A Poem on Postpartum Depression; A #MyStoryMatters

by Melissa Hoos

depression and motherhood

I’m mama to one amazing 10 month old boy. Having been diagnosed with clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder at age 15, I knew I was at a high risk for postpartum depression. Pregnancy gave me a wonderful break from depressive episodes (my psychiatrist would tell me, just get pregnant! It’ll solve all your mental health issues!), but after my son was born, the relief didn’t last long. The hormonal high lasted a few short, awesome days, and then the baby blues set in. My husband went back to work, and I spent that day’s midwife appointment sobbing on her couch – partly because I just couldn’t stop crying, ever, but also because she said the words I was hoping to never hear her say: I think you need to consider going back on medication.

I’d worked SO hard to get off the medication so I could get pregnant, and I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed if I took the same medication again. So I was determined to overcome PPD/PPA without it. My husband took some more time off work, we made a plan, and my mom came to help for a while. It worked, for a few weeks, until it didn’t anymore. 

I knew I loved my son. I knew I could take good care of him. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was just not good enough to be a mother, and he would be better off without me. He wasn’t a colicky baby, and it wasn’t very often that he just cried and cried. My inner monologue often went along the lines of “what kind of mother gets angry at her baby? He’s just tired/hungry/wet and now I’ve made him scared too!” 

No matter how calm and rational I made my thoughts, I just could not translate that into calm and rational actions. It was like being stuck inside my own head, watching someone else pick up my baby with rough hands, hearing someone else say to my baby “what the f*ck do you WANT??” And then the next instant it was me again, sobbing and hating myself because how could I have lost it again? Nursing him after those awful moments was just as much an emotional reset for me as it was for him.

One night as I laid in bed crying, watching my baby in his bed after over an hour of fighting to get him to sleep, I wrote this poem. The first sign of a depressive episode for me has always been the loss of my creative side. I normally love to write, and I decided that despite the fact that I did NOT want to, I needed to. Even if it’s only to unscramble my brain so I could sleep. I let my husband read it in the morning, and I think it was the first time he truly understood how I felt. 

I don’t know exactly what snapped me out of that awful episode. It had been months. I knew the whole time that I should probably stop trying to muscle my way through and just take the damn medication. And then one day, I realized it had been a few days since I last felt out of control. I think, for me, the worst part was the anxiety. I was suddenly able to say to myself, “Hey, if he wakes up, it’ll be okay. I’ll just nurse him back to sleep.” Or, “Hey, if I can’t get him back to sleep, hubby will take a turn and I’ll go get a glass of water.” I started being able to recognize the start of a “bad brain day” and could take self-care measures to prevent another episode from beginning, just like before I was ever pregnant. The cognitive behaviour therapy, anxiety classes, and counselling started coming back to me.

It’s not completely gone now. And since depression and anxiety has been a part of my life for well over a decade, I doubt it ever will be. I don’t know what the next postpartum experience will hold, but I’m writing down ways to cope so that next time, maybe I can bypass a little more of the darkness. Ignoring it just doesn’t work, so I hope that shining a little light on the topic can help someone recognize PPD/PPA in themselves or someone they love, and get the help they need. 

This is my poem

When he’s screaming I can’t 
think and everything starts to look 
red and I just want to
scream right along with 
him, this baby I waited so
long for and asked
God for and 
thank
God
for

Where does my heart 
go when I’m so
angry because it isn’t 
here loving my
son, it is somewhere else and I just
can’t quite reach it

My brain tricks me into
thinking how dare he cry, but he’s just a 
baby and he’s telling me momma I 
need you which these ears fail to
hear with all the 
screaming

I just want to be a good
mother but all I seem to do is 
lose my mind and this isn’t 
me, it isn’t 
me, someone please 
help
me

In the dead of night I watch my baby
sleep in his crib and 
wonder if he will remember the
angry momma or the loving one and the
thought breaks my 
heart because what if he
remembers the
angry one?

He is a piece of me and I
love him fiercely but 
he deserves 
better than
me

God help me

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For more information about postpartum depression visit Postpartum Progress.

  If you’re seeking for advice and guidance, here’s an article on postpartum depression and anxiety.

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If you’d like to share your story with a larger audience, submit your story, photos, and your bio, with #MyStoryMatters in the subject to content @ theleakyboob.com (no spaces).

____________________

Melissa Hoos

I’m mama to one amazing 10 month old boy. Having been diagnosed with clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder at age 15, I knew I was at a high risk for postpartum depression. 
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Comments

  1. Margaret Wagstaff says:

    Hello, I have a daughter who has just been diagnosed with postpartum psychosis. She has a daughter age 2yrs and had postnatal depression afterwards due to various awful events in our family ie 7 close family and animal deaths within a few months of my daughter having given birth. She conceived her daughter through IVF as she has polysistic overys. She was given anti depressants which helped her cope. She then went on to have a Son who is 9mths old now so she came off the meds within a few months and conceived again through IVF. Her beautiful son Harrison is an easy baby to care for and an absolutely mellow and happy little boy, she seemed to breeze through the first 8mths of his birth although I noticed she seemed a little less attached to him as she was to her daughter. Don’t get me wrong she is a fantastic mum who does everything by the book in caring for them which for the most part she does alone as her husband is a wind farm consultant and sometimes only comes home either at weekends and very rarely a couple of months at a time. She also has shared care of her half brothers little girl who is 3yrs old, her parents are drug dependent and the mother is agrophobic so my daughter sometimes has care of her niece for days at a time, plus she has 2 large dogs which need walking 3 times daily and she sometimes helps me as I have fibromyalgia and arthritis so she shops for me and helps me round my house so, she is one very busy lady who normally copes fantastically, she never went back on the antidepressants after having Harry as she was coping well. Then a month ago her husbands aunt died, my daughter was very close to her and I was feeling low as my little dog passed. She also had some other sad news as her half sister who is 4yrs was diagnosed with leukaemia on the same day. She seemed to go,downhill almost straight away as I was with her when she received the sad news, it was like something snapped inside her and she said “mum,I feel funny”. I asked her if she wanted to stay at my house that night and the day after, which she did as she didn’t seem herself. On the the third day she went home as her husband was back. I then received a call from him saying she had flipped out almost immediately on his return saying she was a bad mother and a vile human being and deserved to be dead or in prison so we called an ambulance and she was admitted to the local hospital psychiatric unit. She was in for 11days and I stayed with her for the most part as she was very paranoid and was hiding and refusing to eat speak or take care of herself and would only tolerate my presence as i physically made her eat, wash ect. She is now home but staying with me and her children are being cared for my 2nd eldest daughter, her husband had to go back to work so it was decided she stayed with me until she was feeling a lot better and her medications kicked in properly. She seemed to be doing so well and getting a bit better day by day but she has now had a huge relaps and once again is very paranoid saying we are trying to make her get better so she can go to prison cause once again she is this vile human being in her mind. Needless to say I took her to the doctors who referred her to the local mental health team which she refused to have after she came out of hospital. Her meds have been increased and she is back on anxiety tablets for 10 days. I would like to know how to best care for her as her paranoid episodes are draining me as I can’t get her to understand we are not all plotting against her and her life is not like the film the Trueman show! Please please can you advise me how I can help her? I try to stay strong but I am dying inside watching my beautiful girl crumble with this awful illness in her head that we her family cannot see. We are desperate and need help ourselves to best cope and care for her. I would be so very grateful if anyone who has gone through this with a family member could help and advise in any small way please. Kind regards. A very desperate mum.

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