A mom's secret battle - Stories of postpartum depression
Tamara Grant described herself as being passionate about her children. She loves them dearly. So, in 2012 when her second daughter was born, she became very concerned when it took a long time for her to develop the expected mother-daughter bond. She later discovered that she had a serious case of postpartum depression (PPD).
Experts describe PPD as a period when mothers develop a series of psychological problems after giving birth. In an effort to shed light on the issue, The Gleaner spoke with mothers and medical professionals who explained the severity of the problem.
Grant said she believed her situation was compounded by a very tedious labour experience and conflicts that ensued between herself and her doctors, in addition to a drug she received.
"I had the baby and that feeling of joy was not there. I looked at her and she was a person and that's it. When I left the hospital, I felt a hollow feeling in my belly. I have never felt that way before, and to make it worse, I was not feeling that bond with the baby. It was just not there," she recalled.
"Within three days, I started to hear voices. They were compelling voices. I felt as though I lost the baby and I had lost my mind. I looked in the mirror and I could not recognise myself. This was extremely painful for me. I would scream out to the Lord in my closet at two or three o' clock in the mornings because the emotional pain was unreal," Grant explained.
It got more severe when she came very close to harming her baby.
"I remember I was driving and this compelling voice was telling me to throw the baby out the moving vehicle. My heart started to race and I was feeling the rush in my hands to do it. So, I told my husband to roll up the windows and lock the door as I was trying to be calm because I didn't want him to know what was happening. I just told him to get me somewhere where they can pray for me," said the mother of five.
A heavy burden
*Shanique Dunbar didn't get to the point of thinking of hurting her child, but told The Gleaner that her mood swings were very intense.
"I struggled to understand what I was going through for maybe a year. I didn't want to call it postpartum and you don't want to be having the discussions with too many persons because you don't want to seem like an unfit mom either," Dunbar said.
"I didn't have sleeping issues, but it was bouts of depression which was reflected in my mood swings. It was a complete withdrawal from everybody around me. The withdrawal was two-fold, too, because some of the people who were closest to me, I was losing them. I don't know if it was on a personal level or if it was because I withdrew myself," she said.
The breakup between herself and the father of her child also presented serious emotional obstacles for her.
"Her dad and I are not together, so that kind of emotional support wasn't there. He is very involved with the child and they love each other, so when he was around, it was a constant reminder of a failed relationship. "
"There were days when I looked at her and I saw him. Sometimes I couldn't get her to calm down and the moment she sees or hears his name and she is happy and all calm, that was hard to deal with because in my mind, I was like, I am the maternal one, so I should be the one to soothe her. I had to deal with all of that."
Both mothers told The Gleaner that they had to make a conscious effort to get help as they decided that they would no longer be bound by their emotional struggles.
Grant said: "It's only the grace of God. Counselling played a big part in addition to support from my husband and other friends. I feel as though purpose had come out of my pain. My baby is such a wonderful child. I'd have it no other way. I am happy to be her mother.
"I'd like the mothers to know that they are not crazy and they should seek help and open up about it. I would tell the family members to be patient. Patience and love, that's what I got. My husband was very loving. He didn't get angry with me, even when I told him some harsh words because it got to that point where I was very blunt and harsh."
Said Dunbar: "I remember one day it got so hard on me that I had to call his (her child's father's) mother. I was literally between a rock and a hard place emotionally. I had to decide whether I am going to burst a blood vessel or talk about it."
*Name changed upon request