The birth of a child can be one of the most joyful times for a family. But Nicki Jeffery was one of many mothers who instead suffered a period of post-natal depression. Now she’s written a book, and built an online community, to encourage women of Faith who are going through what she endured.
Talking to Neil Johnson on Vision’s 20Twenty program, Jeffery reminded us that post-natal depression is a clinical diagnosis, with physical symptoms as well as mental ones.
“It’s not just something that’s going on in your head,” she said. “You actually have an illness, and it is a mental illness, but it effects your whole body as well.”
Post-natal depression often arises out of the difficult adjustment to life with a new baby, and the hormonal and chemical changes that follow childbirth. Only weeks after her first child was born, Jeffery and her husband moved from Inverell to Coffs Harbour, leaving their support networks behind. Soon, she felt alone and overwhelmed.
Though she knew mental illness was in her family, Jeffery felt that because she was a Christian, it would never happen to her. “I think it also translated into feeling abandoned by God, because sometimes when you get to that place of anxiety and depression, you sort of feel like maybe God’s not there anymore.”
“I was grieving the life that I had before,” she said. “And I think to a certain extent every mother grieves the life before they had children, if they had a career, or just a bit more freedom. We feel like sometimes we lose ourselves when we have a baby. And we just have to somehow find ourselves again.”
When she walked into her local doctors office, she burst into tears. The doctor immediately prescribed medication, and referred her to a psychologist. “And even though they were steps that probably I needed to take, there were a lot more things that needed to happen.”
Nicki introduces her story in the video below…
In her book, Nicki writes about a holistic approach to dealing with post-natal depression, including body, soul and spirit. She also busts some of the myths around the illness. She’s often heard that praying and reading the Bible more will solve the problem, but she says it’s not as simple as that.
“When I was really unwell, when I read the Bible, I just felt condemned by the things I read, even though that’s not how I probably should have taken it. So I think in those times, you really just need a Church, and Christian friends and family, to lift you up in prayer. Because those are the times where you’re struggling the most, and you feel like you can’t pray.”
She wrote her book to show other mothers that they aren’t alone in their struggle. She says there’s power in the stories of the women she interviewed. “Sometimes we go through hard things so that we can help someone else through their hard things. It makes us feel like there is a silver lining to the dark clouds that we’ve been through.”
Along with the book, she’s also created a blog, and social media pages where women can reach out for help, or uplift one another. “It’s all just there to encourage mothers, because I remember how I felt so discouraged and hopeless in that season.”
“But it was also just a season. So this book, and this community, is empowerment for women of Faith during their season of maternal depression. And the season will end.”
Nicki Jeffery’s book, ‘Encouraging Mums with Hope: Light in the Darkness of Maternal Depression’, is available to buy from our store. You can also find more resources, and access her community on her website.