“Hormonal changes during and after pregnancy are NORMAL. Mood changes are NORMAL. Meditation helps. Prayer helps. Nutritional support helps. Love helps.” – Marianne Williamson
Marianne Williamson, author and spiritual leader, caused quite a commotion last week in the Postpartum Community. I, honestly, was oblivious to this until I read a Facebook post from Postpartum Progress’ CEO, Katherine Stone, where we needed to come together as a community and stand up to her. Well, my Warrior Mom family is such a supportive and loving group that I dashed through social media and started to read what Mrs. Williamson was saying. As I read more, the more angry I grew:
“The [postpartum depression] disease is not inside the woman; the disease is inside a system so based on greed that it does not honor parents’ need to remain with their children long enough after birth.”
“U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says women should be “screened for depression”… their answer of course, is to “find the right medication.” And how many on the “Task Force” are on big Pharma’s payroll?”
And my personal favorite:
“Depressed women are like canary [sic] in a coal mine. We are often depressed because something is wrong that needs to be made right, and what is wrong is not always what is inside us. Postpartum depression, example, is often a result of a woman’s heartbreak over having to go back to work sooner than her body, mind and heart are ready to.”
This led to over 2 million people reached with our #MeditateOnThis campaign on Social Media.
I, for one, can say I couldn’t wait to go back to work, but that is just me. Do I think we need longer maternity leave and paid maternity leave in the U.S…. Absolutely! We are the only first world nation that doesn’t have it. But, Marianne, my Postpartum Depression set in long before I was headed back to work. I was barely two weeks Postpartum when the signs of Depression and Anxiety were clearly there. I was not thinking about work, I was thinking about why my child wasn’t breastfeeding, why I couldn’t sleep when she did and when my next shower was going to happen.
Which, Marianne, brings me to my next point… Meditate?! When does a postpartum mother have time to meditate? I was far too busy to give myself 5 minutes to meditate. My daughter had to be fed and changed every 2-3 hours. I chose eating and showering over meditating. Once again though, my symptoms appeared way early into my 4th Trimester that I chalked it all up to “Baby Blues”.
But, I don’t want to fight. You are a mother too. Here is what it feels like from this mother who suffered so terribly from Postpartum Depression and Anxiety I wound up in my hospital’s short term psych ward for 12 days. You can’t tell me that the following mood changes are “normal” after childbirth:
“I was elated when my daughter was born. I always dreamed of being a mother. The first two weeks I lived happily by cloaking any anxiety that was there, but it was there. In the hospital, I panicked when it was 5 hours before they brought her to me to feed her. I freaked out when her poop was not quite the correct color it was supposed to be. I worried that because she fell asleep after only 5 minutes on my breast that she was eating enough. A visit to the lactation consults only a week after my daughter was born led to “Possible Postpartum Depression” being written on their report (A report I only saw years later). At two weeks, the lights went out. I was irritable, not sleeping and not eating. The coos of my daughter that once I found so precious became banshee screams in my mind. I didn’t want to be around her and I avoided it as much as possible. As the extreme nausea due to anxiety developed into vomiting multiple times a day, I began my plans to leave my husband and daughter. I had everything worked out, leaving when my daughter was being watched by my mother… going to the bank to withdraw money… driving, just driving… But since I am a planner, and alpha, by nature, I would not leave until I knew where I was going. I am grateful I never figured out that one.
With two weeks of vomiting multiple times a day under my belt, covering my head with a pillow to drown out any sound she made, and crying way more times then a new mom is supposed to, I knew I needed help. I was prescribed meds (Enter Big Pharma), but I was used to it, I have suffered from Depression on and off since I was 14. I started seeing a psychiatrist twice a week and a therapist once a week. That wasn’t enough. I was slowly going down a path with no return. I started to think about hurting myself, just to rid myself of the thoughts and pain inside my head. I still thought this was “Baby Blues”. I went to the hospital a month after my daughter was born for what I thought was “undernourishment” due to the excessive vomiting only to find out I was suffering from far worse… Severe Postpartum Depression.”
You see Marianne, I am only 1 story, 1 story of a woman who clearly was suffering from something far worse that just the typical postpartum experience. I suffered alone. 10 years ago, there weren’t many resources out there concerning any Postpartum Illnesses. In 2014, when I discovered the Warrior Mom Community through Postpartum Progress, I jumped at the chance to help mothers like myself not go through this hell alone.
There were so many things wrong with what you said. What is wrong with screening women? Is that too invasive? Too un-Godly? Shouldn’t we be on top of the situation instead of belittling it? Shouldn’t we try to band together as mothers to help each other? Shouldn’t we work harder to break the stigma instead of feeding it? Shouldn’t we be aware that there are medications out there that can actually help us and not feel afraid or ashamed at using them?
Marianne, I am not ashamed at the medications I take to survive. I know what tricks and delusions my brain can come up with if I don’t. I am not ashamed from having suffered from Postpartum Depression and Anxiety and I am not ashamed of telling my story. I am ashamed of you, a mother like me, but someone so unsupportive of mothers it makes me both angry and sad that you are helping to feed a stigma we Warrior Moms have helped to unravel over the last decade. You can call me a “canary in a coal mine”, and I will gladly sing out my words of assistance and advocacy!