Thursday, April 21, 2011

Driving Your Car Into a River Does Not Make You Crazy

Lashanda Armstrong drove her four kids into the Hudson river last week, drowning herself and all but one child. Andrea Yates killed her children by drowning them in the bathtub. She thought they were possessed by demons. Banita Jacks killed her daughters last year and then lived for months with their decomposing bodies in her home. Are these women mentally disturbed or is something else going on?

As I listened to 'Tell Me More', during my car ride down south, I was riveted by the topic that we women, mothers mainly, need to open up more and speak out about these feelings that are sometimes so dark and towards our children.

Going beyond two rounds of postpartum depression I can fully admit to having moments where as a mother I just wanted to run for the hills. Where I find myself standing in a room, hands over my ears, biting my lip to keep from screaming and squeezing my eyes shut tight. The tornado of chaos that multiple children can bring can almost be too much to bear. When you add in sleep deprivation over long periods of time, daily stressors and possibly financial stress or marital woes you have yourself a lovely Molotov cocktail that is continuously being lobbed at your mental and emotional state. One more spilled cup of milk or hair pulling incident is just going to send you right over the edge. It certainly feels that way at the time.

Some women grab a drink. Some grab a pill. Others exercise. Some call a friend or even a sitter. But what if you can't do any of those things? What if you don't know anyone in your area? What of you have no resources or finances to get out or hire a sitter? What do you do? You suck it up. You swallow that panic. The rage and darkness turns inward and your mind becomes a swampy soup of swirling thoughts that never stop their vicious cycle. You want out. You regret your kids. You can't do it all. You just have to leave. Or worse.

As a mother, I know this. I have felt many of those feelings. While I never have wanted to harm my kids I can totally understand how you can get to that point. The cause isn't mental illness either. It's sheer normalcy. These situations can be like being in battle. You react to these abnormal (to an adult) situations like coloring the baby with glue and markers or mashing blueberries into the sofa in the most normal way you know how. For me, I find talking to a my friends, my family and my shrink can be extremely helpful. Except when the shrink says I should hire a nanny. Really? You think that wouldn't solve some of my problems if I could afford it? Hm.. Maybe if I stop paying the shrink....

When we were deep in the mires of TD's tantrums I know I felt half-alive. I felt half-crazy most days and like a failure as her mother. There was something she needed that I couldn't give and I didn't know what that thing was. The idea of calling someone like TD's pediatrician made me panic-stricken. What if they wanted to take her away from me? When I did finally pick up the phone and call her doctor in a sobbing, hiccuping mess all I found was relief. We were given the tools and resources we needed to work through the situation and find a way to reach TD and break the tantrum cycle. Instead of fear there is now just relief because I talked. I stopped fearing so much.

Maybe if we stop judging other women as mothers so much we could feel accepted and have the ability to open up more. Maybe if we stopped talking about what is deemed normal and what is supposedly 'crazy talk' women wouldn't be so afraid to talk to their doctors and friends and family. Maybe this post will help someone to not feel so alone.


  1. I'm so glad you wrote this, and I think this is such an important topic.

  2. As always, your honesty is refreshing. I'm not even a mom, and I'm already weary of "mom judgment." It's the toughest job in the world and one day I hope to have the support I need to survive...and *hopefully* thrive.


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