Some days are harder than others. After I had Bug, I went through months of what I now know was postpartum depression. Months of feeling like I couldn’t think straight, of having no patience or energy, or feeling like I was drowning without words to explain it…to help my loved ones understand. I look back on those six months with fondness, they were the first six months of my sweet Bug’s life, after all. But I also know it was one of the darkest periods of my life.
Things got better after Bug started sleeping through the night and my hormones started to balance, but when I got pregnant with Bear it was hard not to allow fear to grip my heart. I prayed, I sought counsel, I asked for help, and by the grace of God I found myself thinking clearly throughout his newborn days. My heart felt joy and my soul knew contentment, and I rejoiced that the demons of depression hadn’t won this battle.
Early in 2011 I started to wonder if some of the things I took for granted were normal. I called my Mom, reaching out for help. I talked to her about how I would just get so overwhelmed. Logically I knew the things that were pressing down on me, the weights on my shoulders, weren’t really that important. I told my Mom that the two weeks before my period were always the toughest.
But aren’t they for every woman?
The crux of the conversation came when I told my sweet Mom about how aggravated I got with Shawn when he loaded the dishwasher. Why did I have to keep telling him that it’s important to put all the spoons together in one slot, all the forks in another, and all the knives in another? When I have two toddlers trying to climb into the dishwasher as I unload it, the last thing I have time to do is sort utensils. Y’all, I was going off about this stupid dishwasher issue.
Then my Mom said, “Jen. Is he loading the dishwasher? Is he loading the dishwasher because he’s trying to take care of you and serve you?”
Mom and I continued to have a conversation about the subtle undertones of depression that have plagued our family tree. Some weren’t able to get help – and suffered greatly. Some have sought help, and are fighting…mostly successfully…to win the battle.
Because it is a battle. Even on medication, it’s an everyday battle. It’s warfare to wake up in the morning and choose to ignore the lies you hear. A battle to look at the day with logic, to not become crushed under the weight of tasks to be done. It’s warfare to lift your face up, to look to your Creator and ask Him, “What do you think of me?” and to honestly listen to the answer. To fight the urge – the instinct – the look down in shame and worthlessness.
The combination of understanding my family history and realizing how much petty frustrations were hurting my marriage caused me to seek help. After tearfully sharing my symptoms with my doctor, I learned that my PMS symptoms weren’t normal. Not by a long shot.
It turns out I get a special case of the crazies in the two weeks before my period, and it’s probable that I’ve had an underlying issue with depression for years. I noticed a drastic improvement in the month after I started the medication, and with much concern I asked my doctor, “Am I going to have to be on this for the rest of my life?”
He sighed softly and smiled at me. “You might,” he answered. “But that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. If your body lacked a necessary vitamin, you’d take a supplement, right? Well, your body just doesn’t make as much serotonin as you need. And you’re supplementing that.”
The medication makes a world of difference, but it doesn’t stop me from having to fight the battle myself. There are still days when life is just too much. When for the life of me I can’t seem to hear the voice of my God telling me that I am enough. That I’m enough because He made me, He died for me, He sees me, He loves me, He cares, He provides, and He is my strength.
But I keep fighting. I fight to take my ax to the woods of lies that cloud my mind. One by one, I wage war on those lies until the forest is leveled and I can finally hear Him.
And my mind finds peace. My soul finds contentment. My heart finds joy.
I’m fighting. With everything in me and with the strength of my Savior, I’m fighting. But some days…some days are harder than others.