In December of 2015 I was diagnosed with a severe form of Postpartum Depression. I was scared, lonely and had no idea what to even think. Was I to be the next Andrea Yates? Was my name going to be whispered in dark corners as the woman who “caught the postpartum depression”? Google, WebMd and even breastfeeding blogs pounded into my head that I needed to avoid treatment as much as possible and for heaven sakes don’t take the dreaded SSRI. I just needed to think positive thoughts (I did), pray more (I did), and just suffer in silence like the thousands of women before me (I did). All I was met with was increasing judgment and I was getting sicker. Why is there such a negative stereotype associated with Postpartum Mood Disorders? Fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being thrust into the limelight of the things to avoid. Fear that you may be the next sensational news article plastered over social media with thousands of comments bashing everything about you. Today we are going to stand and shine some light into the darkness. Throwing off the negative sterotypes, showing our faces to the world.
I am a woman.
I am a mother.
I am fighting Postpartum Depression.
I am more than my diagnosis.
I am a person.
1. It does not see race, social status, gender, faith or age.
“If only I wasn’t (insert whatever here) I wouldn’t have had postpartum depression. ”
Hayden Penititare created a media frenzy when she checked herself into a treatment center for postpartum depression. How could she, as a multi-millionaire, possibly be affected by this condition? While statistics show that some groups of women are at a higher risk for developing postpartum depression that others, one in seven women will be diagnosed across the board.
One in seven.
That means almost 600,000 women in the U.S alone. Once you count women who are diagnosed after a miscarriage the number sharply increases to almost 800,000. That is a staggering number of women.
2. It can happen later than what was originally thought.
For many years it was believed that postpartum depression could only happen within the first 8 weeks postpartum. Doctors now believe that postpartum depression can happen anytime during the first year postpartum and will often show up between 4-6 months.
3. Nothing you did caused it.
No one knows what causes postpartum depression. Mental health issues are still greatly misunderstood by society in general. If you break a bone, it needs treatment. Same goes for your mind. Sometimes our bodies need just a little help to find their new normal again. I can’t even count the number of times someone told me that if only I had done “x,y,z” it wouldn’t of happened.
If only you would have had a home birth.
If only you would have prayed more.
If only you would have had more faith.
If only you would have made yourself smile.
If only, if only, if only. You know what the problem with “If only’s” are? You will never know if it would have worked. It may have or it may not, who is to be the judge of that.
4. It’s scary.
No one wants to admit that instead of feeling the happiness that is pushed by society after delivery, they feel sad. That they wonder if they made the right decision or if they will eternally screw up their child because they know something isn’t right. We begin to avoid going out in public because the outside world is scary. Fear of judgment, fear of bad things happing or even fear of others thinking you are an unfit parent if they were able to see your thoughts. Our minds go places that we would have never imagined and we are isolated by the imaginary jail that postpartum depression has placed us in.
Being alone is a scary thing. We know something is wrong, we feel that something is wrong but we have no idea on how to make it any different.
5. You are not alone.
You know that 600,000 women who I talked about in my first point? They are standing hand in hand to not only beat postpartum depression but to remove the negative stereotypes that have been associated with it. For the first time resources like Postpartum Progress are available to us. We have support lines that we can call during the middle of the night and therapists who are trained specifically for helping postpartum depression. Outpatient programs are beginning to be implemented at many hospitals nationwide so you can seek help while continuing to be with your family.
You can still breastfeed while seeking treatment for postpartum depression.
Treatment for postpartum depression has expanded to a huge range of options. Therapy, outpatient programs and nursing friendly medications are now available so you can continue to breastfeed your baby if you wish.
Lake Charles, La