Today’s the day! Mothering Through the Darkness: Women Open Up About the Postpartum Experience officially releases today and is now available in paperback and e-book! For the past year, Jessica and I have been immersed in this project: reading submissions, selecting essays, editing, compiling, and preparing for the publication of this beautiful anthology. I can say it’s beautiful because I technically didn’t write it, right? (Just the introduction . . .) 35 gifted, brave, eloquent writers shared their stories about postpartum depression and other perinatal mood disorders.
We think this book is so important. Postpartum depression has been in the news a lot lately—between Hayden Panettiere and Drew Barrymore—and now is the time to shed even more light on the realities of perinatal mood disorders. So many myths still prevail about postpartum depression, and the authors of this book, the book’s supporters, and my co-editor and I are ready to shatter these destructive myths that often prevent women from seeking care.
As publication date approached, we realized that in promoting this anthology, we were going to have to talk about our own stories of postpartum struggle. I had a tidy little speech prepared: Well, I didn’t really experience postpartum depression, not to the devastating degree that some do. I didn’t cry all day, and I certainly didn’t regret becoming a mother. I wasn’t sad or lethargic. Really, I was irritable, angry (at times, incredibly angry), and anxious. But not depressed. So it didn’t count, right?
That’s when I realized that I was actually part of the problem. My reluctance to claim myself among the group of women who experienced perinatal mood disorders was the perfect example of why we need to shatter the myths that still prevail, the myths that even I myself—after nearly a year of immersion in the topic of postpartum depression—still subconsciously subscribed to.
The truth is, somewhere in my OB-GYN’s file cabinet there is a piece of paper with my name on it and the words “postpartum depression.” Because when I went to my doctor’s office when my daughter was somewhere around four-six months, I took the questionnaire and failed it. I was irritable, on edge. I was angry. I felt anxious and slightly obsessive. I needed help, and I got it. I was one of the lucky ones whose doctor didn’t dismiss my needs. And I got better, quickly. It’s true that my case may not have been as serious or dangerous as some women’s. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t count, or that I could have “exercised it away.” And it certainly wasn’t anything to be ashamed of; no case of PMD is.
My mental narrative about how I wasn’t a person affected by postpartum depression illustrates the serious need for our culture to better understand perinatal mood disorders. We need to improve the education and outreach for all mothers and mothers-to-be, as well as their loved ones and caregivers. And we need to reach out to the women who are struggling, who have struggled, and let them know they aren’t alone.
This week, along with our release of Mothering Through the Darkness, the HerStories Project is organizing a week-long social media campaign called “Shatter The Myths.” The goal of the campaign is to end the widespread misconceptions about maternal mental health disorders that prevent mothers from speaking up about their struggles and getting help.
For the next few weeks, to shatter these myths and to help end the stigma surrounding these treatable disorders, the HerStories Project is asking survivors of PMD, other mothers, clinicians, family members, and mental health advocates to post messages, images, and signs for moms who may be struggling with these conditions, using the hashtags#endPPDMyths and #motheringthrudarkness. Here’s an example:
If you have been affected by PMD, whether you experienced it or know someone who has, we would be honored to have you join us in spreading this powerful message to bring awareness and healing. Use the hashtags above on social media, or email us your photo messages at theherstoriesproject @ gmail.com so that we can include them in our gallery.
Find out more about our “Shatter the Myths” movement (and check out our growing photo gallery) here, and you can support our book by purchasing a digital or paperback copy here. (It’s available on Amazon as well as other retailers, including B&N and IndieBound.)
Please spread the word!
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