I’m lucky enough that many women have spoken with me about their postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and psychosis. It’s really an honor. I know people say “it’s an honor” all the time, but I mean it. Their stories open me. It’s not often that we lay ourselves, totally vulnerable, in front of each other. These women do that when they share their stories with me, when they tell me they didn’t particular like their child for the first four months or that they still can’t let anyone else drive their children in a car or that they hated breastfeeding or that they had intrusive thoughts. And this is the way to make individual change. We keep talking. 15-20% of women experience PPDA, but only 5% are being screened by medical providers, and even then, they often aren’t getting the help they need in terms of referrals and support. We have to keep asking questions and telling our stories to change this.
I work full-time as an English Instructor and I’m raising a feisty little girl. Some days it’s all I can do to get everyone dressed and fed, but I can keep speaking up. It happens all the time. Just the other day, I was speaking with Mae’s new preschool teacher. I told her about my volunteer work with Postpartum Education and Support, and she told me the story of her postpartum anxiety when she had twins. I didn’t push her to tell me anything. Women are just waiting for the invitation, because PPDA leaves a mark on them, forever, and many women don’t have anyone to tell their stories to.
I’ve been talking openly about PPDA for over a year now, and I’m not the least bit bored or tired of this topic. When I talk about my experience honestly, then another woman does, and then another woman finds out about a resource, and then maybe that woman becomes a volunteer. I’ve seen it happen.
We are a tribe, and listening to these women’s stories, and telling my own, has been the most empowering work I’ve ever done.