The Mighty Logo

How Giving Birth Triggered My Bipolar Disorder

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Everyone has different goals, dreams and aspirations for their life, but ever since I was a little girl my biggest dream for my life was to be a mommy. I couldn’t wait to be a mom. I was going to be the best mom there ever was in the entire world, loving my children more than I was ever loved or cared for.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

I was emotionally, verbally and physically abused as a child, so I couldn’t wait to love and treat my child the way I always wished I should have and would have been raised. I already knew how to be a great mommy, because I planned on doing the exact opposite of what my parents did. I was always going to treat my children kindly, loving and praising them often, making them feel like they are very special children and people and I would always love them unconditionally — the way I never was.

Once I became a mom, my life would be so perfect and I would be forever happy, so I thought. I was teaching Special Education when I became pregnant with my first child at the age of 28 years old. I always loved the beauty of the miracle of pregnancy and I loved my beautiful baby as it was growing inside my tummy. However, my mental illness symptoms began during my pregnancy and gradually and continuously became worse by the end of my pregnancy. My symptoms reached the peak of severity after giving birth to my first child.

I had to have a C-section and what happened was, at the exact same second Dr. Bloom pulled my beautiful baby out of my womb, he also took every one of my emotions, and everything that made me be who I was and defined who I am, with my baby at the exact moment of her birth. I gave birth to two new people — my new beautiful baby girl and the birth of the new me, whoever that person was. I did not know the new me or recognize who I just became. I became nothing. I was pulled out with my new baby girl and my placenta at the same exact time.

Nothing remained of the old me. All of me was gone. I was missing. After my baby was pulled out of me, I didn’t feel any emotions at all anymore. I felt nothing. I was empty, just like my womb. Everything was gone inside me. I was gone.

When they were sewing up my C-section incision on my belly, I didn’t feel good. I just didn’t feel right. I knew something was seriously wrong with me, but I didn’t know what it was. I never felt this way before. After having so many medications and going through so much to give birth, I thought maybe that was why I was feeling the way I was and was so sick and miserable.

I do praise God that my beautiful baby girl, Kylie Rose, was healthy. The only problem is that her mother was not healthy. No one knew I was not healthy because they couldn’t see how sick I was. It was an invisible illness. The problem was hidden deep somewhere inside me. Everything looked good from the outside; at least, I think I looked how a woman is supposed to look after just giving birth via C-section.

However, I knew something was wrong with me. I didn’t know what it was and I could never tell anyone how I felt. I was not going to tell anyone because I was too embarrassed. This was supposed to be the happiest day of my life. I had been waiting for this day forever, since I was a very little girl. Now the magical miracle event had happened and there was something wrong with me. I didn’t feel the way I was supposed to feel. I did not have that loving happy feeling, the way I always dreamed I would feel.

What is wrong with me? Who have I become? Who am I? I didn’t feel anything anymore. I felt no joy, happiness, sadness or even anger. I was void of all emotions at the time, feeling numb and like I was nothing. I was becoming nothing. I was an empty carcass of a human being, an empty being pretending to be real, an unreality. I was the walking dead, if I could even muster up enough energy to walk.

I was no longer a real person. I was not real. When people would say something that used to make me smile, I would smile even though I didn’t feel like smiling. If someone told a joke I normally laughed at, I would laugh even though I didn’t think it was funny or I didn’t feel like laughing.

I barely had the strength to form my mouth upwards into the shape of a smile or the energy to make a joyful noise that sounded like a laugh, but I made myself do it somehow, sometimes. I tried to wear a mask and a costume to hide and cover up what was really going on inside of me. I became a master at pretending and master of disguise. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone what was going on inside of me and who I had become.

Having a baby was supposed to be the happiest day of my life. I thought it would have been too, but somehow for some unknown reason to me at the time everything inside me changed forever and I was never the same again.

Eventually, my OB Doctor diagnosed me with postpartum depression and gave me antidepressant medications. After a few appointments with the OB doctor, he realized he could not help me so he sent me to see a psychiatrist who then diagnosed me with bipolar 1 disorder and prescribed new medications for me. I started to see a therapist as well.

I had absolutely no idea what bipolar disorder was at that time, as 25 years ago it was not talked about very much at all. Eventually, I would soon learn everything about it, and it would forever change my life. What I once knew as my “normal,” and my normal life, would never be the same again. This was the beginning of the end of me, and my life, as I once knew it.

After the birth of my first child my life did change significantly, but after many years I finally accepted my diagnosis of bipolar 1 disorder with rapid cycling and mixed episodes, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). After finally accepting my illness, learning how to live and cope with the symptoms and after redefining my new self, I have been able to live a good and happy life, being the best mom and person I can be to the best of my ability.

Bipolar disorder is my primary diagnosis. I am a bipolar disorder survivor and, most importantly, I am and have always been a very loving and caring mom of three precious, healthy and happy children.

If you or a loved one is affected by postpartum depression or other postpartum disorders and need help, you can call Postpartum Support International‘s hotline at 1-800-944-4773.

Thinkstock photo via Purestock

Originally published: June 7, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home