Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Why Am I (still, again) Writing About Postpartum Depression? Because 21 Years Later, It Lingers

Twenty-one years ago at this time, my first child was 10 months old, and I remember thinking, it's got to end soon…but it didn't: "It" being postpartum depression. 

I've written before about how PPD disrupted my early mothering, but today I have an essay at Brain, Child which addresses an aspect of PPD I've become significantly more interested in as my two sons have grown—the effects of PPD on a mother as time passes.

For me, and I suspect for many others, PPD didn't just disappear and leave no scars behind. 

Here's an excerpt:

"Because here’s the truth about what comes after severe PPD goes away: the deepest, darkest clouds may wash away in a few months, or a year, or in my case, about 22 months. Your therapist may wean you off the anti-depressants which saved your sanity (and probably your marriage). You may have more good mornings, and eventually only the kind of mornings when you wake up and you are no longer already crying. You may not any longer be overcome, hourly, with feelings of guilt, shame, hopelessness, and fear. All this may happen, and you may begin to enjoy your child (or children), sink into your role as their mother, relish your little family—but. That will never feel like your right or your natural state, and you may, at any given stressful mothering moment, think you certainly are going to drift away, back down that hole. The truth about having survived severe PPD is that it is incipient. It lingers. There is a legacy. Its shadow, the fact of its presence in your history, never goes away.

And you are a different person for it. You are a different mother."

If you're a frequent visitor here, you know that I don't do much advocacy in the pieces I publish, but this one is important -- to me and maybe to a lot of other women. I believe it will resonate for many mothers who don’t feel comfortable talking about PPD's after-effects. I'd love to start a conversation about that, and I hope you'll pass the essay link along to anyone you know who may be affected by PPD. Wouldn't it be great if it also sparked some discussion among those who study maternal mental health?

As always, thanks for your support. 

Image: Flickr/Creative Commons - miyukiutada

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