Postpartum depression, shame and the Christian

Postpartum depression, shame and the Christian

Words can’t express the emotions I felt with the news of her impending arrival. After miscarriages that rocked my world, to hear that I was going to be a mother again, and this time to a sweet, precious baby girl, excited me beyond my ability to articulate. After wanting a little girl for so long, I thought it would be an easy pregnancy. I was wrong.

For some time I wanted to talk about my struggle with postpartum depression and the shame I experienced with it, but I never found the right platform to share. Social media isn’t always the best place to share your heart, so I was honored to share with Aye Gyal and felt it would be the perfect, judgement free place for me.

My birth story is a shocker. I almost lost my life bringing my sweetheart into the world. But that’s not what I’m sharing about today. Today I’m sharing what happened after I got home with my little miracle.

A few weeks after her birth, I starting feeling ‘not normal’. I couldn’t really put my finger on the source of the feeling, and I concluded that it was just leftover emotions and the stress of what I endured. But this feeling lingered. I did not even feel like myself. I was not ‘me’, looking in the mirror. I could not even recognize myself. The go lucky, bubbly person I used to be was no longer there. I was a shell of my self… lost in a fog.

I just had this perfect baby girl to add to the blessing and miracle of my son. My family felt complete. So why couldn’t I shake this feeling of despair and lowness? I reached out to people I felt would understand. ‘Suck it up‘ they said! ‘Stop being an egg…. You need to pray more, you need to fast more’. And probably I did. But nothing changed. I started feeling angry. I felt lonely and misunderstood. I did not choose this! Why would I chooses to sink in a pit of sadness that is unexplainable? A pit that seemed to swallow, engulf and encompass me. Why would I?

For months on end I struggled. It was not just the ‘blues’ and it did not fade. Instead the dark cloud of depression and hopelessness grew. At times I felt it would choke me. I had no desire for the things I once loved. There were days I’d lay in bed, lost in the world in my head. I did not shower, I did not eat, I cried miserably without a cause. These emotions like waves overwhelmed me. Like a rollercoaster. Sadness, uncertainty, unhappiness, utter despair. I was drowning in sorrow. I didn’t even want to exist. I eventually knew what it was, and it felt like a bad, nasty word. Postpartum Depression.

I was ashamed to admit it, to confess it. If I admit it, then I was automatically an unfit mother. It even meant that I did not love my daughter enough, that I was not strong enough, that I was flawed. The thought of cracking under the pressure exaggerated the depression, I felt weak, failed, damaged.

I  love my daughter but I was having a hard time bonding. Sometimes I would listen to her cry and I wanted to run to her, cause I knew she was helpless and she needed her mommy, but physically I could not move. I just could not. There were moments where I had flashes of harming her! At times I could see myself throwing her across the room, or shaking her repeatedly. I’m eternally thankful that these were only flashes and I never did actually harm her. But even feeling this way brought on a deep sense of shame and inadequacy. 

Christians don’t experience depression. It is the devil. It is a spirit. You are lacking faith! These words never helped. I was made to feel like I was choosing this, that I was probably deserving of this. I prayed, opened up to a few persons who committed to help me through by praying and encouraged me to seek medical attention. Eventually I did. Life and my relationship with my daughter has been incredibly different since then.

In our culture seeking medical help for such ‘illnesses’ is not really spoken. It’s time we get past cultural barriers and the stigma surrounding mental illness. Postpartum and depression in general is real, it’s scary, it’s damaging. It’s not a ‘white people thing’. Like most illnesses, it does not discriminate.

I was not flawed, I was not weak. I was just sick and needed help. I’m grateful that I eventually got it. My name is KayNicole and I’m surviving Postpartum Depression.

I’m KayNicole, a small Island girl, who is a Christian, wife and mother. By day, I work in Human Resource; by night, I chase after my curious toddlers, Ray & Ava, while thinking of creative ways to choose joy, daily. Find me over at my blog, KayNicole.

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14 Comments

  1. April 5, 2017 / 3:48 pm

    Your story touched my heart! I’m so sorry you went through & especially the fact that others told you to suck it up & that you needed to pray. Our society is not equipped to handle depression as a real illness. I am relieved that you got the help you needed. You did the right thing! All the best to you & know that you will always find a safe space to share your pain. Take care x

  2. April 6, 2017 / 8:13 pm

    This was so hard to read. I can only imagine how hard it was for you to share. Thank you for your braveness and vulnerability. Know that it will help someone, somewhere in ways you won’t begin to imagine.

  3. April 8, 2017 / 10:34 am

    I am so glad you had the courage to share your story! So many women feel/felt as you did! It saddens me that my fellow Christians fell short of the Grace that embodies Christ! Sometimes we can be very unfit and insensitive! Happy you were able to find a support system that could help you through this time. Blessings.

  4. April 8, 2017 / 10:59 am

    Your story is something that I was afraid of after birth. But yes, as mothers we have to be strong and I know how hard you deal with it and even sharing it with the public is something not everybody can do. I was touched.

  5. April 8, 2017 / 12:19 pm

    Wow, You’ve experienced a lot. Postpartum depression is not something one chooses, it does just happen. And from your prior loss, it seems that could have triggered it also. I’m glad you’re doing better. Just take it day by day as well as continually praying.

  6. April 10, 2017 / 9:59 am

    I’m sorry to hear that that you were made to feel as if you were wrong for seeking professional help outside of religion. I hope you continue doing better and grow out of depression sooner than later. Best wishes!

  7. April 10, 2017 / 1:42 pm

    Some people don’t think before they speak. Some people from church don’t understand the mental health field and some people in the mental health field don’t understand prayer/christianity etc. Trying to find people who can connect the two may be difficult. So glad you found the help that you need for you and your family.

  8. April 10, 2017 / 2:51 pm

    Thank you all for your kinds words. I continue to get better everyday! 🙂

  9. April 11, 2017 / 10:25 am

    Thanks for sharing your story. Postpartum depression is real but when women experience it is common to feel ashamed. I know it took a lot to share this with the world, but I am glad you did as I am sure it will help someone who is currently experiencing it.

  10. Meryl-ann
    April 12, 2017 / 11:46 am

    Thank you for sharing; It’s still fresh in my head. After my bundle of Joy, I realized that I wasn’t as anxious to see him as most mom would, not realizing that it was the beginning of the term depression or more so postpartum depression. It was only by the help of God (Prayer Prayer and more Prayer) that I made it. I don’t feel ashamed, but I feel hurt that something like this (Postpartum depression) takes away what should be beautiful moments. I am healed and enjoy my beautiful baby boy everyday. God Bless everyone.

  11. Carlana
    April 12, 2017 / 4:41 pm

    Hi Meryl-Ann, thank you for sharing. Blessings and glad to know you transcended the struggle.

  12. Carina
    April 13, 2017 / 11:54 am

    Wow, so touching, so real! I am happy you are marching full force into recovery and healing!

  13. Elle (CleverlyChanging)
    April 14, 2017 / 12:05 pm

    I’m so glad you shared your story. I think it is something that women; especially “strong black women” are often going through postpartum depression but may feel isolated. The more we talk about it though, the less stigma will be attached to it.

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