I had my first child at the age of 26. I had never been pregnant before, but by then I had helped to raise at least 4 children. I knew some of what I was getting into, but I had no idea I would deal with depression. And that depression almost killed my baby.
We always hear stories about people who suffer from postpartum and think “that wouldn’t happen to me”. I was one of those people. I actually didn’t think about it because in the black community we don’t talk about stuff like that. We just tell the women that they just “need a break” and blame them for either having a child with a man that won’t help them or not being strong enough to handle being a mom. We don’t actually tackle that subject, because it’s “TABOO” for us. So, when I started feeling like I was frustrated, tired, and couldn’t do it anymore, I kept it to myself and figured that I just needed to be around more people. I tried that, and it didn’t make the situation better. It actually made it worse because I started to feel like people were judging me for wanting to take a break from my child.
Add on to that the fact that I wasn’t getting much sleep at night because the baby was up every 2 hours wanting to be fed. And anyone who knows me knows that Kishna with no sleep is not a very pleasant person to be around. The situation became worse. I picked fights with her father for no reason, I always wanted to sleep- I started to feel disconnected from my baby. I cried constantly. I didn’t want to eat. I just wanted to be alone. I found myself yelling at my baby. All the time. For no reason (I can logically say that now, but at the time I felt like she wasn’t listening to me and was being difficult). She had collic and was always fussy and crying. That was NOT a good mix with someone going through postpartum. I remember one night sitting on the bed with her between my legs; she kept crying and crying and crying. Her father walked into the room, having just come in from work, and saw the look on my face. He asked me what was wrong and I yelled out “she won’t stop fucking crying!” I picked her up and threw her. He ran in the direction that I threw her, caught her just in time, and just looked at me. I walked out of the room, went down the steps, sat on the couch, and started crying. What I did just hit me. I actually threw my infant baby across the room as hard as I could to get her away from me. Something was wrong. Very wrong.
Her father and I came up with a night time schedule to help with the baby to allow me to get some sleep. I also started going out of the house more and started talking to other people. He and I never really talked about what happened, but something about that situation made me wake up. I have no idea how I came out of that on my own without therapy or meds, but it happened. All thanks to God is all I can say.
We do not give postpartum the attention that it deserves. Postpartum, or postnatal, depression is estimated to affect 10-15% of women in wealthier countries and an even higher percentage in countries that are less wealthy. Women who have postpartum depression develop symptoms an average of 1 to 3 weeks after childbirth, but the onset can be anytime during the first year after childbirth. Women who have moderate to severe postpartum depression at 2 months and at 8 months post-delivery were found to be more likely to experience depression 11 years later. And as we all know, depression doesn’t just affect us- it affects our whole family.
I never spoke out about my depression before. I always kept it a secret because hey- we aren’t supposed to be depressed and we damn sure aren’t supposed to talk about it. But I almost killed my baby 6 years ago. I’m hoping that me being open about my story will help someone else in a similar situation, and let them know that it’s not just you dealing with it. You can get help.
As always, be legendary KINGS; be extraordinary QUEENS!