Sarah’s Story

13 Jan

 Sarah sent her entry for the latest Pulsate Olympics via email since she doesn’t have a site of her own. I’ll be compiling the received entries tomorrow for everyone to enjoy in one place.

 

 

 

I should have known when I fantasized about driving my car into the highway barriers at 70 mph when I was 5 months pregnant. I should have seen it coming when I found myself sobbing because the medicine cabinet only held aspirin and pre-natal vitamins, certainly not enough to do the job, at 7 months pregnant. I should have cried uncle, called for the cavalry, or at least said, “Help.”

 

But I held onto the perfect picture of my life that everybody else expected. An easy pregnancy, an easy birth, and an easy transition to breast-feeding. I had a beautiful little girl with a sweet disposition. I had to keep up the façade. If I wasn’t alone I could live in my pretend world and act as if nothing was wrong. But I was often alone. My husband had just started business school and was still working full-time so I didn’t need to. He was gone, staying away in a hotel, every other weekend. My family all lived in other states. None of my friends had children. It was easy to pretend.

 

But I knew that my bundle of joy cried because she, at only a few days old, knew that I was a terrible parent. She knew that I could never love her enough and I would destroy her if I stayed in her life. She and my husband would be much better off without me. Daily I thought about how I could run away, how I could leave them and just drive for days on end. How they would both be happier if I weren’t there.

 

Soon images began pushing to the forefront of my thoughts. Images so real they brought me to tears and made me tremble with fear. I’d be lying if I said those images never included harming my baby—putting a pillow to her face to stop the crying, dropping her down the stairs, getting into fatal accidents on the highway, watching her daycare burn down with flames pouring out every window. Images therapists kindly called “intrusive thoughts,” but still make me cry 5 years later.

 

Eight months passed since her birth. I lived in a world of doubt, insecurity, unhappiness, and constant nightmares both while awake and asleep. After 8 months, I finally admitted to my sister that I was feeling a bit sad. And then I really crashed. I began starving myself during the days, even though I was still breast feeding, just so I could feel hungry, because feeling hungry was better than the feeling of nothing that overcame me. I would sit and look out the window wishing that I could hurt enough to cry, but thinking I had used up all my tears. My sister pushed me to call my doctor and a therapist and kept nagging me until I did. I convinced myself that the therapist did not return my call the first day because she knew that I wasn’t worth saving. The irony is that the one thing that kept me alive was knowing that I couldn’t leave my baby home alone with her dead mother. I didn’t have anybody I could leave her with. I was completely and utterly alone.

 

The therapist did call on the second day. She asked me to be admitted to the hospital. I refused in-patient treatment because I was ashamed. I did not refuse medication or therapy sessions. Slowly the cloud lifted. Slowly I came to see that I was not alone. So many people cared about me and wanted me to be happy and healthy, if I just let them in. I stayed on the medication for 3 years, through the pregnancy and birth of a second child. I am thrilled that I was able to enjoy the second pregnancy and birth of my son, well as much of it as you can enjoy. But the depression will never be completely gone from my life. When I am stressed, tired, or unhappy the intrusive thoughts return. Some days I wake up in a funk and wonder what’s the point? But those thoughts and days are infrequent, and I can make choices that help control them—replacing the thought of my son getting hit and killed crossing the street with an image of him in the future starting kindergarten. Or getting through the sad days knowing that I will make time for myself to read a book or knit and watch a silly movie after the kids are in bed.

 

So that is a small piece of my story. The reality includes so much more. I’m trying to figure out why I feel compelled to write. I’m scared to email this story, I’m scared to have it posted on-line for all to view. But I don’t want to be ashamed of myself for suffering and I don’t want any other person to suffer and feel so alone in the world. So I’m putting this out there. Be gentle with it.

7 Responses to “Sarah’s Story”

  1. liprap January 13, 2007 at 9:31 am #

    Oh, honey.

    You aren’t alone, but it does feel as though you are when you have PPD.

    I’m glad things are better these days. It’s never easy.

  2. peggykerroll January 13, 2007 at 12:15 pm #

    Sarah, I’m glad you shared your story.

    You are not alone.

  3. thordora January 14, 2007 at 8:30 am #

    Sarah, you couldn’t have known. None of us ever do. But hopefully, in telling your story, someone else will.

    Here’s a secret. Shortly after Vivian was born, and breastfeeding wasn’t working, I tried to smother her. Not long enough for it to work, no, my maternal or at least human instincts kicked in, but I vividly remember placing my hand over her face and willing her to die.

    I’m not proud of that.

    You aren’t alone. You never are. Thank you for sharing your story.

  4. Marcy January 14, 2007 at 2:48 pm #

    I am really appreciating reading everyone else’s stories. I’m sorry I don’t have a good summary post of mine — I’m still in the middle of it.

  5. misspudding January 15, 2007 at 5:01 am #

    Motherhood’s tough, isn’t it?

    It’s certainly a lot tougher with a problem like PPD.

  6. reg927 January 15, 2007 at 5:14 pm #

    dear Sarah,

    i’m so glad you shared your story. so many others suffer in silence, ashamed of how they feel and not knowing why they feel that way. i’m so glad you sought help and are doing better. you are an inspiration to women everywhere!

  7. Aymee April 22, 2008 at 5:58 am #

    Sarah,

    Thank you for your courage. I personally have never experienced PPD but I do know what it feels like to battle the deamons. I have decided to dedicate the rest of my life to helping people understand that feeling that way does not make them “bad” or faulty.

    I am sure your post has saved a life and “He who saves ONE life, saves the Universe entire”

    Love,
    Aymee

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