Researchers estimate as many as 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness in any given year, and that nearly 1 in 7 women will experience a serious mood disorder after having a baby (this is regardless of whether they’ve been diagnosed with a mental health issue prior). Postpartum mental health issues – including depression, anxiety, OCD, and PTSD – are so common. Yet, so few of us talk about this fact.
But silence creates shame and stigma. And the more we keep things to ourselves, the less likely we – or our fellow moms – will reach out and get help. And listen up: this is not something any of us can afford to take lightly. Let me hit you with one more stat: suicide is the second leading cause of death among postpartum women, and while it’s a rare enough occurrence, it does account for 20% of postpartum maternal deaths.
These issues are not something any of us can afford to ignore for one more second. And that is why sharing our stories and truths – with each other, on social media, and elsewhere – is so vital. And a new viral series that is doing just that. It’s called #Iam1in5 – and let me tell you, it’s absolutely inspiring and empowering.
I am seriously blown away by the women participating in this series — their beauty, their raw, wise words, and their willingness to put themselves out there. They are not just doing this to share their own stories – but in the hopes that doing so will de-stigmatize postpartum mood disorders, and maybe even bring some light, solace, and strength their fellow moms.
Because if you think about it, mental illness itself makes it hard enough to seek help for, but if guilt, shame, and embarrassment are part of the picture too, it’s almost impossible to get better.
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✨Mental Health Loop✨ • 1 in 5 adults suffer from a mental illness, and I am one of them. I have struggled with my anxiety and depression for years now. I’ve been on medication, seen therapists, looked for help, but I’ve also had years of silence. I pretended for a long time that it wasn’t a real thing. I labeled myself as overly emotional. It was my only internal explanation. I figured I was just out there, crazy, and just simply couldn’t handle my emotions. • I remember being pregnant and thinking there was no way I would get postpartum depression. Even though I had dealt with depression my entire life, it didn’t make sense to me that having a baby would make me depressed. And I wondered why women felt so depressed after having their baby. I assumed this would be the last thing to trigger my anxiety and depression. I avoided these judgements though, because I knew depression was real. • But then Maci was born. And the dreams I had of us sharing a beautiful breastfeeding relationship quickly turned cold. I was sinking everyday. I felt myself being pulled into the depression quick sand and fought with everything I had to fight it. The harder I fought, the more I sank. I felt jealousy of women who could breastfeed. I felt anger towards my body for gaining weight and also for not allowing Maci to latch. I felt anxious with every failed attempt. I felt weak because I was exhausted and just needed a break. I felt ashamed because I assumed I wasn’t strong enough to handle this. So I went silent. I pretended like I was okay. I let the stigma surrounding mental health win and tape my mouth shut. • But no more. Our voices deserve to be heard because our pain is real. The pain that sends shock waves through our nervous system and into our hearts is real. And we are strong enough to speak up. I’m making this promise to myself that I will always speak up. • Please continue the loop by heading over to mama @lizdean as she shares her mental health journey. 🌿 . Tee: @lovedbyhannahandeli
“I remember being pregnant and thinking there was no way I would get postpartum depression,” writes Meg Boggs, a blogger and mom to baby, Maci. But then, when her daughter was born, she found herself sinking deeply into a depression that she couldn’t pull herself out of.
“The harder I fought, the more I sank,” she writes. “So I went silent. I pretended like I was okay. I let the stigma surrounding mental health win and tape my mouth shut.”
“But no more,” Boggs proclaims.
YES. These women are breaking the silence on postpartum mental health issues, and doing so proudly, loudly, and with grace. It’s about time.
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✨ Mental Health Loop ✨ Let’s get real for a minute. Did you know that 1 in 5 people suffer from some type of mental illness? Did you know that 1 in 7 women suffer from postpartum depression? Up to 50% of individuals with PPD are never detected. Another fact most people probably don’t know…suicide accounts for about 20% of postpartum deaths and is the second most common cause of mortality in postpartum women. . I’ve always wanted to be vocal about my experience with this because it’s not talked about enough. It started for me after my second son. I dealt with the baby blues and that turned into postpartum depression and anxiety. I’ve struggled with it from that point to now since having my babies. . There’s a stigma in our culture that needs to be torn down about these topics. I didn’t know anything about this after having my first son. I had to really research since having symptoms after my second son to pinpoint what was happening to me. It wasn’t normal and no one talked about it. . 1 in 7 women, y’all!! The statistics are unbelievable. We can’t afford to be ignorant on this topic. If you’re struggling, mama, please know you’re not alone. Reach out for help. Whether that be someone you know locally, someone professionally or a friend on social media. There is hope even when you can’t see it. Know you are loved and worth it. Take care of yourself. . Those of you that don’t struggle with this, chances are if you have friends or family, which you do, then you know someone who deals with this. They may not appear like they’re struggling. They may act like they’re strong but internally, they’re weary. Reach out if you have that inkling or have clues that this person might need you. You never know what a blessing you might could be to someone. . If you’re #1in5, double tap this and drop a comment below! Continue the loop and read about my friend’s mental health journey —-> @th3littlestavenger.
The #IAm1in5 series was started by blogger Desiree Fortin, who tells Scary Mommy that she began battling serious depression soon after her triplets were born. She shares in her IG post that it took weeks for her to actually seek help for the depression, and that is part of why she started this series – to assure mothers that this is more common than they realize, and that help is out there.
“I wanted to remind people that they are not alone in their struggles of mental health,” she tells Scary Mommy. “Vulnerability is what connects us as humans and sometimes it means talking about hard things and mental health is hard to talk about, but it is also so freeing when you do.”
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✨Mental Health Loop✨ Dear Anxiety, Do you remember the first time I even recognized your presence as a new Mom? I remember it like it was yesterday. The triplets were just weeks old. They cried all the time. It was before we knew they had GERD and the sleep deprivation was ruining me. It was the middle of the night and our boys wouldn’t stop crying. Do you remember yet? Everything I knew to do to as a Mother to help them wasn’t working. I cried so hard weeping with my babies, “I don’t know how to help you.” 🌿 That was the beginning of our journey together. Although I know you likely snuck your way in before that moment, that was the first time I saw how cruel you really can be. 🌿 Weeks went by before I got help. Im sure you remember that. You used that time as an opportunity to breathe lies and fears into my heart. You stole my confidence and joy. I was afraid to take my newborns anywhere. You crippled me. You were the culprit to my ongoing panic attacks. I was in a depression and walking through a lonely postpartum season. It was hard, but I got help. I made a choice to change. 🌿 I am 1 in 5. And it’s okay. I am on medication. And it’s okay. I a good mom. You can’t take that away from me. I won’t let you. 🌿 It’s been almost 3 years since you entered my life and I still have to face you daily. But you have never won. Lately, you have made your presence especially known in my being. I am in a tough season. However, perhaps you underestimated me. I will always choose to stand against you, stay healthy, and be strong for my family as I conquer the struggles you bring me. 🌿 Anxiety, You are apart of my story. I never wanted you. I never asked for you. But God is using you to make my story beautiful, to reach the hearts of the hurting, to remind those that are 1 in 5 that they are not alone. Sincerely, #togetherwearestrong I can’t even tell how I excited I am to share this new series with you. Many brave Moms are standing with me and sharing their #iam1in5 stories. Please continue the loop to @theashmoresblog 🙌🏻💕This amazing mama is also taking over my page to share her beautiful and strong heart with you tomorrow. Tee: @themomculture
In addition to bringing awareness to the issue, these mothers are also seeking to reduce the shame surrounding the issue of taking medication for mental health issues.
After giving birth to her third child this year, Brittany, a blogger from Houston, describes the depression that she spiraled into: “I knew something was off because I wasn’t able to breastfeed and I found myself crying all the time, I didn’t want to get out of bed, I didn’t want to hold Leighton that much, and I knew I wasn’t myself,” she writes in her #Iam1in5 post.
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✨Mental Health Loop✨ My mental health journey just started this past year. After I gave birth to my third baby. I knew something was off because I wasn’t able to breastfeed and I found myself crying all the time, I didn’t want to get out of bed, I didn’t want to hold Leighton that much, and I knew I wasn’t myself. My sweet friends, 2 of them are in this loop told me to see a Doctor and start meds. That’s what I did next… I got on Prozac and my life has changed tremendously. I am a new person on medication and I don’t know where I’d be or what I would’ve done without meds and the support of my husband and friends! If you’re ever in a place like me I highly encourage you to reach out and speak to someone. God is so amazing and Y’all before I was on meds I was so embarrassed to get on meds and thought I’d be a failure but it was the best decision. Please continue the loop to my sweet brave friend @southernmadeblog as she shares her mental health journey ❤️
With the encouragement of her friends (2 of whom are a part of the #Iam1in5 series), Brittany went to her doctor, who prescribed Prozac. “[M]y life has changed tremendously,” she shares. “I am a new person on medication and I don’t know where I’d be or what I would’ve done without meds and the support of my husband and friends.”
But going on the meds wasn’t an easy choice, mostly because Brittany felt bombarded by the fear and shame that so many of experience when faced with the prospect of taking medication for mental health issues.
“[B]efore I was on meds I was so embarrassed to get on meds and thought I’d be a failure,” she writes. “[B]ut it was the best decision.”
Obviously, medication isn’t the answer for every mother battling a postpartum mood disorders – but my goodness, medication works very well for so many moms, and the last thing anyone needs is any more guilt, amiright? This kind of thing need to stop, and it needs to stop now.
So thank you to these gorgeous, badass women who are doing their part to break the silence and remove the stigma. Speaking out is such an important step, and will give comfort to so many moms, and hopefully get them much-needed help.
Of course, there is more work to be done to make mental health services more accessible and to improve treatment for postpartum mental health disorders. But every step forward is incredible, and these women are true heroes for opening up, taking the risk, and sharing their stories with all of us.