I guarded my postpartum depression diagnosis like a dirty little secret.
While I felt a certain measure of peace at having a name for the pit I seemed to be peering out of, it didn’t translate to shouting it loud enough to be heard above the rim of that pit. It didn’t even encourage me to tell my family.
After I nursed the baby and put her down for the night, I’d tuck the other two into bed saying, “Mama’s going to the doctor.” It was never the therapist, or my LICSW, or someone I need to bare my soul to in order to process what’s going on in my heart and head.
I didn’t want to be one of those people. The ones who lie on the couch to be psychoanalyzed. The ones who aren’t normal, who can’t cope, who have problems.
And that was just the ‘me’ stuff. Slathered on top of that was a thick coating of mommy guilt, seeping down into the crevices and open spaces. What kind of mother was I if I couldn’t care for my own brood? Blessed with three gorgeous, healthy children, why couldn’t I be happy?
I didn’t want anyone to see what a failure I was as a mother or how broken I was as a person.
I still have misgivings about sharing TMI on my blog. I invited all my Facebook friends, many of whom I haven’t seen in years and knew me in former incarnations, from my personal profile to ‘like’ my author page on which I share links to these blog posts. But did I want these acquaintances to know just what brand of crazy I am?
If I’ve learned nothing else during this experience, it’s that having nothing to hide takes away whatever shame there is. Being completely open is what destroys the stigma.
And as far as postpartum goes, I believe it helps other women get the help they need. In the surreal realm of new motherhood, it’s easy to feel completely alone. Start adding feelings not featured on any Hallmark card and there’s no way in hell you’re going to seek someone out to admit to them. But if you heard just one story, just one little anecdote similar to yours, you might, just might, open your mouth and let yours fly bit by bit.