At one time a woman for our church called me to be my “Stephen Minister.” I felt so relieved that she wanted to help me. About three months later I became pregnant with our first born daughter. About a month and a half after she was born, I started down a long journey of postpartum depression. For a year I went undiagnosed, going to the doctor complaining of extreme tiredness, severe mood swings, and disinterest in daily activities. At first I was told that was just a normal part of first time parenthood of a colicky baby. Finally I was given anti-depressant medication (an SSRI) because after taking a “test” I was considered “severely” depressed. I stayed on this medication, which worked wonders, until I became pregnant with our second born daughter.
In between these two daughters, I miscarried twice. I went off my medication when I became pregnant with our second born because no one told me otherwise. This was a rough pregnancy due to early labor several times between weeks 34-37.5. Our daughter Emily came by c-section at 37.5 weeks.
I did well for a couple of months, and then it happened again—the same symptoms. I went to the doctor and told him that I was not well. We tried the same anti-depressant as the first round. It did not work. Even with increased dosages, I was still so incredibly low that I knew something HAD to change. We tried another kind of SSRI. This one did not work either. I tried counseling and touch therapy.
My husband did not understand what I needed so he left me alone quite often. This was definitely not what I needed. I was able to find a smile for an hour of church every Sunday, and people were fooled. I talked to my minister and that left me cold. I felt unlovable and unworthy of the Father’s love. I went to a psychotherapist and went on a tri-cyclic anti-depressant with such terrible side effects that I eventually went off of them and felt good.
I felt so good that we decided to have a third baby. I know what you may be thinking – was she nuts? Nope, just wanting to add to our family. I was told that the postpartum depression may not actually happen again; so we got pregnant. I miscarried again. I could not believe it. Not again. Yet, two and a half short months later I was pregnant with our third born daughter. I had a very nauseous but uneventful pregnancy. I was huge but content. I had energy and love mothering the other two. My daughter was born at 38 weeks a healthy 9lbs 7oz! But, then she had to go to the level 2 children’s nursery due to severe jaundice. I believe I handled it quite well. We finally came home and started figuring out this family of 5!
By three months postpartum I plummeted again. I went back on anti-depressants and became so frustrated. I was frustrated at my brain for not being “normal”; at God for not “fixing” my brain and at the people around me for not caring.
It has been five years this time. I have not been able to leave the anti-depressants behind this time. I have been on so many dosages and tried different SSRI’s alone and in combination that my weight has skyrocketed and my energy has plummeted. I recently had to change medications again due to suicidal thoughts while taking my prescribed medications.
Depression hurts. The thing that people need to realize is that we can’t just get over it. It is not a question of faith or trust in God. It is a brain thing. We cannot fix ourselves and the good Lord made our brains so complex that mere man cannot understand its functioning completely. So, we take every day as it comes. My motivation for just getting out of bed is my girls. They need me. I have responsibilities and they are important. Once they are gone, it is a different story. Depression is a long journey that not many want to take with me. That makes me sad. Sad, because I am a very nice person and friend, I just need a little more compassion than the average woman.