Surviving the Rogue Wave of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

I was driving down the road, listening to the news in my car as usual. The subject of the interview to which I was listening was a young woman named Abby Sunderland. Abby was sixteen years old when she attempted to become the youngest person to sail around the world solo. Six months into her journey, her sailboat Wild Eyes was hit by a rogue wave, snapping off her mast. After three days adrift in a remote part of the Indian Ocean, she was rescued.

While answering a question about how she got through such a terrifying experience, she said, “Everyone gets hit by a rogue wave at some point in their lives.” Her comment struck me immediately. I’ve been hit by a rogue wave. It was called postpartum OCD.

According to Wikipedia, “rogue waves (also known as freak waves, monster waves, killer waves, extreme waves, and abnormal waves) are relatively large and spontaneous ocean surface waves that occur far out in sea.” These waves can be as tall as a 10-story building, and are a threat even to large ships and ocean liners.

Prior to 2001, I would have thought myself a large ocean liner, capable of handling any storm that came my way. But like the cruise ship in the 2006 Hollywood movie Poseidon, I too was thrown upside down by a surprise wave, only this one was a wave of emotions that felt like they came out of nowhere.

While it’s not a one-to-one comparison, I do have some understanding of how it feels to be stuck in a lonely corner of the world, everything tossed about and topsy-turvy. I felt completely isolated, and as though I’d never be rescued from the nightmare of postpartum OCD. How I’m sure you feel with postpartum depression and anxiety.

Abby Sunderland survived. She was spotted by a Qantas airplane and picked up by a French fishing vessel 2,000 miles west of Australia.

Not only did she survive the ordeal, she is still sailing and says she would attempt to sail around the world again without hesitation.

I was eventually rescued from the middle of my own dismal and remote location, thanks to professional treatment, and I would have my sweet baby boy again, without hesitation, too.