There is a growing awareness and prioritization of mental health in society today. However, seeking treatment for mental health issues is still accompanied by a stigma. Shockingly, more than half of those with mental health illnesses do not receive the help they need, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
For mothers experiencing postpartum depression, “mommy rage,” or postpartum anxiety, seeking treatment can feel overwhelming. It’s important to note that up to 1 in 7 women will experience postpartum depression, and about half of these women may have shown symptoms during pregnancy, according to the American Psychology Association.
My Decision to Seek Help
During my pregnancy, I noticed symptoms that I now recognize as signs of my current condition. There were three factors that inspired me to seek treatment: my son’s pediatrician sharing her experience with postpartum depression, my desire to provide a healthy environment for my child, and reading actress Jenifer Lewis’ memoir, The Mother of Black Hollywood.
In her memoir, Lewis opens up about her struggles with mental and emotional health before being diagnosed with manic depression. She emphasizes the importance of medication and encourages others to seek help if needed. Even though Lewis herself is not a mother, her honesty about her mental illness inspired me during my own struggles and made me consider the possibility of medication.
The Importance of Seeking Help
Moms often experience a range of emotions and thoughts, but a common feeling we grapple with is “mom guilt.” We constantly question if we’re making the right decisions and worry if we’re being selfish by needing a break. As a first-time mom, I remember having these thoughts during my pregnancy. After giving birth, they became more frequent, and I even blamed myself for any misfortunes that happened to my child.
Amidst my struggle with depression, I decided to seek treatment, which includes taking medication (Zoloft) and going to therapy. I’ve learned that taking medication doesn’t make me a “bad” mom; instead, it shows that I am prioritizing my mental and emotional well-being. In fact, it sets an example for my child that it’s okay to ask for help when needed.
Taking medication has significantly reduced my excessive mom guilt and helped me stay calmer in stressful situations. For the first time in a year, I feel balanced and grateful that I chose to seek help.
By taking care of ourselves, moms contribute to normalizing conversations about our struggles, particularly concerning mental well-being. It’s essential to remember that mental illnesses do not define whether we are “good” or “bad” mothers. We cannot pour everything into others and neglect our own needs, as it only adds to stress, frustration, and burnout. If you’re struggling with your mental health, remember that you are not alone, and there are resources available to help you cope.
Various Forms of Help
Resources for seeking help can come in the form of therapy, medication, support groups, or guidance from pediatricians or primary care doctors. In addition to prescribing Zoloft, my doctor’s office suggested I utilize Therapy For Black Girls to find a therapist specializing in postpartum depression and relationship changes. Here are a few more sites that offer affordable therapy options:
- Open Path Collective
The first step towards recovery is acknowledging your struggles and being honest with yourself. If you’re genuinely struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. There are people out there, especially those dedicated to helping mothers, who are committed to finding a balance that works for you. Sometimes, that balance involves taking medication, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Although moms may face challenges, our love for our children can provide motivation to take care of ourselves too.