By: Kristy Kemp
November is mental health awareness month so I figured I would share my own story.
I have been battling depression since as long as I can remember. Some days are great, some days not so great, & some days total despair. My PMDD doesn’t help matters either. I have had a few attempts made on my life that thankfully were not successful , but led me to be hospitalized. Once in Junior High and the other was a year or so after I had my son. Postpartum depression hit me so hard and the crazy part was I wasn’t even aware. Depression has been a constant in my life which is why I really didn’t notice much of a change , but looking back there was.
Postpartum depression is in my opinion one of the worst because you feel so guilty and ashamed for having these feelings as a new mom. Before I had my son depression was just about me, but when it happens after you have a child or because you had a child , it makes you doubt yourself not just as a person, but as a mother. You feel like you should be gleaming with joy and when that joy never gets the memo to enter you , you feel like that makes you unfit to be a mom. You feel like you don’t deserve to be a mom. Why do I feel so much despair? Does this mean I don’t love my baby? If I talk to someone about it, are they gonna judge me? Will they take my baby away from me?
What I didn’t know then was that my PPD was not a reflection on how much love I have for my son. My PPD did not and does not define me. That I can feel this way and it doesn’t mean I love my son any less. That I can have bad days and that has no reflection on what kind of mother I am. That I am a person too . I have feelings and emotions of my own that has nothing to do with the fact I have a child. Moms who suffer from PPD not only have the worry with why they feel that way and how they can feel better, but they have the guilt and the shame for not feeling pure happiness and joy like most new moms feel.
We need to fight the stigma. We do so by talking about PPD/Depression/Anxiety more. We need to let moms know it’s not their fault and is no reflection on them as mothers. We need to do whatever it takes to make them feel as safe as possible to open up and ask for help. PPD in and of itself is not dangerous, but fighting PPD alone is very much so. I should know. I was that mom suffering in silence. I was that mom in tears all day and night in deep despair. I’m that mom that almost took her own life and left her son without a mom. If a mom doesn’t feel comfortable enough asking for help or scared to, that is on us as a society. Society spends so much time criticizing and nitpicking moms for every single thing they do. They should be able to spare some of that time and energy and focus on taking the stigma away from PPD/Anxiety/Depression.
There is not enough awareness on this topic so when a mom is showing signs of PPD the people closest to her may not even notice. Then there are those who try to discuss what they are feeling, only to be told that she will “just get over it” invalidating and dismissing her cries for help.
To this day , I still have overwhelming guilt, shame, & regret about my Postpartum Depression. For someone like me who is aware of PPD and educated on it & still struggles with it , can you imagine what other moms must be feeling who may have no idea what it all means?
Each year approximately 950,000 women are suffering from Postpartum depression. Despite all our advancements , many people do not even recognize or acknowledge depression is an illness, let alone Postpartum depression. There are many people out there who think depression is a “choice.” Can you imagine how that would make a mom feel? Being told that she feels this horrible by choice? Depression in any form is not a choice. I can choose to get treatment, I can choose to take medication, and I can choose to not suffer alone, but I did not choose to have postpartum depression and neither does anyone else.
I am a mom and I suffer with depression . I share my story as my contribution to Mental Health Awareness month. I hope by sharing my story it can help just one mom know she isn’t alone and that her depression does not define her or her worth as a mom. I was one of the lucky ones who was able to pull through it, but unfortunately many are not so lucky. To this day, it’s a daily battle with depression , but I have so much worth fighting for.