleep in and deprive your body of exactly what it needs.
NOTE: A little trick I play on myself is to open my blinds at night when I go to bed so that the light will come into my room in the morning and wake me up properly. In the winter I have to wait longer for the sun but I know that, given the choice, I won’t get up and turn on a light or open the blinds in the morning so I don’t give myself that choice. 🙂
The first time I had PPD I did not realize it. My midwife gave me a questionaire about a week after my son was born and even though I could answer yes to a couple questions like; “do you feel overly tired” or “do you suffer from an inability to concentrate” I thought these sounded like pretty normal problems with a newborn. It was the people around me who said, “No, she is not herself.” I had to be smart enough to listen. Your family and friends really do know you best, let them help and support you.
I thought I just needed more sleep and more time. What I really needed was hormonal balance and specific vitamins that you don’t get in a typical diet. My midwife gave me one day to improve before she wanted me to be admitted into the hospital. Whoa! What? I thought she was into natural medicine and your body doing it’s own thing. After all, she is a Midwife.
Yes, our bodies were created in a remarkable way. We are, after all, “created in His image!” God’s very image, that’s remarkable and amazing! I learned, though, that there are times that it is important to get help because things are not working right. We have rejected our perfection right from the days of walking with Christ.
Are you still sitting in the sun? I am. My two year old is napping and the big boys are riding bikes. Remember it’s the most important thing. I don’t like to sit idly, I like to be busy and accomplish much in a day. I’m a joyful, satisfied driven person but with PPD I’m not me.
This time I began to recognize I had PPD but much later than I did with my second son. I passed it off as plain ol’ stress. Things like the economy, the weather, four kids… you know… I was justified!
Here is what is not normal:
Waking up not feeling rested. Many will laugh at that notion, after all most infants don’t sleep through the night. Justified right!? Loss of appetite, or drastically increased appetite. Frustrated/angry at little things. “It’s the weather.” or “My toddler has terrible two’s.” Depression. Again all justifiable reasons! Circumstance is a real factor.
I hate mornings. I’ve had a sleepless night, the kids get up early and I’m forced to crawl out of bed before I would like. Grr, I’m grumpy, I’m tired but I fix breakfast, start a pot of coffee and read the kids a Bible verse (no matter how short) to start the day. Maybe even turn on some music and if I don’t get to drink my coffee before it gets cold I pop it in the microwave. Not my favorite but better than nothing.
Me with PPD:
I still hate mornings but when the kids get up early I stuff the pillowover my ears and begin to cry out of frustration. When the baby needs fed I cant gather my thoughts enough to recognize it and I jump out of bed to pace the room, exasperated, not knowing how to make her stop.
This really happened and thank the Lord my husband had not left for work quite yet.
I stomped out onto the front porch in my pj’s in the snow and let out a yell of frustration. He rushed over to see what was the matter and gently suggested I make Pee Wee a bottle. I had been nursing her but she would also take a bottle because she had been struggling with her weight gain. My milk supply was waning and in this way too we both suffered from my PPD. His suggestion reminded me I had not nursed her yet. Problem solved!
Why didn’t I think of that? I was sleep deprived, recovering from a household of sickies… it could all be justified but it didn’t make it any less real or serious that I could not function on a normal level. I was (and still am not entirely) myself.
I’m organized, I’m a multi-tasker, I like routine and order, I usually can handle details and a bit of stress without melting down. Not so with Postpartum Depression.
I try to make a pot of coffee but the kids are hungry and I didn’t put enough grounds in the pot, again I am in tears when I taste that my coffee is far too weak. The toddler is hungry and helps himself to cereal but spills it out on the floor and I step on some. In frustration I yell and throw a towel across the kitchen. The big kids quietly slip out of the room, this is not their mother! Even they do not recognize me. I shut myself in my bedroom and tell myself lies… “you are a horrible mother.”… “your kids will be scarred for life”… John 8:44 says “the Devil is a liar, and the father of lies.” I know where these thoughts come from but I have difficulty making them stop. God help me!
I’ve even told myself before that God has forgotten me. My Savior, my Maker, my Friend in times of trouble, my Father and Advocate. How could I think such a thing? I am disgusted with myself but it doesn’t make the feeling go away. Strangely enough I can actually feel it come and go during the day. I have moments where I do feel like me (more and more now since I’m taking herbs and getting help).
There are moments too when I feel my brow furrow and an aching in my stomach like I’m holding my breath almost. I am suddenly angry for no reason, anxious with no cause. It’s a strange and unwanted intrusion and it is certainly not me, not an attitude problem, not a choice to respond to a situation wrongly. Often it comes before I’m even faced with a situation, when I’m thinking of nothing or doing nothing in particular. It sneaks in and I’m taken prisoner for the moment until someone like my husband steps in or one of the older kids helps out, sometimes even a phone call has helped.
Gods promise is that He will “never leave or forsake you.” Joshua 1:5 He has proved Himself to me over and over. I can own that promise even in my weakness, even when I’m thornier than I am delicate and beautiful. Soon when the snow melts and the sun forces green shoots out of dormancy I will bloom again with new life and new energy.
Without thorns a rose would not be a rose!