Princess Diana Spoke Candidly About Postpartum Depression And Self-Injury In 1995 Interview

(Photo credit: Paisley Scotland)

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana. She remains a vivid icon, remembered for her charisma, grace and tireless activism. Now, thanks to footage and transcripts from a 1995 interview with BBC1 Panorama’s Martin Bashir, we see another facet of the late princess—her courage to talk about things no one else was talking about.

In the interview, Diana spoke candidly about her experience with postpartum depression and self-injury. She was honest and reflective, and even though us commoners can’t fathom the unique pressures of royal living, her struggles as a new mom are surprisingly relatable.

Here’s what we learned from their conversation.

Diana had PPD with her son William, but didn’t know it until later.

BASHIR: How did the rest of the Royal Family react when they learnt that the child that you were to have was going to be a boy?

DIANA: Well, everybody was thrilled to bits. It had been quite a difficult pregnancy – I hadn’t been very well throughout it – so by the time William arrived it was a great relief because it was all peaceful again, and I was well for a time.

Then I was unwell with post-natal depression, which no one ever discusses, post-natal depression, you have to read about it afterwards, and that in itself was a bit of a difficult time. You’d wake up in the morning feeling you didn’t want to get out of bed, you felt misunderstood, and just very, very low in yourself.

BASHIR: Was this completely out of character for you?

DIANA: Yes, very much so. I never had had a depression in my life.

But then when I analysed it I could see that the changes I’d made in the last year had all caught up with me, and my body had said: `We want a rest.’

She received treatment, but lacked community support.

BASHIR: So what treatment did you actually receive?

DIANA: I received a great deal of treatment, but I knew in myself that actually what I needed was space and time to adapt to all the different roles that had come my way. I knew I could do it, but I needed people to be patient and give me the space to do it.

BASHIR: When you say all of the different roles that had come your way, what do you mean?

DIANA: Well, it was a very short space of time: in the space of a year my whole life had changed, turned upside down, and it had its wonderful moments, but it also had challenging moments. And I could see where the rough edges needed to be smoothed.

BASHIR: What was the family’s reaction to your post-natal depression?

DIANA: Well maybe I was the first person ever to be in this family who ever had a depression or was ever openly tearful. And obviously that was daunting, because if you’ve never seen it before how do you support it?

BASHIR: What effect did the depression have on your marriage?

DIANA: Well, it gave everybody a wonderful new label – Diana’s unstable and Diana’s mentally unbalanced. And unfortunately that seems to have stuck on and off over the years.

BASHIR: Are you saying that that label stuck within your marriage?

DIANA: I think people used it and it stuck, yes.

It became so painful that she would self-injure.

BASHIR: According to press reports, it was suggested that it was around this time things became so difficult that you actually tried to injure yourself.

DIANA: Mmm. When no one listens to you, or you feel no one’s listening to you, all sorts of things start to happen.

For instance you have so much pain inside yourself that you try and hurt yourself on the outside because you want help, but it’s the wrong help you’re asking for. People see it as crying wolf or attention-seeking, and they think because you’re in the media all the time you’ve got enough attention, inverted commas.

But I was actually crying out because I wanted to get better in order to go forward and continue my duty and my role as wife, mother, Princess of Wales.

So yes, I did inflict upon myself. I didn’t like myself, I was ashamed because I couldn’t cope with the pressures.

BASHIR: What did you actually do?

DIANA: Well, I just hurt my arms and my legs; and I work in environments now where I see women doing similar things and I’m able to understand completely where they’re coming from.

BASHIR: What was your husband’s reaction to this, when you began to injure yourself in this way?

DIANA: Well, I didn’t actually always do it in front of him. But obviously anyone who loves someone would be very concerned about it.

BASHIR: Did he understand what was behind the physical act of hurting yourself, do you think?

DIANA: No, but then not many people would have taken the time to see that.

Yet she still performed as the Princess of Wales. The public was unaware of her struggle.

BASHIR: Were you able to admit that you were in fact unwell, or did you feel compelled simply to carry on performing as the Princess of Wales?

DIANA: I felt compelled to perform. Well, when I say perform, I was compelled to go out and do my engagements and not let people down and support them and love them.

And in a way by being out in public they supported me, although they weren’t aware just how much healing they were giving me, and it carried me through.

The interview reveals how brave Diana was at a time when there was a strong stigma of mental illness. She helped start a conversation, and for that, we have respect.

Hiring A Night Nurse Isn’t Lazy or Indulgent. Here’s How It Saved Us.

Today’s Warrior Mom guest post comes from Samantha Konikoff, who lives in Bellingham, Washington.   


Eva Amurri Martino and her son. (Photo credit: Eva Amurri Martino on Instagram

While browsing through Facebook this week, I saw a news story about Eva Amurri Martino—the actress, blogger and daughter of Susan Sarandon—who was coming out about the trauma she experienced after a night nurse accidentally fell asleep and dropped her infant son. Thank goodness the baby is just fine.

Without even clicking on the article or comments, I knew that (mostly) women would be throwing stones at Eva because she had a night nurse, a professional hired to care for a baby throughout the night. And sure enough, they were. Commenters scoffed, writing that she is a celebrity and can afford to have someone else raise her baby while “us normal people” do it all on our own.

But why is having a night nurse shunned?

I am not a celebrity. I am middle class. And yet we had a night nurse once a week with our second child. It was the best decision my husband and I ever made, and I believe it helped my mental health.

For five glorious weeks, a night nurse named Nancy was at our house from 10 p.m. on Thursday night until 6 a.m. on Friday. She stayed in our daughter Emma’s room, and when Emma woke up, our nurse Nancy would feed her, change her and rock her, and then leave me notes about it to read when I got up in the morning. We bottle-fed so I didn’t need to be woken up for feedings. If our son (who was 3 at the time) woke up, that was our responsibility. Since she was up all night, she also offered to fold my laundry. Yes, you read that right. When morning came, POOF! Baskets of folded laundry.

When I had my first child, Evan, I experienced postpartum depression/anxiety. One of the triggers was not knowing things and becoming overwhelmed in trying to find the answers. Three years later, when Emma was born, I immediately knew it could happen again. At one point, both kids had colds, and we weren’t sleeping. We needed help.

My mom had a night nurse when I was a newborn in the late 1970s, and she always said how sad she was the day the woman left. And I remembered my friend talking about this amazing night nurse who helped with her twins. My husband and I had received a check from a family member for our daughter’s birth, and we decided this is how the money should be spent.

We hired Nancy when Emma was about five weeks old. She was amazing. She had been doing this for over 25 years and was a kind and sweet and caring woman. During one of her visits, we talked about the postpartum depression I had with my son. She said that with new moms, she always keeps her feelers out for depression, and had dealt with it before.

For the five weeks that Nancy was with us, I had her knowledge at my fingertips any time I needed it. I would call her and ask her about feeding schedules, how to drop a night feeding and whether it was the right time, and how to get the baby to sleep less during the day and more at night. I had an expert at my disposal and that was worth its weight in gold.

I wish that when moms are sent home from the hospital or birth center, or at least at their baby’s first doctor visit, they should be given a list of night nurses.

It truly takes a village to raise our children, and if you can get a postpartum doula, night nurse, family member, or friend to stay up with your baby for a night here or there, I’d say take the sleep. Your mental health may depend on it.

Bunmi Laditan on Postpartum Depression and Overcompensating

Bunmi Laditan on Postpartum Depression and Overcompensating -postpartumprogress.com

Award winning author and speaker Bunmi Laditan shared her experiences with postpartum depression and overcompensating on Facebook this week. It struck a chord with many moms.

You can read it for yourself. It’s beautiful.

When we posted Bunmi’s important piece on our Facebook page, we asked our Warrior Moms if they ever felt a connection between postpartum depression and overcompensating for their child for those days, weeks, or a year of postpartum depression. Our post got 110 likes or loves, so we know it resonated with a number of mamas.

Three also spoke up to share their stories.

Amanda Staples Davis said, “I read this yesterday and it rang so true with me. For years I felt I had to go over and above what a ‘normal’ mum would do to compensate for they way I felt and not bonding with my son. He is now 7 and we have two younger children (6 and 4), I have only just started stopping myself from free-falling into an abyss of doing more unthanked tasks and mainly as he now expects me to jump at his every command. I feel terrible in saying that we still don’t have that special bond but am glad to say that we do have some kind of bond now. He suffers with slight anxiety and I suffer with the guilt of creating that. Moving on from PPD is tough, you don’t just wake up and feel better, you learn new ways of coping with the challenges until you like yourself, life and family again 💗💕”

Deva Millward said, ” I overcompensated for so long that now that I’m healthy and just being “normal,” I have to reassure myself that I’m not failing- Again. Still. But in a different way from when I was suffering from PPD/A. Great post. These days I just try to live in my strengths and let the rest go!”

Nadia Vellucci said, “Wow, this was such a good read for me. I too, struggle with the feelings of maybe not showing my sons enough love or happiness or fun… Etc for my 1 yr old, as I was in the depths of PPD/PPA I was stressing over his 1st birthday. I wanted it to be as wonderful as his older brother’s was. I was sad that I didn’t have the strength mentally to bake his special cake, to have all the appetizers, decorations, etc. It was different for #2; I was ill. I started feeling better a little bit before his 1st bday (thanks to a cocktail of meds ). I was able to do some special things… and forgive myself for the things I couldn’t handle. It was a beautiful day and I cherish it.”

Those of us who have experienced postpartum mood and anxiety disorders have been there in one form or another, I think. For me, my perfectionist personality went into overdrive after the birth of our first son which lead to a lengthy battle with postpartum depression and anxiety. Even after I “got better,” which is to say that I could function and was finally enjoying being a mother while still living with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), I struggled with helicopter parenting and wanting to make sure nothing bad ever happened to him. That’s not sustainable, as I eventually learned.

When our youngest son was born, I figured since I knew about postpartum depression and anxiety, I wouldn’t get it. Like I had some kind of immunity or something. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. Because I desperately didn’t want to be feeling the way I was, I overcompensated. No one outside the walls of our home knew I was struggling as badly as I was because I looked like Super Mom. I made homemade bubbles for my two year old. I fed the baby organic foods at six months old. They looked adorable all the time, and I even bothered to put on makeup and dress nicely when we went out. Inside my head though, I regularly struggled with thoughts of harming myself.

It all came to a crashing halt when my brain started to run away with intrusive thoughts. I finally decided that pushing myself that hard to make my sons’ lives “perfect” despite my depression and anxiety wasn’t going to do us any good in the long run. I went back to therapy and got things situated.

I still struggle with wanting to overcompensate for lost days, weeks, and months. They’re ten and eight now, so I’ve improved in lots of ways. I don’t helicopter as much as I used to, though it takes a lot of positive self-talk for me to stay on a bench at the playground and let them do their own things. I didn’t blame myself when my oldest got injured at one of his friend’s houses. I don’t buy lavish birthday presents or just because gifts. I’ve started affording myself the grace I want extended to me on the days I don’t do my “best” as a mom. I’ve learned to apologize when I break down, but more importantly, I’ve learned to accept their forgiveness when they offer it.

I’ve let go of the guilt of postpartum depression and anxiety, or most of it. It’s taken awhile, and continuous therapy for both those issues and others in my life, but I know how to deal with it when it pops up, too.

For those who are maybe just out of the woods of postpartum depression or even a few years removed, I can tell you that it does get better, that you do settle into your parenthood, that you do find a way to forgive yourself. You are already an amazing mother, and you will continue to be as you heal. When you finally believe that, you will be able to see things in a different light. Until then, we’re here for and with you, Warrior Moms.

Our Wish for All Moms Experiencing Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders

Our Wish for All Moms Experiencing Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders -postpartumprogress.com

Hayden Panettiere spoke yesterday about the amazing support she received when she announced she was entering treatment for postpartum depression.

“The more open I was, the more acceptance I got from people,” she said. “I got so much support and so much love. I was floored. I feel much more exposed, yes, but in a great way.”

She’s been open, honest, and vocal about her experience, and we continue to love the way she’s using her experience to educate and destigmatize postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. The more the general public hears about postpartum depression, the more it becomes less scary, less “other,” and the more likely moms might be to reach out for help when they’re suffering.

But the truth is this: Even Hayden was shocked that she received support.

Moms remain silent, hiding their symptoms from even those they’re closest to, out of fear of being judged, fear of being told they’re not a good mother, fear of admitting what they perceive to be some kind of inherent female flaw. Whether it’s their first or their fifth child, moms experiencing a postpartum mood and anxiety disorder fear they’re just bad moms. Not good enough. Broken.

Unfortunately, the stigma of maternal mental health isn’t imaginary. These moms don’t fear the reactions of others without reason. People, sometimes even with good intentions, spout of all kinds of things which aren’t helpful at best and, at their worst, can destroy a mom’s sense of self-worth.

“I don’t know why you aren’t feeling bonded with your baby; I loved my daughter the moment I set eyes on her.” “I’ve never felt resentment for my child. What’s wrong with you?” “You’re just not trying hard enough.” “Pray harder.” “If you hadn’t quit breastfeeding, you’d be feeling better.” “If you’d quit breastfeeding, you’d feel better.” “Exercise more.” “Taking time for yourself is selfish.” “This is supposed to be the happiest time of your life.”

Moms hear these things. They internalize them. They hear the unspoken point of the words: You’re doing motherhood wrong. Something is wrong with you.

Mothers experiencing these mental illnesses need to hear that they are normal. That 1 in 7 moms experiences a postpartum mood and anxiety disorder. That postpartum depression and its cousins are temporary and treatable. That one day motherhood won’t feel like this. That they are good moms.

Good Moms.

Moms with postpartum depression are good moms. Moms experiencing postpartum anxiety are good moms. And postpartum OCD. And postpartum psychosis. And postpartum bipolar. And postpartum PTSD. And moms experiencing intrusive thoughts or suicidal ideation or insomnia or rage or crippling fear or all of the above. Moms seeking care for mental illness are good moms. Moms struggling to reach out for help are good moms. Moms who don’t know what’s happening inside their head and body are still good moms.

Our wish is that all moms would not just realize that postpartum mental illness doesn’t define their motherhood but that all moms would feel supported in their battle against postpartum depression and other postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. That when a mom starts to feel like something might not be right, she can reach out to those closest to her or seek care from a doctor, nurse, therapist, or do research online without fear of judgment or some form of punishment. That moms won’t feel silenced by social, cultural, or religious beliefs in their own communities. That moms can share their stories, online and off, to receive support without nasty comments or dismissive tones. That as mothers beat postpartum depression, they can reply in kind to those just starting their own battles, offering support and hope.

Peer support isn’t just part of our mission because we think it’s trendy. Peer support is our model of support because we know that receiving support for postpartum mood and anxiety disorders means the world to moms. It works. It changes the lives of moms and helps babies and families. Supporting moms where they are with what they need, no matter their diagnosis, should be a goal for all.

Maybe It’s Not About How Quickly You “Get Better” from Postpartum Depression

Maybe It's Not About How Quickly You Get Better from Postpartum Depression -postpartumprogress.com

Our dear Hayden returned to work recently after entering recovery for postpartum depression.

Everyone is talking about how wonderful she looks. How brave she is to talk about her disease. How it’s great to see that she has gotten better—how she has recovered from this debilitating disease.

Gotten better.

I don’t know Hayden. I may pretend that she has read my original letter to her, but we aren’t pals.

However, I can guess that Hayden is not 100% “better.” Hayden has done her best, just as we all can do with the resources available to us. Recovery is possible, but the way the media is portraying it right now might make moms feel like they’re somehow “doing it wrong” because they aren’t “cured” as quickly as Hayden. But you’re going to be okay, too; we’re all going to make it through this beast of postpartum depression.

It just takes time.

We recognized that there is, in fact, a problem. We reach out for help. We make appointments. We take pills. We go to therapy.

We take long, hard looks at ourselves in the mirror and wonder where we went wrong. We blame ourselves, our husbands, our genetics.

We wonder why the first round of pills doesn’t work; or the second, or the 12th.

We wonder why we feel no connection with our therapist.

We wonder when we will feel that lightness of heart that we were promised when we hold our babies. We wonder when that feeling will supplant the feeling of dread or, worse, numbness.

There is no quick fix to this disease, but one day you will be back.

Hayden, most likely, entered a private in-patient program where her medications were easily monitored and adjusted on a daily basis depending on how she felt. She probably had group therapy, one-on-one therapy, yoga, art therapy. She probably wondered if this was all worth the effort.

As we all do. We sit on our couches, in our beds, on our bathroom floors with tears streaming down our faces. We might not have access to the same types of facilities, but mother with postpartum depression and other postpartum mood and anxiety disorders feel and experience similar things. And they can all heal. In time.

We all—every single one of us, famous or no—must come to that crossroads of whether or not we think we deserve to get better in the first place. Once you convince yourself that, yes, you are being attacked from the inside and it is time to do something about it, then the healing may begin.

You must tuck your chin to your chest and walk against the wind. You must be willing to try different medications if the first few don’t work. You must be brave enough to fire your therapist and find a new one. You must love yourself enough to realize you are worth saving.

Recovery in postpartum depression is not just about getting better. You can’t just take a blue pill for six months and forget it ever happened. Mood disorders leave deep wounds on your soul. You can bandage them quickly, but they won’t heal. You can stitch them up, but they will scar. That scar will always be there, to remind you to guard yourself.

Just like all scars, you can either choose to hide them or bear them proudly for the world to see what you survived.

That’s exactly what Hayden is doing. “Look and see what I have done. I have gone to war with myself and I am still alive. I have been given the weapons to defend myself. I am doing my best.” We are so proud of her her voice right now.

When you are diagnosed with postpartum depression, it should never be about just “getting better.” It shouldn’t be about comparing the length of your recovery, your battle, your acceptance of your scars with another mother. Even Hayden.

It should always, always, always be about arming yourself to the teeth—with knowledge, with support, with treatment, with self-love.

The faster you realize this, the faster you will start to FEEL better.

Have courage, dear hearts.