After receiving so many responses to the posts about prenatal depression and recently having a wonderful yet brief "debriefing" of sorts with my wonderful mother-in-law (who knew mothers-in-law could be great, right?!), I felt the need to share a few things that helped me through this last depression. Maybe, just maybe, they could be helpful for someone else who struggles. I want to say from the outset, however, that I struggled with faith more than ever with this last pregnancy (so much for my saintly missionary image)
. While not listed below, a deep and intentionally cared for relationship with the Lord will always be the most wonderful source of relief in any struggle. Only He can bring about healing or carry you through.
1. Fish Oil - When I started taking fish oil in my second trimester, I went from no function to some function, even experiencing days with glimpses of my "real" self.
2. Magnesium - When the effects of the fish oil seemed to wane, I added magnesium supplements to my regime. It really made a difference in emotion control.
3. B-12 - Yes. Another vitamin. The B-12 gave me more energy which made it a lot harder to give in to the depressive mood.
4. Exercise - My first and second semester, I exercised regularly. Exercise did wonders. If I skipped a day, it was noticeable, especially in the area of anger and patience. I do want to note that as the depression continued and worsening with hormonal changes, I needed a coach (my one and only amazing husband) to keep me getting up and exercising. He did it with me himself.
5. Sleep - We all need more of it. =)
6. Having support - Pregnancy #6 was the first time I reached out for help. When you have friends who will love you, help you, and pray for you (and they are only a text away), the feeling that the depression just might not get the best of you starts seeping into the core of your belief system. Having a husband you can talk to openly, one who will understand to the best of their ability, was priceless.
7. Routine, routine, routine - We did our best to have the same schedule each and every day. The ability to face each day and not have to make a variety of decisions helped things feel more doable...so I was more willing to at least try. We even ate the same things over and over and over again.
8. Remembering they are worth it - If you struggle with prenatal depression, it is so easy to forget about the baby or even be angry at the baby. Doing whatever I could to remember how "worth it" each of my babies are, helped so much. Listening to Michelle Duggar's book A Love That Multiples or watching movies about children and birth when I was so down and needed to be alone really went a long way toward me being able to bond with our newborn.
9. Knowing the problem - What a difference to really know what is wrong, to know you are not completely insane and/or a worthless human being! Being able to look for signs (I knew with 99% accuracy when I was about to struggle on a worse level: My face broke out in pimples) and be prepared or at least anticipate really helped me. It also helped Chris help me more and prepare his own heart.
10. Avoiding - Fighting, and even getting others to help me fight unhelpful influences was extremely helpful. Not watching scarey or overly emotional movies, not reading blogs by women who (intentionally or unintentionally) project a perfect lifestyle, and not talking to those who tend to hurt or cause pain (I do not recommend doing this on a long-term, post-depression basis - reconcile and unify!) helped me cope more and focus more on what I needed to do: care for myself and my family.
For those of you who have shared with me your struggles, my prayer over you is healing or trust through this fire that feels like it will consume you. Whether you feel Him or not, the Father is walking through it with you. Fight to take every thought captive and to accept His merciful presence.
Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 in this series!