When I first experienced Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, my relationship with God was not what it should have been. I still prayed. Occasionally. I did not fear reading bible verses. I knew God was out there. Somewhere. But I was not actively seeking Him. I was not running from Him either. We had become roommates, God and I. Drifters in the night, one of us (me) barely acknowledging the other. Little did I know that my life would begin to change so drastically as I spiraled downward.
We lived in rural South Carolina during the my pregnancy and through the first five months of our oldest daughter’s life. No family nearby, no social support, no friends, no real knowledge of Postpartum Mood Disorders, an existence of ignorance of PMD’s within the local community – you see where I am going with this. Everything was right for me to experience a PMD. This is not to say that every woman who has these factors surrounding her will struggle but they do increase her risk.
With this perfect storm surrounding me, I succumbed to it’s power.
I worked at first to deal with everything on my own. I failed spectacularly for three glorious months. Then I sought help. My doctor denied my Postpartum and refused to help me. He did refer me to the in-house therapist but they kept rescheduling. At the time, I got angry. I felt so alone. Abandoned. Betrayed. Hurt. I had nowhere to turn.
If only I had opened my eyes then.
We moved back to Georgia, near my husband’s family, when our daughter was 5 months old. At first I was grateful for the help. But even then, I was not able to be fully appreciative. Relaxing? Hah. Totally out of the question. I lived filled with fear and anxiety triggered by my intrusive thoughts. Then we got pregnant again. My emotions continued to worsen through my pregnancy. Our second daughter was born with a cleft palate and spent a month in the NICU. Once again, a perfect storm slammed onto my shores.
During our daughter’s NICU stay, the first few verses of James became stuck in my head. In particular, verse 2 & 3. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” I finally opened to hearing the Word of God. We had begun to attend church a bit more regularly and leaned harder on our Church family as we struggled to come to grips with our daughter’s NICU stay and all the issues which lay ahead of us.
I know you may feel lost right now. I felt lost too. Completely lost.
God did not build us that way. Yes, we must get lost sometimes in order to find ourselves – even Jesus wandered in the wilderness. In order to walk strongly in faith, love, and have a strong sense of self-discipline, we must first be taught how to have faith, how to love, and how to practice self-discipline. I questioned my faith. I questioned why I had been left to wander in this wilderness. Now that I am a little over four years beyond my last brush with a Postpartum Mood Disorder, I see why I had to wander. I wandered so that my faith would be made strong, my ability to love myself and others grew immensely, and my ability to practice self-discipline toward myself and others also matured. For this, I am grateful. Yet still, I would not wish a PMD on my worst enemy. My faith, love, and self-discipline continues to grow, and I am re-assured on a daily basis by God that He will never forsake me. Faith, just as healing, takes time. If you feel you have lost your faith, please do not despair. You may not feel Him there but He is there, waiting for you to call for Him to carry you.