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Postpartum Depression—My Story

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By Judy Dippel

I remember it as if it were yesterday: As my delivery neared, I was glad it was morning and, once again, daylight. For the past couple months, bizarre phobias had unexpectedly plagued me, penetrating my usually sound thinking patterns. Weird superstitions had darted through my mind about the oddest things, disturbing my mental peace every waking hour. I remember dreading to deliver my baby in the dark of night.

The Awful Fear of the Unknown
A couple of months before my delivery, unusual fears about inevitable illnesses within me had stuck in my brain. A certain doom and heavy gloom engulfed me. I felt extremely strange, unfamiliar and foreign to myself. Unable to control my thoughts, I felt ashamed and too embarrassed to admit my bizarre imaginations to anyone.

Intellectually, I repeatedly told myself that these fears were not real. But it made no difference. I felt the fears controlled me, rather than me being able to control them. For now, the persistent fears encompassed me, like a tiger waiting to pounce…or an enemy waiting for the prime opportunity to bring some final blow of destruction. To me, it felt inevitable.

Strangely, I did not fear for the health of my baby, but primarily felt panicked about my own health and my imagined inability to care fo my child now and in the future. As a medical assistant, my mind pored over the symptoms of horrible diseases, and I was convinced that I would soon become incapacitated by one of them, or die—and if not that, I was convinved I would ultimately be found to be going insane.

Today I know more and I know differently. I clearly understand that I had clinical postpartum depression, anxiety and panic disorder, but I didn’t know there was a name for it when I experienced it. Instead, I was totally convinced I was going crazy. I truly felt I was the only woman on earth to experience such craziness. Wasn’t this supposed to be one of the most blessed and happy times?

The whole onslaught of irrational fear was beyond disturbing, but I still hadn’t told anyone because I was sure this extreme “weirdness” would disappear once I had delivered my baby and my hormones leveled out. I can endure this strangeness until my mind and body return to their familiar and predictable state, I thought.

What I didn’t know at the time my first child was born, was that my postpartum months would not be so typical or understood. Not for me. Not this pregnancy. Actually there were more unforeseen fears and challenging physical symptoms to be faced ahead, and I would need the help of God, medication, therapy, family, and friends to endure them.

During the delivery of my daughter, I recall how the pain of my contractions pushed us forward, and thankfully, my heart and mind had room only to pursue my new sense of purpose—that of becoming a mother about to deliver her first child. As the hours of labor unfolded and I comprehended the great privilege of giving birth to my first child, a new outlook on life, and the love of a mother, blossomed within me. My husband and I were about to be a family of three.

I’ve often marveled at the fact that only mothers are appointed by God to give birth. I’d known even before this that bringing a baby into the world was a great privilege; a matchless experience that I couldn’t take for granted. With Mark, my husband standing anxiously beside me, the long awaited words were spoken, “You can push now!”

Becoming a mother is astonishing, miraculous, mysteriously earth-shaking, faith-building, and at times heart-shattering. There is little that is predictable about the role of a mother. From day one, and throughout our life, being a mother both gratifies and challenges us with a multitude of intense emotions and predicaments. But it is worth every heartache and challenge!

Gratefully, today we can fully trust, The LORD is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). At times mother hood can feel like a breeze and at other times it makes us face up to its harsh realities. In God, both the trouble-free and trouble-filled times teach us to look up to God in praise at his omnipotence, and also compel us to fall on our knees before him in prayer.

©2009 Judy Dippel. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
(Excerpt from Walking Through Postpartum Depression.)

Bio:
Judy Dippel is a full-time Christian writer and speaker. She is the author of Refreshing Hope in God, the Art of Authentic Friendship, and Walking Through Postpartum Depression. If you are interested in inviting Judy to speak, she can be contacted through her website at www.judydippel.com.