1/12/2008

PSA

Though I often cry at the silliest things - Mastercard advertisements (UK people - the Christmas advert - hello??), melodramatic Lifetime movies with Meredith Baxter Not-Birney, and the like. I can't even think of old people and their pets without getting teary.

However, there are occasions where I am so affected by something I've heard or read, that I can't stop thinking about it. In this case, I'm even having trouble talking about it. A couple of weeks ago, a woman's body was found on one of the motorways not far from where I live. She had walked onto the motorway in the path of many oncoming cars, where she was struck numerous times. It was soon discovered that the woman had recently given birth to twins, and was suffering from severe post-natal depression.

I saw an interview with the husband on TV a few days ago. He was holding one of the babies and (understandably) struggled to finish the interview. In the article I have linked to above he states that he realised how depressed she was, and promised to get her to the doctor the very next day. She was so close to getting help, but unfortunately it didn't happen soon enough for her.

This situation is so difficult for me to think about because of the problems I had after P was born. Post-natal depression is not a foreign concept to me, and I have also seen other bloggers suffer through it. Any one of us could have so easily reached a point when we didn't want to live anymore, and I would be lying if I said the thought had never crossed my mind after P's birth.

One time, when P was about 2 months old, she screamed for two days with not much rest. She was hoarse because of it, and the resulting noise was a horrid, nails-on-chalkboard, unholy screech. I had difficulty coping at first, and it soon spiralled into me being unable to even hold her. I was yelling at The Dude to take her, because I was afraid of what I would do. I shut myself in our bedroom, screamed into pillows, scratched myself, and wondered how I could stop my pain. I acknowledged my complete irrationality, but at the same time came to the conclusion that I might have been going insane. I could see no way out, as I was saddled with this baby that never shut up, and I was still struggling to love her. How can you love something you don't want to have anything to do with?

The truth is not always out there. No one really tells you how horrible your life might be for awhile. No one said anything to me, and I'm still unbelievably pissed off that I was lead down this path blindfolded. I only wrote about some of my feelings, but looking back on my blog at that time it's only the cusp of what I was really going through. I was not diagnosed with post-natal depression despite being told a few times that I *might* have it, but still nothing was done. I was left, alone, to dislike my child and hate myself for that lack of love I was feeling.

Writing here was an act of catharsis for me, and in retrospect, to help other women. I know some come here after googling things which are secret...combinations of words which should never be said. I want these women to read my posts and realise that what they're feeling is not wrong, and that there is a way to get through it.

My heart breaks for the husband and two infants who have lost their wife and mother, a woman who was in so much pain that she viewed her actions as the only way out. It saddens me that help is so close, but so far away when you're in that place. No one should ever, ever feel that way.

In the off chance that you have come to this blog looking for reassurance, a month, a year, or three years after I've babbled incoherently and not been nearly as eloquent as I would have hoped, you can get through this. It may not seem that way now, but you will know good times with your baby, trust me. The most important thing is to talk about it, acknowledge your feelings. Talk to your partner, friends, GP, just make sure you don't go through this silent and alone. I am not someone who can help a woman through post-natal depression, as lord knows I have enough problems of my own. However, please email me if you just want validation that what you're feeling is normal. I can at least do that.

19 comments:

Waiting Amy said...

What a tragic story, so sad.

Thanks for being open and sharing this part of your life with other women. I'm certain it will help someone.

Becky said...

That's a terribly sad story. I'm so glad that you touched on this. It seems like everywhere you turn (after you have a baby) other people are handling themselves without any problems. Easing into motherhood blissfully, sleeping all night long, and breastfeeding happily (and painlessly!).

After Alex was born, I caught myself fantasizing about doing off with myself. For once, I am not even trying to be funny.

He was such a difficult newborn, slept so little, and my husband works so much, that I honestly couldn't find another way to fix the problem save from eliminate myself from the equation.

This is not sane, and I knew better than to do something about it. But oh, the fantasies were grand.

It's a tough road, that's for sure.

Jenn said...

I don't think I really had PPD, but I did have a very hard time bonding at first. I tried to write down my feelings honestly at the time because it seemed like people only wrote about how they feel instantly in love with their babies and that just didn't happen here. And it's ok. And it's even NORMAL.

Em said...

I read about that online. So shocking and sad. I just conldn't get my head around how bad she must have felt and how serious her condition was. It is a sobering reminder for post natal depression to be treated more seriously. I can remember feelings of real anxiousness just after baby eggs was born, in fact in those first two weeks especially. The news set me off. I was terrified of going outside with her.

OvaGirl said...

Excellent post Pru, well done and so incredibly important. Thankyou.

Suz said...

That's so horrible and so sad. I think that you captured what the first few weeks are like (at least were like for me) perfectly. I'm so sorry for this family and the poor woman who didn't find help soon enough.

PiquantMolly said...

Yes, yes, yes.

One of the most important things for me in life is raising awareness about issues that don't receive enough attention -- specifically, infertility and mental illness.

You done good, buddy boy.

May said...

Thank you for a brave and IMPORTANT post. It's heartbreaking to think of all those women going through hell alone, and not being able to get help, or enough help, or timely help.

Being infertile, apparantly, puts a woman at higher risk of PND. How sucktastic is that? The more you have to battle to get it, the fewer resources you have to deal with it when it turns out not-quite-pixie-dust, and in any case, hormones, fucktardage of, exacerbated.

Thank you.

electriclady said...

See, this is why I love you. That is all.

Thalia said...

What an awful story, I hadn't seen that. Thank you for being so open. I dont' know if what I had was PPD, but it felt awful at the time, even though it was 'only' about the feeding issue, I did really love her but at the same time thought idly about what would happen if I dropped her. I didn't want to drop her, but I did think about what the outcome would be. It was a bit other-worldly.

Kath said...

God, how sad and scary. The poor woman. The poor husband. And those poor kids.

Thank you for writing about that, Pru. If you nudge only one person to get help, you'll have done an invaluable service.

elizasmom said...

I think PPD is underreported by several orders of magnitude. I know very few women who didn't deal with it in some fashion — I am "the mentally stable one" in my family and I did the, "Do I throw myself or my kid down the stairs today?" roulette. I wrote a post recently related to this very subject: http://elizasmom.com/?p=966
People need to know they're not the only ones.

Nico said...

That family's story makes me cry. And you're so right that so many people go through similar things without any help at all. I'm sorry that you didn't get more support at the beginning. I think this is a fabulous post and will hopefully help someone else down the line.

pixi said...

It was good for you to post this. The more ppd gets out in the open, the more awareness there'll be, and maybe that'll lead to more women getting help.

Kristi said...

So many women suffer from this disease silently, and it doesn't have to be that way. Good on you for bringing this to light.

neko said...

We went through the same fire Pru and I don't know what I would have done with out meds, support and serious help.

Normal, treatable and livable. I'm with you sister.

fisher queen said...

I was appalled that your doctor didn't give you more help at the time. It still pisses me off.

I came down with it when the Bun was al ittle older, around 4 months. Without meds we'd be in trouble. Thanks for writing about it. More people should. But it does feel so wrong...I love my baby more than anything in the world. My life is perfect. And yet I'm insane anyway. It's frustrating.

Pru you're right. Anyone out there reading- go get help. It will change things for you! And find another doctor if yours has his or her head up their ass!

Major Bedhead said...

I'm not even going to open that link. It's not because I can't imagine, it's because I can, and have. The thoughts I had after each of my three girls was born still scare the living shit out of me. I feel guilty for feeling that way. I'm glad I got help, but my god, no one should have to go thru that kind of shit for that long. Even with medication, it took me months to recover from the depression I sunk into after The Bug was born.

I tell anyone and everyone who expresses even a moment of what-the-fuck-is-wrong-with-me to go see their doctor immediately. No one needs to feel that way for any longer than possible.

realitytesting said...

This is a great post. Nothing to apologize for here (I'm visiting from your most recent post). ....PPD receives so little exposure, other than from the medical community. It's important to hear from those who have had it. I dealt with this as well--severe PPD that did not abate despite everything for almost 3 years. Terrifying. Thanks for fessing up...it helps others.