Thursday, March 13, 2008

Can you help a sister out?

One of my friends has recently given birth to her third child. I received an email from her confessing her struggle with the "baby blues" and asking for input on others' experiences: duration, symptoms, overcoming, etc.

I know her struggle. With the birth of my fourth and last son, a heavy cloud of darkness seemed to engulf me. I wasn't sleeping; with a 5 year old, a 4 year old and a 2 year old in addition to a newborn, who could sleep? But I wasn't as wise as my friend; I didn't recognize the depression for what it was, at least not until afterwards.

I do remember falling into the bed one night/day/morning/afternoon (it all ran together) and begging God to find me because in the dark of my depression I could not find Him.

He did.

Though I have little or no memory of my last born's first six months of life, I did survive, as did my children. Our God is faithful; though weeping may last for a night, joy does come in the morning!

So, my blog friends, can you help a sister out? Any words of wisdom for my sweet friend who longs to know victory over the darkness? Maybe just the encouragement of common experience? Post them in the comments and I'll be sure she sees them.

May you be blesssed as you extend blessing to another!

14 comments:

  1. I am so sorry she is going through this...I know it is troubling and exhausting and discouraging.

    Besides being sure she allows friends to help her so she can get some rest, she needs to tell her doctor. I am all for depending on God, but there are also physical, chemical, and hormonal reasons for post-partum depression. She may need some short-term medication to even out her hormones and get her over the hump.

    We would not expect someone with diabetes, heart issues, or cancer to ignore medical treatment. I have seen too many folks suffer and not be treated because they felt shame as a Christian for what they were going through emotionally/mentally when they were experiencing an illness that had its roots in a physical chemical imbalance.

    God is indeed the Great Physician but sometimes He uses medical means!

    (Just a little soapbox of mine!)

    Hugs to her...I'm so glad she has such a sweet caring friend as you!

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  2. Hi Linda,
    Thanks so much for input and I agree, seeking medical help is certainly wise. My friend has spoken to her doctor and he does not feel, at least at this point, that her situation warrants medical treatment. Hence her email and request for encouragement and input!
    Lisa

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  3. I don't know if you read it, but there is a great blog at GirlTalk that just did a series on the postpartum/PMS/menopause hormonal thing. Great stuff. It could be that she needs some time before she is ready for the day to day, but it's worth passing along.

    http://girltalk.blogs.com/girltalk/

    I'll be praying for her, so maybe she wouldn't mind if you shared an update with us later.

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  4. Hey Lisa,
    I meant to include that on the girltalk blog the tab to the left has topics - go to PMS prep for the one I referenced - it has everything from scripture to vitamins to stories. Good stuff. (I don't know how to edit my comment and no time to rewrite, so I'm posting again).

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  5. I know your friend's struggle. I suffered from post-partum after the birth of my daughter. I never sought help, because I didn't understand what was happening, though I don't imagine I would've "qualified" for medical treatment, either.

    I was blessed with friends who took my daughter off my hands for a day, just so I could go on a "date"...lunch & a movie...with hubby. That helped tremendously. I was encouraged years later when I read Brooke Shields' autobiography. It's not a Christian book, per se, but it details her journey & offered much insight.

    I think the most important thing she can do, besides pray, is be brutally honest with her husband, friends & family about how she is feeling. For me, the guilty/worry of wondering how people would react if they knew my feelings was far worse than the reality once I let them in.

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  6. I also suffered with post partum/severe PMS after the birth of my first child. I would be extremely angry and then extremely upset. Thank goodness that I never was angry with my daughter or around her. My poor husband caught the brunt of "the abuse". As a police officer, he said that he didn't get treated that way on the street. We went to see the doctor and he prescribed medication. I believe that it saved my marriage, my job and helped me to keep my friends.

    Please let her know that there is nothing wrong with taking any medication. To me, trusting God is sometimes allowing someone else to help you. God sends you people when you need them the most. Just remember that God created these physicians and the people that created these medications.

    Love you,
    Rachael

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  7. "I cry out to You in my brokenness- a heap of shattered pieces I desperately need to be put back together by You. Secure my world. Grant the strength only You can give. Please provide me the power to face each new challenge. Bestow on me enough wisdom to know when to stop....to know when I have done all I can do. I pray through the tears. I trust You to provide. I love You forever and pray in Your name. Amen"
    ~"Prayers for Mothers of Newborns" by Angela Thomas

    Lisa, if you could find a copy of this book for you friend, I know she'll come to treasure it. I know I did!
    I'll be praying!
    Cheryl

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  8. No real words of wisdom other than for her to let someone know what she is going through. She needs support around her. And she needs to know she's not alone.

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  9. Your friendly neighborhood midwife checking in here.

    I would recommend a consultation with a midwife for your friend. Most midwives are knowledgeable about nutrition, vitamins, minerals and herbs to support mental and physical well-being in what we refer to as "the fourth trimester" when the hormones that took 9 months to shift around seem to revolt all at once in the space of just a few weeks.

    I had post-partum psychosis after the birth of my second child, so I am personally and professionally familiar with these issues.

    May the Lord give you wisdom and compassion as you minister to your hurting friend.

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  10. Cheryl-What a beautiful poem!

    I struggled with my first child, mostly because i was newly married and all my friends were still swinging single in college. I watched a friend suffer through it with her second child when my second child was due two months later. Something so simple helped me, esp. since I had a winter baby:

    get out of the house.

    It didn't matter what I looked like. I just packed us all up and went out. To a friend's house, the store (I nursed in dressing rooms!), driving around. As soon as those 4 walls weren't closing in on me, I felt better. Honest I did.

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  11. I am the "friend" and am so thankful for all of your input. Today is a little better than yestrday and I pray the trend continues. I find strength in your words and the promises of my Savior. Thank you all, you have helped more than you know.

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  12. Lisa, Thank you so much for your efforts to help your friend. I suffered with PPD very intensely when I gave birth to my last child, Clara. I had mild baby blues with all my pregnancies and so expected it a bit, but the additional pressure of trying to juggle the three other kids and the new baby put me over the top. I was an absolute mess. Doubting the decision to ever bring sweet Clara into our family, doubting my ability to mother four children. And all of that compounded by the guilt of not being happy about this perfect miracle God had given me.

    I agree that being forthright with the people in your life about your struggles is very important. When I finally confessed to my girlfriends how bad things were they practically dragged me, kicking-and-screaming, to the doctor. They also rallied around me to make sure I had support. I think sometimes even other mothers forget that things don't miraculously get easier after the first three weeks when the visitors and meals stop coming.

    I just encourage your friend to cling very tightly to the knowledge that this time is short. I will pray for her. For the Holy Spirit's provision when her own strength runs dry, for friends to help her through, and for miraculously restorative rest. And if in a month or two from now, if she still isn't feeling better, I really encourage her to talk to a doctor.

    And anonymous friend, if you want to email me, you can find my address at my place.

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  13. I didn't get depressed, but I did feel very overwhelmed and unbelievably exhausted. The biggest pro-active step I HAD to take was to get some un-fragmented sleep. In the beginning, every sleep cycle was interrupted, every day. For weeks! It got to the point were I just couldn't process a reasonable thought. My husband was GREAT and really helped me through that time.

    The thing I remember the most was that the first three months were so challenging, I wasn't sure I would make it through. I was nursing and the feeding schedule was so demanding that I sometimes didn't even have time to bathe. After three months, when we started adding cereal to the baby's diet, life got much more . . . stable. The first three months were the hardest, but there IS a light at the end of the tunnel.

    I hope your friend keeps touching base with her doctor.

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  14. I know your friend's struggle. I suffered from post-partum after the birth of my daughter. I never sought help, because I didn't understand what was happening, though I don't imagine I would've "qualified" for medical treatment, either.

    I was blessed with friends who took my daughter off my hands for a day, just so I could go on a "date"...lunch & a movie...with hubby. That helped tremendously. I was encouraged years later when I read Brooke Shields' autobiography. It's not a Christian book, per se, but it details her journey & offered much insight.

    I think the most important thing she can do, besides pray, is be brutally honest with her husband, friends & family about how she is feeling. For me, the guilty/worry of wondering how people would react if they knew my feelings was far worse than the reality once I let them in.

    ReplyDelete