I’m Yalda, and I’m a survivor of postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and psychosis.
I share my story to help raise awareness about postpartum mental health and how it affects the lives of mothers, children and entire families.
My son was born in 2013, and prior to that, I was a high functioning go-getter who had never experienced mental illness before.
Upon his delivery, I immediately knew something didn’t feel right. I wasn’t happy and felt no love or emotions towards him.
Over the first 1.5 months after his birth, I felt empty and constantly cried. But I still tried to pretend I was all right. It wasn’t until my six-week checkup at the maternity clinic where my sister forced me to tell the doctor about my symptoms. At this point, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and prescribed medication. However, my symptoms continued to worsen.
The depression intensified, and I developed severe anxiety; to the point that I could barely function. I once described having anxiety as the feeling in your gut when you’re on a roller coaster and it suddenly drops. Except that the feeling lingered all day and night. One of the worst parts was trying to sleep, but knowing that the next day I would have to wake up and endure another day of the gut-wrenching feelings again.
I was scared to be alone with my son and my detachment to him continued to deepen. How could this be? I was a new mother, yet I felt no love for my child. As my symptoms and delusions amplified I started to doubt whether he, those around me or I even actually existed.
I continued to progressively get worse until he was six months old; when one day I was changing his diaper, and as I got up to throw the diaper away, I had a thought to crush his skull with my foot. I almost did, until I somehow snapped out of it and realized what I was about to do.
I remember screaming for help and moving away from him. I was crying profusely and asked my mom to take him so I don’t hurt him. I called my husband and asked him to take me to the hospital. I was so deeply afraid of going there and risk my son being taken away. But, that day, when I almost killed him, I knew I was getting worse and worse. The harmful thoughts, delusions and doubts about reality, and the thoughts of ending my life were worsening. I needed help; regardless of whether or not I would see my son again.
I spent almost a month in the hospital’s psychiatric ward where my medications were adjusted and I slowly showed signs of improvement. It took me 2.5 years to be whole and become myself again.
Now, I’m well and a mom to the most amazing little boy; whom I love more than words can describe. This experience completely changed my life. It gave me the immense bond that I have with my son today and led me on a completely new path in my relationships and career. It gave me a second chance at life.
My recovery could not have been possible without the support of my family, friends and medical professionals. I want any individual going through this, or anyone who knows a mother going through it to know that IT IS OK TO ASK FOR HELP. Your child won’t be taken away from you, but you need to get help because you are medically ill and need professional care.
I want everyone to know that there is no shame or embarrassment in admitting that you are not well and need support. If you are a mother going through this, please know that you did not choose to become sick. It wasn’t something that you did which caused you to become ill. You just happened to fall into the statistical category of mothers who become affected by this ailment. In fact, it takes the utmost amount of strength and courage for one to seek help and fight to overcome this illness. But trust me, you can do it!
My husband once mentioned that postpartum mental illness knows no prejudice. He was right. It can affect any mother, regardless of race, age or socioeconomic status. At the end of the day, we all came from a woman, we all know a woman, and whether it’s you, your mother, sister, friend, partner, co-worker or any woman in your life, she may have been, may currently be, or may one day go through something like I did, and need the support necessary to overcome this illness and feel whole again.
I encourage you to please help raise awareness, and be patient and supportive towards those facing this ailment, so that they can have the strength and courage required to seek help.