Depression is something that most people don’t want to talk about (me included). There’s a societal stigma against depression, and for some Christians, there’s a particularly big stigma.
I’ve been wanting to write about my journey with postpartum depression (PPD) and clinical depression, but I feared what others would think about me if I spoke up.
After reading Psalm 3, I knew it was time to share my struggles with depression publicly.
My struggle with depression is not something that just started in this postpartum season. I’ve actually had clinical depression for years. It started when I was a teenager, and I sought counseling during college.
I was officially diagnosed with clinical depression at age 22. At that time, I started taking an anti-depressant. I’ve tried a couple of ones throughout the years, but for now I seem to have found one that helps.
The past few months, hormone fluctuations, brain chemicals that aren’t quite balanced, not taking care of myself physically, and a harsh inner critic have caused me to really struggle with postpartum depression. For the most part, I’m a silent sufferer. Very few people know that it’s a condition that I’m facing every day.
Typically, I am joyful, cheerful, and love laughing. Those are all genuine expressions of the Holy Spirit’s joy spilling out of me at any given moment. For the most part, when others see me joyful, it’s genuine. But when the public eye is not on me, depression is a slippery pit that is waiting to swallow me, sometimes at the most unexpected times.
I started showing signs of PPD when Haven (my second daughter) was about three months old. Quite honestly, I was in denial that it was PPD, and I didn’t see my doctor for a whole month. I kept thinking, “Well, I’m already on an anti-depressant, and I don’t have thoughts of harming myself or my baby so I will just power through this.”
A friend encouraged me to see my doctor since PPD was causing me to get overwhelmed with even the thought of completing small tasks. I was having more depressive thoughts with each passing week. A few days after talking to her I read an article that said that PPD can worsen if not treated. It was then that I knew that I needed to see my doctor because I didn’t want my PPD to get to a point where I couldn’t take care of my baby.
I’m so grateful that it never got to that point.
Through the years of treating my depression with medication (and lots of prayer), there have been plenty of days when I’m just fine and my smile on the outside is a genuine, happy smile. There are other times, though, when I’m doing all I can to keep it together on the outside, and all it takes is one disagreement with my husband or one comment from my critical inner voice or the weight of too much stress, and I spiral down into the pit again.
God has used several passages of Scripture to encourage my soul when I’ve been in the pit. Psalm 3 has been one of those passages to me recently, and I hope that whether you have depression or if feel in the pit today, God’s Word will bless you today like it has blessed my soul.
O LORD, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
there is no salvation for him in God.
If you struggle with depression, I hope that Psalm 3 has encouraged you.
Thank you so much, also, for reading about my struggle with depression. I pray that Psalm 40:2-3 will be true of all of us today:
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the LORD.
Jennifer Perez is on staff with Faithbridge Church in Spring, Texas.
Foundations of Faith provides advice from Texas church pastors and its leadership on how to lead effectively. This blog is brought to you by the Communications Department of the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. To be considered as a subject matter expert, contact Shannon W. Martin, Director of Communication at email@example.com.
If you are struggling with depression, please reach out to a qualified professional for help. NAMI and NNDC are good places to start searching for relevant resources.