I am reeling from a tragic story I only just became aware of. I’m ashamed to say, it never occurred to me that male postpartum depression existed. It does, and can lead to unimaginable suffering. One night, in January of this year, an NYU Computer Science Professor and his wife were heatedly arguing in their Greenwich Village apartment over the care of their premature twins. The babies had been ill.
We’ve all been there. I remember those days: the stress and exhaustion, the guilt; emotions all over the place. Sometimes saying things I didn’t mean. Feeling as though things were out of my control. And with preemies, there is an added element. If you’ve seen your children in isolettes, with tubes running in and out of them, a panic takes root in your chest–and it never really dies.
During a lull in the argument, after his wife had left the room, Sam Roweis jumped out of his 16th floor window, to his death.
His family and friends were left stunned and heartbroken. They remember him as extremely smart, witty, upbeat. He had no history of depression. The Huffington Post article covering his death links to a gothamist article offering this explanation:
“One psychotherapist discussed the possibility of men experiencing postpartum depression, saying ‘studies suggest men may be just as likely as women to be depressed when they become parents. The condition is typically called paternal postnatal depression.’ This can cause lack of sleep and hormonal changes — including ‘a drop in testosterone levels that makes them more likely to stick around and look after a baby, but also more likely to feel angry or depressed.’”
I don’t usually blog about weighty issues, or tragic stories, but this story kept me up all night, and I felt the need to write about it. Paternal postnatal depression needs to get much more publicity. I’m not dooce, I only have a little blog, but I want to do my part– so I’m doing this.