Friday, October 18, 2013

A Thank You to All My Loved ones

I have posted before about how alone I have felt and I think some of my posts really leave out noticing or recognizing the people who have loved, supported, and helped me throughout all my trials, as well as laughed with me, and shared in all my joys. I just want everyone who has ever helped me in small ways and big that I am so grateful for that help. I am certain that we need each other. I appreciate all of the times that you followed the promptings of the spirit in how and when to help. I forgive you if you ever felt a prompting to help but did not.
I think that one of the characteristics of PPD (or maybe even any depression) is failing to realize or accept all the good around us. I know one of the things that I have struggled with is finding a balance between seeing what is lacking, and taking care of that need, and focusing on the good.
I am going to share an interesting piece of information about crabs. If one crab gets put in a bucket and tries to climb out, it will make it out. If another crab gets put in there with it, when one tries to climb out, the other will pull it down. I have experienced the crab bucket syndrome and think that it is the stupidest of human behaviors. It totally happens. But, this is the kind of behavior I like to call "the natural man", and it is an enemy to God.
We must learn to yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and put off that natural man. We must help each other out of this bucket (Satan's traps) not pull each other back in.
I'd like to thank everyone who has ever helped me out of one of Satan's traps. I have mentioned my unseen helpers before, but I have had many mortal angels who have been sent by God, literally, to help me out of a bucket.
Sometimes they are not Satan's buckets, but the buckets of life. Sometimes life just brings more than we can handle all by ourselves and we get sent these heavenly helpers.
Thank you to all of my heavenly helpers. This is what I want to be to someone else. I hope that I have helped you out somehow too. I hope that I have not been a fellow crab, but a helper from God to help you out of the bucket.
Above all I thank God for all of His tender mercies on me and for the everlasting and unconditional love He has towards me and all mankind. We all fall short of the glory of God and I thank Him for sending Jesus Christ, the Great Heavenly Helper that can help us out of any "bucket" we get stuck in. If we ever feel like we are constantly trying to get out of the bucket and constantly and mercilessly being pulled back down by others, He is there for us. I have always loved the song "Walk Tall, You're a Daughter of God", especially the words, "He's closer than you know, reach up he'll take your hand."
Thank you for all the good you do!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

On The Battlefield

Ephesians 6:12-18
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand.
Stand therefore having your loins gird about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Above all taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God:
Praying always with all supplication in the spirit..."
Ladies (and any men reading this) we very seriously ARE on the battlefield. The adversary knows what a crucial, vulnerable, and sensitive time this is for you and your family, but especially for your baby/babies.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and we are hastening our missionary work. There is a great need for this at this time. Satan is also hastening his. He is only raging on all the stronger. "The wrong will fail the right prevail" Longfellow penned. So true.
You know all too well that voice that tells you that you are not worth it, or the voice that tells you that you hate your husband, or that he hates you, or that you want to put one of your kids up for adoption, or beat them to a pulp. Where did those ideas come from?  Yes, Satan. Nephi says, "look to God and live."
Those evil thoughts are not your own. They come from the father of all lies. You may be HEARING those evil and destructive thoughts, but there is another voice that is still and small. That voice will tell you that you ARE worth it!!! You love yourself, your husband, your children, and that it IS POSSIBLE for you to succeed and have joy!!!! In fact, it may only be those evil voices that are keeping you from succeeding and feeling that joy right now!!!!! Picture Satan to the left of you and God to the right of you. If you are looking to God you can still hear Satan, but it is easier for you to hear God when you are looking to God. How do YOU "look to God"?
When we are weak, we are at risk of being attacked. Are we not weakened when we don't get enough good foods, water, sleep, and scriptures in? I know that I have experienced more than a fair amount of all of these especially during the year after having a baby. I think that this is part of what brings any mood disorder into our lives, postpartum or not. But, in the postpartum year we are more likely to experience these things because of the "added load" we have just acquired. This is not to say anything bad about our babies, it's just the way it is. Having a family IS a 24/7 job. We need support and help. (see the post called "What is Normal Anyway?")
I just want to testify that I know that the scripture at the top is true. When I was telling a good friend of mine with ten kids, who had never had PPD before, what PPD was like, she said, "So, it's a demonic attack." It wasn't a question, she could tell exactly what was going on. I thought of what a demonic attack might feel like and felt like that really did accurately describe what I was going through.
Never before had I looked at it quite like that. This brings a whole new application to the scripture above. As things are created spiritually before they are physically, it would make a lot of sense that this is what's happening, really. Perhaps it is the very thing that causes the hormones to be "out of whack". Perhaps it is what shuts down the adrenals. What I get from this, is that I need the armour of God on NOW more than ever before!
So let's look at it a different way. Studies say that about 15% of childbearing women experience postpartum depression every year. If PPD is really a demonic attack, that's nearly a million women EACH YEAR that are experiencing a demonic attack. Can you see how important it is that we as women HAVE this armour of God on?? AND can anyone reading this that is not experiencing PPMDs now see how badly women who are childbearing need your help to strengthen them, support them, and minister to them. I am not talking about telling them what they should be doing, I am talking about comforting them, sharing a scripture with them, or doing a job for them that they don't have the energy to do because they were up at all hours of the night with their baby, or because they literally are experiencing a spiritual attack. This need goes beyond the week or month or two after the baby is born. For many, postpartum depression doesn't settle in until 3 to 4 months postpartum.
I have a wonderful friend whom I know the Lord sent to me. She came at just the right time to give me all the things listed above. She ministered to me. She helped, supported, and defended me.
I know that God gives us beautiful people like this as gifts at hard times in our lives just to let us know that we are not forgotten. He loves us and is there for us. He is on the battlefield too. He is fighting right there with us. At one point I thought I fought alone. But now I see that he was fighting for me all along.
Taking care of our physical body AND our spiritual body are BOTH necessary for healing that lasts. I have learned so many lessons that I don't think I would have learned, had I ignored what the Lord wanted me to learn spiritually throughout my childbearing years. I am so grateful for the Lord's watchful care and love for me and you and pray for your victory over whatever challenge you are facing.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The Song of Life

This post is going to be short, but I just wanted to share something that has been on my mind lately. I recently bought a piano. We have two now. One upstairs, and one down. But the kids pretty much favor the upstairs one. In fact, they love it so much that until recently, they couldn't stop playing it every time they would see it. They would even play two at a time. Not duets, though, just two songs at the same time. Have you heard two songs playing at the same time before? It makes one cringe.
If we think about the phases of life that we can go through here, or the different kinds of work we do throughout our lives, there are so many different ones. Different "songs" that we sing throughout our lives.
For several years after I started having children, there were many weeks where I did not enjoy church. Not only was it a battle to keep up with small children during sacrament meeting, but I would wish that I could have pretty much all the callings that I knew I had talents to fill. I wished that I could be Relief Society president, music chairperson, chorister, nursery leader, Enrichment night coordinator, and so on.
Beyond church, I wished that I could be at least a part time writer, teacher, singer, song writer, teach childbirth, cooking, and nutrition classes.
But I remember one line that Elder M. Russell Ballard said one conference. "A woman need not try to sing all the songs of her life at once."
This brought me comfort and somehow I knew that even though I wanted to do all these things right now, it would not "sound good" it would make one "cringe" hearing those songs all mixed together. If those desires are planted in you now. Just nourish them little by little and focus on nourishing the ones that are in full season at the moment.
This season is the  time for nourishing and training small children, no matter how challenging it is. That is what we have chosen, or been given, blessed with, etc...
I say to myself, "patience. This song is precious and will end soon. And then another will begin."

Using the Lord's Law of Health to Help Us Overcome Our Challenges

I have discovered that for me, the foods I eat affect my mood.
Heavenly Father knew this from the time he spiritually created you, me, and the foods we would eat.
That's why he has given us so many good foods and good words in the scriptures to tell us what things are good for us to eat.
What kind of food habits do you have? Are they the kind you want to have? Do you notice your mood changing after you eat certain foods?
This is a tool I want to be able to pass on to those going through postpartum mental challenges, because I know by experience, that it can be very beneficial in altering a person's mood for the better. I am not a professional nutritionist, doctor, midwife (yet), and am not perfect in this principle, although I really try to be. I would like to share an experience with you and a lesson I learned from it, though.

I thought I had the Word of Wisdom 'down' by not smoking and not drinking hot drinks or using "addictive substances". Then life got down right stressful! I had four small children; I had just begun really homeschooling our oldest 2 and got a breast infection. I had to go on antibiotics to get rid of the infection. I've been on them before. In fact, I had to take them a lot when I was little and then pretty much every pregnancy/birth when I was an adult up until that point. You know what the side effects are of antibiotics? Among other things, yeast infections. (Any woman reading this has probably dealt with them in one place or another and any man reading this probably has had one at some point as well, in the gut, on the skin, etc...) Besides all this, I was still not recovered from the PPD that had settled in around a month before all this happened.

It was during this very stressful time of life that I began to acknowledge that I had an addiction to sugar. As much as we all like to deny that sugar and chocolate are addictive, research and our bodies tell us otherwise. Some people can eat just one serving at social functions or family home evenings, or birthdays, etc., and they are just fine to leave the rest and just fine health wise with the piece they had. Others, however, like me at this time, could not seem to stop eating it until it had made me physically uncomfortable. I would avoid making it or buying it for this reason, but this didn't solve the problem during holiday get-togethers, church functions, or other times when I wasn't the one making the food or deciding on the menu. What better way to stress my body out even more than by being addicted to sugar? It causes stress in the body!

This same year, there was a talk given in General Conference on the sanctity of the body. There was a story in there that told of a mother who had experimented with a new sweet roll recipe and overindulged. That night, she was asked to say the family prayer, but, because of her overindulgence, had felt a lack of spirituality for saying the prayer.


I could definitely relate to this story. I felt guilty and less sensitive to the spirit when I ate too much sugar. One piece of cake would turn into three overnight. There were also a couple of talks in the  Oct. 2013 conference that addressed addictions of any kind.

By the end of that year I had grown so sick of the symptoms of Candida and so tired of denying myself more spirituality, I decided to make it a New Year's resolution to refuse all sugar, no matter where it was located. I also went on an anti-Candida diet. I noticed that it wasn't just me who needed this either, it was my family.

There were two exceptions: holidays (and I mean the actual DAY and not all the parties or celebrations surrounding it) and birthdays of CLOSE family and friends. I would allow myself to enjoy a sweet or two on these special occasions.

Like any major life change, it took about three months to get used to. With the anti-Candida diet, you're supposed to go off of the common food allergens altogether and slowly add them back in. People we knew got worried that our kids were not eating dairy or eggs and I totally felt like the food freak for a long time. I would go to church functions and there would be little to nothing I could eat of what was served. I knew that the new food choices I was making were pleasing to the Lord and much better for my body, but it confused me that everyone else who seemed to be very spiritual and living the gospel were eating the foods there and they were just fine. How come they could eat them and I couldn't? This is a question I continue to receive answers for. One reason is because every body is different. My body may have been going through more stress than everyone else's there. The knowledge that I had recently gained, challenged cultural beliefs and traditions that even some members of the church were not ready to let go of, no matter how practical or healthy. Another possible reason I was led to this way of eating was to learn mastery over my body. I have not had very many opportunities to fast over my many years of being pregnant and nursing, while many others who are not experiencing this season in life get to fast every fast Sunday. Perhaps the Lord was giving me a way that I could "fast" from the things that I knew were causing my body more stress. I also feel like it was His way of showing me how to use my food storage. I had wheat, beans, oil, and such, stored and had not made it a habit yet of cooking with these healthy foods and making things from scratch. As far as the church functions go, I learned that I either needed to just not go, not go for the food, or offer to bring something I could eat. But, I STILL struggle with this even now.

It was not an easy task for me to get used to cooking different foods, eating different foods and loving them. Luckily I made these changes when my kids were small and still forming their food preferences. We started eating things that were naturally sweet for Family Home Evening treats, like popcorn, smoothies, naturally sweetened cookies or cakes, etc... My husband was also very open to trying new foods, which I am sure all of you would agree is a big plus!

If you study about what foods feed yeast (funny that they also are the ones that would increase your risk of getting bacterial infections because of their effects on the immune system), what foods don't and what foods help rid the body of the excess Candida, you may find some interesting things you did not know before that will change your perspective on food. And if you have any desire to change the foods you eat because of what you find, please know that it IS possible! Pray about how to approach it, what 1st step to take, and go for it!!!! I do need to thank one of my dear friends from this time, Crystal Bailey, who supported me on this whole thing. She totally validated me after I so courageously refused chocolate cake that was being served at a Relief Society meeting. Her support was a great example that others started following.

I learned that many of the foods that fed the yeast also contributed heavily to depression, anxiety, and fatigue. I learned that the foods that didn't feed the yeast and the ones that helped get rid of the excess also were known to aid in the body's immune system and even helped in fighting cancer. WHO DOESN'T WANT A STRONGER IMMUNE SYSTEM AND LESS CHANCE OF GETTING CANCER?? (Not to mention less anxiety, depression, and fatigue...)

After making these changes, I did experience increased spirituality, decreased depression, and better health.

Once I had this new found knowledge, I wanted to teach others. Some people were open to it and I was able to help others along on their journey toward better health. Others were not ready to receive it or completely would not listen and I felt so sad that I could not help them. There were those who continued to think of me as unreasonable when it came to food, and I had to, and still have to, just be okay with that. Life isn't over yet, and they may come around later on.

I made those changes in 2006 and since then have let go at times when I am less physically taxed, or sometimes even when I am, much to my dismay. Over that time, I have noticed that eating the unhealthy foods brings attacks from the dark side. Spirituality IS affected! Overall, my stress levels have not gone down by any means, and at present, I am remembering what an awesome year that was when I made such awesome changes. I felt as though I really did experience the blessings and promise associated with the WOW. "And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them." (Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-21)

If we get a blessing (or many) from eating healthy, is it possible that we get the opposite of a blessing from eating unhealthy foods? The saints back then didn't have sugar or processed foods so readily available like we do in our day. That is why we really have to go with the spirit of the law. If we are addicted to something that we know is not healthy for us, we are disrespecting our bodies as temples. Our bodies ARE temples.
There is a spirit about the word of wisdom that, to me, is telling us to avoid ANY unhealthy food addiction. The Word of Wisdom found in the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants is more than just "don't drink, smoke or do drugs". This section is all about food; what foods we should eat, when, and a little bit of why. It also describes what the Lord will do if we eat this way.
The Word of Wisdom may not say anything about avoiding sugar, but the spirit of the law is that we eat the foods God made for us that are good and nourishing to the body and eat meat sparingly. The promises associated with obeying this law are priceless! When Daniel and his friends refused the Kings portion of meat and chose pulse (nuts, seeds, and legumes - which were probably soaked) to eat and water to drink instead (I would add that they probably didn't have any refined sugar at that point in time to even choose to eat), "In all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm." Daniel chapter 1)

"All grain is good for the food of man." (D&C 89:16) I really don't think that the Lord intended for us to take apart and separate the food that he made for us. I think specifically of wheat, corn, and sugarcane. When we separate the sugar from the fiber, or all the different parts of a grain from each other and they don't all end up in our body at the same time like God made them to, it is not as healthy and can even be very harmful.

But what about "All things in moderation"? What is moderate to one person may be extremely excessive to another. Or vise versa. All things in moderation perhaps means that we use the spirit to guide us in our eating choices; being honest with ourselves and respectful to the bodies God gave us, and the food that he made to grow well and nourish our bodies.

Having more faith in our food growing processes is phenomenal. In the olden days, when bugs attacked their crop, they prayed over their crops. Maybe this isn't true of all cultures, but the scripture that says, "Ask and it shall be given you" is not just there for decoration. Anyone can apply this scripture to the situation they are dealing with. If we want to eat the healthier foods, why not ask for them and ask for the strength to break the generational and cultural habits that we may have?

WE can ask for God to protect and bless our crops. WE can ask for the Lord to send us food that is healthy for our bodies. WE can ask for God to bless our food to grow well without the use of harmful chemicals.

We can also ask God to help us have the faith it takes to buy the healthier foods. Yes, sometimes the healthier food costs more money, but, as Dr. Sears puts it, you can pay more now and be healthy or pay more later for healthcare costs.

After a few months of eating this way, my PPD began to subside, I felt stronger spiritually, and healthier physically. Any extra weight I had on me was gone.  In some ways, even just being able to say "No" to the thing that was so tempting to me, gave me strength and confidence. When we start saying no to the temptations that so easily beset us, it gives us spiritual strength and we awaken to the wonderful power we have in the righteous use of our agency!!!

Is Your Baby a Protector?

Have you ever wondered if your baby was sent to you just to tell you something from God or to teach you something that you need to know? What if this is true? What if our babies are given to us to teach us more than we can teach him/her?
All babies are very special and some can discern spirits. Perhaps because your baby is so special, Satan works extra hard to make sure you screw things up when he's a baby so that hopefully, for Satan's sake, he will have too much junk to work through when he is a grown up that he will not fulfill the mission that he was sent here to fulfill.
So, say this is true. If he has the gift of discerning of spirits and Satan is coming at you hard, you think your baby might try to warn you or protect you somehow? I wonder if there is any other way for him to do it besides crying.
So, Satan is coming at you with so many fiery darts or negative thoughts to try to thwart his mission and you've got "this screaming baby" on your hands that you don't know how to calm down. Satan knows that you are most likely not going to jump to the conclusion that there are evil spirits in the room to cast out. You are in a war zone in your brain and are probably thinking, "why won't this baby stop crying?!"
That is why I am writing this post. I think that there are times when we get sent protector babies. Babies that cry when our thoughts and intents of our hearts are not positive. They are telling us that there are evil spirits in the room with us that need to be cast out.
Some babies cry inconsolably when they have gas, when they have not had enough of their mom, because something you ate is giving them trouble. (Try taking dairy out of your diet if you suspect this.)
But some cry because they need to protect you from the evil that is going on in your head.
I have had two such babies, I suspect. The 1st, I did not know what she was crying for and felt like all I could do to remain sane was to distance myself from her. I regret doing this. The second I had recently, and I think I was a little more in tune with the spirit at that point and could really tell that this was one of his gifts and that that is why he would cry so much sometimes.
Have you noticed that ever? Maybe you were feeling particularly stressful one day and amidst the spilled juice, 7:30 dinner, contention with your spouse, breaking other kid's fights up, etc.... your baby all of the sudden starts in a crying.
This is our signal. This is our signal to stop and breathe deeply. Drink water. Take a seat. Have a cry. Say a prayer. Give an apology. Forgive. Pray for help. Prayer protects us from temptation, no matter how small, and demons. Pray in the name of Jesus Christ that those demons be cast out of your presence and household.
Then, enjoy feeling the corners of your mouth lift up again. Bask in the warm feeling you have in your heart - or hopefully have after doing all these things.

What Is Normal Anyway?

I have throughout my childbearing years had many varying perspectives on what normal is. Google defines normal as "conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected."
If you are reading this and are going through a PPMD (Postpartum Mood Disorder) you are probably thinking that normal is "anything but what I am going through". And you are right. Sort of. What you are going through may just be normal for what situation you are in. Yes, you are not experiencing the same things as those who are not childbearing, and you are not experiencing the same thing that men are experiencing, so that, in itself puts you in a pretty small category. You are not experiencing their normal. You are experiencing a different normal.
When we experience hundreds of negative thoughts a day, and an abundance of feelings of resentment towards ourselves, our children, spouse, or extended family members, though, our normal is generally something we would rather not be experiencing. This is when we need help. Perhaps household or babysitting help. Perhaps a hormone balancer (like Vitex). Counselors and psychotherapists were trained to be able to help people going through this kind of thing. As much as I wish that anyone else of my choice was trained to deal with my issues and help me through them, no one else is really going to do the job. Some would love to be able to do it, others would rather go scratch a chalkboard than listen to you explain all your emotions to them and expect them to have any kind of solution for you besides, "Go get on some medication, lady, because you are seriously messed up!"
And in your head you may be thinking, "I know I am! That's why I'm talking to you!"
I always wished that people in general would acknowledge my feelings as normal for my situation. I was very surprised when even people with a lot of children seemed like they didn't have any notion of why I might be overwhelmed, sad, depressed, short tempered, etc... I have come to the conclusion that they were either just a lot more talented than I or a lot more forgetful than I.
Many of my emotions stemmed from my basic human need to not be alone. I wanted to feel supported, helped, and like I had a cheer leader and comforter there at all times.
I am so thankful for the wonderful sisters, mother, counselors, friends, and children that I have that brought me through the experiences I had with mood "disorders" throughout all of the years past.
The biggest and most precious lesson I have learned through all of it, is that I never do walk alone. I HAVE cheerleaders, support, and I have a comforter. I just don't see them with my mortal eyes. I know they are there though because I have felt them with my heart.
I have had counselors and my unseen cheerleaders who have helped me to see that the Savior really is the way, the truth and the life. (John 14:6)
Matthew 11:28-30 "Come unto me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Normal is relative. I don't think the Lord expects us to be normal, according to the world's definition. He stands at the door and knocks whether we hear it or not. He knows the work of women. He knows you, your life, your heart and your family. His love is always there for you and you never walk alone. Just open the door.