Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dealing with Depression

It took me a long time to admit that I was depressed. And maybe I still am. I'm still grieving the loss of our baby, and again, as the due date approaches it will get increasingly difficult.

I'm not really angry anymore although I do have spouts of anger. It's not a constant. And I'm not really feeling jealousy like I was when I saw pregnant and new moms. Although sometimes it still hurts.

I'm just sad. A sadness that exhausts my body. Exhausts my mind. I think I've been holding a lot in because I want to look good on the outside. I want to look like I have it together and that I'm not hurting so much inside. The pain isn't fresh anymore but the wound is still open. The emotions aren't such a shock. They've just become a part of me. And that's sad in itself.

Here's an article on dealing with the emotions after a miscarriage (or losing an unborn baby):

From Women's Health Resource
The greatest contributor to emotional reaction is that a woman looks at the early pregnancy as part of herself and when it is lost, there is an emptiness, searching and incompleteness feeling because the fetus is not viewed as a separate being. Also, the connection to the fetus is much stronger for the woman than for her partner and there is a great difference in the intensity of the grieving process between the mother and father. A woman becomes isolated because of this and often has no emotional support for her feelings. Even the usual social rituals of a death notice, a funeral, and friends offering sympathy are absent because very few people usually know of the event. This prevents accepting the reality of the loss. If there was any ambivalence about the pregnancy in the first place guilt becomes a major component of the grieving process.

Workers is this field have identified four tasks to be accomplished to work through the grieving process in a psychologically constructive way. The general time it takes is as much as 12-18 months after the loss.

  1. Accept the reality of the loss -- if the miscarriage takes place before friends and family know of the pregnancy, sharing the loss with others may help or even some sort of commemorative steps either public or private. If the pregnancy loss is further along, a burial ceremony or even just holding the fetus can help.
  2. Allow experiencing the pain of grief -- if the grieving process is suppressed, it is more likely to result in psychological reactions. The woman needs to consciously grieve for lost dreams. This process will wax and wane but should not be suppressed by drugs, alcohol or even the rapid attempt to become pregnant again so as to relieve the pain more quickly.
  3. Adjust to the new situation without the lost child -- a woman must change her perception that part of herself is lost. She needs to resume her role and self-identity at least as it was prior to becoming pregnant.
  4. Reinvest emotional energy in new relationships -- a woman recovers and benefits from building new ties and nourishing the relationships already present.

This resonated with me a lot. And the first paragraph is a good explanation of what I've been feeling: empty, lost, incomplete, isolated. And I think I still need to deal with #2 - allowing myself to experience the pain of grief. I think I've been holding a lot in. To protect my sons, my marriage, my witness. And I find myself becoming too comfortable with the pain and it's too hard to let it go. Also, I haven't changed my perception that a part of me was lost (#3) because I really feel like it was.

This article deals more with the postpartum depression part of what I've been dealing with:

While all women experience physical changes in their bodies after a pregnancy ends affecting her mood, a woman who has lost a baby through miscarriage faces another risk factor for serious postpartum depression. Not only must a woman endure the physical and psychological stresses that occur due to hormone changes, but they do so without any of the rewards that come with bringing their baby home. A woman may not have the support of her partner who is grieving as well. There are no excited visitors to greet a baby and give congratulations, and certainly no baby to hold and care for. She is trying to cope with not only her postpartum changes, but with the loss of their baby as well.

I had postpartum depression after both of my boys. So I'm familiar with the feelings that come from that kind of depression. But this time it was different. I was sad about my baby's death. I was sad that my body still thought I was pregnant when the baby was dead inside me. I didn't realize that along with the regular grief-cycle I was experiencing postpartum depression except that I didn't have that little baby to pull me out of it like I had in the past. When my boys were about 4 months old I started to really come out of it. And it's been a little over 4 months since we lost the baby, but it's harder to come out of it when there's not the joy of a little person loving you, making you smile, growing, and becoming a part of your family.

Another great article on God's mercy as we deal with loss:

From All About Life Challenges
Then, I read in the New Testament, Hebrews 12:15, "See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled"(NASB). Somehow, God spoke to my heart with this. I realized I wasn't experiencing the grace of God because I was holding on to my bitterness. I was causing problems in my marriage by keeping this bitterness as if it were a treasure. I was driving away friends on a daily basis. That day, with many tears, I knelt in my apartment and told God I was sorry for not trusting Him and asked Him to please reveal to me the purpose of my loss.

It would be nice to be able to say that immediately I felt great and that I understood perfectly everything I wanted to know. Not so, but I did feel better. Over time, I came to understand how one person's sorrow can be helpful to both that person and to others. Another part of the New Testament, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."

I pray that I will be able to find an outlet for my emotions. That I will be able to kneel before God and give him my hurt. I pray that I will be able to trust Him and hope for another child - without fear. I pray that He would reveal to me the purpose of this loss. And I pray that I would not become bitter but instead that God would use my trouble to comfort those who may deal with the loss of their unborn child. That I may be the comfort of God to someone else.

If you want more information on identifying your emotions and what to do with them after a miscarriage here's an a great article from Epigee.


Emily said...

We recently had a miscarriage as well and before it happened to us I had no idea how difficult it might be. I waited weeks for the baby to pass and took a nap every afternoon . . now more hormones are mostly back in balance so no more naps. A friend at church had a new baby the day before we found out we lost our and it has been hard to be happy for them at times. We have 3 more babies due in church next month and I am trying not to dread it . . . now a very good friend announced her pregnancy, she is due in April, I was due in Feb. When I hung up the phone after she told me I cried out to God, WHY?? Remember I wanted a baby?!?! Where?WHEN?Why? I have no great wisdom to share, just a common hurt. I have gained a greater appreciation for each day of this life being precious and using it live for the Lord and not myself. I will be praying for you!! (I havent been able to post about my experience yet . . .) Emily

Rachel S said...

I don't have a lot to say except that God has been using you to impact my life through this. I love you....

Denise said...

today i discovered an email you sent at the beginning of september. some how it ended up in my spam.

ironically this week i wrote about my miscarriage, and the loss of our son caleb, 10 years ago.

you offer so much truth to those grieving miscarriage in this post. may God be glorified. i wish id had the information you offer here 10 years ago.

the words "the fetus is not viewed as a separate being" ring true. oh the grief of losing a child! as i read these words i think of God, and that he does not view us as "separate beings." we too are to be wholly his. i think of the miscarriages he suffers daily, losing a child to sin. he KNOWS our loss. he knows the grief we feel.

i went through postpartum depression after i lost caleb. in addition my hormones were a mess. though i was not physically pregnant, my body still went through cycles like it was. the weekend he was due i became engorged, my milk came in, and postpartum hit again (for just a few days).

nobody tells you "what to expect when your not expecting." hmmm.

and it has been 10 years for me, and though i do not dwell on it, i do still miss my child. i long for Heaven more, and to be reunited with my boy.

i celebrate that you too will be reunited with your child in Glory. oh, i can't wait!

we send balloons every year on the anniversary of the day Caleb was "born into heaven." (Sept. 15th)
why? because i need to celebrate my child. i need to remember. i need to look back at God's generosity in giving him to us for a time, and then i need to hope forward to eternity with my child.

may God cover you with his grace upon grace in this time, speak truth to you, heal your heart and soul, bring you into deeper union with him, and LAVISH his love on you in Christ Jesus.