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My Nightmare Experiences with Postpartum Depression & Psychosis: A personal narrative PART 1
My Nightmare Experiences with Postpartum Depression & Psychosis
A personal narrative written by Joy Tobise
Hello, my name is Joy Tobise and I am a young mother of three children: I had my first child when I was 18 years old, second child at age 21 and my third child at age 22. This is the story of my nightmare with Postpartum Depression & Psychosis.
Whenever I’d think about my future, I saw myself having several children in my life to love dearly, teach, and nurture. I imagined I would love my kids but since having them, I have to admit that I couldn’t have ever imagined the amount and extent of unconditional love such a tiny little being could take up in my heart. It wasn’t until I gave birth that I truly understood what love is.
When I was pregnant with my first child, my family was definitely not supportive of me and demanded that I abort the pregnancy. I refused and as a result of that, I was kicked out of my parents’ home where I was living at the time. Fortunately, my boyfriend’s (father of baby) mother was kind enough to welcome me into her home. I felt very lonely, scared, anxious, excited, but also confused.
I felt lonely because I believed that “Get out! I don’t ever want to see you again!” would be the last words I would hear from my family, scared because this was my first pregnancy, anxious because I didn’t know what would happen next, excited because I’ve always wanted a baby, but confused because I never expected my family to boot me out.
My mom eventually came around but was still clearly disappointed about my pregnancy. During labor, my family didn’t show up. Gratefully, however, my boyfriend and his mother were there with me from the first contraction until our baby boy was in our arms. My mom showed up to the post-delivery recovery room which was very much a surprise for me, but when hospital visiting hours were over, I suddenly felt overwhelmed. I cried, I was scared, and irritable. I remember calling my boyfriend on the phone and telling him how lonely I felt and how much I wanted to go home. I also remember thinking to myself, “What is wrong with you? You have a baby to care for; you cannot be the one crying here!” I experienced what’s called the Baby Blues, which affects approximately 80-85% of new moms.
Back home from the hospital, my boyfriend was not taking part in responsibility of our newborn baby. I got up for all the feedings, washed bottles, did the laundry, gave baby a bath, etc. Every time I asked for his help, he would get upset, defensive or make an excuse. I was physically exhausted to the point I was falling asleep standing up! Eventually, I stopped asking my boyfriend for help because it was a waste of time and energy. I was taking care of my baby with or without my boyfriend’s help; either way my baby was my number one priority.
With my second child, my pregnancy came with a few complications, other than the normal discomforts associated with pregnancy. I had constant contractions that became painful at random times, forcing me to stop what I was doing. I was in and out of the doctor’s office and the hospital and I received steroid injections to speed up baby’s lung development in anticipation of possible early birth. They also put me on medication to stop the contractions and a doctor flew me out to Oahu from Maui for an amniocentesis. I had to be induced at 37 weeks because of baby’s size but labor went smoothly with no complications.
However, there was something about my behavior and emotions afterward that wasn’t the norm for me.
I lacked desire to do anything at all, I spent the entire day sitting on the floor of the living room spaced out at nothing with my mind in a fog. I had suicidal thoughts, lost my appetite, couldn’t sleep, felt overwhelmed, and was very irritable. My boyfriend told me that I needed to get help so I sought help from a family physician. I felt very uncomfortable sharing with the doctor that I had thoughts of suicide. I felt so “different,” like there was no way she could understand what I was feeling or going through to help me. She prescribed an anti-depressant treatment which I noticed was working when I could function through daily life routines again, my appetite started to return, I felt lighter spirit-wise and the suicidal thoughts went away. I was experiencing Postpartum Depression.
Postpartum depression affects 10-15% of new moms, but can increase up to 60% with major stress in daily life (economic stress, substance abuse, domestic violence or lack of support).
Read on for Part 2 of Joy's story.