Until motherhood, I had never been depressed, but looking back at my life, that’s not really true. I had just never been formally diagnosed by a professional. I can remember plenty of days where I felt sad and didn’t want to do anything but curl up in bed. I didn’t want to talk to anyone and had somehow misplaced my joy. I remember having panic attacks when I moved into my first apartment in New York City. Apparently, all that made me a higher risk case for postpartum depression when I decided to become a parent, but I don’t remember reading that in my copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
I never thought depression, anxiety, medication, therapy, feelings of guilt, failure and the belief I made a mistake becoming a mom would shape the welcome party ushering me into motherhood. I didn’t go in thinking I’d be coming out as a medicated mommy who could barely hold her shit together in those first six months. I couldn’t fathom being the girl who walked circles around my neighborhood in the clothes I slept in, ugly crying on the phone to my own mom, telling her I was in hell, and refusing to believe that I would ever get out.
But that’s what happens when postpartum depression shows up to greet you when you bring your new baby home from the hospital. You feel more than overwhelmed and exhausted. You feel helpless and can’t see any light in the tunnel. Your own light goes out and you think you will be stuck in that darkness forever. And if you’re like me, you have no clue that you’re actually not alone in that darkness. That what is happening to you is extremely common and happens to hundreds of thousands of new moms each year.
I’m beyond excited to finally announce the launch of the #MomsWhoMeToo Movement – Empathy Gone Viral, A Movement by Moms for Moms who believe it’s time to start leaving the pretend play in our kids’ playroom. It’s time to bring some much needed unfiltered honesty and authenticity to the culture of motherhood and help moms everywhere feel less alone in their struggles by giving them a safe space to come out and share them.
The two most powerful words we can say to any human is “me too.” Lets use these two simple words to create a community of moms grounded in empathy and sisterhood. Moms who put a hand on each other’s arm and say, “I get it. I’ve been there. Your’e not alone. Me too.” Check out our video to learn more about the movement, how you can be part of it and help us spread it to the mom masses!
We are asking all moms to share their #MomsWhoMeToo stories and photos with us and the world. All you need is a black marker, white piece of paper, and the click of a phone camera. Tag us on Instagram at @momswhometoo. When you share, empower 3-5 moms you know to join the movement and do the same. Together, we can reach millions of mamas!
And don’t forget to also send them us your #momswhometoo moments and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org
After battling and surviving postpartum depression, I have received the following question repeatedly: “Jen, I think my friend might be going through something like what you went through. I want to say something to her about it, but I don’t want to upset her. How do I bring up that she isn’t acting like herself lately?”
I wish I had a simple answer to this question, but it’s never simple when it comes to postpartum depression, which is not a one size fits all illness. Every mom’s experience with PPD is unique to her. Her risk factors, symptoms, feelings, and length of illness won’t look like that of any other mom suffering. Just like PPD, every mom is different and motherhood is also not one size fits all.
Before you confront a mom and suggest she might be suffering from PPD, here are some factors I think you should consider: How will she react? How receptive would she be to the idea of needing and asking for help? I think you should also ask yourself, “Am I the best person for this conversation or is there someone else that should be having this conversation?”