My postpartum depression was off the charts. It is impossible to relay in this text the gamut of emotional experiences I endured during the first four years’ of my daughter’s life. Whatever you have heard about postpartum depression stop and multiply by ten. My meds after fifteen years of being pretty therapeutic stopped working. I was put on several new meds one after another with no clinical break-throughs. I would later come to understand that the anti-depressants that were augmenting my other meds were causing me to revert into full mania in a repeat pattern every four to six months. The anti-depressant rather than helping me with the postpartum was catapulting me to the opposite extreme of mania. This was mania like I had never before experienced. There were times I felt that my medication had been laced with an illicit substance. There were times when I felt like all members of my family were dead or in comas and on some sort of life support system overseas at the Swiss Hotel. There were times when I was prompted to act in manners unsafe for my own well-being.
Besides the anti-depressant issue which was huge and impactful to me on a daily basis, the overall upshot of this postpartum period was a huge sense of isolation and of fear. How on earth could I carry on a discussion with other mothers about their child’s potty training or their child’s teething or their child’s pre-school years when I was obsessed by potential terrorist take-overs in the Himalayas?
With a child in diapers, I and my thoughts were focused on the threat of a nuclear meltdown over the existing power grid, and the threat of nuclear water contamination east of the Mississippi and the threat of terrorists living their daily lives among us. Thoughts of national security consumed me on a daily basis. What’s more is that these thoughts of national security also prevented me from being a Mom and talking to other Moms about their kid or their kids.
I felt unable to connect with other young mothers largely because my thoughts continued to soar toward global safety and security in full-blown paranoia. At one point, I imagined that the United States was undergoing a Civil War and had to address some Constitutionality gap and it was up to me to help do that. At another instance, I believed that my husband was being cloned at his place of work and it was up to me to stop the cloning. At another instance, I believed that I or friends and relatives were being cloned at the hand of terrorists. At another instance, I believed that Lithium was the cure for HIV/AIDS. At another instance, I believed my brain was implanted with a computer device that was controlled by terrorists or those who were seeking vengeance on me and my family. At another instance, I believed that I was engaged in some sort of computer “fight-off” where I had to survive some form of computerized attack. At another instance, I believed that my sister (and not myself) had brain damage from an accident sustained as a child and this somehow made her, and not myself, responsible for my symptoms. These thoughts and obsessions and paranoid delusions made it nearly impossible to maintain family relations or to develop peer connections surrounding motherhood and being a Mom. It also kept me feeling isolated in relationships including my relationships with my husband, my rapidly growing up daughter and just about every other person in my family.
In many ways all these fears left me unable to connect to my daughter’s peers and peers’ parents in the first 2 to 4 years of my daughter’s life. Even today, I have to remind myself of the role of un-therapeutic meds during this extremely vulnerable time. The use of anti-depressants given my bipolar condition was a huge mistake and one for which my family and I paid the price.