Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hope :)

A few people have asked me about my experience with Postpartum Depression & the things I did to make it through. So I thought I would share part of what I have learned in hopes that it might help someone :)  

I didn't realize for quite sometime that I was dealing so badly with depression, during pregnancy & for about a year after.  Depression effects everything! It was not only hard on me, but hard on my marriage & my family. Things are extra hard when we ignore them or don't understand them. The more light & understanding that comes to an issue, the less power it has & the more bearable it becomes.  So here are a list of symptoms to help you or the people you love, recognize it:

  • Struggling for perfection
  • Feeling overwhelmed or feeling a sense of failure
  • Experiencing shattered expectations
  • Plunging into despair
  • Having difficulty focusing & concentrating (brain is in a fog & it's hard to see clearly)
  • Feeling lonely
  • Panicking
  • Having difficulty sleeping (or the opposite--wanting to sleep forever)
  • Lacking appetite
  • Feeling as though you are losing your mind
  • Struggling to survive

"A woman’s experiencing postpartum depression does not mean that she is weak, that she has done something wrong, or that she is to blame for her overwhelming feelings....Postpartum depression is an illness with a biochemical basis...hormone-level shifts that occur during pregnancy & after childbirth may contribute to chemical changes in the brain." That, combined with the stresses and fatigue that accompany having a new baby, can lead to depression. About 10 percent of women who have a baby will experience postpartum depression, which typically occurs within four weeks after giving birth but can occur anytime during the following year. Many women who experience postpartum depression have had a previous encounter with depression; new mothers in this category should closely monitor their feelings so they can get help if symptoms appear and escalate. ("Managing Postpartum Depression: A Gospel Perspective" Lynn Clark Callister)

After having my daughter, I studied a lot about hormone levels & how they can affect how you are feeling. I felt that I had a lot of symptoms of low progesterone & low testosterone so I had a doctor check several difference levels (they did a complete health history analysis & I think they took about 12 tubes of blood!). I appreciated how they didn't just treat the symptoms I was having but tried to get to the root of the problem.  It was SO good to get some answers & know that some levels were extremely low & there was a reason why I was feeling the way I was. My brain could not function normally because my body was deficient of essential nutrients I had lost being pregnant!! I felt for several months that I had been trying to run a marathon with a broken leg!  Once I found out what levels were low I could get some help. One of the best things I started doing was taking an RAW organic prenatal vitamin. Although I had been taking a prenatal vitamin for over a year, my body had not been absorbing a lot of the nutrients, especially the iron (apparently a lot of people's body don't absorb Ferrous Fumerate). 
Within a month of taking the RAW vitamin I was grateful to be feeling SO much better.

Before that, I tried to attack this struggle in every way possible way:
Physically -- trying to eat more healthy, getting good rest, gaining an understanding of how my body works & what it was lacking, seeking help from doctors (an anti-depressant did help me for few months but had some unwanted side effects), taking supplements (including Vitex & Maca to help regulate my hormones)
Mentally-- seeing a counselor, journaling about my thoughts, reading uplifting, inspiring books that helped me understand depression & my own emotions (Living in the Light, The Burnout Cure, Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child)
Socially--finally opening up to others & admitting that I needed some help, being able to confide in friends & family
Spiritually -- prayer, meditation, scripture study, living prophets counsel, seeking counsel from a loving bishop, receiving priesthood blessings that filled me with hope

 I know the thing that helped me the very most was the knowledge I had that God had a purpose for my suffering. He had all power to take it away but there was a reason that he allowed me to go through all of this. He loves us enough to let us hurt in order to grow for the better. I needed to be refined & with his help, I could handle that refinement. The spiritual habits of prayer & scripture study were my best medicine. These habits are what made this trial bearable on a daily basis. 

This quote helped me be patient with & understand the process of healing: " It is only an appreciation of [the Savior's] divine love that will make our own lesser suffering first bearable, then understandable, and finally redemptive."("Like a Broken Vessel" Elder Jeffrey R. Holland ). The Lord Jesus Christ is the only person who has walked our very path. Because of his loving Atonement, he knows exactly what we are going through & he knows exactly how to guide us through it. One of my favorite names for Him is "Wonderful Counsellor" because that is what He became for me :) He actually knows us better than we know ourselves because he sees us as eternal beings. Although we can not remember the wonderful place our spirits came from before this earth, our Savior does. He knows who we were & what choices we made there. He also sees what we will become