Jennifer Gaskell: On Postpartum Depression’s Black Clouds of Despair

postpartum depression, mental healthDear new mom,

I know how tough today is for you.  You feel this pressure to be “on” and get all dressed up for church and brunch out at a restaurant when all you want to do is stay in bed and get some rest.  Today is a bittersweet anniversary for me.  It was a year ago today that I realized that I was really struggling with postpartum depression and that I was not okay.  I treated myself to a free yoga class taught by a dear friend.  The relaxation portion of the class was wonderful until I realized how much tension I was carrying around.  I realized that the pit of anxiety and panic in my stomach wasn’t going away.  I felt like I was drowning.  I could not see color; I just saw gray around me.  I felt like I had a black cloud of despair over my head.

After the class had ended, I spoke with my friend about the challenges of having two children and how hard it was for me.  She was so reassuring and empathetic.  After chatting with my friend, I drove home in silence.  I remembered that she had disclosed to me several years earlier that she had suffered from severe postpartum depression with her oldest.  I wondered if this was what I was suffering from.  I got on the Internet, and I found Postpartum Progress and Postpartum Support International.  I found a therapist who was fifteen minutes from my house.  She had a last-minute cancellation, and I was in her office the following Wednesday.  Two weeks later, she gave me my official diagnosis of postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.

If you’re struggling this Mother’s day, please know that you are not alone.  Read all these beautiful letters on Postpartum Progress.  I want to reach through my computer screen and give you a hug.  Imagine me sitting next to you with a cup of coffee, some cookies, and a blanket.   I am listening.  I hear you, and I understand.  It gets better, I promise.  There is light at the end of the tunnel.  One day you will notice the colors around you.  The sky will be bluer, and you will realize how beautiful the sound of your child’s laughter is.  You’ll feel those little seeds of hope within your soul.  On this Mother’s Day, I am proud to say that I am a survivor of postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.  I got through it, and so will you.  Postpartum depression will make you think that you are a bad mom, but you are not.  You are a great mom, and you are so loved and appreciated.

~ Jenny

Jenny and her husband juggle (sometimes not so successfully) working outside the home, parenthood and housework.  Jenny is a mom to two beautiful girls who is trying to tame her inner perfectionist and just be a good enough mom.  Jenny blogs at Tranquilamama.  Follow her on Twitter at @jenrenpody.

The 4th Annual Mother’s Day Rally for Moms’ Mental Health is presented by Postpartum Progress, a national nonprofit 501c3 that raises awareness & advocates for more and better services for women who have postpartum depression and all other mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth. Please consider making a donation today, on Mother’s Day, to help us continue to spread the word and support the mental health of new mothers.

About Katherine Stone

is the creator of this blog, and the founder and executive director of Postpartum Progress. She has been named a WebMD Health Hero, one of the fiercest women in America by More magazine, and one of the 15 most influential patient advocates to follow. She is a survivor of postpartum OCD.

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  1. I get so happy when I read that word “survivor.” I am so glad you sought help and your world is filled with color again.

  2. Jenny ~ I can totally relate to your description of this anniversary as “bittersweet”. I often will recall different points in my recovery journey based on the seasons of the year or special occasions. I can say that the “bitter” part of the feelings start to fade as the years go by, and you begin to focus more on the “sweet”. šŸ™‚ You are a strong woman ~ thank you for sharing your story. Happy Mother’s Day!

    • This year was very much a mixture of the bitter and the sweet. I am hoping that I focus more on the “sweet”. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. Hope you had a Happy Mother’s Day!

  3. sigh…yes. Even now, 2 years after the diagnosis, I still find myself wary of the black storm clouds. Thank you for this letter.

  4. Robin | Farewell Stranger says:

    Jenny, getting to know you has been one of my greatest joys this last year. I’m so glad you got the help you needed and are spreading that hoped to others.

    • Robin, what a beautiful comment. You made me cry happy tears yesterday. I am so happy to have gotten to know you. It was through your encouragement that led me to start blogging and sharing my story. I want to pay forward the kindness that you have shown me.

  5. I remember the fog and the grey. I also remember the day that fog finally lifted, when my third child (yes, third child) was nearly 6 months old. Sure, the fog returned again but this time around, I knew my way around and it faded much faster.

    I’m so excited to read your words stating that you are a survivor of Postpartum Depression. Those are powerful words and I am GLAD they are yours this year.

    • Lauren, this gives me so much hope to know that if the fog returns again, I have the tools to fight it. I feel so powerful and empowered to say that I am a survivor. I feel like anything is possible.

  6. Yes we are not alone in our fight…we just need to reach out and even accept the hands that are reaching to us.

    Beautiful xo

    • It was so eye opening to realize that I was not alone in this fight. Once I sought help and guidance, I felt relief and a tiny glimmer of hope. xo

  7. Erin, thank you so much. I admire your writing, and I was thrilled that you were able to relate to my story.