I just read of another young mama who lost her battle with postpartum depression a few days ago. She was in one of my breastfeeding groups on Facebook.
My heart hurts. I need you guys to listen.
I am passionate about awareness of all kinds of depression and mental illness, but I need to talk about postpartum depression right now and I need you to hear me.
It doesn’t always look like what you think it looks like. It doesn’t always look like uncontrollable crying or bouts of unhinged rage. The victims aren’t always begging for help and identifying their own illness. It’s not always obvious. It’s not even always during the newborn phase. In fact, it’s common for it to delay onset until weaning begins. Did you even know that? They don’t always look like a dirty, tired, sobbing mess. Sometimes, they look like a corporate executive, a perfectly kept housewife, or a very social mommy blogger.
It’s Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Just like it was last September, and the September before that. But, what do we really know about preventing suicide? What are we taught? To give people a hotline number? To tell them their life is worth living and encourage them to get help?
No, that’s not enough.
Suicide prevention is our job as friends, as sisters, as mothers, as spouses. Recognize the silent symptoms. Don’t just look for tears. Look for apathy. Look for crippling anxiety. Look for withdrawal and changes in normal behavior. Ask how someone is feeling. Ask the hard questions. Let’s do everything we can to prevent it before these poor mamas don’t know what to do anymore and have lost every morsel of hope. It doesn’t have to go that far.
There is therapy. There is medication. There is professional help out there. But if we intervene soon enough, I believe it’s much simpler.
We live in a time when mom shaming is rampant, mean girling is everywhere, and not nearly enough people are encouraging other moms, lightening their loads, and validating their struggle. It’s not okay, and we have to change.
I’m blessed to have a supportive spouse who knows me very well and is very in tune with my needs and my emotional state. Not everyone has that. We have to be the village for each other, y’all. We have way too hard of a job to be expected to do it alone.
If you think you might be suffering from PPD, or need some extra support, visit www.postpartumprogress.com.
To learn more about National Suicide Prevention Awareness month, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness.