Oh, for fuck’s sake. I just had the misfortune of reading some of the mouth-breathing comments on the Daily Mail’s website following the report about Felicia Boots, the post-natally depressed mother who smothered her two small children as a result of her illness. As you’d expect from DM readers they lacked empathy and intelligence to the point of parody, which makes grim reading for me because, if these cheese-brained nose-pickers are any judge of character, then I am as wicked as they also believe Felicia Boots to be.
See, after Kraken Junior was born I developed severe post-natal depression and I too had moments of peering into her cot and wondering what would happen if I just took that pillow and… Now I was ill. Very ill. It was suspected by my psychiatric nurse that my depression began when I was pregnant and then went supersonic after giving birth. By the time Kraken Junior was three weeks old I felt desperate and exhausted. When she was three months old I felt unable to cope and when she was six months old I was simply suicidal. All that got me through the 3am feeds was the promise to myself that once she was content and settled back in her cot I’d walk into the busy road outside my house and end it all. To me suicide wasn’t the problem. It was the solution.
Of course, the rallying of family, friends, doctors, psychiatric units and even pharmaceutical companies all brought me back from the brink and helped me through what was a complete mental breakdown. It’s taken five years but I am on my way. What I haven’t left behind though is the complete and utter understanding of what it is like to be so engulfed by depression that even the unthinkable becomes doable.
See, many people will look at Felicia Boots’ actions and judge them from the standpoint of people who have never had mental illness. They have never suffered depression, never seeing the brightest colours turn grey, never cried because they felt so desperate and never believed that the world, and their newborns, would be better off without them. They’ve never panicked because the tea or coffee question confused them, never become hysterical because even the sound of the rain is too much to endure and never grabbed the hand of a friend and whispered that they feel possessed.
So how in the fuck can these same people judge Felicia Boots? They have no idea what it is like to look at their small child and believe that death can solve everything because they have never experienced the illness – not the lifestyle choice – that forces you to want to kill against your terrified will. It’s the laughable equivalent of squirrels understanding the Special Theory of Relativity.
Yet even if people cannot understand Felicia Boots’ action, they can at least try having some empathy or sadness or thought for it, for a woman who was clearly so desperately in the grips of her mental illness that she killed her children. See, because while she physically smothered her babies it was her broken brain that really did the job, a brain stolen by an illness so terrible that it also stole the loving mother that she really was.
So the next time we read of a story like this one – and there will be a next time – we should stop and think before waving those pitchforks. Yes, that even applies to Daily Mail readers. Because post-natal depression doesn’t discriminate or select its victims according to character type. It rampages through the minds of even the most devoted of mothers, mothers who, at times of crisis, need support – not this disgusting senselessness.