My Experience with Postpartum Depression
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Category : FAMILY
Author : Asma
For as long as I can remember, I have always loved children. Once I got married, I knew that I wanted kids more than anything. After over a year of trying and two miscarriages later, I got pregnant with my now-daughter. Apart from the occasional anxiety about having a miscarriage again, I had a very easy and happy pregnancy. I had a C-section. My doctor announced that it was a girl and I whispered, “Alhamdulillah” and teared up. Due to the C-section, I had to remain in the hospital for a few days before going home. Everything was fine in the hospital. The day I came back from the hospital, which was the fourth day after giving birth, I just had this horrible feeling and just broke down and cried. I had read about baby blues so I thought it must be that. But everyday this feeling or whatever it was kept getting worse. My sister-in-law saw me crying one day and tried to talk to me but I just cried and cried and cried. The unexplained crying spells did stop but then came the horrible anxiety. If I was alone in the room with my daughter, my heart started racing and I have never before in my life have felt anything like that. I wish I had the words to explain it but it is the most horrible feeling ever. It is worse and scarier than physical pain. Every day that passed by, this horrible feeling and anxiety kept getting worse. I felt like I was just spiralling. Getting through even a minute of each day was so hard. I just wanted to run away from everything and if I had a place to run away to, maybe I would have at that point. I spent those days continuously calling and visiting doctors and psychologists. I just wanted something or someone to make it all stop. I was so terrified. I spent every minute I could reciting dhikr (remembrance of Allah) and dua (supplication to Allah). I was initially reluctant to take medications and was terrified of the effect it would have, but it got so bad, I finally gave up and decided to take medication. The local psychiatrist gave me anti-depressants and after taking the medicine, I woke up with my heart racing and feeling much worse. Through this entire period I was in touch with a perinatal psychiatrist from NIMHANS, Bangalore; who explained to me that the dosage I was prescribed was too high for me and my baby and suggested I take another medication. Two days on that medication and my anxiety disappeared. That medication was one of the greatest blessings I have received from Allah. I don’t know how I would have made it so far without it. This is my story with postpartum depression/anxiety. I have struggled with depression for as long as I can remember, but this was nothing like I have ever faced before. It was debilitating. I had no bond with my daughter. At that point, I did not want to be a mother and I wanted to have nothing to do with my daughter. I felt so stupid for bringing her into this world. I resented her so much. I would wish that something horrible happened to me or her, just so that I wouldn’t have to take care of her. The thought of taking care of her horrified me. I remember once walking into the room when she was sleeping and being disappointed that she was still alive. I know how horrifying all of this sounds, but this is the reality of postpartum depression. My sweet daughter is now seven months old and I love her so much and I can’t imagine my life without her. Looking back, I had absolutely no psychological reason to have postpartum depression. I wanted a child more than anything. I have a loving and understanding husband. When he saw what I was going through, he didn’t judge me. He recognized that I wasn’t myself and took such good care of me. His family was so supportive and encouraged me to seek help. I had so much help with my daughter as well. There were so many people to take care of us. All I had to do the first 40 days was breastfeed my daughter, eat and rest. My husband and I often talk about how before giving birth, we had been through far more difficult situations and there was absolutely no reason for me to have such severe postpartum depression/anxiety; which says a lot about the nature of this illness. The depression and anxiety for me only lasted for about two weeks. I slowly got better and learned to bond with my daughter. But those two weeks were the two most difficult weeks of my life. I have heard stories of women who struggled with this illness for years because they didn’t know what was happening to them or they didn’t have access to healthcare, and I can’t imagine struggling with it for so long. If you’re a new mother who is struggling, please ask for help. I understand medication is not for everyone but do whatever it takes for you to feel better. Your child’s mental health is directly correlated to your mental health. If you know anyone who has given birth, please check on them and talk to them without judgement and make sure they’re doing okay. And if you prevent someone from seeking treatment, then fear Allah! Allah has told us that he has sent down a cure for every illness and depression and anxiety is just that, an illness. Imagine a mother who fails to bond with her child and resents their child. How will she raise that child? What will be the nature of this child? What will his/her mental health be like? As Muslims, we know how important the role of the mother is in building a strong family and in turn a strong ummah. Taking care of mothers and their mental health is one of the first steps to taking care of the ummah.

If you know anyone who has given birth, please check on them and talk to them without judgement and make sure they’re doing okay. And if you prevent someone from seeking treatment, then fear Allah!

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