The myth of postpartum depression, or any depression for that matter, is that it is obvious.
This picture defines postpartum depression. Can you tell that this woman may be suffering a full blown postpartum depression? Absolutely not. It is a term I can “fronting.” People who suffer depression are adept at pretending, or faking, that they are fine. During graduate school, I worked at a mental hospital, one of the most interesting and gratifying experiences of my life. One of the things that was continually repeated by the patients there was it was so nice to not have to pretend there. They did not have to pretend to be well.
Mental Illness is one of those nebulous illnesses, where people can not wear a cast and have everyone ask, how is your broken foot doing?
It is literally in the head, and more and more research indicates, maybe the gut? One of the myths about postpartum depression is the myth of the mother sadly sitting in her house, numb and weepy about to throw the baby out the window. Actually, that is the image of postpartum psychosis. Postpartum depression presents as an agitated depression. The mother usually overreaches in an attempt to compensate for feelings of guilt and overwhelm. And of course, every mother working alone in her home taking care of her baby under multiple stressors, financial, emotional, physical, will feel weary and tired and frustrated. These initial feelings dissipate, whereas with postpartum depression they tend to settle into the fabric of the mother or father’s intrapsychic being.
Courage, is the first step towards healing. The courage to say to yourself, maybe I am not as well as I pretend to be. The courage to say, suicidal thoughts do not have to be part of my state of mind, even if they are just daydreams and not actual plans, it is important to note them as marker to a more serious illness, a mental illness, not just a bad day. So grab your cup of coffee, meet the other moms at the cafe, and then make an appointment with a therapist.