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On the last track, we discussed when a man becomes a father. This has included mixed feelings, misunderstood reactions, the "easing the father’s fears" technique and a father’s two roles.
Do you have a client who is a new mother and recovering from abuse?
I’ve treated many women who mistakenly thought that their pregnancy would be the cure-all not only for their depression but also for their unhappy home life. A troubled marriage could lead almost anyone to feel depressed. Most people embark upon marriage assuming that it will be happy and fulfilling for both partners.
# 1 Increased Irritability
The husband of one of my clients actually moved out of the house during the third trimester of her pregnancy because he could no longer cope with coming home every day to what he described as an "emotional hurricane." Luckily, once both he and his wife understood that her radical personality transformation was a symptom of depression rather than a normal aspect of pregnancy, he was able to put his own feelings aside in order to support her, and he subsequently moved back in.
#2 Physical Abuse
And what about the women who are being abused? They are often as beaten down mentally as they are physically battered and bruised, and because they are depressed, they may feel hopeless and are totally lacking in self-esteem, they are unlikely to see any way out, particularly when they are about to have a baby and may, therefore, feel more dependent financially on their partner and believe that they won’t be able to survive on their own with a new baby.
Marissa, age 17, came to me when she was seven months pregnant. Although Marissa had a history of depression, her symptoms were presently in remission. Like many teenagers, she had abused drugs to help alleviate her depression, but she assured me that she’s been clean throughout her pregnancy. What she didn’t tell me, however, was that her partner, Art, whom she’d met at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting just eight months earlier, was still using narcotics in the form of prescription pain-killers.
Since Marissa’s depression and drug abuse made hers a high-risk pregnancy, I asked that she and Art come in together for a prenatal assessment. When I met Art, I had a strong gut feeling that he could be violent. I didn’t ask him directly if he was abusing Marissa, but I did manage to discover, through cautious questioning, that he was still struggling with drugs.
It was not, however, until her final postnatal visit that Marissa described to me the physical violence to which she’s been regularly subjected throughout her pregnancy. At that point, I alerted the appropriate child welfare agency so that they would be able to monitor the situation, but even so, just eight weeks after she gave birth, I received a telephone call informing me that Marissa and the baby had been admitted to the hospital with multiple injuries.
Both Marissa and the baby recovered from their physical injuries. The baby was put into foster care, and Marissa now visits with her frequently, trying to form a bond in anticipation of the day when, she hopes, her daughter will be returned to her. But it was not until her situation was out in the open that Marissa could bring herself to tell me she’s been, as she put it, "scared to death of Art the entire time she was pregnant."
#3 A Lessened Sense of Self
Do you have a Marissa? Might she benefit from hearing this track?
On the next track, we will discuss loss and depression. This will include mothers who lose mothers and the confluence of causes regarding depression
Online Continuing Education QUESTION 4
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