Many weeks ago I posted my experience with postpartum depression promising to share another testimony. There were events these last few weeks that kept publishing from happening, but better late than never, right?
Today I'm sharing my sister's testimony, who experienced an extreme case of depression (that included suicidal thoughts) and how God used it to transform her life for Him. I'm so excited to share this with you not only because of the fire God set in her heart for Him because of it, but also because God used me to point her back to Him. After reading her words, read her story from my point of view...
I recently read an article about the “darkness” after your new baby is born, I was shocked how many people responded to it, women who I was friends with on Facebook, and I had no idea their struggles. Women are such emotional creatures, after time we learn that we need to suppress these hormonal changes or be labeled “crazy”. By the time our motherhood comes into play we have mastered this skill and think after our baby is born its just hormonal changes we need to get through and it will be fine in a few weeks (for some women this is possible). When I was hit with postpartum depression I thought, I will be fine in a few weeks, I am just sleep deprived and my body just pushed a baby out, I don’t need anyone to know because then that “crazy” label might come out.
As time went on I began to get scared of myself and the thoughts that were consuming me. Yes, consuming, ever moment of everyday. But somehow I smiled when people were around and went on convinced it would end. When it didn’t, I realized it was unsafe for me to be home alone with my daughter. I was endangering myself but most importantly her. I remember the day I called David at work, spilling it all out; poor guy was equally as terrified to find out that I had thoughts of hurting our new beautiful daughter and myself. Even now, when I write this tears pool in my eyes thinking of it. It makes me sick to my stomach to think of the women who go through these thoughts that don’t rely on Christ to pull them out of it. If you have never been through this I know you are thinking, “what kind of mother would ever think that?” But, if you have been here you are hopefully finding peace in knowing you’re not alone and God is sovereign even through this.
I don’t know about you but anti-depressants terrify me, equally, if not as much as the thoughts themselves. So until we decided what to do I didn’t let myself be alone. It kind of felt silly, like I was being babysat. But it was best for my daughter, I never got close to doing anything to her, and looking back I know I wouldn’t have. But it made David and myself more comfortable knowing I had support on hand when thoughts overwhelmed me, and got immediate prayer. We tossed around the thought of anti-depressants but something told me I didn’t need them, then we decided to put me on birth control to see if maybe regulating my hormones would help (there is no scientific support for this, just something we were comfortable with trying).
At the time I was running our business, keeping the house spotless, spending time with our friends, and taking care of a child with reflux and lip-tie! Needless to say too much. We decided to end the business. I started to let the house go (which was a big deal for me) and slowly began to fill the roll of mother instead of fitting motherhood in where I could. Embracing God’s position for my life helped, but I still wasn’t finding rest. The thoughts got less scary, but turned into sky-high anxiety. There was no peace in my life; that was exhausting in it self.
In February of 2014 Becky came to visit. This was when we began to see the plan God had through this depression! One night the depression hit a new level, it was anxiety and scary thoughts all at once. I felt like I was out of control! All I could think to do was get Becky. So I woke her and said, “Bring your Bible.” I don’t remember everything said, but I remember I couldn’t stop shaking, it was totally uncontrollable, we listened to music, focused on the gospel, prayed endlessly, and by the end I had peace. My mind was quiet, the shaking had stopped, it was a feeling I didn’t think was ever possible. I stopped the birth control the next day knowing Jesus was bigger than this depression and I didn’t need any medication. My whole life I had been a “Christian” but that night I put my trust in Him fully. I was a lukewarm Christian (and proud of it) until that night. Becky and I started doing a weekly discipleship via Face time; we also started videoing in on Tuesday night Bible study and the occasional Sunday morning. Throughout all these things the depression left, I’ve never been hit with thoughts of hurting Abi or myself since. All because of Christ and the power He has. There have been times of anxiety, but I quickly shut it down and find peace with prayer. I am beyond thankful for this depression, I am thankful God kept his hand on me from beginning to end keeping my family safe, and bringing us closer to Him. This depression caused an endless domino affect in changing us from lukewarm Christians to being on fire daily! It has caused us to move countries to get closer to Him and built a closer relationship to my sister. He changed my heart to embrace every moment with my daughter.
Sometimes I don’t fully understand the thoughts I had. I can’t imagine why I ever wanted to affect her in a negative way, then I realize those things were one of the biggest steps in my sanctification and without it she may have never know God and how amazing He is, because I sure didn’t. We often wrongly assume God is on the sidelines cheering us on in hopes we do the right thing and maybe, just maybe, we have the strength to push through and find Him on the other side. This is not the God of the Bible, He is 100% in charge of our lives. He is the God of calamity (Isaiah 45:7), salvation, and peace; we exist to bring glory to Himself alone. So yes, He can and does use depression to glorify Himself.
I know mothers who have been so scared by their previous depression they are terrified to have another child, I challenge them to give this fear to God. He is bigger. He is better. He is stronger. I am not scared of when God blesses us with another child, even if I get depression again (which I doubt because I know Christ now). I know that everything in my life is to set me apart, and become closer to Him. So if that means something as huge as another round of depression, cancer, loosing family members, or something as small as not being able to pay a bill. I know God is in total control of it; I rest in knowing my life exists to glorify Him and nothing more.
It continually amazes me how God times things. At the peak of Mandy's depression, we traveled to the Bahamas to visit her. It was an amazing trip, not just because of beach and boat time, wonderful food, incredible company, and great memories; but because God used me to point my sister to Himself. I feel so honored and grateful to be witness to such an event, much less be used for His glory.
I had no idea how badly she was struggling until the night she woke me up asking for help. I honestly do not remember her telling me to bring my Bible. The only thing I knew to do was to focus her mind and thoughts on an almighty, faithful, and sovereign God. So I shared the gospel, prayed, pointed her to Scripture showing God's amazing attributes in Job 38-41 (where God answers Job after all he lost) and listened to Sovereign Over Us by Aaron Keyes.
I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that it was the Holy Spirit guiding my words as I silently prayed to make my words His Words and that He open Mandy's eyes to His truth. (Thank you Lord for answering that prayer!) I also have no doubt in my mind that the reason my pastor asked me to do a witches hat diagram for the book of Job weeks before leaving for this trip was so I knew that in the midst of trials and tribulation what GOD wants us to do: stop and consider the wondrous works of God (Job 37:14)
That is the main reason why I'm sharing this: to point women to the truth found in Scripture for encouragement and hope. The final post on Postpartum Depression is giving tools to help change your negative thoughts to the wondrous works of God. Focusing on God's amazing attributes leaves no room for anything else.