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.
At nearly 30 years old, I was finally blessed with the opportunity to become a mother, a dream I had always had for myself.
Growing up, my father and older sister were both diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I knew I struggled with low mood, but there was no way I was going to end up “crazy” or “out of touch with reality.” Something that always terrified me growing up was being labeled subpar, or resembling my father in any way.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was shocked. My pregnancy was unplanned and at the time seemed more terrifying than joyous. My depression, anxiety, and erratic mood started almost immediately, yet I was the last one to notice. As I progressed through pregnancy, I isolated myself from the world. I started feeling ashamed, and hid in my home, too afraid to confide in anyone.
After delivering my baby, I had third degree tearing that required extra medical care. Of course, I also had a baby to care for while I healed. I was a mother and supposed to love my son, but at that moment felt nothing more than guilt for not feeling the extreme love I envisioned. I was “struggling with adjusting to motherhood”– this was the news I was given. Deep down I knew something much more dysfunctional was occurring, yet I was too ashamed to admit it.
The hospital stay was a blur. Looking back, I can see very clearly where postpartum depression and anxiety struck immediately following the birth. I was no longer in control of my thoughts, and that was the most terrifying experience of my life.
Once I arrived home, I went immediately into survival mode of just going through the motions of mothering this baby of mine. I noticed that my son seemed grumpier than my friends’ babies. I would attempt to feed my son and he would arch his back, turn bright red, and scream so loud he would go hoarse. I felt trapped with him. I felt as if this was not the life I ordered. What mother could not make her baby stop crying? His brief sleeping moments became my time of obsession. Although I was severely sleep deprived, I spent time researching to find a solution to my son’s constant crying.
In spite of my efforts, my son was not improving, and I was slowly getting worse. I ended up leaving the house once and drove straight through a stop sign. Cognitively, I could not remember how to pay bills or how to hold a conversation with someone. I had completely shut down. One evening, as my son cried, I actually envisioned myself throwing him down the stairs just to make the screaming stop. This moment scared me enough to reach out to my doctor for help.
I am nowhere near where I would like to be and am still working through intense fear, but I reached out for help. Day by day, I am improving.