A Legacy of Grief or a Legacy of Joy: My Battle with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

18 September 2018
There is fury and despair beneath the surface of my soul and it will get out if one more thing goes wrong.

And it always does.

I am afraid. I am sad. I am no one. I am nothing.

battling postpartum depression and anxiety as a first time mom

These phrases were on repeat in my head during my pregnancy, and they slithered into the first few months of Anna's life, robbing me of joy. Robbing me of all the hopes and ideas and stories I dreamt of whispering to her.

I lived this way for over a year.

For over a year, I smiled and nodded through finding out I was pregnant, quitting my job, moving, and navigating a new city.

For over a year, I smiled and nodded when people asked how I was doing.

But bubbling under the surface were lies, fears, and paranoia. They took over me, distorting my thoughts away from what was good.



battling postpartum depression and anxiety as a first time mom


My own husband's voice was the enemy all of a sudden, and yet I thought I would suffocate if something were to happen to him.

I catastrophized everything, paralyzed most days. Sitting in my overwhelm, creating task lists that were impossible to accomplish and left my pregnant body fatigued by the end of the day. I was fixated on the fear of losing my identity once the baby arrived, only to not realize my identity was already lost.

And then the baby arrived, and when I couldn't console her, I convinced myself it was because somehow there was a mistake in the mother she was born to, that she needed a different mother, a better mother. I wasn't needed.

I would repeat these things over and over in a spiral of despair to my husband. One day, in the storm of my insecurities and heartache, my husband looked at me and said, "this isn't true. You are needed. I need you and Anna needs you. What will I tell her when she's older and asks about you?"

His question was like an anchor being cast into my soul. It lodged itself inside my heart, presenting me with a choice: I can leave a legacy of grief for my daughter, or I can leave a legacy of joy. 

And in that moment, there was a whisper of joy in the midst of my chaos and I knew I needed help more than ever.

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The baby is asleep for the night and we are sitting in the living room. It's been three months since my last panic attack, since I've been on medication for postpartum depression and anxiety.

My husband turns to me and asks, "how are you?"

I feel wonderful for the first time in almost a year, but I am sad. I am ashamed. Ashamed of the fact that I needed medication in order to feel like I had my own mind and heart back. I tell him this.

"This is why you were born when you were born," he says. "God has a plan for you and he knew you needed to exist at this time so you could have access to this therapist and this medication. I think this is what it means to know God's grace."

battling postpartum depression and anxiety  as a first time mom


I listen to his words, and for the first time in a long time, I realize I can hear my husband's voice and it is not the enemy anymore.

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How I Battle Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

Perhaps my story is similar to yours. I am not a medical professional, and therefore, not qualified to give professional counsel, but these were some of the steps I took to help me with prenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety. I hope some of these steps may prove helpful.


I sought professional help during my pregnancy + after I had the baby


I saw a therapist during my pregnancy that helped me reevaluate how I was spending my days so that I was not overwhelming myself physically, emotionally, and mentally. A few months after Anna was born, I went back to therapy.

I sought support from my church family

A few months after Anna was born, one of our church elders and his wife came over to see how we were doing. The woman shared how she needed medication for her depression and how, without it, she would not be able to function the way she does now.

It really helped me to hear from others who have gone through a similar situation as me. As silly as it may sound to some, there is often a negative perception around medication for mental illness, as if this somehow reflects poorly on your faith.

If you are struggling with this, I urge you to speak to someone in your church and ask for support and resources.

I started medication

After speaking with our friends from church, I found a Christian counseling center that had a psychiatrist on staff who believed that medication can be used along side talk therapy and prayer.

I went through a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether or not medication was right for me. It is so easy to mention your struggles to a doctor and they just automatically prescribe you with medication.

I also want to note that my ob-gyn was amazing in that she didn't just write me a prescription, but explained the importance of being evaluated correctly and thoroughly by a psychiatric professional. She made sure I understood how to go about getting evaluated, and followed up with me to make sure I was getting the help I needed.

I meet with a psychiatrist every few months for monitoring to make sure the dosage I am on is correct for me. Between those meetings, I still see my therapist.

I got organized and developed daily routines

I use a bullet journal and routines to remind me of the progress I've made and to remind me that I have something to look forward to.

The key to organization and routines was to ensure that I was leaving space in my days to rest and to take care of myself. For instance, during my morning routine, I make sure I get out of the house every morning and my husband helps me have some space and time to myself before he leaves for work.

Now that I'm on medication, there is a huge difference in the agonizing to-do lists I was creating during my pregnancy and the simplified and minimal tasks I give myself now.

In my bullet journal, I track my mood every day, and good habits I want to develop to replace the bad ones. It helps to review these things to see that not every day was a bad day, or that I was able to develop good habits over the course of a month even though I may have had a few off days.

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If you feel that you are struggling with prenatal or postpartum depression and anxiety, speak to your doctor immediately. They can help work with you to get you the help you need. If you are a Christian, there are definitely counseling centers (that accept insurance!) out there that use research-based psychology with a christian perspective to help those suffering from mental illness.

The counseling center I go to, LifeCare Counseling + Coaching, has locations in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area of North Carolina and in Abingdon, Virginia.  They also offer distance/online counseling that is HIPPA-compliant.

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Question for the Mamas:


Do you (or did you) struggle with postpartum depression and anxiety? Do you (or did you) struggle with depression and anxiety during pregnancy? Feel free to share any coping strategies in the comments below for other women who may be looking for help! 





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