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Robin: developing intrusive thoughts

Robin tells her journey from postpartum depression and anxiety to healing and hope. Her story highlights the affect of disturbing thoughts (intrusive thoughts) and the role of support and self-care in her recovery.


Robin’s newborn daughter was diagnosed with a serious heart condition.  With her partner working long hours, and no nearby family, Robin was left mostly on her own with her toddler son, her newborn, and a constant stream of medical appointments. Then a close friend died when her daughter was three months old.  

I just, realized I couldn’t even I couldn’t do daily things like getting up and, and feeding myself and feeding my son became challenges. And the, the slightest things were completely overwhelming. And that I wasn’t sleeping because I was afraid, I was continuously checking to make sure Moira was ok and that she was breathing and that her heart wasn’t racing. And so I just, I just, I just stopped functioning completely.

Well I knew, I knew that I was, I was at risk, simply because I had experienced with, I had experienced depression previously in my life and I’d struggled with it through, as a teenager and a young adult

 During her postpartum period, Robin experienced disturbing thoughts that harm would come to her children.

I guess I would just define an intrusive thought as like a .. just a flash, a disturbing thought that flashes into your mind and leaves right away. I think that lots of people before they have babies, like I think everybody gets intrusive thoughts in some sense. I think, I know that one that I had before I had kids was always the Sea-to-Sky Highway, when I was driving down the Sea to Sky Highway and I always drove off the edge of the Sea Highway. And it was always like that shiver would happen and then, and it was like it would, it would be fine because it would pass.

But, but when it came time, it came to disturbing thoughts around my children they, there was such a, they just stayed with me and I, and I obsessed about them and they would, they and there was so much guilt around that too.

And some of them were, were around my, my, my daughter and most, a lot around her medical condition. And, and that she was just not breathing or that she would stop, that she wasn’t alive anymore.

And then also sometimes I would have .. uncomfortably violent thoughts towards my older son that were because I was just so frustrated. I was just so tired and, and then they were, and sometimes I would have flashes of things like that which were really uncomfortable and really terrifying. And hard to talk about.

And it was terrifying to think, you know, what might happen if I said I was feeling that way. You know? I was afraid that maybe somebody might take my kids.

When her daughter was four months old, Robin finally reached out for help

I definitely think that the beginning of the healing was, was the post- the Pacific Post Partum Support Society and that, you know,  I’d had a day when I just was, I was just crying  and I just, nothing was working, I couldn’t, I was not functioning, I couldn’t even get myself up and I, so I just picked up the phone and I made a phone call and .. talking about how I was feeling for the first time .. things changed in that moment, you know,  just because I hadn’t talked about it at all, at all, none of it.

And then, with the support group, having time to myself with two hands, sitting with a cup of tea was like a moment of self-care that I hadn’t had in, in months and months. And, and being able to listen and hear other women tell their stories and it, each story was different but inside of each woman’s story was a piece of my story. And so hearing those stories being told, I didn’t even have to talk and those things I, it was, it, I started feeling better in those moments.

You know one thing that for sure was, was helpful in my journey was see, was seeing other people who’d come through it, and were doing great, you know, that was really nice to see. And to hear because you can, you can come through it, I mean life is a journey and, and there’s ups and downs all the way through life, I mean there’s never going to be smooth sailing necessarily.

There will be moments of it but there’s rough waters too, but I think seeing, you know, meeting other women who had come through what I had come through, or I was in the middle of, and seeing that they had gone through it and were on the other side of it and were, were saying: I’m ok. And, and, you know, you can get better and knowing that, that it does get better, was really enlightening and important for me to see.

You know, one thing I know for sure that I’m, you know, coming through post partum depression which was one of the hardest times in my life ever, but when, coming out on the other side I can say that I’m actually really thankful for having that experience. And that’s simply because I think that I would have been struggling with the ability to cope with, with things before and that I never really knew how to take care of myself or to handle emotions but I was, I was easily able to sweep them under the rug or just put them aside. But after, you know,  having gone through post partum depression and being able to gain those tools I am so thankful that I have them and I would never, ever, that would never have happened had I not experienced what I did after my daughter was born.