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  Next comes the feeling of being weighted down, as if my blood has been replaced by lead.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

My Evening Routine As A Mama of 2 Under 2

my-evening-%e2%80%a8routineI have found that in order to keep my sanity as a SAHM of two under two, I need routines (see my morning routine).  Routines help me to ensure that I’m getting enough sleep, that I’m taking care of myself mentally and physically, that I’m being present with my husband and loving him well, and that I am devoting time to building my relationship with Jesus.

I wasn’t always like this!!! Before kids I was pretty disorganized and had poor time management skills.  But, as they say, a baby (or two) changes everything.  Now I find comfort in routine and structure, and honestly, having a daily plan is refreshing to me.

Here is my evening routine as a SAHM of two under two:

6:30-7pm: Kids in bed.  They are ALWAYS in bed by 7pm (I can only think of one time in the memorable past that DD wasn’t in bed by 7pm; she was sick and it took until 7:15 to calm her down).

10 minutes post kids in bed: Sit on the couch, catch up on emails & social media and drink a tall glass of water.  The pre-bed evenings with two under two are pretty hectic (especially since my husband is still at work most nights).  A glass of water is very refreshing, and as a breastfeeding mom it’s important to stay well hydrated.

Post-water break: Finish picking up the house; wash up any dirty dishes and run the dishwasher; and get organized for the next day (restock the diaper bag, lay out tomorrow’s clothes, etc.).  I find it’s really important to my mental well-being and outlook to have an organized house.  Clutter causes me stress, and waking up to a messy house in the morning does not make for a good start to the day.  I also do what I can to eliminate frantic running around in the morning.

7:30-8pm:  Dinner & date time with my husband (if he’s home from work).  If he’s not home from work I’ll use this time to take an extra long shower and then read.

8pm: Quick shower and get ready for bed.  Once I’m all ready for bed, I usually sit on the couch for five minutes with my husband and sip on a mug of Sleepytime Tea.  This really helps me calm down and relax.  I have also been taking Melatonin lately to help me get back into a regular sleep cycle after 7+ months of night waking’s and weird bedtimes (Note: Consult your doctor before adding any dietary suppliants.  I am not a doctor and am only sharing what has been helpful to me).

8:15-8:30pm: Dream feed for DS.

8:30-9pm: Lights out.

What does your evening routine look like? Is there anything special you do to wind down?

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.