Let me be clear – I am, what society would consider, a ‘normal’ person. I have no known medical conditions and I haven’t been diagnosed with any psychological disorder. I have a supportive family, friends that I can talk to, and a partner who has always been very understanding. I have no ‘reason’ to be depressed or anxious and yet, I am.
I didn’t choose to be this way and I don’t need your sympathy because I am going about my life just fine. If you see me in a crowd, you might not even accept that I am the same person who wrote this article and yet, I am.
People don’t believe that postpartum depression is a real thing (They don’t believe depression is real either). You can go on Google and Wikipedia and search for signs and symptoms. Each article will list something new and something different, but just like every other disease known to mankind – the symptoms may vary from one person to the other. It took me quite some time to realise that what I was feeling was not “how mothers are supposed to feel”.
I am a 24-year-old and I have a seven-month-old beautiful daughter. I am currently completing my masters, along with managing a house and family. My friends think I am a ‘superwoman’.
I cry myself to sleep every night because I don’t think I can do anything right. My daughter had taken centre-stage in my life the moment I had heard her cry. I knew everything that I had gone through – the pain, the cramps, the discomfort – was worth it. I would do it all over again if I had to.
This part of “how mothers are supposed to feel” is apparently right – the feeling of motherhood is amazing. Giving birth, I’d say, is the easy part. The hard part came once that was wrapped up – the part where I was responsible for her well-being, where I had to handle her and raise her and make her a wonderful human being and just keep loving her forever. When I took her in my arms for the first time, I felt something I didn’t expect to feel at that time – I felt scared and afraid and I didn’t want to hold her because I thought I’d drop her. That should have been my first clue, but I was under the influence of anaesthetics so I thought that might have been the reason why.
But that feeling never left. I couldn’t hold her without feeling scared and anxious. I couldn’t sleep at night until I held her because I was scared someone might take her away. I couldn’t sit peacefully until I had checked if she was breathing whenever she slept every few minutes. I was going crazy.
The first time I took my daughter on a train, when we were going to visit our in-laws, I was up all night holding her to my chest because I was afraid someone might come in the night and take her from me when I was sleeping. I’m still not confident taking her anywhere alone- I don’t know if I’ll ever be.
I sterilise everything that enters or might enter her mouth – including bottle, toys, pacifiers – I sterilise twice just to be sure. I have a steriliser for her bottles, yet I prefer to still boil her bottles in a pot because I can see the boiling water and be assured that every germ is being killed inside. I am not keeping a maid because I worry she may ill-treat her.
I’ll be honest – this is a self- diagnosis. Maybe every mother feels this way, maybe they don’t. All I know is that I feel I am a horrible mother and I don’t deserve this little bundle of joy that I have been blessed with.
Coming out and writing this article was the hardest thing to do for me – a lot of people out there might be surprised by what has been going inside my head. But I cannot go about feeling like this. I want to be able to sleep peacefully knowing well that my daughter is doing just fine. I want to be able to kiss her without thinking that I will hurt her. I want to feel “how mothers are supposed to feel”. I want these voices in my head to stop.
I am on a beautiful journey and I want to be able to enjoy every passing moment and remember every little thing that she does and feel proud of this wonder that I have given birth to.