Something more personal today on my blog – my personal journey through post natal depression (post partum depression)
With shaking hands and trembling heart I walked up to the front of the conference room at Castle Erin, and shared openly for the first time some of my journey through post natal depression at our methodist church weekend in Portrush.
I was aware of friends willing me on with sympathetic smiles, and could feel the warmth and support of everyone listening, but I avoided my husband’s eyes as surely I would cry.
With God’s help I made it through, and still can’t really recall all I actually said, but the relief was immense. Although those close to me had known for a while, I had never “gone public” with my depression before. It felt good, that I was no longer pretending to be fine and wearing a mask.
After the birth of our third child, I experienced feelings which were alien to me – remoteness, despair, darkness and distance. It was a horrible place to be, yet the rest of the world continued and I seemed to be just an observer. The sun shone, my daughters were happy at school, I had a beautiful healthy baby and a supportive husband, I was still assured and confident of my faith, I never doubted God’s love, so why was I like this? Guilt, so much guilt – there was a lot of it then, and even still is today on occasions.
I craved to feel secure in God, but Church became for me the loneliest place. I could hear and see others praising God, but the words stuck in my throat, and I felt at my lowest. I could see others enjoying and celebrating, and I wanted that too – but being in church just emphasised to me how isolated and remote from it I seemed to be. The mask certainly came out on Sundays. When those who cared about me asked how I was, I felt I was letting them down by admitting I was still struggling, so I told them what I thought they wanted to hear, hoping some day I could say it again and know it to be true.
So what changed, how did I escape from that lonely place?
There was no instant relief, it was a slow journey, and sometimes still is. Through God’s sustaining love, prayer, medication, a lovely support group in Lisburn Health Centre, friends and family with lots of patience, I felt myself resurfacing. The sun would shine and I would feel its warmth, and could feel happiness without guilt.
I still have glimpses of those dark days, but I am no longer ashamed of my Post Natal Depression experience. It made me who I am today, it has given me an increased compassion for those who struggle in that dark lonely place of depression, and a glimpse of a world I never had experienced before.
If you have suffered and maybe still are suffering, if those who love you still don’t really know, share with them if you can. Talk to someone, don’t be alone. To me, what was much worse than the darkness, was feeling alone in the darkness.
May I again thank everyone who supported me in many ways through my journey. To you it might just have been a smile, or a touch on my arm, but it helped me more that you may ever know.
I am sharing this on What I Learned this week – as after having this article published in our church magazine, I learned that although putting it “out there” was a big step, it has definitely been a step in the right direction.
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