I am part of a postpartum support group so I can try to help others going through postpartum mood disorders as I once did. I was in a different one years ago that helped me so much. Many times I read about women trying to tell their husbands or doctors how they feel. You would think this may involve them trying, but not being clear enough, because with men especially, you often have to be very clear and direct, they even often tell you this. I once read of a woman who says she told her husband she did not want to live anymore or wanted to run away (not sure how much more direct you can get than that, although she is advised to be more direct and repeat, repeat, repeat), and the responses I have seen from the husband in these posts are the following:
“He tried to reason with logic, I had said this before and he knew I would not do anything.”
“See, this is why I want out of our marriage, you are unhappy too.”
“He said I don’t need medicine, that in the past it made me worse even though I thought it made me better and so did everyone else around me.”
“He says I need to leave then and leave the baby with him, even though he works from home while I am on maternity leave, and he will normally only keep the baby about 30 minutes a week before giving him back.”
These are just a few examples of course. I will also say I have seen some women say the same to the doctors and often get a response that what they are feeling is normal. It is not normal to want to die or run away, and if your doctor says this and does not show immediate care or concern, you should find a new doctor. I know it may seem I should say the same about a husband, but with husbands it is more complicated. Husbands, and most people in general are not trained in postpartum mood disorders. We did not get any info about this when I was pregnant, or after that I recall, and my husband and I ,nor my family knew much about them. Yet husbands are expected to notice if something is wrong with their wife and try to get her to seek help. Often they do, but husbands are usually sleep deprived too, husbands are often missing your old life too and the old you and the old them too, and if you are depressed, your husband has been around you depressed for a while, and being around a depressed person is well, depressing. They may even get depressed themselves.
When I told my spouse, I got a response similar to the second one above. By the time I told him, it was already two years postpartum and our marriage was falling apart. He thought that is why I was miserable, because of our marriage. He thought I was praying not to wake up because of our marriage. He thought he was doing me a favor by leaving, we could both be happy now. Years later, now that I am in a much better place and my marriage is in a much better place, it still baffles me that my husband I both got to such a bad place in life and our marriage that I could tell him I was praying to not wake up anymore, and he did not seem alarmed or concerned and thought the solution was to end our marriage. Ironically, it kind of ended up being the solution. When he left, I got even worse and could no longer hide it from others. That was also the beginning of me openly sharing my story in a way that helped others and eventually helped me as well. My husband and I also eventually worked things out.
I personally was a very happy pretty bubbly person before going through postpartum depression. I did not change overnight, it was a slow process, easier to see looking back, than in the moment of course. When I now tell people I did not want to live anymore, that I prayed to not wake up, that I thought for a second about driving off bridges or into a wall when I was driving alone, that I almost ran away and even drove down the road once, that I no longer worried or cared if an 18 wheeler almost swerved into my lane and that if there had been a pill ever put in front of me that would have painlessly ended it all, I might have taken it, people were shocked. It does not matter if I ever did act on these thoughts or would have or not, the fact that I was feeling like this was not okay and I needed help. When you tell people this though and they don’t seem to think you need help because you have not actually either tried to kill yourself yet or been successful in doing so, you start to think that this is either normal and all mothers feel this way, this must just be how awful motherhood really is, or that you are just a bad mother.
I can say that my husband was very supportive of me taking medication and never responded negatively to that. He probably noticed my medicine helping me before I did, as my doctor even joked might happen. However, I did worry at first he might blame changes in my behavior on my medicine, since men often make jokes about you being on your period, or being an emotional woman when you voice an opinion they are not happy with. My advice to the woman who husband was saying her medicine made her worse was that her husband would find other things to blame her behavior on besides her medicine when he did not like it. She could probably even tell him she quit taking the medicine and he might say he noticed a positive difference. She could then tell him she is still taking the medicine and prove him wrong. My husband also never tried to take our child, or even insinuated doing so and thought I was a great mother. If anything, I wanted him to take her more than he did, because I was overwhelmed. I eventually moved in with my parents for a short time during our separation for some help.
Most mothers with postpartum mood disorders do not ever harm or neglect their children. Unfortunately in the rare instances when they do, the worst cases make the national or international news. When a woman does share that she has thoughts about hurting her child, usually she is sharing them because she knows this is not healthy, and she feels guilt and would never act on them. In most cases she just needs more help and support, not to be guilted, shunned or have her children taken away. It is actually more likely that the mother will neglect or harm herself, but when women share these thoughts, they are often ignored and that really needs to change.
Bio: Amanda Dodson Gremillion published her first book in 2012. She began revising it in 2019 and republished it as Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine. The story chronicles her experience with severe postpartum OCD, anxiety and depression. Amanda is a graduate of Auburn University, and now lives in Calera, Alabama, with her husband, Jay, their daughter, Aubrie, and their two dogs, Honey Girl and Cooper. She hopes to write more books in the future. Follow Amanda’s journey on Facebook, or twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaGremilli2 and order her book here. Also, follow her on the Mighty here Amanda Dodson Gremillion | The Mighty Contributor