I love that so many of you are coming out from behind the shadows to share your stories about postpartum depression. When I started this blog more than 8 years ago, I was practically on my own. You could count on less than one hand the number of women out there on the internet openly sharing their stories of postpartum depression.
Now so many of you are out loud and proud, which means more and more mothers will come upon your stories and know that they are not alone and that PPD is temporary and treatable with professional help. You’re writing blog posts. You’re starting support groups, and organizations. You’re telling friends your story so they’ll know it’s okay. You’re speaking in public to moms’ groups. You’re telling doctors that they need to watch out for pregnant and new moms. Some of you have even gone back to school to become social workers and therapists. I don’t think people can comprehend the level of contribution women who’ve been through perinatal mood and anxiety disorders make to their fellow mothers. It astounds me how much
While so many of us are not hiding anymore, though, I know that many still are, no thanks to lingering stigma and a lack of awareness. I believe it will continue to get better, but we still have a long way to go. This means that whenever you can, only when you feel ready, I hope each and every one of you will be willing to share your story in some small way. You don’t have to be a writer or a public speaker. You don’t have to make a grand gesture or tell the entire world about what you’ve gone through. Maybe it’s in private, to just one person who you think might need help. That’s just as important.
I remember one time my friend Crystal, who had also gone through postpartum depression, told me she felt bad because after my recovery I had gone on to publicly advocate for moms with PPD and she hadn’t. She felt like she should be doing so much more. I absolutely hated that she felt that way, and I told her that we all contribute to this effort in some way and every contribution counts.
The other thing you should know is that you don’t have to talk about PPD while you’re in the midst of it or even soon after you recover. I sometimes wonder if moms are feeling pressure to speak out immediately in this age of Twitter and Facebook. Please know that I didn’t start Postpartum Progress until a couple of years after I fully recovered, so if you’re not feeling like talking, know that you don’t have to. There’s no rule that says you have to come right out with it to be a Warrior Mom.
If you can offer some sign to a struggling mother that you understand and that there’s help, you have left a lasting legacy in this world. If you act in courage and kindness by reaching out to another mom, even just one, you are being the change that you want to see.
I want to thank all of you for everything you have done and will do, in gestures large and small, to help mothers.
Disclosure: I am an ambassador for MAM, the babycare experts and makers of BPA-free pacifiers, bottles and teethers. I am grateful for their donation to our nonprofit, Postpartum Progress Inc., to help support our work supporting moms with postpartum depression. If you’d like to order your own personalized MAM pacifier like the one pictured above, you can do so here.