I have a horrible confession, an unthinkable thought. At one point, I thought about ending my life. Why? Well, I’d just had a baby and my husband of thirteen years had been constantly on my case, during my whole pregnancy, about what a horrible person I was, what a failure as a mother I was, and how I cornered him with this pregnancy. What was the point of my being here then?
It never occurred to me, until later, of course, that those feelings were a mix of sleep deprivation, of not having the medicine I needed to heal, of postpartum depression, and that my husband was abusive. I was breastfeeding our child and his tummy was not filling up. Plus, he was a newborn with his days and nights mixed up, and was busting out of his swaddles like Hulk Hogan. All I saw, instead of those logical things, was that I was a bad mother. I thought so, because he’d planted that seed in a very exhausted mother’s head. I see that now — but not then.
I was also recovering from a C-Section, never before having had surgery, and was sent home with pain medication. However, the day after coming home, I got up to get more pain meds and they were gone. No where to be found! I questioned my two other children, then aged 8 and 13. I knew they didn’t know anything about it, based on their reactions. The pain was excruciating, so much so that I had to have my children help me to go to the restroom and by handing me the baby. When my husband got home, I asked him if he knew anything about where the meds could be. He went from mellow to being furiously angry in approximately ten seconds. “Is that why you’re being such a bitch?” Wait, what???
“Babe,” I explained. ”I’m in so much pain I’m sweating and nauseated.” He stormed out of the room, enraged that I’d think such a thing, and shut himself in our room. I literally passed out from pain, after having fed the baby. When I woke up again, or regained consciousness, it was dark and I had to struggle, through tears, to get up and feed my other two. My teenager came into the kitchen while I was steadying myself.
“Mom, I’ll fix dinner,” he said quietly. I could’ve cried, I was so grateful. But I also knew something else was awry.
“What’s the matter, honey?”
“Mom, I heard Dad talking to Uncle B. They took your pills and shared them and he was laughing about it.” My head reeled and throbbed. I though I was going to pass out. How. Could. That. Be?
“Are you positive?” I asked him. He slowly nodded and shrugged. Oh, great! Now I knew I’d have to endure this without meds. If I called to ask for more, my doctor might suspect me of selling them, and if I reported him for what he’d done, there was no evidence and he could possible go to jail — or worse, he’d just accuse me and my children could be in jeopardy with the police or CPS. I felt totally powerless and hopeless.
The combination of these events tore at my already fragile mental state. On top of everything else, when I went to my two-week checkup, the doctor diagnosed me with postpartum depression. She gave me a medicine to try. Honestly, I wasn’t excited about another controlled substance being in the house, after the last episode. Would he take that one too? I promised her I’d try it but I vowed to hide it. Ironically I hid it in my feminine napkins pack, knowing he would NEVER look in there. I took my medicine faithfully, but it didn’t seem strong enough to help. I also began having dark thoughts about if my being there was best for my children. Was I really as terrible as my husband said I was? My baby wasn’t sleeping. I couldn’t function like I had for my other two, often not being able to get out of bed. I had to be reminded to shower every few days. I had to be reminded to eat; my eight year old made me peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because she was worried. I felt as though I was not of use to anyone…
A month later, I ended up back at my OB/GYN’s office to evaluate how I was doing and if the medicine helped. I thought about lying and telling her that it did, simply so I could go home, but then decided against it. The nurses had made my husband wait in the waiting room, which I was so grateful for. Him not being there gave me the courage to talk to my doctor honestly and without reprisal. I told her what he’d done, I told her how the medicine that she prescribed made me have one emotion and was not strong enough, and I told her how low and useless I felt. She listened intently and then gave me a hug. A tight, ‘it’s-going-to-be-alright’ type of hug. She offered to try another family of medicines. I begged her to try something else because he’d just take that from me too. She sighed and sat there for a moment, thinking.
“Okay, here’s what you’re going to do,” she started. “You’re going to get up at the same time every day and shower and put on make-up and get dressed, even if it’s only to go to the post office. You’re going to bundle the baby up and take him on a one-to-two mile walk everyday, pushing him in his stroller. And you’re going to eat, at least, two meals a day and go to bed at the same time every night. Or I’ll put you on a strong medicine and report him. Agreed?” I readily agreed to that proposal.
I stuck to the doctor and I’s plan up until my baby was two. Thankfully, the routine and the exercise helped to get my baby and I back on track — he got on a schedule, as did I, and the endorphins from the exercise helped me to shake the “baby blues.” I felt foolish for thinking I should commit suicide to end my dark feelings. What would’ve happened to my children if I’d followed through?
Years later, I came across the ‘Semi-colon’ project and fell in love with the concept! I had a small semi-colon tattooed on my left wrist, hidden by my watchband. However, I would know it was there and it would serve as a reminder of that, no matter what, I still had to go on — that I still mattered and that I was important. It is a badge of honor that I proudly wear to this day.