This is a post I wrote last year on my old blog, and when I realized that tomorrow is World Mental Health Day again, thought it’d be good to share it over here. I hope it helps you or if there’s someone you know who might need to read it, please share. 

After the birth of our middle son, Hudson, I dealt with postpartum depression. Logically, it made no sense – he was the absolute sweetest, snuggliest baby there ever was. He was also such an easy baby – a great sleeper and eater from the start, and did I mention so very sweet? Being my second baby, I didn’t have the anxiety that came with being a new mom. I felt like I knew what I was doing, which made things even more confusing. I was left feeling like an ungrateful failure, afraid to share how I was feeling.

Thankfully, I had the good sense to talk to my doctor, who is the absolute greatest. I’ll never forget what she told me – she reminded me of all we had been through to get to this part (emergency surgery, a miscarriage, fear that I wouldn’t be able to have another baby, and a high-risk pregnancy) and that it was completely normal to feel that way. She also taught me that depression is physical and real, and like any other disease needed to be treated. A combination of talking through my feelings and temporarily taking an anti-depressant helped a lot. It wasn’t long before I felt like myself again and got back to being the mom God made me to be.

That part of my story doesn’t end there. I went back on antidepressants a few years ago. There is something in me that doesn’t quite function the way it should on its own, and I’m totally okay with that, grateful for modern medicine. In addition, spending time with the Lord, where He reminds me of my value and how loved I am, is huge. I also practice yoga weekly and have found that it helps clear my head while being a great workout. I have a loving and supportive husband and three great kids, as well as a handful of dear, priceless friends who are all a safe place for me to be me. These together have helped me be the best me, and while I still have down days, it’s much easier to pull out of those now.

In addition, I am married to a man who battled serious depression as a teenager, and still has to do the work to stay mentally healthy. You can read his story here. You might think, wow – those two are a mess, but thankfully, you’d be wrong. As it turns out, we are normal, and not only normal, but in the majority. That is both a relief and a shame.

For way too long there has been a stigma surrounding mental health. With days like World Mental Health Day each October 10th, this much-needed awareness is starting to make a difference, but we still have a long way to go. People are learning what I learned over 16 years ago, but was still afraid to talk about openly until more recently.

When the Lord made it very clear a few years that my job as a minister’s wife is to be completely authentic {even if that made me look like I don’t have it all together – surprise! I don’t.} I knew that it had to include this part of my life. No fear. No excuses.

So now you know.

There’s no doubt a genetic component to mental illness, which has caused me to deal with fear that our boys will struggle too. Because of that, Brian and I try to keep open conversations with our boys, making sure they always know it’s safe to talk to us, that we will understand, that whatever they are dealing with, we’ll get through it together, etc. My prayer is that the Lord will protect them and alert us if and when they are struggling, and I trust He will.

I’ve shared a bit about what has helped me, and hopefully you’ve read Brian’s story and how God has healed him in so many ways. With the experience we have, we are better equipped to help each other, and are so thankful to say that we are both doing so very well. I say that not to brag, but to encourage you. Things don’t have to stay the way they are. There is help and hope and healing available to you.

If you are dealing with depression, reach out. Make an appointment with your doctor and be honest with what you’re dealing with. If he or she recommends an antidepressant, take it. Talk to your spouse, a trusted friend, your pastor, whoever it is in your world that you trust. If you are a Christian, dig deep in God’s Word, listen to praise music, and pray. Ask Him to remind you of your value, how very loved you are, and to show you how to get through this. If you don’t know Jesus, please talk to me (comment below). Exercise. Start a gratefulness journal. Seriously. Each day, write down what you are thankful for. It could be something as simple as the sunrise, or a loved one, coffee, or your cozy bed. All of those things are good things worth being thankful for. As you heal, that list will grow. Just start writing. On bad days, look back on what you wrote. It really helps.

And if right now you are only capable of doing one of those things, then let me urge you to reach out to someone. Talking about it takes away so much fear and anxiety – I promise – and then you’ll have the strength and clarity to move forward to healing.

It’s going to be okay. You are not alone.