"I was born in Rhode Island, but raised in South Carolina. There are many things that I took away from my time in the South. One thing I learned was that it was improper to discuss your problems publicly.
'Put your best face forward,' they’d say. 'Look your best in public--you’re representing your family.'
Certainly, one would never openly discuss any mental health issues. That really would be crazy.
Years later, I found myself living in Ohio, newly married and pregnant with twins. My pregnancy was blissful. I was a Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) and loved it, and I was married to a surgeon, who--although often pulled away from home by his work--loved me dearly.
After the twins were born, though, I found that things quickly collapsed and exploded all at once. People told me that I would be filled with joy, but I honestly didn’t feel anything at all. I was paralyzed. I felt inadequate, regretful, jealous, and was in a state of shock. I didn’t see how I could possibly be a worse mother. I felt that I could never meet the needs of two newborn infants with a husband who was gone more than 80 hours a week and I hadn’t even so much as babysat before.
I didn’t feel love and I didn’t want love. I just didn’t care.
I had a plan to end my life. I kept it a secret long after I finally acknowledged my problems. It took me a long time to admit it to anyone because I was ashamed. I thought it wasn’t proper to discuss. I did have the courage to ask God for help through prayer, and He answered me. I continued to pray. It took me a year and a half to see my family doctor. I cancelled several appointments before I finally kept one.
Controlling my depression has been a struggle. It still pervades my life like a constant intruder in my home. My family both supports me and shares my struggles. I was ready to be a mother, but I was not ready for the changes that happened in my brain when I became a mother.
It was really out of my control, and there is nothing a former ICU charge nurse despises more than being out of control.
When I delivered my second set of twins last year, it all came back. I didn’t waste any time making an appointment.
After a long time dealing with my fight alone, I started to share my story: at first, only little bits. Only with a few people. I was afraid that I would be turned away by my friends. I was afraid that I would be rejected by my family. Every time, however, I found a common theme: nobody judged me. Not once.
In fact, many people opened up to me about their struggles with depression and mental illness, as well. One in seven women suffers from postpartum depression. People that I had known for years had gone through the same nightmare as I did, and nobody ever said anything!
I had a revelation. Women have to talk about this postpartum depression and psychosis. Families have to talk about this. They need to know, long before they deliver, that this can happen. They need to know that it is ok to talk about it. We must de-stigmatize mental health issues. It cannot be different than diabetes or heart disease or cancer. It cannot be fixed by just 'snapping out of it.'
I am happy to be a face for this critical cause that affects mothers and their children. It is not improper to discuss your issues with mental health. We cannot allow PPD to destroy any more women, marriages, families or communities.
Let’s talk about it. It’s crazy not to."