I wonder if any of this sounds familiar to my siblings? I know one young brother says that he remembers Mom crying all the time.
I knew I was struggling with postpartum depression when my daughter was just six weeks old. I cried every day, and tossed and turned every night. I was nervous and anxious. Suicidal. But instead of talking to my husband or reaching out for help, I suffered in silence. I slapped on a smile and pretended everything was OK. I lied even though I knew I should have been open and honest about my struggles. I knew I should’ve told someone — anyone —how miserable I was. How unhappy I was. That I wanted to die. But the truth was I couldn’t tell anyone about my postpartum depression (PPD) because I was scared. Scared others would see me as flawed and unstable; worried people would see me as an unfit parent. I couldn’t tell anyone about my PPD because I was terrified that if people saw who I’d become, they’d take my daughter away from me.
It all started with the crying. A few tears here. A heaving, uncontrollable sob over there. I would cry if I spilled a glass of water or if my coffee got cold. I would cry because my husband was going to work; because I was tired; because I was hungry; because the house was a mess. When the baby would cry, I would sob beside her even louder and for longer. Everything triggered a sobbing response from me, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t stop crying. I’d soothe the baby, and the tears would begin again anew. Nothing helped, and everything else only seemed to make it worse.
Before long, the tears came without rhyme or reason, and soon, they streamed down my face unnoticed. I could comfortably carry on a conversation while crying. Then, however, the sadness shifted. I became angry and anxious. I’d tense up the moment I heard my daughter’s cries. I’d stiffen at the thought of touching or even holding her. I became bitter and resentful, and the rage I felt consuming me was absolutely blinding.
When I found myself recoiling from my daughter, I knew something was wrong.
When I told myself that I hated my daughter, I knew things needed to change.
When I wanted to leave and abandon her, I knew I was sick.
But then, one cold November day, I couldn’t keep it together any longer. I couldn’t hide it any longer. I couldn’t keep it a secret. My daughter was having a fitful afternoon, and she was teething, screaming, crying, and refusing sleep. I did everything I could, but I felt my will collapsing. Then I had a vision; a disturbing, terrifying vision. I saw myself holding my daughter, feeding her, rocking her, and coddling her, and then the next, I was squeezing her. Hard. The way a mother should not hold her child.