Today I read yet another news article about a woman who killed her children and tried to kill herself while going through severe postpartum depression. And like always there were tons of comments under this news too about how she is a cruel b**tch who is just using the word depression to justify her crime and how postpartum depression is simply a fancy name used by women to gain sympathy and justify their evils. Yeah right! Killing her kids and trying to end her own life must sure have been great for her! I mean, that’s what these jerks imply in their comments. The lamest comment was from a guy who literally wrote “1 out of 10 MEN have postpartum depression. I don’t see them killing their child.” I swear, if he had said this in front of me, I would have wanted to kick his ass on two counts – 1) for his cruelty in calling postpartum depression nothing but hogwash, and 2) for his immense stupidity in saying that men are diagnosed with postpartum depression. Yo asshole! How many of your guy friends have gone through the “partum” to be diagnosed with depression “postpartum”???
This idiot needs to be given a lesson not only on what the terms “postpartum” and “postpartum depression” mean, but also on the number of cases of not just women, but men too, with extreme depression, doing unimaginable things. A perfect example would be the planned suicide and mass homicide by a co-pilot who deliberately crashed an aircraft, killing 149 other innocent people onboard. Anyone who knows me and has read my blogs must know that I am not the kind of woman who would justify any wrong done by a woman, only to whitewash my gender. And law must take its course and deem whatever punishment it seems fit for these women, of course. But I would never call them criminals or murderers.
Every time I read a news like this, it sends a chill down my spine, because I remember with terror, the days of my peak depression. My case wasn’t postpartum depression per se, according to my psychiatrist, who says the depressive tendencies that I had almost all my life just got magnified big time postpartum, kind of like a final nail in the coffin. However, that was the first time I got diagnosed and there has never been a time when it was as terrifying as it was for 9 months or so after my elder daughter’s birth. Even though it came up in long bouts after my younger one’s birth, for 6 or 7 months, it was comparatively milder, probably because I was more prepared and equipped to deal with it. Despite that, there were times when I was scared that I would just lose it completely. While I still have occasional breakdowns, sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for a few hours, sometimes for a couple of days, especially during my PMS, nothing compares to the postpartum phase of my depression.
Even now those memories and such news terrify me because it could easily have been me. The new mother, overwhelmed by exhaustion, unable to handle the rollercoaster of emotions and the extreme hormonal fluctuations intensified by depression, with a baby who would not stop screaming her lungs out for hours together or let you put her down, bogged down by the hundreds of questions about whether life would always be that insane and terrifying, longing to just get out of it all for one moment of sanity and peace. I could have been that new mother who in all her frustration, fear and extreme desperation, loses it completely for a moment and does something drastic without even thinking for a minute what she is doing. I still remember with fear the milli-seconds of extreme frustration when I wanted to just throw my baby down with all the force I could muster, just to hear my own thoughts not drowned by the screams which I could in no way stop. And then in the next split-second, looking at myself with horror for having such a brutal thought, even if it was for a milli-second, and the guilt and shame that followed. You have no idea how thankful I am for never crossing over to complete darkness even for a little while, and having my girls safe by my side. Not every new mother is as lucky, that’s the truth. And if it is the worst case of postpartum depression, coupled with a complete lack of support system, I can very well imagine how such tragic incidents might have occurred.
People who judge from the outside do not realize that in that milli-second of complete insanity, the mother is not a murderer wanting to kill someone, she is a person who is totally lost, wanting some sort of a vent. Even people with no mental illness sometimes throw down and break anything they can grab hold of with all their force in the heights of rage. And here we are talking about a woman who is losing all control of herself – her body and mind, and in that milli-second, she doesn’t even see the baby. In the next moment of sanity, when she realizes with horror that it was the baby in her arms and not just any object to be thrown down in frustration, all she wants to do is scoop up her child, give it a thousand kisses and promise she would never let anything happen to him/her. I know this, because I have gone through this. Even the mothers with extreme postpartum depression to the extent of not wanting to look at their babies, let alone touch them, would never ever want to hurt them deliberately.
The guilt and shame that she experiences in that moment never leaves the mother. Which is why she can never talk about it openly. Because if she says that she has had even fleeting thoughts of doing something that could hurt the baby, the comments like the ones we see under such news is what she would face in person. It is precisely the reason I could never write about this before. Although I have written about my struggles with depression and my postpartum challenges, I could never write about this because I feared, I still know, that it would raise questions about my parenting and my love for my girls. But today, I write this only because I am sick of seeing ignorant jerks passing judgement on something they have no idea of and vilifying those mothers who made the most terrible mistake of their lives in a split-second of insanity and wish they were dead too. I see people comparing them with women who killed their kids to elope with a lover. I see a hundred cruel adjectives used for this new mother.
I don’t know how these women would ever survive and I know they would never know real joy. The least we can do is not stab them in the heart more when they are doing it to themselves every day a million times. And I write this, for the hundreds and thousands of other women who still feel the guilt and shame for those moments of insanity, despite being amazing mothers who love their kids with all their heart and protect them with all their might – mommies, you are not alone. If that brings you a fraction of peace and comfort, here it is. As I keep trying to tell myself – all that matters is now. 🙂
Also published on Medium.
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