Friday, June 25, 2010

Postpartum Depression: My Journey

Shortly after the birth of Eliana, sadness monopolized my days and guilt pressed down heavily upon me even as I slept.  Fear sat at my doorstep waiting for an opportunity to attack my weakening frame;  my mind eventually surrendering out of sheer exhaustion.  Daily, I grew more and more fragile and afraid.  My battle to survive was being fought in silence and shame.  Postpartum depression had arrived uninvited, stripping me of months of joy.  Months that, even today seem dark and painful to recall.
Do not fear,

As Eliana lay peacefully in my arms, my mind was tormented by thoughts, awful thoughts and accompanying pictures that I couldn't shake away.  I, was having thoughts of cutting myself, slitting my wrists, with no one there to rescue me. 

for I am with you;  

In desperation, I remember turning on the TV, trying to replace the agonizing pictures so vividly playing out in my mind.  But every image on the screen only served as a reminder of the razor sitting in the shower, waiting for me and quietly whispering my name.  At times, I would catch myself holding the razor in my hand, paralyzed for a few moments until I could force my fingers to release their grip.  

Do not anxiously look about you,
Even when I would tightly close my eyes and cover my tear-drenched face with my hands, the thoughts remained.  When my children would jump into my lap, throwing their loving arms around my neck, the thoughts continued to pull me far from their embrace. The thoughts which I battled daily left me feeling hopeless, the anxiety left me struggling to breathe.  Being alone with my children caused unbridled fear, "What if I harm them?"

For I am your God.

 At night, I would silently cry myself to sleep, often times too weak to even utter a prayer for help. One night, I remember trying to write down several Bible verses, so desirous of encouragement and hope.  My mind and body were so weakened by the thoughts tormenting me day and night, all I could do was crumple up the paper filled with life-giving words and hold it tightly in my hands throughout the night. Many a night I held that crumpled piece of paper...occasionally crying out, "Help me, please help me, Lord!" 

I will strengthen you,

Finally, my "secret" was too much to bear alone.  So reluctantly, I told David and a few of my closest friends, but still the battle within my mind continued to rage on...until I could admit that I needed help to get well. 

surely I will help you,

Walking into the emergency room was the scariest thing I have ever done.  With irrational thoughts spinning round my head, palms sweating, heart pounding, my body shaking under the stress and fear of the unknown...yet, God was with me!  His presence was so clearly felt next to me as I sat in that cold, sterile bed in the ER.  He gave me hope...He reminded me that everything was going to be alright.
surely I will uphold you 

The truth is, God was with me all along.  In the midst of every sleepless night, HE WAS THERE. While battling every thought of hurting myself, HE WAS THERE.  In the midst of every anxiety attack, HE WAS THERE, upholding me with His righteous right hand. 

with My righteous right hand.

And, God is with you too, no matter what you are battling.  He may not immediately remove the trial you are facing, but He is faithful to remain an "ever present help in trouble."  Whether it be postpartum depression like me, or the loss of a loved one, or the uncertainty of your future, you are not alone; HE IS THERE!  Trust Him to help you, to strengthen you, to place within you a living hope anchoring you to Jesus Christ.   

Isaiah 41:10

HE IS THERE, right there next to you.  So close that maybe you can feel the warmth of his breath on your shoulder.  HE IS THERE, ready to uphold you with His righteous right hand. 
"Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved."  Psalm 55:12


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