I finally realized I was struggling when hour after hour I thought, “What would it be like to just get in my car and drive away?”
This wasn’t just a dream or a fantasy. Everything within me screamed that this was the only solution. Life was overwhelming and I felt like I was constantly drowning. I was afraid of what lied ahead if I continued down this road.
Dale and I both knew that I was susceptible to postpartum depression, because I’ve been diagnosed with depression in the past. But for some reason, neither of us were able to see the signs. Being a first time mom felt absolutely debilitating.
With nothing to compare my experience to, I just chalked it up to being a parent. My depression got to the point that I would call my aunt multiple times a day telling her that I didn’t want to wake up that day. Every hour was waging war on my soul, and I was being annihilated.
I’m not writing this out of a place of recovery, but as someone who is still in process. I finally became aware of my postpartum depression with my first son only after I was pregnant with my second. As you can imagine, that made things that much more challenging. I’m still battling PPD. But I’m finally in a place where I’m able to talk about it and share the truths that Jesus has shown me over and over again in this process.
I know not everyone reading this has or will endure postpartum depression. But I do believe that everyone will have a time in their life when an all out war is raging against your soul.
This isn’t the time to curl up in a ball and wait for it to go away.
This is the time for you to death grip who Jesus is and what he promises to do in your life.
This is no way for you to live, and it’s not the life Jesus intended. He offers a better way. Not an easier way. But a better way. It might require you to go to battle, but you are not in the battle alone.
Through my ongoing battle with postpartum depression there are three crucial steps forward that I have clung to along the way.
1. Fight for your health.
The accounts of Jesus leaving the crowds of people to rest have never stood out to me as much as they do now. Jesus, God in the flesh who could heal every person in sight, chose to leave the crowds to rest or to pray. We see him rising up early in the morning to be alone to pray. Jesus left us an example of being intentional about self care.
And this isn’t self care defined by bubble baths and pedicures. Jesus’ example of self care is absolutely necessary for the life you were intended to live. You have to fight to care for your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
As Christians, we often think that the only kind of care we should worry about is spiritual. But this view doesn’t fit with scripture. Every aspect of you was created by God, which means he created you with mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Your whole health matters to God and not just the spiritual.
There are moments in life when your lack of self care can actually become harmful to yourself and others. These are the moments when you need to fight for your health. Usually this includes hard and intentional decisions in your life. It’s scary to say no to others for the sake of your own health, but you have no greater reassurance than the example of Jesus.
As much as I love my children and want to give them the world, I’ve had to learn that some things can wait. That sounds simple enough. But it’s been a fight for me to actively choose my health. I’ve had to be intentional about not going half of the day without eating because the obligations in my life are nonstop. I’ve had to let my 17 month old sit in the crib a little longer so I can finish reading my Bible. I’ve had to commit to talking with a therapist regularly, even if that meant saying “no” to important people in my life.
Caring for your whole health isn’t something you can do alone. You need Jesus to give you the strength and wisdom.
When you’re in the midst of a crisis, fighting for your health isn’t just a good idea. It’s absolutely necessary.When you're in the midst of a crisis, fighting for your health isn't just a good idea. It's absolutely necessary. Click To Tweet
2. Rally Your Troops.
It goes against the American dream to need other people. For so long, we’ve taken great pride in our ability to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. We’re so entrenched in this way of thinking that many Christians believe the phrase “God helps those who help themselves” is a Bible verse. It’s not.
The message of scripture is actually quite the opposite. The New Testament is all about the Church. Being a follower of Jesus is about being connected to community with his body– the Church.
When you are in the thick of a battle, you need people. The beauty of the Christian faith is that Jesus works through people. He uses others to bless, strengthen, and support you.
Yes, staying connected to Jesus through spiritual disciplines is vital. But so is the connection of others. In life generally, but especially in times of crisis you need your people.
I can name each and every person who I’ve seen Jesus use to help me walk through postpartum depression. From powerful prayers, guidance in practical next steps, to the willingness to sit next to me in my pit, God has worked through a community of women who love and care for me.
It hasn’t been pretty. People have had to share hard truths with me. But I would absolutely not be where I am without them.
In moments of crisis, when the battle is raging, you must gather your troops. You need to surround yourself with people who understand you are in a battle and who will go to war with you.When you're in the thick of a battle, you need people. Click To Tweet
3. Recognize the small victories.
I’m no stranger to dark and challenging days, but none of them compare to my journey through postpartum depression. Life seemed absolutely impossible and beyond manageable despite what people saw on the outside. There were only a few close friends who knew how hard things were for me and the toll PPD was taking on me.
During one of my times of prayer with my aunt, she thanked God for me waking up in the morning. In my mind, I laughed. But she could see more of the situation than I could. She was fighting for me and celebrating victories I couldn’t see.
I’m learning to see the smallest little victories in my day and to cherish them. I know those victories won’t soften the blow of the meltdown that might creep up just an hour later. But they do allow me to see what God is doing in that moment.
Your battle may look a lot differently than mine. But I guarantee that God is working in ways you can’t see. Sometimes we can’t see the victories because we’re so overwhelmed by the darkness. And sometimes we can’t see because God just hasn’t revealed it to us yet.
Our role is to hold firmly to what Jesus has given to us. Sometimes, those may just be small victories.Your battle may look a lot differently than mine. But I guarantee that God is working in ways you can't see. Click To Tweet
You’re not alone.
When you’re in the thick of the battle, it’s hard to see when it will end–or even to take any comfort knowing it will end eventually.
I wasn’t comforted when people told me “this will pass.” But I took great comfort when I was told “WE will get through this together.”
This is what Jesus wants you to know in the midst of your battle. He is fighting for you and with you. You are not in it alone. The promise of Jesus to never leave you or forsake you is one that he will prove to you over and over again.