Why doesn’t anyone talk about this? Why are those of us who suffer so ashamed of how they feel? I’ll tell you why, because we feel guilty. Totally and completely guilty. And afraid. And we feel like a failure.
It took me a long time to get my babies here. I had several miscarriages including a late-term one. It wrecked me to the very core. And with each miscarriage I fell further and further into a big black hole that destroyed my mind and my heart.
Even typing this, I feel some serious shame for what I’m about to say. I hated pregnant women. I hated my body for not being able to do the one thing it was put on this earth to do. I hated the babies all my friends were having. I hated that they got the happiness and I got the pain. I hated my husband because he didn’t have to physically feel the pain of a D&E or endless tests to see what was wrong. I hated anyone who dared to utter the phrase, “Hang in there, lots of women have miscarriages.”
I did anything I could to cope – I worked a zillion hours a week, I ate everything in sight, I spent money we didn’t have. I did anything I could to make the pain go away. And then I hit rock bottom and left my husband a note saying I couldn’t be with him anymore and ran away. I didn’t tell anyone where I was going. I still went to work but I didn’t go home. I didn’t want to be anywhere near my life, I just wanted to escape. As I sat in a hotel room overlooking the river in which my father ended his life, I just cried and cried and cried. My brother found me. He figured out which hotel I was in and called to try and get me to come home. I agreed to stay the night at the hotel and come back to my mom’s house after work the next day. I just needed time.
When I got to my mom’s house the next evening, my whole family was there. One of my brothers lived in Arizona at the time and flew in just to be there for whatever intervention my family had planned. I will never forget sitting on the sofa in my mom’s family room and seeing my family’s faces staring back at me asking what they could do to help. What was wrong? My husband had found an excellent therapist and they all begged me to go see her. So I did.
She diagnosed me with Postpartum Psychosis and put me on medication immediately. I saw her once a week and for the most part just sat in silence for the first half hour of every session. I didn’t have what she said I had. I was just reacting normally to what was happening to me. And how could I have Postpartum Depression if I didn’t actually have a baby? That was impossible. I was just depressed and I could deal with it. I had been through worse things in my life. Very slowly, I opened up and she helped me realize that what I was feeling wasn’t normal. She helped me understand that my mind was completely off balance and she told me she could fix it. And she did.
When I got pregnant, and more importantly stayed pregnant, with my daughter I was beyond thrilled. I was finally going to get the baby I so desperately wanted. I was finally going to be rewarded for the pain and suffering of the last 7 years. When she was born, I did not feel immediate love but paralyzing responsibility for this life. The love followed of course, but it took a while. My therapist warned me that I would be prone to Postpartum Depression once I finally had a baby but I wasn’t prepared. I thought she was full of it. How could I possibly be depressed when I had the one thing I wanted most in the world? My PPD with my first child wasn’t as horrible as it was with my miscarriages. I was just gloomy and indifferent. I didn’t want to throw the baby out the window or anything. I was just sad. When I had my second daughter 18 months later, it got a little worse. And when I had my son two and a half years after that, it was even worse. And with each time I didn’t learn my lesson. I didn’t get help.
The PPD the third time around was so strange. I was angry all the time. Anything and everything set me off and I would just black out into these rage fits and I couldn’t control it. I got help before I did anything drastic and when I finally came out of it, my mind started processing what was happening and I felt so guilty.
Guilt is the first word that comes to my mind when I think of PPD. Guilt over feeling the way you do. How ungrateful am I to feel like this when this is all I have ever asked for? Guilt over letting my feelings overpower my ability to mother the children I had. Guilt over not giving my husband the attention he deserved. But mostly I felt guilty for the way I treated myself. And it was when I realized that, that I finally dragged myself out of the pit.
As women we try to do it all. We try to be these warriors and own our femininity. I know I do. I am proud of what my body can do. I am proud to be the one who holds us all together. But a big part of owning our femininity is realizing that we don’t always have to be perfect. When we bring life into this world we are asking a lot of these bodies of ours. We are asking it to do something miraculous and we don’t give ourselves the time to mentally recoup from that. We dive right in to life again and I realize that this is something that must be done. But when we start feeling the effects of this, it is our body’s way of telling you to stop and help yourself. You are no use to anyone if you are falling apart.
My message to anyone out there that is suffering is simple…get help. Do not be ashamed. Please, please do not be ashamed. There is no shame in helping your soul and your brain and your body. Talk to your family and your partner. Talk to friend who has been there. Talk to a doctor. Get on medication if that’s what is needed, meditate, exercise, do anything you can to help get yourself back to who you want to be. A chain is only as strong at its weakest link and as the woman and mother, you must be the strongest. And I promise you that you can get back there. And when you do, you will be stronger than you could possibly imagine.