BuzzFeed Life asked a group of mothers who were diagnosed with postpartum depression and its related mood disorders about the moment they knew they needed help.
1. My son preferred my husband, which was heartbreaking for me.
“I started to realize something wasn’t right when I would feel the deepest rage I have ever known. I sometimes felt like I wanted to pick up a baseball bat and walk down the street smashing windshields. I also felt like I was trapped behind a thick spider web trying to reach out and connect, but nobody could hear me, especially my baby — who I desperately wanted to bond with and I simply couldn’t do so in the way I desired. My son preferred my husband, which was heartbreaking for me.”
- Ali, CA
2. I placed my son in his crib and called my partner immediately.
“I was laying in bed trying to get my 6-month-old son to sleep. I’d already started to feel overwhelmed with anxiety, lack of sleep, and depression when I saw several spiders crawl over my baby. I grabbed a pillow and hit him without thinking in an attempt to get the spiders off. I pulled the pillow back and realized there were no spiders. I started crying and panicking. I placed my son in his crib and called my partner immediately. Within the hour we drove to our local hospital where they told me that I was having a psychotic episode brought on my PPD and PTSD.”
3. I knew the vomiting wasn’t normal.
“I knew the vomiting wasn’t normal. That came on pretty quickly after birth, about 3 weeks. I couldn’t keep anything down. Then, the intense thoughts and planning of running away started along with the conflict of both loving and hating my daughter at the same time. I knew that it couldn’t be normal, could it?”
4. I would sob while I nursed her…
“I would cry whenever my baby cried. Every single time. I would sob while I nursed her and changed her and rocked her. My husband would ask me what was wrong, and I would just shake my head, tears streaming down my face, and say ‘I don’t know.’”
- Lucy, Florida
5. I wished everyday that I would lose this pregnancy…
“I was 5 months pregnant with my second child, giving my 15-month-old a bath. I’d had horribly scary thoughts since my first was born, and I wished everyday that I would lose this pregnancy…but it was the feeling at that moment that I wouldn’t be able to prevent my thoughts of drowning my daughter from turning into actions that I admitted something was seriously wrong. ”
- Liz, NY
6. I didn’t even recognize the voice that was coming out of me.
“My 7-month-old son was crying in front of me. I felt like I never had a moment to myself. He was extremely needy, only slept in my arms, and cried all the time. I felt the rage build up inside of me, from the pit of my stomach all the way up to my shoulders until it exploded out of me. I screamed at my baby. I didn’t even recognize the voice that was coming out of me. Even though I was barely functioning by that point, it wasn’t until that moment that I knew something was very wrong.”
- Kristin, WI
7. I knew from the first time I held my son…
“I knew from the first time I held my son that I needed help, but I was terrified of telling anyone what I was feeling because I didn’t want them to take my baby away from me. Four weeks later I was hospitalized for postpartum psychosis.”
- Sarah, WA
8. I could feel the ground fall from under me.
“The second night in the hospital I broke down. I had been awake for 60 hours, experienced an extremely traumatic birth, and my baby wouldn’t stop screaming. I could feel the ground fall from under me. Even with the opportunity to sleep I stared into the darkness that night, and I knew that I was being swallowed by it.”
9. I didn’t know that PTSD was something you could get from childbirth.
“I knew that something wasn’t right when we were learning about labor and delivery in nursing school and I had to leave the class. I went outside and just ran because I didn’t know how else to deal with the numbness inside my brain. I didn’t know that PTSD was something you could get from childbirth.”
- Alicia G
10. I couldn’t vocalize my thoughts and felt utterly confused…
“I realized I was dealing with more than exhaustion when I couldn’t vocalize my thoughts and felt utterly confused when I had been in so much control. I knew having as much energy as I had couldn’t be normal when I couldn’t sleep at all.”
- Heidi, MI
11. It took me years to realize what was going on.
“It took me years to realize what was going on. Shortly after the birth of my second daughter, I felt as though I was coming out of a fog. I looked back at the past four years (since having my first child) and realized what I was feeling, how I had been acting toward my family, how I was living my day-to-day life wasn’t normal, and I needed help.”
- Katherine, WI
12. What kind of mother thinks that?
“Before I left the hospital I was told that if I didn’t feel like myself after two weeks to call my doctor. I remember counting down to that magic two week mark for my negative feelings to go away. But they didn’t. I waited and waited. I wasn’t sleeping. I cried so much. All my friends were easing into motherhood so gracefully. Why wasn’t I? I remember walking down the stairs with my son and I suddenly pictured him tumbling down them and crying. I immediately clutched him closer and walked more carefully. What kind of mother thinks that? I felt like a monster and thought I couldn’t tell anyone or they’d take my baby away. At that point I knew I had a postpartum mental illness.”
- Emily, MD
13. I thought I had simply gone crazy.
“I really didn’t know I was dealing with maternal mental illness. I thought I had simply gone crazy. It never occurred to me that it was related to PPD, because I didn’t feel depressed, at least in terms of what I thought depression was supposed to look and feel like.
“Finally, I went to see a therapist, convinced when I told her what I was thinking and feeling that she’d pick up the phone and call the police. I was so miserable I didn’t care anymore. Instead she just looked at me with understanding and calmly said, ‘You’re having intrusive thoughts, which are a symptom of postpartum anxiety. We can fix that.’ And that was the beginning of my road to recovery. She saved me.”
- Katherine, GA
14. I chalked my anxiety up to the stress of returning to work.
“I started having intrusive thoughts and subsequent anxiety about a week before my maternity leave ended. I chalked that anxiety up to the stress of returning to work, my husband having to work late hours and being away from my baby. About two weeks after returning to work I started having panic attacks and the intrusive thoughts intensified. I finally made the call to my OB and got into therapy.”
- Lindsay, UT
15. I just felt these overwhelming feelings of anger and resentment.
“My husband was away for the weekend with his friends and I just felt these overwhelming feelings of anger and resentment about how much my life had changed since our daughter was born while his hadn’t. I finally sat down and thought about how much I had been crying and all of the overwhelming feelings I had felt for the past 4 months and realized I hadn’t been myself since I gave birth.”
- Bridget, NY
16. I didnt want to harm the babies, but I felt nothing.
“I had triplets, it was still winter and I was home alone with them. It was just a day when the babies were around 6 weeks old. I was feeding, burping, changing diapers, over and over all day. I was so robotic. I remember thinking I should be engaged, I should be present. I waited soooo long to become a mother, and here I was a mom, and I felt nothing. I loved them, I didnt want to harm them, but I felt nothing, no joy, no happiness. Nothing I ‘felt’ I would feel after all those years of infertility.”
- Lisa, NJ
17. I continued to have flashbacks for months.
“Two days after my son was born, I was rocking him to sleep and as I closed my eyes, everything else faded away. All I could see was the delivery room and a feeling of terror overwhelmed me. It was as if when my eyes were open, I was in the present, but when my eyes were closed, I was stuck back in the midst of the trauma of his birth. I continued to have flashbacks like this for months.”
- Courtney, MD
18. I just wanted to get back to my regular life.
“I thought I would cry when I saw my daughter for the first time, but I felt absolutely nothing. I didn’t want skin to skin. I let my husband hold her and watched from my bed. I didn’t change her diapers the whole time we were in the hospital except once because my husband left to go home and shower. I didn’t want to feed her or cuddle her; I just wanted to get back to my regular life.”
- Sarah, MN
19. I thought it was my inner ear. A bug.
“I had no clue what Postpartum Anxiety was. So the fact that I could not eat, sleep, or stand up without feeling dizzy was completely beyond me. I thought it was my inner ear. A bug. My equilibrium. Finally, after a week of complete confusion, I went to the doctor.”
- Jessica, TX
If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from postpartum depression or a related illness, please visit PostpartumProgress.org.
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