Overcoming Postpartum Depression
by naomi Cassata
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The day I gave birth to my second child, joy flooded my heart. The nurse gently laid him on my chest, as his cries filled the air…ah, music to this new mommy’s ears. As I cradled our blue eyed, blond haired bundle of cuteness, I was overwhelmed with delight. We excitedly called our extended family, friends and church to let them know the wonderful news. This mommy was definitely on cloud nine.
A couple of days later, as my hormones began to level out, the baby blues kicked in. This was nothing new to me. I had a similar episode with my first born, but within two weeks, the blues completely subsided and life went on. However, this time the feeling of sadness didn’t want to leave. Weeks turned into months, and I couldn’t shake this steady flow of gloominess. There was no logic behind it. I was delighted to be a mother for the second time and I felt blessed with my life, but the feeling of depression became a constant resident with no intent on leaving.
When my son was about two-months-old, I was nestled on the couch watching a movie. All of a sudden, I was hit with panic. My heart began to race as anxiety welled up within me. Fear gripped me as I attempted to calm myself down. I had a full blown panic attack for the first time in my life, and I had no idea what caused it. I was afraid and confused. As the weeks went by, things only got worse. What was happening to me?! I began to wonder. I couldn’t even go grocery shopping or drive in my car without feeling anxious. Depression and anxiety followed me wherever I went. Most days, my chest was tight and my nerves on end. The more I feared, the stronger anxiety and depression griped my soul. This is how people lose their minds, I thought to myself. Hopelessness was a constant companion. Seeing past my problem looked impossible. Sleep became my only refuge because it was only then that my pain was eased.
I couldn’t make out why God was allowing this to happen to me. I had been a committed Christian since I was a teenager. I read my Bible and prayed daily. I had been volunteering in the pre-school department at church for five years. I loved the Lord and was devoted to him. Things like this weren’t supposed to happen to good Christian girls like me. Had I committed a terrible sin and this was my punishment? Was it an attack from Satan? Was I not praying enough? Maybe I needed to read my Bible more. Where was God when I needed him the most? All these things ran through my mind. I felt like I was living out the words of Job “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (13:15).
Shortly thereafter, I was diagnosed with Post Partum Depression/Anxiety. It was nice to put a name with what I was dealing with, although it didn’t make it any easier.
I had learned long ago—no matter what I was going through—to make God my refuge. If He was my Creator, than He had the solutions for every one of life’s problems. I began to search the scriptures concerning peace and joy, because that’s what I needed more than anything. I stood on scriptures such as: “For you shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace;…”(Isaiah 55:12). I stood on the promise that God was going to lead me out of this trouble with joy and peace in my heart. And when fear came knocking, I quickly began slaying it with the following passage “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Whatever scripture that pertained to my dilemma, I clung tightly to. I received it into my spirit and allowed it to bring healing to my mind and heart. God truly became my refuge and stronghold during that time in my life.
To say that God made me whole over night would be untrue. Healing is a process. There were more hard days ahead. Days that made me feel like I would never get better. But little-by-little, God did heal me. When my heart was filled with anxiety and sadness, I turned to God’s word to find comfort—and that I did!
Since dealing with PPD/Anxiety, I’ve learned that life will throw us hard blows—even those who love God. When I think back to the dark nights when my pillow was soaked with tears and I couldn’t see past my trial, I now know that God was working something far greater than I could understand or see at that moment. When the dark clouds overshadow us, it is hard to see the light of day. We feel abandoned, alone and in despair. Despite the fact we cannot see the light past the darkness that envelopes our being, the Light can always see us. Our struggle does not go unnoticed by Him.
God never said life would be easy. He never said we wouldn’t suffer pain. But he did promise this one thing: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). At the end of our trial, we will come out stronger and more resilient.
The older I get, the more I realize that trials are part of our development. More will come, I am sure of that. As I face each new blow that life dishes out, at least I know where to run. Although that time of depression was an unpleasant one, I wouldn’t trade that time for anything; for it is only those that have been through something that have anything to give to others.
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