When I caught myself making plans to leave my family, to settle my affairs, I realized I was unwell.
I was graduating from college, finally. My husband was getting his master’s degree. He was starting a new, exciting, and even safer job that brought home more money. But I wasn’t excited; I was sad.
It wasn’t long after the baby, myself and my two toddlers were home alone together that I realized I was profoundly depressed. I was more depressed than I’ve ever been in my life.
I couldn’t go more than a few hours without breaking down and sobbing, or screaming, or hiding in my room away from the children, trying to find a place quiet enough to silence my anxiety.
I started imagining my own death, vividly and terrifyingly. When I washed the dishes, I imagined slipping and slicing my wrist open with a steak knife. When I opened the door to the balcony of our condo, I saw myself tripping and falling head first onto the pavement below. When I sat behind the wheel in the car, I envisioned myself accidentally speeding through the turnaround before the bridge and the minivan crashing over the side and into the river below.
These images made me nauseated, particularly when they included my children. My children in the back seat of the same minivan, slowly sinking into the water. My children staring out the window at my lifeless body on the ground below. My children stepping into the pool of blood on the kitchen floor.
The idea of hurting myself was becoming more plausible, and the idea of inflicting that hurt in some way on them was unbearable. I started to fantasize about running away, leaving them and my husband, and just driving until I disappeared.
I was suffering from severe Postpartum Depression.
Postpartum Depression effects one out of every seven new mothers. But out of those millions of women, only 12 percent ever seek out treatment. Some of the others end up in the news — strapping babies to their chests and jumping off buildings, drowning their kids in the tub, killing themselves in myriad ways.