The thing about having PPD and PPA is that they work together against you. Remember when you were in school and two bullies would team up, one would hold you down while the other one stole your lunch money? It's the same kind of thing.
My PPD is characterized by intrusive thoughts. My PPA is characterized by obsessively worrying about things. So, for instance I'll have an intrusive thought about something bad happening to my son (PPD), and then I'll obsess over it and replay it over and over again in my mind with the situation becoming worse and worse each time. (PPA)
I can remember when Pierce was little(er) I'd often think to myself, "I have PPD," but then I'd push that thought out of my mind. I didn't want to be sick. I wanted to be happy and enjoy my son and being a mother and I thought that if I didn't think about it, it would go away.
I remember my turning, point, though. I went to a baby-themed trade show in the city, about an hour drive away from home. I went with friends and we shared a ride. My anxiety was crazy that day, I think from being in such a crowded place. I get claustrophobic in situations like that.
We stayed the entire day and I was so glad to be leaving when we finally decided to. At this point, Pierce was still young so I had him in his travel system with the car seat on top of the stroller. I picked up the stroller and put him into the back of the van, tightened the seat belt around the car seat and we were ready to go. When we had been on the road for about 20 minutes, I noticed Pierce sitting up and that's when I realized that I hadn't strapped him into the car seat. I felt horrible and immediately buckled him in. And then I started thinking back to when I had lifted the car seat off of the stroller and how he wasn't buckled in then and easily could've just fallen out of the car seat onto the pavement. Then I thought about how horrible that would've been, if he had landed on the hard pavement like that. Then I replayed it in my mind except this time I saw him land hard on the ground. Then again, except this time he landed on his face. And again, he landed on his face and this time there was blood everywhere. And again, he landed on his face and there was blood everywhere and this time a car ran him over.
I was disgusted with myself and had to shout at myself in my head to stop it. I had to grip the seat I was sitting in to keep myself from thinking about it over and over again. This was not something I could just brush off and stop thinking about. I had to work to stop thinking about it. And that's when I finally realized and accepted the fact that this was not normal and that I needed help.
Around the same time Blair of Heir to Blair was posting about her trials with the same disease. I sent her an email and we chatted back and forth a bit. I expressed to her that I needed help but that I also worried that Children's Aid would come and take my child away. I'd rather suffer in silence than be without my baby. I started participating in #ppdchat and that's when I found unxpctdblessing and postpartumprogr and learned to ask my doctor about her disclosure policy before I told her what I'd been feeling.
So I did. I went to my doctor and told her that I had these awful thoughts, and she was so nice about it. She told me that it's more common than I thought and she sees a lot of women with the same issues. It was nice to hear that it was common, but I still felt awful, ashamed and embarrassed. I mean, what kind of mother thinks those things about their child? I worried that people would think I didn't love my son enough, or that I was lazy or stupid or wished that I had never had him. (It actually pained me to even type that just now.) NONE of those things are true of me and postpartum mood disorders are not characterized by these things, either. I love my son more than anything in the world and we have an amazing bond despite my disease. I'm not lazy or stupid and I could never wish him away. Yes I do need breaks from time to time, but that's normal. It makes me human. And in a time where I sometimes feel like an alien has taken over my body, it's nice to feel human again.