The Cheapening of PPD

June 18, 2010

I read Blair’s post on Motherhood the other day – where she talks about how she wasn’t prepared for it and felt lied to. I love Blair. I adore her humor, wit, sarcasm, and ability to be completely honest. I read it with the expectation of deep understanding on her level.

I didn’t get it.

Not that I didn’t comprehend what she was writing on – because I’ve read many books/blogs/and stories on it. The “con” of Motherhood. The women who feel that they went in to it with a very different perspective of what it actually turned out to be. I read those and gave birth with almost an apprehension – a guard on my heart for the total mess it was going to turn into.

But it didn’t.

Then, I read Emmie’s post today on “Big Girl Panties.” I thought about it for a long time. Really long. Because it hit home and I understand where her frustration comes from.

Here is my take on it – having been told I have mild PPD.

I honestly believe that as women, we have cheapened PPD lately. Hear me out – it’s a devastating, debilitating disease that destroys lives, robs moms of the joy of a baby, and can ruin families.

I feel that many of us use it as an excuse to escape from what we signed  up for – Motherhood.

No one said this was going to be easy. In fact, I have yet to read anything that said it was all rainbows and sugar and love. I was so terrified to go into labor because I figured as soon as I gave birth I would hate my kid, resent my husband, freak out and want to die, and be unable to ever live a normal life again. That’s what I read about.

I didn’t feel that way. I felt overwhelmed, and exhausted and angry, I wanted to kill someone my nipples hurt so bad – but I can tell you right now – I didn’t have the PPD that Blair and my friend Kim have. No way, no how. My guilt feelings were part of motherhood for me. Not everyone can say that – some people really have these feelings and it is PPD. Not for me, but it was an easy answer. The one that let me get out of some of my responsibilities.

And you know what I think? I don’t deserve the same kind of consideration, treatment, or sympathy they get. I don’t. I don’t even think I have mild PPD now.

Some PPD feelings are normal feelings. Not the extreme ones, but some fear and anxiety is a part of motherhood, of your hormones getting back to normal. We are so primed and ready to believe any type of new feeling is PPD, some of us just jump on it in order to cope.

That does a disservice to the women who actually struggle with this on a daily basis.

Sure, there are forms of mild PPD. There are times when it is short lived.

I’m talking about women who self diagnose. Who know all the right words to tell the Dr. in order to get a prescription or sympathy from their family. Who jump on it in order to escape from the responsibility of raising a child. It’s pretty easy to – given all the info and diagnosing that goes on in books, online, and by concerned family members. I think this was what Emmie was referring too.

I almost did this. I almost read myself, persuaded myself, tricked myself into thinking I had PPD. I don’t. But I was desperate for an answer, a reason for feeling overwhelmed. For me, the answer was, “You’re a mom.” For others, the real answer is, “You have PPD” – and they need to get help. For those of us who just say we have it – it makes the confessions, the desperate attempts for help of those who do suffer from it just a little less precious and fragile. It cheapens it.

I’m sorry for contributing to the cheapening of PPD. I’m sorry that I didn’t take more time to really ask myself, “What is this about?” Yes, my 6 months of motherhood with reflux was hell at times. My pregnancy was horrible. I was sad, I cried, I felt guilty – but 98% of the time I’m happy and love being a mother. That, my friends, to me, is not PPD.

But I don’t have what Blair, Kim, LawMomma, or many other women have. For me to expect the same sympathy or outreach is wrong. It’s not fair. I need to realize that I have to put my big girl panties on and deal with life – just like they have to put them on to deal with PPD.

13 Comments

  • Sarah

    June 22, 2010 at 10:22 am

    I think you are right that after birth or during a difficult pregnancy all those feelings are normal and not PPD. Everyone loves to diagnose! This will probably make people angry, but I think of it as
    "buyers remorse." Thinking of my own personal experiences, I wanted to have a baby so bad, didn't listen to the whole "you'll never sleep again" stuff, didn't listen to anything negative period. Motherhood comes with a whole bag of negative if we are honest, so I wasn't prepared, had no idea what I'd gotten myself into. I've never had so much responsibility in my life. I've never wanted to do something so well and so perfect as I do motherhood. I don't think life is supposed to be sunshine and puppies cause when they do show up we probably won't notice. I doubt any of that makes sense, but I agree!

  • Blair@HeirtoBlair

    June 20, 2010 at 10:56 am

    I love you.

    I hurt & ache for anyone that knows what PPD is on any level. But I do agree that women in general can use it in the wrong way – sometimes I stop myself & ask, "Is this motherhood or PPD?" just like I asked in the post.

    Motherhood is HARD. PPD makes you unable to function past the "hard."

    I should have said that motherhood with PPD was what blindsided me completely.

  • Janelle

    June 20, 2010 at 10:44 am

    I agree with you – many of us "know" what to expect based on what we're told by friends, but the reality of the extreme highs – and lows, sheer exhaustion, screaming babies and poopy diapers can still be a shock. To call this PPD is cheating those with the true issues that come with the disease.

  • Suzanne

    June 19, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    I think this story is a very valuable one and one more people should share. Like I've said before, I had my son's pediatrician "diagnose" me with PPD while I cried in the waiting room because her staff was rude, my baby was sick and I couldn't get the hang of breastfeeding. It wasn't PPD, it was just a bad day. I agree that throwing the term PPD around cheapens it for those who really are suffering, the same way calling all post-partum sadness/anxiety "just a case of the baby blues" used to.

    And Alexis – Perhaps this blog is not the place to air your frustrations with Emily, especially when she was considerate enough to respond to you in a private email.

  • Little Green Mom

    June 19, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Hm, interesting post. Like any form of depression, PPD is still misunderstood and probably often misdiagnosed by new moms struggling to adjust to all the drastic changes motherhood entails. Maybe the diagnosing should be left to medical professionals. Usually thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby are signs, rather than just a bit of post-baby ennui which affects all moms due to exhaustion and hormonal upheaval. Still more awareness can only be a good thing, as hopefully 'genuine' sufferers will get help they need before it's too late.

  • alexis

    June 19, 2010 at 11:23 am

    i think i agree with you. i still think it might be a little dangerous to talk about women who "self-diagnose", because really, the only way i was able to get help was to do the research on my own, then go see the doctor. i didn't want to make a fool of myself by going in and having him tell me that i just needed to suck it up and be a better mother.

    but i understand where you are coming from, especially since you have actually been there. emily wrote me an email after i commented on her mess of a blog post, and she said that people were misunderstanding her intention and taking her sentiments out of context. my response to that was, i'm not stupid. i knew EXACTLY what you were TRYING to say. but what you actually DID say was hurtful. i just think that there are so many ways she could have said what she was thinking without making ppd seem like a magical diagnosis that lives in the sky and in the heads of lazy mothers.

    but i really appreciate your perspective, and am thankful that you said it so much better than she did. because it is a dangerous, dangerous subject. but i think you handled it very well.

  • LA @The Reel Family

    June 19, 2010 at 10:01 am

    well said. very well said.

  • nicolesspirit878

    June 19, 2010 at 9:12 am

    I liked your post and I'm t sure what else to say in response because I too didn't relate to Blairs post or the many comments about being lied to. I do understand how you can feel like your left there standing wondering where the glitter is but I think it boils down to not having any expectations. You can save yourself a lot of trouble by just not wishing motherhood to "be fill-in-the blank". PPD is thrown around too much just like fibromyalgia and lactose intolerance. people need a Dr to actually know what is wrong and stop reading Web MD.

  • Kim

    June 19, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Like a rock star, you do rock 🙂 I admire your self introspection. I love you.

  • Grace

    June 19, 2010 at 8:35 am

    great points! i read all the blogs you refer to and i do think it got a little out of control. (i wrote a short response yesterday- http://arms-wide-open.squarespace.com)

    Thank you for your perspective though! Although I do think there are levels of PPD (mild, mod, severe, psychosis) I think many who say they have mild symptoms, may actually just have regular mommy feelings. A great way to put it!

  • KLZ

    June 19, 2010 at 7:18 am

    Ah, middle ground. I think this is where I'm happiest.

  • metta1313

    June 19, 2010 at 1:14 am

    And this has inspired a post from me, so I will leave those comments for this post to come…hopefully sooner than later. Love you lady!

  • the outdoor wife

    June 18, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    Well said. I wrote a post on PPD in light of the whole controversy as a survivor, hoping to shed light on the issue, explaining what it actually IS. You can find it here, if you'd like to read it: http://is.gd/cUVdx

    All the best… and kudos for being brave. 🙂

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