Archive for April, 2009

Escapist Fantasies

A friend and I were talking about the anxiety part of postpartum depression. Her anxiety was so bad that she wanted to literally just run out of the house.

Ah, yes, the run out of the house fantasy! Raise your hand if you’ve had this one. There’s not a woman with PPD that I’ve spoken to that hasn’t had these strong urges to just outright escape, run away, run off to some other country and become a librarian.

In fact, there’s not a mom out there that doesn’t have the escapist fantasies from time to time – to leave it all behind and just be “free.” What makes it different when it’s part of a postpartum mood disorder is that it’s much, much stronger. It’s overwhelming. It feels very real. Like when you lock the doors and windows, you’re doing it to keep yourself from escaping, not to keep the bad guys out.

Occasionally you’ll hear of a woman who actually does it. She leaves her children and runs off somewhere. Most mom will have a sharp intake of breath, an instant of “I wish I could,” and then the heartache that comes with the very thought of abandoning their children.

Sometimes PPD moms will be stuck between the “I wish” and the heartache. They feel frozen. I have a theory that the urge to escape not just the child or children but the postpartum depression itself is what fuels the fantasy. If only everything could feel better if they just went away. If only you could outrun your feelings.

The trick (if you could call it that) is to instead sit with the feelings. It helps some women to just know that they will pass, that they won’t last forever, that this will get better. This will get better. This will get better.

If nothing else, please know that. Seeing a psychotherapist can help that process along. There’s plenty of research to support that. But even if you can’t afford to or choose for whatever reason not to, just know that this will get better even without treatment.

Peace out.