A mum in the UK recently took her own life. Fellow PPD blogger Ivy Shih Leung wrote a very long and insightful piece about it here.
While I have not read anything beyond Ivy’s piece, I want to address one of the issues Ivy touches on in her post. For me, it is one of the primary reasons women who struggle with a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder still fight so desperately with reaching out for help and then with actually receiving the proper help.
Our battle has multiple levels. Were PMAD’s a video game, we would have to survive level after harrowing level before finally reaching a properly educated doctor or therapist. Some of us may be lucky enough to skip all these harrowing levels but for most of us, we are destined to fight with all we have while we don’t have much just to get by in a world expecting us to be super mom while we are at it.
First, we have to fight with ourselves to acknowledge that there is a problem.
Then, we fight with loved ones for help with every day tasks and with reaching out for help. We fight the argument that we are “faking” or “pretending” just to get out of housework or parenting. We are, some of us, told to suck it up and get over it. Move on. We’ll fall in love with our children eventually. Worse yet, some of us are told depression is some sort of luxury the former generations did not have time with which to deal.
Next, we fight with the front desk folks at the doctor’s office who may tell us such things as “If you’re not suicidal, don’t call us until you are.” (And yes, shamefully, that DOES happen in real life).
We then level up to arguing with a doctor who may brilliantly tell us that our hormones should be back in order by now so of course it can’t be Postpartum Depression despite the fact that we just admitted several high risk symptoms to them. So we are referred to the therapist who calls and reschedules until we are exhausted and cancel altogether.
So we suck it up and try to make do on our own until the next baby when we completely fall apart and start the entire routine all over again. Only this time around, there is a little less resistance from family members and friends because they have seen you go through this before and realize that maybe, just maybe, she isn’t making it up this time around.
But we have to stay off the Internet because it’s a dangerous place for a woman with a PMAD to be – we will be judged for breastfeeding while taking medication or for giving formula because we have to medicate. We didn’t try hard enough to protect ourselves, there is something wrong with us. Damn straight there is something wrong with us – it’s an illness, it’s real, and it is hell.
Psychiatric stigma is bullshit. The divisiveness motherhood brings to a woman’s life is bullshit. Hell, sometimes just being a woman altogether is bullshit. Why we judge each other so harshly for our choices is so beyond me I don’t even know how to begin to understand why we do this. I’m serious – I truly do not understand the in-fighting or bickering.
It comes down to understanding one simple truth:
Each mother needs to do what is best for HER and for HER family. As long as she is doing just that, we do not need to judge, we do not need to place blame, stigma, guilt, or any other negative blanket upon her or her family.
The Internet can be a fabulous place for support if you end up surrounded by the right people and ignore the wrong people. It’s finding the wonderful people that is the challenge.
I have a simple dream, in closing. It’s a dream that one day, mothers of all sort of different beliefs, will be able to have a discussion about parenting without inadvertently reducing each other to panic attacks and/or tears because they’ve judged someone for doing something outside the realm of *their* comfort zone.
One day, right?
Ha! Yes, it was loooong. Not known to be very succinct. Thank you SO much for mentioning it in your own post! Glad to see I’m not alone in voicing frustration about yet another poor mom (and family) falling through the cracks. Many of us mamas who have been through our own harrowing PPD journeys share the same dream of never hearing another tragedy like this again. Heck, not hearing about health professionals failing to see the signs and hear the cries for help from mamas in distress would be nice!
AMEN, Ivy. Thank you for sharing this post on Twitter as well.
Oh Lauren…I have the same dream. One where a mother can raise her baby best way she knows how, not the society’s way. Where mothers across the world were equiped with the right tools (internet) to help them through. Where PMAD’s were treated seriously with a lot more urgency.
We have a dream…
I agree fully. One day, I desperately hope this dream will become a reality.
Reblogged this on my ScrapMuse is… and commented:
I know I’ve been quiet, but in an attempt to blog more regularly, I’m drawing attention to this. ***If you are suffering from a postpartum mood disorder (depression/anxiety, etc.), this article could have a triggering effect.***
I know I already have a comment, since I shared this on my blog as well. Reading yet another story about a mom that fell through the cracks reminds me of the luck that I had when I developed PPA/OCD, and it makes me angry and sad at the same time. I’m lucky in that I knew something was wrong and was prepared to go on medication if necessary. My husband was supportive of me, and though I had to jump through a couple of small hoops, I struck gold with my first therapist, who was/is amazing! (I no longer live in that state, otherwise, I’d still be seeing her). All this being said, I had a similar problem when I started becoming suicidal. I was given an appointment 3 weeks out, then I had my breakdown.
It angers and saddens me so much know how many barriers there are and yet should not be. How many dead mothers (and sometimes children) do we need before changes are made? I love your dream…I pray it comes true sonner rather than later.