When I was in the hospital, there were signs EVERYWHERE for Postpartum Depression. One was on the wall across from my door. I remember standing in the door, holding Allie, looking at the sign and thinking, 'Those poor people. How could someone be depressed during such a happy time?'
I don't know about you, but when I thought of those postpartum problems I thought of three things; Brooke Shields, Tom Cruise saying she was weak, and new mothers being a threat to their babies lives. The Andrea Yates story made it all very taboo. If you had postpartum issues, you had the potential to be a murderer. That was the most that I knew. And I had only heard of Postpartum Depression. I didn't know that there was other Postpartum crap that could happen to you.
Justin had installed a TV in Allie's room so I could watch TV when I fed her. Our first week home was the week that the CBS TV show The Doctors decided to run an entire series on drug addicted babies. I never saw one single episode, but the commercials completely slayed me. I would lunge for the remote to turn the channel within a second of the commercial starting.
(NOTE: I provided a link to the show above, however, I suggest that you prepare yourself before starting the video when you get there if you click. It's can be very disturbing. However, the show will help you see the topic in a clear light.)
I'm not saying that those commercials caused my problem, but they definitely lit a spark. From that moment on, if I was alone in my head, I was bugging out. I could be holding Allie but if she was sleeping, I considered myself alone.
Here's the catch. I wasn't alone....in my head. I remember sitting at my Mom's kitchen table, crying, desperate, and terrified. I was holding her hand, wishing that what was going on inside me could be explained to her by just holding onto her. "I don't know where this is coming from. It's like someone is in my head telling me horrible stories. When I'm alone in the shower or driving my car, it just starts. And it's awful. It's so DARK. It's like.....evil. Just so dark."
I didn't understand what was causing these thoughts that were obsessively running through my brain. To be honest, I was a little worried that maybe I was becoming schizophrenic. These thoughts were not ME. They were not who I am. They represented someone who was a bad person.
No, I did not once think about hurting my daughter or killing her or plotting her demise. I'm so grateful for that. I feel that I was really lucky in that respect.
I had these ideas pop up in my head: "Someone is going to climb up and kidnap her while you sleep." "Someone is going to break in, kill everyone but the baby and then steal her." "Someone is going to kill her in a gruesome way and you wont be able to help her." "You're a klutz and you will drop her or fall down and hurt her permanently." "If you get out of the car you better take her with you, even if you are pumping gas because someone will slam the door and she'll be trapped." "You will never see her ever again and always wonder where she is."
Those are just the thoughts that occurred most frequently. There were plenty of other horror stories. And once the thought was dropped in my brain, the situation started playing out. I would imagine how it was going to happen and I couldn't stop it. It was like someone turned on a horror movie and forced me to watch it no matter how hard I tried to close my eyes or think of something else.
I get choked up just thinking about it. The emotional pain was horrible. I would be in the shower in hysterics, or in my car, screaming with the radio turned up and banging on the steering wheel. Make it stop, was my mantra.
I didn't want to be left alone at all. If I could interact with Justin, Allie or my mom, I would get a break from the chaos.
Fortunately, I am blessed with a husband who loves to fix things. Cars, ice makers, toilets, people, the list goes on. He's also sensitive and blessedly adoring. I knew he would help me through it. After talking to my mom, and then getting some advice from his mom (who is a therapist), he called my doctor and got me on the path to getting better.
I was suffering from Postpartum Anxiety.
He took me to therapy and waited patiently until I agreed to stop trying to breastfeed and go back on medication. In the meantime, I searched for other people who were going through this. Sisters in this disorder.
Where were those people who were on the signs on the wall? The major postpartum organizations did nothing to connect me with someone nearby. I begged for responses to email and got nothing. There were no therapists who specialized in postpartum disorders according to my fancy healthcare company. There were no groups nearby. Nothing.
I was desperate for someone to talk to. Even if they didn't have an answer, I knew I could find some sort of peace talking with someone who understood what I was going through. My friends and family would look at me sympathetically and offer support, but everyone was clueless as to what to do. If I desperately couldn't find answers, I couldn't expect them to find them either.
And I was embarrassed. Happy, cheerful Vicki suffering from stupid postpartum crap? I was faking normalcy with almost everyone.
I have this awesome friend who I meet with for coffee or lunch as often as we can coordinate it. She's fun, hilarious and smart and I always enjoy spending time with her. I also looked forward to getting together with her because she didn't have kids and if we didn't get into "baby talk" then she was able to keep me distracted from my misery. When we would say goodbye, I would hug her so hard because I was so grateful for the hour or so of relief from my brain.
There were two questions that taunted me for the remainder of the time: Was this going to stop and where in the hell was HELP?
(continued in next post )