Numb from the Brain Down
by Barbara Kelso
Once upon a time I went through a horrible breakup. I felt gutted and hollow, physically in pain to the point of gasping for breath like a fish thrown from the water, he had cheated on me and thrown me out. He had broken our engagement, my heart, and left me homeless. My emotions were numb but they had to be so I could focus on making it through each day. I had just started a new job the month before, had to find a new place to live that would allow me to have my beloved cat, and I was starting my life all over again. That period of time was difficult. Postpartum depression was worse than that.
My husband and I were happily married, worked hard, had a nice home, prepared financially and emotionally to be parents. It all looked good on paper. I was suppose to be elated after so many setbacks, fertility treatments and testing, miscarriages, and trauma to finally be having a baby and becoming a mother but I wasn’t. This beautiful baby was suppose to bring forth the greatest feelings of joy and love that I could ever feel towards another person but she didn’t. I was numb from the mind down again. I was just trying to make it through each day.
I was suppose to somehow instinctively know what she needed, wanted, and felt but I didn’t. My every waking moment was to be focused on her and if I was a good mother (the implication I felt from strangers glaring at me, doctors chiding me, family guilting me) this baby wouldn’t be screeching like a banshee.
Her colic started a week after my postpartum depression (PPD). As exhausted as I was from her daily screaming from 4pm to 10pm I could not sleep at night. My nerves were raw, I feared going to sleep and being woken by her screams, and I would lay in the dark crying and try to plan how I should leave. I wanted to run away. I wanted to die. I kept checking my savings account to make sure I had enough for one night’s stay in a nice hotel so I could go to sleep once and for all. My baby deserved a better mother, a perfect one, and that wasn’t me. Finally, one night my husband noticed I was crying instead of sleeping and asked me what was wrong. I told him I wanted to run away, that they deserved someone better than me, and that I couldn’t go on. He tried to console me and said we needed to get some help.
I wish that time had never happened and that no mother has to go through anything similar. That more was done, is done, to help and prevent postpartum depression. Every day can feel like that first step in reaching out for help but all of us have made a similar journey as mothers and it gets better. Taking the risk in admitting that we need the help shows our strength in wanting to be healthier mothers for the sake of our children and families.
The first support group I attended for PPD through Baby Blues Connection I was terrified. I could barely speak. I cried the entire time. Three weeks later I met another mom in group who had a baby the same age as mine and we’ve been fast friends ever since. Her courage to take that first step, my gamble to do the same, her friendship and the support of the many wonderful mothers I’ve met since, made all the difference. A year later in my recovery I facilitated two support groups and became a supporter for Baby Blues Connection. Our first child is three now, our second is almost eight months old, and I’m experiencing PPD once again but I know how to manage it and have the support to do so. That first step of asking for help meant a world of different possibilities and opportunities to myself and my family. If you know someone struggling with depression, help them make that first step too.