Depression and Motherhood - The Mom Club Few Talk About


519GcurDeYL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_ Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to my friend, author and board certified clinical neuropsychologist, Dr. Michelle Bengtson. Recently, I asked Dr. Michelle if she'd be willing to write a message for my mom-friends who are currently struggling with depression.

Some of you know a bit of my experience with depression, as I shared snippets of my own dark journey in chapter 18 of Triggers. And so it is with an insider's perspective that I fully endorse Dr. Michelle's new book, Hope Prevails, and appreciate her ongoing support for moms.

I pray you find courage and companionship as you journey through the dark and into the light of healing and hope. For hope truly does prevail!


Depression and Motherhood

a guest post by Dr. Michelle Bengtson


“No one understands,” she whispered, as she brushed her hair off her face and accepted my offer of a tissue to dry her tears that gently flowed down her face.


“Oh, I think more people understand than you realize. The problem is that people just don’t feel comfortable talking about it unless they know others understand. But I do understand—I’ve been where you are.” I explained.


“You have? But you always look so joyful, and put together!”


“I am now, for the most part, but I still have to do the work to stay here.” I paused for a moment, taking a sip of my iced-tea, letting that sink in for a moment before continuing. “But I’ve gone through depression a couple of times in my life. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It was very dark. But each time, I was right where you are…feeling alone, like no one else understood.”


“But no-one I know ever talks about it openly. Is it very common?”


I smiled before answering, not because the answer was a happy one, but because we all just want someone else to say, “me too,” and if we all knew the statistics, we would know we aren’t alone. We’re in a club that few talk about. “By 2020, depression is going to be our greatest epidemic worldwide.  In fact, more than 9 million women in the United States suffer with depression every year. I’d say that’s pretty common, wouldn’t you? And I was once one of them.”


She shifted on the couch, clearly becoming more comfortable as she acknowledged we had more in common than she previously realized. She dried her cheeks and leaned in, beckoning me to continue.




“I wasn’t much further out from my pregnancy than you are now, just a few weeks, when I ‘went down under’ and then got help the first time. My mother was the one who realized I was suffering from post-partum depression. I had never known anyone who had suffered from PPD before, so I was ashamed. I thought there was something wrong with me. My baby was perfect, my husband was supportive, my home was beautiful, and yet I was falling apart. I cried all the time over nothing and anything. My mother knew what was wrong because she had gone through it, so she encouraged me to see my doctor for help and it made all the difference in the world. It was after that that I realized many women suffer, but often in silence, ashamed. But there is nothing to be ashamed of. And it’s treatable!”


We talked some more about my experience with post-partum depression, and then her own current experience… not sleeping, having no appetite, being irritable all the time, crying for no reason, not wanting to do things she used to enjoy, not wanting to get out with friends or family.


Then she was curious about my other experience with depression, since it ran deep and wide in her family. She feared the demands of motherhood, and the stress it could have on her physically, and emotionally.


What she didn’t realize, and what many doctors and therapists don’t discuss, is the fact that there is also often a spiritual component to the disorder. When we don’t consider that spiritual component, we’re really just putting a band-aid on it, hoping it’ll get better.


According to Scripture, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).


John 10:10 declares, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” In the case of depression, the thief comes to steal our joy, kill our peace, and destroy our identity, but we can thank God that he doesn’t get the last say! Because of Christ’s finished work on the cross, hope prevails, even in depression!


Part of the reason I wrote my book, “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” was to share not only my story but my clinical experience, helping people address the spiritual component of depression and heal it from the inside out.  


We have a very real enemy who attacks us incessantly, primarily through our thought life. Have you ever had thoughts like, “My kids would be better off with a different mother”? Or how about, “This is just too hard. I can’t do this.” Do you ever find yourself thinking that you’re a failure?


Can I let you in on a little secret? The same enemy who wormed his way onto the scene and tried to destroy Eve, the mother of all living things, is out to try to destroy you too! Those thoughts you have about your inadequacies as a mother? They aren’t your thoughts. They are from the same enemy who made Eve doubt what she knew to be true. And if he can get you down or depressed, he knows you’ll be less effective in your mothering responsibilities—the most important job you’ll ever have.


But the good news? God promises that, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).


Here’s what you need to remember: God chose you to parent your child. He is 100% for you. And He loves your child even more than you do, so He hasn’t left you on this journey alone. He will guide you through this parenting journey, working ALL things together for the good of you and your child! The best way to fight back, is with the truth of God’s word.


When you find yourself thinking, “I don’t know what to do,” remember, “God will direct [your] steps” (Proverbs 3:5-6).


When you berate yourself believing that you “aren’t smart enough,” remember God promises, He will give you wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30).


When parenting is difficult and you feel like you can’t go on, remember God promises that His grace is sufficient for you (2 Corinthians 12:9).


When you are at the end of your parenting rope, and you don’t know what to do, remember that God promised that He will supply all your needs (Philippians 4:19).


When you are afraid, remember where that fear comes from, and know that instead, God has given you power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).


And perhaps my favorite: when you have made a mistake as a mother, and find it difficult to forgive yourself, remember that God has already forgiven you (Romans 8:1), and you can use this as a teachable moment with your child.


I see them as they come into my office day after day, week after week, each so similar, yet individual and unique: mothers. Some initially surprised, but ultimately honored by, and then fully embracing their God-given call to motherhood. Some longed and desired to be mothers for years. Regardless how they got there or how long they’ve been in that role, they have all had their share of insecurities, doubts, and fears about their adequacy as a mother, often made worse when they’ve fallen prey to the torment of depression. But there is help and there is hope available. You are not alone, and you don’t have to suffer in silence.


Because of Him, #HopePrevails



Author, speaker and board certified clinical neuropsychologist, Dr. Michelle Bengtson is also a wife, mother and friend. She knows pain and despair firsthand and combines her professional expertise and personal experience with her faith to address issues surrounding medical and mental disorders, both for those who suffer and for those who care for them. She offers sound practical tools, affirms worth, and encourages faith. Dr. Michelle Bengtson offers hope as a key to unlock joy and relief—even in the middle of the storm. She is the author of “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” and blogs regularly at follow her on Facebook or Instagram for more encouragement.  Order a copy of Hope Prevails today!



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midcentury modern kitchen remodel... and simple little me

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 Roses from the garden

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 And the Green!  Can you believe that GREEN?

 kitchen 5

Amidst the holiday merry-making of December, my husband gave me the gift of a kitchen remodel. As I made my colorful choices he kept coming back to me and asking, "Now you're sure you want these green countertops?  And the backsplash?  You want it to go all the way up the wall? This is really what you want?"

Yes!  Absolutely!  And thank you very much.

My kitchen is a small space, right in the heart of the home, and as I decorated her with simple lines and bold accents I realized I was expressing exactly who I am... simple, with bold accents.  

The way I set a table, and the way I make a salad.

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 It's who I am: Simple, with bold accents... right smack dab in the middle of our home.

Mixed Green Salad - with persimmons, pears, goat cheese, and candied pecans

To make this scrumptious simple salad, buy or candy your own pecans.  I use 1 cup of pecans halves, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 TBS. olive oil, 1 TBS balsamic vinegar.  Simply heat the oil, vinegar and sugar together until bubbly, then toss in the pecans.  Keep them moving over the heat for approximately 7 minutes, then turn them out onto a piece of parchment to dry.  Though tempting, wait for them to cool completely before tasting.

For the salad, place fresh mixed greens into the bottom of your serving bowl, then layer in your candied nuts, pears, goat cheese and persimmons (fresh mango pieces work just as well when persimmons are not in season).  Gently drizzle maple syrup over the fruit and splash a bit of red wine vinaigrette on the surrounding leaves, but not much.

Place the salad on the dinner table without tossing. Once grace has been said, give your simple salad a gentle mix before passing it around the table.




It surprises me how I've found my own unique style over the past year, in the most surprising ways.  It all began with that orange couch and our Family rug from CB2.  Then came the creative process of building this blog with graphic designer Alle McCloskey, at Finding Eden Media.  Alle led me through exercises that were paramount in recognizing the color schemes, patterns and themes that inspired me most.  Then last April, when I turned forty, I found myself embracing this unique new colorful me all the more.  Now here I am in this new kitchen, enjoying my green tea kettle, the $3 salt and pepper shakers I found at home goods, and those napkins, just waiting for me on the clearance table at Crate and Barrel.  And so, what's left to say but this... I'm quite pleased with simple little me.  Simple, though learning to embrace the delightfully bold aspects of who I am.



There are these people in our homes, in our lives, in our hearts who are desperate to celebrate each blessed day with us.  They are the ones who stop the raking to throw the leaves.  But you and I... we keep raking.  




As the leaves fluttered back down upon the driveway, this Word descended with them:

Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10


If I could take a poll, broad and sweeping, I would ask women if Joy was on their short list of goals the new year.  "More happy time as a family, more smiling, more laughter..."  In my eleven years as a mom, this desperate desire to enjoy my people has been a reoccurring theme.


I love a good musical.  One of my favorite theatrical elements is the song writer's masterful ability to weave a reoccurring musical theme  throughout the diverse tapestry of songs.  A simple thread throughout.  One melodic pattern, subtly repeating, tying the story, characters and themes together.  I long for Joy, and not the pursuit of Joy, to be the reoccurring theme of my days. Interwoven through the ups and down, amidst the trials and celebrations of family life... Joy.  Yes, the composer who sang our lives into existence, the orchestrator of our story, desires that for us.


However, if I were honest with you, and you know I strive to be, I would have to say that the most recurring of themes in my mothering life has been joylessness.  This has all been so much harder than I expected it would be, and there was post-partum depression, hormonal imbalance and adrenal fatigue, my husband traveled for work, and my spirit sank low.  And all the while children were born.


Don't get me wrong, there was intense love and happy moments throughout, and I love these little people with an everlasting love, but my soul has spent more downcast years than I care to admit.  And each new year brought about the same Resolution:




Until his year, when I threw my hands up in faith and resolved to resolve no more, and told the Lord that He could do it all!


The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14


And the leaves came down.  And my hands came down.  And the Word came down.  Be still and know... 


Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10


In the striving it's what we know... but in the stillness it's who we know.  Here in the stillness of unhurried moments, I am finding God.  And the glorious I-can't-believe-it part, is that as I find Him, I find Joy.




In Your Presence is fullness of Joy! Psalm 16:11


After all these years of going about it all wrong, I'm finding Joy.  And you're never going to believe this.... it truly is just like the lovliest of melodies, playing through the smiles of my people and the colors of the sunsets and the smell of bacon frying.  A simple melodic ribbon, tying together all the sights and scents and sounds that constitute my life.  I am surprised by it all. Most surprised by the joy.  Because I strived long and hard to embrace it, the Joy, all these years.  But it could only be found when I stopped striving and started abiding.


"Abide in my love..." He said it clear this time.   And I replied with trembling lips, upturned, "In Your Presence is fullness of Joy."




I sought for years to embrace Joy, but only when I ceased from striving could Joy finally embrace me.


And there is peace and there is love and there is gentleness and self-control... The whole blessed basket of spiritual fruit we talk about is ripe for the picking!  I see now how all of the fruit really does come up and into our lives from the abiding root of being still and knowing that He, indeed, is God.



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I find it ironic that one of my sweetest friends, Christy over at The Write Season,  has begun an online movement called Joy Resolution.  I know that I just told you how I found my Joy by resolving to let go of resolutions, but our hearts beat the same... that you would know His incredible Joy-infusing Presence each day.  Follow Christy's Joy Resolution on FB, and share your Joy Stories with us.


Enjoy the longing for Heaven this Christmas


“I do hope your Christmas has had a little touch of Eternity in among the rush and pitter patter and all. It always seems such a mixing of this world and the next–but after all, that is the idea!” - Evelyn Underhill


That is the idea, is it not?  The melodious earth base and tenor angel chorus, blending in harmonies beyond our understanding.  Living here now, longing for eternity.


It used to make me cry, the longing.  But today, at Christmastime, with my children happy and healthy and enjoying the rain coming down outside and the fire crackling and the carols playing, I am praying, "Lord, help me enjoy the longing.  Help me savor it like hot cocoa after puddle splashing with my children. Each sugary sweet marshmellow, every chocolate laden little boy kiss.  Help me savor it all.  Savor the now and the longing, all mingled together.  The present joy coupled with the ache we have for You and Your arms, Your glory-filled ever-after."

C.S. Lewis quote


Here's my question:

Do you long for His Glory-filled ever-after in your happiest times or those most sorrowful?


I long for reprieve in the pain, but equal is my longing to discover and celebrate the One who blesses us with so much beauty.  I think the intermingling of these two is advent.  The Holy of Holies come down to dwell with us, Emmanuel, amidst it all.  The source of life, the source of strength, the well-spring of comfort and joy.





Where are you this Christmas season?  Deep in sorrow's bosom or overcome by beauty and blessings?  Wherever you find yourself... are you longing for Heaven?

Are you longing for Heaven this Christmas?


All I want for Christmas... is a Kitchen Remodel



When I asked my husband for a kitchen remodel this Christmas, I never intended him to do it in time for Christmas.  What with homeschooling, Christmas planning, guests descending, present buying, sanity desiring...  But today, exactly two weeks before Christmas morning, five days before my oldest child turns eleven, seven days before his party, and eight days until our Christmas guests come for the holidays, a team of men is here in my home, demolishing every square inch of my kitchen.  Right now.  As I type this out.


Joy to the wold


Christmas carols on the radio are doing their best to cover the sounds of splintering wood, plastic and plaster, and the banging of forty year old appliances being ripped from their home.  My home.


Silent Night


Silent night is playing now and I'm laughing.  It's just too soft and tender to cover the sledge-hammers hammering.  Noise is rising high and chaotic from the kitchen space that once held my kitchen, and I can hear it all.  So I turn off my radio in time to hear the singing.  One construction worker is singing it now...


Feliz Navidad


... from the bottom of his heart.  And it blesses mine.  Because while I could be a stressful-grump, bah-humbugging my way through these dusty loud days, I'm choosing to join my husband in the gift.  Not exactly how I wanted it delivered in these last days before Christmas, but focusing instead on the giver.  My sweet man.  With all his impulsive purchasing and celebrating and decorating, I can choose to hermit myself up and cover his little bit of crazy and his whole lot of love, here in my room.  Or I can join in with him in the chaos and sing at his side...




I'm choosing to sing.  And in the singing I'm seeing the blessings.  Not just enjoying my husband's generous heart and enthusiasm, but finding joy in not cooking this week.  For exactly one intense week of new cabinets, countertops, and appliances, I will not be planning, cooking, cleaning.  Sure there will be laundry, and the incessant dusting one does during a kitchen remodel, but I'm not cooking for seven whole days!


This weary mom rejoices!


Instead I will use my time and creativity to finish the cards and the wrapping, and to sit on the couch each evening to watch Christmas movies and read Christmas stories with my family.  And as the men lay my green countertops and hook up brand new appliances, I'll be planning my menus, my recipes, my grocery list for the cooking and baking and eating and merry-making to come.


It's the most wonderful time of the year!


So here's what I'm thinking and planning and dreaming... here are the ingredients I'll be shopping for when the cabinets are in and the countertops are ready for dough to be rolled out thin and white with sugar.  I'm thinking a beef roast this year, with carmelized sweet potatoes and buttered green beans.  There will be a turkey breast too and dressing, apple sauce and cranberries.  And deserts.  Cut out cookies for decorating with the children, and a chocolate pecan pie, and ice cream and coffee and tea with too much cream and sugar.


I'll be home for Christmas


If the kitchen remodel comes together, I'll be here at home this Christmas, loving on my family and teaching them over and over again about our generous God who sent us Jesus.  And if this remodel falls apart and we're eating cold cereal beside a hot fire... I'll be loving on my family and teaching them over and over again about our generous God who sent us Jesus.  And our friends... the ones who are joining us from halfway around the world this Christmas, they may be passing the granola and drinking out of juice boxes around the fireplace too.  But however this goes, I'm choosing to celebrate Jesus with my loved ones each dusty day!


Remodel updates forthcoming!

(Stay tuned)