Postpartum Depression, Postpartum Anxiety, Postpartum Rage & Postpartum Psychosis: A Conversation – Week 8

WHY am I doing this?

Why am I giving my time (2hrs) each week? Why am I giving my talent? Why am I giving my energy to this?

A couple months ago, a young mother in our little mountain town had what can only be understood to be a postpartum psychotic break. (Disclaimer: This is completely speculation based on deductive reasoning only from having seen her facebook page & having spoken with mutual friends who knew her.) This was a well educated, well respected health care professional in our community. By all accounts she was a good mother & from her facebook page, it looked like she loved being a mother to her older daughter. So when she did something WILDLY out of character, shocking, heartbreaking & tragic…. It made me sick, how people on the internet were responding and reacting to this woman. I felt an incredible amount of empathy for her. CLEARLY, she was SICK. Yet, people on the internet were writing HORRIBLE things about (and to) her on her personal facebook page, on photos of her family…. saying she deserved prison, hell and just like — every horrible thing you can think of. It made me sick.

For a few days, I couldn’t stop thinking about this woman, what she was going through, what she had lost, how she would feel when she came out of this wilderness, the incredibly difficult road ahead of her, all that she would loose… I contemplated what (I) could do to help educate people. What (I) could do to support new mothers. What (I) could do to try to make sure that this type of thing doesn’t happen in our community again.

That’s when it occurred to me, that (I) am a Family Photographer. My function in our community gives me a platform and access to mothers, children and families in our community. I wanted to do what (I) could to help educate people about Postpartum Depression, Postpartum Anxiety, Postpartum Rage & Postpartum Psychosis.

I wanted to feature regular moms, from all different walks of life, co-existing in the same community, all having experienced some or all of the aforementioned postpartum issues that we just don’t talk about enough. I wanted to HUMANIZE these experiences, I wanted to remove the judgement and shame that women are made to feel about their experiences as new mothers. I wanted to educate everyone that the range of symptoms and severity is VAST and VARIED. I wanted to be a support for new mothers who might not even understand what they’re thinking, feeling or experiencing as postpartum related. I wanted to normalize these things. I wanted to do what (I) could to help. Thus, this project was born.

In exchange for free portraits with their children, I’ve asked participants to tell their stories. To write about their background – what makes them relatable, what do they do for a living, what are their interests or hobbies? I’ve asked them to tell their story as they remember it. I’ve asked them to write about how they came to recognize their struggles, how they discussed their needs with their loved ones, how they sought out help, where they are now, how they’re taking care of themselves etc. In past weeks, I’ve received very detailed, thoughtful, personal, vulnerable and encouraging stories! I hope you’ll go back & read the stories from previous weeks!

If you missed weeks 1-7, you’ll find the introduction & Desiree, Claire & Michelle, Rachel & Shannon’s stories here: DESIREE, CLAIRE, MICHELLE, RACHEL, SHANNON, KATY, KATIE

If you are a Survivor & would like to contribute your story (I heard that there were no available spots left, I will be opening up additional spaces at the end of the year, if interest is still there & I still have the stamina to keep up with it!) – I shoot portraits (my gift to you) every Friday from 5:30-6:00pm in Downtown Asheville (& your written story would be due by Sunday night for publication on Mondays!) You can sign up here: Contribute

Throughout the series, I’ll also feature Guest Blog Posts from Mental Health Professionals in our little mountain town & the state of North Carolina! At the end of each post, I’ll include contact information for local resources where you can get help right away should you need it!
If you would like to contribute a Guest Blog as a Mental Health Professional, Postpartum Doula or other Pregnancy/Postpartum expert , please email me directly at: Brittany@AshevilleFamilyPhotography.com

Megan

Megan is from Madison County. She found the Blog, signed up to contribute & drove into Asheville to participate in the project.

I got postpartum depression with my son when I was 23 years old. I was diagnosed with a chemical imbalance before I got pregnant with him but the doctor said that I couldn’t take my medication while I was pregnant so I stopped taking it. I had terrible ups and downs with depression and mood swings during my pregnancy.

After my son was born, my depression and mood swings got really bad and I started pushing people away without really noticing it and when I did realize what I was doing, I got mad at myself and I went from depression and anxiety to rage and I would just yell whenever I got the least bit frustrated.

When I noticed that i needed to ask for help my son was a year old. He got sick on whole milk from heat and threw up on my rug and i couldn’t get it out, so I got frustrated so of course I started yelling and my son looked at me like he was absolutely terrified of me and that broke my heart to see that kind of fear in his eyes and to know it was because of me. I picked him up and held him and told him I was sorry and I just started crying. The next day i called my mother in-law to ask if she would go with me to the doctor to see what I could do to get help to fix what was going on with me. I told my doctor that I felt like such a bad mom but she reassured me that postpartum is more normal than most people know and that I shouldn’t feel bad and that it made me a good mom to come and ask for help to take care of myself.

Later on, down the road I found myself pregnant with my daughter. I didn’t get postpartum with her even though I was so scared that I would get it. But the doctor’s put me on something that was safe for me to take while I was pregnant with her and they made sure that I took it when I was in the hospital so I never got postpartum after my second pregnancy. But no matter if you get postpartum once or twice you should never feel bad or ashamed of it.

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