I knew well before I gave birth to Little Oats that I would need to be on the lookout for PPD. I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety for the majority of my life, and I remained on a mild dose of antidepressants throughout my pregnancy. Screening tests at the midwife gave me a high likelihood of PPD, and by the time I had gone through the emotional ups and downs of a long labour, I would have written myself a prescription if I could.
By three days postpartum, the crying was nonstop. Not Little Oats’ crying…mine. Everything set me off, and I found that as soon as it started to get dark outside, I got an overwhelming sense of foreboding. Any new mama is going to struggle with exhaustion and emotions, but this was just the beginning of something much darker.
Late one night, as I was walking Little Oats in circles trying to calm her down, an image flashed through my brain. ‘What if I dropped her?‘ I gripped her extra tight, now carefully watching each of my steps to make sure I didn’t stumble or fall.
Later in the week, as I was coming down the stairs, I got a vivid picture in my head of slipping down the stairs. It wouldn’t go away, and I was nauseous, panicked and absolutely terrified that something might happen to Little Oats.
This continued to happen at various points during the day. I won’t share some of the more disturbing scenarios I imagined; they still haunt me to this day. I was never afraid that I would hurt Little Oats, but there was a deep-seated fear that something out of my control would happen. I couldn’t leave the house, because I was worried about driving with her. I couldn’t make myself lunch while holding her, for fear of spilling something on her or dropping her. Every time I panicked about something, I scolded myself. What was wrong with me that I couldn’t be a normal human being? Was this the ‘postpartum psychosis’ that is whispered about behind closed doors and in the most gruesome of newspaper articles?