Many of us don’t expect the possibility of anything being as physically hard as those nine months and the delivery itself. However, many women experience anxiety and depression postpartum.
It’s the dread of hearing your baby cry, without the tenderness of motherhood accompanying it. Instead of happiness when looking at your child, there is distance. It can be hard to even get out of bed.
All the dreams of motherhood can be crushed by this heavy emotional turmoil. And it’s not as uncommon as society would have us think.
Nearly 20% of women who experience postpartum anxiety and depression suffer long-term, some even up to a year after labor. As a believer in Christ, how can a woman struggling with this be supported and find comfort?
Here are 3 ways to handle postpartum anxiety and depression.
The excitement of motherhood is a rush of emotions. From discovering the pregnancy to the gender reveal, to the baby shower, and then the moment of first holding your child in your arms.
Counting down the days until meeting your baby and getting rid of the added weight and pain of a pregnant belly…the time is ticking and soon the pain will relieve itself in joy.
Many women feel guilty over experiencing these emotions. However, it’s important to note that this is not caused by a lack of faith. Don’t let false guilt stop you from seeking help! You never know what God has waiting for you on the other side of this storm.
1. Talk With Another Believer
God provides comfort through his church. There are likely several women in your church body who have experienced postpartum anxiety and depression as well. It’s important that you allow God to minister to you through his people.
The Bible says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NKJV
Not only does God comfort us in our suffering but those who have already gone before us are gifted with compassion and care from God to help those who are struggling with similar ailments. Whether you attend a small group, or just call a friend from church, there are other believers also experienced or recently gone through the same thing.
The devil wants you to think you’re alone and will always tempt you when you feel the most isolated. Just like he tempted Jesus when He was in solitude, he is trying to warp your thoughts as well.
The best piece of advice I received (recently) was from my best friend of nearly 20 years, in which she said: ‘Whenever I’m struggling or had a hard day, I open up the book of Job…because he had literally EVERYTHING happen to him.
All of a sudden, it seems like my gargantuan problems (though still valid) aren’t as momentous as I think.’ The biggest part to remember in that is that your feelings of anxiety or sadness are still valid feelings.
You are a mother who went through a traumatic, yet beautiful experience birthing your little one. And just because the big day of giving birth has come and gone, you are still healing physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Don’t disregard what you’re feeling. Instead, try to change your perspective on it. Having a trusted friend who knows you in and out is monumental in helping you navigate through mixed emotions.
2. Talk to God
The Psalms are full of lament, as honest believers cry out to God about their suffering. Psalm 25:16 says, “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted” (NIV). A key to processing emotions healthily is honesty.
God doesn’t want us to put on a smile when we talk to him. He loves us and wants us to express our genuine thoughts and feelings. By conveying our deepest hurts to Him, He is able to comfort us and loves us through the pain.
I’ve had pretty low moments in my life that were out of my control, some were extremely unfair and others were welcoming experiences to try something new in life. But, none of my low moments came close to how I felt during quarantine when I questioned everything about myself.
Being a mom of two small children at the time, forced to become an introvert against my will, and no longer have time to do my hobbies and interests after entertaining and cleaning up after the kids and our dog all day — yeah, I was emotionally and mentally exhausted.
This was the only time in my life when I stopped talking to God. Crazy right? I felt like I was bothering Him with “woe is me” moments considering all of the sadness going on in the world. I mean, really what did I have to complain about?
So, I put God on do not disturb.
And it was the loneliest I had ever been. All because I chose to stop talking. But He was still there. God never left. And when I finally realized how traumatic my isolation became, I thanked God for never truly leaving me alone.
No problem is too insurmountable for Him to handle. No problem is too small. He is ever so patient and just wants to hear from you.
My favorite talks with God are the ones when I go on solo walks because (1) I like to appreciate the world He made; (2) I can hear Him more clearly without Cocomelon playing for the 19th time; and (3) He usually reveals whatever lesson or decision I was unclear about.
Regardless of the aforementioned, in these solo walks, it’s comforting just feeling Him walking alongside me.
3. Talk to a Therapist
Talking to someone who specializes in postpartum anxiety and depression might be a step to consider. God has blessed many therapists with the ability to help patients process and work through emotions.
Admittedly, this is still somewhat of a taboo for the Black community, at least. We are still taught to keep our anxiety and depression to ourselves to appear strong no matter how much we are struggling inside.
As a mom, we carry so much guilt on our shoulders and we are running on that last sip of Dunkin. And it’s unfair. I implore you to do this for no one, but yourself.
You will be a better wife and mother if you are taking care of yourself. When we lived in Florida, we were 20 hours away from all of our family and friends.
During quarantine, the friends I had (at the time) were all very single and couldn’t relate the emotional and physical issues I had thanks to childbearing.
So — I reached out to an amazing therapist via telehealth visits. I cannot express the feeling of emotional freedom I felt after each visit because being able to verbally explode all of my thoughts to a third party was exhilarating, in a sense.
Now, I will admit: finding a therapist is like joining the dating scene all over again. But, once you find your therapist, you’ll wish you began therapy ages ago.
If you are experiencing anxiety and depression nothing seems to be working, please reach out to professionals that the Lord can use to help you. You are a child of God, loved deeply by him. Know that the Lord wants us to weep with those who weep. You are not alone.
If you’d like to connect or follow my journey of motherhood, marriage, and postpartum, connect with me on Instagram.