Finding Christ Through Postpartum Anxiety & Depression

Hey friends!!  Happy Tuesday!

Today’s interview is with the beautiful Patricia and, man, does she have a story!  I was so honored to be able to interview her and learned so much for her wisdom!  Now, she is a new business owner and mom, constantly seeking out the Lord’s will for her life!

If you want to learn more about her and her story, check out here instagram, @patriciaideangelis, and her website, www.sleepgrace.com.  And enjoy the interview!!

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+ For those who aren’t familiar with you, please introduce yourself.

I am a new mom, family advocate & speaker, and founder of SleepGrace, a pediatric sleep consulting service. We create customized sleep plans for babies, toddlers, and older children to sleep independently so that their entire family can rest.

 

+ When did your relationship with Christ first take root in your life?  What encouraged you in striving for a deeper relationship with God?

I was raised in the Church since birth, but it wasn’t until a Confirmation retreat during high school that I really felt the power of the Holy Spirit and that I felt a strong desire to consider religious life. Unfortunately, I did not actively pursue that discernment and simply fell back into the modern culture of pursuing my will for my life instead of asking God what he had planned for me. I spent many years striving to find work that fulfilled me, with no luck. It wasn’t until after I was married and began returning to mass that I began to grow in relationship with Christ. The biggest change in my spiritual life happened when I started wearing a Miraculous Medal. It is truly miraculous. I experienced a slow and profound transformation, that led me to want to learn more29091056_2066987350236436_6840801223604436992_n about God in a way I never had before.

+ As a wife, and now mother, how did you come to know that God was calling you to marriage?  

I didn’t, sadly. I did not actively seek to understand God’s will for my life until after I got married. I was taught the concept of vocational discernment during my Confirmation preparation, but it just went in one ear and out the other. Thankfully, God is good and knows our hearts. He blessed me with a handsome and loving husband. When I first met Axel, I did have a strong sense that he would be someone I would like to marry within a few weeks of meeting him. It was my strong impression within the first date that he was raised in a faithful and loving family and that he really liked me. Before him, I had never met a guy who showed such pure and intentional interest in me! The Holy Spirit moves us even when we are unaware.

+ You are very open about your struggle with postpartum anxiety and depression on your instagram, @patriciadeangelis.  How did you come to terms with these conditions and decide to choose Joy?  What did that journey look like?  

It took me several weeks to understand that I was struggling with postpartum anxiety and depression. The hormonal changes that occur during labor, childbirth, and breastfeeding are so overwhelming that intense emotions may be seen as a “normal” part of motherhood. They are not when they last for more than a few weeks after the baby is born. There is joy in the struggle, because my experience was so overwhelming, I became the weakest I have ever felt. That weakness finally gave God the opportunity to fill me with his strength. I had help from family, but it was not enough for my heart. 29417269_154723595194193_6078295128127045632_nBefore this experience I had always felt relatively “in control” of my life even through hard times.

After my daughter, Sophia was born, I was shocked at how physically, spiritually, and emotionally weak I became. Social life with my husband and daughter felt insurmountable for weeks. I frequently suffered with dark thoughts towards both of them and thankfully my parents intervened with childcare support and I eventually began taking medication and going to therapy. For a long time I believed the idea that I simply had to have more faith, exercise more, and go outside in the sun. Depression can be a debilitating disease and deserves treatment from a medical professional. My struggle remains a joy, because in my weakness I was able to see my need for Jesus and Mary more clearly.

+ How have you worked to strengthen your faith through these trials?  How have you found your strength in Christ?

I find strong comfort in the Holy Eucharist. I really love going to daily mass with Sophia when we can as well as Adoration. My parish offers 24/7 Adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and it has been such a gift to our family to visit Him and adore Him. My mental health struggles have made it 10x easier for me to become irritable with my family and I constantly wrestle with feelings of worthlessness or feeling like I am not doing enough or bringing my family down by not “producing” enough. For me, it really has been as simple as going to mass more often and asking for the intercession of saints and our Blessed Mother. I am often very late to mass and my prayer life is messy and inconsistent, but I have to start somewhere and I know the Lord is changing me, because I find myself less attached to people and things on earth are more in need of Him.29095342_1642519382494942_4804768914623954944_n

+ Let’s talk a bit about your choice to choose joy instead of sorrow.  What steps do you take towards intentionally choosing joy in your daily life, as your deal with these struggles?

I love the fact that our suffering has concrete value for our Lord and our Blessed Mother. I am in the middle of preparing myself and my husband for Marian Consecration with 33 Days to Morning Glory by Father Michael Gaitley. We LOVE that we can offer up our entire life’s work and suffering to our Blessed Mother for her to give to our Lord. We all suffer on earth, but I am so glad my faith has grown to understand that my suffering serves has value and makes amends for my sins and those of my brothers and sisters.

Suffering makes my heart grow soft and less likely to sin because now I understand everyone carries hidden suffering or will experience suffering at some point in their life. I find joy in softening of my heart. Hardened hearts from carrying wounds and sin are 31519737_2044239855834678_232154561580630016_nmore painful than the holy suffering our Lord calls us to, I would know.

+ Mental health is such an important issue that is often forgotten, especially in Christian circles!  Due to your experiences, how do you think mental health should be addressed among Christians?

It is! Many Christians believe that mental health can be treated through prayer and positive affirmations alone. Both are very helpful and can be part of treating anxiety and depression, but the message that it is something that can be easily “solved” by ourselves is a dangerous one. Most of us have witnessed how anxiety and depression can lead to self-harm or suicide. As with any illness, but especially with mental illnesses, it is a condition that must be met with extra gentleness and compassion. It should begin with a visit to a family practice doctor or psychiatrist and supported with reassuring encouragement for that person to receive medical attention and for that person to take time off to care for themselves just like any other serious illness.

+ One of Christ’s many names is Healer.  How does this beautiful title resonate with you and your current journey?  How have you seen Christ’s healing power manifested in your life?

Beautiful question. He has taught me how to take care of myself in order to serve others. 28752956_343646539489848_4588183205764399104_nI used to feel guilty for wanting to sleep 10 hours a night and take an afternoon nap in addition to my early bedtime routine.

 I still struggle with it, but remind myself that sleep is a need, not a luxury. I am a happier and more peaceful person when I eat plant-based foods, sleep under my weighted blanket, get weekly massages, prioritize running and weight training. My intense self-care needs mean that I don’t work on my business as much. God made me a sensitive person and He teaches me to honor my capacity and love myself the way. By re-ordering my life, he heals me and my family.

+ What are some of your favorite resources for mental health and faith?

www.flourishinhope.com & Catholic Therapist, Karen Creuss: http://www.twoheartscounselingandhealing.com/

Also, St. Dymphna, patron saint of mental illness. Pray for us!

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