08 May 2012

You think you know me but you have no idea...

You think you know me but you have no idea... that I am what PostPartum Depression looks like. The media often discusses PostPartum Depression as something that women who kill their babies have. The pictures you see are of stringy haired women staring blearily into a camera for a mug shot, in handcuffs and jail/prison jumpsuits, sitting in the courtroom while they're prosecuted for their crimes, etc. PostPartum Depression is too often portrayed as something that is either non-existent or so extreme that it causes the mother to commit a crime, a la Andrea Yates.

First of all, this is usually a case of someone being incorrectly labeled with PostPartum Depression when they are actually suffering from PostPartum Psychosis (a different and much more severe PostPartum Mood Disorder). You can find lists of "Plain Mama English" symptoms of PostPartum Depression and PostPartum Psychosis at Postpartumprogress.com.

Secondly, far too many people have the mistaken idea that a woman with PostPartum Depression is easy to spot or looks a certain way. They may think that if she's suffering from PPD she has a bad home life, her marriage is in a shambles, or she just doesn't go to church enough. This is all part of the stigma that surrounds PPD and makes it hard to ask for help when you're suffering from it. The stereotype feeds into it. The stigma and stereotypes are impersonal. So let's put a face to it, let's make it personal. This is what PostPartum Depression looks like.

The truth is that for many women, it's far too easy to fake it, to cover up what you're struggling with. You throw on some makeup, smile, and say the right things. If your smile looks a little forced, people just attribute it to the fact that you have a colicky baby who has decided that sleep is not something you need. If your husband is away with work, people say "Oh, she just misses her husband". There is no "What PostPartum Depression looks like". Does this look like how you/your friends/the media would imagine/portray someone struggling with PostPartum Depression to look?

Every single one of those pictures were taken after my first daughter was born and while I was dealing with PPD. Some were pre-hospitalization, some were after hospitalization/medication.

I'm sure that many people were shocked when they found out I had PPD. I didn't tell many people, even after I was hospitalized, because I was ashamed and scared. It wasn't until I found out about my thyroid that I really started to speak up and speak out. People thought that they knew me but I was hiding a secret, and doing a pretty good job of it.

The truth is, many women are. You probably know someone who is or has dealt with a PostPartum Mood Disorder, whether you know it or not. Someday, I hope that these impersonal stereotypes and stigmas will be eradicated so that we don't have to be afraid to let people see the truth, so that we don't feel like we have to keep a happy mask up, so that even when we're in our darkest moments of our darkest days we're able to let people know who we really are and what we're really going through and know that we will receive nothing but love, kindness, and compassion.


  1. Thank you for sharing your story. And these photos. They help tell an important message. Also, the Pokey Little Puppy was one of my favorite books as a kid.

  2. Once again, this is well done! Thank you, darling!