“Here’s a photo of myself and Molly. From everyone else’s perspective this looks like a new happy mom bonding with her new daughter. But to me this picture brings back a flood of emotions. This was a terrible day for me. This was a day I was so hopeless and so depressed I wanted to end my life. This day was a day I was forced out of the house to go and, ‘enjoy my time with Molly.’ The constant thought of, ‘I should just crash my car into a tree’, kept playing in my mind as we were driving.”
Like many other new mothers, Amanda Brown struggled with postpartum depression. Post natal mood disorders are incredibly common in our country today, affecting nearly 15%-20% of women, and yet the silence on the topic has only recently and barely been broken. When the silence is broken and a mother speaks out about the serious struggle, many people don’t know how to respond. Some will offer words of encouragement while others voice serious disbelief. Many don’t know enough about the issue to know how to help, leading mothers to feel even more isolated and helpless. They experience high anxiety, difficulty bonding with their babies, problems with eating and sleeping, and intrusive thoughts. With informed care, the worsening of these symptoms can be prevented and women can recover and get better, but the stigma surrounding this condition is potent and keeps many women from seeking help. What if we stopped treating these women’s words like secrets and instead treated them as survival stories? Postpartum depression can often seem like an inescapable emptiness that can make you feel alone. We are sharing Amanda’s survival story to let you know that there is help available, and most importantly that you are not alone.
“Three years ago I was in the hospital suffering from postpartum depression, anxiety and psychosis. Three years ago I felt so lost, hopeless and alone. I remember the psychiatrist, mental health workers and my family trying to find support in the community to help me overcome my battles, however every road was a dead end.
I was in the hospital for over a week, and had to attend extensive outpatient therapy at Seton Hospital for over a month. I was told several times, ‘I wish I knew more about postpartum so I could be more of a help,’ which in the end just reinforced why I felt hopeless and alone. I remember before I was hospitalized looking at all the other moms around me and thinking,’They look so happy with their babies, why do I feel like I made a mistake and want to go back before I had Molly.’ I said over and over, ‘ I can’t do this, I can’t be a mom,’ or, ‘Molly and Dan deserve so much better than what I came give them.’
I truly believed that. I felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel and that I would never enjoy Molly or myself ever again. I stopped eating, I stopped laughing, and most of all stopped loving myself and the woman that I had become. I had such a hard time bonding with Molly and falling in love with her. A connection I assumed would be instant. For me it was nothing like that. For me it would take months and a lot of tears and anxiety for me to build an unbreakable connection with her. And I now know that it is OKAY! I know I was not and I am still not alone. I was never worthless, I was never ruined, and most of all I was never a failure.
Three years later I can look back and be thankful for my experience, because it will help me help others!
Amanda is now working full-time as a nurse and spends her free time hunting with her husband and baking pies with her beautiful three-year-old.
Not only has she made it through this serious depression disorder, but has actually gone on to use her experience to help other women going through the same thing! She is currently one of the facilitators of a postpartum support group in Waterville, Maine for both new moms and their significant others. This group provides information about postpartum depression and support for those who are going through it. This is the first perinatal mood and disorder group in Central Maine, and we are so excited to see the good that it is doing in the community.
She says, “I am so blessed to have this opportunity to raise awareness and decrease stigma around postpartum disorders and most importantly to help other moms know that there is light at the end of their tunnel, and that they don’t have to go through it alone! You are not alone. You are not to blame. And with help, you will be well!!”
If you live in Maine and are going through postpartum depression, please reach out. We would highly encourage you to check out her group. All are welcome!
If you do not live in Maine, and are going through this difficult time, please head over to Postpartum Support International or reach out to us and we can connect you to those who can help.
You are not alone.