Women with PPD Need Support, Not Hurtful Comments

I didn’t have plans to post again so soon, but something has come up that I have to write about.  It’s bothering me that much.   For those who have been following me for some time, you know what my peeves are.  Yes, indeedy….remarks made out of ignorance and condescension, and what I refer to as “Meow” behavior (I can say worse things but you get the picture….if not, consider the claws coming out and being mean for no reason other than to make themselves feel more superior by putting someone else down…downright nasty).  Oh, and for guys to attack women with PPD….there are just no words for that other than you should be ashamed.

TO THE MOMS OUT THERE WITH PPD:

If ever you feel like you’re at the end of your rope–and believe me I’ve been there before and it’s a dreadful experience I would not want to wish on anyone–please know that there are resources out there.  You are NOT alone in your experience.  You may feel like you are, but you aren’t!   Here are some support options (other than loved ones, like your spouse, parents, friends):

  • Give Postpartum Support International a call.  This is their toll-free warmline #:  800-944-4773. 
  • Leave me a comment here on this blog, and I will get right back to you.  I am a PPD survivor, and I know what it’s like to have PPD. 
  • Visit the blogs I have listed under my PPD Blogroll.  These are blogs of PPD survivor moms and moms currently going through PPD.

You do need help.  You do need support.  There are still SO many people out there who don’t get it and cannot empathize.  Grant it, it’s hard for someone who’s never been depressed to understand someone who is suffering from depression, but that is no excuse to belittle or hurt someone with their words and actions (or in this case, refusal to be supportive).   Knowing that these people don’t know what the heck they’re saying, you just need to be strong and IGNORE these comments.  Shrug them off.  I know it’s easier said than done, but don’t let anyone’s words get to you.  And be sure to get the help and support you need from people who know better.

I know what it’s like to be feeling so at the end of your rope that you just want to disappear into thin air, run away, or blink like a genie and all will be fine and back to the way it was before your PPD took a hold of your life.  Do not give up, do not let other people’s words (sticks and stones…) convince you into thinking that your children will be better off without you.  They need their mother.  With the right help and some time, YOU WILL BE WELL AGAIN!

TO THOSE WHO CARE ABOUT THE MOM WITH PPD:

Don’t minimize the thoughts and feelings she shares with you.  Doing so will only make her feel ashamed and want to hide her thoughts and feelings, which will only make her feel more isolated, hopeless and desperate than ever.  Don’t trivialize what she is going through or use any expressions that imply that all she has to do is try harder to get well.

MORE IGNORANT COMMENTS ABOUT PPD:

Amazingly enough this is banter I picked up on a site that is supposed to be for mothers and about mothers.  What ever happened to mothers supporting mothers, anyway?  The purpose of blogs, at least for most people I know, is to provide a forum to express (and share) one’s experiences, thoughts and feelings.  That’s the reason why I created mine…other than the fact that there needs to be more PPD survivors blogging to increase awareness about this all-too-often misunderstood and consequently stigmatized condition that all-too-many women find themselves experiencing (1 out of 8 new mothers).  When a mom is in trouble and expresses herself, that takes courage and her reaching out like that usually means she is looking to get reassurance that she is not alone and encouragement that she will get past this.   However, for a mother who shares what she’s going through– only to get criticized–well, this is precisely the reason why women who suffer from postpartum mood disorders keep quiet about how they’re truly feeling and what they’re truly thinking.  With human nature the way it is–always easier to attack than to be empathetic–the stigma of mental health issues will never go away. 

Here are sample comments from people who don’t get it (and should attempt to learn a thing or two about PPD before opening their mouths).  This in addition to—and even worse, I have to say, than–the ignorant comments I posted about last November.

“I get the PPD thing, I really do.  Depression sucks and it hurts.  But you make your own decisions, and you control your actions.”  – Um, yeah…like you really understand PPD?  Right.  You don’t control your decisions and actions if your mood disorder is severe enough. It’s always easy to say what you would do if you were in someone else’s shoes, but it doesn’t work like that.  Those suffering from PPD need help and support, not criticism or to be judged by others who haven’t the foggiest what these women are going through.    You obviously have never suffered from or have any real knowledge of PPD and what it can do to a mother.  Until you do, you haven’t a clue.  People without a clue shouldn’t be claiming they know all about PPD.

“She is playing victim/martyr whatever you want to call it, and letting PPD be the scapegoat for her actions.” – Um, okay…..since when did you become the expert on other people’s lives that you can say with so much certainty why they’re behaving the way they are?  Until you can say that you are either a PPD survivor or expert on PPD, then keep your mouth shut rather than go bashing someone like that. 

“She is absolutely miserable. Like, I wouldn’t be able to stand to be around her for 10 seconds miserable.  I cannot have an ounce of sympathy for a person who appears to enjoy her own misery.” – Hey, if you were depressed, you would feel miserable too.  You obviously have never been depressed.  Until then, keep your ignorant comments to yourself. 

“She has no accountability to anything. Hopefully she can get some help and realize she is the problem not her children or her husband.”  For crying out loud, who made you judge and jury?  How hard is it to give people the benefit of the doubt?  Innocent until proven guilty?  Pass kindness forward.  Or is asking this too much and is as futile as wishing for world peace?  Sometimes it feels that way to me.  HOW SAD.

“The husband isn’t so much avoiding parenting the kids, but avoiding HER misery.  I think he’s a douche for a reason.   She’s like a perpetual victim.  First it’s oh my infertility, then it’s oh my pregnancy. I don’t blame him for being a jerk if every time he walks in the door she collapses into a heap of everything sucks”.   – This sounds like me, does this make me a perpetual victim too?  Just because I don’t put all my complaints, thoughts, etc. for all the world to see on my blog and I don’t tweet them either, doesn’t mean I don’t feel down about my life every now and then.  Whose life is perfect, anyway?  The way and extent to which someone chooses to let their thoughts be known to others is different from one person to the next.  Only my husband knows how much I suffered through my infertility and nightmarish childbirth experience– and then of course my PPD–and he knew my concerns about my pregnancy.  Until you’ve had a series of health issues, infertility issues, difficult pregnancy, traumatic childbirth experience–or PPD for that matter– keep your criticisms of other people to yourself.  Do you really know without a doubt what another person’s private life and circumstances are like?  Have you installed a camera in their house?  Has there been a reality show about them that I wasn’t aware about?  With one baby (or multiple children) to take care solo, it’s not unreasonable for the mother to ask for help from the husband, even if he has spent a day at work.  After all, she has spent a whole day taking care of her children.  That is, after all, work.

Here is an excerpt from my hopefully soon-to-be-published book…I’m sharing it right now because I want to show you that the PPD mom is NOT alone in feeling like disappearing/running away, guilty feelings, desperation for support, understanding and reassurance from your spouse:

Without actually demonstrating to you what I have been trying so hard to forget, you can never know how scared I was, how each day I was getting progressively worse, and I thought it was possible that I would never survive this experience.  So many days, I spent so much time staring out the window, looking up to the heavens praying for help from God to get me through this, or standing in a room staring into space, sitting in bed and rocking back and forth trying to comfort myself when I was alone in the house with the baby, just wanting to scrunch up into a tight ball and hide in a closet, corner or some small space, or just plain disappearing….anything to get me away from the awful feelings I was experiencing

Usually, I am always complaining about how quickly the days, months and years are flying by.  But during my darkest days, time went by so agonizingly, unbearably slow before my husband came home from work each day.  Minutes felt like hours.  Hours felt like days.  After my husband left for work each day, I was fearful of not being able to make it on my own during the hours I had to be alone with my daughter.  He generally made sure to come home by 4:30.  I can’t remember how many times I had to call my husband for comfort and to see if he could come home early to help out with the baby.  He was the only one I could confide in about my true feelings.  He was my lifeline.  Without him, I don’t think I ever would have made it through the darkest moments of PPD.  Many times, he did come home early.  I felt exhausted and so, so scared of my predicament and being alone with the baby while my husband was at work for 10 hours each day.  At the same time, I felt so guilty about dragging him from work and fearful that he would lose his job.  Thank goodness his boss was understanding of our plight.  We couldn’t afford to have him lose his job, especially when I wasn’t sure whether I could ever return to work.  But even after he came home, there was little he could do to comfort me.  Sometimes I would give him a helpless look beseeching him to help me feel better.  He would put his arms around me.  I would ask these questions, knowing full well he didn’t have the answer:  “What is wrong with me?  Why am I like this?  Am I going to be like this forever?”  I’ve never experienced anything like this and I was so afraid that something was neurologically wrong with me as a result of childbirth.  At the time, I didn’t know this was PPD and I didn’t know what I was going through was experienced by so many mothers.  All I knew was that I felt so helpless and scared that I couldn’t even cry.  I think I only cried a handful of times during those 2 months of PPD. 

SUPPORT OF THE HUSBAND

When a man and woman enter into marriage, they’re entering into a life-long partnership and commitment to each other that is supposed to endure even through bad times.  We’ve come a long way over the past couple of decades.  Fathers today are more involved in childbirth and childcare than were fathers of the previous generation. 

However, not all men have hands-on father role models in their lives, either in their family, among friends or at work—and as such, there’s still a percentage of husbands out there that are sticklers for the age-old belief in and adherence to the segregation of duties—i.e., taking care of babies is what mothers do and hunting/gathering (or nowadays, bringing home the bacon) is what fathers do.  Yes, there are still cases where the husband believes the job of taking care of the baby (and all the housework) is completely the wife’s responsibility. It is sad to read all those stories of women whose husbands don’t help with the baby at all, and even worse don’t support or even try to understand what their wives are going through and selfishly bail out of the responsibility of caring for their babies and wives. 

The only way these men will realize what it’s like is to switch with the women for a couple of weeks, to get a taste for what it’s like at home 24/7 with an infant and no support.  Hey, now that’s a great idea for a TV reality show.  Instead of “Wife Swap,” they should have “Parent Role Swap.”  These men can’t appreciate what it takes to care for a baby, or what it’s like to stay home all day, seven days a week, for months taking care of the baby without any support from their spouses.  These men wonder how the so-called stress from staying at home can compare to the stress he has at work.   These men can’t understand why their wives are feeling blue and having a tough time with taking care of the baby, in addition to the laundry and dishes.  These men believe that, much like their ancient forefathers believed, mothers are supposed to be able to handle all that.  Well, these men need to wake up from their Rip Van Winkle slumbers—or should I say comas—and realize they are now in the 21st century!  They need to realize that there really is a deeper meaning to the words uttered in a marriage ceremony in terms of man and wife being there for each other in sickness and in health.

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6 thoughts on “Women with PPD Need Support, Not Hurtful Comments

  1. My wife I feel has suffered with PPD for 2 half yrs. I have now realized that to there needs to be something to help her. I had tried for her to she her dr. on her on and sit down to talk with her. Both sides of our families have noticed and though her seeing a doctor would be the only step. I went to a pscychololgist to get his opinion based on what my wife feels and acts like since our childs birth. He said that he would like to speak with her. I asked her to meet with him. I explained to her why I felt this was the best solution and offered to go with her no only for her but for us as well. She said she did not see why I would take this road because everything is fine and there was no cause behind this. Is there any way to make her realizing this has been going on. I know that the first step is admitting there is a problem, but I can not get her to that point.

    • James,
      Thanks for visiting my blog and stopping to leave a comment. This is the first time someone is directly telling me that it’s the mom who is in denial about having PPD. It’s wonderful you and family members on both sides have taken note that she isn’t herself and are trying very hard to be supportive for her and trying to ensure she gets better not just for herself but for her family as well. Please don’t give up. I suggest you tell her you’d like to make an appt for her to see a psychologist and then go with her to the appt. Or if she prefers someone else go with her, then so be it. Just as long as she goes. And make sure the psychologist is experienced with treating PPD cases. You can get a list of therapists on the PSI website (www.postpartum.net). Best of luck to you all! If you can, please do keep me posted!

  2. Great post…I love your responses to all those critical remarks! Especially how you put it all in a concise format. Thank you for writing about your experiences so that those like me don’t feel so alone in their journey.

    • Hi Steph,
      Thanks so much for visiting my blog! Hope you are well on your way to recovery! Definitely keep me posted on your progress, and reach out to me anytime!
      Best,
      Ivy

  3. I opened up about my PPD on my site (http://theheirtoblair.com) & was greeted with so much support from moms who understood or at least TRIED to understand.

    I was also SHOCKED at some of the flack I received, including a Tweet asking me if I’d dropped my son down the stairs yet. I was horrified.

    But I refuse to be quiet, in case my own courage will encourage someone else. I just began moderating comments on posts regarding PPD.

    • I am definitely going to visit your blog. So glad to hear you are also blogging about your PPD experience, and are receiving support from other moms! Yes, generally, on PPD blogs, you will get supportive comments. But it’s on other forums (I really oughta stay away from those because they really irk me and end up making me stay up blogging furiously away until I get it done). Geez Louise….I can’t believe that tweet you rec’d. How awful! What is wrong with these people? Honestly!

      Thank you for not being quiet, for having the courage to share your experience with others and helping others moms out there feel less alone as well! You should be proud of yourself.

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