Let Freedom Ring: My Struggle with Post Partum Depression & Anxiety

Let freedom ring.

“God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but he has given unto us a spirit of power, a spirit of love and a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

This post has been a long, long time in coming. It’s the kind of thing that you don’t normally want to shout from the rooftops. It’s my experience and not one I have particularly enjoyed. Putting my story out there means that I risk unsolicited advice, pity and people who don’t believe me or brush it off as “nothing”.

But putting my story out there might also encourage one or two people who are going through their own battles.

Let me tell you my story.

I have always wanted to be a mother. I actually even enjoyed being pregnant the first time around. And I was horrified once Tera arrived to realize that I didn’t really like it. I for sure knew that I didn’t love it. At my 6 week checkup the doctor asked me if I was feeling sad or depressed and I said no because I really didn’t think I was. But in reality, the first six months of Tera’s life were pretty difficult for me. It was a combination of exhaustion, adjusting to being a mother and a crazy amount of hormones coursing through my body.

I didn’t put two and two together about my postpartum experience with Tera until Little Miss Abigail (our foster daughter) came along. She was far more challenging than Tera ever was, she was up most of the night and screamed her little head off for most of her first six months of life. It was so incredibly stressful, but I handled it fairly well. One day I suddenly realized that having newborn Abi was actually easier than newborn Tera because I didn’t have any postpartum hormones coursing through my body. Realizing that was REVOLUTIONARY to me.

To this day, I still don’t know if I really struggled with depression after Tera. But I know that I certainly struggled…a lot.

So going into Kiah’s pregnancy and birth I was more prepared to fight. I knew more of what to expect and how I could take it in stride. I understood better that the first six weeks were the hardest, then the next 6 weeks, and then once we hit around six months it would be smooth sailing.

And then things in our life started happening that left me spiraling out of control. At 36 weeks pregnant, our well collapsed and we lived without water for three weeks. I thought I was handling it fairly well, but looking back now the fear and stress worked its way into my heart and stayed there, playing a huge part in my PPA. Two days after we got our well fixed, our entire family came down with the stomach bug (I was nearly 39 weeks pregnant). That was physically draining, but even more emotionally taxing.

Kiah’s birth was beautiful and the first few weeks at home were wonderful. I was so happy and I was loving (almost) every moment with Theo and my two precious gifts.

And then Kiah’s weight issues popped up, the failure to thrive diagnosis was slapped on him and I spiraled almost completely out of control. Every moment was jagged with fear, I never knew what was around the corner or what tomorrow would hold for me and my boy. I was terrified we would lose Kiah and out of nowhere I became a huge germaphobe, terrified to leave my house and have Kiah get sick. My anxiety was not over huge, rational things like car accidents or cancer, but over tiny, inconsequential things like the stomach bug and Kiah not drinking his entire bottle.

It consumed me for days, weeks and months. I had no idea that I was going through PPA. No clue. I was just terrified all the time. I had several panic attacks around Christmastime and it was probably the hardest time in my life. The craziest part was that I acted perfectly normal out and about. I wasn’t necessarily ashamed of it, and probably would have talked to someone about it had I actually known what I was dealing with, but I didn’t know how to bring it up or what to really share about.

In January, I picked my word for the year and landed without hesitation on FREEDOM. I was living as a slave to fear, I was literally letting fear dictate my every action and interaction with those around me. I came into 2017 BATTLING with all my might for the FREEDOM found in Christ Jesus.

I finally had a “come to Jesus” conversation with Theo where I realized that I needed help. We started to look into Christian counseling and I even called my OB to start asking about medication. All of this was at around 5 months post partum.

And then, almost as quickly as it started, my anxiety started to fade. It started to fade about the same time that I started losing chunks of my hair, which is how I know without a doubt that my anxiety was all related to the postpartum hormones. You see, when a woman’s body starts to regulate after birth, her hair starts to follow out due to the decrease in hormones.

Everyone’s story is different, and I hesitate to share what “worked” for me, because I understand it might not work for someone else. I can honestly say that my freedom from PPA is a complete healing in Jesus Christ. There is no way that I could have overcome the battleground of my mind without the Scriptures or the power of the Holy Spirit. I did not end up receiving counseling or medication, but I think that is a completely necessary option for some people.

However, it is also important that we not discount the power of the Holy Spirit and Scripture in our struggles against the things of the flesh and the mind. That should always, always be our first step and one that we have to FIGHT for. Even Scripture and prayers doesn’t always just solve the problem overnight I have to commit those Scriptures to heart and when the thoughts of anxiety crowd into my mind I have to literally throw them out with the sword of the spirit and the word of it’s testimony.

 

I am writing my story here for several reasons. I am hoping that there is someone out there who needs to hear it. I am hoping that there is someone who is encouraged by my testimony and feels less alone because of it. If you have any questions, or have gone through the same thing, I would love to hear from you. You can leave comments, but if you feel this is too personal, you can feel free to email me and I assure you that it will stay between us. You are NOT ALONE if you are facing PPD or PPA. You have not done anything wrong and you as an individual are probably not equipped with the tools that you need to overcome it. Please reach out to a trusted friend to begin taking the steps needed to overcome.

I have actually had this post in my drafts folder for months now, but May is mental health awareness month and hearing that was the final push I needed to publish this post. Please feel free to share it, even if PPD and PPA are not something that you have struggled with. You never know who might be going through their own battle.