Shortly after Yalda gave birth to her son, she noticed she didn’t feel quite right. She’d chalked her sadness and trouble concentrating up to a typical bout of the “baby blues.” The sadness, though, never stopped. Yalda couldn’t sleep without medication, wouldn’t shower and could barely take care of herself – let alone her new baby. She knew something had to change so she went to the Women’s Mental Health Clinic where she was happy to find a physician who specialized in exactly what she was experiencing and was able to provide much-needed advice on how to cope and what medication could be prescribed to mitigate her symptoms.
Six months later, a very distressing thought entered her mind. Yalda started experiencing strange, intrusive thoughts about harming her son. She was convinced they were just thoughts and would never happen but was terrified and turned to her family for help and reassurance. The thoughts continued and became stronger, culminating in a vivid and convincing urge to step on her child’s head as she was changing his diaper. When Yalda realized her leg had begun to lift with this thought, as though perhaps she would could do such a thing, she instantly ran from the room and begged her mother to take her child away from her.
Later that evening, her husband brought Yalda to the Foothills Medical Centre. As Yalda desperately explained to the nurse that something was wrong with her and she had to be separated from her son to ensure she didn’t hurt her child and herself, she was surprised to be met with compassion and understanding. It was as though suddenly a light switch went off – Yalda was going to be alright because she reached out for support. The nurse hugged her and thanked her for coming in. This was a disease, the nurse said, and could be treated. Many women don’t come in because they are afraid of losing their children – and terrible things sometimes occur. In this moment, Yalda knew that things would change and that she could get better.
With support from the Women’s Mental Health Clinic and Dr. Mohamed at the Foothills Medical Centre, Yalda was diagnosed and treated for postpartum anxiety and depression, including the rare symptom of psychosis. In 2016, Yalda finally understood – and felt – that moment of meaning and purpose with her son, who she now considers her sole reason for living. She credits the support she received from her family and the clinic for helping her through her illness and hopes that by sharing her story, she in turn will help women experiencing postpartum depression understand they are not alone and there are incredible, caring people here to help.