Life Would Be Easier if We Didn’t Have to Live It {And Other Lies Depression Tells}

{I have been wondering when to share this with you. It’s hard to tell at what point in a constant conversation with the public I’m supposed to interject with, “Oh, by the way, I have postpartum depression.” But a long story short, I keep going back to my strong belief that when a person is vulnerable enough to admit their struggles in life, that allows others a safe space to do the same. I believe that one of the strange gifts of our brokenness is that God uses it to connect with people in their own broken places. Also, to be blunt, last week was National Suicide Prevention Week. Depression is misunderstood. I know, because I completely misunderstood it until being diagnosed and living with it since Baby was born. But if I can shed even just a tiny light on it today, if I can help at least one person realize they are not alone, then praise God for this platform to do so. I could write a million words on this subject, but I want to share about my experience in smaller pieces. Today’s piece is about being diagnosed at my six week postpartum appointment, as well as a few of the lies depression tells. If this is you and you have not reached out to anyone for help, please do so. Message me, talk to a friend, CALL YOUR DOCTOR. You are so not alone, and you don't have to try to handle this alone either!} Photo by Bradley Productions, February 2015.

{I have been wondering when to share this with you. It’s hard to tell at what point in a constant conversation with the public I’m supposed to interject with, “Oh, by the way, I have postpartum depression.” But a long story short, I keep going back to my strong belief that when a person is vulnerable enough to admit their struggles in life, that allows others a safe space to do the same. I believe that one of the strange gifts of our brokenness is that God uses it to connect with people in their own broken places. Also, to be blunt, last week was National Suicide Prevention Week.

Depression is misunderstood. I know, because I completely misunderstood it until being diagnosed and living with it since Baby was born. But if I can shed even just a tiny light on it today, if I can help at least one person realize they are not alone, then praise God for this platform to do so. I could write a million words on this subject, but I want to share about my experience in smaller pieces. Today’s piece is about being diagnosed at my six week postpartum appointment, as well as a few of the lies depression tells. If this is you and you have not reached out to anyone for help, please do so. Message me, talk to a friend, CALL YOUR DOCTOR. You are so not alone, and you don't have to try to handle this alone either!}

Photo by Bradley Productions, February 2015.

“So, let’s go over some of these questions,” the nurse said gently, holding my postpartum depression questionnaire in her hands.

This was the nurse who took my blood pressure, weighed me, and tested my urine every time I went to the doctor’s office the past two years, which was a lot of times. She was the one who hugged me when I found out Aliza’s heart had stopped beating, who smiled non-judgmentally as I gained a lot of extra weight with our rainbow baby, and who was now handing me tissues as the tears started rolling down my cheeks at my six-week postpartum appointment.

“So, you answered here that sometimes you feel overwhelmed with life?” she asked.

I almost laughed. She knew a lot about me, but she didn’t know that “Overwhelmed” was my theme for the year of 2016. I had just been pregnant twice in two years, was dealing with both the grief of losing one baby and the chaos of welcoming another who was waking up every two hours. We were only days away from moving to a new state, and I was in the middle of working, mothering, and saying awful goodbyes to people I did not want to say goodbye to. We were going through so much change, too much change at once.

Wouldn’t anyone feel overwhelmed by these circumstances? I thought.

“You also answered that sometimes you blame yourself when things go wrong?” she moved on to the next question.

I wondered how else I was supposed to feel when our first child was going through the rough transition of “I’m Not the Center of the Universe” anymore. I was having a hard time learning how to take care of two kids at once, and she was not exactly handling it delicately. It felt like things were going wrong often, and who else could I blame except myself?

“Now, let’s talk about this last question here,” she said. “You answered that sometimes you think about hurting yourself?”

I struggled to find the right words to explain what I was feeling. “No, not exactly. I didn’t make a plan to commit suicide, I just feel that sometimes life would be easier if I didn’t have to live it,” was what I finally said through my tears.

The doctor made plans for me to come back to the office in a few days to talk about going on an anti-depressant. I had filled out the postpartum depression questionnaire honestly, and now I felt like I was being punished for it. After almost two straight years of doctor’s office and hospital visits and ultrasounds and peeing in cups and thinking I was about to break free from it all, I had to schedule even more appointments.

But mostly, I felt ashamed.

I was supposed to be happy.

I mean, I was happy sitting in the hospital room, holding our precious newborn baby boy. I hadn’t felt that happy in a really long time. But in the six weeks since he was born my hormones came crashing down, I had no motivation to do the things I usually liked doing, and there was a huge knot of anxiety on my chest when I faced packing up our apartment into boxes. All I could get myself to do was sit on the couch and stare at the empty boxes, frantically rocking our colicky baby and trying to handle a strong-willed toddler.

A rainbow baby was supposed to be the wonderful conclusion to a really tough couple of years. But now here I was, filling out a quiz that would tell me I don’t get to decide when the hard stuff in life is over.

I remember thinking as I filled out the questionnaire, If this is postpartum depression, doesn’t everyone have it? Doesn’t everyone get overwhelmed, stretched past their limit, and think at times that life would be easier if they didn’t have to deal with it anymore?

Sometimes I wonder that still, as I see so much pain in the world. I watch our grandma take care of grandpa through his heartbreaking diagnosis of ALS. I see my sister take her son to appointment after appointment for chemotherapy. I hear of a friend whose child was born with a rare chromosome abnormality. I stare at a picture of a small Syrian boy covered in dust and blood, sitting silently in an ambulance after his home was ripped apart by war. I see the rubble after teenagers put a nearby neighborhood up in flames in rioting and protest.

I see so much pain; we all do. But while sometimes I wonder why our entire world isn’t depressed if this is the broken state we find ourselves in, I remember that Depression is a liar, a Deceiver of the most horrific kind.

Depression lies and tells you it would be better to just end it, to take your own life and stop feeling the pain.

Depression tries to make you forget the people who love you. It tries to make you think you are too much of a burden for them to handle, that they would be better off without you. It tries to tell you it's wrong for you to feel so much pain.

And these are all lies from the pit of hell. 

No, the pain and depression and anxiety might not ever get easier to face this side of heaven, but by the grace of God it is not the end of the Story either. 

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. {Psalm 139:23}

Depression lies and tells you that you’re the only one going through this. 

Depression tries to isolate you, to make you feel lonely. It tells you that everyone else in the world is happy all the time, so why aren't you happy too?

What I didn't know is that it's estimated 900,000 women get postpartum depression each year. But while 900,000 sounds like a lot, it is still a lonely number when it leaves someone wondering where the other 899,999 are, and why they aren't talking about it. It's still isolating when stigma says you shouldn't talk about it. 

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. {Psalm 34:18}

Depression also lies and tells you to feel ashamed of yourself.

We live in a culture that is often harsh toward parents. When things go wrong in the life of a child, we assume parents are to blame.  When someone parents differently than we do, we assume they are doing it wrong. When parents are honest about the hardships of parenting, we assume they are ungrateful or that they aren't "enjoying every moment like they should be."

In this kind of environment, it's hard for a woman to admit the dark thoughts and emotions that often accompany postpartum depression. I have often thought, "What if I tell someone about what I am going through, and they immediately assume I am an unfit mother?" 

I knew it would take humility to admit I needed help, but I was afraid of being humiliated too.

These are just a few of the lies Depression tells. 

This is just a small taste of the deception someone faces when Depression affects their body, their mood, and their thoughts. These are a few of the lies that remind us we are not yet home, that what we see and hear and feel crushed by will not be the end of us. 

God gives us space to mourn this life, space we must take and do the hard work of letting ourselves mourn whatever has broken our hearts and minds and brains. And He also reminds us that in a world where it feels easier to despair, even tempting to think life would be easier if we didn’t have to live it, this life is not all there is.

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God. {Psalm 42:11}

God is here, God is listening, and He cares. By His grace and the gift of Zoloft, I will face my pain and depression. I will hope in Him.

 

Grace and Peace,
Kendra