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Woman who had post-partum depression says she attempted suicide 4 times

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Time now for StoryCorps. After Heidi Koss gave birth to her daughter, Elora, she suffered from postpartum depression. Elora is now 14 years old, and she spoke to her mom about her experience. And a note for our listeners, this story mentions suicide.

HEIDI KOSS: I was really looking forward to having a baby and very excited, but it wasn't quite what I expected.

ELORA KOSS-NOBLE: How did you expect it?

KOSS: I guess I just didn't realize, like, how trapped people can feel. Like, I had nightmares all the time.

ELORA: What kind of nightmares did you have?

KOSS: Tornadoes ripping you from my arms. I would wake up in this panicked sweat, and I would have to check on you constantly. I went to my doctor, and he said, well, I could prescribe you an antidepressant, but you'd have to quit breastfeeding. I didn't realize at the time that that wasn't very accurate. And so I kind of suffered along.

ELORA: Who was there to help you through all of that?

KOSS: Well, Daddy. But he was also trying to finish his Ph.D. and working two jobs, so I was pretty isolated. I was counting the moments so that I could get a break. There were times when I felt like I would just try to hold it together all day while you were awake. And then when you would go to sleep for the night, that was kind of my safe time to totally fall apart and let it all out.

ELORA: Did you ever attempt suicide?

KOSS: I attempted suicide four times. All four of them were at night. I always made sure that you were taken care of. I pumped and I pumped milk, and I stored milk in case I wouldn't be here anymore. But once I got properly treated, I've never had those thoughts again, honey. I want you to know that I'm OK now. I'm never going to leave you like that.

ELORA: I'm just glad that you didn't.

KOSS: You were the reason I stayed here on this earth. I could not imagine not being able to stay with you and be with you and see you grow up.

ELORA: Yeah. I know it's not your fault because a lot of mothers go through postpartum depression. In the future, if I ever have a baby...

KOSS: I definitely want to be there for you.

ELORA: And you'll help me.

KOSS: And help you.

ELORA: I'm glad that we're here for each other.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHRIS ZABRISKIE'S "THE 49TH STREET GALLERIA")

FADEL: That was Heidi Koss with her daughter, Elora, at StoryCorps in Wenatchee, Wash. Heidi is now a therapist who specializes in postpartum depression. Their conversation is archived at the Library of Congress. And if you or someone you know may be considering suicide or is in crisis, call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline - just those three digits, 9, 8, 8. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Esther Honig