My son was born 30 June 2011, just 2 days after my birthday. There were no suprises there, I knew we were having a boy and this c-section had been scheduled due to my history of a non dialating cervix. I had planned everything to the T. I had bought everything from the layette list, had a snuggle nest because we were going to co-sleep for his 1st month, his nursery had been ready for a month.
What I did not plan for though, was my son being born purple, then turning yellow, and being rushed to ICU. I did not plan to be separated from him for an entire 2days, I did not plan for him to not come home for 2 weeks…..
Apparently I fit the bill to the T, and I didn’t know it.
I remember at the psychiatrist office, how confused and scared I was.
‘Have you had anxiety before?…’
“A bit, through my divorce”
Have you had a loss prior to this pregnancy?….
“Yes, an ectopic pregnancy 3months prior conceiving our son”
Have you been on slimming pills, erratic diets, etc?….
“Errhm, Yes, All my life, in fact I might have been anorexic, but we are black so such issues are never diagnosed/discussed”
Have you had a fertility treatment?….
“Yes, an IUI after a long year of trying to conceive”
Are you a perfectionist?….
“I have always been”
Did you deliver via C-section?….
“YES, YES, YES….What’s wrong with me”
You definitely have postnatal depression.
Everything was a blur from that statement onwards. All I do remember is thinking for sure that I’m dying, my heart was pounding so hard I could literally hear every beat, I was shaking like leaf.
“I don’t think she understands what I’m going through…what the hell does this have to do with postnatal depression, I’m having a heart attack people, hell I’d take depression anyday over this.”
Well that’s what I thought at the time, boy was I wrong. I was prescribed the lowest dose of antidepressants and something to control this tremendous anxiety, and within hours I could breathe without counting my heartbeats. But things got progressively worse, by Tuesday I couldn’t concentrate, Wednesday I was living through a glass (only few people would understand this phenomena), Thursday I saw my son dying in 101 scenarios, by Friday I was obsessed with sleep, Saturday I wanted to run…and by Sunday I wanted to jump. My mind was racing, I was in a deep hole. I pleaded with God to keep me alive and did as much research as possible.
My family did not understand this (I don’t blame them as I didn’t believe in ppd myself), but they were supportive. My husband did his research and held my hand and I am lucky in that regard. I lived on postpartum progress, searching for hope stories, and hanging onto them with dear life. My meds were adjusted, changed, and adjusted again. I tried looking for more black women who had gone through this, I found 3 on twitter, 3…that’s it. I talked to anyone who cared to listen. They made me feel insecure, like I’m the only black woman to ever go through this. I was told to smile, pray more, suck it up and enjoy my baby. Why are you on meds, don’t you know you’ll be dependant for life? My very close cousin was scared of me, she told me I’m going crazy. See I love how the black community is the same all over the world..like my friend Addye said…
1. We don’t do therapy, at all
2. Any mental illness means you are losing your mabbles, hence we keep it a secret
3. Women are meant to be hard as a rock, we are somehow supernatural beings
4. If anything goes wrong in your life, its either God is punishing you for something or you are just not worthy of his love.
I made a choice to reach out – I owed it to myself to get better, to my kids, to my family. The white community welcomed me with open arms, they all knew someone who’d gone through ppd. My therapist had never ever treated a black woman. Our support group had, well…no women of colour. But I made it my mission to find more of us, and what better way to do that than sharing my experiences. I wrote to all baby magazines, and started a blog. And one day, when I least expected it, my pastor at church called me to the side and told me that she went through ppd. Two of my distant friends had gone through it, but kept it a secret. I received 2 emails from strangers who had gone through this. When my son hit 3months, things got much better, by the time he was 5 months I had the right treatment plan, and now at 10months I feel so much like my old self. And so I share my story in hope to help a new mom out there, black, white, it really doesn’t matter…You are not alone, you are not the only one to go through this, and please please hang on, it does get better.
I’m Lebo, a black South African mother and a PPD/PPOCD Survivor.
Here are a list of website that can really help you through this, I did it and so can you:
My Postpartum Voice
#PPDChat Army on Twitter
(use the hashtag #ppdchat to find an army of women ready to love and support you through this time)
And you can e-mail me or find me on twitter….