For a variety of reasons, this has been a difficult post for me to write. I keep thinking the words will come easily and that I’ll be super eager to share, but in reality, they don’t. And I’m not. But I will – because I think it’s important, especially as a blogger, that we maintain some factor of ‘realness.’
My friends, even for a farm-lovin’ Mama with a fantastic husband and a quiver of children, life ain’t always gravy.
This winter has been hard for me.
About a month ago, I found myself in a place that I’ve never really experienced before – in a place of depression. It never got that bad – I was fine getting out of bed in the morning and was able to keep on throughout the day pretty normally. But my chest felt heavy, my days felt uninspired, and to say my temper was short would be a gross understatement.
When my van door refused to close for the millionth time, I found myself kicking it like a crazy person – shouting at it and cursing it’s existence.
Where did this woman come from? Who was she? And why was she sucking so much joy from my life?
After a horrible five days of dreary skies and bad attitudes, it finally dawned on me that I was possible dealing with postpartum depression. Just the thought of it made these a thousand times worse. I hated the idea of it. Every bit of it. But as I sat in a local coffee shop crying to my friend Angela on the phone while she prayed for me, I accepted this was reality. I was dealing with depression.
Naturally, as a believer, my first stop was at the foot of the cross. I prayed for guidance, for patience, for complete healing. The thought of enduring my life with this weight seemed unbearable and my prayer was that it would pass. Like an uninvited guest, I wished it would leave. Like, now.
But it didn’t. And so at the encouragement of a friend, I made an appointment with my naturopath. As I waited for our appointment day to roll around, I found myself getting eager and anxious. I couldn’t fall asleep. I couldn’t shut off my mind. I couldn’t control my moods. Mama was a hot mess.
After much research, guidance, advice, and testing, I’ve landed once again at a place of peace. I feel grounded for the first time in months. And joyful. And refocused. I feel more in control of my emotions.
I feel gooooood. Not great yet. But so much better.
In case any of you are dealing with the same issues, I wanted to share with you my favorite natural aids for postpartum depression that have been working so well.
Natural Aids For Postpartum Depression
Every day is a gift from God and spending time in prayer, being thankful for that gift, has been essential for my healing. Making a conscience effort to focus on the blessings instead of praying for all my ‘needs’ has been crucial. I need the Lord’s mercies desperately. I need his forgiveness desperately. If I had to carry the weight of my sins, of my shortcomings, I simply couldn’t bear the burden. Refocusing on my relationship with the Lord and on his death, resurrection, and salvation is of the utmost importance.
It’s no secret that we make every effort to eat the very best food that we can. Our diet is rich in fats, traditionally prepared grains, fruits, vegetables, raw milk, and meat. We eat almost nothing prepackaged and most everything comes from our farm. That being said, as a busy Mom, I realized I wasn’t doing a very good job at making sure that I was getting enough to eat. Because I’m up-and-down-up-and-down seven times each meal, it’s easy to bypass putting an extra pad of butter on my vegetables or finishing off that pot-pie. Mama needed more nourishment – I’m raising three littles and breastfeeding like a madwoman. My body has supported three pregnancies in less than four years. Since recognizing my depression, I’m made a significant effort to ensure that I’m eating only good food – and lots of it.
I have completely eliminated ANYTHING pre-packaged. Instead, I'm supplementing in more raw milk, meat, raw and organic cheese, vegetables, fruit, fermented goodies like sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir. I'm eating more peanut butter. More soaked almonds. More smoothies. More of everything!
I did that stupid thing that people do. I took my supplements – I felt great – so I stopped taking my supplements. Bad, Mama. Back onto the ‘ol supplements we go. While I typically don’t like ‘prepackaged’ things like supplements, with the state of our soils and the toxic environments we live in, I’m happy to supplement my body with the extra goodness it may need to function at it’s peek. Especially since I didn't eat a traditional diet for the first 25 years of my life.
For me, this means: Vitamin D, Evening Primrose Oil, Sel-Salts, Liv-Gen, and Fermented Cod Liver Oil/Butter Blend. On top of this, I also supplement with 2 tablespoons of ground chia seeds (from the full moon to the new moon) and then 2 tablespoons of ground sesame or sunflower seeds (from the new moon to the next full moon) each day (this helps to mimic the hormones my body should be making at that time to help balance the hormones).
Castor Oil Packs:
These also deserve a post to themselves (which I will provide in the near future) but just know that they’re essential to healing, especially when you’ve been eating foods that your body doesn’t tolerate well and is in a state of inflammation. Per the instructions of my naturopath, each day for 30 minutes I place a rag that’s moistened with castor oil onto my abdomen and then cover it with a warm rice pack. I use this time to relax, read, pray, breath, or reflect.
Have you ever noticed how shallow of breaths you take? I hadn’t. Until I started doing breathing exercises. Now, I purposefully take 100 deep breaths per day – in through my nose, held for a few seconds in my lungs, and then gently exhaled through my mouth. The first time I did this, my entire body got tingly from the oxygen overload! Guess I hadn’t been doing so well at purposefully giving my body the oxygen that it needed. Whoops.
I’ll just pretend like I’ve always drank 8 big glasses of water per day, okay? Because to say that I hadn’t would be silly. After all, everyone knows how essential filtered water is to our health. Right? RIGHT?
Point taken. I’m now drinking much, much, much more water. Fifteen minutes before each meal, I drink a full glass of filtered water with a teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar in it too to aid in digestion.
My naturopath asked what grounded me. The answer was easy. Gardening. As silly as it sounds, through the winter when gardening is at a stand still, it’s hard for me mentally. In the summer, when I need my ‘Mama needs to take a break before someone gets hurt’ time, I head out to the garden, pull some weeds, harvest the beans, and get on with my day. In the winter, I simply don’t have that release.
As silly as it sounds, my doctor recommended that I make a small herb garden indoors with soil from my garden. Just enough for me to stick my fingers in and smell.
I did it. And then I proceeded to die of happiness. Another point taken – Mama needs dirt under her nails at all times. I’ve gotta feed that piece of my soul that feeds me!
Once per day, using short, gentle strokes, I dry brush my entire body – working the strokes up my arms and legs towards my heart with a dry skin brush. My friend Sylvie wrote a great post on the science behind dry brushing here.
As silly as it sounds, giving myself this small amount of focused attention per day has been a huge mental boost for me. It takes me 2-3 minutes and yet gives me something to look forward to all day!
Eek! I know. It’s hard. But after washing in a hot shower, I turn the faucet to medium-cold and let it run over my front and back for 45 seconds or so. It’s cold. It makes you get goosebumps. But in a crazy way it feels so incredibly satisfying. The cool water leaves me feeling refreshed and focused. It helps with inflammation in the body and promotes good circulation.
I HATE EXERCISE. But I’m going to do it. I'm also going to try and buy kratom for anxiety relief and energy. I contemplated a lot of different ways to go about this – after all, my days on the farm are full of a lot of physical activity. While I originally thought about yoga as a way to calm my mind and focus my energy, I soon realized that I needed something to help me get some of that aggression and frustration out! That way, my van door will live to see another day. So I ordered some TurboFire DVDs. As as my friend Angela says (please excuse my French), “Just do what the bitch says and you’ll get out your frustration.”
Point taken. I’m doing it. It’s HARD. But I’m doing it.
I’m taking many notes from my friend Rachel on this and purposefully working to declutter our home and our lives. This means less commitments out of the house and fewer things inside the house. Extras have to go. Period. I even ordered a bigger garbage can and a recycling bin to help easily rid our home of all that we don’t need. Less to clean, organize, fix, mend, and pick up makes for a more restful mind.
Slowly but surely, I’m working my way through all of my closets, drawers, shelves, and hidden nooks to rid our home of all excess. ALL EXCESS.
A clean, organized home brings me peace of mind. And that peace of mind is important in helping my postpartum depression tendency.
There’s a lot to consider when learning to manage something like postpartum depression. Especially when you're look at natural aids for postpartum depression. And while there may not be a one-sized-fits-all remedy to cure it, I’ve found these treatments to be extremely effective in helping me deal with mine.
Praying to our loving, sovereign Lord they can bring you some relief as well.