"CODE ALERT: U.S. Preventative Services Task Force says women should be 'screened for depression' during and after pregnancy. Their answer, of course, is to 'find the right medication.' And how many on the task force are on big pharma's payroll? Follow the money on this one. Hormonal changes during and after pregnancy are NORMAL. Mood changes are NORMAL. Meditation helps. Prayer helps. Nutritional support helps. Love helps."
Last night (Wednesday 1/27/2016), I read your post opposing screening for Postpartum Depression. And you know what? It hurt my heart. As I read your words, I thought back to my own experiences after giving birth, and thought of the many stories I've heard from other women who struggled, and there are many of us out there. We have struggled with Postpartum Depression, Postpartum Anxiety, Postpartum OCD, Postpartum Psychosis, Postpartum PTSD, Antepartum Depression, and the list goes on. Our stories are many and varied, but one thing remains consistent: what we have been through and continue to go through is not normal. It may be common, but it is not normal.
There is nothing normal about Intrusive Thoughts that make you change your routine out of fear of the terrible thoughts and pictures that spring unbidden into your brain.
There is nothing normal about depression that leaves you unable to function, that leaves you sitting listless in a rocking chair, staring off into space with tears rolling down your cheeks as you rock your baby, wishing the pain inside you would ease for just a few moments.
There is nothing normal about anxiety attacks that cause you to have to pull over on the side of the road while you struggle to breathe, or have you sitting on the stairs at home hugging yourself and rocking back and forth while you hyperventilate.
There is nothing normal about hearing voices tell you that your baby is being possessed by the devil.
There is nothing normal about being traumatized by a birth experience that feels like something out of a nightmare and has you terrified at the idea of giving birth again.
There is nothing normal about finding yourself at the top of the stairs in the middle of the night, considering throwing yourselves down them to try to make the pain stop. There is nothing normal about walking away from those stairs and then thinking "I could just take a bunch of painkillers left over from a loved one's surgery, so I could go to sleep. Everyone would be better off without me and I'd find some relief from this crap."
There is nothing normal about having to go to the Emergency Department in the middle of the night and ending up admitted to the hospital for a week for in-patient psychiatric care while you stabilize from crisis mode. There's nothing normal about not being able to stop crying long enough to answer the nurse's questions.
There's nothing normal about feeling like you're a total and complete failure as a mother, a monster, because of the lies your brain is telling you.
There is nothing normal about Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders. There is nothing normal about the number of women we lose to Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders each year. There's nothing normal about the fact that suicide is one of the highest causes of maternal mortality in developed countries. There's nothing normal about the fact that new cases of Postpartum Depression occur in at least 600,000 women in the United States each year, and that's just the ones we know about. Once you start factoring in unreported/undiagnosed cases, the numbers jump significantly. It is common, but it is not normal.
There is nothing normal about Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders. Postpartum Depression is not the same thing as the "baby blues", it's not the result of the "normal hormonal changes" that occur after pregnancy. It's not those normal hormonal fluctuations that are seeing calls for increased depression screenings during and after pregnancy. It's not those normal fluctuations that require medication and hospitalization and therapy.
I've experienced the normal baby blues, and I've experienced Postpartum Depression, Postpartum OCD, and Postpartum Anxiety that left me with two hospitalizations. There's a world of difference. Prayer, meditation, reading books, and good nutrition helped with the typical postpartum hormonal adjustments. They did NOT help with my PPMD. You know what did help when I ended up in the hospital after wanting to kill myself?
And for that life-saving medication that helped return my life to some semblance of normal, that helped me be able to function, I thank heaven and "Big Pharma".
Please, Marianne, educate yourself before you cause any more harm, before you do any more damage to fragile women who are hurting. And you have already done harm and damage. I know this because I have been told this by women who were hurt and ashamed and scared after reading your words on Facebook and twitter.
And a quick note to all the mamas out there who are experiencing PPMD, you are not alone. What you are going through is not normal, but it is common. You have people who love you. We see you, we know your pain and desperation, and we love you. We are here for you. You have only to reach out to us and we will stand by your side and help you find your way through this. Don't let the stigma and ignorance that exists in the world get you down or keep you from reaching out for help.
For anyone who wants to educate themselves about the realities and truths of Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders, these links are a good start.
Postpartum Support International
My Postpartum Voice
#PPDChat on twitter