“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1Peter 5:10-11 NIV
(***Trigger warning: This post discusses personal details about my experience with postpartum depression***)
Each life is a story. Some chapters dark and some chapters uplifting. Some are short lived while others seem to go on and on and on. Sometimes, the chapter doesn’t even make sense until the very end. Other times, the chapter doesn’t make sense until many chapters later. I feel that I have recently began a new chapter but for it to make sense, I will have to go back to a few previous ones.
Let’s rewind to a time when I had my first child in 2013. I had a different pregnancy where for some reason I didn’t have those feelings of excitement throughout my pregnancy but blamed it on hormones and continued on throughout the rest of my pregnancy. I then went on to struggle with severe postpartum depression (PPD) following the birth of my first child. I ignored warning signs or just passed them off as typical and normal patterns of adjustment until I eventually hit the brink of wanting to harm myself one night and thought about options on the easiest “way out.” (Side note: This was following a specific medication I had began taking to help with milk production. A nurse warned me over the phone that suicide and suicidal thoughts were a side effect. I quickly explained that I understood, didn’t give it a second thought and began taking the medication in desperation to produce more milk.)
Thankfully, I was warned and mentally sound enough to recognize that things had gone too far. I didn’t tell my husband what I had been thinking at that moment, but just remember crying and crying and crying that night. I’m not sure if it was intuition on his part, if he recognized the signs, if he had researched anything related to PPD, or if it was just God’s grace, but all I remember is my husband hugging me saying we are going to the doctor to get help.
I eventually had another child (Aug. 2016). I believe the best way to explain my condition following my second child was a functional depression. I wasn’t aware of it at the time though because it wasn’t “as bad” as the first time. And, in my head, “it (PPD) wasn’t supposed to last this long” after having a baby. I thought maybe it was because of major transitions such as having another baby, my husband going active duty which had us move 1,000 miles away from family, TDYs, etc. Before moving, I enjoyed working and the new transition to stay at home was difficult for me so I would search for that fix. I went back to work as an SLP, I got certified as a mind/body fitness instructor, but there was still a void. I hit a point where I would say to God that I didn’t even care for the relationship with Him anymore because I wasn’t sure if He was really there and I just kept going through the motions. I was bitter.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 NIV
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 ESV
Now, to our neighbors and friends during that time, thank you for the invitations. The invitations to girls’ nights, get togethers, bible studies, couple dates, church, the pool, everything. All of the invites and relationships mean the world to me. Even if there was a void, I believe God used each of you with all my heart to help me keep pushing through. And the fun times were truly fun times. It is possible to have good days and fun times when in the midst of a difficult battle.
I kept a lot inside and continued as though this was how life was supposed to be. WHY, do we do that??? This is life, it’s normal to have lows, why is it so hard to be vulnerable and admit those things to the ones we love most?
(Edit to add: NOW, I know why we try to journey alone, and it is bc Satan WANTS us isolated and alone.)
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him — a three-fold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV
Fast forward to this past summer when we had to PCS. We moved in June and were in transition for awhile. Finally, the day came when we got our house then several weeks later in August our household goods arrived. We got everything that we could unpacked and settled. We celebrated (that no crates were lost and everything was in semi good condition this round) with a glass of wine outside with neighbors, got the girls to bed, then sat down to watch a show on Netflix. Finally, we were settled. Cue: A big, deep sigh of relief.
That is when I got a phone call. I saw my older sister calling and ignored it to finish our show. I checked her voicemail because I thought it was odd that she called instead of texting and left a voicemail. The voicemail said “Katy, mom has had a heart attack.” I sat frozen after hearing those words and looked at my husband and just asked “What do I do?” Just typing that memory brings so many tears to my eyes y’all because I had no idea the road God was about to take us on to reveal Himself and show us just how good He really is. Little did I know, how transforming the next three weeks would be not just for myself but all five of us siblings.
So this is where we come to a new chapter. It’s a transforming chapter for myself and hopefully others. It’s a lot. It’s overwhelming. Some details my mom and family are not quite ready to share. Some of it is scary, sad, terrifying but some so unbelievably uplifting. It’s a chapter on how God waited on a girl to give her life back to Him for years. It’s about a girl who used to try so hard to use words and scripture to encourage others but needed encouragement so desperately herself. It’s a chapter about a girl that saw dark for so long and now sees light. A chapter about a girl who put on a smile and laughed for so long to only cover the hurt and pain she was feeling inside. A chapter about finding hope and joy in a life that once was hopeless and depressed. A chapter about how God used a storm to change lives. A chapter of how God filled the life of a girl and her four other siblings while their mother was on several forms of life support and “asleep” for three weeks. A chapter about how God used a small Catholic chapel and daily mass in a hospital to speak to a non-Catholic girl. Because, when we seek Him, He will meet us anywhere. A chapter where a girl gave her author back the pen. A chapter of how God revealed Himself and continues to reveal Himself to just one girl in this huge world. Because, to Him, I’m not just a girl. I’m His child. It took years for me to realize that where Satan had me shackled, my God had the key.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 NIV
The storm isn’t over, the waters aren’t calm. The waves continue to rise at times but God, we continue to praise you in this storm and place our hope in you. The days will still be difficult, we are warned over and over of that but we have God who has given us the ultimate example of endurance and a reason for hope. We have God who has overcome the world.
“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”John 16:33 NLT
He is waiting for us to surrender. He is waiting for us to receive the blessing of His grace. And, no perfect time to respond than now because we aren’t promised tomorrow. Thank God He chose me. Thank God He is the author of my story. There’s so much more to discuss but if you take anything away from this, know that you are loved and God is good. Our storms aren’t always for us. Sometimes, He’s working on others in the midst of our storms. Thank you, God, for these storms and may you be glorified through each and every one.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 NIV
“Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.” James 1:2-4 NLT
“For he has delivered me from every trouble, and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.” Psalm 54:7 ESV
Because I mentioned my struggle with PPD and anxiety, here is a link for for phone numbers, resources, etc. for information.
Below are some of my Facebook profile pictures throughout my struggle which I believe were triggered by pregnancy and postpartum that carried on for years. There are so many more details and variables to my struggle with PPD regarding breastfeeding, medication, second pregnancy, other events, etc. Feel free to reach out with any questions regarding this experience. Just a friendly reminder that although someone is smiling and functioning, it doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling. You never know the battles someone is fighting.
(Photo credit for top two pictures: Sweet Charms Photography, LLC)
Verses to dwell on:
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5 NIV
But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction. Job 36:15 NIV
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21 NIV
As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 1Peter 4:2 NIV
But rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1Peter 4:13 NIV
Thank you for reading and my prayer is that this help someone in need and that it bring all glory and honor to God.