A PMAD Survivor Story from a TMC Day Program Graduate:
My summertime maternity leave was joyful. Life became difficult when I went back to work. I was working three days per week, studying for my professional exams two days per week, and trying to be the ‘perfect mother’ on mornings, evenings, and weekends. Winter was setting in and my baby was at daycare. I felt guilty that he was getting sick every two weeks and exhausted because he would pass it on to us. I was failing at all three of my jobs and couldn’t keep up with anything. I had lost so much weight that my clothes were falling off, but somehow I didn’t notice that my body was physically falling apart. Maybe I was just ignoring it.
Everything snowballed when I was hospitalized with postpartum thyroiditis at six months. I had to slow down, but I fought it because I’m a perfectionist and couldn’t admit that I needed help. My anxiety set in. It got so bad that I stopped sleeping and developed severe IBS. One morning I had a panic attack in the office and realized I couldn’t go on. I had to tell my boss and walk out on my job. I headed to the subway feeling scared, alone, and helpless. What was I going to do to get out of this mess?
Things went from bad to worse, and at nine months postpartum, I started to feel terribly depressed. I searched for help and was told about The Motherhood Center. So I went to the PMAD support group. After my second session, the Founding Director asked me to stay behind and told me about the Day Program. She said it would help me to get better faster, so I started full-time the following week. The treatment I received from the incredible team at TMC and the support from fellow patients saved my life. I spent six weeks in full-time care and felt truly mothered. My PMAD brought back feelings of loss and grief from the death of my ‘perfect step-mother’ at age twelve. I learned that acceptance and change are possible. It’s okay to have big emotions and need help. There is no such thing as ‘perfect’ and striving to be a ‘good enough mother’ is a healthy perspective. I had no idea that my adverse childhood experiences had been bubbling up inside.
Three years later, I’m still in weekly individual therapy and I attend the PMAD support group at TMC. Through continued hard work, I’m a different person today and I gave birth to our second son in September. The pandemic has made things difficult and I lost my job in October. Despite several bumps in my motherhood journey, I’m thriving. I love validating other women who are in the depths of their PMAD and I want to spread the message that maternal mental health matters. The artwork I did during my TMC therapy sessions hangs above my baby’s bassinet and when I look at it each morning, I feel thankful to be alive.