Just Talkin’ Tuesday: Religion/Spirituality & Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders


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(Yes, I know it’s Monday. Realized that AFTER promoting at Twitter & Facebook. I was just so darn excited about this post I had to put it up an entire day early!)

Welcome to the very first “Just Talkin’ Tuesday!” Glad you could make it.

Have a seat! Share some thoughts!

Over the past few years, I have come to embrace my own Christian faith as what has carried me through my experience with Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. A favorite quote of mine is by Mother Theresa – “God will never give you more than you can handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much!” (I paraphrased so not sure if that’s the precise wording or not!) And over the past few years, somehow, I’ve managed to earn a LOT of God’s trust. I don’t quite know how I achieved such a feat but alas, I did and here I am.

The past week has had a couple of interesting things tossed my way. The first was the inclusion of a link to an Islamic forum post dealing with postpartum depression. It’s specifically about a woman who’s husband has recently passed away but someone used the term Postpartum Depression in one of their discussions so Google quickly catalogued it for me. (Ain’t I lucky?!) You can read the post here. I found it quite fascinating because there is not a lot of information out there for the general public in relation to Islam and Depression. In fact, one of the posts includes a link to a PDF version of a book entitled Don’t Be Sad written by Aid ibn Abdullah al-Quarni. I skimmed through the table of contents and the introduction. Seems fascinating.

The other topic I found fascinating was coming across Stacey’s blog. Stacey is an atheist, a belief she has every right to hold, but I find personally hard to understand, especially given the role that faith and God has played in my own recovery. It’s really got me thinking about some things. (You can learn more about atheism via wikipedia by clicking here.)

And that brings us to the topic for today.

As you (or a loved one) journeyed through Postpartum Mood or Anxiety Disorder, what role, if any, did your faith/spiritual belief play in your recovery? Was it minimized or maximized? Did you completely change course? What are some of the sentiments your faith expresses about mental illness? Were you outcast because of your struggle or decision to treat with medication? How were you expected to treat your illness?

Let’s get to Just Talkin’ here!

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11 thoughts on “Just Talkin’ Tuesday: Religion/Spirituality & Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders

  1. Pingback: Wowser! « Stacey0313's Blog

  2. Great topic, hope you don’t mind I posted a link to this post in my blog.

    Personally my lack of belief hasn’t really changed my recovery on a personal scale, it hasn’t caused me to question it or wonder if I’m all wrong. It has however caused issues with outsiders in my recovery like my counsling.

    I am a firm believer in a few things, one of the big ones is that religion and spirtuality is one of the most personal things out there, and every single person has a right to hold there own opinions and beliefs, so long as it doesn’t harm anyone else. I think a lot of what people who feel religion and church has helped them feel, is what I feel in reading peoples blogs and hearing other experiences, it’s a sense of community when it’s needed most. A kind ear or thoughtful message, when you feel completely alone.

    • Stacey –

      Thanks for sharing it on your blog! The more the merrier!

      I’m so glad you posted a comment here, I was hoping you would. (Sorry for the delay in approval, I’ve been chasing 3 kids plus 4 dogs around the past couple of days – almost forgot how to type!)

      I completely agree that a sense of community is very helpful when you’re hurting. A kind ear and a thoughtful message go miles when you’re feeling completely alone – and that is a lot of the motivation for what I do here and at iVillage. When I was suffering, I was all alone. Once I realized that I could be that someone for other women, I worked very hard at doing just that. I’ll be damned if I let another woman suffer alone or in ignorance if I can help it! Women deserve to be educated, aware, and have an advocate on their side, no matter what their beliefs or philosophy may be. When it comes down to it, we are all human and we should love and protect one another NO MATTER WHAT!

      Thanks again for sharing!

      Warmest,
      Lauren

      • I completly agree, to have to suffer alone in this day in age is completly unacceptable to me! We can not allow it to be that way. One of the huge reasons I started writting in my blog is that I if I’m ashamed it gives some other women permission to be ashamed, and where does that get us? Now that I’m back from out of town I’ll be getting more active in both the blogging and iVillage!

        I’m so glad we connected! Thanks again!

  3. Thank you for sharing Stacey’s blog – I found it to be another interesting resource to learn about another woman’s experience with PPD. I’ve read several of your posts and they have been extremely helpful. You pose some very interesting and hard hitting questions.

    Like Stacey, I also consider myself to be an atheist. So I’m not sure how to respond to how my belief (or lack thereof) affected my recovery. It certainly didn’t restrict any decisions I made about seeking treatment or taking medication. I suffered a PPP episode in October of last year and the episode itself had a lot of religious overtones mixed up in it. This did cause me to question my non-belief and wonder if there wasn’t something greater at work that day. I think it has caused me to be more open to different perspectives and ways of thinking about religion. I like to say that I’m “seeking” now.

    • “Boones” –

      Thanks for the share! There really is no right or wrong answer to this one – and there never will be on Just Talkin’ Tuesdays. Every woman is affected differently by her brush with a PMD or in your case, PPP. What we bring to the table colours the experience just a tad differently than the next person yet there are always certain common threads others will relate to as they read our tale.

      Interesting about your experience leading you to wonder about the possibility of a greater thing at work when it happened. I too had gone through a “seeking” period not too long before giving birth. As my experience progressed and ultimately landed me in the hospital, it became crystal clear for me what was happening – God was truly testing me. I wish you the same peace and introspective understanding that has occurred with me – no matter what that means for you as you journey along your road!

      Glad you’ve enjoyed my work here! Certainly hope you continue to do so!

      Warmest,

      Lauren

  4. My faith in God is what carried me though my postpartum depression. The experience definitely made my faith stronger. Going through the PPD my prayer life & Bible reading really improved. I feel like my faith in God gave me hope that I would soon get out the dark pit that I was in.

    At first I had a hard time admitting to myself that I needed professional help. I thought that I should be able to deal with it myself. The attitude of the churches that I was raised in was a big stumbling block for me. Their belief was that depression & other mental illness was the result of a spiritual weakness like needing more faith, needing to pray more, read the Bible more, etc. After talking to my doctor and educating myself I realized that postpartum mood disorders are a legitimate sickness that needs treatment. It is not an indication of a spiritual problem and definitely not the sufferer’s own fault. There were those who didn’t condone my use of antidepressants, but there were also many people who were very supportive, caring, and helpful.

    My experience has really helped me to understand more about people’s suffering and be more compassionate.

    • Tiffany –

      If you haven’t already read this article, you really should give it a once over. It’s entitled “The Gospel According to Prozac” and appeared in Christianity Today back in August of 1995.

      It is hard to admit you need professional help. After all, it’s your mind so you should be able to fix that on your own, right? And especially if you’re raised to be faithful, then well, prayer should help too, right? The way I see it with meds (and I think Tara would agree) is that God put people here with us blessed with the knowledge of how to make medication to help us heal. Goes back to that story about a man caught in a flood who chooses to trust in God to rescue him. He turns away several boats that arrive to help him while waiting for God to rescue him. Ultimately, the man drowns. When he gets to Heaven, he asks God why he didn’t rescue him. The response? “I sent three boats!”

      The lesson from that story? Sometimes the answer doesn’t always come in the form we expect but we must learn to be thankful and open to whatever His answer may be.

      Warmest,
      Lauren

  5. I’m not sure how to comment briefly on this one, especially as this very topic is the entire scope of my PPD advocacy work, as you know. I will say that I strongly believe meds are ok, as a Christian, and if someone tells you that you are sick because your faith is not enough or you are not praying hard enough – that is WRONG. Plain and simple. My faith helped my recovery and was in fact vital to it. I cannot separate the two. Looking forward to reading more discussion!

    • Tara –

      Oh I’m not expecting brief comments here at all. It’s definitely an intense and complex topic. I’m so glad you posted!

      You and I are in the same boat and actually, it’s been an inspiration to see your work in the PPD world. In fact, it’s been because of your work that I’ve grown to be so comfortable with my own spiritual growth through my journey.

      Like you, I cannot separate the spiritual growth I experienced as I recovered from my PP OCD from the recovery itself. I feel very strongly that my PP OCD was a tool used by God to bring me back to Him. It worked very well too. It’s been very surreal to have an entire lifetime of experiences suddenly shift into place and understand why I’m here. I wouldn’t change a thing about my experience at all!

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