Disclaimer: The following article mentions the topic of suicide or other sensitive subjects, which may trigger negative thoughts and feelings for those currently suffering or still recovering from a mental or mood disorder. Reader discretion is advised.
My husband and I had tried for over six years before we were finally blessed with a pregnancy. Although I had previously suffered from depression, during my pregnancy I was able to keep my depression controlled without medication. In fact, I experienced a wonderful pregnancy, and felt healthier and happier than ever. I was so thrilled to be a mama to a beautiful baby girl. I got so excited hearing the stories from other mothers about their birth experiences. No one tells you the horror story that can come postpartum
After a relatively easy delivery, we headed to our new room on the mother and baby floor. Although I was exhausted, I was so excited for friends and family to come meet our new addition. I never expected what was about to hit me.
That night as I tried to sleep I kept having horrible visions of me hurting my baby in some way; I won’t get in to details, but I was distraught. The next day I was feeling somewhat better and just cuddling my baby, but in the back of my mind those nightmares were haunting me. At this point, I had some medical issues, so this added additional stress. During our stay at the hospital, I had friends and family who wanted to come see me and the baby, but I wouldn’t allow anyone to come (it was very unusual for me to turn down visitors). When we finally got discharged, I was so nervous around my baby that I didn’t even get her dressed in her official going home outfit.
A few days passed and I wasn’t eating. I had no appetite, and I refused to be alone with our baby. By the time my husband had to go back to work, my mom and sister took turns coming to stay with me. I didn’t know what was happening to me. I didn’t want to sit, I didn’t want to stand, and I couldn’t think straight. I felt like I was going insane, and I started having panic attacks. Eventually, we decided that I should go in to the emergency room for help. I was still having horrible thoughts of harming myself, my baby, and my husband. At this point, I was terrified that I couldn’t control my actions.
At the hospital, I was admitted to the inpatient wing of the psychiatric unit. I was terrified. I couldn’t even see my husband or my newborn baby. I was so scared I had made a mistake agreeing to this. When would I see my baby again?
During my hospitalization, I was told I had to eat, but I had no appetite, I was told to go out in the big living area, but there was no way I wanted to socialize with anyone, especially strangers! I didn’t want to leave my room; I just wanted to sleep every second I could so this nightmare would end. Additionally, I was still in tremendous pain from giving birth. During this time, so many thoughts went through my mind, such as “Am I an evil person? Do I love my baby? Can anyone understand what I am feeling?”
I know now after working with incredible doctors that I am not at fault for the thoughts that overtook my mind while I suffered postpartum anxiety. Many mothers experience this, but no one ever talks about it because society has shamed mental illness. Hopefully admitting that we suffer can help spark change.