I want to preface this post by saying that although this will be my second post that mentions my interactions with doctors, I have nothing against them. I have several close loved ones who are doctors, and the majority of my experiences with doctors received five out of five stars and would even be called fun! It’s Lyla’s favorite place to go, and she has been calling herself Dr. Lyla since before she was two years old!
That being said, I would like to send out a few “letters.”
To the doctor who strolled into my hospital room with hands on his hips and asked with attitude why I was depressed:
How do you answer that question? There’s no easy answer, dude. Your insensitivity caught me off guard, and your question confused me. But now that I can think clearly, I will answer you.
Why was I depressed?
I probably had postpartum depression after my first child that was never addressed, and the arrival of my second child magnified it.
I had a traumatic delivery and a blood transfusion. I wondered if I would ever be able to walk normally again.
While trying to recover, I had to clean out my house to sell it and prepare my household for a cross country move.
I had eleven infections in the year after Luke was born, giving me fevers and flu symptoms.
I moved cross country with my family to a strange place that felt like a foreign country to me.
I left behind friends and family when we moved. It was a huge loss in my life during an intense time.
The winter in Seattle was long, dark, and rainy.
I felt isolated and alone.
I never got a break from the kids.
I was confused by the way I felt, scared that if I told someone they would take away my kids or lock me up.
I knew nothing about postpartum depression. It was breezed over in my pregnancy class.
I moved cross country again with my little family eleven months later.
I was exhausted.
I hit rock bottom.
Yeah, I don’t know WHY I didn’t think to tell you that at the hospital.
I’m typing with emotion right now. The sarcasm is practically dripping out of my fingertips into the keyboard. I should probably edit that out, but I feel like it serves a purpose.
Where was that doctor’s compassion? Or did he not feel that for someone suffering from mental illness?
Did he not understand what a complex issue it was? I obviously had no clue how I got to that point or why I was like that. That’s why I went to the hospital! If it was an easy fix I would have done it myself. In fact, I tried for over a year to be okay on my own, and I failed miserably.
To the nurses at the hospital:
I wish you had told me everything was going to be okay, that you knew I would get the help I needed.
But you said about six words total during the six hours I was there.
I felt like just another case that needed to move on so someone else could deal with me.
I felt like I didn’t matter.
I felt like a burden.
I felt like a fake.
I felt out of place.
I felt alone.
I felt like I was living out someone else’s nightmare.
I felt overdramatic.
I felt scared.
I want people, including doctors, to better understand depression. You know, I don’t really know what else to tell you. I’m not an expert on the subject. I haven’t been studying up on it during my recovery. But I think you left out some key human element while attending to me.
Okay, all the above I wrote two nights ago, and all the rest of it I deleted! I was feeling emotional thinking about my experience at the hospital. It wasn’t super pleasant, but it served its purpose for getting me immediate help and expedited treatment when I was at my lowest point.
But after two nights of mulling it over, I realized I have done the same thing to others.
I remember two specific instances when friends told me they were dealing with depression. Do you know how I responded? With complete awkwardness, and I changed the subject as soon as I could. I feel terrible about that now. I was ignorant of the realities of mental illness, clueless about what a dark struggle it is. At that point, my life had never been touched by depression; no one close to me had dealt with it that I really knew of. I thought it was a cop out. Seriously, total ignorance.
To those friends who confided in me about their struggle:
Please forgive me for not asking about your depression. Perhaps you needed to talk about it. Or maybe you wanted someone else to understand so they could journey through it with you. Whatever your reason, I’m sorry I shut you down. I’m sorry I didn’t respond with compassion. Now that I’ve dealt with it personally, I understand how rough it is, how isolating it feels. You are a warrior for fighting it, and I hope you are doing much better now!
And to anyone who is reading: I want you to know that someone who is clinically depressed often doesn’t know how to get help. They need assistance from a loved one, guidance from a friend, the helping hand of someone who understands or someone who realizes they need help.
And if you are suffering yourself, even though it’s scary, it’s worth getting help. You might run across some less than compassionate people, but you can do it, even if you have to filter through some callousness to find a great psychiatrist or an awesome counselor. Don’t stop until you get the help you need. Your life matters. You deserve to live it fully. What you’re dealing with is no trivial thing, no matter how you got to this point or what choices you made in the past.
I know your heart feels like solid ice, and you feel immobilized.
But all you have to do is throw up your hands.
Cry out for help!
Throw in the towel.
Stop doing it on your own.
Let someone else take over!
That was the crucial moment in my story, the turning point- when I said that I couldn’t do it anymore.
Our church just asked us, “What’s your story?”
Well, mine is: “The Lord pulled me out of the darkness of my postpartum depression, literally saving my life. He has given me a voice and the words to encourage others.”
When I was in the hospital, my sweet husband Thomas asked friends and family to write me letters of encouragement. They were wonderful to receive. I am thankful for the compassion and support I have received these last few months. Thank you, all of you, for your kindness. I want to share some verses and words that were helpful to me.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I Peter 5:7
“Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
Words from a friend:
“You are a daughter of our gracious most high God. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He sees you down in the pit and He is there suffering with you and for you. You are not alone. He hears your prayers. He knows your heart. I pray you are able to cling to Him, casting all your cares at His feet and feel His awesome presence. What you are feeling is real. It’s not a lack of faith or a weakness of character. Be honest with yourself. Lean on your friends and family. God has provided you with companions to journey through this alongside you. Cry out to God.”
And some lyrics from a friend’s favorite song:
There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
(Reckless Love by Cory Asbury)
“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20