“Have you ever heard of something called ‘Post
Natal Partum Depression’?” She asks me. I have. She tells me that it is this kind of depression that sometimes hits you when you get a child, which drives you crazy and mutates you into a different person. You want to harm yourself, you want to harm your child. You are happier when people take your child from you because you are afraid you may harm the child, but you are angry at them still because that is your child and she deserves to stay with her mother.
She tells me she struggled with this depression after giving birth to her child. She went nuts. Other people do not understand you. Some create all kinds of conspiracy theories to explain the animal you have become. They say you are demon possessed. And they blame that auntie for the possession. That auntie who refused to come to your wedding. Who, during your pregnancy, brought you some energy drinks that had suspicious names. That must be the aunt. And they give other examples of how that aunt has been the family’s undercover operative.
Others call your husband aside and tell him, “you see why we warned you against marrying from that tribe? We told you those people are not good. Now the jinis have come after her. You ought to have listened.” Your husband listens and does not know what to do or think. A part of him wants to agree with them because nothing else can explain the current you. But also, deep inside he knows the real you and he knows how beautiful you are.
Others call the pastor and demand exorcism. You are possessed. You have a murderous spirit. The demons of death have made their habitation in you. And they need to be chased out. They move around you in circles chanting strange things, all this time as you sit there crying and wondering, “what is wrong with them? What is wrong with you?” They tell you that you are cooperating with the spirits.
All this time no one is focussing on you. No one puts effort to understand you, and you may not blame them because you also don’t understand you. The criticism, the hate, the spiteful remarks behind your back, the alienation from your child, all these drive you to the ideation stage of suicide.
They finally take you to the psychiatrist, who is the first person to give a name to what you are going through. Your relatives are in shock on learning that what you are going through is actually a thing, a thing with a name, a think with a diagnosis, and most reassuringly, a thing with a possible solution.
He gives you loads of medication, anti-depressants, which you are to take for some time. Then he proceeds to ask you some questions. “What kind of delivery did you expect to have? Did you desire a boy or girl?” You wanted a normal delivery. You really did. But at the hospital things turned south and they did an emergency CS. You had wanted a boy, who you could name after your adorable father in law. But you got a girl. Not to mean that your mother in law, nay, love, is not adorable but your heart just desired a boy. But the girl came. He tells you that some of those unmet expectations may cause emotional frustration that may contribute to this kind of situation.
After some time, you start normalising. You start morphing into the you that you knew, the you that you love, that people praise, that people do not call names. You are happy that the hollowness is gone, and that you and your child are still safe. But like the angel of death, this condition did not leave you unscathed.
It reset your life. It deflated all your self-confidence and drained all your self-esteem. Now you are unsure of everything, and you must double-check every action and decision. Even your speech was affected, and now you stutter as you speak. It appears like even words are afraid of coming out of your mouth as if they doubt whether it is safe outside, and so when they do, they do with hesitation. May be you are afraid of being judged harshly for your words, actions or thoughts, and therefore, you hesitate, you doubt. You are starting life from scratch, and it is scratching you as you do.
She says that should I know anyone who is going through this situation, she is willing to help. She is not out of the woods yet herself, but at least she has seen some light, and she can help pull someone closer to this light.
We unanimously agree that as a country, as a people, we need to talk about these things. We need to create awareness of this situation, so that we are better equipped and we know how to handle this situation as victims or as friends of victims.
The sun is setting and because we grabbed all forests in this city and therefore no trees, the only missing ensemble to complete this picturesque sunset is the movement of birds in formations as they head to their nests. We need to plant trees here, but first, we need to talk.