Beauty from Ashes: Postpartum depression, conclusions, encouragement (part 2)

22 Apr

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Thanks for joining me this week as I share my experiences with postpartum depression. This is the seventh post of the series. If you missed the first six, you’ll find them herehere hereherehere and here.

Today I share concluding thoughts and encouragement for 2 others impacted by PPD–a friend to someone with PPD and a caregiver to someone with PPD.

Person #3: A friend to someone with PPD:

Give them grace-If you have a friend fighting through PPD, I praise God that she has YOU! Depression can make you feel like all friends have left you in the dust. Remain steadfast and present in your friendship with her. Pray for her and her family. Tell her how you are praying for her–write them out via email or a text. Know that your friend some days (probably MOST days) may not have it in her to respond.  I remember those first days of being diagnosed and people from church beginning to contact us, bring meals and love on us. I was so thankful for their help, yet I could not “pull it together” to respond to their acts. (On a personal note, that was sooooooooooo hard for me! I was so thankful for what they were doing, but the depression had me immobilized.) I felt guilty, but now I know that my friends did not expect that of me. They beautifully lavished love on me while expecting nothing in return, which is the true definition of servanthood.  They extended grace to me, and those acts marked me for life.

Depression is paralyzing on so many levels. You probably will listen to what she is overwhelmed by or experience her inability to do something that she easily had done pre-PPD and think, “Why can’t she just do what she knows she needs to do?” Just know that your friend is asking herself that same question and coming up with no answer! I would get frustrated with myself when I was still transitioning out of PPD and wonder why I couldn’t do simple tasks that I preformed previously (and feeling mounds of guilt about it!). Give her grace in those moments. (AND encourage her to give grace to HERSELF!) Your unwavering love and support is helping her to make it through each new day.

Watch her like a hawk-Our family and closest friends, both of whom we were in constant contact, were in my life intimately enough to discern that I was improving. If they thought that I was sliding back down the slippery slope, they would indicate that to my husband.

If you have a friend who is struggling after the birth of a child, take it seriously. If she says that she is struggling or feels depressed, encourage her to call her doctor immediately. I would also share with her husband and/or family what she has shared with you. It may or may not be PPD, but it is best to seek help to rule out things. If she is being treated for PPD, continue to watch her behavior and listen to what she says to you. If she continues to struggle, there may need to be an adjustment to her medication or further medical evaluation, testing and treatment. Never, never assume that she’s better simply because she’s on medication. Be her advocate and fight tirelessly on her behalf until she   has gotten the help she needs and is improving.

Follow the examples of our church family-In this post I shared practical examples of how our church ministered to us during my PPD experience. You’ll find some great examples there. Know that a meal brought, an encouraging note,  a night of free baby-sitting to allow for a date night are all marvelous ways to serve your friend. Most of all treat your friend the way that you always have. She already feels weird and alien-like. Your steadfastness and non-judgmental disposition towards her will minister to her deeply, profoundly.

Person #4: A caregiver to someone with PPD:

My husband prepared this list. (So thankful that he was my selfless caregiver!)

Ask how he/she is doing-The husband and family members providing intensive care to a wife/daughter/sister with PPD is probably close to burn out or exploding most days. A simple, “How are you doing?” can allow the caregiver the opportunity to process through what he/she is experiencing. The caregiver is an often overlooked victim in the wake of PPD. Proactively seek opportunities to support, love, and encourage the caregiver.

Pray for him/her-We are quick to pray for the doctors and nurses caring for a loved one who is hospitalized. With PPD, we are quick to pray for the woman walking through the valley that is PPD. To intercede on behalf of the caregiver for stamina, encouragement, patience and grace would be welcomed and cherished.

Arrange for him/her to have a break-As my husband shares here, there can be little to no respite for the caregiver to someone with PPD. Offer to sit with his wife for an hour or so allowing him to run errands, refuel himself or to simply breathe.

Arrange for date nights-There will be some needed time for the husband and wife be alone following the “fog lifting” from PPD. The stress of PPD causes strain leaving most marriages negatively impacted. There are conversations to be had and a relationship to be mended, renewed and healed. Arranging a date night for the couple would be amazing. We had friends who did this for us, and it was exactly what we needed. Jamie and I had aspects of our relationship to reestablish, renew, evaluate. Free baby-sitting was the greatest gift ever! We were given a precious gift–time and space together to process, heal and move past our PPD experience. Who knows if our marriage would have made it without that time!

Thank you for journeying with meThank you for swimming in the abyssal waters with me, for listening to my journey through PPD, and for your encouraging words accompanying each post. I pray that the Lord uses this series to encourage women who have or had PPD, their caregivers and friends. I pray that there will be no more women suffering silently with PPD as I did. This is my new mantra–No More Suffering Silently. If you know of someone experiencing or caring for a woman with PPD, please share these posts with them.

I want to close with quote one of my favorite books, To Kill a Mockingbird,

You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”  

As followers of Christ, may we seek to walk around in the other person’s skin before slipping into judgmental mode or saying “tisk, tisk, tisk” when we see someone struggling. May we show our scars to one another, to the world so that they can know the God who has delivered us from them. Instead of acting like we have it all together, may we quickly show each other our weaknesses so that His greatness–not our own–is shown. May we allow Him to use our hardships for His glory and the good of others. May we allow God to do what only He can do–make beauty from the ashes of our broken lives.


One Response to “Beauty from Ashes: Postpartum depression, conclusions, encouragement (part 2)”


  1. Beauty from Ashes: I’m a pastor’s wife, and I’ve taken anti-depressants | Suzanne Shares - January 30, 2014

    […] I will be sharing several post this week related to my experience with mental illness, PPD. I would love to have you journey along with me. To read the other posts in this series, read here, here , here, here, here, here, and here. […]

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