Our Overcomer Series continues. All month long I will be sharing Overcomer Stories of Women just like you. This is Erin’s story of Overcoming Postpartum Depression. You can read more of Erin’s writing at A Grace Filled Heart.
I don’t really identify myself as an overcomer. But, maybe I should. We are all overcomers in unique ways. There have been times in my life that presented challenges to push through, battles fought, tears shed, so to isolate one as the penultimate time of overcoming is hard. However, there is one time which made a most lasting impression upon my heart, spirit, soul, and mind; ultimately changing how I live.
I welcomed my first beautiful baby on May 1, 2009. I was just shy of turning 30, and had nearly 4 years of marriage under my belt as I began the journey that is mothering. Levi was a precious gift after a miscarriage the previous spring had left my heart bruised and aching. We went to our prenatal class, I took all the right vitamins and supplements, eschewed my beloved coffee and Dr. Pepper (oh, the horrors!) for the duration of my pregnancy, researched vaccines, car seats, baby carriers, and we had the nursery decked out and ready to go. We were prepared for sleepless nights and colic and blowout diapers and caring for umbilical cords…we knew we didn’t know everything, but we were confident we would be fine.
I remember feeling joy unspeakable when Levi was first placed in my arms, but I also remember a niggling feeling in the back of my mind that something wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. I loved this precious little boy, loved him deeply, but with the chaos of visitors, nurses, lactation consultants, no sleep, I was incredibly anxious to get him home so that we could truly begin to bond.
And truly, things were good. We were adjusting. I was fine. Until I wasn’t.
It started slowly and softly…beginning with a sense of resentment toward Matt for getting to leave the house every day and shower and talk with adults, while I was at home with a baby I didn’t know what to do with….constant worry over Levi’s health…him being diagnosed with reflux and me pumping and nursing and supplementing with formula and him crying and crying and crying….not gaining weight, but not losing weight either….feeling like my world was upended and God was so, so, so far away from me I wondered if He had ever been truly near.
Crying and raging after church one Sunday convinced that I wasn’t going back because, “I can’t sit and listen to how GOOD God is anymore because I don’t believe it. I don’t believe He loves me and I’m sick of hearing how much He does.” I felt alone like No one understood. I felt like I had been broken into a million little pieces and no one could put me back together again. I felt ruined.
It took six months for me to get the help I needed. Attention I needed for my mental health, emotional health, for the good of my marriage and baby. Many of the issues I was dealing with were directly related to that tremendously hard first month of Levi’s life and post-partum hormones, but much of what was going on were issues and wounds that had resurfaced.
Postpartum depression is tricky, because it’s more common than people would like to admit, but it’s not talked about very much. So much light could be thrown on the darkness that is this illness. I was being bombarded with lies from the enemy about how I didn’t truly love Levi, love Matt, how alone I was so it wouldn’t do any good to talk to anyone about it, because no one could truly understand, and how the world would be better off without me.
Beloved, can I tell you that taking that first step, just admitting that I needed help was a moment of victory? If you are in a place where you are struggling and you don’t think you can do it, let me encourage you that you CAN. It is so hard, but even saying it out loud is a milestone of overcoming. For the next two years I worked with a Christian counselor. God used my counselor to gently peel back the layers of so many lies to reveal who I really am to Christ. The cornerstone of my experience was when my counselor advised me to ask God how He sees me. I had never thought to ask Him who I am to Him in all the times I’ve sat at His feet. Not gonna lie, there was a bit of fear in doing so….what if God told me all the things He didn’t like about me?
My answer came in a dream.
I was walking through a field with someone I couldn’t see, but I knew they were there and I loved being with them. We walked without talking till we came to a white fence. Just beyond the fence were these beautiful horses, an animal I have loved my entire life. As we watched them a little girl burst into our view. She was running as fast as her little legs could fly…jumping with abandon, arms outstretched, long, red, curly hair cascading and tumbling all about, and her face….oh, her face…it was glowing with joy and delight. This was a girl who knew who she was….knew she was found lovely and delighted in. I turned and said, “This is how you see me, isn’t it? Is that really me?” And my companion answered so deeply that I could only feel the response in my very core, “Yes. This is who you are to me, beloved.”
I awoke crying…cleansing tears, joyful tears, tears of relief that He had answered the question I didn’t even know I was longing to ask. It was a long journey with hard work. It was a dark time not only for me personally, but for my marriage. Much healing took place in us both for restoration to happen. But it did.
“It is for freedom that Christ set you free; stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.”-Gal 5:1 Whom the Son sets free is free indeed, and overcomers of this world and all that is in it. He offers life, freedom, and joy abundant. We just need to accept.
Friend, you are already an overcomer…Jesus has seen to that.
Erin is a wife, mother of five, friend, sister, daughter. A lover of Christ, guacamole, and ice cream. Ohio State Buckeye living in upstate New York. She enjoys coffee, fall, football, reading, starting crafts and projects that she ultimately never finishes, cooking, and writing. Erin can be found writing at: agracefilledheart.wordpress.com