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Dealing With Postpartum Depression

After having a child and losing her dad, Irma Jackson experiences postpartum depression. She finds solace in her faith and knowing she's not alone.



Tired Moms Podcast: Postpartum Depression

Irma Jackson: I asked and I prayed that God gave me some clarification why I might be going through this and I just wanted to get better. And it’s always been my prayer to get better. But, you know, the mental illness, it’s a chronic disease. So some days you have good days, some days you have bad days. There’s always going to be a trigger within your life that can bring it back again.

If I didn’t have the Church or if I didn’t have God, I would have been lost a long time ago. I wouldn’t have been able to control this on my own. 

Mariel Gutierrez: Hello, welcome to the Faith and Family podcast hosted by the tired but inspired moms. We are four Christian moms from the Church Of Christ, Iglesia Ni Cristo. I’m Mariel Gutierrez and joining me on this podcast are my very good friends. 

Bernie: I’m Bernie Rosquites.

Emirick Haro: I am Emirick Haro.

Jewell:  And I’m Jewell Buenavista. 

Mariel Gutierrez: Today we’re going to talk about postpartum depression. It’s a thing. Many of us go through it, some milder than others, but it’s real. And it happens. 

Bernie: How are we going to hold hands together virtually, like this social distance holding hands as we talk about this? 

Everyone: Yeah. 

Bernie: On this podcast, you will learn about the ways to cope with it, how to support someone who’s going through it, then we’ll also hear from a mom of two who fought her way through it with professional help, prayer and her faith.

Jewell: You know, sometimes this is called baby blues, and it’s normal. About one in five women experience this. I was always happy, I was always a positive person growing up. And with my first child, I remember having these crazy, crazy thoughts that it would make me cry. And then I finally read, you know, I would keep it to myself, because they were such horrible thoughts. I didn’t even share it with my husband,  Harmony. 

Jewell: But one day I was reading that book, um, “What to Expect in Your First Year” and it said in there, if you have thoughts, something along these lines, if you have thoughts of maybe throwing your baby out the window or something, it is completely normal. When I read that I was just like, Oh my gosh! I started crying because I was having these crazy thoughts like, … why would I have these kinds of thoughts? You know, and, um, I shared it with Harmony. I was crying to him. And I didn’t realize that maybe I did have postpartum depression and not realize it. But it definitely was. I was definitely not myself.

Emirick: I wasn’t sure if I had that either. Okay, I didn’t really realize if I was depressed, but I’m looking here at the symptoms now and maybe, let me see if I could check off these symptoms. It’s been a while but you know, it is a vivid memory of when I was a first mother. So, experiencing low mood, or being restless. 

Everyone: Okay. Yes, yes.  (laughs)

Emirick: Being sad or overwhelmed. Feeling guilty or worthless. Check maybe, yep. Easy fatigue, easily fatigued, or being irritable. Check.

Jewell: Irritable!

Emirick: Ok, crying easily and too often. Withdrawing to staying away from family and friends. Wow. Okay. Feeling hopeless. Feeling like you’re not sure how this is going to get better. Yeah, Um okay. Eating too much. Or refusing to eat. (laughs)

Mariel: Sorry, go on.

Emirick: One or the other. Yeah. So yeah, I think of both Yes. Sleeping too much, or having trouble sleeping. So taking a look at that list, I could probably check off more than half of those things. So maybe I was experiencing postpartum depression and just slugging it off as like, Oh, it’s okay. You know, I’m gonna be ok.

Mariel: Yeah, I think some of that sometimes, like, especially after birth, a lot of these things on this list, you shrug off as like, well, I just had a baby. Of course I’m tired. Of course I feel weird because I just had a baby. So I remember for myself, I didn’t think beyond that. I just thought like, yeah, I’m sad because maybe because I don’t feel like myself. Or you know, or I feel tired or just Yeah, I just I kind of just tacked it on to just having had a baby. That was it.

Bernie: I think. Yeah, I’m reading some of this and it sounds like a Monday.

Everyone: Like now, right? Yeah.

Mariel: Well, you know what, thankfully for us today, and I wish I had this when I just had a baby, but for us today, we got advice from a clinical psychologist, a fellow mom, friend, Dr. Sydney Fontanares. And she shares some of the ways that we can manage postpartum depression. I seriously wish I had this list, you know, when I was giving birth and stuff. Y’all ready? 

Everyone: Yes

Mariel: So number one on her list is to develop support. It’s not uncommon, you know? Postpartum depression is not uncommon. So it helps to hear from other women that have gone through it or other moms, maybe they’re not talking about it. But if you open up, they’ll be like, Yeah, me too. You know, other moms can be your greatest source of strength. And I feel like I have that with you guys, you know?

Bernie: Yes!

Jewell: I definitely had my go-to people that really helped me. 

Emirick: And I think that maybe that helped me not realize that I was experiencing postpartum depression.

Bernie: Yeah, that’s a way to look at it, yeah.

Emirick: Because I did have support. 

Mariel: And you know, what’s interesting about that is that maybe like, when you’re together in that support group, you don’t have to label it, right? Everyone just understands, like, yeah, we know what this is. And so we know how to help you. And they just kind of band together with that goal. But that’s awesome that you guys had support. Alright, so number two, number two on her list, right? She says, to make simple lifestyle adjustments. You know, taking care of your baby includes taking care of yourself. Yes, yep. Dr. Sydney Fontanares was saying, you know, don’t pressure yourself to just do everything all at once. Do what you can and then leave the rest for another time. Which, again, you know, I know what you–

Jewell: Easier said than done.

Mariel: Exactly. Because there’s always a list, right? Yes, there’s a list. And then like, it’s not like, you can just take off anything from that list and be like, oh, we’ll feed them tomorrow or, or we’ll wash the onesies another time. You know, but you know, like the poop explosions, you’re going through, like 50 a day. So, yeah, it’s hard. But I think that it is worth exploring. Right? Yeah. Definitely. Yeah. And so her third, you know, advice for us was to seek professional help and discuss like the symptoms, no harm in that right. And then just know that the symptoms don’t last forever. They’re temporary, and they’re treatable. And you keep asking for help until you can find the care you need.

Bernie: Yea, that’s one hundred right there.

Emirick: That’s important, right? You have to-

Mariel: I wish– I wish I had, you know, someone tell me that when I was younger, but I do love the way that she says like, the symptoms don’t last forever, and that they’re treatable. But I think the question is what happens when the symptoms last longer than expected, right? So right now, we’re going to hear about the inspiring struggle of Irma Jackson. She’s a mama too, a nurse, who on top of the stress of being a medical professional, she’s dealt with the loss of her dad. And this is all while trying to manage her postpartum depression. Wow. So it  sounds like a lot. But let’s, let’s have a listen and see how she got through it.

Bernie: Please stick around till the end of the podcast because Brother Jeff Deguia will tell us what the Bible has to say about grief and depression. 

Irma Jackson: My name is Irma Jackson, and I am a nurse case manager. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety, probably about 2014. But I had the symptoms in 2013, I expected there to be baby blues, which is a normal thing for people after they have a child because our hormones readjust. When I had the symptoms, because I didn’t get any validation from my family that I disclosed it to, not feeling right, I tried just living with it from this uneasy feeling. And then slowly, my behavior started to change. And that’s where I reached out for help from a professional.

Irma Jackson: It was probably day after day, I would find out, I would feel overwhelmed. Sometimes depression has different faces. And the way it came out for me was anxiety. And I felt debilitated. Like I couldn’t drive in the car with my child in the backseat, because her cry would trigger me. And that would create this anxiety where I felt like I couldn’t move. And I had fast breathing. So I had physical signs and symptoms of something. Like I really couldn’t put my finger on it because I’ve never experienced it before. I went to a few of those group therapies, which helped to realize I wasn’t alone.

I asked and I prayed that God give me some clarification why I might be going through this.  And I just wanted to get better. And it’s always been my prayer to get better. But, you know, the mental illness, it’s a chronic disease. So some days you have good days, some days you have bad days. There’s always going to be a trigger within your life that can bring it  back again.

Irma Jackson: And, it happened when my father died from a cardiac arrest, in February 2017, and then my grandfather dying July 2017. And then giving birth to my child, my second child, unemployed. And so those triggers became too much for me to handle

Hope is so important when you’re going through depression, because no matter how many loving people there might be surrounding you, and supportive people surrounding you, you still feel hopeless. So that hope, it gives you the motivation to wake up the next day, and live your life every moment, even if it takes every moment to have the motivation to get through it. That hope is what keeps you going.

When I heard Ka Eduardo talk about depression, I felt like I could breathe, I actually felt like he knows. And the brethren will know that this is something that’s normal and should be accepted. Because for people like me, we need help. We need the support of our community. And so again, hearing that in the lesson about depression, about hopelessness, it did give a form of validation to say, hey, it is something real, it’s not just me, it’s not just in my head, I’m not crazy. 

Irma Jackson: If I didn’t have the Church, or if I didn’t have God, I would have been lost a long time ago. I wouldn’t have been able to control this on my own. I’m reminded in the worship services that when we’re weak, God is the strongest, and that God will never give anything to us that we can’t handle. And so I have full faith in the fact that this is just going to make me stronger and ready for Judgment Day.

Mariel: Wow. Well, we’re so thankful that Irma shared that story with us. While it’s heartbreaking, I’m really happy that she’s getting better. And she’s found ways to cope. Yeah, especially like with, you know, the verses that we get in worship service. And I remember the lesson that she actually was referring to about Brother Eduardo V. Manalo referencing depression and how to cope with it. And I’m sure you all remember it as well, right? 

Bernie: Yes, yes.

Mariel: Yeah.

Emirick: I do like how she referenced that hearing that in the worship service, like, validates her feelings, right? And that’s so strong, right, to know that, okay, someone knows what I’m going through and, you know, isn’t just tossing it aside saying, No, you’re not depressed, everything’s gonna be okay. But so they recognize it, and we hear it. And then, and it’s, you know, there’s hope for it, you know. So that was uplifting to hear her talk about that. And I do remember those services and, and feeling strengthened from them. When he would mention depression and read the verses that would help us through it.

Bernie: I remember that worship service! I cried–I had two handkerchiefs.

Mariel: A towel? Did you have a towel?

Bernie: And, like, you know what everybody’s saying? It’s like, thank goodness, we, we have that spiritual side where we can kind of like, “God, what do I do with this burden? I don’t know. Can you help me with this?”

Emirick: Yeah. And then it makes it, you know, like, it makes it feel like every burden you go through has a purpose. And you’re right. You know, like, in every worship service, you feel that because, I mean, yeah, and it’s been said many times, even before the pandemic, but then like, he really emphasized it, you know, in those services, about depression, where, where you do know that every everything you go through has a purpose.

Bernie: Well, so now, like what we said, This isn’t uncommon, so if you know someone from our listeners out there, if you know someone who’s going through it, Dr. Sydney also provided us with ways we can support our friends or family members. And this is, it’s a short list, but still, it helps a lot. Number one, listen to her. Don’t ignore her feelings, you know. Instead, listen and show her that you’re there for her. And by being there for her, by being there for your friend, your sister, your homegirl, all that and trying to understand what she’s going through or without judging or invalidating your feelings, right? That’s because your job, your job, isn’t to make those emotions disappear, right? It’s because sometimes we don’t know the words to say, and all that, you know, but it’s to make her feel heard.

Mariel: ​​Right. You know what, that’s one of the things I really don’t like is when people try to solve things for me. My husband will attest to that. But it’s true though, right? Like, it goes a long way if you just someone, if you just feel like, okay, he heard me or she heard me or my friend heard me, and, and I’m safe, and I’m safe to have expressed that.

Bernie: You’re not expecting, you know, I’m not looking for advice. Sometimes you’re just not looking. Sometimes, can I just cry with you? Can you cry with me? You know. Number two, help with housework before they ask you, which I’ve done, which I’ve done. I’ve like gone to like my girlfriend’s house, you know, and I’m just like I just want to say hi to the baby. Then I kind of started looking around. Girl, there’s like a, there’s a basket full of baby clothes that need to. I got it. And while she’s talking to me, she’s like, No, you don’t need to do that. I’m like, No, no, no, no. Let’s just keep talking. I’ll fold. You talk, I fold. And without even asking I was just grabbing whatever. Just fold. Do I need to fold your husband’s underwear too? I don’t know, I’ll do it. Whatever you want me to do, girl.

Emirick: Take out the trash? 

Bernie: You know, it’s just the little things. Those little things help. Like, you know what, I’ll wipe the counter for you. Without even asking what do you want me to do. Just do it.

Emirick: Bernie, my son is 20. But you know what, you can come over. I think I’m going through some stuff.

Everyone: laughs

Bernie: Number three, encourage them to take time for self care. Yes, sir- a necessity. Because fatigue is a big major contributing factor to some worsening symptoms.

Mariel: I feel like it’s a sensitive subject, when someone will tell you, you need self care. So I would tread lightly. But also, I think to just remember like, also, to make them feel safe that um… Girl, it’s only like 10 minutes, let’s go do our nails, you know. Or like, you know, let’s just go for a walk real quick, you know. Instead of someone just telling me like you need to take care of yourself. That would have been, you know what I mean? Those are two completely different things.

Bernie: Those are two different things.

Mariel: Right. So, please don’t. I think I’m just, I’m just speaking for myself at least. Like I would have not liked someone to just say, hey, you should brush your hair. 

Bernie: Or did you take a shower? 

Mariel: Yeah. When was the last time you took a shower?

Bernie: I’m like, you know what?

Emirick: I like that you differentiated that, right? Because number three, encourage them to take self care. That doesn’t mean tell them to take self care. That means like, you know, offer to babysit or go do self care with them. I like that you said that. That’s good for us to know. Yes. I may have gone to my sister-in-law and being like, Girl, you need to brush your hair. Wrong, wrong. Wrong. Okay, I got it, thank you.

Bernie: Next one is celebrate her successes. Yeah, [unintelligible] can’t tell you, Mom, thank you for feeding me. You did great. You know, but the person who recognizes her achievements, whether it’s big or small-

Jewell: Well, I wish that I had this. Maybe I had the list. But you know, when reality hits, it’s like, the list kind of goes out the window. 

Mariel: It’s true. It’s true. Yeah. 

Emirick: It’s like, if you were on fire, they say stop, drop and roll, right? Do you really think about that when you’re in a fire?

Mariel: No, your instinct is to scream. (laughter)

Jewell: But I mean, I seriously like now I feel like, man, I can be an awesome mom. Like if I started over again. Because you know, you’ve gone through it..(inaudible)

Jewell: To all you moms, I mean, to all the moms out there, you can overcome this, moms, seriously. And really, really above all pray and have faith in God. You know, God created us this way. So to Him this is nothing new. He really just wants us to go to Him more, you know? So,

Everyone: Right.

Mariel: And He has the answers, right?

Bernie: Yeah, Absolutely. ​​So, you know, for all our listeners out there, just remember, my listeners, my friends, my girlfriends out there, you’re gonna be fine. You know, we’re tired. But we’re also inspired. Right? We’ve got each other and we’ve got our faith. Now, let’s hear some advice, coming from the Bible with minister of the gospel, Brother Jeff Deguia.

Brother Jeff: Without a doubt the mom’s struggle is definitely real! Parenthood is a challenge, and can even be susceptible to feeling pain. Pain to the extent like there’s no solution. But even God’s past servants experienced similar situations. Like what’s written in Jeremiah 8:18 the prophet Jeremiah said, “My grief is incurable; My heart is sick.” [New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures 2013]

So we must remember that grief and pain is a part of life, even as God’s chosen people. But are they really incurable? What should one do when possessing an illness?

James 5:14-15  it states “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” [New King James Version]

May we believe in God’s healing power through the instrumentality of His Church elders: the deacons and deaconesses and ministers. May we place our complete trust and faith by calling or asking the Church elders to pray and anoint us with oil.

What if the pain is too hard to bear? It’s so severe or depressing, should we lose hope? Would these terrible feelings last forever? Absolutely not! I’ll read the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ for the members of His Church, here in John 16, verses 20 and 22: 

“I can guarantee this truth: You will cry because you are sad, but the world will be happy. You will feel pain, but your pain will turn to happiness. …  Now you’re in a painful situation. But I will see you again. Then you will be happy, and no one will take that happiness away from you.” [Names Of God Bible]

Our Lord Christ guaranteed us, Yes (quote) “You will cry because you are sad… You will feel pain.” He also said, “But your pain will turn to happiness.” This is eternal happiness! When? He said, when He will see us again. In other words on His return. So, to receive this true happiness, we must learn to endure, just as He did, even moments where it seems impossible to resolve. 

But others might wonder and ask, “How am I supposed to survive during the now?” Others may say,  “I don’t know how much longer I can take it!” What does God invite His listeners to this podcast to do whenever we’re deeply saddened, feeling lost and don’t know what to do? Maybe even have thoughts such as anger or depression? Let’s read 1 Peter 5:7 and 10: 

“Tell God about all the things that make you sad or afraid or angry. Give your thoughts about those things to him and let them remain with him. Do this, because you matter to him… You will have trouble and pain for a short time. But after that, God, who is so completely kind, will make everything right. God has caused you to be united to Christ, so that you will live with him always. You will live with him in the beautiful place where he lives. And God will make you completely as you should be. He will make you strong, so that nothing can ever stop you believing him.” [EasyEnglish Bible]

What is God’s promise to us, members of the Church, those that have been united to our Lord Jesus Christ? Never forget that we matter to God. The Lord God loves us so much! So, when we are sad or in pain or afraid, remember He’s inviting us now to tell Him about all those things. If a friend or a family member who loves us with all their heart is willing to be there for us when we’re feeling low, well even more so our Lord God! That’s why it’s a command we’re constantly taught to never stop praying! What’s God’s guarantee that we can expect? I quote,… “God, who is so completely kind, will make everything right… And God will make you completely as you should be. He will make you strong, so that nothing can ever stop you believing him.” 

So, any of us feeling down will never neglect attending the worship service! Because that’s where God promised to pour His immense power which is the strength we need! And when we’re attending the worship services, pray! And keep praying! And tell Him all that we’re going through, because He promises to hear and answer our prayers we render especially during our worship services.  

Additionally, we mustn’t discount the medical resources that’re available to us. We know that God also utilizes medicinal or prescription drugs and professionals and experts in the medical field.

Well, we hope all of you  benefited from this podcast.  Praise and glory be to the Almighty God! Thank you so much for listening. I’m Brother Jeff Deguia.