Fueled by the passion to help other women, angered by public remarks like “There is no such thing as a chemical imbalance,” and determined to help stamp out the ignorance about PPD, I set out 5 months after my daughter was born and 2 months into my recovery to start writing my book and get the message out that those remarks couldn’t be further from the truth. Determined to learn more about this misunderstood, underdiagnosed and undertreated illness, I joined Postpartum Support International (PSI) in 2006 and attended annual conferences to network with and pick up the latest information from subject matter experts.
Having PPD at a time when mothers are “supposed to feel nothing but absolute bliss”-one of the “motherhood myths” I touch on in my book-is so embarrassing and difficult to talk about, that most women will not tell their stories to people they know, let alone to the world. There’s this fear of being judged, criticized and labeled as crazy and, worse yet, unfit mothers. Well, I am not afraid to tell my story, especially if it means helping other mothers. I want to make a positive impact by empowering women with knowledge about an illness that is more prevalent than people think.
Had I known about PPD before my baby was born, I would not have been so scared as to why I had insomnia and couldn’t sleep even though I was exhausted beyond words and even during the times my daughter slept. My fear would not have escalated to full-blown anxiety attacks. I would’ve recognized other symptoms like loss of appetite (I lost so much weight so fast that within a couple of weeks I weighed less than I did before I got pregnant!). As soon as I started to have insomnia instead of merely taking the Ambien prescribed to me by my OB/GYN, I would’ve immediately known to question it as a sign of PPD and gotten the right treatment then, instead of having to go through the hell that I went through not knowing what was wrong with me and not being able to enjoy my time with my baby as much as I wanted to.
Knowledge about PPD will empower women to make a difference for themselves. You cannot rely on doctors to recognize and treat PPD, as a large number of them still do not know how to. It is through organizations like PSI that are trying to spread awareness to healthcare professionals around the world.
PPD awareness before a woman has her baby is important to ensure that, if she were to experience it, she would seek help immediately and not suffer alone and in silence. My ultimate goal is to lend a voice to mothers suffering from this debilitating illness through the knowledge that they are not alone and PPD is a real illness with different treatment options. There is no need for any woman to suffer the way I had suffered, not knowing what was wrong with me and being treated the way I was treated by my doctors.
To read more, go to my blog at http://ivysppdblog.wordpress.com
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