As this series on maternal mental health continues, today we hear the testimony of one husband as he journeyed with his wife through her postpartum depression and anxiety after their first child. It is our hope that you will find strength and encouragement in Christ through the telling of Sarah and Kurt’s story. Read Part 1 of this post here. All names have been changed to respect the family’s privacy.
What symptoms did you observe in Sarah?
The symptoms Sarah demonstrated included: irritability, tiredness, anxiety, panic and anger. For me, it was important to learn to see past these negative emotions. In other words, not to take how she was responding personally because I knew that wasn’t the true Sarah that I’ve always known. When your wife comes at you with such intense and hurtful emotions, you need to see past them and realize she is trying to tell you that she needs help. Use these symptoms as red flags and a call to respond with a loving and supportive response instead of returning anger for anger.
How did you learn to help Sarah during this time?
Pattern recognition is important. I needed to learn what factors set off these episodes for Sarah. Her sleeping patterns, eating habits, lack of rest and loneliness all played a factor. If she wasn’t getting enough sleep or hadn’t had a proper meal, it could result in a downward spiral of emotions for her.
What activities helped to disrupt the panic and depressive episodes?
For us, going for a walk helped big time. It helped to change the setting, provided exercise and allowed us to talk one on one too.
What other resources did God use to bring help to Sarah during this time?
I know that no one really wants to be on medication for anxiety or depression, but sometimes it’s necessary for a time and for others maybe even long term. Either way, don’t be afraid of needing medication. It doesn’t mean you are a weak person or that you lack faith. Each person’s body is different and treatment will look different for each person. If a particular medication isn’t working, tell your doctor and seek an alternative.
Since Sarah already had a history with depression and was already on a medication that was obviously not working, we took a gene test with a neurologist that proved helpful in narrowing down a medication that was a better fit for her. If your medications are not effective and your doctor isn’t working with you to bring about a better outcome, don’t be afraid to find another doctor! Medications are not the sole remedy but they can help you get to a place where healing can continue.
What is something God taught you through this experience?
I learned to trust God to keep our marriage together. It was also an opportunity to show my wife that I love her, even when it was hard in the moment, to live out “in sickness and in health.” God also helped me to remember that she really did love me and was coming to me for help.
Lastly, postpartum depression isn’t anyone’s fault. Nobody chooses it; you cannot blame someone for being depressed. Remember who that person really is, not just who you see at that moment. Thanks be to God who saw us through and grew us during this time.
Did you miss any blog posts in the maternal mental health series? Check them out here.