Post Partum Mood Disorder – My Story

I only stood because  no chair could hold me. My legs shook visibly from the trembling sensation radiating from my waist down to my toes. I balled my fingers tight into fists and held them close to my chest in an effort to stop pinching my neck. I did not wish to appear even less stable, although next to the confession I had just made, I do not think it would have mattered.Beside me, my husband exhaled slowly and shifted his weight from foot to foot as he absorbed the words my psychiatrist spoke to him about me.


“This situation has dangerously escalated. If there has ever been the time to use the term nervous breakdown, it is now. Your wife needs to either be hospitalized or put under the close care of family members. If you are unable to make a decision, I am prepared to send staff from the local psychiatric hospital to your home this afternoon to have her committed.”

A nervous breakdown. A serious term often tossed about casually in every day conversation. But in this case, it was not a figure of speech, it was my reality. I had entered a state of mind where functioning was barely possible.

A place blanketed by feelings of shame and hopelessness.

A place dominated by confusion, fear, and self loathing.

A place I found myself in when I was more than wounded…more than broken.

A place that collects the shattered.

A combination of Perinatal Mood Disorders, including Postpartum Depression and the lesser known Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Postpartum Anxiety Disorder led to my breakdown. It was my second battle.

And this battle was even more severe than the first, which in my darkest moment found me lying on my living room floor in a literal puddle of my own tears plotting ways to end my life while making it appear accidental. That time I received just enough help to function. Just enough to fool me and those around me into thinking that I had it all together.

I think the fact that I did not receive enough help and intervention during my first perinatal struggles led to the intensification of my second battle, the battle that alarmed even a psychiatrist. The symptoms the second time around were very similar to what I had experienced after my daughter’s birth. Both times my symptoms:

* Manifested during pregnancy and lingered after the births of my babies.

* Included panic attacks. For instance, I could barely breath each time I entered a grocery store. And every time I stood within a few feet from my kitchen sink I became sweaty and cold , concerned that I would get my hand caught in our garbage disposal.

* Left me feeling easily agitated and emotional. I would hold my baby and cry to the point of convulsions due to the intense love I felt only to seconds later angrily scream profanities at my husband for reasons neither of us understood.

* Interfered with my sleeping patterns. Exhaustion plagued me during my pregnancies and postpartum days and I easily drifted to sleep. However, staying asleep, especially at night became a problem. Each time I awakened to go to the bathroom or tend to the baby I tossed and turned anxiously for hours instead of falling back into slumber.

* Included irrational fears that I would hurt my husband or children. These fears always started with the words “what if” and left me questioning my sanity as well as the safety of my family. “What if I accidentally dropped my baby out of a second story window?” What if I dropped her on purpose?” “What if I grabbed a hammer and smashed it against my husbands skull as he slept?” “What if I tossed my infant into the swimming pool and walked away?” And countless other unnerving what if questions.

I need to pause and make a very clear distinction. I never wanted to do those things. I knew they were wrong. I desperately loved my babies. This added to my shame and confusion.

I didn’t know then what I now know.

I didn’t know that the fact that I recognized that those thoughts were wrong meant that I was not insane.

I didn’t realize that my hormones were out of control and that I had a very real illness.

Instead I thought that there had to be a monster lurking inside of me. I thought that if I could think those thoughts that I was capable of atrocity. I believed that my children would be much better off to not have a mother than having me for their mother.

Stopping the thoughts became an obsession. The other symptoms were terrifying enough, but to have an innumerable string of obsessive thoughts circulating my conscious was unbearable. During my first battle I thought the only way to end the thoughts and keep my family safe was to end my life. The first time I had lied to my family doctor about the severity of my symptoms afraid that she would take my baby from me. I only told her that I was feeling moody and depressed and asked for a low dosage antidepressant that did lift the edge.

Intent on keeping the promise I made to my husband about not committing suicide I looked for another solution during my second battle. The antidepressants I took did not seem to help much at all and I thought that if I could just alleviate some stress from my life that I would be able to cope. I prayed, I sought out counselors, I changed my diet, but still I felt myself melting. I thought of running away, but could not bring myself to leave. However, thinking about how many people depended upon me was almost suffocating and led me to make terrible choices. While I did not physically try to harm myself, my husband, or my children, the choices I made were indeed terrible enough to require psychiatric intervention.

Due to the young age of my breast feeding infant, my husband and I chose the option of me and our kids staying with family instead of hospitalization. We went to where my family lives for about 4 weeks and I remember very little of that time.

Many times during my battle I felt like a failure. A failure as a woman, a wife, a mother and a Christian. I felt like I didn’t have the faith I needed to get better.

And then, a new perspective came to me and I honestly believe that it came through prayer. I decided that I was going to deal with my Perinatal Mood Disorders in the same manner I would deal with learning I had cancer.

How would I react if I learned I had cancer? I would fight it by researching medications, changing my diet if recommended, soliciting the advice from trained medical professionals, seeking support from others, and most importantly, I would pray and listen to my Father’s voice. And that is what I did during my final battle with Perinatal Mood Disorders. In moments like I faced, there is no guide more suitable than the Good Shepherd.

My battles with Perinatal Mood Disorders are behind me as I have been symptom free for two years. I now enjoy my children and being a mom. However, my story is still with me, and although it is a difficult story to share, it is one I can share without shame. It is one I can share willingly knowing that by doing so others may be helped. If you or someone you love is experiencing any of the symptoms I wrote about or additional symptoms that cause concern, please do not hesitate to tell your story to a healthcare professional.

18 thoughts on “Post Partum Mood Disorder – My Story

  1. Pingback: Why Womb Woven and What about Becoming Me? « Angela Nazworth

  2. Thanks for sharing. I suffered a breakdown 13 years ago. Regardless of the cause(s)/source(s), it was a life changing event, or better period of my life. What you have written is very close to what I experienced. I have gaps in my memory. I still wrestle with some of that.

    May God richly bless you and your family in Christ.

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  3. Angela, I found you today on (IN)Courage… And I just want to say thank you for sharing your story. It seems so similar to mine, though I was never diagnosed with PPD, it all began not long after giving birth. The panic attacks, OCD, depression, agoraphobia, and those words nervous breakdown, heard just ten months ago. It has been a near 8 year battle, that I can say today is under control by God’s grace. I love when He leads me to places that I can find comfort, know I am not alone! Thank you for your bravery in sharing, you encouraged this girl’s heart today!

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  4. Thank you for sharing this. I was diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) after the birth of my son (56 hours in labor and then a C-section). I understand, at a very deep level, some of the pain you describe. I hope to some day write about it, but at least for now, I need to give it some time and eventually find the words. I still do not like or enjoy any surprises; I’m sure I often get mislabeled as a control freak, but I can’t really deal with the unexpected and I feel safest with structure. It’s very strange to have been through such a thing. I’m glad to have found your new blog, and I’ll follow along with you here now, knowing you from your old “Becoming Me” blog 🙂

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  5. Angela, I found you on (in)courage today and after reading your story i know it was not a mistake. I have 1 little 2 year old boy that i love dearly now, but was not able to before. I suffered postpartum and it sounds like a lot of what you struggled with I too dealt with. I felt so afraid and lonely. I ham better now, but am pregnant with our second child and pray every day that I don’t have the same experiences. Being pregnant I am already noticing my anxiety level rising and my exhaustion allowing me to keep thought patterns that are harmful. I am encouraged to read your story and even though I am not fully “out of it” yet, I know there is hope. I desire to love being a mom and all that it entails but the monster in me sometimes still thinks I would be better off on my own. So sad to say out loud and write, but true feeling none the less. So anyway, all that to say thank you, a real honest thank you for doing your work on your journey that today will help me do more of mine! Redemption is REAL…thanks again sister

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  6. I suffered in the deep dark of an anxiety disorder with obsessive compulsive tendencies for almost two years before I went for help. I begged God to make it stop. I thought if I had enough faith that he would. I made doctors appointments and cancelled them our of fear (that my children would be taken) or convinced myself this was the cross I needed to bear. When I finally went I asked God to show me that this was His will for me-psychiatric help and medication. The social worker who came to speak with me TESTIFIED to me that the enemy laid guilt on my heart to keep me from getting help. The physician I saw (whom I had never seen before) was a Christian who told me he would pray for me. Every step I took was a confirmation that He was with me every step of the way.
    I didn’t see it then but I have a testimony to the scripture:
    2 Corinthians 12:9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
    Thank you for sharing your story perhaps a confirmation to someone else that God really is with them even in the darkest of times.

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  7. I had a combination of Postpartum Anxiety Disorder and Postpartum Depression. It was horrible and exacerbated by the fact that my daughter nearly died at birth and I was diagnosed with probable cervical cancer at 11 weeks pregnant. She was in the NICU for the 18 longest days of my life. Needless to say, my pregnancy was not the joyful time it was supposed to be.

    I also had strange, disturbing thoughts. While holding my baby, I would see her falling out of my arms onto the tile floor. That would make me hold her even tighter so that I would not drop her. When I would go around a curve on the freeway transition, I would see the car going off the ramp.

    I never wanted to hurt my husband, but he irritated me in such a way and so often, that I could not control it. My baby’s growth spurts would send me into an anxiety so intense, I could barely take care of myself. It did not help that I was home alone while my husband worked 8-12 hour days on the swing shift.

    As soon as he walked in the door, I walked out and went for a drive just so I could have some quiet and hear my own thoughts.

    My love for my daughter and husband was never in question. It was being around them 24/7 that caused my symptoms to intensify. I had no help. There was no one who could take the baby for a couple of hours so I could relax. To this day, she has only ever been babysat 3 times in her life. She’s seven and starts second grade next week.

    Postpartum sucks. It is scary and confusing. But most people think that if you are not homicidal or suicidal or both, there is nothing wrong with you. Which also makes help and empathy very hard to come by.

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  8. Pingback: When You Don’t Like Yourself (Give-Away Post) « Angela Nazworth

  9. Different from you ladies, my son has battled OCD throughout his life. It ebbs and flows, but always is lurking around any sharp corners in life. I have found Jesus to be the Answer, and the battle rages on. I have such a heart for each one of you and KNOW that your hearts are so tender and good and pure and what this ignorant world says is sad. Praying Him to see you through every curve in life. Battle On, in Jesus Name!!!

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  10. hi all guys,
    shelly please don’t take tension. we are always with you. If you have any problem then tell us. I try to solve your problems.specially your writing skills are awesome. I would be appreciate to the webmaster who published this awesome site.
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  11. A doctor a few years ago diagnosed me with PTSD. Stupid doctor. He can’t possibly be right. I can’t have PTSD. I won’t accept that because mental illness and faith don’t go together. If I really had faith I sure wouldn’t be feeling like this. I wish this wasn’t my life. Getting out of bed is a chore and I can’t stand another day coming. Where is my joy that all Christians are supposed to have? I can’t help but wonder if God is disappointed in me and He’s probably thinking Why can’t she get her act together?

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    • I have no idea how you are doing, or what is going on now – 6 months after your original post. God Never promised that there would not be sickness in this life. As a matter of fact, in Scripture the way we know God is The Great Physician is because people were sick who needed healing. There would be no reason for Him to heal those who are well. Why doesn’t mental illness and faith go together like cancer and faith, or like a cold and faith, or like a broken arm and faith? Why does mental illness and all its challenges have to be any different than any other illness? I think part of the problem with mental illness is that it is misunderstood. The chemical composition of the body, hormones and aging are not well-understood topics. In many ways the body is still a mystery and different doctors explain/understand the body from their place of expertise. Please don’t stop asking for help just because you didn’t like the answer you received. Find someone you can talk to and keep searching for The Truth.

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  12. Thank you for sharing your story. I find hope and encouragement in it. Your situtation sounds similar to mine. I had 2 incidents of post-partum depression and the 2nd time it came on like a fierce hurricane that would never end. After telling my husband I wanted to end my life he helped me seek counseling and worked with my doctor to change my meds. I know the feeling of being angry, guilty, helpless, fearful, mad, and like a complete failure all at the same time. I love your story of how God spoke to you and helped you deal with it. I’ve never thought of it that way before but it’s the same thing I would do with a medical condition as well. So glad I found your blog. 🙂

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