By Alicia Searl, Crosswalk.com
Hey there! It's nice to meet you across this screen anyways. I just wanted to send a little recognition your way, hoping to reach out and connect, as I know all too well that motherhood can often feel very lonely. Not to mention the heaviness of hiding or stuffing down how you really feel, because who would understand, right?
First, I am sorry you are battling this. Second, I am so sorry you are doing so alone - in silence.
The ebb and flow of depression is real, and it is utterly painful.
Sadly, I do understand. I get it. I get how it all begins to take its toll after a while. I understand how you must pretend to be okay when inwardly falling apart. How you have to care for your family's needs but secretly want to run away at the same time. Between the forced smiles, crying spells that spring out of nowhere, ghastly momma rage, and the numbness brought on by a haze that blocks out any light, it's no wonder you struggle - in complete silence.
I wish I had the correct answer. I wish I could make it all go away, for your sake. For your family's sake. I wish I could tell you how special you are and that the days will eventually get better, but who am I to tell you that? I am nobody but a mom struggling in silence, too.
My dark cloud moved in yesterday. Sometimes it lies low or dormant for a while; then, it just pops up out of nowhere. I'm not surprised by it anymore because depression and anxiety have been my sidekick most of my life. Over time, I've learned ways to cover it up or play it off, but, gosh… it sure took a nasty turn and conjured up a whole new form when I became a mother. Sigh.
Yet, every single time depression makes its debut, it plays the same sad tune. It pulls the same old tricks and tries to torture and torment me, chipping away pieces (the good pieces, might I add) until I finally give in or surrender and do something about it. Many days I give in and feed the beast. It's not pretty. But today - I chose to surrender! Would you like to join me?
If so, then before we go any further, will you do three things?
1. Find a quiet spot (preferably away from your little people); a closet, or your backyard swing works perfectly.
2. Grab some chocolate or your favorite snack.
3. Snag your Bible. If you can't find it, look under the coffee table (that's usually where mine is) or bring your phone and use a Bible app, whatever works.
Now settle in, get comfy, and pray with me. You can use the prayer below or pray a more personal prayer if you'd like.
Father, we love You with all our hearts but desperately need You. You know our inner struggles, the hardships, and the emotional scars we carry. Today, we hand them all over to You. We are so thankful that You know us fully and completely, from our inner thoughts to our outer struggles, and You love us immensely like nobody else ever can. When we fail to see our worth, please draw close. When we listen and entertain the lies, we whisper the Truth. When outside pressures demand more energy than we can muster, give us the freedom to let go and cling to You.
Lord, please be with us as we surrender all to You and grovel for peace and healing. Grant restoration to the messy, broken, and hurting parts of our hearts. Defeat this giant that looms overhead and reclaim victory over the battle in our minds. Thank you for loving us in the mess and the struggle. You are a good Father. Amen.
Women in the Bible That Struggled with Depression
Battling depression as a mom can be one of the loneliest feelings, but some women in the Bible also struggle with this. Turn to the book of Ruth (and take a bite of that chocolate because this should be good). Naomi is one of my favorite women in the Bible, possibly because I can relate to her in many ways. The posture of her heart changed after multiple losses, beckoning her depression to draw near, yet her story is truly remarkable because it shows God's faithfulness.
After returning to her hometown and enduring multiple losses from her husband to her sons, this is how she greets her friends: Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?" (Ruth 1:20-21).
You can almost hear the hopelessness in this statement. She blatantly blames God for her troubles. Ever done that? I know I have. Yet, upon returning home, Naomi creates a special bond with her daughter-in-law, Ruth, and together they grow in their faith, and God richly blesses them. God shows His faithfulness in hardships.
Now turn to 1 Samuel. Hannah struggled with infertility as many women did in the Bible, and while she cried multiple times out to the Lord for a child, the years continued to tick by, and she remained childless. This caused great strife, not only from within her but within her marriage.
In her deep anguish, Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, "LORD Almighty if you will only look on your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son…" 1 Samuel 1:10-11
The Lord did hear her prayers, and Hannah eventually gave birth to Samuel. The prayer of praise she offers to the Lord after Samuel is born is truly beautiful. You can find it in 1 Samuel 2. God is patient with us, even when we bring Him our aching hearts.
Eve is another woman that must have struggled with anxiety or depression as she carried the weight of guilt and shame for taking a bit of that sinful apple. However, God's grace showed her (and us) that our sin cannot separate us from His unfailing love if we confess and bring it all to Him (1 John 1:9).
Lies Vs. Truth
The thing about depression is that it loves to feed our minds with endless lies. However, as loud as they can be, we must fight hard to surrender it all to God, so He can reveal Truth. Here are a few of the most common lies.
Lie: Depression makes you a bad mom.
Truth: Depression may want to label you, but you don't have to claim it. Depression, anxiety, or anything else the liar wants to slap on you is not "who" you are. The only label you need to carry is – "saved by grace!" You may have some not-so-pretty moments, but they don't make you a bad mom; they make you human.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8
Lie: You're alone.
Truth: Nearly 80% of moms experience the so-called "baby blues" after childbirth, which can lead to postpartum depression. This major lifestyle change is huge and can affect our mental, physical, and emotional health. We need to recognize and acknowledge that.
If you are truly feeling alone and in need of support, consider seeking outside support. Many churches also offer counseling services or mom support groups. Yes, it takes vulnerability, but you gain a community that can walk with you in this mom's journey.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
Lie: You're not praying enough, doing enough. You aren't enough….
Truth: You will not be enough on your own, that is true, but you don't have to be. Depression will steal away your energy and even somehow twist your faith, making you think you aren't enough and your prayers aren't being heard. Please don't listen. It's all a scheme from the liar himself. God hears your prayers, especially the unspoken ones. And with Him, you can be the mom He is calling you to be – that is enough!
The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. Psalm 34:17
Ways to Cope
Some days will be tougher than others. So, when dark days come, be kind to yourself and try a few of these simple ways to cope.
-Take a walk outside.
-Play some soothing music.
-Be sure to eat healthy (however, small doses of chocolate are proven to be good for you!)
-Call and chat with a close friend.
-Take a relaxing bath (Epsom salt is meant to relieve stress and bring healing!)
-Snuggle up with a blanket and read your favorite book or watch your favorite movie. It's okay to do something for you!
Closing in Big Hugs
I know my words fall short and will fail to meet your personal needs, but I pray with all my heart that you find a way to find peace and rest in God. As you walk out of this quiet time and enter the arena of your little people, untapped or untamable feelings may emerge, and that's okay. Being a mom is hard, and doing so while battling depression is even more challenging. Recognize that, dismiss the lies, and be good to yourself. Many, many hugs!
Alicia Searl is a devotional author, blogger, and speaker that is passionate about pouring out her heart and pointing ladies of all ages back to Jesus. She has an education background and master’s in literacy. Her favorite people call her Mom, which is why much of her time is spent cheering them on at a softball game or dance class. She is married to her heartthrob (a tall, spiky-haired blond) who can whip up a mean latte. She sips that goodness while writing her heart on a page while her puppy licks her feet. Visit her website at aliciasearl.com and connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.
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Are you in the trenches with your toddlers or teens? Read Rhonda's full article here!