‘I first became aware of pre-natal and post-partum depression when I was about twenty-four weeks pregnant with my first child. It was the strangest feeling. I was on bedrest due to early contractions and that may have contributed to it but I was getting what I learned was called intrusive thoughts. It felt more like I was possessed. These thoughts were like voices in my head telling me, ‘You’re going to be a terrible mom. You cannot raise this child. You’re going to be awful. You don’t know how to be a parent.’ And, I would believe those voices. When you have intrusive thoughts, you don’t realize that there is a consequence to them. When you’re stuck in this realm of depression, you don’t think about the aftermath. Those awful thoughts just come in the now and the present. I wanted to go to the hospital and tell the doctor to take the baby out and give her to someone else but I couldn’t conceive what the consequence of that would be.
It all felt like who I am as a person was being taken over by something much bigger than me and that I couldn’t control. I went to my doctor and he set me up with some psychiatrists to hopefully get on some medication while I was pregnant. None of them would take pre-natal patients. That was back in 2010 and, thank goodness a lot has changed since then but, at that time, I felt hopeless.
I eventually had my daughter and I loved her but, during the first year of her life, my husband took the most care of her. I didn’t allow myself to bond with her. More intrusive thoughts hit me that told me to hurt my daughter and to hurt myself. I felt like I had no one to talk to. I was born in the eighties and, at that time, you kept your problems to yourself and we weren’t raised to talk about issues. That does more damage than good and that’s not the life I want to live or to give to my children. When I tried talking about it with family or friends, it felt as though they didn’t want to hear it or to acknowledge that something was wrong with me. I was shamed a lot because people would tell me, ‘you should love being a mother…you should love your child,’ and God knows I wanted to, but I couldn’t and didn’t know how to fake it.
By the time I got pregnant with my second child, things got worse…’