Finding Hope in the Midst of Postpartum Depression

ppd_hopeFor the past few days I’ve felt like I have been slipping back down into the deep, black pit of postpartum depression.  That’s how it always goes for me: I slowly start loosing more and more of my joy, of my hope.  In the place of joy and hope, my heart begins to fill with pain (literally, I can press a hand on my chest and ease the ache).  Next comes the feeling of being weighted down, as if my blood has been replaced by lead.  My thoughts get lost in mental fog, and every task—down to changing the last dirty diaper—becomes so. incredibly. difficult. to. accomplish.

Yesterday morning I began my prayer time by writing a note in my prayer journal begging Jesus to “remove this cup [of depression] from Me; yet not my will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42).

Jesus responded to me right away in my readings, first in my daily devotional: “If you have hope, this will make you cheerful.” (J. Escriva, Friends of God, 76).

Yes, I thought to myself, this is true: I have experienced this for myself recently.  We are moving back to my hometown next year and will live near family again (currently we live on the other side of the country from family).  I have been so excited about this move, about buying a house and about settling down.  I have had so much HOPE lately for the future, but yesterday morning that hope was not enough to make my soul cheerful.

That is when Jesus gently directed my thoughts to this verse: “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast.” (Heb 6:19).

I struggled to find the meaning of what the Lord was telling me.  The hope in our new home that had buoyed me just days before had faded and my soul did not feel anchored.

Finally, the Lord gently reprimanded me, saying “set your HOPE on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col 3:2).

A light turned on for me: I realized that the excitement—the hope—I had been feeling about our future house was good, but that it had blinded me. If I was so hopeful for my future earth house, how much more hope I should have for an eternal home with God in Heaven!  How much more glorious will my Heavenly home be than any home I could ever find on Earth!

I realized I have been placing my hope in earthly things; I have idolized these things and that is why hope has not been a sturdy anchor for me.  I do believe that my depression is a mental illness that needs to be medicated; however, I also believe that focusing my hope on things above—God & Heaven—will provide me with that steadfast anchor.

peace-be-with-youlove

A PPD Trick: Turning Your Shower into a Spa

turning-your-shower-into-a-spaWhen I am depressed, one thing I’ve found that is always a comfort is a hot shower.  It relaxes my body, clears my mind & soothes my soul.  There are a few special things I do to treat myself when I’m feeling bad off:

Choose a verse from scripture to meditate on while you relax.  This will help calm and focus your thoughts and take you mentally away from your troubles.  If you’re looking for a place to start, Psalm 91 has several versus that work well, such as verse 4.

Dim the lights and light a candle. This creates a calming, peaceful atmosphere.  I love these Anthropologie candles because they have a light, fruity scent.

Special soaps, shampoos, and body scrubs.  I’ve found that having new, fresh scents (instead of my regular, go-to scents) makes my shower extra special.  I feel like I am being pampered and can revel in the delicious fragrances that my nose is not accustomed to. I love the smell of Shea Moisture’s Fruit Fusion Coconut Water line for body wash and scrub and find that Burt’s Bees Orange Essence Facial Cleanser really makes my face feel soft and smooth.

Taking time to put on a special body lotion at the end of the shower, again with a scented lotion that you don’t normally use. Give yourself a full body massage.  I absolutely love Trader Joe’s Coconut Body Butter & Pumpkin Body Butter.

If you have time after completing the above at a leisurely pace, I highly recommend giving yourself a manicure and pedicure.  That way this calm and refreshing experience will last beyond shower time! Right now I’m obsessed with OPI’s Washington, D.C. line.

 

What do you do to lift yourself up when you’re struggling with depression or otherwise?

peace-be-with-youlove

Disclaimer: I am not a medical expert, just a mom who has suffered from PPD. Consult your doctor if you think you have depression, or call 911 if you think you might harm yourself or others.

My Postpartum Depression Survival Guide

postpartum-depression-survival-guideUgh. Just as I was getting up and running with blogging, a second wave of postpartum depression (PPD) knocked the wind right out of me. This is my fourth episode of PPD in the past year and a half (I had two episodes with DD and now two episodes with DS). After coping with PPD so much lately, I’ve come up with some tricks to stay afloat during this painfully difficult time:

Disclaimer: I am not a medical expert, just a mom who has suffered from PPD. Consult your doctor if you think you have depression, or call 911 if you think you might harm yourself or others.

Pray hard, and pray often. Psalm 13 really helps me during these times.

Get medical help. With DD, I did not realize what had hit me. I thought what I was feeling was normal, and I needlessly suffered through it. With DS, I started taking an antidepressant the night he was born. The difference between my two postpartum experiences was night and day.

Do your best to live in the moment. When I focus all my attention on exactly what I’m doing in that moment, I can’t think about how many hours stand in between me and my bedtime, or how life used to be before babies. It’s much easier to enjoy this one moment in time and not worry about all the other moments that need to be filled.

Try to get out every day, even if it’s just for a walk. It may sound cliché, but getting out into the world for some fresh air makes me feel less isolated and ALWAYS lifts my spirits.

Have healthy snacks on hand. This is very important for me as I have a tendency to overeat and gain weight when I’m depressed.  Healthy snacks also energize your body.

Do something nice for yourself every day. For me, this us usually just taking a long, quiet shower in the evening. On really rough days, I’ll splurge on some Starbucks.

Rest whenever possible. I have two under two (still two under 1.5 as of writing this post!) so I know this can be a big challenge!

Avoid your iPhone. When I’m feeling bad off, all I want to do is zone out on Pinterest or Facebook. It feels good while I’m doing it, but the second I get offline I feel even worse than when I started scrolling through my news feeds. Instead of staring at your screen, close your eyes and relax.

Get on a routine. I have a morning routine and evening routine that I always follow, both of which help me gear up and wind down from my day.

I am not out of the PPD woods yet, so I would love to add to this list. What do you do to cope with your PPD?

peace-be-with-youlove