Renewing Your Mind in the Midst of Postpartum Depression

Some of my postpartum healing came just by lifestyle changes: simpler meals, Ezra doing dishes and taking the girls for a bit every day, supplements (vitamin D and magnesium in amounts prescribed by my doctor, prenatal vitamins, probiotics, cod liver oil, and an herbal tincture), salting my water so I didn’t get lightheaded, and cutting out sugar, caffeine, and processed foods, learning to not do so much (difficult in the midst of a move, but even after we were more settled I found I had a bad habit of feeling like any down time meant I was forgetting something).

But even when doing everything we could to ease the physical side, there was still a lot of difficulty, and as more time went on, I started seeing more and more lies I was believing. I found a handout of Barb Raveling’s teaching that had been handed out at Bible study in the spring, and reading her blog and book were pivotal for me, especially paired with some wise words from two mentors in my life. It still took me a long time to realize that some of my thoughts were lies and then to form habits of truth, so I wanted to give some examples for anyone reading this.
– I don’t love my baby (if I am caring for her, putting aside my wants to meet her needs – then I AM loving her, even if there’s no over the moon she’s the cutest baby feeling).
– If I respond to one crying kid over the other, I don’t love the other one as much (the measure of my love for my kids is not the amount of attention they get, or how little they cry!).
– She’s such an easy baby; I shouldn’t be having a hard time (One, there are so many more factors in my life than just a baby’s temperament. Two, even if that was the only factor, even an easy baby can reveal sin in my life!).
– This is all because I’m such a terrible person and can’t handle two kids (again, there are so many more factors at work, like hormones, making it difficult to cope. But, even if it ever is purely my sin, Christ’s work on the cross is still enough, and His Spirit is here helping me and so is His church!).
– I’m shirking responsibility whenever I pass one of the kids off (we need the Body for all of life, but especially for raising kids! Get help if you need it!).
– I should be able to do it on my own by now (whose standard is that? Are the people I think are doing it all on their own really doing it all on their own?).
– God isn’t listening to my prayers (He is, but His design in my struggles right now is different than what I think it should be)
– I could never give birth again (it was excruciating but God brought me through it and will if we’re ever there again).
– I need a break (so I shouldn’t have wasted time on Facebook/so I will ask Ezra to take the girls when he gets home/but I can’t get one now so we’ll figure something out/a break won’t take care of the laundry/S can watch a video/a break is not my greatest ‘need,’ that’s been met in Christ).
– Feelings of being judged, whether for being out without one or both of the girls or things like wearing the baby wrong, having them in the stroller too soon, etc. (the only judgment that matters is God’s view of me and in Christ that means I’m blameless!)
– xyz is my fault (it’s not my fault that Ellie woke up from her nap early, even if I did put her down at a bad time. It may be my fault that dinner is late, but does it really matter? It may be my fault that I sinned, but God still forgives).
– No one else feels this way (side note: anything with always, never, everyone, no one are most likely lies. Unless I’ve been inside everyone else’s head, I can’t know that).
– I can’t function in this mess/chaos (peace & organization are a matter of the heart above neatness)
– Doing xyz would be more important/I should be doing xyz instead of playing with the girls (they aren’t interruptions but the real most important thing, and most of the time everything else can wait and undivided play time helps ME as much as them!).

It seems so simple when I write it all out like that, but in the moment it can be SO hard to identify any lies, so I wrote this out (though putting it into practice is still a habit I’m working on!):
In moments of stress/feeling overwhelmed:
– STOP.
– What is making me feel this way? Sin? Overscheduled? Something else?
– Am I believing a lie about what needs to get done, who I am, etc? Are my thoughts true/honorable?
– What can I do about it? How can I glorify God and know Him more in this situation?

THEN:
– Repent of any sin to God & others
– Renew your mind, reviewing and applying truth to your situation. What does scripture say?
– Fix your eyes on Jesus and His endurance (Hebrews 12) and do the next thing (that means MOVE ON and don’t let it drag you down!).

Some tools to renew your mind:
– Find the underlying issues, the “root sins” that are causing the “fruit sins.”
– Psalm 1: meditate on His WORD, not Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Memorize hymns and scripture, take even just a few minutes ALONE with God every day.
– Have a playlist of music that helps you focus on Him
– Keep a thankful list, especially of things that don’t change
– study God – the more we know Him, the more we become like Him and the more we know how to handle every situation, and the more we can let things go as we know His goodness and sovereignty more.

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