Postpartum Depression Healing: Samantha’s Story
by Glenn Holsten
“My entire life, all I wanted to do was be a mom. I knew that my life purpose was to have children someday.”
Moments after giving birth to her daughter Charley, however, Samantha’s dream of perfect parenthood was shattered by postpartum depression. “I just remember my initial thought was, ‘Wow, like, I’m happy she’s healthy, but I can’t hold her right now. Get her off me.’”
As the days continued, Samantha’s condition did not improve. She had a million questions about her troubling situation. “Why am I not smiling? Why am I not excited to start my day? Why can’t I go close to my daughter? It doesn’t have to be magical, but why doesn’t it feel normal, or just peaceful, to be with my child?”
Samantha remembers going into the nursery and trying to bond with her daughter. “It just broke my heart. I just couldn’t do it, and I felt so guilty and I felt terrible.”
Her depression worsened, and dark thoughts arrived. “Why should I be alive if I can’t take care of this beautiful daughter that I dreamed of my whole life?”
Samantha knew that she needed help. She admitted herself into a psychiatric hospital, where she began the long, hard process of healing. Her recovery from postpartum depression became her full-time activity. Her family—including her husband, new daughter, and her dog—became her focus for summoning the energy she needed to get healthy. Samantha credits medication and Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for helping her restore her quality of life. In addition, Samantha is indebted to her support network (husband, parents, siblings, her cousin, and friends) for helping her through her most difficult days.
Samantha’s journey was a painful and difficult one. I’m happy to report that their story ends happily. Samantha, her husband Michael and big sister Charley welcomed baby brother Brooks into their lives. Her second pregnancy was without any postpartum depression.
Today, Samantha shares her story freely, in hopes of reducing stigma and helping others. She also wants her story to be something that inspires her children in years to come. “I want them to, to look back when they’re adults and say, ‘Wow, my mom was… she was a fighter. She had an empathetic heart. She helps other people, and she loves me.’”
“Samantha’s Story” is the final video in our five-part OC87 Recovery Diaries series titled “Holding Space: Stories of Maternal Mental Health.” The series presents five individuals who tell of touching, challenging journeys with postpartum depression and perinatal anxiety and mood disorders (PMADS). We hope you enjoy these stories and share widely.
Special thanks go to Perri Shaw Borish, psychotherapist, founder of Whole Heart Maternal Mental Health and project advisor to this series.
If you or someone you know may be in crisis or considering suicide, please call, text, or chat the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.
EDITOR IN CHIEF: Gabriel Nathan | EDITOR: Glenn Holsten | DESIGN: Leah Alexandra Goldstein | PUBLISHER: Bud Clayman
See Related Recovery Stories: Anxiety, Depression, Holding Space: Stories of Maternal Mental Health, Mental Health Short Films