Most days of my last 338 days I have made a conscious decision to choose joy. I reminded myself again and again that true joy goes beyond my circumstances and the pain and the tears. True joy comes from hope. It comes from faith. It comes from God.
But lately my “choose joy” mantra hasn’t been enough to get me through the day. I have had fewer and fewer moments of joy and more and more of tears, anxiety and rage.
I walked into my doctor’s office yesterday and he said, “I’ve been worried about you and praying for you.” My tears unleashed.
I am a woman of faith. I am woman led by the Spirit. But the truth is, that in my flesh, I am also a mother with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Postpartum Depression. I have desperately tried to choose joy. But lately I can’t. I need help.
Antidepressants are stigmatized in the church… Others say that if you are filled with the Holy Spirit and walking with God in faith, you will not need them. They shame those who are responsibly taking them. But we don’t shame diabetics who need to take insulin.
We human beings are made up of three interwoven parts. As Paul says, “May God himself… sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thes. 5:23) We are body, soul, and spirit. – Staci Eldredge Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul
I have sought spiritual counsel for my soul. I have sought psychological counsel for my mind. And now, I have sought medical help for my body. I am receiving treatment for depression.
There’s a lot of myths about depression that keep women like me from getting help.
1. You are weak.
I have battled my heart out this year. I have survived. I am not weak. This isn’t about my weakness or my strength. It’s just about dealing with what’s going on in my head and my body.
2. It’s a mood.
Depression isn’t caused by circumstances, although it can be agitated by them. Depression is a real physiological problem with the brain. Most Christians can accept brain diseases like Alzheimer’s but when it comes to depression it often gets the faulty label of a bad mood or lack of faith. This isn’t about my faith or my mood.
3. I can snap out of it.
My normal stress coping mechanisms are ineffective. Getting time to regroup. Eating better. Sleeping better. Venting. Prayer. Fellowship. Nothing budged it. Finally intercessory prayer led me to my doctor.
4. It will pass.
I have coped semi-effectively with the effects of PTSD and grief but now that I am experiencing PPD as well, I have realized it doesn’t just pass. There are reasons that I have these problems. I have to deal with each of those reasons.
5. People will judge me.
On January 5, 2013 I committed to myself that I would do whatever I needed to do to grieve, to heal and to find solace. That hasn’t changed. This is part of my healing. People may judge me but this isn’t between me and people. This is between me and God.
“There is no point treating a depressed person as though she were just feeling sad, saying, ‘There now, hang on, you’ll get over it.’ Sadness is more or less like a head cold- with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer.” -Barbara Kingsolver, The Bean Tree