I never thought it would happen to me. I was the queen advice giver to those I knew who were struggling with their mental health (I was very annoying in hindsight ha). I had studied mental health as part of my psychology degree and worked in a secure unit for young people who self harmed. I was a massive advocate for self-care and knowing your identity in God.
AND if it ever did happen I would recognise the signs before they took over. I would know and seek help as soon as I had any doubts.
Then I had my first baby and this changed. I didn’t see the signs, I didn’t seek help as soon as I could and it did happen to me. I got Post natal depression. Here is my story and my hope.
So where to start… In June 2012 I had a baby girl, we’ll call her Tigger (she has endless bouncy energy!), from this point on. She was perfect and I was so excited about becoming a mum. The labour was ok (as far as labour goes) however after suffering a third degree tear I was rushed to theatre and after a spinal and much stitching was delicately holding my baby girl again. You can read more about my birth story (If you’d really like to!) on my blog but it’s safe to say I experienced the shock that so many others experience at the loss of dignity and the difference between my expectation and the reality of what bringing Tigger into the world looked like.
I had so much love for my little one and it wasn’t for some time (about 6 months) that I began to wonder if there was something wrong as the feelings of exhaustion, loneliness and anxiety just would not budge. Why did I feel like this? What did I have to feel sad about? Why when I have so much support and love around me, do I keep crying and feeling so low? I tentatively began to ask the question am I depressed?
However it wasn’t until 18 months after my little one had arrived, that I felt like something was going to break. I could no longer see light at the end of the tunnel and thing seemed so hard. This was when I first sought help. I finally admitted that I was struggling. I owned up to the fact that I couldn’t cope as I was and needed help. I was diagnosed with late onset PND probably starting in my daughters third month.
So how did all my theory fair under duress? Honestly at the beginning not brilliantly however what I have learnt in a new way is that God is incredible. I have had times when i couldnt read scripture or pray, sing songs without crying but I have learnt that in the darkness and loneliness of mental ill health, God is present, gentle and accompanying. He understands and wants to be with you in it. My biggest struggle was and still is my deminished capacity due to PND however right near the beginning of my illness god gave me this verse. Exodus 14:14 The Lord will fight for you, just be still.
If you are in the midst of darkness right now, be still and invite The Lord into your darkness, let him fight for you. It won’t always feel like it but I promise you that God is with you, his light is brightest in the dark.