Category Archives: New Me

End Of An Era

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At the beginning of this project, I wanted to know the ‘new me’ better. It felt like post-natal depression has changed me in ways I didn’t fully understand and honestly, it was a little strange – I  wasn’t sure if I would like the ‘new me’.

But at some point between then and now, I have stopped thinking about the ‘new me’ as the ‘new me’ and now it’s more or less, erm, just me? Which is good because I am more comfortable in my own skin now?

Also recently while praying for wisdom to speak to three different friends in different crisis, I remembered this verse in 1 Corinthians 1:4 which says that it is God “who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

I thank God for using me to comfort my friends in their time of need. If I had not experienced God’s comfort during post-natal depression, I would not have the gentleness and sensitivity to listen to my friends.

So it’s come full circle now – the comforted is comforting others. It’s a good sign of recovery that I am able to look out for others. In my email to one of the friends, I had this to say which is a nice way to end this project:

“Actually I don’t understand much about depression medically, apart from my own experience. Which was awful… and one of the events in my life with the most lasting impact, both good and bad. But i know that whatever we know or don’t know about depression, it cannot harm us eternally. It may steal our joy for awhile on earth but there will be an eternity of inexpressible glory and joy with God. Jesus triumphs over depression. He is our king and he will lead us home safely.”

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More please, papa!

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Not a day – or an hour – passes in our house without this phrase popping up. With a combination of hand signs (more please) and words (papa), Jireh uses it whenever he wants something fron us.

Sometimes he wants to read a book or sing a song again; sometimes he wants another hug; most of the times he is asking for his most favourite fruit in the whole wide world — a blueberry.

If he even suspects I am taking the blueberries out of the freezer, he goes into an incantation-cum-gesturing frenzy: “More please papa please papa please papa! More more more please papa.” So annoyingly cute.

And I would then try to say with a straight face while trying not to be tripped by said toddler who is now hot on my heels: “Jireh you have to wait patiently.”

Then proceed to calmly procure that blue elixir of life and present it to the hungry puppy circling around me.

Anyway I realised it is possible to say “please” without really being kind or courteous at all. And I don’t mean just Jireh.

Very often when I say please, I really mean “hurry up you are wasting my time” as in “can you do this now please?” Or “you are an idiot” as in “please don’t do that again” (eye rolling optional).

It’s more than manners that Jireh and I need to learn (though that’s important of course). It is possible to put on the best manners outwardly without our hearts ever changing. And no amount of “please” could ever make us right before God.

We really need a Saviour King to reign in our hearts, to conquer our kingdom of self, and to help us love others so much — enough so we would say please and say it kindly.

So while I will still be saying my please and thank you’s, I have to get busy with praying please and amen’s for God to help both myself and Jireh!

(It’s not a typo. Jireh says “more please, papa” no matter who he’s asking. It’s because we first taught him when Graham had the bag of blueberries, and it’s stuck ever since!)

to be known, to be loved, to be understood

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Thinking about what I ‘lost’ as a result of post-natal depression, I inevitably mull over my friendships. Some of the hurts and questions still linger — and I suppose they always will, because who is free from relationship troubles? — but I really want to go beyond the “why didn’t that friend ever text me” kind of (silly-sounding) questions that, believe me, I have asked many times!

So here’s what I started with today; I started examining my heart:

Beneath our desire for friendships is a deeper desire to be known, to be loved and to be understood.

And then I prayed and read the bible:

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
(John 10:14-15 ESV)

Jesus compares our relationship with him to the relationship he shares with his Father. He says he knows us the same way the Father knows him (and we also know him the same way he knows the Father). Let that sink in our heads for a bit.

Considering he’s told Thomas “if you have known me, you would have known the Father also”, he is saying we are as close to him as he is to the Father with whom he had co-existed since the beginning of time — that perfectly infinitely joyful fellowship in the Godhead. I am amazed that he welcomes me into their midst to partake of their joy and unity.

 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
(1 John 3:1 ESV)

We are God’s children when we trust in Jesus. More than a physician who makes the dead come alive, more than a teacher who enlightens those in the dark — God is our Father. His dealings with us go deeper than miracles and stretch further than knowledge; it is entirely characterised by love. And what a love it is that makes his enemies children! It is truly a love that surpasses knowledge. And I pray that I will be rooted and grounded in this love — what a wonderful security!

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
(Hebrews 4:12 ESV)

This verse tells us the word of God discerns our thoughts and intentions — it understands us from the inside out. It is a 100% foolproof lie detector. It more than understands us, it even exposes the parts of ourselves we don’t like to think about and hate to admit.

It might sound odd to say that God’s word can fulfil our need to be understood. But I am afraid sometimes when we say we want to be understood, we really mean that we want our friends to agree with us, even when we are wrong. If they disagree, we feel that they don’t understand us. In that case, we wouldn’t like God’s word very much.

Yet I have found the unique power of Scriptures strangely reassuring, especially in cases when I don’t even understand my own motives, thoughts and feelings! It unravels me like a mystery and that’s when I can really begin to sort things out.

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Beneath our desire for friendships is a deeper desire to be known, to be loved and to be understood. It’s a desire our Creator has put in us and a desire that only He can satisfy. Only Jesus can truly know us, fully love us and always understand us. The next time I am tempted to feel self-pity for myself again, I have a lot to remind myself and give thanks!

Thankful for eternity.

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When I wrote in this post that it’s “life as usual” now, I almost wanted to rewrite it. Life as USUAL? Maniacal, yes. But usual? I left it alone in the end.

While I didn’t want to give people the false impression that caring for a toddler is easy-peasy (but I guess no one in their right mind thinks like that!), I didn’t want to sound like a depressed duck over here – because hey I am NOT depressed anymore!

And that’s the thing. Life with a toddler is tiring, exhausting, draining — or any number of synonyms you can think of as you please — but it’s NOT depression. So life has indeed, in a way, reverted to the usual.

A tiring, exhausting, draining usual: one filled with making breakfast, lunch and dinner, washing dishes, reading storybooks, changing diapers, grocery shopping, making playdoh, raiding (or rather he raids and I pack) the pantry, sorting beans, dancing and singing, disciplining, bathing, putting up with a earful of screams, cleaning up, making sure a little person doesn’t jump off the sofa as he tends to…

That kind of usual. And for that I am thankful.

Some nights I joyfully and proudly tell Graham what Jireh had accomplished that day. Some nights I scream murder. Some nights I just want to do my own thing and go to sleep. Some nights I struggle to find the words to express what I feel. Some nights we watch a movie and eat chocolate in bed. Most nights we still agonise over Jireh’s sleep (but that’s another story).

That kind of usual. And for this I should be very very thankful.

The danger in talking about post-natal depression is I could easily grieve and mourn over what was lost (and there are losses), lament over what could have been (a myriad of possibilities but none mine), and harden my heart for what is to come.

But I want to stop and be thankful.

To God.

For Jesus Christ.

Through the cross.

I am thankful that no matter what had or will happen, as God’s child, I can be certain of his love for me because he gave up his only Son to die for my sin!

That is his ultimate proof of love:

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?…     For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:32, 38-39 ESV)

Reminded by Weijun to acknowledge that while the past had definitely shaped me, yet it is over, and the present is what I can change, I am encouraged to examine the past without letting it hinder my future.

Paul also says:

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:13-14 ESV)

God calls us to be with him for eternity! And when that day comes, post-natal depression will be a forgettable blip in my short life on earth. If it had (and I hope it has!) caused me to trust more in God, then post-natal depression is a merciful gift from God.

He is getting my heart right with him and preparing me for eternity.

And for that I am thankful.

Hi I am Serene, who are you?

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Last December I cried at a family Christmas party – really the last place you want to be crying at. It’s family, and it’s Christmas, and it’s a party. The first time in six years the whole clan was together and a really special photoshoot had been planned. We were told to be punctual so we could get a good picture before sundown. Aunties, uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces were arriving and catching up. How could you not be merry?

An aunty had asked me how is the new mum doing (Jireh was 5 months old then) — I could hear the carols playing, smell the roast pork in the oven, see the kids zooming around, and feel the merriment of everyone inside and outside — and I just couldn’t bear it anymore.

All my fears, anger, resentment, tiredness exploded and I might have cried more than Jireh did that night. Right there, in the corner of the front porch, at a family Christmas party. She turned me around to talk so we could have some privacy and my road to recovery began.

Oh it’s been one year but I will always remember Christmas 2011 — getting to tell someone that “I can’t cope!!!”, the kind sensitivity of that aunty, my forced smile in the family photo afterward.

I have since recovered from post-natal depression (mine was mild, nowhere near suicidal, thankfully) but some days it feels like I am still  walking in its shadow… (although isn’t all of life the shadowlands?) It has cost me something and changed me inside but I don’t know what or how.

Which is why I have decided to write about it.

It’s been a year and I think I am ready to do it. I am turning 30 next year and I want to do it. There could be people out there who could really use my story so I want to tell it.

And most importantly, I am a different person and I don’t know the new me. So this is my self-introduction.

“Hello Serene! Let’s talk about it.”