I was going to come here today and whine all about the migraine I had yesterday and how now I have a migraine hangover and/or I slept really, really wrong and/or going on a Twitter rampage last night somehow tweaked my neck. There is for real a lot of whining and I’m not saying that post won’t still happen. I’m just saying it’s not happening now because we need to #meditateonthis for a minute.
In case you’re not in the know in mental health circles, this week a very official organization made a very official recommendation that ALL women should be screened for postpartum depression.*
Not some. Not those who have money. Not moms who have insurance and access to therapists and psychiatrists and supportive families. Not the ones who come in crying and unable to sleep and openly mentioning red-flag issues like intrusive thoughts and the belief that your family would be better off if you disappeared to their doctors post-delivery.
As someone who was one of the “lucky” ones when my “inappropriate response to meatloaf” led to my delivering OB and PA deciding to put a prescription for Lexapro in my hand at 6 days postpartum, I could not agree more with this decision to screen all mothers. I may not have filled that prescription for another six weeks, but I knew I had people in my corner.
My fight then was with myself and not with a medical establishment which refused to hear me, which is the case for so many moms I know.
All moms deserve the chance to start motherhood on a healthy foot. That’s what this is about.
But to some people, postpartum depression and this new suggestion that all moms be screened is just a “ploy by Big Pharma” to sell more drugs. (More drugs. When no new drugs for depression and anxiety have entered the marketplace in years and the most recent new promising drug failed its clinical trials.)
The recommendation for universal screening is NOT a recommendation made by Big Pharma, and suggesting that the two are linked sure doesn’t help the millions of women suffering from chronic and debilitating mental illness. At all.
Which is where #meditateonthis comes in. (And perhaps why my neck is tweaked this morning.)
A woman named Marianne Williamson, renowned speaker and New York Times bestselling author of inspirational and motivational self-help books, believes that postpartum depression is a thing women can treat with sleep, prayer, meditation, good nutrition, and love.
Yep. We can eat, pray, love our ways to healing, y’all. We can eat, pray, love our way out of the darkness and fog of depression so deep we’re not even sure if we want to live anymore.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved Elizabeth Gilbert’s book and found tremendous hope and encouragement in her journey, parts of which metaphorically mirrored my own, particularly when she talked about depression being like an old friend sitting in the room with her in Italy.
But I feel like Elizabeth Gilbert wouldn’t insinuate that her method of self-discovery is a boon for women suffering from depression and that what moms really need is just to jet off around the world for a year in order to find themselves.
She would probably say “Hey, if medication helps you be well, take the pills.”
So I do. Every day. Without fail.
I take the pills because I believe they make me a better mom and that without them I am not my best and healthiest self.
I know they make me a better mom.
And I want other women, those who feel their cries for help are being silenced by being told to pray more or harder, to eat the right foods, or to get some sleep (HAHAHA), or just love harder to know that it’s okay to take the pills.
The medication isn’t forever. Not for most of us.
But if they are (and for me, taking medication for my anxiety is a very solid reality and I’m okay with that) it’s okay.
It will be okay. You will be okay. I will be okay.
I am already more than okay.
So #MeditateOnThis and know that you’re not alone.
*Yes, I readily acknowledge that screening moms is only one step. We also have to make sure that there are appropriate resources for follow-up care, something severely lacking nearly everywhere. But screening is a start.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, you’re not alone. We can help. Visit Postpartum Progress to find a tribe of moms just like you.