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A post about Postpartum Depression.

For those of you who have been around here for a while, you know that I battled, fought and won my war with postpartum depression. I don't really talk about it and I didn't talk about it while I was in the thick of it either. It's not something that I have allowed to define me... as a mother, a woman or even as a person. It is something that I went through and something I came out of. I have spent many, many hours and days processing everything that I went through. Now that I'm on the other side, I feel that I offer a rare and unique perspective on this crippling, devastating and terrifying condition.

For those of you that frequent this place regularly, I apologize for what seems like a break in our regularly scheduled programming. Things will get back to normal tomorrow with Thankful on a Thursday!

There are a couple of things about this post that I want to make CRYSTAL clear before I begin:
  • I am NOT a medical professional. I am NOT a licensed counselor. I am NOT an authority figure on the subject of postpartum depression. I am only a woman. I went through it and now I'm here to tell the tale and offer my perspective. That's it. Take it or leave it.
  • Yes, this post is written in response to the conflict that recently came up with a few well-known bloggers. I read every post and every comment and came to the conclusion (after MUCH prayer and conversation with others) that as a fellow survivor of postpartum depression, and more importantly, a follower of Christ, it is my duty to speak light into a dark place. 
  • I am NOT jumping into an argument. This post is strictly informational. Too many of the comments and posts stated words along the lines of "I don't have PPD, so I don't understand." I believe every person should seek out understanding and knowledge before jumping into conversations so fragile as these. So, as someone who has been through the hell of postpartum depression and is now living happily, joyfully and depression-free with my family, I thought I'd offer what little experience and knowledge I have to maybe help others understand more what these women are facing every day.

Now, I'll offer what I know to be true in my own personal experience:

One of, if not the most overwhelming, feeling that comes with PPD is guilt. It's perpetuated by the lack of sleep, irritability, loss of interest in favorite activities, detachment from the child, feelings of hopelessness and just general sadness. In my own experience, I wasn't over-the-moon happy when Rowan was first born. In my mind, I believed I should have been... so the guilt crept in. Before I knew it, it had me completely incapacitated with irrational feelings of worthlessness. This led to suicidal thoughts and I danced a razor-thin edge of acting on those thoughts.

The key (in my experience) to understanding PPD as opposed to dissatisfaction with motherhood, or even just the baby blues, is the word "irrational." I knew that something much more serious was happening when I was having irrational thoughts of killing myself, believing that my son and husband would be better off without me around. Now, as a person who has never struggled with depression or mental health issues of any kind, this was indeed an irrational thought process for someone like me... leading to an accurate diagnosis of postpartum depression.

Another thing that's crucial to understand about postpartum depression is that for many women, it feels like we're being attacked at random moments. It is not abnormal for a woman suffering from PPD to tell you what a great afternoon she had with her child, then literally 10 minutes later, be crying uncontrollably in a heaping mess on the floor, wracked with guilt, sadness, or even uncontrollable rage. PPD for many is not a 24/7 feeling. So, to translate this into the blogging world, that means that when one post is a glowing picture of their child and how much they love them and the next is how they have feelings of inflicting harm on aforementioned child, THAT is PPD, my friends. It's not trying to cover it up. It's not pretending that everything's okay. Sometimes, there are okay moments! But the not-okay moments are crippling at best. And its in those hard, broken moments that the small victories are passed off as insignificant. Are you beginning to see the battle that's being fought here? There is no rhyme or reason to postpartum depression, it seems. It strikes at will and sometimes, it's all we can do to keep standing when it does.

The next thing I want to talk about is coping and healing. This is where everyone has an opinion and everyone is always happy to give it freely. Every woman copes with postpartum depression differently. For me, I played my cards pretty close to the chest. I can count on almost one hand how many people knew about my struggle. We didn't even tell our immediate family! It's not because I was ashamed, or that we didn't trust them with the knowledge, but simply because it's what I needed, personally. I knew that I needed a small community of people around me, who could come be WITH me in the flesh. I knew that answering questions about my depression on the phone every time I talked to my family would be too much. I knew that writing about it for the world to see was not something that would benefit me or my healing process. My goal was to separate myself from the depression, to see it as "other" or outside of myself. Something that I could look at objectively in the good moments and put plans into place for the bad moments. If I was asked about it every five minutes, I wouldn't have been able to do that.

I was also able to come out of PPD victoriously without medication. I am NOT saying that medication is bad. But I took my counseling sessions very seriously, did my homework, and sought after healing very vigorously. My mission was to come out of PPD without medication. Personally, I was able to do it with the community, counseling and support that I had in place. It took a LOT of work from a LOT of people (including myself!) to get me out of it, but by God, we did it. This is not possible for many, many women. Sometimes, and often, the hormonal and chemical imbalances behind postpartum depression are just too much for the human body to overcome on its own. 

I will go ahead and say this: Whether you believe you are suffering from PPD or not, going to speak to a counselor about your experience with motherhood is a GREAT and HEALTHY thing to do! Counselors and therapy should not only be reserved for those struggling with severe mental health issues. They are able to offer great, objective perspective on different situations, allowing your mind to rest, expand and see things differently when needed. I also believe it's important to find a counselor that is a good fit for YOU. I came to know my counselor through my dear pastor friend at church. She came highly recommended and I was told "She has a a very calming sense about her." That's what I needed. It was a beautiful fit. If you meet with one counselor and it doesn't seem like a good, comfortable fit, don't be afraid to speak up and ask for another recommendation. Comfort and trust are huge in your relationship with your counselor.

So this leaves me with one final discussion point: What can YOU do to help someone going through postpartum depression?

I am a huge believer in the power of genuine, empathetic human connection. I believe that when we come together to overcome an obstacle, great things are accomplished! However, statements like this: "I don't have PPD, but I know how you feel!" Are not helpful, because it's not a truthful connection that you're trying to make. Your motives might be pure in trying to help by creating a sympathetic, or even empathetic connection... but unless you REALLY know how that person feels, maybe it's best not to say that. Instead, maybe you can offer up a good word of encouragement... because as my friend says, "We all struggle. We all need cheerleaders."

Instead of trying to offer up feelings of false empathy, maybe you can send a friendly email, asking if there's anything, big or small, that you can do to help in a practical way. Maybe you can offer to send a pack of diapers to their home so that they don't have a breakdown in the baby supplies aisle at Target? Maybe you can get a group of other bloggers, friends, or acquaintances together and purchase a few movie tickets for a night out with her husband, or gift certificates to local restaurants in their area. Or maybe you can just read more about postpartum depression and get involved in your local area to offer support or childcare for other women going through the same battle?

Even though the connection that we have with each other is strong, the power of human connection never trumps the power of divine intervention. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for a woman going through postpartum depression is to get on your knees and pray on their behalf. If you are not the praying type, maybe just spend some time reflecting on their battle and offer up some encouraging thoughts or quotes that come to your mind. Sometimes, just knowing that she is being remembered in her struggle is the biggest gift she can receive.

So, that's what I know. I hope this helps shed some light on some common misconceptions and misunderstandings. If you or someone you know is going through postpartum depression, I would love to hear your story and offer to pray on your behalf.

I pray for all the love, compassion and comfort of Christ for you today.


  1. beautifully written. As a mom who has struggled not only through PPD twice and dealt with depression generally for 21 years, I appreciate ANYONE who sheds light on the subject. It doesn't need to be taboo. I truly believe part of the reason I'm still on this Earth is to share my story, of which battling depression has been a large part! Thank you!

  2. Amen.

    & as someone that needs a hell of a lot of strong medications, they are awesome if you need them. Zero shame in it.

  3. great, honest post. You're right...all of our stories are different, but for me the guilt and the snap mood changes were big too. I'm glad you wrote this. the more it's out there, the more it doesn't have to be "taboo". Thank you!

  4. Yes. Light. You have shed light in your beautiful way. This is perfect. Thank you for it.

  5. Thank you!!! Truer words have nearly ne'er been written about PPD (especially by someone who doesn't focus their writing on it typically).

  6. I too am a survivor of PPD.


    This was wonderfully written and so soso true.

  7. Wonderful post! You've got a new follower/subscriber in me!

  8. thank you for this post. it brought tears to my eyes. i found your blog through AllisonO's twitter feed. i am glad i did!

  9. GREAT post. Thank you so much for sharing, educating, and empowering so eloquently.

  10. Thank you for your honesty and shedding light on a topic that needs more light. I'm a new follower!

  11. written with honesty, grace, truth, and beauty. what a great encouragement this post will be to lots of mamas out there!

  12. Thanks you for this post. So much of the discussion this week to which you refer has been incredibly hurtful, if only for a lack of understanding. Thank you for lending an articulate voice to raise awareness.

  13. You are a beautiful writer and i never take offense to anything you say. Thank you for the post and the prayers that i am sure went before it :)

  14. THANK YOU for writing this! You captured so beautifully what often can be SO difficult to put into words. I'm new to your blog -- and a PPD survivor myself -- so I'm THRILLED to have discovered you!

  15. Thanks for this! So important to talk about.
    One teensy note to add:
    Not all PPD looks like stereotypical "depression." for me it was ANXIETY ... hardcore. To the point I could not sleep at all and had to be sedated. Just a side note.

    Love your blog! Thank you!

  16. I went through it with the births of both of my children, and it was so hard to even try to talk about it with anyone. It took a lot of work and by the grace of God I was able to overcome it. Thank you for addressing it so clearly, because so many people just don't understand.

  17. A honest and truthful account. I had PPD with my third child and it was the feeling of failure which stopped me from asking for help, this left me in a very dark place. I am glad people are being so open about their experiences so others wont feel so alone. xx

  18. I have taken depression medication for quite some time now (like waaay before Claire) and had to get off of it while pregnant and nursing.

    It was only because of the constant support of my wonderful therapist, husband and family that I did not become a victim of PPD.

    I so respect your thoughful prayer and consideration into this post. And as always, I adore you and your blog!

  19. I appreciate the point that while medication CAN be a part of the answer for some people, it's not the ONLY thing out there that will help.

    When I was expecting my first, many parents (men and women) told me about that incredible, overwhelming feeling of love for their child the moment they first saw them. Well, I didn't experience it. Neither did my husband. But over time, as we cared for our son and got to know him, that love grew. It's sad that mothers and fathers think there's something wrong if that feeling isn't instantaneous.

    Thank you for your honesty in all that you said.