I spoke at MOPS this week...aaand this is what i said (pretty much)...
I was prepared to talk about postpartum depression…after it nearly cost me my marriage, my children and my life…I felt pretty good about encouraging you all…but then…I was praying and realized…you’ve all had kids. And survived…just like me.
So I scrapped that one…
Then I was prepared to talk about re-discovering your previous identity…and I reminisced about how amazing I was before I got married and had kids…but then…I was praying and realized…that it is impossible to discover my previous identity…because…it’s not like some big bad dragon has locked her up in his tower and I have to go 4 little dragons and then level up and fight the big bad dragon that stole her away. No…I chose this life…
So I scrapped that one too…
All I have for you is what I am going thru right now…I’m hardly an expert…I’m right in the middle of it…right beside you.
During my affair with postpartum depression a wonderful person told me that depression almost always stems from one thing…irreversible change.
You can’t go back so you get bummed. Or…there is another choice.
You can embrace and create.
…so then…I was praying and realized…it’s spring.
It’s the time of planting and growing and creating…how wonderful!
So I can’t go back and be the amazing woman that I was before I got married and had kids…neither can you.
Those amazing women are gone. Forever. Let’s just take one second to mourn…
Ok…so now what?
We embrace and create.
And I’m still figuring that one out.
Here are some little tips that I have gathered along the way.
· You were created by God…formed in your mother’s womb with His perfect plan in mind. He also formed your child in your womb…in YOUR womb. He could have chosen any womb to incubate that little blood sucker…but He picked yours. You’ve got the stuff to raise this kid into EXACTLY what He wants them to be.
· Cry…just cry. That way people know that you don’t have it all together and that you need help. If they think you have it all together they won’t offer and you’d better not sit around in private whining that no one ever helps you…it’s your own fault…admit to yourself and others that you can’t do it alone…and when you are overwhelmed…it’s okay to cry.
· Along with that last one…choose to laugh. Every time I have gotten pregnant I have laughed like a nutcase…(you should have heard me on the ultrasound table when they told me I was having twins).
· God isn’t shocked by your feelings. He is omniscient. So it’s okay to tell him that you are angry with him…it’s okay to tell him that you feel overwhelmed and scared. It’s okay to tell him that you are broken hearted. He knows who He is and His self-esteem doesn’t rely on your opinion. His love doesn’t rely on your opinion either. His love is completely unconditional, unending and unwavering. Get real with God and He will get more real with you.
· Lower your expectations just a smidge. A great counselor once told me ‘don’t should on yourself and don’t let others should on you either.’
· Yes…you will have ‘bad mom moments’…I do…our mothers did…our grandmothers did…somehow humanity survives. Ask your children for forgiveness…forgive yourself…move on.
· Your kids are also going to have bad moments…allow them to be human. Encourage them to ask for forgiveness…encourage them to forgive themselves…move on.
· Model the behavior you want to see in your children…I have noticed my kids whining…(I hate that)…then I noticed my husband and I complaining one night…so I have to change me first. Before I can expect my kids to change…
· Take time outs. Get away. Even if it’s just grocery shopping…
· Have a ‘safe place’. One person that you can bounce your feelings off of. One person that won’t judge…but also that won’t let you get bogged down in gossip, lies, or discouragement. This person also has to be someone that will lift you up in prayer.
· Do not compare yourself to others. You were created to be unique and valuable. Hand sculpted…not mass produced.
· Offer what you have gone thru to someone else…my best friend just went thru postpartum depression…thankfully I was able to be a constant reminder that your children’s infanthood …no matter how difficult… is survivable.
· Give other moms a break! Have a little grace for those of us that are still figuring things out and for those of us that are using a ‘terrible horrible no good very bad day card’.
· God doesn’t make mistakes and isn’t surprised by anything. Things change and it may not be quite like we’d hoped…and at any point those disappointments can lead to depression…financial difficulty, health problems, behavioral or psychological diagnoses, just having your kid not quite behave the way you want them to in public can lead to depression…just remember…God isn’t surprised…He’s got it all under control.
· Pray about one or two ‘life goals’ in addition to your mothering and take baby steps leading you in that direction…
So…I can’t be who I was and you can’t be who you were…but you can be someone else…someone just as amazing as she was…or maybe even better.