Miriam Carey, was killed today after a car chase from the White House to Capital Hill. It was reported that she believed president Obama was communicating with her and her mother said she suffered from postpartum depression after having a baby in August. There were also reports of Carey being admitted for psychiatric evaluation.
This story is heart breaking for me, not just because the officers on the scene couldn’t safely stop her in avoidance of using guns, but the fact that I understand how, after having a baby and dealing with existing life issues, can aggravate one’s mental health. Caring for a new baby is stressful on the body, the mind, and spirit. It’s a complete life change. The hormonal and chemical changes that occur in the female body can also exacerbate any existing health problems – whether mental or physical.
Just reading this sad story reminds me how far I have come with my own struggles with postpartum depression. When I first started exhibiting the symptoms of postpartum depression around the sixth week after the Bean was born, I thought I was making a fast decent into madness. It’s hard to explain quickly, but it feels as if you’re going insane and can’t get a grip on your emotions or your mind. It was if my mind was going into dark and unfamiliar places and that a fuse had been blown in my mind that could never be repaired. I felt as if I could never know happiness or peace of mind ever again. I was so entrenched in sadness and despair that I had a very clear moment of understanding why some people choose suicide to end their suffering – and I am talking about postpartum depression lite. Severe postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis, the latter being exhibited by of signs paranoia and delusions, are frightening.
It has been reported that she admitted to having postpartum depression and that her family has a history of mental illness. People said she didn’t exhibit any alarming signs of depression or psychosis, but being that postpartum depression is such a taboo subject – so much so that many OBGYNs are not trained to handle or even truly understand the nature of PPD – that simply admitting to the frightening feelings and thoughts that make up the depression is hard to do.
According to my brother-in-law, a psychiatrist, if postpartum depression goes untreated, symptoms can last up to a year. Sometimes, avoiding treatment can make the depression worse and create other mental health complications – which may have been Miriam’s case. Fortunately for me, I was treated right away and made a recovery rather quickly. The first step for me was to accept that I was unwell and to take the help that my husband, doctors, and loved ones offered me. Not everyone has a strong support network, but for the sake of our babies and our health, it’s important to keep pushing to get better even when we feel like there is no end.
With acceptance, help, and understanding, postpartum depression can be overcome. I did and I thank God and my support system for having done so.