This past summer has been quite an eye opener for me. Not just about myself, but also about how postpartum depression is viewed. I say this summer because that is when I started opening up about my story of depression and anxiety. It’s also when I started seeking treatment for my illness.
While expressing myself in such a raw and open manner, I have found that I am not alone. There are millions of other women in the country who have, or are currently suffering from postpartum depression. Many of them are suffering in silence, and have no idea there are others with similar experiences. They have no idea that there is help out there for them, and PPD is treatable.
I have also learned that there is a major lack of awareness in the public, and it seems in the medical community. Through my own experience with doctors, I was already aware of the lack of knowledge, but I hear more and more about how it’s not just doctor ignorance. In South Carolina, postpartum depression is considered exclusionary, which means you can not seek assistance through the Dept of Health in that state. Basicly women without insurance do not have an option through the state to seek help for a debilitating, and sometimes deadly, illness.
South Carolina is probably not the only state to do this. You don’t even need to look at the state level to see problems. A #ppdchat mama went into the hospital recently to seek treatment. They stuck her in a room with a drug addict, and most of the other women there were similar to that roommate. In other places, some women seeking help for postpartum depression get put in a mental ward with schizophrenics and drug addicts. They are forced to go to group therapies that are meant for addicts. This is not the kind of treatment women need for PPD. PPD sufferers are not crazy, and do not need to be treated as such. They need treatment that centers around therapy, learning coping skills, how to manage while being a mommy, etc.
One place understands. The University of North Carolina has incorporated a facility for treatment of perinatal mood disorders. It is the first of its kind in this country, and it needs to be replicated elsewhere. The facility focuses on women’s mental health issues during pregnancy, and after. They have outpatient, and even inpatient care! Women wont be surrounded by addicts and schizophrenics, but instead around women just like them. Finally, someone who understands what PPD sufferers need.
We need more places like the UNC program. We need doctors, who aren’t apart of a program such as that, to know more about PPD, and how to treat it. Being told you’re just “being bitchy” is not the appropriate way to help. It discourages women from seeking help, and makes them believe that there is not something more serious going on, that it’s just a behavior problem. I know this, because it discouraged me when my doctor told me I was just “being bitchy,” and that my prescription for Prozac would help my husband because he wouldn’t have to deal with it anymore. My experience may not be the norm, but it’s just one example of how we need to get more awareness and information out there. I do not want other women to experience that. I didn’t seek treatment again for two years because of those words.
This is why what Katherine Stone at Postpartum Progress is doing is so important. She works hard for the non-profit she created to bring more information to new mothers, and more awareness to the general public, as well as the medical community. It is also why so many of us sufferers/survivors are speaking out, and sharing our stories. By sharing, we are bringing awareness, even if it’s just to one reader. Our stories could save a life, and for that reason alone, it’s worth baring my soul.
Jenny the Bloggess suffers from mental illness. If you have never read her blog, you should. It always makes me smile, as she is so open and honest, and don’t forget hilarious. This week is National Mental Illness week, and she has created a card for everyone. I wanted to share it here with you, because I think all of my fellow sufferers/survivors are “The Best Kind of Fucked Up.”
If you have a minute, please share Katherine’s blog entry on raising money for her non-profit. She, along with the rest of us, is trying to raise money to help put more information out there for new mothers, and their families and doctors. If you can donate, wonderful! If you can’t,that’s perfectly OK, but please share it with others! It’s so important that we continue to work hard, and continue to share. It could save a life.
If you are suffering, or know someone who is, get help. You do not have to suffer in silence, or at all. PPD is treatable, and you deserve to feel like yourself, and happy. Check out this link on symptoms, and what you should do. You are not alone, and I, along with my PPD mommy friends, will support you along the way.