MomLogic.com — Postpartum Depression Interview, Judy Dippel

For thinking moms who don’t have time to think! 

  • T. Suzanne Eller

More than “baby blues”, author and speaker, Judy Dippel talks about postpartum depression

According to recent reports, about 40 to 70% of women giving birth will suffer from a mild depression commonly called “the baby blues”. But around 10 to 20% will experience persistent and intense symptoms from postpartum depression. Today’s guest, author and speaker Judy Dippel, talks frankly about her battle with postpartum depression, shared in her new book, Refreshing Hope in God.

Suzie: Judy, welcome to Christian Momlogic.

Judy: Hi Suzie! Thanks for inviting me today. It’s always such a privilege for me to openly share about my challenging experience with postpartum depression. Interestingly the clinical term for it today, is perinatal mood disorders. Like me, some women may begin to experience symptoms before the birth of their baby.

Suzie: In your book, you describe your fears before and after motherhood. Did you feel alone in those fears?

           

Order Refreshing Hope directly from me, for the special price of $10.00. I sign it and include a personalized note for the recipient. Payment can be made through PayPal, credit card, or check. Simply write me at: Judy@jldwrites.com  

Judy: Yes, I felt completely alone, as if I were the only woman in the world who had ever felt that way. I worked in an OB-GYN practice during my pregnancy, but still didn’t have a clue what was happening to me. I couldn’t control the sudden, horrible phobias and irrational thoughts that began to assault me every waking hour—beginning in my seventh month of pregnancy. I felt utterly humiliated and emotionally weak, and too embarrassed and ashamed to tell anyone about it for quite some time—besides it was too weird to try to explain. I felt like I was going crazy, and was determined to control and stop it, but the harder I tried, the worse the anxiety and fears seemed to get.

Now I know better, that it wasn’t my fault, and it was caused by a chemical condition. Unfortunately, 30 years ago, and still today, it often takes persistence to find skilled medical help. I encourage women not to suffer alone, but to confide in trusted friends and family, and seek help from professionals who are skilled in the treatment of postpartum depression and mood disorders.

Suzie: You described physical symptoms that hit after birth. What were they?

Judy: I’m so grateful that I at least “functioned” most days, because there were some I didn’t. Total fatigue consumed my days. And I was dizzy, my equilibrium totally off. My vison was blurred and I couldn’t concentrate. I could barely remember what I needed at the grocery store, and writing a check was a challenge—my hands shook and my mind couldn’t calculate! The simplest tasks of everyday life were overwhelming to me. I was off-kilter, nervous and shaky, hot and sweaty, and my heart rate was well over 120 most of the time. I craved sweets and was constantly thirsty. I ate chocolate chips by the bag full. Now I know that sugar causes thirst, (and added greatly to my array of symptoms) but then, I didn’t know that.

Mentally, I felt removed from “me”, as if I were watching myself pretend to be “fine,” as I took care of my daughter, husband, house. I felt “out of body,” as if were watching myself go through the motions of life, and as a lived out family relationships to the best of my ability. Due to the multitude of physical symptoms, doctor after doctor, wrote me off, saying, “It’s just the stress of being a new mom.” Hmmm…no one ever asked me whether I was eating healthy foods.

Suzie: Did it affect your relationship or marriage, and how?

Judy: The helplessness to know what to do for was the hardest thing for him. Even when I think of it today, I’m amazed how steady my husband was through those hard couple of years. It was extremely stressful, but thankfully, it didn’t negatively affect our marriage—even though I felt inadequate, he didn’t feel that way about me which helped me more than he’ll ever know. He was always there, rather than criticize or condemn me, he was very supportive. Being new to parenting was adjustment enough for us both, but somehow we managed. But like many hard trials, we were committed to go through it together. Ultimately, we began to seek God’s hope and help. Our relationship and marriage ended up being stronger from this experience, due to having God in our life.

Suzie: A friend of your mothers shared her experience with postpartum depression. How did her story affect you?

Judy: I felt like it saved my sanity—hearing another woman’s story; her words paralleled my own, which brought huge, huge relief to me. Just knowing I wasn’t the only one who had not only experienced this, but had survived and thrived after, gave me incredible amount of hope and encouragement that I would be well again one day..

Suzie: Eventually you were on medication to help ease the symptoms, but you were also on a journey spiritually during this time. Can you describe that?

Judy: I had “religion” as a kid and believed in God—a being way up there, but I didn’t know a personal Jesus, or the Holy Spirit who is our ever-present spiritual help in the reality of day-to-day life. I hadn’t gone to church in the six years of our marriage. I took from God what was comfortable to receive, but until this difficult time in my life, I hadn’t been stretched to the point, or desperate enough, to humble myself and seek God to move powerfully in the circumstances of my life. I don’t think I honestly believed he could or would.

Was I was wrong! God made Himself known to me in a big way, even when I wasn’t looking for Him. One night, with friends and their pastor, I knelt before God, and received Jesus. The love of His grace and presence immediately filled me, and a warmth and peace I’d never felt or known before washed over me. Fortunately, I responded. Intellectually, I didn’t fully understand, but it was a spiritually distinct experience—one I wish I could materialize for others to see.

My daughter will be 32, and that first night Jesus wrapped me in His love is as vivid for me today. My husband’s faith grew, too, and today we continue to “grow up” as we seek to learn more of God in our lifelong relationship with Him. I will never get over it, and I’m thankful I had such a trial, because during the hard postpartum months that followed, God began to fill me with his will and knowledge. I was a “baby Christian,” but God taught me of Himself, which helped me to face each day with hope, renewed strength and courage. I want all women to know if he can do it for me he definitely will do it for you, too!

Suzie: You discovered some key facts about low blood sugar or hypoglycemia, especially after childbirth. Can you share a little more about your discovery?

Judy: 18 months after my daughter was born, a friend brought me a book on the effects and symptoms of hypoglycemia—and the diet that could correct it. It was Dr. Robert Adkins book, who became well-known in the years that followed. I read two pages of the mental and physical symptoms that were the same as my own, and felt such validation and relief. I felt sure this was my answer for wellness. By now it was obvious to me that pregnancy had brought on my initial symptoms, but my diet which included plenty of sugar and white flour, was preventing me from getting completely well and feeling good. His book professed that a diet without sugar and refined carbohydrates, and limiting carbohydrate intake altogether, plus adequate amounts of protein might be the answer I needed.

I was on several medications, one for anxiety, one for depression, and one for my rapid heart rate. Doctors were satisfied that since I was better, I should just stay on the medications. But I didn’t want to, and I also wanted to know why I still felt so bad without being on these medications. There had to be a reason! After six weeks on dr. Atkins diet, just as the book said, I felt better. As directed, I strictly adhered to eating no sugar, no refined carbohydrates (e.g. white flower and most junk food). Within the next couple of months I went off all the medications, and have not been on any since. (Even with my second pregnancy—though I did experience PPD symptoms to a lesser degree)

Today, if I want to feel my best, mentally, physically and emotionally, I avoid sugar and heavy amounts of refined carbohydrates. Instead I eat lean proteins, vegetables and fruits, and suggested amounts of healthy carbs.

Suzie: When you began to feel like “you” again, you went off the medications and addressed the symptoms through diet and a close walk with God. How did that help?

Judy: For one thing, I knew no matter what life might bring my way, I would never be alone. God would always stand with me, and never forsake me. He’d help me with everything that concerned or challenged me. Secondly, being consumed in fear and anxiety for so many months had taken its toll on my self-esteem. It took time and patience for me to build up my confidence in my own abilities again. Little things would set me back. God led me every step of the way—the dark lies of PPD that shredded away at me were brought to light—I was slowly and fully restored by God’s promises and truth that fill the Bible, Philippians Chapter 4 is my “life” chapter.

The verses of this chapter broadened my perspective and helped me to see clearly. I learned God was near (4:5), I learned the importance of surrender and reliance, (4:6 &7) and was assured I could do it, with the help and strength of God (4:13). These verses along with so many others restored and guided me. I want mothers and women to know—these aren’t words that sound good, but the reality of God lives through scripture. His friendship and guidance is necessary for me—I can’t “do life” without Him.

Suzie: What would you say to a woman who is reading this today who is suffering from postpartum depression?

Judy: Please know that you are not the only one who has had this bizarre experience. Know it won’t last forever. It’s definitely not your fault and you are not a bad person or mom. There is help, there is hope and there is treatment. Confide in those you can trust, and if needed, seek out professional help of those trained in PPD.

Today, here is something you can control: Try to eat healthy foods, (especially avoiding sugar and foods made with refined, white flour). Get as much sleep as possible, get some mild exercise: take a walk, breathe in fresh air and enjoy the sunshine. It has a miraculous way of making us feel better. Spiritually, I know that only God can fill that part of us, so I encourage you to find time with Him—get to know Him better. He will meet you right where you are. Last but not least, look into your baby’s eyes and let it reflect the love in your own.

Suzie: What advice would you share with the loved ones of a woman struggling with postpartum depression?

Judy: Timeframes and symptoms are different with each woman, so try not to have unrealistic expectations about how quickly this will pass. Don’t compare her symptoms to others, and please don’t ignore them. She needs the reassurance of family and friends. Encourage her to talk about it, but don’t try to tell her it doesn’t make sense or that her thoughts are irrational—she already knows that! If possible, help her with the baby’s care and with housework, or anything else that is particularly hard for her right now, while reminding her she’s a good mom, and this won’t last forever—she will get better. Show her she is loved.

Suzie: Would you pray for those reading this today?

Judy: Dear Father God: I pray your very presence reaches out to each woman who is reading this. Nothing in our lives surprises you, nor does it shock you—let her know she is loved by you. She may not know how best to pray, as she struggles to lift herself from the thick fog of distress and confusion, shame and fear, created by postpartum depression. Today, Lord, I simply ask your grace and truth to guide her. Let her current difficulties create a desire to seek you, and a yearning to get to know you more. Thank you that she gets to savor motherhood with you at her side. Let her know you’re near. Please bring your light to any darkness she feels as she walks through each day. Thank you for loving her, just as she is. Let her find peace in knowing you go first to the hurting.

Suzie: anything else you want to say on this subject?

Judy: To the moms: I will respond to comments on this blog, or women are welcome to e-mail me privately at my website. I tell my postpartum story in my book, Refreshing Hope in God.

If they need help in finding professional resources in their area, I suggest going to:www.postpartum.net. Their toll-free Help Line is: 1-800.944.4PPD (4773) – Postpartum Support International.

Suzie: Thanks Judy, for sharing your story as well as helpful resources!

 

 

NOTE: Contact a physician before changing diet or medications

5 Comments

Connie Pombo Comment by Connie Pombo 1 day ago
Great interview, Suz and Judy. As one who also suffered from postpartum depression with my firstborn–only I lived in a foreign country–Sicily; I can relate! I later found out, I had a thyroid problem and an ovarian cyst the size of a baseball that threw my whole body out of whack! I lost almost all my hair–not to mention my mind. Fourteen months later, I came out of the “fog.” It was humbling and something I’m grateful for as CRAZY as that sounds. During that time, I memorized almost the entire New Testament in Italian (I can’t say that I’ve done that in English!).

HUGS!

T. Suzanne Eller Comment by T. Suzanne Eller 1 day ago
Thank you, Connie, for sharing your story. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to suffer alone. It’s good that we talk about this subject, so that any others dealing with pd will not feel she is the only one.
Judy Dippel Comment by Judy Dippel 1 day ago
Delete Comment Hi Connie… and Suzie!
Oh my goodness, Connie, you were not only feeling like you were physically, emotionally and mentally “out of it,” you were out of the country while feeling that way! To me, that would have been really hard to find the help you needed. So glad that you finally did. I’m trying to envision you with no hair, but you would be beautiful with or without it, my friend!
I agree, I am also thankful for having experienced something that made me realize I needed something greater than me to make it in this life. God and the Bible came alive for me…though God’s grace didn’t extend to find me memorizing His word in another language, like you! Wow…what a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the Bible.
Sandy McKeown, Celebrate Moms team member Comment by Sandy McKeown
Thanks, Judy, for sharing your story. I, too, have suffered from depression, but it was caused by lack of self-care while caring for an autistic child who didn’t sleep through the night his first three years of life. Thanks for getting the message out there that there IS hope!
T. Suzanne Eller Comment by T. Suzanne Eller 9 hours ago
Hey Sandy, share this interview with people you who might be struggling. You are right; it’s good to get the word out.
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