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.
To all those that suffer with depression, anxiety, or any mental illness, I want you to know you are not alone. There is hope and you will find peace again. You will be happy once more and be able to have peace. Healing and a full recovery is possible. Talk to someone. Be brave and get help. Remember you are loved and irreplaceable.
My story begins at the birth of my first child at a “teaching hospital.” The doctor delivering my child was a doctor in training along with 15 of his students. It was a nightmare. Throughout the delivery I heard the student doctors saying things like, “Oh my gosh, is the baby going to die?” “Oh look, she is tearing!” These comments filled me with anxiousness. After pushing for several hours my doctor said that if I didn’t get this baby out in the next push that my baby would die. Filled with panic and desperation I pushed 2 more times and still no baby. Finally a third push and there he was purple, and not breathing. I felt like I had been hit by a train, I was trembling, torn, and in so much pain. I was unprepared for the entire experience. I saw him for the first time and it wasn’t love at first sight. I remember thinking how scary he looked. In fact, I resented this little human who helped put me through so much trauma. Yet I remember looking into his eyes, and thinking, “Be patient with me little one. I am going to love you and take care of you. I just need time.”
For the next several days I was in lots of physical pain, but the truly terrifying part were my thoughts and feelings about being a new mom. My anxiousness kept me from sleeping or eating for days. I had thoughts of hurting myself and my baby even though I had no desire to hurt either of us. My mind was out of control and I felt afraid I couldn’t trust myself.
Four days after he was born I had a nervous breakdown. I literally cried for hours and hours. I was so terrified, nervous, anxious and the sleepless nights continued. I found myself shaking in a corner pleading for my husband to help me. Neither of us had any idea of how to help the situation. We felt the best option was to go to the emergency room where I could get some medication. I was interviewed by a doctor and was assured I could be helped. Blinded by my tears I proceeded to sign a large stack of papers without reading them. I assumed I would be taken back to the maternity ward where I could speak with an OBGYN that had experience with postpartum depression. Instead, two security guards came and took my baby away and escorted me to the psychiatric unit and I was locked out of my world.
The psychiatric ward was probably the worst place a new mom could be right after giving birth. I was surrounded by people who made my anxiety skyrocket. When I asked why I couldn’t see my baby I was told it was because several pedophiles were in the room next to me. I did not feel safe. I became withdrawn and silent as fear took an even stronger hold of me. My psychiatrist told me he couldn’t let me out because I had similarities to another woman who, several years earlier, had killed her children. He told me if he let me out I would probably kill my baby. He also told me that if anything happened to my son, Child Protective Services, would come and take my baby away. The only help I received while there was a prescription that helped calm me a little.
After getting out of the psychiatric ward I went home. I was still haunted by my thoughts and overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety and depression. I closed all the windows and didn’t answer the door or phone. I was afraid to share my feelings and thoughts. I felt like there wasn’t help for someone like me. I prayed, studied God’s word, and spoke to a few people who made me feel safe. After some time I began to open up to my angel mother-In-law about my dark thoughts. She was better than any other therapist for me. I began to talk to her about my thoughts and feelings, and slowly the clouds began to lift. After lots of therapy each week with my mother-in-law and my own mother I began to feel a bit more normal. I began to smile. I began to laugh. I began to sleep. The anxiety and depression started to diminish. I felt feelings of love towards my baby.
I am pregnant with my 5th child. Each birth has been followed by postpartum depression yet each time it has gotten easier. I have learned how to ask for help and medication if necessary. I know that I am not the only one who experiences this. I learned how to talk myself through dark thoughts if they chose to return. I feel empowered and full of hope and peace. I sleep deeply at night. I look forward to the arrival of my new child and know not to feel guilty when crazy thoughts come. I have learned what I need to be safe emotionally and physically after childbirth. I have a support group of women who help me know this shall pass. I have recovered. I am no longer paralyzed by fear and anxiety. I am truly free and you can be free. You don’t have to suffer alone. You don’t have to feel crazy. My hope and prayer is to create a safe place where women with postpartum depression and perinatal mood disorders can go to feel hope and in time be healed.
I feel so grateful for Eric and his sweet wife Emily. My heart aches for them, but I am so grateful he is willing to share their story, to help others like you and me find healing and hope. After my postpartum depression lifted I wanted so badly to help other women who have suffered similarly. I never wanted anyone to go through the kind of pain I experienced. I look forward to the reality of creating a very warm and inviting place. A place much more like a maternity ward, where suffering women can go with their baby and get help. Help for themselves and for their families. A place where they can find true healing, and leave filled with peace and hope.