Waving the White Flag: Don't Make Postpartum Depression a Taboo Topic
Something has been bothering me a lot lately, but it relates to something that happened several years ago. To put it in perspective, T was less than a year old.
A friend from college and her husband had come to visit me and my new little family. I considered her my best friend. But she lived in Oregon, and I lived in Nevada. We didn’t get to see each other very often.
They had been married for a few months, and she had figured she’d be one of those women that got pregnant right away. She always talked about how she came from a long line of very fertile women. But she’d been diagnosed with PCOS, and conceiving was going to be difficult.
I had a baby. One that I hadn’t even been trying for. But I was suffering from undiagnosed post-partum depression. All I knew, was that motherhood wasn’t what I thought it would be. I was crippled in my unhappiness.
I opened up to my friend, struggled to make her understand what I was feeling. I wanted someone to reach out and try to make things better. I told her how I was severely unhappy, how I was completely miserable throughout my pregnancy, how I hadn’t even bonded with that beautiful little boy the way I had imagined I would.
We were standing at the kitchen sink. I was rinsing off dishes from dinner and she was standing with me.
She grew angry at me. There she was, struggling with infertility and wondering if she was being punished for an abortion she’d had while we were still in college. And here I was, having attained her goal in life, and I was complaining about it.
How dare I!
We yelled, and we cried. She stormed out of the house just as our husbands came back from wherever they’d been. Hers followed her, mine came to me. They left the next day.
Since that evening, we started talking again. She and her husband are now the proud parents of a little boy. Because of distance and lack of funds, we haven’t seen each other in two or three years. She’s a friend on Facebook, but we’ve grown apart.
I cannot relate to where my friend was coming from, but I can feel empathy for her situation.
However, I feel this brings up an interesting situation.
How can a woman struggling with infertility and a woman struggling with post-partum depression relate to each other? How do they maintain a friendship when one is desperate for a baby, and one is feeling disconnected from the one she has?
I don’t believe, in a true friendship, that I should have kept my problems to myself. I was reaching out to where I thought a shoulder to cry on would be. I don’t believe she should have kept hers to herself either. I want to be there for my friends -- in whatever capacity I can.
Her solution was for us to have “taboo” topics in our friendship. And perhaps that was the beginning of the end for us. We were not to talk about parenthood to each other.
Which left me out in the cold, since parenthood was a big part of my life then (well, it still is). I had nothing else to talk about. I was a stay-at-home mom suffering from near-crippling depression. I had nobody to talk to, and nothing to do most days. All I did was watch after my son.
How is that a solution? How can you take a large chunk of my life and say that I am not allowed to talk about it?
The answer? It’s not.
Women are constantly battling. Moms who stay at home, moms who work from home, moms who work outside the home. Disposable diapers versus cloth. Breastmilk versus formula. Co-sleeping, cry-it-out, spanking, time out. It seems we have nothing better to do than argue about how to parent our children best.
And now we have to argue about which is worse: infertility or post partum depression?
Motherhood is not a battlefield.
I’m waving the white flag.
I won’t fight about it.
We need to be strong together. We need to be friends, unconditionally. We need to be able to talk, cry, laugh, scream when we need it. We need to find sympathy and empathy and a shoulder to lean on when times are tough. We need each other. We need to dispel the belief that there should ever be a ‘taboo’ topic when it comes to sharing with one another.
Nothing should ever be taboo. Especially when it comes to friendship.
Photo Credit: ianloic.