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


Just talkin tuesday logo

(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!

Sharing the Journey with Sue McRoberts


I have had the good fortune recently to get to know Sue McRoberts, author of The Lifter of My Head: How God Sustained me during Postpartum Depression, and 1/3 of the blogging team at Totally New Moms. The following are 10 questions I emailed to her and the responses I received. Enjoy!

(As a side note, interviews with Arlene and Rebecca from Totally New Moms will be arriving shortly as well!)

Sue McRoberts

1) When did you become a Christian and what has helped to solidify or sustain your faith over the years?
 I became at Christian at the age of 8 but I didn’t really understand it until I was 14.  In college I started really living out my faith.  What has solidified my faith is God’s faithfulness.  He’s always done what he says in scripture he will do.  Seeing God’s consistency and compassion has sustained me.

2)      What made you decide to write your book, The Lifter of my Head: How God Sustained Me through Postpartum Depression?
I went to a local Christian bookstore, looking for a book on postpartum depression from a Christian’s perspective.  There was no such book on the shelf.  After doing some research no one at the store could  find such a book on the Internet either.  The clerk suggested to me that I should go home and pray about  whether or not perhaps God wanted me to write that book.  At first I thought that was the craziest thing I’d ever heard.  God gave me no peace until I started writing!  
 
 
3)      What kind of process did you go through to write your book? What part was the most difficult to write?
Writing from beginning to end what happened to me during my PPD experience was excruciating.  I wrote 95% of my book while I was sick.  I wrote the book as these things were actually happening.  Only editing was done while I was well.  I cut about 35,ooo words from my final manuscript. I had a lot I wanted to share!  The process itself was simple.  I had  a brainstorming notebook I constantly wrote in.  I wrote constantly when ideas would come.  Sometimes at 3 a.m I would do my best writing and thinking.  For me the toughest part was describing the darkest parts of my illness.  I wrote the whole thing in faith that God wanted me to do it.  But I never believed for one second that anyone would relate to my experiences with psychosis.  I was wrong!  Other than that, reading the book in it’s entirety for the audio CD’s was a nightmare.  It’s one thing to write it and edit it over 6-8 months.  To read it in 5 hours was tough emotionally.  Hearing those words come out of my own mouth about broke me. 
 

4)      Prior to Motherhood, what was the main focus of your life?

I was a teacher and a coach.  My students were my life.  I miss teaching and coaching so much that it’s difficult to express that emptiness in my life.  I’ve filled that with a great husband, three kids, and much ministry but boy do I miss it.
 

5)      What is the hardest part of Motherhood? The easiest?

 The hardest part of motherhood for me is having strong willed kids only to discover that maybe I’m strong willed too.  That can be volatile so I’ve learned to be a little more passive and easy going.   What else is hard for me is that  I can’t make them choose the right things in life.  I can only guide them and that is scary.  I’ve learned to guide them and pray for them but let God take the reigns. It freaks me out to much to try to control these little people.   They aren’t puppets.  I was shocked when I discovered that!

The easiest part for me is playing with my kids.  I love pitching baseball to them, kicking a soccer ball, riding bikes.  My five year old can’t stand when I want to work on reading or math with him.  He sees me as his soccer pal.  So playing is a very important thing in our house. 

6)      How has becoming a Mother changed you? Has it strengthened your faith in God?

 I have three strong willed kids, all of which have worn me out at times.  I’ve learned to focus on what really matters and know what those things are that I will battle on and which ones aren’t so important.  Strong willed kids will get in your face no matter what though.  They love a fight and a challenge.  So I have had to rely on God for strength, creativity in parenting, rest, and most of all some grace for my kids.  It has strengthened my faith in God tremendously.  When my first child got her first spanking at 18 months she looked at me and said, “Is that all you’ve got?”  I knew I was in trouble!  But God has stayed with me!

7)      In your opinion, what aspect of Motherhood should be most celebrated?

 The fact that we  are molding and shaping godly men and women one diaper at a time, one feeding at a time, one school grade at a time, one conversation at a time.  Every day we are impacting our children’s lives.  Mothering matters!   It’s only what you do for Christ that counts.  Leading your kids to Christ, teaching them to walk with and depend on him…these things count.

8)      When you get time to yourself, how do you pamper yourself?
 
I eat breakfast out with my friends, go to dinner and a movie with my husband, or go for a nice  long run.
 
9)      How did the idea for your joint blog, Totally New Moms with Arlene Pellicane and Rebecca Ingram Powell come to fruition?

 I knew when Rebecca agreed to write an endorsement for my book that we would one day work together.  I prayed about it for ages.  I don’t even know if Rebecca knows that.  We both have a heart for girls and women.  That drew me to  her.  Arlene was Rebecca’s special find!  I’m pretty sure the idea started with me and Rebecca talking about it.  Then Rebecca  found Arlene and it took off from there.  I think the three of us have such different styles and personalities, we complement each other well.

10)   If there was one piece of advice you could give to an expectant mother (new or experienced), what would it be and why would this be important for her to hear?

Look for resources around you, they are everywhere.  Printed material, experienced mothers in different seasons of life, your Bible, your doctor, your neighbors.  Listen and learn.  Be open to other’s opinions and take help when it’s offered.  And above all, don’t be so hard on yourself.  We aren’t perfect and that really shows up in our mothering.  But don’t beat yourself up for a decade because you did or said something wrong to your child.  (I’ve done that…)  Kids are resilient.  We aren’t most of the time.  Ask God’s forgiveness and move on.  There’s bigger things to come!   And just think, some day you’ll be entering middle age and you’ll not know where the time went.  Cherish the good, the bad, and the ugly of mothering because it all matters!