When Erin Palmbas fell pregnant in 2010, she was excited to be a mother for the first time and to finally have the baby boy she had always wanted. But once he was born, she struggled to feel anything except depression and anxiety.
“My baby boy was crying all the time and we weren’t getting much sleep – that’s when things started to go a bit downhill,” Ms Palmbas said.
“I couldn’t sleep even though I was so tired, and I was worrying all the time about every little detail about him; I was stressing over everything.
“It got to the point where I couldn’t cope and I remember ringing up my husband one day at work and said, ‘You have to come home from work’.
“I couldn’t do it anymore. I was crying all the time, I was beside myself and I didn’t want to be alone with the baby. It was horrible.”
Ms Palmbas became incapacitated, unable to live her everyday life and complete simple tasks. Her mind was swarming with negative and terrifying thoughts.
“I was having these horrible thoughts that I was going to hurt my child and that scared the life out of me – I thought I had turned into a monster who wanted to hurt this child she’s longed for,” she said.
“I didn’t know who I was and I didn’t know what was going on. I had these strange thoughts and thought they must be real. I honestly thought I was going crazy.
“I felt terrified all the time and I was in a constant state of panic. It was intense and debilitating.”
When Ms Palmbas attended a mothers’ group, everyone seemed to be coping and having it all together, which made her feel isolated in her experience.
“When it’s not spoken about, you just think that it’s just you,” she said.
“It makes it even harder when you think you’re really alone and no one understands you or is going through anything similar.”
Running away crossed Ms Palmbas’ mind many times.
“I thought I’d just pack my baby up and take him to one of my family members and just drive off, and everyone would live all the better for not having me around,” she said.
“I was just a wreck and absorbed in my thoughts in this deep dark hole. I couldn’t see any way out.”
This article first appeared on ‘ABC’ on 8 October 2015.