When we become mothers, everyone expects us to be over-the-moon with happiness. They assume that we must wake up every day and beam when we look at our baby, and that we must be head-over-heels in love with our new roles and new responsibilities and new, added identity as “mom.” While, yes, the arrival of a little one is absolutely a joyous occasion, it doesn’t necessarily always feel that way for women who are suffering, often silently, from postpartum depression (PPD). So often, new moms are afraid to talk about postpartum depression, but why? Postpartum depression is shockingly common, as 1 in 7 mothers will experience PPD, so why aren’t we talking about it? Why aren’t we sharing our stories and discussing treatments? The answer, sadly, revolves around stigma and shame.
Why a new mom would want to keep her postpartum depression a secret is entirely up to her, and is a decision probably made for a variety of reasons. Those reasons are just as unique as they are painful for each and every woman who suffers in silence. Personally, I was in complete denial about my own postpartum depression, and I kept it to myself for far too long. I eventually fell into such a downward spiral that it terrified me to my core, and I had to lock myself into a room so that I wouldn’t scream or lash out or hit something. It scared me so badly that I finally realized that I was showing signs of postpartum depression, and the only thing I could do was ask for help.
For too long, I was scared to talk about my postpartum depression, but the moment I finally let it out and finally acknowledged my postpartum experience and finally said what I was feeling, I felt like I could finally breathe again. I felt like a monumental weight had been lifted from my chest and like, despite how awful I felt, I was going to be OK. Everything was going to be okay. Having made it through the other side of a battle far too many new mothers face, I understand why women who hide their postpartum depression feel like they need to. I understand why many women feel like they don’t have a choice and not talking about PPD is the only option. So, if you think you might be experiencing postpartum depression or you’re currently suffering through postpartum depression, but hide it for one of the following five reasons, I feel you, but it’s going to be OK. You are going to be OK. Everything is going to be okay.
THEY FEEL GUILTY
Feeling guilty about not feeling how you’ve been told you’re “supposed to” feel after you’ve had a baby is incredibly common among women who suffer from postpartum depression. Motherhood is painted as this blissful and elating time for a woman and her newborn. We see it played out on our television screens and in magazines and books everywhere we look. we’ve constantly bombarded with that that picture of a new mother lovingly staring into her newborn’s eyes, whether it’s manufactured by the media or shared on social media. All of these pictures make a woman who is suffering from postpartum depression feel a painfully insane amount of guilt for not feeling the same way.
THEY FEEL LIKE SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH THEM
“What’s wrong with me?” I would ask myself when I would look at my son and didn’t feel the way I had imagined I would feel. He was perfect and beautiful and healthy. He had a head full of fuzzy hair and big blue eyes. He loved being held by his mom, so why wasn’t the feeling mutual? I felt like the worst person on earth for not feeling as in love as I assumed I would or believed I should. I felt like I was unfit, like I wasn’t deserving of the beautiful boy that God gave me, or like I was already a terrible mother before I had even had my maternal aptitude truly tested.
Of course I loved my son, then and now, but amid all of the changes that accompanied his arrival, I also felt resentment. Deep, angry, and shameful resentment that kept me awake at night during the few hours when my son was asleep. I knew that I was slipping, but I couldn’t figure out why. Why wasn’t I in love? Why wasn’t I bonding with my son? Why wasn’t I proud of my new life? Just, why?
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