I know, this title makes you think “the devil made me do it,” but some thing I had to discover when struggling with postpartum depression was that, it wasn’t my fault. This was some thing that happened to me, not a reflection of me. So many women, present company included, think that the symptoms of this condition are a reflection of themselves and their character, when in reality what they’ve experienced is a severe chemical imbalance in their bodies after childbirth that has brought on certain symptoms.
I remember wanting to yell, even scream at my baby. This urge was so strong, I had to run into my bedroom and scream into my pillow while punching the mattress. I knew it was an inappropriate response. I knew that babies cried, that it was normal, and that I shouldn’t scream at a baby for age-appropriate behavior, and yet I literally could not stop myself from releasing this rage.
Flashback to the birth of my first child. Yes, I do say that she is what you could call and “easy,” or “good,” baby… but it was still hard. I was still sore, she still cried, and the exhaustion was still unbearable. There were times that I wanted to scream and cry, but instead chose to care for myself and my child. Postpartum Depression took away my ability to choose, and therefore robbed me of my ability to act like myself. It was identity theft, plain and simple. I could see the options, what I wanted to choose versus what my mental illness was suggesting, and more than half the time, I was unable to make my own choice. The helplessness was overwhelming.
Now, I’m going to give myself a lot of credit. While I was unable to make appropriate choices [i.e. screaming versus not screaming] I had the ability to remove myself from my children and let the mental illness have its way without harming anyone else in the process. Much like Dr. Jekyll would lock himself away before transforming into Mr. Hyde. Obviously the trouble is, there is always the risk of Mr. Hyde taking over completely, or strong arming his counterpart, which is ultimately why I went for help. That, and because I was sick of having to remove myself from my children when all I really wanted was to cuddle them in estrogen filled bliss. I was in the most powerless position I’ve ever been in, and the strongest. I clawed and climbed my way from rock bottom to where I am now. I fought doctor’s and nurses who wanted nothing more than to lock me in the hole I was already in, in the name of “safety”. I fought multiple healthcare systems who told me they couldn’t help, until I finally found women who would.
I wish it didn’t have to be a fight. I wish it had been easier… but the silver lining in all of this is that I got to see how strong I really am. Hind sight has shown me that what I thought was my weakest moment was actually my strongest. I am a badass, and I pray that moms everywhere will find and embrace their own inner strengths, even if they find they are cloaked in weakness and dusted with shame.