Feels like ages ago since my last post. Anyway, I was motivated by Katherine Stone’s post from last week titled “Diverse Voices Are Important to Suffering Mothers” to write this post.
I agree 100% with Katherine in that “Different people respond to different voices and different experiences.” That’s why the more women who speak up about their postpartum depression (PPD) experiences, the more people we will reach–not just literally in terms of numbers and geographic locations, but figuratively in terms of being able to get through to all kinds of women. Katherine’s Postpartum Progress blog has over the years cultivated a huge following worldwide. She empowers women with knowledge about perinatal mood disorders. Through the information she shares, she helps women suffering from PPD feel less alone in their experiences.
Lauren Hale over at My Postpartum Voice and Amber Koter-Puline over at Beyond Postpartum are also wonderful examples of PPD bloggers who share the same goal as Katherine. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again….it’s these three inspiring women that have motivated me to devote my blog completely to PPD and other perinatal mood disorders. We blog with the hope there will be fewer moms out there suffering the way we had suffered. Though each one of these ladies has their own style and approach, they are all very focused on providing support.
So, what’s my angle? I always voice my own opinion on each one of my weekly blog posts. I also voice my anger in response to ignorant comments made about perinatal mood disorders, or mental health, in general. As some of my blog followers are already aware, my #1 pet peeve is behavior/remarks made out of ignorance, prejudism, condescension. This comes about as a result of how I was picked on in high school. Do I regret those days? Sure. But if it hadn’t been for my experience growing up, I probably wouldn’t be the way I am today, trying to tackle ignorant comments whenever they come up. Whether they are in the form of media attempts to educate people about PPD or blog posts (and let’s not forget comments), I am going to speak my mind and point out incorrect/ignorant statements.
My style may not be as “warm and fuzzy” as my fellow PPD bloggers, but that’s just me. I am an analytical/scientific/logical kind of person, which comes from my being a science major in college. My style or approach to blogging about PPD may not resonate with many of the mommas out there. My reaction–or shall I say anger–to ignorant comments may scare some mommas away just as easily as it may attract followers. As Katherine stated in her post: “You may not like what someone says or how they said it, but if it helps a woman who is suffering and feels alone that’s what is important. At least, that’s what is important to me.” Amen, Katherine, Amen!
Not everyone is going to like my blog, as I’m sure no one blog is going to appeal to everyone. Just like everyone is unique, every blog offers a different voice, a different experience. Just like Katherine indicated, you can always start up your own blog, if you haven’t done so already and join the growing number of women who are speaking up about their PPD experiences. Say it in your own way. After all, that was the original purpose for having a blog–to keep an online diary of your thoughts and experiences. We’ve come a long way from keeping personal diaries of one’s thoughts and feelings to be kept to yourself versus a blog, which anyone with a PC and Internet access can view in today’s digital way of life.
My latest example of tackling ignorant comments about PPD came about this past Sunday, July 4th. All I wanted to do was search for the latest news on Georgette Massi, the woman from Mahwah, NJ, who drove drunk with 3 small children in her car less than a couple months ago. There was this website that came up first when I did a search for her name on Google. Well, I did what I probably shouldn’t have done, especially on a holiday as we were getting ready to celebrate with friends, which is read the comments. There was one that had a warning flag of “Beware of possible ignorant comment and angry person behind comment.” And what did I choose to do? Reply to the comment with my typical FYI. My gut was telling me that the link to my post about the possible correlation between PPD and the rise in the number of drunk driving moms (with kids under one) would spark a negative reaction, and boy, did it do that! But I felt it was contained because the voice behind the person exchanging comments with me (not the one I addressed in my comment) sounded reasonable, relatively speaking. Then, like 2 days later (today), while writing this post and going to the site to retrieve the title and URL (which I’ve subsequently dropped from this post because that site does NOT deserve any attention whatsoever), I did what I probably shouldn’t have done, which is check to see if there were any new comments. Lo and behold, there was one. And boy, was it a doozy. This one was from the person whose comment I addressed on Sunday. There was no reason behind it. Just anger. And this coming from a PPD survivor! I couldn’t believe it. She had blinders on and had no intention of taking them off. Nah, she was not going to be open-minded, mature or intelligent. There was only one way of thinking and it was all hers, as wrong as it was. It was her way or the high way.
Well, like I said earlier in this post, there are many kinds of people out there. Some who survive experiences to be stronger, more empathetic people who want to make a positive difference for others. And there are those who survive their experiences with a crapful of anger directed at everyone else, where there is no room for reasoning. Just anger. They don’t care about anyone else. They don’t want to help anyone else. Paying it forward doesn’t exist in their vocabulary. Hey, all I can say to that is, there is such a thing as karma. What comes around, goes around.
Am I a masochist? Maybe. My friends and husband call me crazy. What I really believe is that by tackling the comments as I see them, I am in essence tackling the stigma of mental illness. It’s such a monster to have to tackle. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. And I’m hoping that with all our voices speaking up, we will chip away at the stigma so that women don’t have to continue suffering in silence, ashamed, embarrassed and not necessarily knowing what is happening to them. And unlike what this “PPD survivor” was ranting at me, all belligerent and everything, no, not every woman with PPD is going to know she has PPD. If that were the case we would be much ahead of where we are today! The sad truth is that not every woman is going to know she has PPD since everyone doesn’t know what the symptoms are. Many women realize there’s this stigma and keep their experience unnecessarily to themselves, hiding behind a facade of smiles when deep down inside they are crying. They want their motherhood experiences to be joyous and feel ashamed/guilty for not being able to have that experience. And then to make matters worse, not all doctors diagnose correctly.