I love the "Assess Your Needs" portion of chapter five. While this is a simplified list of reasons for depression and helps for its relief, I have found that all six of the ideas given have been what I've relied on to help me out of my seasons of despair.
We talked about this at length when last we met. Please, young mother, if you can possibly do it, get your baby on a schedule as soon as possible. A baby who is tended to a the first little cry is the toddler who is still waking throughout the night. By then, you have will most likely have another wee one who is waking you, as well. Often, women are hesitant to have more babies because they cannot get one decent night's sleep. This is horrendous for your health and, in all honesty, not good for your baby's health, either. Like I said before, I get a full night's sleep and I still deal with weariness because motherhood makes one tired. I can't imagine what I would be like if I didn't get that nighttime rest. I have lived by the book, "Babywise" since I had my first child. I found that the NICU went by the same schedule when my premie was there as they knew it was the healthiest way for the tiny patients to thrive. I may post on this subject another time. Anyway, sleep will help you with your postpartum depression as well as your times of motherhood depression.
When I am depressed, my Bible reading is a struggle. I feel like I get nothing out of it, at times. But, I know that without it, I am swirling faster down the drain. If I keep reading and begging God to show me something, He is faithful to do it. Mom, if you are depressed, this is NOT the time to put your Bible on the shelf. Open it. Read even one or two verses and ask God to speak to you. But, speak to Him. "Help me, Lord" is a common prayer within the circle of mothers. "Give me strength. Give me joy. Love them through me." I have prayed these prayers along with others when I don't have the strength to form all the "right" words. He knows our hearts. He sees our tears. He will lift us up out of the pit of depression, in time. Maybe not right away - "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...thou art with me." He's there in the darkness and will guide you to the light - no matter how long the journey.
Often, when we feel depressed, we just want to shut ourselves away from everyone else. There have been Sundays or Wednesday nights when I just stay home or sit out in our vehicle until services begin just so I don't have to talk with anyone. Yes, me the "social butterfly"! However, it's at these times when we want to isolate ourselves that we need people more than ever. Just a kind word from a friend goes a long way. I am approaching 40 and have the beginning signs of some "wonderful" changes...including the emotional upheaval. There is one other lady in our church who seems to be going through this, as well, and she and I are honest with one another. If I don't see her, I pray for her and she does for me, too. Do you have, at least, one other person who completely understands your emotions? Husbands are wonderful and they can help, but they can never empathize like another woman who has walked the same path.
One of the first things to go when I am depressed is exercise. Part of that is because I need a bit more sleep. However, it's a vicious cycle. Depressed + no exercise = more depression. Getting your blood flowing will improve your outlook. There have been recent days when the last thing I want to do is climb onto the elliptical and work out for an hour. But, I force myself to do it knowing that it's good for me and I will just feel worse if I don't do it.
I tend to get depressed when the housework gets overwhelming. When I had a bunch of little ones, I often had help. I had teenage girls at my house at least twice a month to watch my children so I could get housework done. Often, they would run a vacuum, as well and even lend a hand in cooking dinner. I used to pay one girl $10/week to do our ironing. It was worth it to me. For a while, we had a lady clean our house once or twice a month. The added bonus was that I got to know these teenage girls quite well and it was a joy to watch them grow up. We'd sit and talk during nap time and they would pick my brain as I would remember what it was like to be in their shoes.
We are often weak and we need to lean on someone else to give us a hand. It's great training for a teen and it's a great help to you, young mom!
Now that my kids are older, we sometimes will take a day off of school when things get really out of control and we focus on getting our house back in order. It's amazing how a clean and uncluttered house will lift my spirits. It's almost as good as chocolate. Almost.
Sally mentions just adding things to your life and surroundings that make you happy. For me, that's clearing the clutter, turning out most of the lights, and curling up with a book. Other times, it's going out on a date with my man. Eric and I both seem to know when we NEED to get out and just leave the craziness of life and parenthood behind us for a few hours. There have been times when he senses that I need to get out alone and care for the children while I get a bit of a break.
Sometimes, the best thing I can do is take my focus off of myself and my problems and focus on someone else. Baking someone cookies, writing a card, surprising someone with flowers or a meal...these all add joy to my heart. When you're drowning, the best thing you can do is reach out. Sometimes, it's reaching for help while other times it's reaching out to help.
Bottom line - get rid of the SuperMom mentality. Living on little sleep, never getting together with friends, letting exercise go until the kids get older, not accepting the help you obviously need, and neglecting time with your husband or a few hours alone is NOT healthy nor wise. I know women like that - they are often sick and depressed. You want to be a SUPER mom? Please, I beg you, take care of yourself. Once you get through the depression, look for another mom who is struggling. Encourage her. Walk alongside her. Love her.
Where are you today? Depressed or joyful, please know that you are loved by a loving God Who wraps His arms around you.