LACASSINE, LA (KPLC) - Having a baby is supposed to be a joyous time, but for many moms it can be one of their darkest times. Bonnie Bercegeay, of Lacassine, a mother of two, opens up about her experience in the depths of postpartum depression.
For Bonnie, pregnancy brought an unexpected reality. "I was shocked and disappointed, actually," she said.
Bonnie and her husband had been married for more than 10 years when they decided to start a family. While it was something she thought she would be excited about, her feelings quickly changed. "I had a fantasy vision of what that would be like, so when I actually did become pregnant, the reality began to set in," she said.
Bonnie's first pregnancy and delivery went smoothly. Life was good, so baby number two followed three years later. But this time it was different. "What was different was the anger I noticed I was feeling toward our newborn daughter," said Bonnie, "as well as toward my husband and our three-year-old daughter."
Those feelings caused Bonnie to became a person she had never been before: irritable, angry and withdrawn. She says motherhood was a chore. "When I would be nursing our infant daughter at 2:00 in the morning, I would even tell her that," said Bonnie, "that I regretted having her, that I was resentful of her. That I hated her."
Then Bonnie hit her breaking point. "Mya was at this point was almost six months old and she was sitting at my feet crying," she said, "and Zoe, our three-year-old was fussing and the dog was barking and I remember literally screaming out, 'I can't do this anymore.'"
The next move was a desperate phone call to her midwife. "I was thinking that I was failing our family and in particular, our daughters, as a mother," said Bonnie, "I felt that something was inherently wrong with me as a person."
Bonnie began taking herbal supplements for her mood and was eventually led to the Shannon Cox Counseling Center in Lake Charles, part of Family & Youth Counseling Agency. Kristen Cassidy was the counselor that listened to Bonnie. "When you have baby, everything changes: financial state changes, your relationship with your spouse or partner changes, plus you do have those hormonal changes and that can trigger some chemical imbalances as well," said Cassidy.
Even though one in five moms experience postpartum depression, it can be hardest to talk about it with other moms out of fear or shame that these feelings are isolated. "Most people did not want to talk to me about it, so it was very isolating and very lonely," said Bonnie.
Cassidy says those feelings are all too common for women experiencing postpartum depression. "As a woman, that's just what you're supposed to do is be a mother and you're supposed to love it and you're supposed to be good at it. And so then, women actually get pregnant and they have a child and they realize there's a lot more to it," said Cassidy.
Bonnie's girls are now 10 and 7 and she says her journey through postpartum depression is better, but not over. Her hope is that other moms reach out for help earlier. "Talk about it in the best way that you can," she said "ask for help, share what they're thinking and how you're feeling."
If you are feeling sadness, anxiety, irritability and withdrawn, your family doctor or a psychiatrist can talk to you about postpartum depression. There are antidepressants that are safe to take while breastfeeding.
Shannon Cox Counseling Center provides counseling and case management for women experiencing postpartum depression. Call 337-436-9533 for more information.