Pregnancy can be a truly magical time in any woman’s life. We all have various hopes and dreams of the months following delivery. Visions of a content baby, laying peacefully in their crib. A love that is so overwhelming, it completely envelopes the household. Days and nights full of smiles and laughter. However, for some, the reality of postpartum is far from the images depicted in our thoughts.
A few weeks after the birth of my first son, I knew that something was not right. Days and nights were seamlessly blending together and I knew it was not from lack of sleep, as I had already pushed a majority of the childcare off on my mother. I simply had no interest in raising this child. The immense connection that I had read about and expected… was just not there. I didn’t even have the energy to try and force myself to parent. Within those early weeks my son developed colic and it became increasingly more difficult for me to be around him. The constant crying pushed me further into my depression. Some days my Mom would encourage me to get out of our little apartment and drive around for an hour, to clear my rattled head. I would vacantly drive up and down Main Street, listening to music, while praying that I would wake up at some point and find this had all been been a cruel dream. When I would realize that my hour of freedom was up I would slowly turn my car towards home, with tears streaming down my face. I did not want to face the reality that was now, my life. In the midst of this battle versus myself, the hallucinations began. I began to envision horrible and disturbing things happening to both myself and my child. I was completely repulsed by the fact that these visions were created from the depths of my own mind to confide in anyone. I just knew that something was very, very wrong with me.
Despite my internal acknowledgment that I was fighting some truly serious demons, I still refused to seek out help. I had heard the term “Postpartum Depression” before, but never even partially understood what it was made of. Deep inside, I merely assumed that I was slowly losing my mind.
During what seemed to be my absolute darkest time, living through this nightmare, I had attempted to put on a normal face and take my son for one of his check ups. After we were settled into the back office, the crying began. I remember trying so hard to calm him. My head was spinning. He was inconsolable. I was positive that everyone within earshot of his screams was realizing that I was a failure as a mother. The doctor finally came in and briefly looked over my son, after giving him a clean bill of health she turned to me and asked how “I” was doing. With my brave face on, I intended to tell her how great everything was, but my mask crashed to the ground… along with what felt like a million tears. I simply could not hold it in any longer. I was so tired of pretending that everything was OK.
Surprisingly to me, I was not immediately carted away to an institution. She understood and said that what I was feeling was common for women battling postpartum depression. She suggested that I find a professional to discuss these complex emotions with and begin my healing. It helped so much just to understand that my feelings were valid and that there was a reason as to why I felt so off-balanced. There was finally the slightlest glimmer of hope for a light at the end of the tunnel.
Here I am today, 13 years later. My son and I have built a loving and healthy relationship. I wonder, sometimes, if our bond might have been a bit stronger had we not endured such a tumultuous first year together. I am positive, though, that we succeeded thanks to an awesome support system that my family and loved ones erected around me when they saw the troubles that I was so blind to.
My hope for today is that women are a bit more educated about the seriousness of Postpartum Depression. Sitting around waiting for the funk to just go away doesn’t always help. Never be ashamed to ask for help.