The Voice of Postpartum Depression

The first 3 months of motherhood were a blur to me. I observed moments, that were supposed to be magical and memorable, from a distance, like an out of body experience. I had big, huge feelings and then no feelings at all. I dealt with crippling fears followed by overwhelming apathy. I cradled my child, I screamed at my child. I didn’t trust anyone else with her but I knew myself to be an inadequate caregiver. I thought about packing my bags and driving away. When I look back into my memory for those staple “mommy moments,” I find them veiled in fog.

That fog is finally lifting and it goes by the name of Postpartum Depression.

Postpartum Depression, or PPD, is a sneaky ailment. It infiltrates your mind with every sideways glance from a stranger, each piece of “constructive” criticism from a friend, all the moments that don’t live up to your expectations, and each time you disappoint yourself. It manifests at the most inopportune time and makes itself at home behind your tired eyes and fake smile. It creates a wall between mother and child that seems impossible to scale.

PPD is so subtle; it can reside in your psyche unnoticed for months. PPD has a voice. It speaks in a whisper. It tells lies. It makes mothers feel inadequate, unwanted, and alone.

In a social media “survey”, I asked women who had struggled with Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety to share the lies PPD and PPA had been whispering in their ears. My goal was to unite hurting mothers, to show them they weren’t alone, and to expose PPD for what it is: a deceiver. The result was an outpouring of love and support toward those who felt burdened by PPD’s deafening whisper, and between mothers who were overcoming common falsehoods. We were raw, open, and vulnerable. In the end, it was as if an entire community of women breathed a sigh of relief. We are not alone. We are warriors. We are capable of seeing truth through the fog of depression.

These are the lies we confronted…

YOU ARE INADEQUATE:

 “You’re not doing enough for your baby. You’re not doing enough for your husband. You’re not doing enough.” – Jenny

“It’s pointless to try when you’re just going to fail.” – Anonymous mom

“You’re doing everything wrong.” – Anonymous mom

“You’re a terrible mother.” – Anonymous mom

“Your son deserves so much more than what you can give him.” – Teen mom, Lexie

“Why do you need your husband to help you? You’re the woman. You shouldn’t have to ask for help. Asking for help makes you less of a mother. Are you sure you deserve this baby?” – Anonymous mom

“You SUCK AT breastfeeding.” – Anonymous mom

“Your child was born perfect and you’re ruining him…. you stopped breastfeeding, you lose your patience…. you’ve already failed him.” – Anonymous mom

“You aren’t good enough.” – Anonymous mom

“You’re a terrible wife. Why don’t you have supper ready for him? Why isn’t your house clean? You’re home all day.” – Anonymous mom

“You’re a failure because you can’t breastfeed. It’s natural, so, you’re doing something wrong.” – Anonymous mom

“You are not trying hard enough and you are a wimp” – Katie

“You will never be good enough to make your girls happy. Never.” – Anonymous mom

“You made a huge mistake. You can’t do this. You aren’t even sure if you love your son and don’t feel connected. What kind of mother isn’t sure? You’re awful.” – Julie

“You should have given him up for adoption. Someone else could have taken better care of him.” –  Anonymous teen mom

“You are a huge disappointment to the woman who trusted you to be a good mother to her baby.” (post placement depression happens too!) – Anonymous Adoptive Parent

YOU ARE UNWANTED:

“Your family would be better off without you.” – Kait

“No one would miss you if you were gone.” – Anonymous mom

“You look ugly.” – Anonymous mom

“Everyone hates you. Your baby will too.” – Anonymous mom

“You’re fat and ugly and your son won’t love you.” – Anonymous mom

“Your boyfriend is going to leave you and the baby because you are so mean to him and push him away all the time. And your son is going to grow up hating you.” – Kaci

“You are not worthy of…” – Anonymous mom

“You should not have allowed yourself to have a baby, she hates you and you have no idea what you’re doing.” – Anonymous mom

“You aren’t good enough to be their mother. He would be better off with a different woman to raise your children. You are pathetic for not working all day and coming home and cleaning house. Your children will hate you when they get older so you might as well give up now.” – Anonymous mom

“You are gross and stinky.” – Anonymous mom

“You’re inadequate, and everyone here knows it. They’re all talking about how you’re not cut out for this job, and hope you’ll quit soon.” – Anonymous mom

“When you go to work, your baby will love grandma more than you and eventually start calling grandma, mom.” – Anonymous mom

YOU ARE ALONE:

“You must hide your true self and feelings and pretend like everything is perfect and you are nothing but happy all the time.” – Katie

“You’ll be lonely for the rest of your life and your daughter will never have a daddy and it’s all your fault.” – Anonymous single mom

“You appear like you have it all together, but you probably struggle more than anyone else.” – Anonymous mom

“How did you ever love your husband?” – Anonymous mom

“Nobody else feels this way or experiences these issues, it’s just you.” – Anonymous mom

We also shared lies of fear, lies of despair, and lies about how to escape from it all:

“You wanted this for so long. You begged and pleaded with God to make you a mother. Now I’m going to make you second guess your biggest desire; I’m going to make you think you’ve been wrong your whole life. I’m going to make you wonder if you regret this. I’m going to make you think, even if only for a minute, that maybe you should run.” -Megan

“You have to quiet that baby right now.” – Anonymous mom

“People are trying to steal your baby. If you let them hold her, they’ll try to take her.”- Emily

“You are not allowed to have PPD. You are the one that is supposed to be helping others.”-  Theresa

“You don’t want to be a mom anymore. You don’t want your baby. You should just leave in the middle of the night and start a new life somewhere else, far away, and never come back.” – Anonymous mom

“’This’ will never end … You’ll never get relief, or sleep. You’ll never be yourself again and you’ll never feel ok. No one will ever look at you the same.” – Anonymous mom

“You should be head over heels with this baby. Why are you numb? You are broken and will never bond with this baby.” – Anonymous mom

“Scream at your baby to shut up. That will keep him quiet.” – Anonymous mom

“What the hell did you do? Motherhood is terrible and now you’re stuck. FOREVER.” – Anonymous mom

“You’re going to die tragically and your son won’t know you.” – Anonymous mom

“If you relax for one minute something terrible will happen and it will be your fault.” – Anonymous mom

“You’re a monster for choosing to get back on your antidepressant 2 weeks PP over breast feeding your baby. Any good mother would sacrifice herself to breastfeed, no matter the costs. You’re selfish and don’t deserve her.” – Anonymous mom

“This was a mistake – you weren’t supposed to be a mother. You’re weak.” – Anonymous mom

“Your feelings don’t matter. Put them aside and pretend to be happy. Pretend to be doing great. Pretend to love being a mother. ” – Jennifer

We learned that comparison can seem to validate these PPD lies:

“You are exactly like your mother.” – Anonymous mom

“You should be able to handle this. Other people do it better. You just need to try harder.” – Anonymous mom

“You can’t do this. You aren’t nurturing and put together like other women. You have made a mistake and this baby will suffer for it.” – Amanda

“All of these other mothers instinctively know why their babies are crying. Why don’t you? Millions of other women are able to breastfeed. Why can’t you? Everyone else has figured out how to get their baby to sleep at night. Why can’t you? All of those moms have already lost the baby weight. Why can’t you?” – Anonymous mom

“Look at all those moms who have it together (laundry folded, clean house, nightly home cooked meal) … some with more kids than you. You are never going to be good enough.” – Ashley

“Every other mom does it better/is happier/can cope better/seems to know all the answers, so why can’t/don’t you?” – Anonymous mom

“Everyone else knows what they’re doing. Everyone else is happy. What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you want to do more for your kids? Why do you want to be by yourself so much? What did you fail to teach them today? What’s wrong with you?” – Anonymous mom


I found, during this “experiment,” that I experienced lies in common with 7 other women. SEVEN. This realization immediately eliminates the lie that I am alone.

There is strength in numbers. Anyone with a voice can drown out the whisper of PPD and overpower it with truth. So why are so many women suffering, silently? Why, in our society of excessive communication, is this issue still taboo? Let’s break the silence surrounding PPD.

After many women had responded with the lies they face, one person suggested that, along with our lies, we post truths to build each other up. So, this is for the mommas struggling with PPD and PPA. Here are some truths for you. Write them down, memorize them.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

“As many as one in seven women experience PPD.” –American Psychological Association

YOU CAN DO THIS

“You have all the tools necessary to be a good mother. You have a heart to love your child, arms to hold your child, and a brain to figure out the rest.” – Kait

“Every time you feel as if you’ve failed,  know you’ll soon overcome that moment with a successful one.” -Allisin

YOU ARE NEEDED

“You are an integral part of your family. Your sweet baby needed you for those 9 months in utero and still needs you. Your heartbeat is what your baby knows and is comforted by.” – Dorothy

I pray that your PPD fog lifts, that the negative whisper is drowned out, and that you are able to fully embrace and enjoy your role as a mother.  Stop comparing yourself to others. You’re the very best at what you do.

 

 

 

 

 

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