So often in hearing the stories of women in my research I get a sense of mothers living on the ledge of their lives--out there all alone, sleep depriv...
We make what is a temporary and treatable illness that is quite common among pregnant and new mothers even worse, and put the future of those moms and their children in jeopardy.
When I was diagnosed and first trying to make sense of it, what I wanted most was to talk with another woman who had been through it and come out the other side, someone who could reassure me with full confidence that it wouldn't be a permanent condition.
When my daughter locked me out of our apartment so she could eat dog food, I wrote about it and got advice on how to start "time-outs." When I didn't have time to shave and my daughter started petting my legs and saying "Good Puppy," I wrote a funny blog post about it.
You are a big part of the story -- your story, your children's story, your family story -- and this moment will never come again.
In the night, when you're sitting on the hard floor with your crying baby and your crying self and your despair because you want to just stop it but you don't know how, I wish you could zoom out and see that you're one of an ocean of mamas rocking on the floor in the night.
Though postpartum depression is discussed, reported, assessed, and treated, the stigma and confusion around embracing one's difficult feelings as a nascent mother is of grave concern.
When I began to travel across the U.S. with No Woman, No Cry, I was asked many thought-provoking questions about what I saw. One question that comes up consistently is about perinatal mood disorders, and more specifically about postpartum depression.
The images conjured up by the mention of PPD are generally of mothers struggling to bond with their newborns and experiencing feelings of extreme sadness. Using my focus group of one, that's exactly what I thought of when someone brought up PPD. That is, until I went through it myself.
After the birth of my son, I wore one of three t-shirts. Ironically, it was a faded and loose "Life is Good" t-shirt. Looking at the words "Life is Good" on my t-shirt was like a daily reminder (or guilt trip, depending on the state of mind). I was suffering with postpartum depression, and the sight of myself in the mirror threatened my already fragile state.
Any girl who's ever been overweight knows to NEVER throw out the fat clothes. Its a slippery slope to skinny, and discarding clothes you've outgrown is just tempting the fat gods to slather you with their lard wands.
Some women take to mothering the way some take to medicine or painting. It is in them. I wasn't one of those mothers.
Call it whatever you want: the Mommy wars, Mean Girls growing up, cat (or Tiger!) fighting: American culture seems to delight in watching mothers tear each other down.
Don't sit back and suffer thinking you are wrong in the way you feel.
People have different definitions for "recovery." Mine is doing what it takes to reduce one's worst symptoms and learn to manage the stubbornly-irritating ones that remain.
As a psychiatrist specializing in the treatment of women during pregnancy, I am regularly consulted by pregnant women, their families and their obstetricians about whether or not to use medication to treat a clinical depression during pregnancy.