One of the major misconceptions with Postpartum Depression (PPD) is the assumption that it is a short-term struggle. Much like the flu, it hits some harder than others, the time frame that you are ‘out of commission’ can vary, but overall, you bear through the worst of it until it’s finally time to get back to the daily grind.
Except sometimes the worst of it never goes away. Sometimes you never get better. Sometimes it leaves and comes back.
“Something is really wrong with me because you don’t hear people talk about postpartum depression starting and then staying like that.’” Said Chelsea Reiswig in an article posted by The Atlantic, When Postpartum Depression Doesn’t Go Away.
The article continues to discuss the the long term effects that PPD can have on an individual when it goes undiagnosed. Towards the end of the article, Reiswig states, “Now I have accepted this is likely something I will deal with the rest of my life...”.
And if you think it’s hard for the individual themselves to try and grasp what is happening to their emotional, mental, and physical health, it can be just as complicated for professionals. “It is very difficult for a person, even a trained person, to be able to distinguish between regular frustrations, hormonal fluctuations, and a mood disorder,” says Nicole Washington, a Tulsa-based psychiatrist.
I sincerely think this is why the discussion of what happens around birth - before birth, during birth, after birth - needs to be recognized as something that is not shushed and discarded. If we aren’t even near the point of being able to pinpoint and recognize certain challenges, the furthest thing from helping that is throwing up our hands, saying ‘Yep. That sucks.’ and changing the topic.
When I recognized that writing about the topic of Postpartum Depression was something that I felt was a necessary, I envisioned it to be a three part series: capturing the perspective of a postpartum mother I knew, sharing a piece of my own experience, and finding one article that may share some insight on this highly complex issue. Having come to what I loosely assumed would be the ‘end’ of this topic, I am reconsidering that my time exploring this is ‘done’.
I am well aware that this is not a topic that is going to be enjoyed by many; however, I am going to take the ‘quality over quantity’ approach with these writings, in the hopes that a few may be encouraged to recognize signs and symptoms within themselves or someone they know.
So, let’s keep the conversation going, so that we may feel joy, share joy, raise joy, and leave a legacy of joy.
Teresa Robertson is a Photography-degree, award-winning, published Photographer specializing in all things women & birth. Maternity, Birth, Newborn, Children, or Family, she proudly serves multiple locations, including D.C., Atlanta, Michigan, Orlando, and Oahu. Her Fine Art series ‘Mele Ma’i: Procreation Chants’ can be found here. For information on Bereavement Photography, please visit Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep