News broke late last week that a California mother had taken the lives of her three children. Conduct a man-on-the-street interview and you’d likely hear outrage, vile epithets directed at the monster who would kill her own offspring. My own husband brought it up to me in a pained tone of voice. He was disgusted. It IS disgusting when such a thing happens.
But I’m not angry at her.
Horrible events like this make me sad.
Sad that three lives on the cusp were snuffed out. Sad that poor defenseless, innocent babes were terminated. Sad that the father had to watch his bloodied babies be carried from his home; that his partner in life, in giving life, was the one responsible.
Sad that no one connected to this woman perceived any threat of dangerous behavior. Sad that perhaps she felt she couldn’t express such feelings before it was too late for fear of judgment, backlash. Sad that she didn’t know how to get help. Or perhaps didn’t have such resources available.
Sad that things like this continue to happen needlessly.
We live in a society with a different-hued ribbon for everything – and things like this still happen.
And woman like this are still labelled as crazy. I found ONE account that handled this story sensitively. (Read here)
In the anger and outrage that follow such an event, it’s easy to point fingers. Why was she left alone with the children? Why didn’t anyone ensure she got treatment? Thankfully, I never experienced postpartum psychosis (nor has it been substantiated that this woman did); even still, I hid my negative feelings for fear of judgement as a bad mother. I never asked for help because my struggles were so far out of the realm of a competent mother. Would I have been more likely, then, to admit to homicidal thoughts toward my children? Not something someone who loves and cares for their children – which all postpartum mothers do on some level – would readily admit. Therefore, there may not have been warning signs of this impending tragedy. Many postpartum mothers are uncannily adept at masking the turmoil inside.
So here’s the lowdown:
- For all its awareness, we still live in a society where women are compelled to hide their unhealthy mental symptoms.
- For all the coverage of tragedies such as these, a lot of people still cannot recognize or suss out the warning signs and symptoms of the mentally ill to prevent future scenarios.
- For all the resources available, the paths to these therapeutic and rehabilitative programs are still unclear and/or blocked.
- For a species that values nurturing, we are quick to throw a troubled and needy person under the bus.
There is work to be done, people. It is sad that we cannot look each other in the eye and see the need in that person. It is sad that we look away for fear that the beast inside us will be awakened by the raw reminder in front of us. It is sad that, instead, we cannot look and see a solution, a way to lift up the depressed and rise together.