Uncovering Shame (Before it’s too Late)

***Warning: strong language used for emphasis. If you are offended, you can consider skipping this post.***

I am with you…

Those four words pulled me out of one of the darkest, secret moments of my life. For several weeks, my mind tortured me with thoughts of ending my life. The thoughts usually came when I was alone and exhausted. Rocking our son, Bentley, to sleep each night offered both of these conditions.

There is no hope. You are never going to be enough. You’re not a good enough mom. You’re not a good enough wife. You’re never going to measure up. You can’t do anything right. Your family would be better off without you. You should just tap out. All you bring them is pain…

I am with you…

The still, quiet voice cut through my lethal thoughts and silenced them. This being our second baby, I knew postpartum depression was probably a factor but I didn’t give it much credit. I also knew the lies I was hearing were familiar, just more intense. Deep down, I was aware I held pain within me from a time before marriage and kids. It was a pain not dealt with and it was festering. But I wasn’t ready to face the truth that I had experienced much more than I realized.

I couldn’t put a stop to the sadness. Everything in life took emotion and effort from me. The tiniest thing would bring me to tears. From changing Bentley’s diaper, to making dinner, to retying Harper’s shoe. Everything felt like it was sucking the life out of me. It was like a spiral downward that grew with velocity at every turn. Day after day, week after week my depressed state worsened. The lies in my head grew louder and louder. The middle of the night feedings were always the worst. The. Worst. Each night I would lie in bed and promise myself I would be stronger when Bentley woke up. But each night I failed. The dark, desperate thoughts always found me and told me I should end it.

You’re not enough. You’ll never measure up. Anyone would be a better mom than you. Anyone would bring Jeremy more joy than you. You are so weak for not being able to handle life. You’re a fucking mess up! Just end it.

Each time the lies told me to end it… The small, still voice would cut in and whisper,

I am with you…

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I do not believe I could have rescued myself – I knew the thoughts I was having were not ok. But I felt so ashamed. I thought I could just strong-arm them into submission. It wasn’t until I actually had a vision of me ending my life that I knew I had to say something. It scared the shit out of me and I knew strong-arming wasn’t working. I finally told Jeremy, and my doctor, I desperately needed help.

After a few months on antidepressants, my desire to sleep every second of every day lifted. My suicidal thoughts vanished.

Thank God.

But the lies – the deafening cruel narrator in my head – kept on coming. My pride told me I shouldn’t need any more help. But in receiving support for my postpartum, it pulled back the layers of my soul and highlighted a deeper wound that needed attention. In everything, from being wife and mother to friend and Christian, I believed I was not good enough. I did not understand at the time that my underlying struggle was with shame.

Brene Brown – our generations shame guru – defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.”

These memories can still be painful for me to revisit, perhaps they always will be – I don’t know. But it is clear the astounding grace I experienced through my postpartum depression. It was the very vehicle that helped reveal the path of healing my soul desperately needed: To dig into and process the wounds I had experienced, to find out what God really thinks of me and to learn to hold compassion for myself.

Have you ever had one struggle reveal another? Who can you reach out to for support as you consider digging in to your underlying struggle?

Special Note:

Postpartum depression is no joke. 10-15% of women struggle with it post baby. Yet that percentage represents only those who report it. We know many more women experience it privately. It is, often, very difficult for women to talk about. Let me be clear: there is no shame in experiencing sadness, depression, anxiety, sleeplessness or suicidal thoughts after delivering our baby. Instead, these things need to be supported with deep empathy and understanding.

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