Sixteen years ago I was barreling down I-29 in North Kansas City. My husband of 10 years and son of three weeks were in the back seat. I was in the grips of Post Partum Psychosis and I was saturated with fear.
I looked at the odometer…60 mph. The voices that had popped up in my head roared, “Hit the abutment!” over and over. I felt myself drifting away from reality. My husband asked, “Are you OK?”, fully knowing that I wasn’t. But his voice was enough to ground me for the moment.
I just had to make it home safely. I gripped the wheel until my knuckles whitened. Not today, motherfucker…you will not kill me and my family today.
I had been doing great for the first five days after I gave birth to my son. I was deliriously happy. Then my hormones started shifting around and things went from fine to fucked in a hurry. I began to panic. I couldn’t stand the sound of my new son. I was locked in terror, made all the worse by hearing and seeing things that weren’t there. It felt like my fight or flight mechanism was jammed in the “ON” position. All I could do was sleep and breastfeed while my husband took care of our baby the rest of the time.
I couldn’t take anything stronger than an anti-depressant without having to “pump and dump” breastmilk and I had gotten it in my head that my son could only have breastmilk. No formula. Period This is a common pattern of illness for me, getting an idea, whether its right or wrong, firmly embedded in my brain. have engaged in irrational behavior a number of times because I couldn’t escape the thought that I had to do something. This is why it is so important for me to pay attention to what I’m telling myself and question whether it’s valid.
I tried to shove the roaring voice to the back of my head and not think about driving into a wall. My shoulders ached from gripping the wheel so tightly. I was so relieved when I finally pulled in the driveway.
The worst of the Post Partum Depression lasted about three weeks. Then it morphed into a slightly “lighter” depression. This also begins a ten year trek through hormones, surgery, hospitalization and a diagnosis change.
If you have had a child, did you have Post Partum Depression?
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