On New Year’s Eve I sat in the rocking chair near my bed, struggling to put on my socks, a swollen belly limiting my motion while this little miracle kicked around inside me. Tears caught in my throat. A familiar feeling these days. Another day of pain.
Across the room an unmade bed seduced me with it’s fluffy pillows and warm sheets. A place of tenderness for my hurts. A warm embrace ready to thaw my frozen soul. A hiding spot to sink into until all this was over. Voices in our house interrupted my numbness; they were both crying while he tried to settle the squabble. These children needed their mother; this man needed his wife. And I realized I was capable of being neither.
I was broken. And ashamed.
Sobbing my way through the day, I finally admitted to my husband that night that I was depressed and had been for months. Maybe even a year. At first I thought it would get better. I just needed help or a break from the rigors of motherhood. And then, when a little someone took up residence inside me, I convinced myself I’d feel better when the nausea was over. After that, I needed just to get through the big move. And when none of that worked, I knew.
The chaos had led to exhaustion, the exhaustion to depression, and the depression into brokenness.
Brokenness extended into every area of my life, causing emotional distress and even physical pain. Unable to cope with the smallest of daily hurdles, I found myself for the first real time in my life giving up. Engaging required more than I had and more than I could summon. Everything I relied on–my rosy outlook on life, my ability to persevere, the endurance I developed, my strength of character and depth of faith–none of it was enough to repair what had been damaged. Or even inspire me to seek help.
It was my husband who stood up and rallied a network of support around me. My parents, concerned and dismayed, jumped to help while my husband drove me to my doctor’s office and held my hand through therapy sessions.
Postpartum depression is a term most are familiar with and usually sympathetic to. After all, a new mom has just been through huge changes, both physical and psychological. It’s easy to see how her emotions could become unbalanced. But depression during pregnancy carries a different stigma. It seems so foreign; a vibrant, glowing young mother cast down during the brightest of times. To the world it seems her demeanor should be one of radiance, not disfunction. And so the worst part is the shame. How could someone like me–a woman grounded in truth, living in a place I love surrounded by people who love me more–how could I be so lost?
I see now in my hopelessness there was so much helplessness. A shameful cloud of defeat, inflicting pain and exhaustion each time I tried to lift it. A broken spirit I didn’t recognize. Myself so lost, so confused, so buried in withdrawal the only thing left to feel was shame. Shame that I was not myself. Shame that I couldn’t will myself to feel better. Shame that I was so deeply shattered I pulled away from those who needed me most. As horrible as it sounds, even this little one growing inside me I kept at a comfortable distance.
I am broken. But it’s ok now. I have let go of the shame. I see now the shackles depression bound me in. Thanks to loving people who tenderly came to my rescue, a Christ-minded therapist, and a sympathetic OBGYN, I am overcoming this doom. I am healing, slowly regaining strength and learning about why this happened. My doctor is hopeful my strength will return in full force once our baby is born and the hormonal cocktail surging through my veins settles down; my therapist is helping ensure I can harness that strength to make the changes that need to be made. My husband stands strong beside me, being the man I need him to be right now. My family supports me with prayer and help, allowing me to find quiet space for restoration.
And so now I journey out of brokenness. It is hard work in the weariness, but rewarding as the first signs of healing begin. Happiness is returning from a spring of joy and peace as God collects all the broken pieces of my spirit and makes them whole again.