Home Life Style Yusra Bibi's Story of Post-Partum Depression Exposes Harsh Reality of Child Marriage

Yusra Bibi's Story of Post-Partum Depression Exposes Harsh Reality of Child Marriage

Yusra was only 15 when she married, and within two months, she was pregnant, thrust into the daunting role of motherhood at a tender age.
by Wagma Feroz - 30 Mar, 2024 1606

In the serene backdrop of a small village Sangota in Swat, Pakistan, Yusra Bibi's story unfolds, revealing the harsh reality of postpartum depression tangled with the consequences of being married off as a child. Yusra was just 15 when she got married, and within two months, she was pregnant, thrust into the daunting role of becoming a mother at a tender age.

During her pregnancy, Yusra's behavior grew increasingly worrisome. She started talking to mirrors, convinced that there were unseen children on the floor whom she might harm. Desperate for help, her husband turned to a local spiritual healer, a common practice in their community. However, instead of finding relief, Yusra experienced additional anguish as the healer subjected her to painful rituals, such as burning her fingers, all in the name of banishing evil spirits.

Yusra's husband shared, "I blame myself for taking her to the spiritual healer and relying on outdated methods to address her complex mental health issues. I was unaware of this disorder."

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Yusra's cries for help went unheeded in her marital home. Her mother-in-law, bound by tradition, opposed seeking medical help, adding to the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Eventually, Yusra's symptoms became unbearable, prompting her husband to take her to a nearby hospital. From there, she was referred to a psychiatric hospital in Peshawar, emphasizing the urgent need for professional help in dealing with her deteriorating mental health.

However, Yusra's challenges didn't end with her hospitalization. Following her premature delivery, she struggled to bond with her newborn daughter, perceiving her as a danger to the family. Consequently, her mother-in-law intervened and took the baby away, exacerbating Yusra's distress.

Dr. Fatima, the psychiatrist overseeing Yusra's care, diagnosed her with postpartum depression, a condition often worsened by factors like early marriage and limited awareness of mental health. It's common for new mothers to experience the "baby blues" after childbirth. However, around 1 in 10 women will go on to develop more severe and prolonged depression.

Additionally, about 1 in 1,000 women may experience postpartum psychosis, a more severe condition. Postpartum depression (PPD) encompasses a range of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes that some women undergo after giving birth. Yusra's experience underscores the urgent need for improved education and support systems to address the mental health struggles that women face in similar situations.

Yusra's husband spoke to The Tribal News Network (TNN), emphasizing that his wife is not a monster but a victim of circumstances beyond her control. He stressed the need to address the harmful practices of treating mental health and break the silence surrounding mental health issues.

Yusra Bibi's story is a stark reminder of the challenges faced by young brides and new mothers in communities bound by tradition. It highlights the importance of providing education and support to women like Yusra, enabling them to break free from the shackles of societal expectations and find their voice in the fight against mental health stigma.

Dr. Fatima highlights that most cases of postpartum depression she deals with come from tribal areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where there's still a strong stigma attached to mental health. In these communities, many people mistakenly link mental health struggles with supernatural beliefs or traditional views about women's behavior.

It's crucial to launch comprehensive community-based initiatives aimed at educating men, who often have the final say in seeking medical assistance for women. Equally important are targeted programs to involve older women, who often play a pivotal role in the lives of their daughters-in-law.