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17 Confessions from Postpartum Depression and Anxiety Survivors

PPD and PPA survivors at BlogHer '09

Postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety — you either know it or you don’t. Before I had a baby, I remember hearing about new moms who shook their babies and wondered, “HOW COULD THEY?” However that first night home with my new baby, I suddenly understood. I never actually shook my baby or caused her any harm, but that doesn’t mean that the thoughts and fears didn’t find their way into my sleep deprived, chemically and hormonally imbalanced brain.

The scariest things about postpartum depression and anxiety are the macabre and horrifying thoughts that pass through a new mom’s mind, and how perfectly logical they seem to her. In retrospect you’re horrified that you could ever think anything like that towards your baby, but at the time … at the time you just want a release at any cost. I asked some of my closest friends, all survivors of postpartum depression or anxiety, what their darkest thought was when they were in the trenches. I started off by admitting mine, and as the answers poured in there was so much support and solidarity. Although we all had such different experiences, we all understood what it felt like to be defeated and tricked by our own minds.

It’s important to understand these are survivors, women who made it through to the other side of postpartum depression. As I talk to moms about their experiences with PPD/PPA one of the biggest regrets is the guilt they feel towards the involuntary thoughts that invaded their minds when they were at their weakest. To type out these confessions felt otherworldly for all of us, but if it helps even one more mom feel less alone then our vulnerability is worth it. These confessions come from moms of all ages, races, socioeconomic backgrounds and life circumstances, PPD/PPA is not selective in who it tries to ruin.

From one of the contributors:

Thank you so much for starting this thread. This is fascinating, gut wrenching, and cleansing. I am so grateful for the honest responses here, and all of you mamas floor me; I am in tears with love for you all.

If you’re currently struggling with postpartum depression, or think you may be, please visit Postpartum Progress for information on getting help, getting back and feeling better. Because you will feel better.

I promise.

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  • Robbed – Sarah M. 1 of 18
    Robbed - Sarah M.
    "I wanted to run away. I thought DH loved my DD so much that there was no longer any room for me. He wouldn't even realize if I were gone, nor would DD. I imagined slamming her head onto the coffee table after feeding. I wondered what would happen if I got a knife and cut her eye out — just the one because both eyes would be cruel. I wondered how much she would hurt herself if she rolled off the nappy change table. I wanted to give her up. I wanted life to go back to what it was before DD was in it and ruined it. I had no idea why people had kids and even more so, why they would have more than one. I'm not sure if I ever had suicidal thoughts, but I certainly felt defeated and didn't want to wake up.
    I have never divulged this, ever. I feel both horrified and sad that I thought those things and cannot imagine ever thinking that about DS, which means I've come a long way. Intrusive thoughts are the absolute worst part of PPD. They rob you momentarily of your sanity and make you question your reality. And then there's the mask you put on the face of these gruesome thoughts."
  • Hate – Julie C. 2 of 18
    Hate - Julie C.
    "With my middle son I was in such a bad place.
    The worst moment was probably when I broke in the middle of the night and I picked him up gave him a shake and screamed at him how much I hated him. "I hate YOU! I HATE YOU SO MUCH! I FUCKING HATE YOU!"
    It was horrible. Looking back on it, it hurts my heart..."
  • Adoption – Annie J. 3 of 18
    Adoption -  Annie J.
    "I Googled adoption agencies."
  • Macabre – Susan M. 4 of 18
    Macabre - Susan M.
    "I was pacing the floors with a crying newborn when I stopped in front of the giant wood burning stove. I could throw her in there and no one would ever know what happened to her. I'd just say she was kidnapped, it would be over."
  • Zero emotional connection – Diana A. 5 of 18
    Zero emotional connection - Diana A.
    "My second was about 4 months old, and she and I were co-sleeping in the guest room during a particularly rough night. I silently wished that my toddler and my husband would just leave and never come back. I wouldn't miss them. I felt zero emotional connection to them."
  • Run away – Christine P. 6 of 18
    Run away - Christine P.
    "If my son slept later than normal I wondered if he was okay, and there was a part of me that thought about how much easier it would be if he had died.
    I wanted to run away as well. There was a new condo development I used to drive by and I wanted so badly to go and live there by myself and never come out.
    One of the big ones for me was wanting to throw him out the window. People say this jokingly all the time (or at least that's how it sounds) but I was really worried I'd do it. Or wanted to, which made me think about how awful a person I was."
  • Horrible visualizations – Emilie R. 7 of 18
    Horrible visualizations - Emilie R.
    "I would visualize myself slamming my nursing newborns head against the desk in front of me. I'd have to get up and leave the room, freaking out because I'd had such a thought."
  • Inches away from snapping – Josie F. 8 of 18
    Inches away from snapping - Josie F.
    "I saw a news story about a mom who killed her baby and was sick to my stomach, worrying if that would be me some day.
    I kept thinking I was inches away from snapping."
  • Mental images – Dawnelle M. 9 of 18
    Mental images - Dawnelle M.
    "Every time I used a kitchen knife, I envisioned it slicing my baby or falling into her eyes."
  • SIDS – Ilana D. 10 of 18
    SIDS - Ilana D.
    "Being just a hair away from wishing that my son would die of SIDS. It's horrifying to read that. To write that is worse. Adoption seemed so sensible in comparison. Ironically, I've only left him overnight 3 times in 4 years (once when my grandfather died so I could attend his funeral). Somehow when I was ill, it made perfect sense for a complete stranger to raise him. Now I won't even let my own family members babysit him because I have such a short list of babysitters I trust explicitly. The "phantom cries" of a sleeping baby and hearing my breastpump "talk" to me are up there, too."
  • Trees – Allison V. 11 of 18
    Trees - Allison V.
    "I commute to work and every day I would think about how I could just drive at 85 mph into a tree and be done. I also thought about dropping my baby off our back deck onto the pavement and saying I slipped. Typing it now? makes me want to puke. Like it literally makes me sick. But then? It just seemed so ... calming."
  • Irrational thoughts – Mary A. 12 of 18
    Irrational thoughts - Mary A.
    "Just one turn of the wheel and the pain would be over. While I was pregnant with No. 2, I envisioned throwing myself down the stairs. I wanted the pregnancy gone, and that terrified me. I immediately called my psych. Now that baby's here (10 weeks), I've wanted to just leave and never come back. The three-year-old could watch the baby, right?
    It's frightening how reasonable the thoughts feel. I'm glad I know now what they are and how to fight them."
  • Stop – Justine P. 13 of 18
    Stop - Justine P.
    "Driving into oncoming traffic or into a tree ... leaving the kids in the house and just driving far far away ... I also couldn't use anything sharp for fear I'd stab myself or my 6-week-old repeatedly ... I also considered overdosing while pregnant. I just had moments where I honestly wanted to die so the pain and turmoil would stop."
  • Obsession – Haley C. 14 of 18
    Obsession - Haley C.
    "I read a blog about a family that lost their baby to SIDS. I became obsessed with the fear of my son dying of SIDS. Not that I wished it, but the fear was almost paralyzing. It consumed me. I wouldn't move him to his room because I needed to be able to reach into the Pack n Play in the night and feel him breathing. I couldn't sleep. I started to feel like he was the only one in my world, and I couldn't take care of myself because I had to care for him and keep him from dying from something I couldn't control.
    For the longest time I didn't consider those as intrusive thoughts, but now I know they are."
  • Torment – Fran S. 15 of 18
    Torment - Fran S.
    "I was SO terrified of anything bad happening to my son. I cried and cried all the time about the "what if's" and obsessed over how it would feel to lose my son. I didn't know then, either, that these are intrusive thoughts. I wouldn't let anyone babysit, although I absolutely desperately needed a break. I worried something would happen if I left him. This made returning to work extremely emotional and painful for me, which is why I landed in therapy. My husband was unemployed, so we couldn't afford for me to quit my job, which is what I thought I needed to do to ensure my baby's safety. Thank god my therapist helped me so much with my return to work. I have wrestled with separation anxiety (from parents leaving, etc) all my life, so it's not shocking to me now (without the haze of PPD/PPA) to see I had it when my son was born, too. The thoughts of leaving him with anyone tormented me."
  • Worry – Hannah W. 16 of 18
    Worry - Hannah W.
    "I have a 45 minute commute and I would keep picturing car crashes. I was also so worried that my youngest would stop breathing. I would check on both girls several times a night. Now that I am on the other side, I had no idea how truly depressed I really was. It is like night and day. I want to give myself a hug."
  • Dirty – Josephine R. 17 of 18
    Dirty - Josephine R.
    "I didn't bond with my son at all so I'd often daydreamed about him having SIDS. I pictured the funeral and everything and how I wouldn't miss him ... I also daydreamed of someone kidnapping him. I pictured someone coming in through the window and I would pretend that I was sleeping. I feel so dirty for admitting this now."
  • You’re not doomed 18 of 18
    You're not doomed
    One of my greatest fears with my second pregnancy was suffering from PPD/PPA again. I was open and honest with my doctors and the people around me about my fears and I chose to stay medicated through my pregnancy. PPD never touched me, I was shocked. While postpartum depression can't be prevented entirely, it can be managed, monitored and treated by healthcare professionals and understood by those around you. The greatest advice I have? Speak up, you'll find support all around you in the most unlikely places.

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