I have been writing for days. I have been writing and erasing, remembering and sobbing. For days. This story needs to come out of me. It has been living inside of me, haunting me, serving no purpose, for months. Now is my time to give myself to the world. To collect my fear, my guilt, my shame, my vulnerability, and let it be free. Now is my time to be the woman I wish I had in my life when I was diagnosed with postpartum depression—a mom like me.
A mom like me who had made it out alive. A mom like me who could tell me not what to do but why to do it. A mom who could shake the woman in me who actually cared, wake her up, and bring her back into control. I have been writing for days. And I feel that I don’t have enough to give to you in the short story I have told those closest to me.
That story is a fake story. A lie I even told to myself. Until I sat down to write. And it all came to me like the blinding eruption of a splitting atom, leaving only my silhouette against the wall behind me. The silhouette of a woman who thought she knew what she had been through. Oh, what I didn’t know until it breaks free from me now.
I need you to know that my story is not one of success. Yes, I got help, but I waited. I waited too long. Even beyond diagnosis. I canceled follow up appointments with the psychiatrist, I never called my doctor back. I couldn’t even motivate myself enough to want to get better. I was hopeless. I was useless.
I waited until I had manifested a plan in my head.
Wait until the kids are in bed.
Wait until my husband says he’s almost on his way home from work.
Anything in the house would be traumatizing for the kids and I can’t let my husband find me.
I can’t hurt him anymore.
I don’t know the combination to the gun safe…
I was so sure I wouldn’t live to see my husband again that I couldn’t even say goodbye to him before he left. I cried as I put my children to bed. I sat in the living room on the floor bracing myself, crying from the pain, fighting the monstrous voices inside of me. I was just about to lose the fight…
Then my husband walked through the door.
It was after this night that I got help.
I survived, but I failed. I didn’t get help for my postpartum depression. I got help to stay alive. When I write things like “Don’t wait,” it’s because I’ve seen, I’ve felt, what it’s like when you wait too long.
In the United States, it is up to you, mom, to advocate for yourself. And with that system, I almost died. Don’t be like me.
Postpartum depression is not something to be taken lightly.
You’re not “just tired.”
You’re not “just going through the new mom phase.”
You’re not “just sad” or “just hormonal.”
I will live the rest of my life as a version of me that saw death as the only option. Don’t be like me.