Today it’s my pleasure to welcome Nicki Jeffery to the blog. Nicki is a stay-at-home Mum, casual teacher and writer, and has an inspiring story to tell about how she has overcome challenges in her life and is now helping others who are going through the same experiences. Nicki is donating a copy of her book to one lucky reader, so be sure to read to the end for details.
Thanks for chatting with us today, Nicki. You’ve been very open about your own struggles following the birth of each of your sons. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Sure. I’m not ashamed to share that I suffered with postnatal depression during my childbearing years. It’s a dark season when you walk the road of mental illness. I gave birth to my firstborn son, and six weeks later, we moved towns. We didn’t know anybody in our new community, and my husband started driving trucks full time. I’m sure our circumstances contributed to my depression, but when there is a biological component, the ‘black dog’ can overwhelm more strongly.
I became unwell again after the birth of my second son 23 months later, and was hospitalised. But I’m thankful I came through the darkness and have been well for a number of years now.
That must have been a very difficult season for you. What sort of things helped you through that time?
My faith in God sustained me in some ways, but I did feel extra guilt that I wasn’t living a victorious Christian life when I was depressed and anxious. God doesn’t leave you alone, but you can feel abandoned and wonder why the recovery is not quick. Having a new church family filled with beautiful women who brought meals to my front door, sat with me and prayed for me was invaluable.
I believe holistic help is needed in this battle of the body, soul and spirit. My GP gave me a Mental Health Care Plan, I saw psychiatrists and psychologists, and an amazing Christian counsellor.
I took anti-depressants and mood stabilisers. And I started looking at my diet, exercise, meditation and relaxation. These were all pieces of the puzzle that led to mental wellness over a few years.
That’s great that you were able to take an holistic approach looking at body, soul and spirit. There’s been a lot more awareness about mental health issues in recent years, but some people would say it still comes with a bit of a stigma. What prompted you to tell your story in your book Encouraging Mums with Hope: Light in the Darkness of Maternal Depression?
There are three reasons I speak out against the stigma of mental illness – my grandmother battled with her mental health for much of her life, one of my sisters died by suicide three years ago and women like me who need support are facing this tough season.
I’m planning to release my new book, Precious Michelle: A Sister Reminisces a Life Lost to Suicide later this year.
I’m so sorry to hear of the tragic loss of your sister. So many families are touched by suicide. When your new book is released, I would love to have you come back and talk more about that issue.
It’s an honour to be a voice for suicide prevention.
Your book Encouraging Mums with Hope: Light in the Darkness of Maternal Depression has been out for a little while now, but some people may not have come across it yet. Could you tell us a bit more about what readers can expect from the book?
It’s divided into three parts – BODY, SOUL and SPIRIT. This is a practical book interspersed with my story, stories and tips from a large group of mothers, and articles from health professionals and pastoral care workers. We tackle topics from medication and hormones, to developing a positive thinking style and relating to depressed Bible characters. The book aims to bring empowerment for women of faith during their season of maternal depression. Post-natal depression and other forms of maternal mental illness are not life sentences and you can come through them.
As well as the book, you also provide some other avenues for mothers to receive encouragement. Can you tell us about those?
I started @encouragingmumswithhope Instagram account, then formed a closed Facebook group of the same name. The Facebook group, in particular, is a safe community for mothers who are battling or have battled maternal depression. The beautiful mums in this group share prayer and praise points, relevant blog posts and humorous posts, and we have Facebook Live sessions every month or so on a Friday night.
I created a course and workbook to accompany my book. Head to https://www.nickijeffery.com if you are interested in using these tools to supplement your reading.
The coronavirus pandemic has certainly turned our world upside down. Do you have a word of encouragement for mothers who might be particularly struggling at this time?
Every mum needs support, and this can come in a few different forms. Make an appointment with your GP, even if it’s a phone or video call, and get a Mental Health Care Plan. Keep reaching out to friends, family members, play group mums and mentors. Make a psychologist appointment and keep it.
You are not a burden. Your life is valuable, as are the lives of your children. Remember to take time for you, even if that’s a bubble bath when the kids go to bed at night, or reading a book while you sit on the toilet. Talk to God about what you are feeling. Turn on Vision Christian Radio or another uplifting radio station or podcast. And try to recall the things you did that made your heart soar before you were a mum. Can you do one or more of those hobbies in this season?
Thanks Nicki. That’s great advice. I’ve enjoyed hearing more about your story. It must have taken a lot of courage for you to write that book, but I’m sure it will continue to be a blessing for many people.
Nicki has kindly donated an autographed copy of her book Encouraging Mums with Hope: Light in the Darkness of Maternal Depression. In order to enter the draw for the prize, just add a comment below by midnight on Sunday 21 June 2020 (Australian Eastern Standard Time). The winner will be chosen at random from the eligible comments, and their name will be published in my next newsletter and on the Nola Lorraine Facebook page. As the prize is a print book, this giveaway is only available for those with an Australian postal address. (Hopefully, I’ll be able to have other giveaways in the future that will be open to anyone.) For full terms, please click here.
Author Nicki Jeffery has lived through, and survived, the tempest of postnatal depression. Today, Nicki uses her experience, and the wisdom of others, to encourage and inspire other mums as they reach through the darkness toward the light of mental wellness.
You can connect with Nicki on the following sites:
Website – https://www.nickijeffery.com
Twitter – https://twitter.com/nicki_jeffery
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com.au/nicki_jeffery/