Depression and the Need for Community

Like the proverbial frog slipped into slowly warming water that eventually comes to a boil, depression creeps up on us, until we can't remember the last time we felt joy.

Almost ten months later, I watched a show on television where a woman described her experience with postpartum depression and with tears streaming down my face, I whispered aloud, “That’s me.” I called my doctor the next day. Depression is insidious like that. It hides itself behind circumstances and experiences. It can mask itself as anger or stress or grief. It remains in the shadows until it’s become such a part of us, we don’t remember when we didn’t feel that way.

 

I don’t often remember the details of conversations with people. It would be nice if I did. Then I’d not be so surprised when my husband leaves for ten days of business. (“Don’t you remember? I told you I’d be gone on an extended trip.”) Actually, no, I don’t remember, because I can’t even remember what I did yesterday…

But there is one conversation I do remember. It’s one that still haunts me. And I remember it in great detail.

I went to see my midwife for my visit following the birth of my first child. I had numerous health problems after the delivery, and hoped she would help me resolve them. I can still picture the room, where I sat, and my son asleep in his carrier on the floor.

She looked at me with concern and said, “I wonder if you might be suffering from postpartum depression.”

In my mind, I thought: This is not depression. I know depression. I’ve diagnosed it and treated people for it. This is fatigue and stress.

I shook my head and said, “I’m just exhausted. And stressed. I need to get my health problems under control. That’s all it is.”

Almost ten months later, I watched a show on television where a woman described her experience with postpartum depression and with tears streaming down my face, I whispered aloud, “That’s me.”

I called my doctor the next day.

Depression is insidious like that. It hides itself behind circumstances and experiences. It can mask itself as anger or stress or grief. It remains in the shadows until it’s become such a part of us, we don’t remember when we didn’t feel that way. Like the proverbial frog slipped into slowly warming water that eventually comes to a boil, depression creeps up on us, until we can’t remember the last time we felt joy.

With my second pregnancy, I told my doctor right away of my history and we prepared for its return after the birth. And it did return, with a vengeance. But the second time around, I told people about my struggle. I reached out for community. I knew I was in the thick of it and that I needed people to walk with me in it. And they did. Sweet sisters in Christ, the pastor of my church, and my family all ministered to me in various and important ways. (I share more about my struggles in A Heart Set Free).

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