Asides from having conversations on post natal depression, it is also important to provide support for new mothers, who may be going through it.
In many western countries, support is readily available, unlike in Nigeria where there is no provision for that. In fact, spousal support may be absent, just like in the case of Emeh Achanga.
Actually, when she told him about her suicidal thoughts, “he laughed,” Emeh revealed in her blog post.
She had her first experience with depression when she had a Cesarean section. Crying non-stop and worried about work, Emeh was confined to a hospital bed and was unable to eat or drink water for the first three days.
“Then, I remember not feeling attached to my baby and I hated when anyone touched or came close to her. I wasn’t allowed to hold her for long as I was still in pain. So anytime she cried in hunger, the nurses or her father’s mum would bring her to me to breastfeed. Oh the pain was intense! Once i was done, I would want to cuddle her a bit to relieve the pain and she would be snatched away from me (for my own good).
However, I did not see it that way. I wanted her on the bed with me, not in a cot.I felt like I was of no use and felt like a bad mother for going through a c-section. Continuously sedated because of the intense pain,I walked to the hospital corridor, desperately seeking the opinion of a doctor. Had hallucinations I would die if I slept off after being sedated.”
One day, she begged a young doctor for help when she realised she was crossing the thin line between sanity and insanity.
“….doctor,please help me. I am feeling crazy. I think they are trying to take my baby away from me. Please, tell everyone not to touch my baby. Doctor, you don’t get it. I’m depressed. I hate myself right now. I am not bonding with my baby and I’m scared of hating her.”
Even though her mother in-law thought there was enough time for Emeh to bond with her baby, the first few days were important to her, “I didn’t want to end up on the news as that new mum who strangled her baby in her sleep.”
Emeh’s experience with post-natal depression affected her output and she confesses that everyday is still a struggle.
“Yes while people see me and say goals, I see a shattered woman who sits and sometimes daydreams of ending it all. And did I open up? Yes I did but no one understood me.”
Emeh is now committed to raising awareness on the topic, using her own experience.
“I recognized early that I was going through post-natal depression and made a conscious effort to fight it. Sadly, millions of women in Nigeria have no idea about it and people mistake depressed new mothers as just troublesome,nags and more. Instead, their spouses or partners, withdraw, isolate them, refuse to take them out, get lovers and continue to isolate the women.
In other climes, the doctor I cried out to would have realized I needed therapy and treatment. Once I mentioned death and suicide, I needed to be immediately placed under observation, not as a new mum, but a depressed mum….”
Read her full story on misspetitenaijablog.com