The Gift of a Child and Struggle with Depression: An Interview with Author Erin DavisBy Trillia Newbell | July 8th, 2012 | Category: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
By Trillia Newbell
No one imagines crying in the corner in despair and utter confusion after the birth of their new born child. The Mayo Clinic reports that nearly 10 to 15 percent of women experience postpartum depression. There is no doubt that women from all backgrounds struggle, and potentially in secret. There can be great shame and guilt associated with postpartum depression which author Erin Davis explains in her book Beyond Bath Time.
Davis devotes one chapter to sharing about her battle with depression and how God rescued her from it. Learn more about her experience through this Q &A.
Q: Before we get to postpartum depression, why did you decide to write Beyond Bath Time?
Davis: Every book I’ve ever written has been birthed out of my own experiences. Usually, I write about the lessons God teaches me in times of trial. My adjustment to being a mom certainly was a trial and I didn’t know how to talk about it. When I started talking to other moms I found that they had many of the same struggles and often, like me, they didn’t know how to articulate what they were going through. So, I started asking questions of moms everywhere and I was really amazed at how many great moms had no idea how to filter their experiences as moms through the grid of God’s Word. I didn’t want to write a parenting book (because I’m not an expert mom), but I have become very passionate about helping moms have a Kingdom perspective about what they are doing. That passion turned in to this little book.
Q: What do you hope will be the number one “take-away” for women who read your book?
Davis: Motherhood is ministry. I think so many mothers feel like they should be doing something more. More with their gifts…more with their time…more for God’s kingdom. But when we go to the Word we find that God values the contributions of mothers. What moms are doing matters big time to the Kingdom.
Q: You dedicate Chapter 9: “No Mom Alone” to addressing your battle with postpartum depression. When did you realize what it was?
Davis: I had post-partum depression with my second son, Noble. While I was pregnant I actually met a woman who suffered from postpartum psychosis. Her story really put postpartum issues on my radar screen. I also had a friend in my church who had suffered with postpartum depression 25 years earlier. Knowing their stories helped me know that good women, who loved the Lord, could have issues with mental health after baby. But, I was in denial that it was happening to me. That’s part of the trouble. It is so hard to know what is real and what isn’t. I couldn’t tell if I was just tired or stressed or if it was something more.
Q: Did you have a difficult time labeling it depression?
Davis: I still have a hard time labeling it depression. I was someone who had never struggled with depression before, so it was hard for me to imagine that I was depressed. I had a new baby that I adored, how could I be depressed? I also felt guilty for having those dark feelings because I wanted to feel grateful for the family God had given me. I also kept thinking I would snap out of it the next day or the next day. I didn’t want to acknowledge that I needed some help.
Q: That help came in the form of other women, right? How did you discover your moms group?
Davis: I just Googled moms groups in my area (Thank you Google!). I know that is a hard step for many moms. Because your time and energy is limited, the thought of seeking out a moms group is tough. But let me encourage you to let those reservations go and find a group of moms to connect with. You don’t know what mothering challenges lie ahead and you need to have a support system of like-minded moms in place to help you when the storms come.
Q: What were some Scriptures that helped you through this time?
Davis: Honestly, I had such trouble controlling my mind that it was tough for me to pray or meditate on Scriptures. But I had friends that would do that for me. They would pray for me. They would email me or text me Scriptures. That’s why it is so important to have other moms who know God’s Truth and can breathe it in to you when you need it.
Some verses that I like to use to encourage other moms who are struggling post baby are:
2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
When your thoughts are racing and you have irrational fears about your baby or about being a mom, you can know that those things are not from God and He is able to give you power over them, love for your child and a sound mind.
Psalm 127:3 says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”
Even when that screaming baby doesn’t feel like a blessing, God’s Word says that he/she is. You can hold on to that and choose to see them as a blessing in all circumstances.
1 Peter 5:6-7 gives us very specific instructions for times of trial. It says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
When you don’t know what to do, you can cast those fears and tears on Jesus. Why? Because He cares for you.
Q: What advice would you give to a young mom who just had a baby and might be experiencing the “baby blues?”
Davis: Call someone! Too often we see the church as a place where we need to get ourselves together before we can go and this is the approach we take with our Christian friends. But God has given us the church as our safety net for times when we are flailing. Press in to your Christian friends. Call them. Tell them you are struggling. Ask them to come over and hold the baby. I know that this is a difficult step. But isolation makes the baby blues so much worse. Your friends may not know what to say or do, and that’s okay. You need to surround yourself with people who will pray and help you put one foot in front of the other until the dark clouds start to move on.
Q: How would you encourage a husband whose wife is experiencing postpartum depression?
Davis: My husband had no idea what to do when I had postpartum depression. He needed to go to work and I was clingy and weepy and not myself. He did not have the right answers and looking back I am not sure there was much he could have said that would have soothed me, but he did a few things really right.
1. He stayed engaged. He didn’t pull away from me even thought I acted erratically. He took my calls. He listened. He was home as much as possible. It all helped.
2. He prayed. Praying can feel like such a small step, but it is huge! Husbands with wives who are struggling need to pray for their wives, they need to pray with their wives and they need to enlist trusted others to pray.
3. He held the baby a lot. I felt like I was always nursing Noble. While I loved the closeness, I needed some breaks. Whenever Jason could, He held the baby and played with our toddler. I know that husbands aren’t sure what to do in the newborn phase, but I would encourage them to just be with their kids as often as possible. It’s good for their bond and it’s good to give momma a break from constantly nurturing others.
I would also add that it is wise for husbands to help their wife interact with others. Schedule a lunch date with her best friend for her and arrange child care. Invite her mom and sisters over. A lot of company can be overwhelming, so don’t go overboard. But she may need help to break through the isolation.
Hang in there, dads! Your wife has been through a lot and she needs your support as she adjusts.
ERIN DAVIS is the founder of Graffiti Ministries, an organization dedicated to addressing the issues of identity, worth, and true beauty in the lives of young women. A popular speaker, author and blogger, Erin has addressed women of all ages nationwide and is passionately committed to sharing God’s Truth with others. She is the author of several books including Graffiti: Learning to See the Art in Ourselves, True Princess: Embracing Humility in an All About Me World, The Bare Facts with Josh McDowell and the Lies Young Women Believe Companion Guide with Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Dannah Gresh. Her latest project, Beyond Bath Time: Re-imagining Motherhood as a Sacred Role released this spring. Erin and her husband, Jason work with youth and families at their church in Southwest Missouri. They are the parents of two adorable boys, Eli and Noble.
(Editors Note: We love to pray for our readers but please know that we are not licensed counselors. If you struggle with postpartum depression please consult with your pastor or a counselor. For more information or resources visit the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation at http://www.ccef.org.)