May 4-May 8, 2020 is Maternal Mental Health Week. Maternal mental health disorders do not discriminate. No mom is immune (actually they have found that some dads experience PMAD’s as well), so this week is very important for all of us even if some of us haven’t experienced it firsthand.
According to the CDC, 1 in 5 moms experiences some sort of perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD).
So many of us are part of that 1 in 5. Think about it in terms of your social circle. How many moms do you know? Out of each group of 5, one will experience some perinatal mental health disorder. That is a lot of moms!
You know what else? Studies have also shown that less than 15% of those moms will seek help. Most moms will suffer through things like depression, anxiety, psychosis, OCD, PTSD, bipolar, and more all alone.
We are supposed to feel nothing but excitement and joy when becoming a mom. So when everyone else does, and we don’t, we think there is something wrong with us.
There are many reasons moms don’t get the help they need. Therapy is expensive, and/or insurance won’t cover it. There aren’t therapists in their area that treat maternal mental health, or if they can find a therapist, they might not have anyone to take care of the baby while they are in therapy.
I would say though the most prominent reason moms don’t seek help is fear. Fear of being judged, fear of feeling like a bad mother, fear of looking weak, or fear of having our children taken away make it very difficult to want to speak up. This fear doesn’t even just apply to therapy but also asking for help from a spouse, family member, friend, or anyone.
Some moms do ask for help, though.
And many of them get the brush off. Being told it’s the usual motherhood exhaustion or baby blues and not to think anything more of it. So we end up just staying quiet and suffering alone.
When I was diagnosed with postpartum depression, it was possibly one of the most scared and alone I have ever felt. I have been there, and it’s awful. Assuming I am a terrible person and a bad mother. Watching everyone else thrive and thinking to myself, “Maybe I just can’t handle motherhood.” Thinking I have to deal with it on my own because speaking up will lead to judgment, or worse, having my baby taken away. I even felt my baby might be better off without me.
PMAD’s can feel different for every mom. I felt fear, rage, despair, detachment, and numbness, among so many other feelings. I had terrifying thoughts, and like a lot of moms doing through PPD, I didn’t even know what I was going through anything until I was in too deep.
The more time we keep quiet, the deeper these disorders can take hold. The stigma around these disorders is so strong that moms would rather suffer in silence than ask for help.
It’s time we change that!
It’s time we change the perspective of PMAD’s and found better ways to support moms.
That is why this week is so important. The more awareness we raise about perinatal mental health disorders, the more moms will know they aren’t alone. The more moms feel supported, the more comfortable they will feel speaking up and asking for help.
Struggling with your mental health doesn’t mean you don’t love your child; it doesn’t mean you are a bad mother; it doesn’t mean you weren’t cut out for motherhood.
Asking for help doesn’t mean you are weak, admitting we need to rest doesn’t mean you are less than any other mom, and it certainly doesn’t mean you don’t love your children.
No mother should feel alone when struggling with her mental health, she should never feel judged for feeling what she feels, and she should never feel unsupported while feeling these feelings.
Motherhood is hard! We need to empower each other and make sure we are all supported always!
If you think you or someone you know might be suffering from a maternal mental illness here are a few helpful support links:
If there is anything we can do to support you here at Miami Moms Blog please let us know.
Please ask for help, get rest, and know you are an amazing mother always!