Yesterday on Twitter I wrote that I had postpartum "before it was popular." I was criticized a bit for using the word popular, perhaps rightly so. But I wasn't being intentionally flip. I know that PPD is dreadful. My first bout was severe, the second time around a more moderate case.
My point was that PPD is now well-known, widely recognized as a true medical crisis. Getting treatment is no longer steeped in shame and guilt. Some states fund screening measures, doctors are better educated to notice the signs, and new mothers suffering from PPD today are rarely told, as I once was, to "snap out of it."
In the newest edition of Sweet: A Literary Confection, an online literary journal, I have an essay about what it was like to live with, and eventually move past PPD in the early 1990s -- before Brooke Shields and Princess Diana spoke about it openly. Mostly though my piece is about what it's like, even today, when my oldest is about to drive, to be a mother still profoundly affected by the experience.
It begins like this:
One winter evening not long ago, my teenager stacked logs in our living room fireplace, the same fireplace into which I once fantasized about tossing him when he was a newborn. I wondered what this cheerful and sensitive young man might say if I told him. What might he think, what might anyone think, if I said that the slate patio we shoveled together a few hours before, was where I once contemplated dropping him from his second floor bedroom window, flinging him out past the curtains with the yellow and green cows?
These menacingly dangerous thoughts lived in my mind, vivid and sharp, moving across my internal movie screen in colorful detail: The baby in the microwave, his nostrils imploding. The baby rolling, bumping down the basement stairs like a pale soft log. I loved my son. I hated being his mother. I wanted to disappear. I wanted him to disappear.
I knew I would never hurt him.
You can read the entire essay here.