After giving birth to my second child, feelings of hopelessness and despair struck me like never before. I didn’t ask for them. They arrived on my doorstep without my permission.
We were living in a tiny two-bedroom apartment while my husband was in seminary. A major construction project consumed our 10-story building, a complete resurfacing of the red bricks. A blue tarp hung over our windows for almost five months. We couldn’t see out. Constant banging and drilling woke us up at 7 a.m. every morning.
To top off the chaos, I just had a baby. I was trying to nurse her without the construction men seeing us when the tarp was lifted off the window while they worked.
I was sleep deprived, handling the emotions of my toddler boy’s jealousy, trying to figure out a nap schedule for both kids, and managing our home while my husband worked full-time and went to school.
One day I walked into my OB’s office in Dallas and recited the script I would tell him. I felt guilt and shame for how I felt. Would he look down on me? Would he be able to help me? Could I take medication as a Christian?
He walked in and even though my heart pounded, I got my brave on. We talked about the transition with two kids and he asked how I was doing. I had to be honest.
“I’m really struggling,” I said. “I feel like I’m stuck in a pit and can’t get out. I’ve prayed and nothing helps.”
I explained our situation at home, and even wanting to put my fist into a wall one day from being so overwhelmed.
To my surprise, he looked into my baggy, watery eyes with compassion. I should’ve known. He was always that way and this time wouldn’t be any different.
“Samantha, your serotonin levels are out of whack from the broken sleep. It’s a chemical imbalance. You’re having postpartum symptoms, too. It’s not about you not praying enough. I can prescribe something that will help you get through this season and we’ll reevaluate in four months to see how you’re doing.”
He assured me that many moms go through this. It’s actually quite normal after giving birth. He did nothing but encourage me. Relief filled my spirit. I looked out the window and noticed the sun peering in brightly. It was such a beautiful day.
He prescribed Zoloft – I’d never heard of it but I was desperate for anything. After weeks of taking it, I felt hope again and balanced. I began feeling the strength and energy to love my husband and kids again. I wanted to be around people and out in public. The world looked much different.
Our circumstances hadn’t changed with the construction, but God brought me the gift of medication to pull me through. Sure, I had depressed feelings at times, but it was nothing like it had been.
After about five months, I met with my doctor and we decided I was ready to go off of it. But I knew that if for some reason I needed it again in the future, it would be OK. God had used the tools of medication to help lift me out of despair and darkness. And I thank Him for it.
There’s such a stigma in our culture and in the church when it comes to antidepressants and medication. We care way too much about what people think. We don’t always know what is spiritual and what is chemical. We listen to thoughts and lies like:
You’re weak if you choose medication.
You can fix the problem on your own.
If people know, they won’t accept you.
Your friends may not understand, so why would you confuse them?
Don’t let anyone know that you’re on antidepressants.
It’s just a crutch.
This should not be, friends. I can’t imagine how different my life would be had I not walked into my doctor’s office seven years ago. I’m so thankful God intervened in my life for that season and gave me the gift of medication.
If you’re struggling silently, may I encourage you to take the next step for your health? For you, it might not mean medication right away, but seek out support and help from a professional. Explore different ways to get the help you need. Don’t listen to the lies and wallow in shame and guilt. Take action for your mental health so that you can be the best wife and mom to your family.
Don’t be afraid to allow God to do something great through your story—even if it seems a bit broken and fragile right now. He’s always in the business of making broken circumstances beautiful and helping you see the light again . . . as he did for me.
Being brave with you,