Yesterday, Hayden Panettiere announced that she will be re-entering treatment for post-partum depression.
Panettiere first went into treatment last fall. She later told Live with Kelly and Michael, “When [you’re told] about postpartum depression you think it’s ‘I feel negative feelings towards my child, I want to injure or hurt my child’ — I’ve never, ever had those feelings. Some women do. But you don’t realize how broad of a spectrum you can really experience that on,” she said. “It’s something that needs to be talked about. Women need to know that they’re not alone, and that it does heal.”
For those of you who are curious, who’ve never experienced it, or who have experienced it and want to feel less alone, here’s what post-partum depression can feel like.
It can feel like you’re going to die. Not only that the emotional devastation is so great that it feels like it might kill you, but a preoccupation with the idea that you are going to die, that you are going to leave this world before your child can remember you and you will be forgotten entirely. You will have never mattered.
It can feel like something is going to happen to this child. Disease, an accident, that something will rob you of this perfect creature that you went through so much to bring into your life. Something will happen, and your child will be gone. And it’s just a matter of time.
It can feel like the person you’re raising your child with is out to get you. That he’s cheating on you, or engaging in old toxic behaviors that will destroy your entire world.
It can feel like your child is out to get you. That your baby can cry and scream all day long, only to stop the second someone else arrives, as though your baby is trying to make you look as crazy as you feel.
It can feel like they’d be better without you.
It can feel like a sudden rising pressure that fills your whole body, surrounding your lungs until you can’t breathe. Like your ribcage will snap under the weight of whatever this is pressing against it, like your skin will rip open but it just won’t do it, it won’t relieve the pressure and you just exist in this horrible state until it passes.
It can feel like nothing. The absence of any feeling at all. The sucking void of emotion so empty it’s heavy.
It can feel like suddenly you look up and weeks have passed and you’ve just missed it. Like you were on autopilot. Like the feelings-void you had has ended and now you have this overflowing reservoir of emotions and chaos and you missed so much and now it’s all happening at once and how are you even supposed to handle this, all of this, the crying the diapers the everything, it’s all too much.
It can feel like all of this at once. Or none of this and something completely different. And it can feel better one day and like everything will be alright. And then you realize it was never truly gone, that your cruel mind tricked you into thinking you were OK again and you weren’t. You never were. And it can feel like you never will be ever again.
That’s post-partum depression. At least that’s what it was for me. All my best to Hayden, from someone who’s been there and only just now made it out.