Long, long ago
When my son was very, very young
I thought of killing myself
But what about my son?
I can’t leave him behind
Well then, I’ll take him with me
Oh, my God!
That’s where it comes from
That’s why mothers take their children’s lives
When depressed and suicidal
They do not want to abandon their children
They do not want to leave them behind
It’s not rational
It’s a depressed and suicidal thought process
That takes a leap
From killing oneself
To killing the one most cherished
I get it now
I get it
My brain went there
To that completely unacceptable place
I considered killing both myself and my son
The thought was momentary
It came
It left
The thought happened long, long ago
But it did happen
I did think it

Thank God I recognized my thoughts as irrational
Thank God I had done so much work in therapy
Thank God I was on antidepressants
Or, maybe, not
Maybe the antidepressants
Hormonal changes of birth and breastfeeding
Lack of uninterrupted sleep
Triggered these thoughts

During my son’s infancy, I was not diagnosed bipolar type II. Diagnostic criteria did not yet describe people like me. I would tell doctors that I was probably at the very least cyclothymic. To my family doctor, wife of a psychiatrist, I had depression and responded well to antidepressants. Researching antidepressants before I became pregnant, I chose Zoloft, an SSRI deemed safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women. So I took Zoloft during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

Antidepressants can trigger hypomania, mania, even psychosis in those of us with bipolar disorder. Treatment (even with lithium, mood stabilizers, and/or antipsychotics) does not guarantee an absence of symptoms, including depressed or suicidal thoughts, mania, hypomania, or mixed states. Living with a mental illness requires diligence, self-awareness, and knowledge.