One of my first thoughts when I found out I was pregnant with #2 was “will I have postpartum depression again?” And that’s continued to be my biggest worry regarding this pregnancy and birth, to the point where I felt it coming on just from how much I was worrying about it. I knew that if I was expecting it it would be more likely to come, but I also knew I needed to be prepared this time because it’s a very real possibility, especially with circumstances that will be likely at the time of the birth and immediately postpartum.
Then I found a verse reference I had scribbled down to memorize: Jeremiah 17:5-9, 14. I read it again and wondered why I had wanted to memorize it, but decided I should go ahead and memorize it anyway. Not too long later, I was struggling not only with fear of postpartum depression, but wondering if I was having some prenatal depression, mostly due to my worrying about PPD. And that’s when it clicked.
This is the passage:
“Thus says the LORD: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD. For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without in habitant.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is in the LORD, for he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes, but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in year of drought, nor cease to yield fruit.’
“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick. Who can understand it?
“Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for Thou art my praise.”
(Jeremiah 17:5-9, 14).
For me, this verse has been the key to PPD – not in preventing it but in not being afraid of it, giving both spiritual hope as well as guidance to prepare. Certain phrases were pivotal in that.
Cursed is the man who… makes flesh his strength. Earthly things like vitamins, placenta pills, rest, and nutritious food shouldn’t be what I place my hope in for preventing or getting me through another bout of PPD. Those may all help and could be a part of the “water” and “stream” to plant myself by but are not the stream itself.
Blessed is the man… whose trust is in the LORD. Because when my trust is in Him, then even in the heat and drought that is PPD, I will be rooted and nourished.
PPD is a sick heart for sure – and while there are physical and chemical things that cause it, He is the one that heals and saves in the midst of it.
So I want to spend the next few months extending my roots into the Water of Life, making sure I am spiritually rooted and grounded so I can fight it on the spiritual level (a list of verses, handlettering for strategic places in the house, a playlist to listen to to keep my mind focused), while making sure I am armed to tackle it on the physical level as well (nourishing meals and snacks in the freezer, placenta encapsulation, and a compartmentalized pill box so I keep on top of my vitamins, unlike last time). And in both of those categories goes the support of friends and family, both physical support here and the spiritual support that can be given up close and far away. Finding out a friend here has been through PPD twice was a huge relief for me, just to know there is someone here I know and trust that knows what it feels like.
One of the songs that is going on my playlist and will probably find its way into handlettering is Shane & Shane’s “Though He Slay Me.” Because even after I had had my revolutionary moments with the passage from Jeremiah, I was still struggling – and still do at times – but this is such a good reminder of His worth and faithfulness even in hard times, especially the chorus:
“Though you slay me
Yet I will praise you
Though you take from me
I will bless your name
Though you ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need.”