I am not proud of the things I am going to write about today. I am not really proud of a few things I have written about in this blog, but it’s about honesty. Honesty leads to healing, and that is what I am working on. Not only for myself, but for someone who happens upon this blog. I know people will judge, it’s part of human nature. I am trying very hard to let go of that knowledge, and put myself out there.
It has been mentioned before that I have dealt with not only suicidal thoughts, but thoughts of harming my own child. While this can be common in postpartum depression, it’s still a hard thing to admit to. What mother, in their right mind, would want to harm their child? I think the key phrase there is “in their right mind.” I mean, seriously, who would want to harm someone as cute and awesome as kiddo?
In 2008, the CDC reported that about 950,000 women each year suffer from PPD, and that is only REPORTED cases. That is only women who actually seek treatment, so imagine the number of women suffering in silence. I know I was one of them. More women suffer from PPD than from diabetes, or stroke, or from cancer (Postpartum Progress, http://www.postpartumprogress.com/weblog/postpartum-depression-statistics/). That is quite alarming, especially when you think that it is only reported cases.
The first time I remember having dark thoughts towards my daughter was around the time of the picture here, which was when she was around two months old. Husband had gone back to work two weeks after kiddo was born. My mom arrived the day we left the hospital, then she went home to get dad (they live in Texas, us in California), then they left in July. My mother-in-law came to visit in August, and after that is when I started feeling those dark feelings. I was so busy during the first couple months with friends and family visiting, that when everyone finally went home, I was alone.
I do not remember a lot of my daughter’s early life. I think I blocked a lot of it out because of how I felt during that time, however I do not think it was intentional on my part. I wish I could remember it! Look at those chubby cheeks! I remember more of the bad things that occurred, like the harmful thoughts that I had on a few occasions. Like I said, the first time happened around the time kiddo was two months old. It was during the day, and husband was off at work. Kiddo was her normal, cheerful self for most of the morning. Then something changed and she just started wailing. Babies are strange and cry for no reason sometimes, or at least no reason we can figure out. She was rested, fed and clean, so we walked around the backyard looking at new things. I bounced her around the house, let her chill out in her baby swing, lay around on the floor with her toys, but nothing made her happy. It went on for what felt like hours, but in reality it was much shorter than that until I lost it. Nothing calmed her down, and I started moving closer and closer to my breaking point. I just started crying with her, and got disgusted with her. I laid her down next to me on the couch, and put my head in my hands. Why wont she stop, I thought to myself. That is when my thoughts moved into the darkness, and I started thinking of ways to make her stop, as in harmful ways. I picked her up, and held her up in front of me. I didn’t shake her or do anything but just hold her there and look at her. All I could think of was how I wanted her screaming to end. Then I was snapped out of it by something so simple. She grabbed my finger. It was like she knew how I was feeling, and was yanking me out of the darkness. She has a way of doing that (read my blog about suicide).
Once I snapped out of it, and looked at her not even crying anymore, just holding my finger and staring at me, I just collapsed and started crying. I held her to my chest, walked into her bedroom and laid her down in her crib. I turned on her fishy music thing attached to her crib, and walked away. I went into the garage, sat down on the step, and just cried. I was so ashamed! Why would I think that way? Why would I want to harm my baby? I cried for a few minutes, went inside and washed my face, and then picked her up and went about my day like nothing happened.
The other time I remember quite vividly happened a couple of months later. Husband had his first duty scheduled since kiddo was born, so he was gone over night. The day had gone on normally, though I was a bit nervous as the evening approached. I was not used to doing everything by myself, so this was definitely a new experience. Time came for her bath, bottle, and bedtime, and it went very smoothly. I was not able to sleep for some reason, so I stayed up and watched TV. Kiddo went to bed around 9PM, and a couple of hours later she woke up fussy and crying. I fed her, changed her, and tried rocking her back to sleep, but it didn’t seem to be what she wanted. After an hour of her crying and fussing, I was feeling very vulnerable and stressed. I sent husband a text, very upset and needing to vent. Why wouldn’t she stop crying? What do I do? He eventually sent me a text back asking if I was ok, and then called me. I told him I could not take it anymore, I didn’t know what to do. He calmed me down for a little while, but he had to go back to work and the crying was still going on.
I couldn’t take it anymore! I picked her up, put her in her swing, and walked away for a moment, like he had suggested. I could hear her everywhere I went, so it did no good. I remember walking back into the living room, and just started screaming. Not at her or anyone, just screaming into the universe. I started throwing clothes that I had folded that evening, and throwing pillows (all in the opposite direction of kiddo). I punched the couch a couple of time, and when I was done, she was still crying. I did the same thing I did the last time I started having dark thoughts, and picked her up and looked at her. She stopped crying, and grabbed my finger again. What is with her and knowing my inner thoughts? I once again snapped out of it, held her to my chest and fell to my knees crying. This time I did not let her go, I just held her as tight as I could without hurting her, and sat in my rocker looking out at the stars. Once she finally went back to sleep, so did I.
These thoughts do not occur anymore. They haven’t for quite a long time. I never sought help for them, and kept the darkness to myself. How horrible was I for thinking such things? If I had sought treatment, someone would surely have taken her away from me. I did not want that to happen, she was my heart. Maybe that is why she knew how I was feeling, and snapped me out of it. We are connected, and she could feel my sadness. I do not ever want her to feel that again.
I read a book after I started realizing I was having problems, and it helped open my eyes and making me feel not so alone. The book was written by Brooke Shields, called “Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression.” It’s a courageous account of her experience with PPD with her first child. Her PPD seemed to be a bit more severe than my own, and it put things into perspective. It helped me realize that I was not the only one to deal with such dark thoughts, and I am so thankful for it. I have even considered writing her a letter to express my gratitude for having the courage to write such an honest and open book about her lowest point. I highly recommend it to everyone, even those who have not or have never dealt with PPD.
Please, if you feel anything like I did, seek help. It may be a scary thing to do because of the fear of losing your child, but getting the treatment has to be better than suffering through the darkness. Life is so much better when you can enjoy it, instead of hiding. Stop hiding. You will be thankful you did.