I heard from Doddie McClure today (THANKS Doddie for being the very first person to email me about Postpartum Progress!!!!). She told me all about her illness. At 27 years old, she has always been an over achiever — for example, she has 3 college degrees — and never imagined she might be hit with what she calls “this freek of mother nature” known as post partum disorders. When she was about 35 weeks pregnant she slipped into a major depression and had severe insomnia. The night she had her baby she had horrible thoughts that she was the devil and her baby was the antichrist. Nobody could tell her what was wrong, other than to say “it would pass”. She ended up being hospitalized because of severe anxiety and intrusive thoughts, and is now on her way to complete recovery. She said that it has been ” … very scary at times when I think back at where my mind has been. No woman should have to go through this alone.” Amen, Doddie.
I wonder how many sufferers are told “This will pass” or “Just get some rest and you’ll feel better”. Before I suffered PPOCD, I probably thought the same thing about people with depression or schizophrenia or other mental illnesses. “Just tough it out – you’ll be fine,” probably crossed my mind more than once. Of course, I now know it has nothing to do with self will or mental toughness. It’s an illness that controls you, not the other way around. I now feel so much empathy for people suffering mental illness, and I realize the struggle they go through. And I realize that there are many people out in the world who would just write people like us off once they heard we had visions of being the antichrist, or other such horrible thoughts. But we know better. We know we’re valuable, smart, talented people who are good parents and good citizens. It’s important to help minimize the shame of this illness.