I admit that I’ve been having a pretty rough time during this pregnancy. I struggled with all-day morning sickness and throwing up during the first trimester and am just coming out of that. Recently, I have been struggling with depression. I went through this during the last trimester pregnant with Samantha. I’m not pleased that it’s happening again, and so soon, but at least I know what’s going on this time.
Depression during pregnancy is hormone-related and is pretty common. I had never heard of it before going through it. People usually talk about post-partum and the doctors have you watch out for that. So I was caught off guard by being suddenly very down, having a kind of brain fog, struggling with severe apathy, being very weepy and irritable, and feeling like I’d lost all capacity to be rational. Things are much the same this time. Life issues that are normally pretty small and easy to handle again seem overwhelming and consuming. This time, struggling with various friendships was the “life issue” taking place. It took the support and advice of a good friend and mentor to realize that it was depression.
I’ve wondered if this was being allowed to happen each time because God wanted me to be more understanding of people who go through depression. I am not the most patient person and can sometimes be too unsympathetic with the struggles of others if I don’t understand what they’re going through. Heck, even when I do know (like with addiction), I have a hard time. I remember feeling grateful for the lesson after it was over and I had new perspective and appreciation for those people’s experiences. I admit, I don’t feel grateful at the moment for a repeat lesson. But one thing that is true about me is that I often need repeat lessons for a lot of things.
Depression is weird. I imagine that what I’m feeling is just the tip of the depression iceberg. Normally, when I’m feeling sad or down I can focus on the good things. I can focus on what I’m thankful for and how blessed I am. In other words, I tell myself the truth about reality, believe in that truth intellectually, and then begin to feel the truth working on me. Then the funk is over.
With depression, even getting myself to the point where I’m thinking clearly enough to tell myself the truth about a situation is a monumental effort. Once I get there, I may believe in it intellectually and even be able to articulate that, but my feelings rarely follow suit. They’re stuck in the mud. Immovable. It’s maddening because I know that it’s happening and can’t seem to pull myself out of it. I feel crazy and annoy myself with my feelings. If I talk about how I feel, it seems too much like complaining. I am very impatient with complaining, so I basically become irritated and impatient with myself. It’s lovely. Even praying is difficult. Remembering to pray and then being clear-headed enough to get through a prayer is hard. I am glad to know that the Holy Spirit is covering me in prayer when I cannot.
What does seem to help is seeking the support of others, taking care of myself as best I can so I can take care of my home and family, making all efforts to stay in prayer, and constantly focusing on the Truth. But it’s really really hard. Being vulnerable with others about something like this is like shining a light on your relationships and exposing them as either more “real” or more shallow than you were aware of before. Sometimes it uncovers a blessing. Other times it brings some pain and disappointment. But in both cases God ministers to me and shows me His strength and love in my life.
Normally I am pretty much always praying. It’s strange to feel suddenly dry in that area. Focusing on prayer during these times means reminding myself by writing notes, reminders on my phone, or just stopping and praying whenever I think about it. Focusing on the Truth and staying in the Word is even more difficult than normal. I am blessed by a friend who is helping me in that area by reading through the Proverb-a-day with me. Then we write each other emails with our thoughts for that day. It is simple enough for me to keep at it without too much effort, which is what I need right now.
Last time, part of taking care of myself was going to a counselor both by myself and with my husband (this kind of thing puts strain on a marriage, of course). It was super helpful and we may do it again later. We’ll see. This time, taking care of myself means getting out of the house at least once a day and doing… anything. Usually with the kids. It means going to the gym or going for a walk. It means forcing myself to eat. And it means taking Zoloft, which I will begin soon through the recommendation of my OB. Last time I didn’t take meds. This time I embrace them gladly. I cannot be the mom and wife I need to be right now. Jesus is the answer, but taking Zoloft for a while doesn’t hurt either. 🙂
Thank God for modern medicine and the unexpected support of friends who are more dear than I realized. I am already learning great lessons. I hope and pray that I learn how to be a better friend to others in the process. But regardless of how hard this is for me, it’s worth it to know that God is blessing us with another precious child.
Some good resources:
Awesome message about depression: Go to Solid Rock website in the Teachings>>Weekend page, search for “depression”. The sermon Part 4 / Depression will come up. Also available as a podcast in iTunes.