Three years ago I stopped writing about my battle with Postpartum Mood Disorders (PPMD). I never intentionally hid that part of my story, but I reached a place where I felt I had nothing new to add on the subject. My case was rare. I survived the trifecta of perinatal mood disorders – postpartum depression, postpartum OCD/Anxiety, and postpartum psychosis – and with shaky hands and a raw heart, I shared the details of my traumatic journey with thousands of women. Chapter over.
Each time incidences about postpartum brain illnesses peppered headline news, I thought about sharing my story again … but each time I held back. Earlier this month I even said no to my husband when he asked me to write an editorial about the dangers of postpartum mood disorders for The Christian Post. His request came after postpartum depression was carelessly mentioned as the reason a young mother named Mariam Carey drove her car – with her baby in the backseat – into a barricaded area near the national Capitol building.
A gray heaviness came over me as more details surfaced about the scary situation. Carey lost her life, leaving her sweet baby girl motherless. Yet even then I wasn’t going to write a word about PPMD. I told my husband to contact Katherine Stone from Postpartum Progress instead. “Katherine’s a better writer and she runs a nonprofit devoted to helping women with these issues,” I told him. “She’ll come up with a piece that is honest and thought-provoking.” Katherine did write an incredible op ed that was exactly what was needed for a news blog, and I felt proud of my matchmaking role.
Then something changed. Shortly after Katherine agreed to write the article, I overheard a conversation at the grocery store and my desire to speak out about PPMD was surprisingly reignited. I knew that I needed to share my experience again on this blog designed specifically for the hearts of women.
Actually, there was only one word mentioned that raised my passion: Monsters.
Two women were discussing the heartbreaking situation involving Mariam Carey when one said to the other, “People need to start taking postpartum depression more seriously. It is a real disease that turns good mothers into monsters!”
My lungs released every molecule of air then tightened and momentarily stopped working. I cannot tell you if I was in the frozen food aisle or browsing for produce because my mind and heart left that grocery store as soon as I heard the words mothers and monsters in the same sentence. They focused on a place I inhabited six years ago when my youngest child was an infant. A place in time when I pulled furiously at my hair, dug my fingernails into my face and neck, and screamed MONSTER at my reflection.
Six years ago, during the height of my mental illness (it was my second and worst bout with PPMD), I was a piping hot mess. I know that’s not a PC description, but it’s the truth. I no longer recognized myself. I couldn’t eat or engage in meaningful conversations. Intrusive thoughts beginning with “what if” dominated my brain. Brutal nightmares plundered my sleep. I lived in a fog-like state and even ran a red light more than once because I couldn’t remember if my children were in the car with me even though I kept looking back to check on them every few seconds. I spat out obscenities with little provocation and convulsed with rage over the slightest offenses. I envisioned events happening that never took place and I did something terrible that I would have never done under different circumstances.
Those symptoms made me question my ability to be a mother at all. In fact, I questioned my humanity. I didn’t even see myself as a mom … I saw myself as a lunatic … a dangerous monster undeserving of love.
I hated every inch of my being and I wanted to die.
I reasoned that my children and my husband would be safer in a world without the beast I thought I had become. So I plotted. And I promise you that if I would have been able to come up with a way to take my life and make it seem like I did so accidentally … I wouldn’t be here today.
It would make a sweet story if I could say that I experienced a beautiful spiritual awakening that kept me alive, but at that moment it was my selfishness that spurred me to keep breathing … I didn’t want to be remembered for willingly leaving my family. So I hobbled through the motions and emotions of life and continued unraveling until I latched onto the help I needed but was afraid to seek with honest intent.
Six years ago, I was beyond broken. I was shattered, desperate, confused, lost, ashamed, and terrified.
I was not a monster.
Mothers with PPMD are not monsters, and people who view them as such are perpetuating a lie that brings deeper devastation.
Postpartum mood disorders are very serious illnesses. Women with these disorders need special attention from loved ones and health care professionals. They need supportive individuals to walk with them … to remind them that they aren’t alone … that they are worthy of love … of being a mother.
My postpartum story has a happy ending. My children are physically and emotionally healthy and my relationships with them thrive. My marriage remains strong. Jesus never stopped being my truest comfort. My friends and family never abandoned me. And I am free from the burdens of an illness that nearly claimed my life. And while it isn’t my only story, it is one I should share more often because sharing often leads to healing.
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“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV
Thank you for your honesty. I have never been a mum, but I do have a mental illness that turns me into someone I can’t recognize. I too have felt the world would be a better place without me, and have tried to end my life on several occasions. I never feel truly safe from me because I am always there! That truth in 2 Corinthians is what I hold on to and I try to live it its truth. It is only in Him that I find any relief, when He pours His loving grace into my being.
Right now I’m in a hard place again, reading this reminded me to know the Truth. My hope is that knowing the Truth I will be set free one day
Angela Nazworth says
Thank you for sharing your heart. I am so sorry to learn that you are traveling through a difficult season. Please hold on to the truth you know in your heart. You are meant to be on this earth right now … you are loved … you are cherished … you are special … and you are not alone.
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
Your words took me back some 25 years ago when, I too, experienced what you experienced. Giving birth can often awaken mental illness that has always been there – latent, or it can be a catalyst in the start of mental illness. The answers are not perfectly clear. All I do know is that it is very real and mothers who experience this are not monsters, they are ill. Unfortunately there is still such a stigma with regard to mental illness – that’s why many women don’t seek medical help. I strongly encourage any readers who have dealt with this disorder or who know someone who is, please encourage them to seek medical help immediately. For me, it took medicine and wise Christian counsel, but I made it through and others can too – there IS help! Thanks, Angela, for writing on this very difficult topic so that awareness can be built!
Angela Nazworth says
Thank you, Bev. Awareness and getting the appropriate help is so important. I reached a point where I decided to respond to my PPMD like I would if I had cancer. I treated it like a severe medical condition because that is what it is. I took medication, changed my diet, strengthened my support groups, relied on my family and friends more than ever and sought Christian counsel. I really encourage others to do the same. I cannot imagine how difficult if must have been for you to have this experience at a time when even less was understood about PPMD. So thankful that you made it through. Please keep sharing your story with others.
Bev, I can only imagine how much more difficult it was to deal with this 25 years ago. Your comment is well written and compassionate as well as being helpful. Angela, you also have done an amazing job of offering hope through a plan with specific steps. May both of you always know when and what to share.
What a difficult cross to bear. Thanks for sharing your story with such courage and grace for those experiencing the same.
Angela Nazworth says
thank you for sharing! This is definitely an issue that needs more light. It’s seldom talked about, but its something many of us experience after giving birth. The time after my daughter was born was truly a testing time in my life. I found myself weeping on a daily basis, and couldn’t really explain why. Raging hormones, a child that wouldn’t breastfeed, and so many new experiences all added up to one of the most testing times in my life.
Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s nice to know we’re not alone.
Blessed by the Beach (Jennifer) says
This is an amazing piece and so revelatory.
I am a 42 year old woman who has never had the blessing of physically having children, so in my deep desire and longing for a child, I have never really related to or understood the whole concept of PPMD, Depression, or Psychosis. My perspective clouded the issue until this – your – beautiful, raw, transparent, honest, and wise post.
Transparency is not always easy, but you have been brave, and you have educated someone like me who didn’t really understand.
Jesus is so made strong in our weaknesses, and He is shining through your vulnerability.
Angela Nazworth says
Jennifer, your comment blessed me tremendously. The desire of my heart is to write in a way that encourages women and sheds light on real situations. I am so thankful to learn that my story helped you gain a clear understanding of PPMD.
maryJean Blair says
I experienced severe PPD 28 years ago with my first born son. Nobody knew what it was and I suffered deeply for months. I SO appreciate you speaking so openly about it. The judgment about it when I was in it was so painful. I truly thought I was going crazy. I’d like to say my mood disorders resolved, but they come and go. I do emphatically believe it has deepened my ability to have compassion for others.
Angela Nazworth says
MaryJean, Going through PPMD in 2004 and 2007 was soul-drenching … I cannot imagine how much more painful it would have been to experience it in the early 80s and prior. I am glad that you came through it and are able to help others because of your experiences. ((Hugs))
Thank you for your teaching.
Thank you for obeying God’s beckening to share and offer needed understanding and hope.
Thank you for sharing your story.
debi green says
thank you for sharing your story. share it over and over again. we just studied the bible verse you mentioned in my women’s bible study of gideon. it helped me so much as i shared in a 12-step meeting about my story. praying for you and all the other mothers in the world who are going through this illness. thank you for your courage.
Diana trautwein says
I have not yet read the article that you linked to but, Angela, I do not see how she could have written an article that’s any better than this one. Your writing is stunning, the truth you tell is important. I’m so grateful that you shared your story here. Thank you
Angela Nazworth says
Thank you for your sweet words.
Ruth Povey says
Thank you for your courage in sharing this – there will be so many who need to hear these words. Both those who have been through this and those who need to better understand. A brave and wonderful post!
You are brave, courageous & strong. Sharing your story took all of those. Although, I have not gone through this, I know your story will minister hope to many.
Thank you so much for sharing the raw transparency of your heart. This is an illness that isn’t understood and is only publicized when the tragedies happen. Thank you for being brave, so that other woman can have peace, self forgiveness and hope.
Thank you for being so open and honest. This is an issue that so many live with and in fear that others will ‘find out’ the ‘truth’ about them. I also suffered with PPD but did not recognize it to the extent which you described above. I remember having those thoughts/feelings but never put it together and never reached out. My youngest is 8 so it’s not an issue now. BUT, I am having some of the same symptoms going into meno-pause. Do you know of anyone who is writing on their experience with the same symptoms you describe above attributed to menopause? Thanks so much for sharing. There are no coincidences, the Lord brought this article at the right time for me. Blessings to you!!!
Angela Nazworth says
Thank you, Lorna! I am so glad that the Lord brought you here. Off hand, I do not know of anyone who is writing about depression related to menopause. I’ll keep checking.
Juanita Head says
I experienced severe depression prior to becoming pregnant, severe post partum after the birth of my first and not so bad after my second child. Earlier this year I had to have a hysterectomy. I will tell you, depression related to menopause is REAL. I have spoken with MANY women who have experienced this. My doctors even recognize it as real. A lot of times it is hormone related, other times it is our way of dealing with the fact that we are getting older and unable to have children. Please do not discount it and definitely get a checkup to see if there is something that can be done to help.
Prayers going out to you as you go thru this. I definitely understand!!
I can’t imagine how it would feel to be in this place, but I can remember the “normal” after birth difficulties, especially the awful feeling that I was walking around in a cloud and felt helpless to make the simplest decision beyond the immediate care of my son. Just remembering that feeling of being lost and helpless for a few weeks leaves me breathless at God’s amazing love and keeping power to have kept you safe and brought you through with a heart to help others. God bless you and your family!
Thank you for being brave and strong enough to share your story. I experienced post partum depression after my second child was born. Loving my children, but imagining ways to leave this world and just feel something. Every day felt like I was sinking deeper into quick sand. For almost two years, I was a wreck. I didn’t even realize until by God’s grace the sand disappeared, that I was struggling as much as I was. I look back and know I should have been medicated. And I know how grateful I am to God and my husband for staying with me.
Thank you so much for sharing something so painful… After my third child & first girl was born, I suffered from PPD but never told my doctor or anyone else. I held my baby and cried while an overwhelming desire to take my girl and run away gripped me. I only got out of bed to go to church, where I painted a smile and acted happy so no one would know what I was ashamed of -that I wanted to take my baby girl and runaway from husband and sons. I was terrified of the condemnation I was sure I would receive. It did fade away after a couple months and I did get back to my normal happy self… But I really wish I had said something to my doctor or to one of the other mothers at my church. I am certain, 9 years later, that I would have been understood and treated with compassion.
And now, when there’s a new mom at church I make sure they know there’s help and that I am available.
Thank you again for being so open about this!!
What a wonderful way to use your experience to bring God glory, Apryle! Going up to new moms and letting them know you are available is a huge blessing to them. By having the courage to reveal here some of the dark thoughts you had after your daughter was born you are also helping others. I so hope this (in)courage site helps women know they don’t have to paint a happy face and act happy when they are hurting. Angela certainly has helped many by this post, and who knows how many more women will know healing and restoration as those who are helped go out to help others?! Praising God this morning for the good work going on through people like you and her.
God bless your post! We adopted 5 years ago and I had some of the same symptoms as PPMD…making no sense to me, but feeling completely Ill-equipped to be a mom. Those foggy days brought me to my knees for The Lord! My recovery not instantaneous either. The little voice in us must continue to give encouragement to moms as they often don’t understand what they are experiencing. Keep singing sister!
I love the thought of “mothering on your knees”! Yes, that is the place we often have to go! I hope you feel a warm hand on your shoulder (God’s wonderful reassuring touch) reminding you how pleased He is that you would open your home and heart to the children He chose for you. May God bless you every day and give you strength for the commitment you have made to mother these precious souls and may He also give you opportunity to encourage others.
Thank you so very much for sharing such a scary part of your life. I am happy to hear you are in a better place and are surrounded by many loved ones who care and understand. After I gave birth to my daughter 3 years ago, I struggled for a few months like most women do. I was insanely tired, lost, angry and basically a weapy mess. Thankfully it only lasted for a short time although it felt like an eternity. I am 6 months pregnant now and I am already beginning to fear that experience again, especially since there will be 2 kiddos to take care of now. I worry about it being harder to overcome this time.
Lindsey van Niekerk says
I lift Misty before you tonight. Your word says that you will keep us in perfect peace as we keep our eyes on you. May Misty SEE you as Peter did when he was walking on the water. May she know that you are always an arm’s reach away to lift us from the drowning waves and in those ESPECIALLY scary moments when we wonder where you are, you are carrying us. Lord, I pray that peace that passes all understanding will be Misty’s mantle, her shield, her guide, her heartbeat in each step of this pregnancy and in the months that follow. May she take a deep breath of your grace when life feels TOO much.
Thank you for taking care of my dear sister,
It may seem like a cliche’ to say “Don’t worry, just pray” Misty but you can count on the promise that fear will be dethroned if you trust God’s grace to sustain you. Romans 8:32 reminds us that God who saved us gives us grace to sustain us. 2 Corinthians 9:8 is in the context of being a cheerful giver but I love the message that God is able to make all grace abound to us, so that in ALL THINGS, at ALL TIMES, you will have ALL THAT YOU NEED to abound in every good work. Mothering is good work, and by God’s grace you are going to be a wonderful mother to your two little ones! May you have joy in this time of waiting and disappoint the evil one who would in any way like to to cast a shadow of fear and anxiety over this very special time in your life.
Give it whatever fancy name you like but when it comes down to it is Depression and DEPRESSION doesn’t exist right? That’s what i was told you can’t be depressed you’ve just had a baby. Depression killed my life, my marriage and still the battle goes on and i like you stopped talking about it because no one is listening anyway. Depression is an invisible killer. Thank you for sharing. May God always bless you and keep you safe.
Lindsey van Niekerk says
Depression is SUCH a LIFE robber….both literally and figuratively. I used to say…it is like being in a dark room with no windows and no doors and no idea how you got in there so it is like impossible to know how to get out of there. The only thing that helped me was time and little things and Jesus, Jesus, Jesus ALL DAY LONG.
May your voice never be silenced…for then the devil wins. YOU MATTER. YOUR STORY MATTERS. And YOUR JOURNEY MATTERS!
Jesus, bless my dear sister…may she feel your love surrounding her today…that she doesn’t have to DO anything or BE anything or PROVE anything to anyone or anybody INCLUDING herself. May she sense your presence closer than the air she breathes. My grace be like a mantle that becomes like her own skin so that when she looks at herself in the mirror, it is YOUR grace that is visible. May it soak down ALL THE WAY to her toes, filling her up in a way that only you can. When that day or that moment is too much, may you be MORE THAN ENOUGH in that space. God, you ARE faithful. We put our trust in you.
Oh, I am so glad you are sharing your story again. My mom’s PPD was never treated and has snowballed into full blown chronic depression, causing her to alienate her entire family and shut herself out of life when she most needs the support and love of those around her. My heart aches for her. People like you who have the courage to share their stories make it easier for me to understand what she is going through. Thank you, Angela. You bless me, as always.
Angela Nazworth says
Andrea! It is so good to see you again! I am so sorry that your mom’s PPD was never properly treated. I think that happens far too often. And I know that mental illnesses, like major physical illnesses, affect the entire family and not just the person in the center of the battle. Praying for you, my friend.
Barb Kennedy says
Thank you for being honest and real. You will bless so many lives who may not have any support or may feel to ashamed to say anything. the biggest lie satan tell us is we are alone there no help and that we are worthless. Praise be to God when woman and men have the courage to reach out and tell their story, First it shows us satan is a liar, when we bring things out to the light the darkness loss its terror and in doing so we are joining our hearts and hands to one another and someone else will see they are not alone.
You are so right, Barb to emphasize that we need to fight back against the powers of darkness by shedding God’s light of truth. I love how Angela so boldly proclaimed that mothers who are suffering from this disorder are NOT monsters! You have also reminded us by your comment that joining hearts and hands is a powerful way to hold the ground our Lord has won victory over. Thank you.
Thank you for sharing. Each time I hear a new post-partum depression story I cringe. And I want to tell the world that women who suffer from this are not monsters. And are not intentionally hurting themselves or their children. They are sick and need help and compassion.
I suffered PPD in 1998 after the birth of my first child. No one in my family knew what PPD was and so figured I just had baby blues. I suffered until I took my baby to visit my workplace when she was 6 weeks old. A kind older co-worker took one look at me and told me to go see my doctor. And she followed up with me to make sure I got help. Because this lady could see in me what she had experienced years before I got the help that I needed. That lady caring enough to reach out to me was one of the biggest blessings of my life.
We can all help each other by sharing like this. And hopefully putting an end to the stigma that accompanies mental illness.
God bless you all and keep you safe and happy.
Your comment, Mary, reminds me of what Paul says In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 that we can praise God because He comforts us so that we can comfort others in trouble with the comfort He gives us. I am glad for the lady who cared and reached out to you because of her experience and I know God will put people in your life who need you to share also. I am very thankful that this devotional website is truly a home for the hearts of women and that you took the time to tell a bit of your story too.
I am thankful you choose to share your story again. My son is 13 and suffers from mental illnesses. He is unstable right now and reading your story gave me hope that one day he will be in a healthier place. He was recently hospitalized in an adolescent psychiatry unit and we used the cancer analogy with him. There are days I feel like his illness is a monster in all of our lives and I know I should not feel like this, yet we are all suffering due to his health. I continue to pray that his mind and body are healed. I pray he finds his faith to heal.
Tonie, I’m joining you in prayer tonight for your son’s healing. May the Lord bless those caring for your boy with wisdom and discernment as they treat him, and may you and your family find rest and comfort during this time.
Hold on to your hope, Tonie. God is working in this and He does marvelous things beyond what we can ask and imagine. I have no doubt that what He is doing in your son’s life and your’s as well will bring glory. You may not be able to see an outcome like that in the midst of your present pain but I would like to pass along to you a verse from Luke 7:11-16 where Jesus sees a mother’s grief and restores the life of her son. Verse 15 says, “Jesus gave him back to his mother.” May you experience that joy and feel God’s love as all of you work towards that healing and restoration.
I have been calling myself a monster a lot lately. Struggling to believe that God’s grace is big enough to cover my “moments”. God has not only gone to great lengths to show me otherwise, but has also shown me a glimpse of the beginning of the road leading ever closer to Him. Thank you for your honest and compelling writing, which surely has blessed and will continue to bless many hearts.
Hang in there, Sarah. I’m praying for you tonight that God would show you exactly who you are in Christ. Not a monster, but a beloved daughter.
I had two baby girls within eleven months. The first was a dream come true, after four years of childlessness. She was an easy child, waking up only every four hours to be fed and changed. The second was harder. She was alert from the beginning, and dealing with her was not easy with an eleven-month old as well. The second child was wakeful, and woke the first up repeatedly. During the post-partum days, it was difficult to get much sleep. I lapsed into a shadow of my former self, and resented the second child. By the time she was eight months old, I was slapping her on the face repeatedly, until her face looked chapped and red. My husband was no help at all. An opportunity came up to go along with a couple who were traveling to my home town, where I could visit my parents. I stayed five weeks, until they could take me back to my home 700 miles away. My sisters and my parents took the pressure off during the day, and the children began to keep regular sleeping hours. I discovered a lot about myself in those few weeks, and although I was seven months pregnant with my third child, none of the symptoms returned. I was so happy to have the boy my husband wanted, that it carried me through. I found out much later that I was in error thinking that my husband was unhappy with not having his boy when the second daughter was born. Two of those children are in their 50’s now, and my first born died of cancer when she was 35. We had our second boy later when the others were 18, 17 and 16. (Built-in babysitters.).
My experience bears little comparison to those whose depression is chronic, but I can sympathize with those who suffer repeatedly.
Gerrie, I’m so sorry you had such a difficult time postpartum. Thank God for family who can come alongside us and take care of us when we can barely care for ourselves.
THANK YOU so much for sharing honestly. It helps us feel not so alone, and encourages us to seek help.
I am humbled by your honesty. And humbled to have fared better postpartum. My depression surfaced when I went back to college with a 1 and 3 year old. It took me a long time to learn to leave it all at the feet of Jesus. Well, and a short stint with meds helped too.
Love your reminder that meds can be one of the ways that healing can take place. So often there is stigma in our christian circle about that, as if that choice somehow indicates lack of faith. A Christian counselor explained to me that stress can alter brain chemistry and the right meds to even things out can equip us better to use the other tools available in our Christian life. Glad you learned as a young mom to leave things at the feet of Jesus and good for you for demonstrating the courage to go back to college even when it wasn’t an ideal time. Hope it all has worked together to bring and keep you in a good place.
Bless you for your transparency. My son has battled OCD all his life and the lies are exhausting. Satan loves the playground of our minds. A combination of good doctors, good medicine and a GREAT Jesus are what see us through the valleys! Telling our stories brings Light to the darkness. Secrets have power. Tell your story and let healing begin…
Your son is blessed to have a momma who believes in revealing rather than concealing our challenges.
Juanita Head says
Thank you for sharing your story. I never truly understood depression until I was diagnosed the first time. It was EXTREMELY hard to take. I was prescribed prozac and that alone was horrifying. That medication alone carried a stigma. About a month later I found out I was FINALLY pregnant, after 8 years of trying. The joys of being pregnant were enough to carry me thru and I did not take my medications. After my precious joy was born, I experienced things I had never experienced before. I had severe anxiety, I could only be around my husband and our daughter or I would shake uncontrollably and cry. I had severe mood swings, emotional stresses, you name it, I felt it. It was my primary doctor who made me get help. I had to suck it up and go see a psychiatrist to be medicated and she insisted I begin counseling. Things were so bad that my amazing husband looked at me and told me I had to explain our household bills, how I do things, what I do, etc before we lost me inside myself, so that he could take care of us and we would be ok. IT was the first time in my life, I truly thought I was losing my mind because well… I was. The things I could see happening, the things I thought, the dreams… 12 years later, they still bring tears to my eyes. I am grateful for a husband who stood by me and chose to stick it out and not give up. I am grateful for the doctors who helped me. I wish I could say cured me, but with any type of depression, it can rear its ugly head.
Thank you for telling your story, for having the courage to stand up for those who need help. Like you, I tell my story to those who will listen. I sympathize with those who are enduring it today and let them know, they are not alone, it is real and with time. and help, they will get through it.
Many blessings to you!!
There are many who would not dare to sit and write the details of a story like yours because of the possibility of feeling the pain once more. Whether the details are spoken or written putting them out there can bring tears to your eyes. Thank you for the courage it took to remember and tell. You have been brave enough to give details that will give others a sigh of relief to know they are not the only ones with such compelling dark thoughts and you have also given some important “how to overcome” examples that will help someone who desperately needs a lifeline. I think this could be a comment that a struggling woman shows her husband and says, “I really need your help”. It can open a door to a discussion that is difficult to have. You describe your husband as “amazing”. Will you tell him, please, I commend him for showing the love to you that Paul describes in Ephesians 5?! So glad you two have each other and may God bless your family.
Gosh, Angela. Thank you for your transparency. It is brave, it is strong, it is encouraging. It helped to give me a glimpse into a world that I don’t have much experience with, and I now hope to have a better understanding of how to interact with those that do walk this hard road. Through you sharing this difficult chapter of your story, you give strength to those currently walking it that they too, can make it.
Thank you for wading back into your postpartum memories and sharing them. Your writing is real and thought-provoking and so very thought-provoking. Thank you for giving us a part of yourself. May you be blessed for sharing your heart.
Marinalva Sickler says
I’m so glad you stepped out in faith because He can use your wounded scars to heal someone out there that might be struggling like you. I witnessed this struggle and I pray that you use your deepest pain to others lives. Love
I post this because others post, and It’s so amazing that God has led me to read this site. I need this. It’s good to hear others struggling and making it. And God urged you to post and I thank you for listening. Just this morning, my head once again told me how my family would be less damaged if they weren’t subject to me on a daily basis. Most days, I’m ok…. And I keep my meds straight, and have my routine and support system, but every few years it seems the meds stop working, and the period leading up to the worsening symptoms, and a lot of the times finding new medications can be very traumatic for me my child, and those close to me. It’s been about a year of very bad times for me and those in my house. My teenager is worried he is mentally I’ll also 🙁 I told him to let his brain grow and develop as long as he can, but if he truly felt out of control then we’ll talk to a dr and do what we need to. But I assured him he can work through anything, I’m here for him, and God will be there for him through it all.
I don’t understand what you are going through sister, but I know that there is a God big enough to cover all the things that neither you or I understand. He also gave your children to you to mother. He looked at you sweet mama sister and when He did He knew that the children that He was giving you were the perfect children for you and that you were the perfect mom for them. I pray that you would know that deep down in your bones. God desires for you to walk in that truth. I am praying that God would give wisdom to the doctors and you as you look for other meds and ways to help you cope and live whole. I pray that God would restore you and your family to full and healthy living. You are not alone. Many are in the same struggle and for you and them God is always the same and full of hope and grace. Hugs friend.
Kelly, it IS amazing that God led you to read this site! He loves how you recognize his hand in your life. He does his best work in hearts like yours!!!! Because I have a beloved son who has struggled in so many ways your comment caught my attention as did one above from Tonie. Please read my reply to her comment. It is a message I want you to tuck into your heart too. The idea that God loves my son even more than I do has nurtured my tortured soul. He loves us too, Kelly, and has promised his grace to sustain us. I will be praying that you continue to see every hour of the day how faithful God is as you work with your doctors and counselor. Yes, it is work, but God stays ever so close! Psalm 34:17-18 is a good verse to write out, keep close, and read often in the hard times. Glad you found a home for your heart here at (in)courage. You are safe here and will find others to love on you as you get your strength back.
Thank you Angela for sharing your story one more time! I know God will use it! I am so thankful God takes all of our broken pieces redeems then and re-purposes it for his glory. As someone who specialized in and is passionate about mental health I think it is so important for us as Christians to share that we can love Jesus and battle depression/mood disorders too. It doesn’t make us less Christian or less loved by God. Neither does it make us like you said monsters or anything else. It makes us women in need of healing and loving care. Thank you for using your voice to encourage women to step out and seek help if they need it. There is no shame in seeking help only grace. Thanks again for being so brave and please keep sharing your story. 🙂
Reta, good to know we have Christians working in the field of mental health. Your comment is one I hope many will read. I am glad (in) courage is helping remove that stigma you speak of when it comes to mental illness and mood disorders. May God bless you in the work you do.
Cathy Webster says
After my son was born – I suffered Post Partum depression – which, upon reflection, was just the tip of the iceberg. I realize now that depression had been dogging me since my teen years, with no support/no medication. I too felt I was a monster – I didn’t enjoy my baby and family was over a thousand miles away.
My daughter was born three years later and still – PPD – not as severe – but there – underneath the surface. As they grew, I began contemplating suicide, I called my doctor and that was the start of medication and counselling. I have suffered three significant bouts of depression – now diagnosed as chronic depression. I will be on medication the rest of my life – which is okay. If we break a leg – we get a cast. If our mind is broken – we don’t go around with a gauze wrapped head – but it’s just as significant. It’s important to speak out, share your experience (and seek help). You never know how that’s going to impact someone else who is struggling and feeling alone and isolated. Proof of that was this week at work where I am leading a workshop on Chronic Disease Self Management. After I shared my struggle with depression, several clients (all seniors) opened up and now are sharing their stories around depression. It’s such a gift and proof that God can use our weaknesses for His greater purpose.
What a beautiful story of how God redeems even the most difficult challenges. May God bless your work, sister.
Cathy Humphrey says
I am so proud of you for sharing your story. Every time you share your story another little piece of you heals and give the next person the courage to share theirs. So we are helping one another heal as we share.
I taught in a men’s prison for 18 years and I know this is true. The class was called Cognitive Intervention and it was a place to tell our stories and start to heal!!
You will never know this side of heaven who you helped with your story and whose lives you helped saved!! Blessing to you and your family!!
Wow, Cathy, your prison work sounds amazing and your comment makes me want to get to heaven and hear all the stories of people who were helped by others sharing their story. I like the idea that another little piece of us heals when we share our stories. Thanks for these thoughts to tuck into my head today!
Beth Williams says
Thank you soo much for you open, honest, raw writing on this subject. It is not one that is spoken about much, but needs a lot of attention. Any kind of mental illness needs attention. Women everywhere should seek some kind of help for their mental illness.
Healing begins when you become brave and tell your story to someone. It just might help them feel that they are not alone.
Thank you very much!
You are a hero. I am so grateful for your courage and willingness to share this vulnerable story. I can’t imagine what you have lived through. I had several days of serious blues with each birth, but thankfully they passed. They seemed they wouldn’t at the time — even though in one shadowy corner of my mind I could feel the fact that I wasn’t seeing things clearly, I just couldn’t catch hope. Instead I had horrible thoughts and feelings. I am so encouraged by your sharing. I know your stepping out will bless so many women.
My story is not as intense as your, but I too suffered from Postpartum depression. Your words spoke to my heart and make me thankful for the people who stood by me while I stuggled with becoming a mom. We hear these stories of the tragedies that occur and we judge the people in the story, but until you have felt those feelings and walked down that path no one can understand the struggle that occurs in the heart and mind of those mothers. Thank you for putting that out there, it helps others know they are not Monsters, but people struggling with a real emotion and illness.
Diane W. Bailey says
Pat, your story doesn’t have to be as intense. You still have to go through the struggle. I hear a beautiful heart in you!
Depressed, Blessed Mom says
Thank you for your words. I have not dealt with PPMD specifically, but I do suffer with depression. So many of your thoughts and emotions are similar to what inexperience when I am in “the black,” as I call it. Just last week I told my husband that I should just leave. I wasn’t any good for him or our three young boys. I was ready to go and was trying to figure out where I would go. Thankfully I was able to keep it together and stay home and my husband just hugged me and reminded me that he loved me, married me, and loved all of me… I often think about how much easier it would be if I could just end it all. I feel like a monster, unworthy of anything and everything. I get angry and cry out “why me” in my mind. I don’t want this disease! I don’t want to feel this! I have good and bad days. Today I am still here with my family, waiting for “the black” to come back and praying out to Jesus to get me through it again. I could never share my pain publicly….because then I would be a monster to those who just don’t understand.
Oh, sweet momma. This makes me tear up. I’m joining you in prayer tonight, believing for the Lord to release you from “the black” and give you peace. If you haven’t spoken to a counselor or doctor, may I gently suggest that you do so? Let someone come alongside you and help bear the burden. We’re not meant to carry these things alone, friend.
What a wonderful gift to get that affirming hug from your husband in the midst of a black time. I hope you felt God’s arms around you too. You’ll get through this, because your heart eyes are open to recognize the blessed along with the depressed. I too am mom to three sons and have a wonderful supportive husband. Depression caught me by surprise and I put off the medication and counseling longer than I should. It helped so much to accept meds to even out that debilitating chemical imbalance and my counselor was invaluable. You are right, the pain that accompanies this is so bad it is hard to share with someone you love, let alone the public. That’s why I found a counselor to be so helpful. I could pour out what seemed so ugly. Kind of felt like throwing up–you know how much better you can feel when you do???!!! Surprisingly, a couple of other things helped-listening to positive Christian music, and filling my mind with encouraging things like you find here at (in)courage. So hang in there, blessed mom, you will get through this with God’s help and I pray you can feel warmth soon as the veil of darkness is lifted.
Kristi Andrews says
I just want to wrap my arms around you and hug you. I’m so sorry for the pain you are feeling. If you were the only person on earth, Jesus would have still died just for you, because you are that precious, because you are that WORTH it! One of the many things I learned in therapy is that feelings are not facts. So while you feel like you are a monster and unworthy at times, those are the lies of the disease. You are still here and are still very much loved and needed by the people in your life, and by the people yet to be in your life. Your pain has purpose. And while it is so hard at times to have hope, please hang on to the hope that your Savior brings. He has not abandoned you or forsaken you. He is there with you and knows every tear that you have shed. And while we do not understand His ways, there will be a day of redemption and healing. Until then, cling tight to those who love you and to the truth that you know about Jesus. And dear one, if you are trying to weather the storm without the help of a professional, I hope that you will consider getting help from either a doctor or a therapist or both. The brave thing is that if you can no longer be safe by yourself, tell someone so that they can keep you safe. Make that promise to yourself because YOU are worth it.
Thank you for being vulnerable and telling your story. I had PPD twice, once 15 1/2 years ago and then again 4 1/2 years ago and both times no one came to me and said maybe you need to see a doctor you seem down or stressed or anything. Even this second time around with a new and helpful husband, unlike the first one, still no one did. I had friend s that talked about me behind my back about how negative I was being. I had PPD and also a son with severe acid reflux and colic and it is a miracle we made it through that. Thankfully I never made it to a point where I wanted to die but that was probably a miracle in itself also. Friends and family did help with this baby because of his needs with acid relux and colic but no one helped ME. That is how I feel about it. It’s very real and you cannot control it. You need a loved one to step in and say “are you alright? what can I do to help?” The first time I was just scared to be alone. I didn’t know what to do with this new baby and I felt sad all the time 🙁 I hate that both of my kids had to be around a “sad” mom for the first year of their lives but I still cuddled and loved on them despite it and I’m extremely close to both of them today so even though it was a rough time, I choose to look at it as we survived the rough time together and that made us closer.
If anyone ever suspects someone they know has a post partum illness they soooo need to step in and take action. I wish someone had suggested I get depression meds. It probably would have made a huge difference for the babies and me.
Thanks again for opening up. I know it’s hard but it does help others to make them feel they are not alone.
Diane, you are a superhero. Truly. Thank you for encouraging us to look out for one another as mothers.
Diane W. Bailey says
Diane, you know, you have been there. You are a voice for those who have no voice, because you understand! Love, listening and safe friendship is the gift that helps the healing. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks so much for having the courage to write about this. I struggle with severe anxiety especially since the birth of my third child and I so appreciate when people open up and share. I was raised by a mother who struggled all my childhood with mental illness, I love and admire her, she did so many wonderful things for me even though there were some things she couldn’t do. I think mothers are amazing and there’s too much talk in the world that makes us feel guilty for not doing or being enough. Xxx
Diane W. Bailey says
Sarah, I’m know it is not an easy journey to have family, especially a mom who has mental illness. I love how you find the positive in her. You are a treasure!
Thank you for speaking out and up. It is so very important that we put a real “face” to the issue of mental illness. My husband is bi-polar and the stigma is very much alive in this culture. The media is not terribly helpful in the way they portray those that lose control and do violent things. Thank you for having the courage to speak your truth and tell your story. God bless you with the Grace to continue doing so.
Diane W. Bailey says
Lina, I you are so very right about the world not understanding about Mental illness. They don’t understand how very tender and loving they can be despite the illness. I’m so glad you brought up that point.
Gina Lind says
Dear sweet mamas,
We are all broken in one way or another. I have struggled with major depression and anxiety for years. I have felt alone and have been so hard on myself. I have let my feelings of inadequacy spoil many opportunities to just love them in the best ways I know how. Please know that our kids think we are the greatest! They see our good qualities. They love YOU just the way you are! Instead of focusing on what we can’t do, look at all we can do. Never stop reaching out for help and working on getting healthy but don’t waste time wishing you were different.
You are so right, Gina. I, too, have suffered with depression and anxiety off and on throughout motherhood. I love your words of sweet wisdom. Being who we are and turning to the One who knows us and loves us best all the time is so important. God has given us these children for a reason. And every day I am more convinced that it is just as much so He can teach us through them as it is the other way around. God bless you and your children.
Ladies, NEVER give up! As a psychologist, I KNOW that lots of PPD and major depression is chemical-based. After giving birth, your hormones just don’t do what they’re supposed to do, but with help, you can & will get better. Know that we love you, God loves you, and your families love you! I am praying for all of you right now for peace, and for the hope of a cure.
Thank you for sharing your story. Although I did not go through what you did, you have sensitized myself, and others, to the terrible struggle PPD is and can be for others.
Blessings to you,
Thank you for sharing this, Angela. I’m so, so sorry for what you had to go through. Praise God for redeeming you from that darkness. I’ve dealt with depression/anxiety on and off since the birth of my second son. I’ve been hesitant to talk about it with anyone but my closest friends, but have been slowly writing my story in hopes of helping someone else to know they’re not alone, and that it’s okay to seek help. Your story makes me more brave to share mine, too — and we all need each other’s stories. It is so encouraging to see what work God is doing in our darkest places.
Friends — if any of you are going through this awful darkness, seek help. Counseling seems scary, but it is so helpful. And medicine is sometimes an incredible help to so many — it is not admitting defeat, but gaining a tool. Don’t be afraid to share your struggle with someone; we need each other! ((hugs))
How right you are, Amanda, that we all need each other’s stories. I guess that is why I love this (in)courage website so much. I hope you continue to be brave and share. Thanks for encouraging me with your comment. You have given good advice-counseling is definitely not admitting defeat. I love the verse that says “in ALL things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us!”
I couldn’t have written this any better! It’s like you took the words right out of my mind. I recently had my second son, who is now 10 months old. I was prepared for what was possibly to come with him, since I was broad sided and dumb founded by my horrible experience of PPD with my first son 4 years ago. The second go round was short lived since I was already in touch with my therapist, and my family was also prepared for what may come again. Luckily it only lasted about a month with the anxiety and scary intrusive thoughts with my second boy. Wish I could say the same with my first son.
It has got to be the scariest thing a woman can go through as a new mom. The perception that you are going to bond immediately and have this wonderful experience was what I had imagined it all to be. Instead, on day 5 of my new baby’s life I opened up and told my husband I was having horrible thoughts of hurting our precious baby and myself. My intrusive thoughts were disgusting and my stomach still flips when I think about them in detail. Then I look at my beautiful blond hair curly boy sitting by me as I type this, eating his apple and watching the movie Brave, and think how lucky I am to be here and experience each day with him and his little brother. That horrible time is behind me now, but is so real to many others. And yes, you feel like a true monster while you are in that dark place… Who else could think all these horrible thoughts about these beautiful, innocent children?? But, monsters we are not. PPD is a serious illness that can not be ignored. I speak openly about my experience with it, to many mothers. I’m a NICN nurse and have the privilege to care for many babies, which also gets me in touch with their moms. I let them know about PPD and just want them to be aware it exist. i do not go into detail about my intrusive thoughts, nor do they know How severe my case was, they only need to know its real and to have an awareness for it. I’m a lucky one. God has blessed me with 2 beautiful boys and challenged me with an experience I will never forget, and can now hopefully be here for other moms if they should need someone to talk to. 🙂
Kristi Andrews says
Thank you for hing the courage to share your story. I had a 2 and 4 yr old when I found out I was “blessed” with twins. They were 12 weeks early with special needs. I was a professional woman with a business practice. None of this was in my plans. I had bonding issues. The only reason I’m still here is that I couldn’t get an increase on my life insurance policy, thankfully. I had so many med changes, a lot of therapy, three psychiatrists. It took four long years. My babies are about to be 10 now. I want to share this poem from 2007. I’ve never shared it in a public forum, but I wrote it out of the guilt I felt for not wanting my blessings and feeling like I couldn’t love them. I hated the “Monster” that I felt I had become. Angela, you spoke for the desperation that we all felt. But there is hope and redemption.
The Face in the Mirror
I look in the mirror and what do I see?
This revolting figure staring back at me.
She has committed atrocities far and wide.
These sins are so disgusting that she runs to hide.
She doesn’t know that she can escape her past.
It’s part of who she is, though she runs so fast.
“Stone her! Stone her!” as they condemn her to die.
She falls to the ground as they raise their arms high.
She believes in her heart that the Accusers are right,
That her sins define her on that cold, dark night.
She is so ugly both inside and out,
Full of self-hatred, so full of doubt.
She prepares to die as she covers her head,
Uncontrollably weeping, she’s afraid to be dead.
Unknown to her, the Nazarene stops.
The Accusers lower their arms, but hang onto their rocks.
“Let’s ask Jesus what we should do.
Surely He agrees and will stone her too.
This man they call Jesus, put him to the test.
Claims He’s the Son of God–He’s not like the rest.”
“Who among you is without sin?
May you cast the first stone–may you begin.”
The Accusers stood silent; what did He say?
Then they dropped their rocks and walked away.
Jesus knelt down beside her to hug her tight.
He shined his light on that cold, dark night.
His words were clear as she stood to her feet:
“Go and sin no more, My commandments do keep.”
That moment of mercy, that moment of grace
When Jesus tenderly kissed her beautiful face.
He loves that girl in the mirror–you see.
His light casts out darkness, no Accuser for me.
My sins are forgiven; I’m washed in His blood.
I don’t comprehend this, but there I stood.
He loves that girl and her sins are no more.
She’s a precious daughter, for she knocked on His door.
Why can’t I forgive her, let go and let be?
Please help me to see her as Jesus sees me.
I need grace for the moment to help me forgive,
Jesus, I need you every day that I live.
To stand beside me, pick me up from the floor
To tell the Accuser: “Be gone — No more!”
Then maybe, just maybe, when I look in the mirror
I’ll see a child of God with Jesus near her.
Thank you so much for sharing your story!! When I read your story I wanted to post a comment to tell you thank you. Your story touched home with my heart. I have a friend who is struggling with what you did. I agree there needs to be more openness about this topic so more may understand and help or if it affects you, understand it is okay to seek help as you experience this difficult disease. Your story needs to be shared and God has blessed you with a gift to be able to do so. Thank you so much for sharing. May God continue to bless you and use you mightly for His glory!!
Laura M. says
Thank you for sharing. After my first son was born in 2010 I suffered from post partum depression. There were days that I just sat and held my baby boy and prayed for God to just take my life. Those were some of the darkest days of my life. I was not the person I once was. I was mean to my husband. I have tears right now just thinking about it. But God brought me through. I know my case was very mild compared to other women but I remember looking in the mirror and seeing a monster and just wanting out. God is so very good and when my second son was born in 2012 I had no signs of PPMD. Praise the Lord for His mercy.
I don’t normally speak about my journey with PPMD but after reading this I know that I need to be available to God to share the testimony of His power. And I hope that if I were to ever go through this again that God would bring women to me to share of His hope. Thank you again.
Ruth Wood says
Angela, I so appreciate you sharing. It hits home because last spring we had a family member suddenly dealing with a serious mental illness. You’re so right that people easily judge when a devastating mental illness has never touched their lives. We need immense compassion and support and wisdom when things like this happen. The Lord bless you for your courage in sharing.