To The Mom Battling Postpartum Depression

The past week my heart has been heavy for anyone dealing with postpartum depression. I’ve thought more than once, “I need to write a post with where I’m at in my journey. If I’m battling, I bet others are.” And I still will soon. But my husband was gone on business, I was alone with the kids, and there just wasn’t time to write. Then this afternoon on Facebook my friend Tina wrote the most beautiful post. I immediately asked her if I could pass it along. If you are in the heat of battle, you NEED to read this, friends.

First, a little about Tina:

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Hi, my name is Tina Kroeze. I am most importantly a child of God. I am married to my junior high sweetheart turned CPA husband of 7 years. My highest calling is that of being a Mamma to two sweet boys, Gavin (almost 4) and Spencer (1.5) I’m also a scrub wearing, shot giving registered nurse at a family practice clinic. Encouraging is my language. It has been almost 4 years since my own personal battle with PPD. I am a survivor. Through that trial God has placed a special place in my heart of compassion for other Mom’s who struggle. This is a piece I wrote quite awhile ago but I want to share it now. I pray it gives hope to at least one person reading it. I also pray it shines a light as to what some new Mom’s battle.Thanks for taking the time to read!

To The Mom Facing Postpartum Depression,

This isn’t at all what you expected, is it? The sadness you constantly feel is so far off from the joy you were planning on. You wonder if you will ever live in color again. People look at you and you feel their pity which doesn’t actually help matters. If there was anything at all you could do to “snap out of it” you would’ve done it 10 times over already. You are in an unexpected dark pit with many roads and no directions.

You would love to get out of your house but that would mean having to get out of your bed and for the record out of your pajamas. This would also mean you would have to time everything so that your baby would be fed, changed, and in their car seat packed up ready to go. This would require so much mental effort on your part that it’s mind boggling. Depression does that, it turns small tasks into marathons.

Maybe you were hesitant to admit your struggle. Maybe you were open about it. Regardless I’m sure people have come up to you will all sorts of words. It’s just the hormones. Give it time and it will subside. You just have to think positive. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Crying all day certainly isn’t going to help. You just need a nap you will wake up feeling better. I know how it feels to hear all of those statements. Most come from good places but are about as effective as placing a band-aid on stage 4 cancer.

IMG_8718.JPGThen there’s the inability to sleep. You close your eyes after the marathon of feeding/diapering/soothing is completed and your babies eyes are shut only to be unable to turn your own mind off. Thoughts race through your head, one leads to another and there is no rest to be found. The anxiety you feel questioning if you will ever be able to sleep again is too much to bear.

Well meaning strangers have come up to your new little bundle and have expressed how beautiful, peaceful, and plain cute they are. Others make it known that you better enjoy every moment with them because this is the most fleeting time in your life. Hearing this adds guilt to the sadness you are already smothered under. It feels to you that complete strangers are more in love with and bonded to your baby than you are. You yearn to feel that same exact way.

What do I want you to know? I want you to know you are not alone and that I love you. I also want you to find small ways to praise God during this storm. You feel so unlovable at the moment and you fear you’ve failed your child but the truth is you have not. Depression is sneaky like that, creeping in and wreaking havoc on everything. I want you to know you don’t have to hide. You didn’t do anything wrong to deserve this. Depression is an illness that praise God is treatable. I want you to know its okay to take one hour, yes you read that right, one hour at a time. I also want you to keep fighting because you are a strong and beautiful woman created in the precious, precious image of God. I know you can’t see it right now, but I sure as hell can. I want you to know there will come a day you will look back on this season of your life and you will realize how much wisdom and perspective you have gained from being in the pit. God will not waste this and He is near to you always.

For more encouragement from Tina, follow her on Instagram: @tinakroeze

More posts about Postpartum Depression from Mommy’s Me Time:

How I Overcame Postpartum Depression

When Depression Creeps Into Motherhood

 

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When Depression Creeps Into Motherhood

IMG_2210When I started this blog a year and a half ago, my hope was that it would be used to encourage moms around the world. Last week, I got a taste of how that can happen. I wrote a post in a coffee shop on a rainy afternoon while my mom watched the kids. I wasn’t in a good place. I wrote To The Mom Of A Toddler And A Baby because I felt alone. I felt like no one around me understood what I was going through. I wrote that post from a really vulnerable spot, and when I published it I wondered if anyone would be able to relate. As it turned out, there was a reason those words needed to pour out of my heart. Thousands and thousands of reasons actually. In the past week over 200,000 people have read those words, and that number continues to climb. The point is, I believe that sometimes we go through hard things in life so that we can be bonded to each other. They happen so that we realize that we’re not alone in this crazy world.

The post I’m about to write has been one that I’ve felt a strong pull to share. But to be honest, I don’t want to.  Maybe it’s because admitting that you struggle with depression feels like you’re opening a huge can of worms. It feels like you’re hanging out your dirty laundry not only for everyone to see, but for everyone to give their opinion about how you should deal with it. It feels like you’re admitting that you’re weak, like you’re less qualified to be a person. It exposes you to feeling paralyzed by the stigma that looms overhead whenever you hear the words “mental illness”.

Or maybe I don’t want to share my struggle because the only thing worse than depression itself is being pitied because you have it. For me, that’s a huge reason. It’s much easier to keep it to myself. To hole up and become a hermit and pretend it isn’t there. Except I can’t pretend it isn’t there.

Maybe the hardest part about all of this is that it’s tough to feel understood. Because the truth is, unless you’ve been depressed yourself, as hard as you try and want to understand it, you just can’t.

Those of us who struggle most likely keep the struggle close to us. Not because we want to, but because it’s easiest. We don’t want to explain and talk for hours about how we’re really doing. We just want to feel normal. We want to do ordinary things and feel like ourselves.

All that to say, talking about this doesn’t feel natural. It’s awkward. It’s uncomfortable. But today I’m doing it. I’m sharing where I’m at. I’m sharing because I want to be honest with you. When you read my blog, I don’t want you to ever get a false idea of who I am. I’m not the mom who has it all together. I’m not the mom who has the perfect life. Just like anyone else, I have struggles. A big one being depression.

It started to show its ugly face shortly after I had my twins. You can read more about my journey with postpartum depression here. I eventually got on Zoloft but shortly before I got pregnant with baby number four I weaned myself off. I made the personal choice to stay off medicine while I’m pregnant, which has made the daily battle so real and fresh again. Exercise has been my main happy drug, so I’m thankful I’ve been able to remain active throughout this pregnancy. I’m counting down the weeks until I have this sweet baby so that I can reevaluate if/when I need to go on medication again. This time around, I won’t be scared or ashamed if I need to take something. I’m thankful for modern medicine and the ability it has to get those chemicals in my brain back on balance.

When depression creeps into motherhood, it simply can’t stay. I can’t let it stay. I can’t let it steal the joy I feel when I spend precious moments with my kids. I won’t let it make me feel like less of a mom, or less of a wife. I won’t let it make me feel inferior. I won’t let it isolate me from the people I love the most. I won’t let it distract me from all the blessings I’ve been given. I won’t let it win.

Neither should you. If you think you might be struggling with depression, I beg you to do something about it. Whether it’s therapy, exercise, medication, or something else, please reach out and get the help you need. Don’t let it fester. Don’t let it isolate you. Don’t let it become all you think about. The gray cloud that’s hanging over you CAN be lifted, but you’re going to have to take the first step.

You are not alone, friend. I’m battling with you. I know what you’re feeling is so real, so raw, so suffocating. I know you want to get out, but you can’t. I’m cheering you on as you get through some of the darkest days of your life. It breaks my heart to think of you sitting there at home feeling so alone even when there are people around, knowing exactly how horrifying that is. If I was there, I’d give you a big hug. I wouldn’t pry you for information, but I’d reassure you that it’s going to be okay. I’d cry with you. I’d pray for you. I’d tell you over and over again that you WILL get through to the other side. There is hope, sweet friend. Let’s reach for it together.

This topic isn’t one we often see shared in our news feeds or pictured on Instagram. This is the tough stuff that we’d prefer to leave out of the highlight reel. But what if we could change that? What if we could set aside our pride and normalize it? What if we could acknowledge that this is a thing we can walk through and overcome without shame? What if we could end up helping thousands and thousands of people?

Will you join me in offering hope to those who need to hear it? Whether you’re going through it yourself or know someone who is, maybe we’re all connected to the topic so we can be bonded together, and so that we can remember that we’re never alone in our struggles.

XOXO,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@amberkuiper) and on Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).

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How I Overcame Postpartum Depression

bay-mam-lovin-extra-depthHey guys. This post has been on my heart for a while now, and even though it isn’t an easy one to write, I feel like I need to share my experience just in case one of you out there can resonate with my story.

I struggled with postpartum depression, and I overcame it.

If you’ve had a baby, then you know that those first few weeks after giving birth are CAH-RAZY. Hormones and emotions are all over the place, and you find yourself acting in ways that you really can’t control. After I had my firstborn, every evening between 5 – 6pm I sobbed uncontrollably. For no reason other than my body was freaking out because of all the physical and emotional changes it was dealing with. The weight of thinking ahead to how the heck I was going to muster up enough energy to make it through another sleepless night overwhelmed me, and there I sat balling my eyes out. I’ll never forget one night when we decided it’d be best to just get out of the house around that time hoping that a change of scenery would help. We headed over to Noodles to grab a quick bite to eat (since you know, you basically have about a 20 minute window before you need to be back for the next feeding), and as we were eating our Wisconsin Mac & Cheese the water works came and I put on quite a show for the rest of the patrons. Aye yai yai…I’m so glad I can look back now and think that was funny. In the moment, let me assure you, I was a wreck.

Thankfully, after a few weeks I felt much more like myself again, and eventually started making it days at a time without tears. Motherhood became my new normal and I adapted into my new role nicely.

After I had the twins, my postpartum experience was much more intense. I went through the same phase I did with my firstborn, but it didn’t end when I expected it to. Honestly though, I didn’t think too much of it. I figured I was probably just exhausted. Twins was so different than a singleton. When I got more sleep I was sure I’d feel better. Then the girls started sleeping through the night, and I still felt like I was seeing the world in gray. Next I told myself it was probably just the fact that my body was so depleted from producing milk for two. Surely when I stopped pumping I’d feel better. When the girls were seven months old I had completely weaned them off of breast milk and onto formula, in hopes that if I took care of myself I’d be able to take better care of them. While it certainly helped me to become healthier in some ways, I still didn’t feel like myself.

I wasn’t able to enjoy the everyday moments with my kids. I was just going through the motions, without really feeling much of anything. I wanted so badly for my days to be filled with joy, but no matter how hard I tried to change my perspective I just couldn’t flip the switch. I wasn’t able to enjoy the presence of others like I used to either. When people would visit I felt like I didn’t have much to encourage them with, so often I would just choose not to say much at all. I felt emotionless. I could make it through my days and I wouldn’t say I had the most severe case in the world, but it was distractedly inconvenient.

One day I decided I needed to do something about it. I’m not sure why I waited as long as I did. Probably because I was ashamed and prideful. It also didn’t help that someone who wasn’t invested in my life flippantly accused me of having postpartum depression which made me more upset than I’ve been in my entire life. You just don’t do that. 

I called my doctor’s office. I made an appointment with my OB and told her what was going on. Oh my goodness, naming the reality that had been going on in my mind gave me freedom that led to my first step of relief. She reassured me that so many women deal with this. It was an imbalance of the chemicals in my brain and it was completely normal. Normal? Then why did I feel SO alone in this? We chatted about treatment options, and I walked out the door with a prescription in hand.

Over the course of the next few days, I prayed about next steps. The medicine sat in my cupboard, unopened. It felt like such a big deal to start taking it. In Christian circles, I think taking medicine for mental disorders feels like it can come with a certain stigma attached. In my opinion, it’s really unfortunate, and in a lot of instances I would guess that it probably prevents people from getting the appropriate help they need. I’ve heard comments like, “What sin in your life aren’t you dealing with to make you feel like that?” among others. Let me tell you, until you’ve experienced your own case of anxiety or depression, you have no right to pretend you know what someone else is dealing with. And even then, every case is so unique.

I’m certainly no expert in this, but I do know that for me, taking medicine was the best decision I could have made. For others, perhaps it’s therapy or counseling.

I love how God’s timing works. After feeling so alone and confident that none of my other friends dealt with this, I randomly happened to have two different conversations within two days of meeting with my doctor. I respect and admire these friends dearly and learned that they too had battled anxiety and/or depression and had success taking medicine. Normalizing anti-depressants made me feel supported and encouraged to know that there was hope.

I started taking my pills, which I quickly started calling my happy drugs, and within about four weeks I felt loads better. There was a week when I started to see light again and my world became more colorful. I genuinely laughed with my kids and found JOY in the little things. I felt like myself! I wasn’t snapping at my husband like I had been, and I was able to relax and enjoy the time with my little family.

I praise God for medicine. It makes sense to me. I’d use it if I was having other medical conditions, so I don’t see mental issues being any different. After a few months, I felt it was time to wean myself off. It was like my brain had been reset, and my mind relearned the behaviors that made me feel happy. I’ve had great success since being off of it, but if I feel the need to get back on someday, I’ll do it in a heartbeat.

If you think you might be dealing with postpartum depression, please don’t wait as long as I did. Seek out help. Tell someone how you’re feeling. You aren’t crazy, and you aren’t any less of a mom if you’re struggling with it. What you’re dealing with is very real and very normal. Do what you need to do. I certainly don’t think everyone needs to be on medicine. Do what makes sense to you. Maybe that’s finding a counselor. Maybe it’s surrounding yourself with a team of prayer warriors. But please, know that you aren’t alone in this, and you don’t have to keep feeling like you do. There IS hope. 

We’re we’re weak, HE is strong.

If you’d like to learn more about my experience, I’d be happy to chat with you. Feel free to email me at ambermkuiper@gmail.com.

XOXO,

Amber

*The opinions expressed in this post are my own from personal experience. Please consult a doctor or other healthcare professional to decide what is best for you. 

 

 

 

 

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