One of the amazing things about Postpartum Progress is that many of the survivors who come here for information and support during their struggle never leave. You’d think that once they got past postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum psychosis or another related illness they’d go off into the beautiful world and never come back. But instead, they stay, ready and willing to help the pregnant and new moms who show up here after them. This is more proof of what an amazing group of people women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are. They are some of the most loving, kind and generous people you’ll ever meet, and they can’t stand the thought of leaving another mother out there to feel alone and afraid.
For this reason, our nonprofit recently started a volunteer team called the Warrior Moms Battalion. The Battalion will be helping to spread awareness and promote the mission of Postpartum Progress. I couldn’t be more proud to tell you that we already have more than 250 members of the Battalion, each a true and passionate voice for our cause.
I recently asked them to share with me their dreams and wishes for the future of maternal mental health, and this is what some of them told me:
“I wish that I’d sought out help for my own PPD sooner. I think it would have made a tremendous difference if I had. There is such a negative stigma associated with PPD; that you don’t love your child or you’re a failure of a mother if you need help. It couldn’t be farther from the truth! Getting help for yourself will make you the best mom you can be. My wish for helping other moms is that by sharing my experience I can help other women realize that it’s okay to ask for help, and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.” ~ Sierra R.
“My wish for moms dealing postpartum or antenatal anxiety and mood disorders is that there is a local day stay program. That it is specifically geared towards moms and their babies. There were times I should have gone somewhere for help but I was scared to leave my daughter or that they would keep me. This fear resulted in poor PPD management on my part which could have been avoided had there been a place I could I get the immediate help I needed. My other wish is that pregnant moms are screened frequently for signs of antenatal depression. I had severe antenatal depression and anxiety. I wish that no mom would suffer as I did. And had I been screened the PPD, anxiety & OCD would have been treated quicker. My wish is that awareness spreads like wildfire so we can save moms and their families from the destructive nature this illness can be if left untreated. My final wish is that spouses/ partners are educated on the signs of postpartum and antenatal anxiety and mood disorders. That they are informed and given contact information on who to call for help when they see their spouse/partner struggling.” ~ Corine C.
“When I discovered I was pregnant with my son, I was taken on a whirlwind of emotions, which led to postpartum depression and anxiety. I had no support, was unable to access any resources, and oftentimes had my emotions written off as ‘dramatic’ or ‘overreacting.’ No mother should have to experience this. By working as a nurse and starting my own birthing service, I hope to provide accurate medical information and care, doula and postpartum doula support, and unlimited client support to prevent postpartum disorders and provide care for existing postpartum disorders. America’s healthcare system, particularly pertaining to reproductive and maternal mental health, is greatly flawed, but I hope to contribute to reforming this system.” ~ Takeallah R.
“My ‘big dream’ is to help mothers feel supported and empowered to have another child after their experience. I strongly believe that going on to have another baby after PPD was key in helping me to come full circle and heal holistically. If a mother longs for another baby after a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder experience, I would love to be a part of helping her gather the tools and resources necessary to make that longing a reality for her family.” ~ Grace P.
“I’d like for every mother to have blissful pregnancies and deliveries. I’d like for every mother to be able to experience holding her newborn baby close, and feeling just pure joy and love. I’d like for every mother to want the baby phase to last forever, because they are just so darn cute. But that is not going to happen. It’s not going to happen, because no mother experiences all of those things all the time, and because maternal mental health disorders exist. What can happen, however, and what is going to happen, is that it will get better. And better. And better. To the point where every mom will be able to experience more and more of those things and feel hope. And the way that it will happen is for us is to do something about it. It is up to us to educate the public on this devastating illness. I would love to start a support group in my area. I want to pass out literature to doctor’s offices. I want to write and to talk. I want to gather Warrior Moms, scientists, doctors, social workers, therapists, writers, etc, and start a company/program/non-profit to research it. We’ll look at many factors: social, genetic, medical, environmental, etc. And we’ll beat this thing, together. That is my dream.” ~ Kate S.
“My wish is for postpartum depression (and all mental illness) to come out of the closet and into the light. I have struggled with feelings of depression and anxiety for over 20 years, and have been hospitalized several times, including twice while dealing with postpartum depression and anxiety. I know how painful these feelings are, and where they can take us — to the edge. I have been blessed with a good support network, including a loving husband, family and friends, and mental health professionals, and thanks to my prior experience, I’ve gotten the help I needed before it was too late. It breaks my heart when I think of all the women out there who are suffering in silence, afraid of getting the help they need, whether due to stigma or fear of what treatment might mean. Yes, hospitalization is scary, but the alternatives are scarier. It’s not all ‘Cuckoo’s Nest,’ and I want people to understand that psych wards are not solely the domain of delusional people, people the media would label as ‘crazy.’ Many people who are hospitalized are ‘normal,’ but we just need some extra help in a safe place. I want the world to know this so those who are desperate will have the courage to ask for help, or that their family or friends have the wisdom to intervene. We suffer as humans but that’s not our true nature, and getting the proper treatment helps us to understand and believe that.” ~ Mariah W.
“I’d like to help in anyway I can and make sure that others know they are not alone. I know I felt better when I found Postpartum Progress and saw that I’m not crazy, I’m not a “danger” to my baby and that I can get through this. Thank you. It meant the world to me.” ~ Cheryl H.
“I dream that someday, mothers who are already in treatment for mood and anxiety disorders when they become pregnant will be informed and prepared by well-educated, understanding and sympathetic providers. Mothers who get pregnant while in therapy and/or taking medication for these disorders, as well as mothers who may not have needed treatment for years, will be offered all the tools they might need, just in case, with no shame attached. Someday, pregnant women who feel depression lurking again for the first time in a decade will know just who to call, and they will hear that that can be a normal event. Women whose baseline anxiety skyrockets during their pregnancy will be asked gentle and helpful questions and never be told that it’s ‘normal to worry’ when a new baby is coming. Those of us who have spent our lives managing mood and anxiety disorders will experience pregnancy armed with the information and resources we need in order to maintain our own well-being before, during and after a pregnancy without any added guilt or shame. This huge transition will be respected as a potential trigger, instead of used as a reason to dismiss a mother’s feelings.” ~ Anne-Marie L.
“Hola! I do have big dreams and by God’s grace I can accomplish them. I am meeting, sometime this month Lord willingly, with a woman from a local crisis pregnancy center about starting a postpartum support group. At first, I just wanted it for women who suffered from postpartum depression – but after some research I found that people here in Maryland don’t get help for that. Probably something that abounds all around. Worse though is the fact that the local hospital does not have a postpartum support group let alone a postpartum depression support group. Enter in Jessica. After more research, I found this crisis pregnancy center. What a great place to start, pregnancy. Hit these ladies with love and encouragement and beat those demons (PPMDs) from the start – hopefully. I also am a volunteer with AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention). As a 4-time suicide survivor, I want to spread the word that it is okay to ask for help. That there is someone who loves you and cares for you. Lastly, I want to help out with Postpartum Progress in any way shape or form. I didn’t go through this hell for no reason – it’s to let all these other women know: they aren’t alone. They will get out of this and that there is hope.” ~ Jessica T.
“These are the things I want to do: (1) I want every major metropolitan area in the US to have a perinatal inpatient psychiatric unit, like the one at UNC. (2) I want to create and require state-mandated training for all OBs, nurse practitioners, and RNs on perinatal mental health. (3) I want psychotherapy to be covered for perinatal mental health, not subject to pre-approval or a yearly visit limit. (4) I want maternal mental health training to become a mental health specialty that insurance companies recognize and reimburse at a higher rate, (5) I want state-mandated screening for postpartum mood/psychotic disorders at the six-week visit, in all 50 states. (6) I would also like to help suffering mom’s navigate problems with their health insurance covering their treatment.” ~ Regina S.
“I would love to have Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders talked about more in Greenville, SC. I would love to have people working in the hospitals here that are resources for parents when they come into the hospital and when they leave. Like Lactation Consultants but for the mamas and daddies or who need encouragement and help!” ~ Beth P.
“I would like to see a fundamental shift in our expectations about pregnancy, birth and becoming a mother. We live isolated lives so our understanding of the journey to motherhood is based on the stories our friends and bloggers are willing to share with us. We have only limited ability to observe others first hand. If we could all break down these barriers created by a need to seek perfection and always present only the best version of ourselves, we would become raw and vulnerable. This new exploration of reality would allow us to say ‘It’s really hard sometimes’ or ‘I’m not really as put-together as I seem.’ This truth could set us all free.” ~ Emily N.
“For mothers struggling like I did, I wish for lots of cozy things, small comforts like fuzzy socks, plush blankets, and hot tea that provide some solace during long, hard nights. I wish for nonjudgmental, understanding, and supportive friends and family, whether near or afar. I wish for someone to hold their hands and tell them through the tears that they’re not alone and that it will eventually get better–even though ‘eventually’ could mean years. I wish for them a safe space where they can work through the mental ick of PMADs. I wish for them advocates like the women comprising the Warrior Moms Battalion. And I wish for them the energy, someday, to advocate for other moms who are struggling.” ~ Jaime H.
Photo credit: © Andy Dean – Fotolia.com