05 January 2012

Is Post-Partum Depression a Cop-out?

I follow Katherine Stone of PostPartum Progress on Twitter. Today, she tweeted this:

 Katherine Stone 

No. That is all. RT : Is Postpartum Depression Being Used As A Cop-out? 

I, of course, followed the link and my jaw literally dropped at what I read. Allow me to quote the entirety of the blog post.

Is Postpartum Depression Being Used As A Cop-out?

I don't even know where to start. I *think* I can at least excuse this blog post better than I could swallow Sheryl Paul's outlandish nonsense, since at least this blogger isn't claiming to be an expert and peddling a product she claims will prevent PostPartum Depression. But still, I'm blown away... I guess the best place to start is at the beginning: the title.

 "Is Postpartum Depression Being Used As A Cop-out?"
No. PostPartum Depression is not a cop-out. PPD, PostPartum Psychosis, and any PostPartum Mood Disorder are very real, very legitimate, very horrible conditions. And by the way, PostPartum Depression and PostPartum Psychosis are NOT the same thing. Anyways... I don't know a single person who deals with it who says "Dude, I love this! This is fun, I never want to stop feeling like this.". Everyone I know who is or has dealt with a PPMD has wanted nothing more than to stop feeling how they do and go back to feeling "normal" again. They don't use a PPMD as an excuse for stuff. In fact, the women I know who deal with PPMD are usually ashamed of their feelings and thought patterns and find it extremely difficult to say "I'm dealing with a PPMD".

"I personally never suffered with postpartum depression"
I can say from personal experience that I felt far differently towards people with a PPMD before I suffered one than I did after I received my own diagnosis of PostPartum Depression. It's amazing how much it changed my opinion to walk a mile in the shoes I had previously been decryng. In fact, I would like to say right now that I apologize to anyone I hurt back in my pre-PPD years with my statetments that "It's no excuse".

" I can’t say 1st hand about the severity of the condition."
I can. And I have. Go look back through any of my blog posts. It's miserable. And I didn't even have to deal with PostPartum Psychosis, but I know someone who did and it was NOT a happy thing.

"I have however, had several friends whom suffered with the illness. These new mothers were down and out, suffered with mood swings, sudden crying and sadness for no apparent reason."
The thing she is apparently failing to keep in mind here (okay, one of the things) is that not all PPMD are created equal. Different PPMD have different symptoms, and different people with the same PPMD will often present differently. You might find that one woman with PPD is listless and feels numb, while another is restless and feels a wide range of intense emotions. One woman may suffer insomnia and never be able to sleep while another may sleep constantly and not get out of the bed except to use the restroom. Just because you know someone who shows some symptoms one way does not mean you know how everyone else with a PPMD will behave.

"Before I go any further let me clarify, I do know this condition exists! I just do not believe it should be used to get off murder."
I hardly think anyone who is found "Not guilty by reason of mental insanity" gets off free. Just because they don't get the death penalty or get put in general population with the guy who knowingly raped and murdered his sister just because he could but is fully mentally competent and cognizant doesn't mean she's getting away with what she did without any consequences. I'd say that a life sentence (with or without parole) to be served in a secure state mental health facility constitutes consequence, it just happens to be consequences that are in keeping with the crime and the condition that caused it.

"While I am no professional, I can’t help but wonder if postpartum depression is being used as a cop-out for mothers who commit the ultimate crime- killing their own child. Defense attorneys look for any reason to help their client, we already know that. I however, do not agree that it should be allowed as a reason to kill and get away with it."
Once again, they don't get away with it.
"Today I came across an older news note about Otty Sanchez, a mother who killed and ate her child. This woman who investigators say suffered with postpartum depression, killed her baby, tore his face off, chewed his toes off and ate pieces of his brain. Otty Sanchez was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the death of her baby.Regardless of the reason, she killed her child! She should spend the rest of her life in prison or be handed the death penalty!"
What this blogger fails to mention is something from this particular article that I think should be quoted:
"SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The warning signs were there. Otty Sanchez, a schizophrenic with a history of hospitalizations, wasn't taking medication and was depressed after her son's birth, the boy's father said."
This is the same article the blogger linked to. Otty Sanchez had more going on that "just" a PPMD. She was schizophrenic and NOT taking her medications, AND she was living in "a house where she had access to Samurai swords". She was found with not only her dead baby but also with "self-inflicted cuts to her torso and an attempt to slice her own throat". Also from the same article:
"Scott W. Buchholz, the infant's father who met Sanchez six years ago while they were studying to be pharmacists assistants, said he isn't buying it. He said although his girlfriend had postpartum depression and told him a week before the killing that she was schizophrenic, she didn't appear unstable.He wants prosecutors to pursue the death penalty."She killed my son. She should burn in hell," Buchholz, 33, told The Associated Press.Otty Sanchez's medical history is muddled. A family member said Sanchez had been undergoing psychiatric treatment and that a hospital called looking for her several months ago. Gloria Sanchez, Otty's aunt, said her niece had been "in and out of a psychiatric ward."In May 2008, Otty Sanchez's mother, Manuela Sanchez, called police after her daughter didn't return from a trip to Austin, saying she was concerned about her daughter's safety. Manuela Sanchez told police she suspected Otty was into drugs and specifically told police she wasn't suffering from any mental issues.Buchholz, who is himself schizophrenic and takes six anti-psychotic and anti-convulsive medications, said Otty had postpartum depression and had been going to regular counseling sessions after the birth, but refused to take prescription medication for her depression. Still, he said she seemed fine."She seemed like a a very caring, loving mother. She held him, she breast fed him. She did everything for him that was nice," he said.On July 20, Sanchez was taken to the hospital for depression and released less than a day later, Buchholz said. Sanchez told him that she was schizophrenic and was going to live with her parents and sister. Sanchez was arrested at her mother's house, where police found her and the dead infant."

I would suspect that the schizophrenia and refusal to take medication probably played into the situation as well. This woman was extremely mentally disturbed and needed treatment. And I do not see how it's vaguely acceptable or logical to say that someone who is suffering from such conditions beyond her control should be put to death. However, it's a lot easier to say that when you've never experienced first hand what it's like to go through a PPMD.
"I’m sure you all remember Andrea Yates, the mother who killed her 5 children by drowning them in the bathtub. Her attorneys said she had been suffering from severe postpartum psychosis, and a jury found her not guilty by reason of insanity in 2006."
Andrea Yates wasn't exactly let off the hook. From a CNN article:
"A Texas jury spent less than an hour deliberating before sentencing Andrea Yates to life in prison Friday for the drowning deaths of her five children. She will be eligible for parole in 40 years."
I don't usually like to quote Wikipedia but I think they summed it up best:

"On July 26, 2006, a Texas jury found that Yates was not guilty by reason of insanity. She was consequently committed by the court to the North Texas State Hospital, Vernon Campus,[4] a high-security mental health facility in Vernon, Texas, where she received medical treatment and was a roommate ofDena Schlosser, another woman who committed filicide by killing her infant daughter. In January 2007, Yates was moved to a low security state mental hospital in Kerrville, Texas.[5]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrea_Yates

Yates conviction was later overturned due to the fact that one of the experts who testified had been found to lie. From this article on MSNBC:
"Andrea Yates’ murder conviction for drowning her children in the bathtub was overturned by an appeals court Thursday because a psychiatrist for the prosecution gave erroneous testimony that suggested Yates got the idea from a non-existent episode of “Law & Order.”The ruling by the state 1st District Court of Appeals means Yates is entitled to a new trial, though prosecutors said they would try to have the conviction reinstated.The court based its reversal on false testimony by a prosecution witness, forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz, who stated during Yates’ trial in March 2002 that the killings occurred shortly after an episode of the NBC police drama in which a woman drowned her children and was acquitted by reason of insanity. (MSNBC is a joint venture of NBC Universal and Microsoft.)Other witnesses testified that Yates watched the television series, allowing the prosecution to suggest that Yates had seen the show and used the plot to plan the murders of her children.Jurors did not learn until after Yates was convicted that the episode never existed. They were informed before the sentencing phase of her trial, however, and rejected the death penalty.Psychiatrist acknowledged error Dietz, a nationally known authority who took part in the Jeffrey Dahmer and the Unabomber cases, was the lone mental health expert to testify for the prosecution, and he was the only one to say Yates knew right from wrong.“His testimony was critical to establish the state’s case,” the appeals court said. “Although the record does not show that Dr. Dietz intentionally lied in his testimony, his false testimony undoubtedly gave greater weight to his opinion.”
Later, during closing arguments, a prosecutor referred to Dietz’s testimony to suggest that Yates learned from the TV show a way to escape responsibility for her actions. The prosecutor told the jury: “She watches ‘Law & Order’ regularly. She sees this program. There is a way out. She tells that to Dr. Dietz: A way out.”In his testimony, Dietz said he was a consultant for the popular NBC series and added: “As a matter of fact, there was a show of a woman with postpartum depression who drowned her children in the bathtub and was found insane, and it was aired shortly before the crime occurred.”The error in Dietz’s testimony became known to prosecutors and jurors before the sentencing phase in 2002. The defense asked for a mistrial because of it, but the judge refused. The jury ultimately spared her from the death penalty.A receptionist at Dietz’s office in Newport Beach, Calif., said Thursday that neither Dietz nor his firm would comment on the ruling. In its ruling, the court noted that Dietz “acknowledged that he had made an error in his testimony.” The defense argued that Yates, 40, who was under psychiatric care for postpartum depression, was insane at the time of the killings.The appeal cited 19 alleged errors from her trial, but the appeals court said that because the false testimony issue reversed the conviction, it was not ruling on the other matters. Among other things, Yates attorneys had claimed that the Texas insanity standard was unconstitutional.Prosecutors said they planned to appeal Thursday’s ruling.“We fully intend to pursue a motion for a rehearing,” said Harris County Assistant District Attorney Alan Curry, who argued the case before the appeals court. “Barring that, we’ll continue to appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. We still believe we have a good shot to prevail in appeal.”Prosecutors told the court last month that there was no evidence that Dietz intentionally lied and that the testimony was evoked by Yates’ defense attorney during cross-examination. They also argued that Dietz’s testimony was not material to the case and that there was plenty of other testimony about Yates’ plans to kill her children.“We agree that this case does not involve the state’s knowing use of perjured testimony,” the appeals court said in its ruling. But the judges said prosecutors did use the testimony twice and referred to it in closing arguments.Convicted in three deaths On June 20, 2001, Yates drowned her five children one by one, then called police to her Houston home and showed them the bodies of Noah, 7, John, 5, Paul, 3, Luke, 2, and Mary, 6 months.Jurors in 2002 sentenced Yates to life in prison in the deaths of three of the children. She was not tried in the deaths of the two others.“She smiled and said she was basically just kind of in shock,” said Todd Foxworth, warden at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Skyview Unit, who delivered the news. “But she was very happy. Physically and mentally, she’s doing as well as I’ve ever seen her.”Yates was thrilled after learning of the ruling Thursday at the psychiatric prison where she is serving her sentence.Defense attorney George Parnham said he had no plans to seek her release from the prison about 140 miles north of Houston, where she works in the flower garden and has janitorial duties.“Andrea is where she needs to be right now, as far as security is concerned for her,” he said. “The last thing Andrea needs, quite frankly from my perspective, is to walk from the TDCJ Skyview Unit into the public arena.”
A psychiatric prison. Tell me, please, how serving a life sentence in a state prison constitutes not serving a life sentence in a state prison?
"After looking at just these two cases, out of thousands, I can’t help but wonder if people are using postpartum depression as a cop-out when they kill their children. It seems like the cases where postpartum depression is claimed it allows the mothers to serve no jail time, face no prison time, and pretty much get off free. Maybe they are labeled insane, but who the hell would no be insane after they killed their own blood?"
I believe I've already shown, citing one of the cases this blogger herself cites, that these women do not get off scott-free and they do serve time.

Aside from the factual inaccuracies in this blog, the thing that gets me the most is the language and the attitude. This blogger uses language which vilifies and trivializes PostPartum Mood Disorders. This blogger and attitudes and language such as that contained in her blog and her tweets contribute to the stigma that causes women to be reluctant to seek treatment. It's difficult, to say the least, to reach out for help and say "Hey, I think I'm dealing with PPD" when you're faced with the prospect of dealing with people saying "It's a cop-out". The attitude displayed here and by so many other people is, regardless of what they try to say, one of "It's not really a legitimate problem, it's just an excuse, it's not a real issue". It is a very real problem. 

Instead of saying "OMG it's a cop-out!", people such as this blogger might consider trying a dose of sympathy. Try looking at it from the perspective of "Wow, their body and mind are betraying them and causing them to do things they wouldn't normally do" and be GLAD that these women are receiving MEDICAL TREATMENT instead of simply being "left to rot in prison" with the general population, with those who really don't have a mental health issue causing them to commit their crimes.

This blogger refers to Otty Sanchez's actions as "The ultimate crime". I think that the ultimate crime is that we in America have become so callous, shallow, and selfish that we are incapable of showing compassion and prefer to say "Die!" instead of "Wow, let's get you the treatment you need". The crime is that we think it's acceptable to pooh-pooh the idea that a mental health condition could legitimately cause someone to do things they don't want to do or wouldn't want to do were they healthy. The crime is that it's so difficult to obtain proper treatment for PPMD, that there are so few facilities easily accessible to receive in and outpatient treatment for PPMD by health professionals TRAINED specifically in dealing with PPMD.

Next time you want to label a PPMD as a "cop-out", think twice and actually research your facts, and then use them all instead of picking and choosing what you want to quote to serve your purposes.

In closing, these cases are all incredibly heartbreaking. It's impossible to comprehend the thought process, the things someone would feel, that would make them believe that they need to kill their baby. But I, for one, am not willing to condemn them for it. I'm not willing to brush them or their conditions off as "cop-outs" or assume that they must be making things up. Nobody should.

If you are reading this blog and have never suffered from a PPMD, please read through some more of my posts. Better yet, go read some of the other blogs I have linked. Some of my favorites are PostPartum Progress, Motherhood Unadorned, Farewell Stranger, and PPD to Joy. Go to twitter and check out the threads at the hashtag #ppdchat and #ppdarmy. Read all these with an open mind to what PPMD Survivors and their families and friends go through. Decide for yourself whether or not you think we use it as an excuse or a cop-out. Make up your own mind as to whether or not we're fighting it. I can tell you, these are some of the strongest, bravest, most amazing women I've ever met in any way. I will fight to the day I die to educate the public to the fact that PPMD do exist, that they are not an excuse but a real condition that can take over your entire mind and life and cause you to think, say, and do things you never would have dreamed of. If you (general and specific) have never dealt with a PPMD, you're welcome to your own opinions but PLEASE think about how you express them and how very painful your words can be, how much damage they could be doing to someone who is or has suffered through a PPMD.

To all my other PPMD mamas, we are survivors. We are fighters. We have done nothing wrong. You are ALL beautiful, strong, courageous, and loved. Do not EVER let someone else's uneducated, ignorant, factually incorrect, judgmental, lofty, self-righteously pompous attitude make you think otherwise. We are not the ones to be pitied, they are. I am grateful every day for each and every one of you, whether I know you or not, and the strength you show in fighting, in hanging on. I fight for you, I fight for me, I fight for all of us and our right to be heard and not judged. You should be looked up to, not looked down upon. I love you all. Thank you for teaching me so much about life and about myself.


  1. Esther, thank you so much for this post. I continue to be amazed at the stimga attached to PPMDs. I have made it a point now to talk about it as much as I can with people IRL to remove the shame. I suffered from PPD & PPA, but I am surviving. I want other women to know they are not alone & it will get better.

  2. OK let me start by saying this. If a woman killed her child and there was no claim of PPD, she would get fried. Or at least she should be. Andrea Yates was a TX resident, a state which the death penalty is used. If she had not of used PPD as her excuse for her murders, she'd be on death row. Right where she should be. If Jane Doe killed her 5 kids she would go to jail and spend the rest of her life in prison, or she would get the death penalty.

    Depressed or not, there is no rationalization here.

    Half of America has depression issues, so does that mean they should be about to kill people and it be ok?

    You're trying to rationalize because you have suffered with PPD. When really there is no excuse in the world.

    I never said a woman with PPD had done anything wrong. I understand it is a medical condition. With that said, it's not an excuse for murder.

    PPD or not, it's murder when you kill your child and each person should be punished equally.

  3. Considering that you, on twitter, tried to say that women with PPMD are the same as rapists and child molestors, I have a difficult time giving credence to anything you say.

    Every point I would try to make, Lauren Hale and Katherine Stone have already tried to make, and you flat out ignore them. Not only are your arguments illogical and your language inflammatory, trivializing, and vilifying to those who suffer from PPMD, it would seem that you either failed to actually do much research or when you did your research you picked and chose what you quoted in your blog. This also makes it difficult to take you seriously.

    You can not guarantee that Andrea Yates would have received the death penalty had she not had a PPMD. There are, in fact, people convicted of murder who receive a life sentence, the same sentence Andrea Yates received. That's not even getting in to the issue of how many of those convicted of murder are later exonerated after a wrongful conviction, because this is not a blog about the death penalty or the fact that I do not support it.

    Another example of your factual inaccuracies is that you continue to state that Andrea Yates had PPD. She did not. She was diagnosed with PostPartum Psychosis. They are two different diagnoses/conditions. In fact, I respectfully request that you go back through your blog and correct it to reflect this fact, acknowledge on your blog AND twitter that you were wrong, and apologize for it. In fact, I would like for you to go through and correct ALL of the inaccuracies in your blog, itemizing and acknowledging them and apologizing for them.

    Nothing makes killing someone okay (even when it's the state ordering the killing...). Nobody is saying that killing is a good thing (except for you and the other death penalty advocates). What is being said is that conditions which mean that someone loses control over their actions must be taken into consideration during a trial.

    I know that it's hard to understand PPMD when one has not experienced it. I used to feel the exact same way as you before I experienced PPD. It's amazing though, how much it changes one's perspective to walk a mile in the shoes one is so loudly decrying.

    Like I said on your blog, I'm not trying to change your mind. You're so firmly rooted in your blind ignorance and self-righteous judgmental pomposity that the only thing that stands a CHANCE of changing your viewpoint is to personally first-hand go through it yourself. What I seek to do is to combat the inaccuracies you are spreading which could cause unknowing innocent people to jump to the same false conclusions you have. What I would like to see you do is stop speaking as though women with a PPMD are just using it as an excuse.

  4. Thanks, Esther, for speaking up! We need more moms like you on the Combat Stigma & Ignorance Team! Just added you to my PPD blogroll, by the way. What a way to start off the new year. It may be a new year, but unfortunately, this type of attitude and stubborn resistance to become knowledgeable (and you're right, I have a feeling she won't change her position on this until she's experienced a postpartum mood disorder herself in order to develop some empathy) just shows we still have a long way to go to raise awareness!

  5. Thank you too! I was about to add you to my blogroll until I realized I already had you. Can we say "Mommy brain"? LOL

    Oh wait, there I go rationalizing and using a cop-out again. Oops!

    What I would absolutely LOVE to show Tara and those who are agreeing with her is a piece written by someone who has NOT experienced a PPMD themselves but who can tell her "Hey, you're wrong.". I'll have to do some googling.

    Maybe it's time to see if my mom and my husband will do some guestblogging...

  6. OH MY GAWD!
    This is AWESOME, your post, the incredible amount of research you did, your strong argumentation and the well spoken comment you gave that woman.
    Just AWESOME Esther! I am standing up, and saluting you, right now, lots of love.

  7. Amazing. Simply amazing. Until someone has lived through PPD, they have no idea what it's like. Being a new mom is hard enough, but when your own body starts revolting against you it's horrible. Not knowing if you're going to make it through the day, and the only thing keeping you alive is the precious bundle in your arms.. you know, the one that keeps screaming and puking and pooping?

  8. I was going to write a response post, but now I see there's no need. You did it for me! Way to go mama!

    And don't bother responding to people who don't get it or understand anything about mental illness and who don't want to understand or have an open mind. It isn't worth your time.

  9. Laura (@RunningDoyle)January 6, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    Thank you so much, Esther for this post. I must admit that before I had my daughter a year ago and was diagnosed with PPD/PPA, I found it hard to believe that a mother could think harmful thoughts about their child. But, I have and they are scary And people like you and Katherine are the reasons I got help. So, thank you, for this post and for all your posts.

  10. I have not experienced any sort of post-partum mood disorder, nor has anyone I've known (I'm young -- not a lot of mom-friends yet!).

    Any you know what? Hey, Tara, you're wrong.

    Mental health issues are just as real and just as dangerous and physical health issues. There are real diagnostic criteria that patients must meet in order to receive a diagnosis for any sort of mental health issue, the same as if they were being diagnosed with cancer. "Depression" doesn't just mean "feeling kind of sad"; "psychosis" is a clearly defined mental state that does not just mean "a little loopy."

    To even qualify for the lowest level of psychosis (Brief Psychotic Disorder), one would have to have either delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech (e.g., frequent derailment or incoherence), or grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior -- and none of these symptoms can be better explained by drug reactions.

    Defense lawyers cannot diagnose mental illness, nor can patients themselves. Doctors with specialized training (which you yourself admit you lack) diagnose these disorders.

    A woman who is having delusions or hallucinations, who is unable to get out of bed (not just tired and mopey, but in such a stupor that moving is physically impossible), or who is incoherent in speech and thought is *not* using her illness as a "cop-out." She is, instead, fighting for her life, and usually fighting against every scary impulse her brain is churning out. Following the scary impulses -- such as harming her children -- happens only when she can fight no longer.

    You know what helps women fight, or even get rid of the scary impulses altogether? Getting medical help. You know what keeps women from getting medical help? Attitudes like yours. These women need SUPPORT and HELP, not condemnation. They are fighting for their lives.

  11. The ignorant misinformed original tweet has angered me greatly so thank you for combating the stigma Esther with your post. To the previous comment from Lisa, thank you, you have given a very accurate concise answer that I wholeheartedly agree with.

    Here's my thoughts I feel compelled to share:

    The key to understanding how a woman could kill her own child in the postpartum period is to stop calling it depression and learn what it means for someone to be psychotic. These women who killed their children had postpartum psychosis which is NOT postpartum depression. They are not one and the same thing. One is a psychiatric emergency and a leading cause of maternal death. 1 in 500 women who deliver a baby will develop postpartum psychosis, only 4% of these women will commit infanticide. Contrary to what @GAModernMom wrote with the statement "2 out of 1000s of cases" it is rare for a mother to kill her baby.

    Psychosis is when someone literally "loses their mind" or more accurately loses touch with reality. It is in this state of "insanity" that a tiny percentage of mothers with PP feel they may have no other choice but to kill their child. If those women are not quickly and adequately given treatment that sadly can be the outcome. Yet the delusions that lead a woman to commit such an inconceivable act are usually such that the very act of killing her child or children is the greatest form of protection she can give them. I have not read one story of infanticide yet (with a mother suffering psychosis) that didn't have such an element in it. There is a common misconception that mothers kill their children because they are depressed and have simply had enough. It's a urban myth born out of ignorance. A mentally ill mother would more than likely harm only herself and her thoughts would be consumed with protecting her children.

  12. Further more in the UK we have a law (the infanticide act) that protects women in the postpartum period because we recognise that postpartum mood disorders can make women act dangerously out of character beyond their control. These woman are protected and treated so they can become well again. Women who are so ill that the unthinkable happens need our compassion and help, not ignorant judgement. It is not impossible to understand academically the theory of psychosis and what would make a woman kill her child, so I find these kind of misinformed public opinions so frustrating and frankly distasteful. Yet until you have first hand experience of psychosis you can't fathom in your heart or mind the horror of losing yourself to a mental illness that can make you say, do and think unimaginable things.

    Postpartum Psychosis can strike ANY mother regardless of whether she's had a history of metal illness or not, regardless of intelligence, social circumstances, wealth or personality type. So when any mother hears of a case of infanticide in the media where a woman has been found to be mentally ill with a postpartum psychosis she should reserve judgement and be saying instead "there but by the grace of God go I" and thank God or her lucky stars or her genetics or whatever she has faith in that it wasn't her in the dock and her family enduring such a trauma.

    It is worth noting that any mother who because of a postpartum mental illness, which is nearly always temporary ie. not chronic, has lost a child by her own hand, will be punished enough by the trauma, pain and guilt she will have to live with for the rest of her life regardless of where she resides, in prison, a secure psychiatric unit or with her family in her own home. Just because she was ill and psychotic in the postpartum period does not mean she won't one day be made well again and back to normal. In that normality she will more than likely have vivid traumatic memories of that psychosis coupled with her grief for her child. Isn't that punishment enough? Fate dealt her a raw deal, robbed her of motherhood. We shouldn't be condemning her further. So a cop-out as you say .... not unless a living hell is considered a light sentence, no!

    For much needed further research read "Understanding Postpartum Psychosis: a temporary madness" by Twomey. You will find a comprehensive study on infanticide in her book and personal stories of the hell that is postpartum psychosis.

  13. I would love to read this article, but reading just the first part started to trigger me, so I will say, thank you for writing it and maybe some day I will be strong enough to read it. Personally, I think having to live with the knowledge that you killed your child would be worse than any death penalty. Connecting with that reality would be so so so horrible.

  14. Oh my. This is exactly why we need to talk about this more - so that people understand and so that it won't be okay to say that sort of thing anymore.

  15. This is such a well-written response to the misinformed and, frankly, offensive blog. I'm glad there are so many voices in the blogging community to help educate others. Thank you for this post.

    I don't have a postpartum-related blog, but I did found The Online PPMD Support Group website (http://www.ppdsupportpage.com) which has a rather large community of fellow heroines in the PPMD fight via our posting boards, chats, and e-group. It's another good resource for support for those who need it.

  16. Thank-you.

    I know what it's like to want to kill your child (I haven't). It sucks. It's scary as hell and a nasty internal fight. I don't know about the US but in Canada if the Ministry of Child and Family Development finds out they show up at your door (and in my case threaten Voluntary Child Removal, sounds really voluntary doesn't it?). It does not make dealing with PPP any easier. Luckily this was my second child (they did not find out on the first) and I had plans in place for everything. Still it took 4 months to get them out of my life. It's no wonder we hid our illness. I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing for help now that my youngest is more than a year and I don't qualify for help but life goes on regardless. And maybe today I will get out of bed.

  17. Esther,

    Thanks so much for writing this. It is completely blasphemous to me that people will be so ill educated and write about what they don't know. I had PPD that almost wrecked me, and Praise God I had a family who was walking that dark road right along side me. My daughter's name is Esther too. :)

    May you be greatly blessed for the wisdom and encouragement you are giving those who read your blog.


  18. Thanks for the great post, it is nice that there are fellow survivors who can so eloquently say what some of us wish we could say. I think I would have stuck my foot in my mouth too many times. Tara's blog post was filled with so much false information and her attitude about any of the good information she was given just made me madder then hell.

  19. Note: Being found not guilty by reason of mental defect does not mean that the defendant goes home. It means that they are held in a mental facility, often for longer than they would have been in jail.

    I can't say I have any personal experience with PPMD, but the stigma seems the same for any illness that doesn't cause hair loss or bleeding-If they can't see it, it doesn't exist. Sadly and unfortunately, people respond to mental illness with the suggestion that "Well, have you just tried not feeling that way?" To which politeness dictates that I should bite back the correct response, which is a sarcastic "Why no, how could I have not thought of that in the first place."

    I really wish I could believe that all humans are intelligent and empathic creatures, but I can't. Until they are, stay strong and keep up the good work!


  20. Wow. the book Are You There Alone? is a gr8 research based book about Andrea Yates..
    I'm amazed at this whole thing. Andrea Yates was psychotic and off her medications.

  21. Esther, I'm going to pick up the gauntlet and write a guestblog. I'll send it to you privately and you can use it however you see fit. I have to admit to having more sympathy for Andrea Yates after your experience than before, but I didn't need your journey to give me compassion for her. I'm not sure being required to live with what she's done is easier than the death penalty. The inner torment felt by someone with such a depth of depression must be so hard to live with. I'm thankful for the courage shown by each of you responding from your place of empathy.

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