baby

When my son was 6 months old, I had a Facebook chat with a friend. Then everything unravelled.

This post deals with postnatal depression and might be triggering for some readers.

It was June 2019. My son had just turned six months old, and I was settling into a new routine with a brand new baby. He was perfect in every way but I was broken. It all started with Facebook messenger conversations with a friend who had me convinced I was a narcissistic sociopath with a highly treatment-resistant disorder. 

When he was born, I had almost bled to death. I missed the whole birth. That wasn’t what I had planned, but a 40 degree temperature and a displaced head meant that I had to deliver him by caesarean section, under a general anaesthetic. 

Watch: MM Confessions. The things we aren't told about giving birth. Post continues below. 


Video via Mamamia

At the six-month mark, I stopped sleeping. I was having horrific night terrors where I imagined the both of us in a sealed body bag. Everything was a reminder of a birth gone wrong. I saw my doctor, who referred me to a psychologist. But it didn't feel like anything was changing, and I stopped seeing her after three sessions. I was despondent. 

When I stopped sleeping, I would leave the house at 5am, run, and come back to breastfeed. I was running 30 kilometres a week, studying for my master’s degree, and spending all my days at home. It should have been the best time of my life.

After all, I had persevered with workplace bullying to save enough money to be a stay at home mum, with the support of my wife.  

The messenger conversations with my friend became increasingly dark. She had recently ended a seven-year engagement with a man who had cheated on her. To get him back, she scrabbled through his rubbish, defamed him on Facebook, hid drugs in his house, and poked holes in his condoms. 

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“You don’t want to do anything that could end in a baby.” I advised her, but she didn’t listen. She wanted revenge. 

Around the same time, I became convinced that she wanted to get me back for calling her behaviour out. 

I searched my house furiously, convinced that she had planted cocaine in my house. I also became convinced that she was going to dob me into my employer for previous misadventures involving marijuana.  

“I think I need to be hospitalised,” I told my wife. 

“What if they take our son?” she worried.

I became convinced that I would lose him, that I was an unfit mother.  

We ended up staying with my parents because I felt unsafe. One morning, I was so convinced that I was going to be locked up and institutionalised that I left the bed and went downstairs. I didn’t even kiss him goodbye. 

I walked the streets, and experienced suicidal thoughts. 

Fortunately, I was found before anything eventuated. 

I went to another doctor for a second opinion and begged him to refer me to a psychiatrist. 

“No, you don’t need that. You need to deal with your trauma. Just kick the cat when you get down.” 

“Um… okay.”

I left, dejected, figuring I would never get better. I went back to my wife and begged her to hospitalise me.  

We went to the waiting room of the hospital, where I saw a man with a tissue box.

"That’s like the tissue box I stole from my last job. Someone is going to find out and I’m going to get in big trouble," I convinced myself.

“Don’t be ridiculous!” 

They gave me a sleeping pill and sent me back home. 

The next day, we tried a different hospital.  

“Please don’t take me away! I have a son!” I begged.

The psychiatrist sedated me, and I was wheeled away. I don’t remember much, but when I woke up, I was in a ward, under the mental health act as an involuntary patient. 

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There, I was started on anti-psychotics and anti-depressants, but nothing was bringing me down from my paranoid thoughts. 

I spent two weeks in the hospital, then the nurses suggested I should be admitted to a mother-baby unit. 

“But they do electroconvulsive therapy there. I don’t want that.”

“It’s nothing like it used to be. They will put you under a general anaesthetic. It’s very effective.”

I agreed, and the nurses ordered a cab. At this stage, I was still concerned that my calls from the hospital phone were being screened. My wife had confiscated my mobile, and for good reason.  

When I arrived at the mother-baby unit, I was admitted to the special care unit, which is for suicidal people. My shoelaces and cords in my hoodie were removed, and I had to ask for bottles of water. 

That night, I saw my psychiatrist. She interviewed me for an hour and asked me about everything. She seemed to think I was having a hypomanic bipolar episode and it would be best if we could start electroconvulsive therapy as soon as possible.  

I was sent for MRIs, blood tests, and an EEG. I was cleared for treatment and it started the next week. Then, I was admitted to the mother-baby unit, where I was able to have my son. I had missed him so much and worried about our connection, but it came back right away. 

I had six treatments of electroconvulsive therapy, and then I was released. I still see my psychiatrist who has stabilised my medication and referred me to a relevant psychologist. 

I still have so far to go, but I know I will get there. 

If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from depression, contact PANDA – Post and Antenatal Depression Association. You can find their website here or call their helpline – 1300 726 306.

RJ Miles is a picture-book author and teacher with an 18-month-old son. She has written for QNews and has published a book about conception for children with two Mums. 

Feature Image: Supplied.

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