What stops someone from asking for help for postpartum depression?
Image by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
This is a question that I asked on a few social media sites to understand what are the barriers that stop women from seeking help in the postpartum phase when they know that something is definitely wrong with their mood. I didn't ask for help and I was curious if others felt the same way.
I was overwhelmed by reading the answers. Here are some of them (all anonymized, of course):
"I was worried someone would find out that I wasn't fit to be a mom."
"I basically got told to suck it up and put my big girl panties on, and that I couldn't give in to despair because my son needed me."
"When I told people, they told me it was “normal feelings”. When I failed my questions they asked, it was written off that I was likely just anxious about work and saying it was more than that it was more like “You have big changes, so that COULD be what’s causing it don’t you think?” When I said I was living in a fog, I was told everyone feels that way due to lack of sleep. When I told them I wasn’t sleeping because I was literally placing my hand in the bassinet so I could feel her breathe, it was laughed off as like a cute “new mom” thing. I eventually stopped mentioning my feelings ever because it felt like I was just being whiny over “new mom” stuff and everyone feels this way all the time."
"Fear of judgment. Fear of not being good enough. Too damn busy to notice something is wrong. Fear of them taking my baby away. "
"I knew I had it, but I kept thinking if I could just get more sleep or just finish the next project at work or just make it through the baby phase that I could get a handle on it myself. I couldn't pull myself out of it and it kept getting worse."
"I can see why women don't reach out, sometimes you get help but other times you just get shamed, blamed, and treated like dirt. I find if you refuse medication that's it, they stop right there and refuse to do anything else. I didn't need medication, I needed sleep, support, breastfeeding help, and someone that understood the transition to motherhood that could genuinely help me through it. There's a huge myth in the medical community that ppd is just a "hormone imbalance", and it'll sort itself out or just needs some meds. Not true at ALL and such damaging rhetoric."
"Knowing I had support with absolutely no judgments was the only reason I could reach out the second time."
"We all make decisions, you know. I thought you wanted to be a mom🤔"
"Caring for your newborn can be super overwhelming even when everything is going "right" so how can we expect a brand-new mother to distinguish between "baby blues" and "post partum depression," or "protective mama" and "post partum anxiety," or "sleep deprivation" and "life-threatening illness"?All was pain. All was exhaustion. I couldn't distinguish the abnormal from all that noise. "
"This is hard for everyone I am just too weak to handle it.” And “If I was a better mom it wouldn’t be this bad.”What kind of person am I that I would think these horrible things?”I pride myself on being tough, so it was hard to admit that I was falling apart- I think for me, I didn't really realize how bad it was."
"You know what would help? A better support system without having to beg for it."
How can we fail women and especially mothers so badly in this day and age? How have we got it so wrong that we just assume that a person who has just given birth to another human being (and sometimes more than one) doesn't need any support? That she can figure it all on her own because 'that's how things have always been that way?
I have no answers, but I cannot take this lack of support anymore. This is why I am doubling down on Haplomind this year - when we ask the same question next year, I hope the answers are not as heartbreaking as this.