TLC: Have you ever experienced postpartum depression?
Michelle: If I look back, probably with one of my babies. There was a time that I felt overwhelmed and tired -- I felt like there was a dreariness with clouds hanging over me. When I was going through it I couldn't really explain what it was - but looking back now, it probably could have been the postpartum depression hormonal issues, as well as being totally exhausted. I wasn't used to not getting sleep at night, and not accustomed to having a crying baby when I'd like to lie down and take a nap. It drains you physically and emotionally. Getting enough nutrition is a challenge as well. All of those factors can play a part.
As a Christian, I know that when I was struggling in that way, I wanted to turn my heart in the right direction - not to focus on negative feelings or emotions -- but really turn my heart toward God. Of course, I tried to get sleep. But that didn't always happen (laughs). You do what you can do. I would drink tea during the day to try to stay awake because I had to take care of my kids.
But I remember during those days, survival is what it was for me. I realized that, "OK, Lord, I need to choose to turn my heart toward you and fill my mind with your word, because your word is truth and life and encouragement to my heart. I literally would listen to the bible on CD. I would listen to very cheerful music, melodious music - I'm talking happy music - and I would turn it on in the morning and we would work while we were listening to this music. And then when we would sit down to do our schoolwork, I would turn on Handel's "Water Music."
There were piles of dirty dishes and laundry, and I honestly couldn't get it done. And Jim Bob would come through the door, and he was so sweet. Thankfully he's not a perfectionist, and he would never put me down - we said in the early part of our marriage that we would never put each other down; we'd never try to verbally try to hurt each other that way. But he would literally have to kick his way through the door and hallway to try to get to me and he'd come over and give me a big hug and say, "Wow you must have really had a long day today." And I'd say, "Yeah, I didn't get anything done, and I haven't fixed dinner yet." And he'd say, "Don't worry about it. We'll open up some cans [of food]."
Those days were hard, but by filling up my mind with good things, and trying to put those good things into our day, I'd choose to smile.