PND series: When trauma meets PND

Note: this woman decided to remain anonymous in her story. I respect her decision 100%, so should you.

This is not your typical PND story and quite frankly did not unfold that way either. I had a rough childhood and upbringing which contained a solid handful of trauma. Everything from, sexual abuse to poverty, bullying at school and a very near abduction by a paedophile. Because of all this trauma at such a young age, my brain made me forget. I literally woke up one day and didn’t remember it, and this is a real thing. I looked a little deeper into this to give you some insight, in case you think I am utterly insane.

Emily Dickinson once said, “the mind is wider than the sky,” and this is so true when it comes to the complexity of the brain storing memories we make daily. “The cerebrum, or forebrain, makes up the largest part of the brain, and it is covered by a sheet of neural tissue known as the cerebral cortex, which envelops the part of our brain where memories are stored. Although your brain does typically automatically store your experiences into a form of memory, there are times where your brain “walls off” a memory of a traumatic experience”

So how does the brain react to trauma?

When the brain registers with an overwhelming trauma then it can try block the memory and this is called dissociation or detachment from reality. The brain tries to protect itself and the body by blocking the trauma experience. And this is exactly what happened to me as a young child.

Fast forward to the time I fell pregnant I started to experience triggering flash backs. And flash backs of the trauma and memories. Certain smells, songs and objects would trigger this off. It was something I did not understand and I remember feeling completely overwhelmed and alone. What was happening to me? I felt like if I couldn’t understand this and how I was feeling, how was I going to tell anyone else? And now I was pregnant too which heightened all my emotions.

A 9 month struggle

I struggled for nine months trying to come to terms with the fact that I had all this trauma especially the sexual abuse and I had to now raise a child, how do I do it? How do I change his nappy? What if I cannot do it because I don’t want to violate his rights and innocence even though I would never touch him inappropriately but if you have been through this type of trauma you will understand what I am talking about and that it is a very dark road to walk down. I never want anyone taking his innocence the way I was robbed of mine.

A few weeks before birth I googled coping tools and started trying to heal myself all by myself because I was too ashamed to talk out and felt like what happened to me was all my fault so why would anyone even care, and if I speak out people are going to think differently of me. But oh how I wish I had just spoken to someone, reached out to a psychologist, a friend, my fiancé, anyone I could trust but I was petrified so I tried doing it on my own.

The day he was born

I went into labour 3 weeks early and it was a complicated birthing experience. A labour that lasted 19 hours and then ended in an emergency C-section. Straight after surgery I started vomiting from anaesthetic, in the post op area and the vision I had in my mind of my birth being this magical and beautiful experience was soon ruined with the reality of what was unfolding. As they removed my son from my stomach I felt like they injected me with PND because it was instant, although I am pretty sure it was there beforehand. It was a feeling of just a whole lot of emptiness, a dark hole of emotion and this was a time I should have been so happy. I remember the morning I was discharged, I sat in the chair and sobbed. The nurse came to me asking what was wrong and I just sobbed more. I didn’t want to take him home because I felt worthless and incapable. I felt like I was unable to care for him. This nurse was the sweetest and all I wanted to do was just tell her everything and why I was feeling this way but as the words were about to leave my mouth my mind started throwing me with “what if she thinks this of you” “What if she reports you” “What if she tells the other nurses”, so I dried my tears strolling down my face, got up and explained it was just a weak moment and pushed my baby boy out of the hospital.


The following weeks were some of the loneliest weeks of my life, I was so depressed and discouraged that it didn’t matter what anyone said to me, I just couldn’t get out of the hole I was hiding in. I ended up getting mastitis and had many post birth complications which added to the depression. I spent many mornings in my “free” time while baby was asleep just sobbing in the shower while my fiancé was at work. My son was not sleeping which meant a lack of sleep for me too and then he had reflux. I just hit rock bottom and had no idea how to help myself.

I clearly recall the day I looked at my innocent child’s face and I had somewhat of an epiphany, I envisioned his life in the years to come and I saw myself, a strong happy woman reaching my hand out to him and he took my hand, looked up at me and smiled AND that is the day I turned my life around, I realised that only I could help myself, and I needed to help myself for this little human that I was blessed with. I know it sounds easier when on paper but it was far from it, still to this day I work on my depression and anxiety and I still see a psychologist but that day pushed me, it pushed me to go to the doctor and get medication to help me manage my anxiety and depression and just to COPE, and it also pushed me to heal, change and become a better version of myself. It was the very first step to my recovery from both trauma and PND. You see when the two meet it’s like dropping a Mentos into a 2L bottle of coke, it explodes because if both are left untouched and unresolved then the only way to release the pressure is to explode.

When trauma meets PND

My journey was hard and it was long but if I have learnt anything whether it is PND, PNA or trauma, it’s that you need to WANT to help yourself, you need to drag yourself to that mirror and force yourself to look AT YOURSELF and say “I am worthy. I am a good mother. I am loved and I AM ENOUGH! We as woman apply so much pressure on ourselves to be the perfect woman, wife and mother because society has painted this picture of what this “should” look like however that is not realistic, that is not raw and that is not the honest truth. We all walk different paths in life, some easier than others but no path is less important to the individual walking it.

The lessons I have learnt over this time is that leaning on your mom community, close friends, family and people who have experienced similar difficulties are a true source of help and comfort. Lean on these individuals, do not keep things bottled up inside and seek help. It does not mean you are weak, it actually means you are one hell of a WARRIOR!

PND is just a diagnosis

Post Natal Depression is just a diagnosis for lesson to be learnt in life, it does not define you or your value. It is normal and if you are going through this right now know that you are not alone and that there are many woman out there just waiting to hold your hand and walk this journey with you.

Seen on CapeTownInsider.

2 thoughts on “PND series: When trauma meets PND

    • Suburban Cape Town Mom says:

      Hey Nashieta, thanks for the message. I will pass it onto the author, I know she will appreciate the message. Thanks <3

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