We are Motherhood: Karalynne’s Story
“Depression is a dark heavy burden. You feel like you are all alone. You feel like no one wants to help you, you have no friends, and no one can relate. You feel like life would be so much better without you. You feel like no one would care if you were gone. You feel like you have to hide this problem because no one can understand it.” by Karalynne
I am a wife, a mom with six children, and I have battled post partum depression many times. The feelings of depression may differ for everyone, but I believe there are enough similarities to help others see the signs. This is how post partum depression felt for me.
Depression is a dark heavy burden. You feel like you are all alone. You feel like no one wants to help you, you have no friends, and no one can relate. You feel like life would be so much better without you. You feel like no one would care if you were gone. You feel like you have to hide this problem because no one can understand it. You feel as though you are expected by society to be strong, even when you have nothing left to be strong with. You feel like it is too much and that doing normal daily tasks are too hard, because life is too hard. Sometimes even getting out of bed is too hard. You don’t want to deal with the kids or the crying baby. In fact, you can’t deal with them. Depression is just all around overwhelming. Depression can be taxing and too much to deal with.
When truly depressed, the mind does not think straight. The brain uses irrational thinking, aggressive emotions brew and come out, darkness surrounds you. The burden and darkness are so heavy that it’s hard to feel any light or peace. It’s a maddening feeling. This is how I felt after delivering a few of my babies- the feelings lasted for months and months.
The word depressed gets confused by many, and therefore, a stigma is associated with it.
People use the word depressed to explain how they felt when they simply had a normal day that just turned out to have some hard moments in it. Others use the word depressed when they are ready to commit suicide.
Two completely different extreme meanings of the word.
One way to explain depression to others is with a number scale, rating the severity of depression based from 1 to 10. Level 1 on the depression scale is when you’ve simply had a bad day: bad hair day, you flunked a school test, or a friend said something rude. A level 3 and 4 on the scale may be when you’re in a funk due to life’s circumstances and you just can’t find joy in your life. A level 10 on the scale is when one is completely done with life and tries to commit suicide. A 9 might be when you’ve had suicidal thoughts. An 8 might be when you can’t even get out of bed and take care of daily tasks. Do you see the difference of severities of depression?
The difference between a 1 and a 10 are drastic and huge. Therefore the treatments for a person at a 1 and at a 10 are drastic and huge.
When you’re at a 10, most likely you need immediate medical attention. When you’re at a 1, you might just need to call a friend, go on a walk, or say a prayer.
So if you are at a level 9 or 10 on the depression scale and someone tells you, you need to go to church more, serve others, or read your scriptures more (like in my case), that may be offensive to you at the time. Medically there is most likely a true chemical imbalance in the brain that needs to be treated by a professional first. When you’re at a 10 and have just tried to commit suicide, serving others is not going to be your treatment plan for the moment.
But if you’re just in a funk due to life circumstances, and you’re at a level 1-3, then yes, maybe reading your scriptures or serving others would probably help you out and be a great treatment. That is where some of the confusion lies.
There is hope for those battling depression. Depression can be seasonal or temporary. Maybe depression hits because you just had a baby and have post partum depression, but depression can also hit for a variety of reasons: such as you were diagnosed with cancer, or your spouse lost his job, or you lost your job, or you have a heavy stressful burden placed upon you. Depression can be due to circumstances, and circumstances change.
For others depression is a life long journey. But, one is not eternally stuck at a certain level on the depression scale. Just because they are at a level 10, doesn’t mean they can’t get down to a level 1 and experience joy. And due to life circumstances and coping techniques, maybe one will always bounce between a 1-5 range for life.
Depending on what level of depression one has, the depression can last one day, one week, one month, one year, or a lifetime.
All of this makes depression confusing and hard for others to truly understand. Confusion surrounds many on how to best help people with depression within our families, communities, and church. But understanding where people are on a depression scale, can help you know how to best help them.
When I was in the midst of depression, I remember there were days that I wonder how much more I could take on this journey of mine? When will enough be enough? When will it be over? When will this sadness go away? When will this burden be lifted? Why is it so hard? Being in a waiting place takes patience.
During these waiting days, I learned something really important. I realized these two words, triggers and helps, are huge in battling my depression. Triggers are things that might bring on my depression. Helps are things that might lighten my depression. I’ve learned to have personal awareness of what triggers my depression and what helps my depression. These are some of the things that trigger my depression: These triggers or helps might be the same or similar for some of you. They also might be the same that trigger or help in other wilderness journeys, like loneliness, addictions, self worth, or others.
Make a list of what triggers or helps your struggle. Being aware of them, will help you while on your journey.
Here are some of my examples. Some of these might help you make your list.
1. I know that exercise, Vitamin D, and clean eating helps my depression a lot. I know not exercising enough through the week will definitely trigger my depression. I know I have to exercise at least 3-4 times a week, to stay mentally strong. I know an overload of sugar and too many carbs can trigger my depression. Or too much processed foods can too. Clean eating helps me feel so much more balanced and energized. If I’m doing those two things and still feeling depressed. I make sure I’m taking enough vitamins (especially D) and amino acids to help out.
2. Getting out and being with my friends helps my depression. Talking to friends, being out in the open air, going on a walk, spending time with adults only, all of these help lighten my depression.
3. Being exhausted, disorganized, or overwhelmed can trigger my depression. Getting enough sleep and organizing my days is important for me.
4. Prayer helps my depression. When in the midst of depression, I get on my knees and pray. I plead to Him for His enabling power, His grace. I plead to Him for His strength. I plead to Him for His comfort. I plead to Him for His patience. I plead for His guidance. There have been times when pleading to Him, that I thought I could not get up on my feet and go anymore. And somehow, He gives me that strength to stand. That strength to continue on. That strength to be happy. That strength to keep going. His strength through grace.
5. I know not serving others regularly and being selfish compounds my depression. When depressed and on the lower end of the depression scale, try serving someone everyday and see what joy you feel in your life. I’ve many times taken this to heart and when depressed, will try to serve someone every single day just to get out of my “poor is me” attitude.
6. Reading the scriptures helps with my depression. It helps me remember that God is fully aware of me. It helps me remember that I’m not alone in my trials. It helps me remember that God loves me and will meet me at wherever I’m at. I don’t have to be living a perfect life for God to help me and love me. His grace is there for me at whatever level of life I’m living. His grace is always there for me if I will partake of it.
7. I know a hard trial in my life can trigger my depression and it always does. I know I have to be aware of my struggles on a daily basis and cope with them with ways that I have learned.
Are any of these triggers or helps the same or similar for you? Write down a list of your triggers and helps and share them with close friends or family members, so they can help you. If you are experiencing post partum depression, there is help. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help. As women we need to help one another rather than shun or shame one another.
About the author: Karalynne is a fantastic mama of six. She experienced PPD with several of her children but has found that healthy eating, exercising, and Faith in God have helped her manage her struggle. You can find her on Instagram sharing food tips and shortcuts to cleaning up your diet. Follow her to learn how modifying your diet can help you feel better physically and mentally. Check out her website at www.dejunkit.com for more healthy eating tips, recipes, and more.
Think you or someone you know may be struggling with postpartum depression, anxiety, or another mental health disorder? Please contact your health provider including your OBGYN or family doctor. Need more information? Visit Postpartum Support International for great information on maternal mental health and more. If you fear you or someone you love may be contemplating suicide or facing a mental health emergency, call the Suicide Prevention Hotline and get to your nearest emergency room. Please consider buying a PPD Awareness t-shirt, all proceeds go to help mothers in need. Have questions or need support please join the discussion on Facebook.