Tuesday, May 11, 2010

For Any Mother Who May Pass This Way (Nothing funny about this post, folks)

The disclaimer- As the title suggests, there is nothing funny about this post, and it's not my usual style. Apologies if you came here today looking for something amusing. I understand some people may find this very confronting. That's OK. Please don't send me hate mail, I really don't have the emotional energy to get as p*ssed off about it as I should at the moment,OK? OK.

For any mothers who may pass this way.
Judge me, if you dare.
The part that will shock you- we’ll get that out the way first. This is the part that will echo through your subconscious mind,  play in the background of your thoughts today. This is the part of the story that will creep back to your consciousness, unbidden, tonight, as you lay, warm and comfortable, on the cusp of sleep.
It’s those women. You know the ones, I’m sure you do. You have read about them, no doubt. Perhaps sat and shook your head, commented to a spouse or workmate as you skimmed articles in the newspaper, scrolled past ads on the screen.
The women who were mothers, and now are monsters.
The ones who lose their minds, yet reach from the shattered blackness of their soul to hurt the very beings they should be protecting.
The mothers, who hurt their children, drown their children, shake their children.
Believe me when I say, once I felt the same as you. Shocked and slightly disgusted, but removed and somewhat apathetic.  Turn the page, close the window, change the channel. Move on. These women, these nameless, faceless women, so far from the sanctity of my life.  I could never understand them. I’d never want to understand them.
I don’t feel that way now. Not anymore.
The part of this story that will be the most disturbing?
Deep within me, in a place I don’t even like to acknowledge, I have an empathy for these women. There is sadness there, of course, a sense of mourning for their beautiful babies. Horror, at the thought of actually doing that, actually going to that extreme.
But the prevalent emotion is always empathy. And the lingering questions- where was this woman’s safety net? Who let her fall that far?
I can picture, with perfect clarity, the darkness of their days. Because I know. That’s a horrible truth, and if it makes you uncomfortable, I will understand if you turn away.
But I know how it feels to be so deep in a muddled blackness that very few things make sense anymore. I know how it feels to want to hurt yourself, your baby… just anyone. I know how it feels to have voices whisper and clamor for space in your head.
The horrible truth of the matter is this- I know what it’s like to be afraid to run a bath for your child. Lest those voices get too loud.
Post natal depression is a terrible thing. Can you imagine what it’s like, to feel that alone? To feel shut off from the entire world, with only this tiny baby for company? A tiny baby who you can barely look at because it physically hurts, you love them that much; and the desperately sweet smell of their breath makes you sob. Because how would you cope now, if you lost this child, having felt a love like this? The only solution is to not love, not quite so much. A virtual impossibility, of course, when loving your child is a matter of a biological urge, with no free will involved.
And who do you tell? No one. Who could you tell? What on Earth could you say? Perhaps, just perhaps, this is the way all new mothers feel, alone and afraid and so very, very tired. So you smile, despite the energy it costs you, and try not to spit ugly words at people who foolishly enquire if your child is sleeping through the night.
And, over the span of those first few months, as a new mother, with a new baby, things get worse. And how could you tell? Where on Earth would you begin?
So you hang on, by the very skin of your teeth, by the very breath of the baby you are trying to protect from the person who should be his protector. The voices, loud at first; eventually they pale, and now you know, decisively, that they are not your own.
And you keep that secret, locked away. Not a soul needs to know, no one but you. You cuddle your child, keep him close, thank God that no harm befell him at your hands.
And you weep, silently. For the nameless, faceless women in the papers, who were not as lucky as you, who could not find the strength that you did.
A terrible secret. One that cannot reoccur. So is it any wonder, when your belly begins to swell, and life blooms with quickening, that a cold terror strikes your heart, fear and pain where there should be joy?
This time, it will be different, you swear it to yourself. The thought keeps you awake at night, long after your partner has given way to sleep beside you.
And this time..? It is different. The pills see to that. The pills, and this tiny, pink, curly inchworm of a babe, every bit of her soft and sweet and serene.
And she sleeps. There are a few rough weeks there. Reflux, medicated with this child, rather than ignored. She sleeps. And so do you.
It takes a few months, of waiting for the ominous thud, the sound of the other shoe dropping.
Your daughter is five months old before, finally, you exhale.
This is it.
You sob salty tears from the sweetness of it.
And, this time, you allow them to flow.

post signature


So Now What? said...

No Hate mail here mate. Agree, something v. bad is going on for people to get that far.

Something some can hide so well, that they slip under the radar.


Wanderlust said...

Lori, I love this post because it is raw and honest. If someone feels a need to turn away from it I imagine it is because they are hiding from their own truth.

You are brave to talk about your experience with postpartum depression, something that is far more common than most women would like to admit. Shining a light on it is a good and beautiful thing to do. Kudos to you my dear.

Melissa@Suger Coat It said...

Beautifully written. Thanks for the insight and bravery in your sharing.


Sarah said...

Oh Lori *hug*

You wrote that so perfectly & I could hear myself in your words.

Chop is a beautiful little man & you did that! Despite the demons & all of that stuff, look at what he is today. PND mums are the strongest mums of all, to have a healthy, happy little boy like Chop after all you went through is a testament to your strength.

Love you, even with your demons xx

katepickle said...

fabulous brave post....

I've not had to deal with PND but I know those dark moments, moments when you truly do understand how things can get so bad, so out of control, so alone, that a mother could hurt her child.

tiff(threeringcircus) said...

That was an amazing, brave post
and what's more is that I can associate with all of it.


Katie said...

We are so quick to judge that which we don't understand.
I didn't experience postpartum depression but I sure am guilty of being judgemental of those who have.
Thank you for this honest post and some insight into your experience.

Lucy said...

Just huge hugs to you Lori. xx

In Real Life said...

Thank you for sharing this post! It is so true and honest. I felt many of those things with my first child, who did not sleep, ever...and cried constantly...who I loved so much, and felt like I was failing her, and like I was falling apart, but didn't want anyone to know.

lori said...

That had to be difficult to put down in words and put out there to the world. How brave and beautiful. If it gives just one woman going through the same thing some comfort and the strength to get herself and her baby through it safely, or to ask for help, then it's a beautiful thing.

As for judging another person, the old adage,"There but for the grace of god go I" is so true.

Amy xxoo said...

That was wonderfully well written Lori - and i appreciate the bravado it took to write it.

I am lucky enough to NOT have suffered any PND but it was my worst fear while i was pregnant. Having suffered a major depression for a good portion of the last 10 years i was terrified that the darkness would creep back, but this time it wouldnt be just me that it overwhelmed.... but it didnt. And if i had, i would hope that i would have had the strength to hold a light to it and tough it out....

Thea said...

What a beautifully written, thought provoking post!

Imagine how much better it would be if everyone could come from a place of empathy instead of being "shocked and slightly disgusted, but removed and somewhat apathetic".

Great post!! xx

makemommygosomethingsomething said...

This was so raw and honest and I cannot thank you enough for sharing this. Postpartum depression is a very real illness and it doesn't define a woman as a monster. It doesn't define a woman as a horrible mother...it doesn't define a woman period. It doesn't define you. It is a real illness just like cancer. The more we talk about it, the more awareness we bring to this terrible illness and it makes other women fighting this bitch called PPD feel not so alone. You are going to help more women out than you know by posting this and thank you for sharing your experience!

I am glad that you found my blog and I am glad that I found yours? How are you feeling

•´.¸¸.•¨¯`♥.Trish.♥´¯¨•.¸¸.´• said...

What a very difficult & honest post to write.I didn't suffer PND.I can still associate with some of the feelings, they resonate with me. Somedays ...

I cannot begin to imagine the strength some mothers must dig up to get through the darkness.

Early in my nursing training (in mid 1980's).I met an elderly woman who had been institutionalised (psychiatric) for over 45-50yrs for either killing or attempting to kill her child. I honestly can't remember those details but I can still picture her face.
I will never forget her. I'd read her files. Years on, it sounded like PND or PP psychosis ?
She was barely a shell from years of strong medication.

Deb said...

Thank you, that was beautifully written. I haven't had PND, but I've held my babies so tight and sobbed because if I didn't I would hurt them. At the time you are so alone, yet here we see that so many of us have been there. If only we knew that at the time, maybe the way out would be clearer.

alliecat said...

Thankyou for an honest, candid insight into the blackness of PND. I am glad it is improving for you.

Kylie said...

Thank you for letting me know I am not alone. I have never suffered PND, but I have often watched those news stories and wondered, like you, where was this woman's safety net? How does society let it get so bad these woman have no where to turn? My heart bleeds for their babies, but it breaks for them as well. Whenever I have expressed these ideas and feeling at play group, waiting for school pick up, I've gotten stares, looks of "how could you?' All the while knowing that the chances are at least one of them have thought of it, no matter how fleeting. Thank you for your honesty, your bravery and your empathy.

Tina said...

Thank you, Lori, for sharing this. {hugs}

Tina said...

Thank you, Lori, for sharing this. {hugs}

Jen said...

Lori this is a beautifully written post and brought tears to my eyes. I can relate to what you have written. I'm so glad you have exhaled. The fear and horror that PND might happen, or resurface at any time is horrible. Just mentioning it or even attempting to say I was over PND was taboo to me, like letting the door open for it to come back in. But I've only recently realised that somewhere along the way I have exhaled without knowledge. It is the most relief I have had in my parenting career to date!

I also feel empathy for those mothers and horror that it had gone that far, that someone wasn't there to help them or see the signs. Thankyou for your honesty xoxo

AccidentallyMommy said...

Thank you, Lori. I'm bipolar and a mother of two; with #1, postpartum depression was almost unbearable, despite my medications. We had not worked out the magic cocktail yet, had not thought it all through as well as we should have. Both of my children were birth control babies and I am, as my name clearly indicates, accidentally a mommy.

I refused to let myself slip though. It was sheer will power, and recognizing that I WAS ill, that kept me hanging on through the dark times.

Thank you for letting me know I'm not alone.

Justine said...

*hugs* Lori. I'm so glad you found the words to describe what lots of us have been through.
Thanks for being brave enough to share.
I'm glad you're starting to breathe again now!

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

Beautifully written and with such honesty.

I recall reading some of what Brooke Shields had written in her book about PND. You're right. It can sound shocking when you hear the stories...but as we now know, there are many who uffer from it, and a good support network is paramount.

I'm glad you obviously has a great safety net.

hpretty said...

This is a shockingly wonderful post. By far the most moving, beautifully written posts that i have read since i started blogging a few mnths ago. And i've read a few!
Your honesty is commendable. People shy away from admitting the truth. Your post is brave. AND totally spot on. Noone can argue with your truthfulness.
Thank you.

Marylin said...

No hating here, only understanding. I've been there too, and somehow managed to claw my way through the other side.
Now I'm trying for my third, I'm scared, but also know that my situation is completely different now. I'm a different person, happier in myself and my life. I can only hope that's enough. Time will tell...

levisgenes said...

wow very well written, very poignant.

you are one strong momma! yes you are :) glad I found you through fybf

Kristyn said...

wow very well written, very poignant.

you are one strong momma! yes you are :) glad I found you through fybf

Marilyn at Live First, Write Later said...

Thank you Lori. Don't think I've ever had it that bad, but can definitely identify a little, from after I had my first baby. These are important conversations to be having.

I remember one day being afraid to go onto our third floor apartment balcony with her. And I also feel so sorry when I read those stories in the paper.

Teacher Mommy said...

Mine took a slightly different form, but I was there. For three years, before I finally got help. I was high-functioning, so very few people even had any idea what was going on. One friend said, when I finally talked about it last year, that she had wondered if something was wrong, because I had been walking around like an emotional zombie for so long. But she never said anything about it...

I've written about it somewhat on my blog. I should probably write about it some more.

And thank you, so much, for your raw honesty here. One of the main reasons this problem continues and gets so bad is because of the culture of denial and silence that surrounds this topic. There's such SHAME attached that far too many women get help until it's too late. I am unutterably grateful that I didn't get to that point during all those years of despair, because I was as silent and in denial as anyone else.

Blessings on you and your lovely children.

Melissa said...

I too suffered severe post natal depression (bordering on PPP) and contemplated the unthinkable.

I have nothing but empathy for those, and thier families that have suffered this way.

Holly Homemaker said...

I 'fessed up on my blog today about my 2nd battle with PND then I seen your linky on Blog This ... and cried, oh lord did I cry reading this post. I could have written that myself. Thank you for your brutal honesty x

Toni said...

I agree with every comment here. You are so brave and honest to have posted this, and it is a subject that we should be talking about more.
Thank you for sharing your story.

Panda said...

Thank you for writing this.

I too understand completely how a mother can hurt her child. I had terrible PND after a horrific pregnancy and horror-show labour with my second child. My thyroid went hyper which made me turn into some crazylady.

I remember quite clearly thinking my daughter would be better off with someone else instead of with me. I felt sorry for her for having me as her mother, and I had those thoughts, really bizarre horrible thoughts. Leaving her outside in the cold. Smothering her. Anything so that she wouldnt have to live with me as her mother.

And no one knew.

My thyroid settled down on its own after several months, and when I noticed that she smiled at me(she'd been doing it for weeks but I just didnt recognise it) I knew I could mother her. It was 4 months of hell, and we are both very lucky that the crazy thoughts were never acted on.

alison said...

wow,ur an amazing person,i,got pnd never told my family it was a horrifying experience.i thought i was a freak,that no one else was feeling like this only me.

Hear Mum Roar said...

No judgement, just ((HUGS))

Dani Castley said...

This was a brave thing to document, but oh so very important. We can't combat and manage this condition, if we don't first acknowledge it.

Laravissant said...

so nice to know I'm not alone

Erica Louise said...

I can see why this blog post was voted in the top blog posts for 2010. I have been in this dark place too, thank you so much for sharing your journey and thoughts through PND xox

Lucy said...

I had PND with my first child, am now over 6 months pregnant with my second one and am petrified that it is going to happen again. Everything in my life is different now... but still...

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