My Happy Beginning: A follow up post to “My Trail of Tears”
(Originally written in 2008)
I cannot begin to fully express how grateful I am for your kind comments, e-mails, and Facebook comments regarding my previous post. I decided that since the motto of my life is to “be real”, I would do the ultimate: I would expose my darkest hours. I decided to go for broke, and share my heart. I wasn’t sure whether I would be corrected, shunned or both. Thankfully, no one expressed any type of ill will toward me. You have all embraced me through your words and made me feel as though some good has come from the whole ordeal.
I wanted to share a little of bit of the rest of my story. Back in 1999-2000, I never did take medication for my depression, but I probably would have if I had had a doctor with whom I could openly communicate. I didn’t feel comfortable in my new church or with my new doctor to reach out to anyone, though I can see in hindsight that I would have been well received. Looking back, I wish I had taken medication for a month or so – something mild – until the worst was over. Postpartum depression is caused by hormones. This is a physical problem which may require treatment. If you suffer the normal ups and downs of life, I would say you do not need medication. If you are thinking of hurting yourself or your child, then please, talk to your doctor. I actually had visions of being placed in the mental ward of a hospital, in a straight jacket, if I told anyone how I was feeling. That again, was just my warped outlook from depression.
One thing I learned quickly while suffering from depression is this: Wherever you are, there you are. Yes, it’s profound, isn’t it? But it is so true. I didn’t realize that day, as I placed all of our worldly goods onto another moving truck to head home, that I was packing up my problem and bringing it with me. I thought I left it sitting in the hills of West Virginia. But, I didn’t, because my problem was waring my sandals! I was my problem. I was the one who needed a new outlook; a feeling of renewed hope. Those steep hills hadn’t caused my feelings of sorrow. The loneliness wasn’t to blame. And it wasn’t “the ministry’s” fault either. I was the only one in control of my own choices. I could choose to keep going, to keep trying, or I could choose to run. I chose to run, hard and fast. But as I ran, I carried the baggage of my burdens with me.
I did go on to have three other children. None of the postpartum periods were affected by depression again. I gave birth to my second child nearly three years to the day after having my first. I left the hospital with my new baby boy and folder of information on – you guessed it – postpartum depression. The word had gotten out. New moms and dads were being educated. It was a little late for me, but I was glad to see the medical community responding to this emotional need of new mothers. I was prepared for it after having my second child. I braced myself for the worst…but…it never came! I enjoyed holding my little boy. Nursing was so natural this time! I felt like a pro, instead of a defeated, whimpering woman. Yes, there were all new challenges with two little ones in the house now. But it was heaven compared to my first months with my first baby.
I was prepared to reach out if I had faced PPD again. I wasn’t going to do it alone ever again. Several people have asked me some questions. While I am not an expert in the field, I will share what I know based on my experience.
Q. How can I help a mom who’s facing PPD?
A. Of course, pray! Pray for her and her new baby. If you are close friends, then talk to her. Don’t preach her a sermon, but offer kind, re-assuring words of comfort and help. Whatever you do, do not criticize or gossip about this person. That could do so much more harm than good, in any area of life!
Q. I think a lady is suffering with this, but I’m not sure. What should I do?
A. Don’t pry into her life, but offer a phone call or a note -snail mail or e-mail- to encourage her. Perhaps she will open up and share how she’s feeling. Be available and pray.
Q. I’m suffering with depression, what should I do?
A. Talk to your pastor, a close friend, or a doctor you know and trust. Don’t go around with the weight of the world on your shoulders. Kind and loving Christians are everywhere, wanting to help, but you must take the first step. Most people who care are not going to force themselves on you, and those that do force themselves, usually don’t really care. Talk to someone, pray with someone, get help from someone. Read your Bible, pray, write down your feelings. You’ll find, as I did, that a journal can be your best friend. It won’t judge or criticize you. Pray with your husband. Be faithful to Church – DO NOT PULL AWAY FROM CHURCH. You may not feel like going, but go anyway. You’ll just have to trust me on this one. You need the preaching and the people. Do you feel like crying? Go ahead. Crying can be very cleansing for your emotions. Go on walks outdoors. Eat healthful food. Eventually, the sun will shine in your soul once more.
I write this knowing that the Lord allowed my story to have a happy ending. I did not harm myself or my child. I do not carry any lasting trauma, just a few sad memories. I have learned so much through this valley, and I even grew as a Christian during those days when I was clinging to Him for dear life. It really wasn’t a happy ending though. It was a happy beginning.