posted in Parenting
She did everything she was supposed to. At her postpartum checkup she was honest. Depression. Fits of anger. But no desire to harm herself of her child, she explained. She wanted help and medication. Instead the cops were called on her and she was escorted to the hospital.
This was my biggest fear. It was Jessica Porten’s reality. Her story enraged me, as it did many others. I cried for her. Shook in anger. And thought to myself, “that could have been me.”
I stayed silent in my battle with postpartum depression because of fear. That I’d be hospitalized. Lose custody of my child. Or simply have the thoughts in my head confirmed: that I was a terrible mother and my son deserved better.
I stayed silent until I had no choice but to find my voice and use it. For my son. And me. I do wonder if hearing Porten’s story would have impacted my decision to seek help. I worry there are moms right this minute who are staying quiet. If so, I have one thing to say to all of you: Don’t remain silent.
Porten’s story is important. It shines a very bright and necessary light on the current state of PPD treatment. I understand that doctors have a lot to be responsible for, but it’s infuriating how many ob-gyns are dismissive towards PPD. I’ve had countless women write me on Instagram (where I chronicle my PPD journey) and say their doctor told them to buck up, or that it was just the baby blues and to get a night of sleep.
My doctor saved my life. She hugged me, validated me. The nurses held my hand and fed me pumpkin bread because it was evident I’d barely been eating. It was one of the most supportive experiences of my life, actually, in the midst of my darkest hour. I wish every woman with PPD/PPAD could experience that.
To my fellow PPD moms, here’s what I want you to know:
- You aren’t alone.
- This is real.
- You won’t feel like this forever.
- You are a wonderful mother.
- This isn’t your fault.
- Your baby has no idea what’s going on, and won’t remember any of this.
I had no one to tell me these things. Not asking for help stalled my healing process and I wish I’d screamed SOS sooner. I did, eventually, and here are the steps I took:
- Saying it aloud: I danced around my depression. I’m tired. Overwhelmed. Those were the things I was willing to admit to my doctor and family. But I never said how I wanted to get in my car and leave because I thought my son would be better off without me. Until the dam broke and I confessed my true feelings. Whether it be your doctor, partner, babysitter or a total stranger, it all begins with honesty.
- Going online. I desperately wanted to connect with other moms who had PPD. I felt alone and isolated; that no one ever had it as bad as I did. I started on the BabyCenter community and Facebook groups. Found accounts dedicated to PPD. I eventually began documenting my journey with PPD on Instagram, and the support was overwhelming. Other moms started sharing as well, and now we have a community of support that gets us through the hard days.
- Medication. It’s not for everyone, but it works for me. Trust me, if eating grass-fed coconut chips topped with dung beetles would help I’d do that, too. I tried many things. Medication gave me back my life. I recently had to increase my dosage a year after I started, instead of weaning like I’d hoped. Instead of being ashamed I’m grateful that something exists that can help me.
- Extra help. Even with everything I was doing I needed more. With the help of a wonderful organization called Postpartum Support International I found a local therapist who specialized in PPD. Plus support groups.
As moms we often feel we have to be Wonder Woman and do it all. Unfortunately that sometimes means taking care of yourself falls into last place. It’s not okay, and it doesn’t have to be that way. Remember, even Wonder Woman has her golden lasso for help. We deserve some, too.
For more mom moments, follow me on Instagram at Witty Otter.
You can find some BabyCenter resources on postpartum depression here.
Have you received treatment for PPD/PPAD? What advice can you share with other moms?
Images by Becky Vieira