In my last post I tried to describe my first panic attack. This post will explain more of the surrounding details and why I wasn’t able to see that it was a symptom of Postpartum Depression at the time.
A week and a half before my panic attack, I had my regular six-week check up at the OB/GYN’s office. My doctor asked me to fill out the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) survey at this appointment. My middle-of-the-road score from the survey indicated that I did NOT have Postpartum depression. I had answered the questions to the best of my ability, but was naive in what to consider. For some reason, I thought that I should strip away and dismiss certain stressors because I thought it would skew the results. I never shared my line of thinking with anyone while I filled the EDPS out or directly after. Looking back, I should have had someone sitting there walking me through each question, and I should have shared my thoughts with someone as soon as I got home from the doctor’s office. These are some of the thoughts I had while checking those little boxes.
I attributed my sleeplessness to having a newborn and a 17-month old. That’s TOTALLY to be expected. I blamed my stress on the holiday season where I would be hosting my side of the family at our house for Christmas. That would have anyone a bit more high-strung, especially us “Type A” folk. I shrugged off my avoidance of going out in public as laziness and aversion to cold weather. I have never liked going out during the winter so this wasn’t new. I excused my lack of desire to work out, knowing that I really didn’t find any pleasure in it anyways. And, at the time, I had no thoughts of harming myself. So, the box I checked on question #10 “The thought of harming myself has occurred to me _______” was “Never”.
(Be aware that the timing of and the specific symptoms of PPD are different in every case, presenting as early as a few days after delivery and as late as 18 months after birth. In my case, my PPD started at around week 7 postpartum though it is different for every mother. So, contact your doctor if your answers change even after the six-week point.)
As a professing Christian, I knew that I should have been able to answer all of the questions on the EDPS survey in the positive. Believers should be content and joyful in the Lord, not sad and miserable. Indeed, Christians are to be rejoicing even in the toughest of circumstances. According to Scripture, I knew I could lay all of my burdens at Jesus’ feet (Psalm 55:22), take comfort in him (Psalm 23), and not be anxious (Philippians 4:6). However, my true inner thoughts and feelings revealed a heart, body, and mind that were not healthy in any sense of the word. God wants his people to live in complete peace (Isaiah 26:3); trusting Him whether experiencing PPD or not.
As I type, I think the Lord is telling me to take time with this topic. Every question on the Edinburgh Depression Postnatal Scale has relating Scripture verses to encourage and combat the brokenness people might feel. What God has to say on being anxious, miserable, scared, panicky, depressed, even suicidal, is extensive and I will by no means cover all of it. I don’t think anyone ever could cover it all because we serve a God whose thoughts are higher than ours! For the next ten posts, I’ll share what specific Bible verses encouraged and corrected my thinking to be more godly according to each EDPS question as I battled the surge of chemicals and hormones in my postpartum season.