Every pregnancy I have dealt with some form of prenatal depression or postpartum depression. For the past couple weeks I couldn’t figure out was going on. Duh! After six pregnancies you would think I would catch on. My symptoms of prenatal depression are classic. It kicked into high gear on my birthday a couple of weeks ago. Some of the symptoms are:
- A sense that nothing feels enjoyable or fun anymore
- Feeling blue, sad, or “empty” for most of the day, every day
- It’s harder to concentrate
- Extreme irritability or agitation or excessive crying
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping all the time
- Extreme or never-ending fatigue
- A desire to eat all the time or not wanting to eat at all
- Inappropriate guilt or feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
I know I am not alone in this. Whether it is pregnancy related or not, ladies, let’s face it, our hormones do a number on us. From PMS, pregnancy to menopause, real chemical things can throw is into a mental and emotional tailspin. It is real. And every season of life provides women with real challenges.
The past couple weeks I have yelled too much, thrown things, slammed doors and cried for days. I lost weight at my last OB appointment confirming my suspicion that I’m not eating properly. Things that normally don’t phase me cause my skin to crawl. My sleep is sporadic. I have wild hot flashes. Anger is simmering right below the surface. And my mood switches between mad and sad. I don’t want to talk or even be around people. Sometimes in those moments I don’t even feel like talking to God about it.
Can you feel me? Have you been there? So what in the world do we do when we have spiraled out of control? What do we do when we can’t reel our emotions in? What do we do when life seems overwhelming?
Sometimes I feel like I am dragging my broken self along the side of the road whispering “help.” Sometimes the people who are passing by don’t notice my life-less body or my cry for help. Maybe they don’t see me. Maybe they don’t know what to do. Maybe they don’t care. But sometimes they do. So…
1. Ask for help.
Sometimes as women we feel like we can’t let others see our “bad side.” We feel like presenting ourselves well is more important than really being well. Stop trying to deal with everything alone. Ask for help. Sometimes that help is asking for prayers, help around your house, going out to dinner or finding a babysitter. Sometimes it is seeking spiritual help or talking to your doctor. Let go of the fear and shame that makes you hide and talk about it.
2. Eat Right.
I have been neglecting this one big time. The less I eat the worse I get. Take time to eat healthy, well-balanced meals. Even when you don’t feel like, put some God-made food into your body.
3. Get Enough Sleep
When I am exhausted, whoa. Get a good night sleep and release the guilt for that afternoon nap that sounds so good.
4. Identify and Deal With Your Triggers.
There is usually something that sets my emotions a blaze. It could be having more house work, non-compliant kids, to hurt feelings or extra pressure to get something done. I’m usually pretty good at identifying the triggers, but not so good at dealing with them, especially if it requires communication.
5. Establish a Support System
Yesterday God sent some people who did see me. They did hear me. And they understood me. I didn’t feel strong enough to pray in the moment but they did. As I sat in hidden away during church, one of my sisters came back to check on me. As soon as she said, “Are you ok?” The well-spring of tears erupted. She just hugged me. I sent out texts to some of my extended support system. A few prayerful, understanding, and loving women carried my needs before the throne of God when I felt like I couldn’t. Knowing that some one “gets-it” goes a long way.
Get help dealing with your responsibilities too. My mom has arrived a few days before the baby is scheduled to arrive. She’s taking the care of my kids and home.
6. You May Need Medical Help
Seeking help from a doctor is OK. You may need that help. I do prefer natural treatments to medicine. St. John’s Wort, folic acid, and B-6 are all natural treatments that can give your mood a boost.
7. Use the God’s Gifts in Faith
Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:13-16