I know that I had promised this post a few days ago, but our weekend ended up being super busy and time literally got away from me. I am so glad to be sitting here now though, getting ready to launch a month of posts devoted to moms, and mainly those moms who have suffered, are currently suffering from or think that they may be suffering from any postpartum mental/mood disorder.
I have made it no secret that following the birth of Emerson I launched into what would be the absolute hardest time of my life. I experienced a quick onset of postpartum anxiety followed by months of severe anxiety and depression. Thankfully, through prayer, research, medication, help from family and friends and giving it time, I am on my way to a full recovery. I’m not going to lie and pretend that I am all better, I still have some really bad days and sometimes just thinking about what I have gone through is enough to make me want to just curl up in my bed and never face the world again. However, those days are spacing out farther and farther from each other, and I am so thankful for the good things that this experience had brought me. As a result of this strenuous time, my relationship with my husband is stronger, I feel closer to my friends than ever, I am a more relaxed mom with my girls and I am learning to trust God in a whole new way.
And part of that new found trust is really listening to the Lord as He calls me into a new season of life. While I was incredibly lucky to have such a safety net of support in both my family and my church, I was left in tears on numerous occasions after attempting conversations with others about what I was going through. Both women, as well as fellow Christians, had some things to say or advice to give that I was a little shocked at. The stigma placed on these types of illnesses is horrendous, but even worse than that is how little everyone knows about these mood disorders. In fact, before I experienced it myself, I had no idea how many different ways these illnesses could present themselves. It also took me an incredibly long time to realize that this was an ILLNESS and there was NOTHING that I could have done to prevent myself from going through it. I also had to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t cause it.
So this month, be on the look out for posts breaking down all the different types of mood disorders that women can experience after pregnancy, as well as during it.
Here are a few statistics:
The American Psychological Association estimates that anywhere from 9-16% of pregnant women will experience some type of mood disorder during the postpartum period. Other statistical date shows that that number may be as high as 20%.
If you experienced any type of anxiety or depression following a previous pregnancy, your risk of having a mood disorder following a subsequent pregnancy jumps to 41%.
And these statistics only apply to REPORTED cases of postpartum mood disorders. Due to fear, stigma, lack of quality care and support and other factors, a surprising number of women suffer in silence each year.
While I know that these percentages might not seem very high, in an article written by Katherine Stone at Postpartum Progress, she applies these statistics to the number of clinically recognized pregnancies in 2007. With their being around 6.4 million recognizable pregnancies (that number including live births as well as miscarriages and still births) that would mean that 950,000 women reported experiencing some type of mood disorder that year. (You can read the entire article here.)
In one year….
Imagine how many of your friends may have suffered without you knowing. If you are the one going through it, imagine all the women who are experiencing it right alongside you.
Imagine what would happen if we all banded together, stripped away the façade, opened up about our experiences, admitted how hard it was, described how we got help, how long it lasted, what it was like and how we are doing now.
In addition to posting information on the different mood disorders that can come as a result of pregnancy, I would REALLY, REALLY like to share your stories.
For the month of May, I would like to run a series entitled “The Faces of PPMDs”.
In order to that, I need your help.
Please consider emailing me your experience, in the form of a post, including a short bio about yourself, to firstname.lastname@example.org
Email me also if you have any questions before writing it up.
Maybe, just maybe, we can start to chip away at this stigma….