Monday, March 24, 2014

The Postpartum Survival Guide

When I saw this book on the discount table at the Christian bookshop in Albany, it felt like it was meant to be.  It was August last year and I was in the midst of a PND relapse.  My mum was looking after Rory for a few hours so I could have some time to myself.

It was with both excitement and trepidation that I bought the book, took it home and opened it.  I hadn't heard of any books on postnatal depression written by Christian authors and, based on the views of PND I'd heard other people espouse, it could go either of three ways - it could say that PND is caused by a lack of faith and be firmly opposed to anti-depressants, it could take the medical path of looking at PND as a 'disease' but no so much as a spiritual condition, or it could sit somewhere in the middle.

Thankfully this book took the third approach.  Written by Christian psychiatrists, it says on the back cover, This definitive guide explains why this depression occurs, who is at risk, how to treat it, and where to find God in it all.  It uses examples of women whose PND was caused by an intricate mix of traumatic past experiences, anger at God, seratonin depletion in the brain, and hormonal shifts.  The book is both encouraging and sensible, exhorting those suffering from PND to use medication to help them recover.  It is realistic in that pregnancy, childbirth and child rearing will be painful and hard this side of the Fall, much more realistic than the perfect picture of families promoted by some Christians.  It did scare me a bit with some of the statistics about the chances of recurring and worsening PND with each pregnancy, but I also felt better prepared, knowing that if PND strikes me again I know the signs and where to get help.

There are also insightful chapters on postnatal psychosis (there was a mum in the Mother Baby Unit who had it), PND and dads, and adjusting to life as a family.  There were many stories I could relate to and it helped me feel less alone.

Most of all, it reminded me that God cares for the depressed, that He doesn't just tell them to 'pull themselves together', but asks them to entrust their cares to Him.  It is ok to mourn because He will comfort us.

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