Category Archives: Religion/Faith

Faith & Motherhood: An Introduction

Good morning.

Today marks the beginning of a new Sunday Series here at My Postpartum Voice, Faith & Motherhood. I’m glad you’re here.

When I began my journey down Postpartum’s dark path, I had strayed from my faith. Little did I know that God had plans for my path through the dark woods of Postpartum. His plans ultimately brought me back to Him showing me I had not strayed nearly as far as I thought. For this, I am thankful.

Maybe some of you reading know me via Twitter. Perhaps you’ve seen me say I’ll pray for this person or that person. I mean it. I pray right then and there and add them to the daily list of things I pray about throughout my day as God speaks to me and moves me to pray.

I also believe in meeting people where they are at the moment in which they enter my life. It is not my job to judge, hate, or dismiss. As a Christian, I am to love, listen, learn, and grow in God. I believe we are all family and therefore I am to love each and every one of you as if you were my sister or brother, regardless of your current state. I do this because I know that once upon a time, God loved me regardless of my current state. Loving those around me is the least I can do in gratitude.

As I moved toward supporting new Mothers struggling with Postpartum Mood Disorders, I struggled with the question of faith’s role in my own recovery. Do I talk about it? Do I keep quiet? Do I make the meetings secular? Non-secular? How do I answer the questions about what got me through my darkest days? Do I have the meetings at a church? Will that make non-Christian women feel unwelcome? What do I do? I needed answers.

Then, as if to answer all of those questions and so much more, God put Tara Mock in my life. Tara Mock founded the website Out of the Valley Ministries, a Christian-based website for women with Postpartum Mood Disorders. Through email correspondence with Tara, the role of faith in my recovery became easier and easier to discuss with her, with others. I grew bolder and stronger.

Through Tara, I came in contact with Sue McRoberts, author of The Lifter of My Head: How God Sustained me through Postpartum Depression. She sent me her book which I devoured in a single sitting. Sue’s book is one of the only books I know of which deals directly with Postpartum depression from the Christian perspective. Sue opens up about her experience and details how her faith carried her through. If you are a Christian woman struggling with Postpartum Depression, I strongly recommend this book.

Even though God put these two amazing women in my life, I still struggled with talking about my faith once I started to blog. I have mentioned it a time or two in relation to my husband’s battle with addiction and possibly once or twice in relation to my Postpartum recovery. More and more though, I have come across blog posts from moms talking about their faith and how it relates to Postpartum Mood Disorders. They have been increasing in number. In fact, this week’s Postpartum Voice talks about faith.

I feel that it’s finally time for me to address the issue of faith and Postpartum Mood Disorders on a regular basis here at My Postpartum Voice. To continue to ignore this topic would be akin to silencing a large part of who I am. If you’re a regular reader here, you know I’m not a big fan of silencing any part of anyone.

I will be addressing the Christian faith specifically when I post. I hope to find regular contributors to share their point of view based on their faith or their culture’s faith. Faith plays a large part in many lives and therefore in many women who struggle with Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. Their faith may reject them for their struggle, judge them, play into their guilt, steer them away from valuable therapies which they need to recover, or it may be their solace. Whatever the case may be, I believe the faith aspect of Postpartum Mood & Anxiety plays a large role in a family’s recovery.

I look forward to exploring this topic with you each Sunday!

Just Talkin’ Tuesday 10.06.09: Have you experienced dismissive clergy?

Just Talkin Tuesday The church and depressionOn October 2nd, 2009, Psych Central posted about an ongoing Baylor University Study. This study examines the response of clergy and pastors to mental illnesses. As I read the post, tears came to my eyes. Turns out that even though clergy and pastors are the most frequently sought during times of crisis (even moreso than psychiatrists or other mental health professionals according to Baylor’s press release), they are also most likely to be dismissive of mental health issues.

“The Baylor study found that despite recognizing a biological basis to all mental illness, the views of the BGCT (Baptist General Convention of Texas) pastors surveyed vary across disorders in how much they believe environmental or spiritual factors, such as personal sin, lack of faith or demonic involvement, play a role. Major depressive disorders and anxiety disorders were viewed by pastors as having greater environmental and spiritual involvement and were more often dismissed than the more “severe” mental illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.”

Another interesting view point of this study was that these same pastors were more likely to recommend medication for a biological illness than for a mental illness. Referrals were more likely to be given to professionals known to be Christan than to those not known to be Christian. Just an opinion on that – perhaps because the clergy/pastors felt these professionals would back up their dismissiveness regarding the congregant’s condition and also not prescribe medication.

Christians struggle with mental illness just like members of any other faith. Dismissing their symptoms or struggles can do so much more harm than good. “The Gospel According to Prozac” is great article focusing on faith, mental illness and medication. It appeared back in 1995 in Christianity Today. The author really narrows the issue down in just one paragraph:

“Ultimately, the primary concern for Christians is not what Prozac will do to them but the whole idea of relying on a miracle drug for emotional and psychological well-being rather than on the God of miracles.”

When I read the Psych Central blog post and subsequent Baylor University press release regarding this study I was absolutely dumbfounded. I cannot tell you how many times I have referred women to their local churches a source of solace. After all, you should be able to rely on your faith in time of need, right? Forgive me if I am mistaken but that is the purpose of the church, correct? Even Jesus loved those who were mentally ill and healed them. And aren’t we all raised to “Love thy neighbor as you love thyself?” To do unto others as you would have done to you? to LOVE those around you regardless of their state? To not judge?

As the magnitude of this study hit me, I suddenly had to wonder how many women I had sent straight to the offices of clergy who only shot them down and left them blaming themselves for their illness.

I believe choosing to take anti-depressants does not make one weak. I believe in the support of the church for those who are hurting. It saddens me to think that there are those on the front lines with their heads in the sand regarding this issue. This month is Mental Health Awareness Month. I want to urge you to visit NAMI Faithnet to read about how you can approach your own church and help grow their sensitivity and awareness towards those with mental illness. I’ve helped other members at my own church and hope you will do the same.

Ok, off my soap box now – let’s get to the Just Talkin’ section of this post. Did you seek help from your local church? What was the response? How did you feel when you approached your clergy? Have you made a difference in the local faith community when it comes to Postpartum Mood Disorders or Mental Health Illness? Talk to me!

Just Talkin’ Tuesday: Religion/Spirituality & Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders

Just talkin tuesday logo

(Yes, I know it’s Monday. Realized that AFTER promoting at Twitter & Facebook. I was just so darn excited about this post I had to put it up an entire day early!)

Welcome to the very first “Just Talkin’ Tuesday!” Glad you could make it.

Have a seat! Share some thoughts!

Over the past few years, I have come to embrace my own Christian faith as what has carried me through my experience with Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. A favorite quote of mine is by Mother Theresa – “God will never give you more than you can handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much!” (I paraphrased so not sure if that’s the precise wording or not!) And over the past few years, somehow, I’ve managed to earn a LOT of God’s trust. I don’t quite know how I achieved such a feat but alas, I did and here I am.

The past week has had a couple of interesting things tossed my way. The first was the inclusion of a link to an Islamic forum post dealing with postpartum depression. It’s specifically about a woman who’s husband has recently passed away but someone used the term Postpartum Depression in one of their discussions so Google quickly catalogued it for me. (Ain’t I lucky?!) You can read the post here. I found it quite fascinating because there is not a lot of information out there for the general public in relation to Islam and Depression. In fact, one of the posts includes a link to a PDF version of a book entitled Don’t Be Sad written by Aid ibn Abdullah al-Quarni. I skimmed through the table of contents and the introduction. Seems fascinating.

The other topic I found fascinating was coming across Stacey’s blog. Stacey is an atheist, a belief she has every right to hold, but I find personally hard to understand, especially given the role that faith and God has played in my own recovery. It’s really got me thinking about some things. (You can learn more about atheism via wikipedia by clicking here.)

And that brings us to the topic for today.

As you (or a loved one) journeyed through Postpartum Mood or Anxiety Disorder, what role, if any, did your faith/spiritual belief play in your recovery? Was it minimized or maximized? Did you completely change course? What are some of the sentiments your faith expresses about mental illness? Were you outcast because of your struggle or decision to treat with medication? How were you expected to treat your illness?

Let’s get to Just Talkin’ here!