Emotional Complications

Photo Thanks to Camila Damasio

Photo Thanks to Camila Damasio

I think this is good for us all to reflect upon and pull into our lives in whatever way.

I am struck again and again by how many families say they were not fully informed about the range of perinatal emotional complications that they may experience, even though these complications are known to be a common consequence of pregnancy.

The typical brochure that I see about postpartum depression is often titled something like “Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Depression.” There may be a photo of a mom looking out a window with her baby nowhere in sight, or a mom crying with a baby over her shoulder. There is no mention of pregnant women (60 percent of depression starts before or during pregnancy), no mention of men (about 10 percent of dads experience perinatal depression) and no description of symptoms beyond those typically associated with depression.

I see the lack of information about perinatal emotional complications as a marketing issue as much as anything else. In the past several years, there has been a groundswell of information about postpartum depression. Despite the fact that the media still occasionally confuses postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis, it feels like there is far more information out there than before.

…Finally, we must change the dialogue from postpartum depression to perinatal emotional complications. This language was developed by Dr. Nancy Byatt and MotherWoman, and it helps families better understand what to look out for, and when. If we can do this, we will move from a conversation about women and depression, to ensuring that families have what it takes to care for themselves.

Read the post here.

Just Mercy

I have a law project called the Equal Justice Initiative, and we’re trying to help people on death row. We’re trying to stop the death penalty, actually. We’re trying to do something about prison conditions and excessive punishment. We want to free people who’ve been wrongly convicted. We want to end unfair sentences in criminal cases and stop racial bias in criminal justice. We’re trying to help the poor and do something about indigent defense and the fact that people don’t get the legal help they need. We’re trying to help people who are mentally ill. We’re trying to stop them from putting children in adult jails and prisons. We’re trying to do something about poverty and the hopelessness that dominates poor communities. We want to see more diversity in decision-making roles in the justice system. We’re trying to educate people about racial history and the need for racial justice. We’re trying to confront abuse of power by police and prosecutors—

Bryan Stevenson in his book, Just Mercy (pg. 293)

Perspective, Depression, and Hope

Mental illness is one of the most overlooked problems in the community from which I come and through which most of my theology has been formed.  I’m talking about the black community.  There’s probably not much difference in other communities either, especially faith communities.  I’ve learned in a multicultural church that mental illness is more understood but still less discussed.  It is accepted intellectually more quickly, but I rarely hear the community holding and loving through the rough times which decorate the lives of those struggling with illness.

When I was growing up, I heard nothing about mental illness.  I heard about people being crazy.  Met some of them too, but that’s another post.  I heard of demons and about demonic possession from time to time.  But nothing about mental illness.  I’m glad I’ve learned more.  I’m glad I’m been able to see and notice and respond to spiritual matters when appropriate and to mental and emotional matters when necessary.

Of course, I’m cut from the cloth that stitches the mental and emotional and spiritual.  I connect or integrate them.  I am not interested in slicing them apart but in seeing their interconnections.  I’m a pastor and conversationalist about divine things.  Divine things come forward in human things.  So, for me, these things overlap and interlace.

I’ve learned along the way that the complexities inside the minds, hearts, and souls of people are all reasons to be believe in the beauty of God and the pain of sin.  And I’ve come to believe that the complexities which are beautiful people are reasons to try hard to listen really well and to tell people about hope.  This is, in part, something that Paul Prusyer talks about–in my reading of him–as coming to terms with the implications of my office.  Prusyer said theology doesn’t deal with a slice of life, “a slice of reality but with all of it, always.”

A Sobering Sign in a Beautiful Place

I’m told that October is one of the awareness months where we point to depression and to mental illness.  So, here’s my quick attempt to point to it, like other days and months of my work, but to point to hope as well.

Hope is light in dimness.  It is the sparkling smile of a stranger who looks at you long enough to communicate that you matter.  It is a meal with a good friend you haven’t seen in a while, his ability to remember things with you and to turn you easily to tomorrow.

Hope is the crack of splendor in the middle of all that dreariness.  It is a plate-sized piece of pie shared with someone you love.  A walk in the cool afternoon, watching once brown leaves falling like little pieces of the sun.

Hope is the ability to notice health even when it comes as a confusing picture of someone’s yesterday.  It is the staying hand of belief when you worry that the future looks dismal.  It is the power that tells the truth that all our tomorrows can be brighter because the clouds will roll in another direction.

Hope is the enduring mercy that all of reality is wonderful even if sometimes difficult and that the next breath is miraculous.  It is the way we keep at a thing in the midst of its sharp cuts and crippling cracks.

I know you folks aren’t into making comments, so this is an invitation: How do you describe hope?