when you get pregnant, everybody tells you what to eat, what to drink, what to wear what to call the baby, how often to walk, etc. nobody gets you ready for the fucked up part. like the part where you will be a young single mother or that part where your boyfriend suggests an abortion, and when you decline, he disappears. l was aware of all these. what nobody ever told me, was that there was a small probability that l would get depression. heck, lm African, there was a time when depression was really not a recognized ailment. you were either normal or running after people in the marketplace with torn polythene and sacks as clothes.
l heard of the term postpartum depression six months after delivering my baby. l did not actually hear it,l read it. I googled my symptoms and this term popped up. l am a university dropout. l was in my third year when l got pregnant, and when my friends were putting on graduation gowns, my maternity gown fit pretty nicely.
l do not even know how this started, but during the time of my delivery, things were not really good at home. our house had been set ablaze by invaders in the night, we were actually lucky that the portion that burnt down was not our main house but still, our cars and the better part of the property was in ashes. my son, though a welcomed blessing was not the main attention at the time. my mother, while in the middle of a divorce had to deal with the frustrations of the insurance companies.
it did not help that the guy l got pregnant for had avoided me like a plague and brought in more drama at the hospital when he heard of the bill. up to date, I do not know what the back and forth was about, but l remember him bringing a friend to confirm if the baby really looked like him. whenever he came over to my mother’s house to ‘see the baby’, he brought along his girlfriend who successfully managed to give me the message that l was nothing but an inconvenience to her man.
I am talkative and jovial, l love laughing, and even though l can be a little introverted, lm one advocate for living life to the fullest(if that’s even a word.) l struggled with my pregnancy. being in school meant that l was broke, I could not get a job, and was malnourished. there were a few times when I almost lost the baby but I pulled through. that is what mattered. I was excited to meet my little human, l even got my hair done, my feet scrubbed, and I did the whole nesting thing.
a few weeks after delivery, l started having these emotional surges. I was either too happy or at times depressingly sad. I hated leaving my room, and when I did, I would sit outside just staring. my head ached a lot and the cry of my baby irritated me. one day, I was seated outside and l thought about killing myself. I started looking for ways to just end it. I felt tired and angry and l needed a way out. my every attempt failed. I tried pills, cutting my wrist, and even bought a rope to hang myself. our help caught me in the act all times. she was not really educated, but she started talking to me. whenever she came in the morning, she would ask me to keep her company and give me gossip about people in our estate, it was not significant but the company helped me.
when read more about postpartum depression, I became conversant with what l needed to do. i was still jobless so I could not afford therapy. I remember downloading an app that had anonymous users. one would post an update of how he/she was feeling and anonymous people would inbox you in the app and give a channel for communication. l got an opportunity to talk about my issue with strangers and got help. through the app, I also helped other people who had bigger problems than l had. l later went to therapy and got help. l was on antidepressants for a while.
seven years later and I have not had a relapse in years. I learned to identify my triggers, cope with my anger and refocus my attention on less stressful situations.
sometimes it’s good to check up on people close to us. most times people smile to hide broken hearts and unimaginable mental struggles. there may not be much we can do but a little kindness goes a long way.