‘I’ve had post-partum depression and anxiety for seven years now. It took me four years from my first baby to having my second. That second pregnancy was great, so I was really hopeful that I would have a good experience with this one but the intrusive thoughts got worse.
My second baby didn’t sleep. All she ever wanted to do was nurse and I felt like nursing was the worst. When she was about five months old, there was a point when I was so very tired and she just didn‘t want to sleep. I tried supplementing her milk with formula, thinking that would help her sleep. It didn’t help. I sat there crying and thinking, ‘I want to die. I just want to die. I can’t do this anymore.’ The intrusive thoughts came as I was trying to think of a way to get her to sleep and the thought came to me, ‘put a pillow over her face.’ It’s like there were two different voices inside my head, one saying and protesting, ‘that won’t help her sleep,’ and the other taunting and telling me to cover her face with a pillow.
I can remember thinking about the consequences as an adult but it felt like my mind was about six years old. At that point, I felt there was no sanity going on. I had one friend that I could call. I called her and she came and took my children and let me rest and think about ways to make this work. I called the National Suicide Hotline, needing to talk to someone who didn’t know me and who wouldn’t make me feel ashamed for what was happening. That was the first and best thing I could do because I was probably going to kill myself that day and I didn’t know if I was going to take my children with me or not.
They talked me through it and comforted me and told me that what I was feeling was not my fault, that it wasn’t abnormal, and that I wasn’t alone. I’ve been able to talk with other women and I finally found a doctor who would prescribe the medication I needed. I have found help and there has been such a difference in my life ever since. I’ve been on the medication now for a year. I’ve found a lot of support. My husband has been my number one advocate. He has always tried to take the weight of this off my shoulders. Every day is still a struggle and some days are better than others, but I no longer have intrusive thoughts and I no longer want to hurt myself or my children.
I just want to add that if anyone else out there is struggling with post-partum depression and those intrusive thoughts, they should seek help for the love and safety of themselves and their families. Support and help does exist and it’s OK to admit what you are unintentionally feeling. I’m proof that there’s no shame in weakness and that allowing oneself to say, ‘I need help,’ is real strength.’