During Maternal Mental Health Month, I ask that you please consider making a donation today to Postpartum Support Virginia. Now, more than ever we need your support to help countless mothers and their families throughout Virginia.
And today, as part of Maternal Mental Health month, we want to introduce you some of the brave faces of women we have been able to help over the years. Thanks to the support of people like you we were able to give them help and resources at a time of critical need.
February 27th was one of the best days of my life. It was the day that my handsome son was born. I had awaited this day for nine long month but little did I know that my life was about to change drastically. Within 10-12 hours after birth, I experienced one of the scariest moments of my life. I was unable to talk or communicate in any form, and my nurses and doctors thought that I may be having a stroke. I remember my husband showing me pictures of close relatives saved on my phone and being unable to answer him, although it was not from lack of trying. Doctors determined that I was suffering from conversion disorder which occurs when your brain has had too much to process and temporarily shuts down. Thankfully, I recovered from this episode and was able to happily go home with my family 48 hours after the incident happened.
What should have been this great experience was without a doubt, one of the lowest of the low points in my life. In the four weeks since my son was born, things went from bad to worse. My days consisted of laying in bed or on the couch all day thinking if I could just disappear or die then it would all go away. I would see things on the walls all the time that I thought were out to get me. The hallucinations caused me to think everyone was against me and became very paranoid to the point that I couldn’t sleep at night because I believed someone was going to take my baby away from me. On March 26th I reached an all-time low. I decided that I was going to harm myself in order to make all this disappear. By the grace of God, as I was about to harm myself, my Gabe let out the loudest cry that had heard him make up to that point and I stopped in my tracks and immediately ran to him. Upon reaching Gabe, I started bawling unconditionally, and my one-month old baby had his hands folded perfectly into a praying position. Looking back, Gabe was my angel who saved me from myself.
On April 1st I decided to swallow my pride and call out for help. Just three weeks after starting to take Zoloft, I realized that I was going to be OK. I was so glad that life had largely returned to normal (my life has been altered permanently from this experience) with the help of my wonderful support system, my doctors, and God.
I entered the world of motherhood physically well prepared, but emotionally deficient. I had the diapers, the clothes, the car seat, etc. but I also had completely unrealistic expectations of what new motherhood would look and feel like. I think my cultural upbringing that places high value on mothers and motherhood, as well as my perception that as my baby’s mother, I should intuitively know exactly what she needed all the time, plus being sleep deprived created the perfect condition for a storm of anxiety-ridden postpartum depression.
The chandelier of my “perfect motherhood” fantasy came crashing down and I was left overwhelmed and anxious as I tried desperately to put together the pieces of a broken fantasy that was never realistic in the first place. And yet, I felt so much shame for the way I was feeling that I hid it from my family and friends. I grappled with feelings of insecurity, doubt, depression, and anxiety for over 4 years before I finally sought help from a counselor.
How I wish I had done that years sooner! Going to see a counselor should be just as routine as going to see the doctor for a physical or annual exam. So many people are struggling in silence unnecessarily. There are amazing people and resources out there available to help people who are struggling! I learned about Postpartum Support Virginia (PSVa) through my job as a Health Education Specialist and was able to utilize the postpartum planning resources to help me and my family prepare for the birth of my third child. I recommend PSVa to all of the families in my classes and tours because it is such an invaluable resource that not only supports the health of mothers, but of our entire community. When we share with and support each other, we are all stronger together.
These are just two faces of the many women who we’re able to help. There are SO many more. Any tax-deductible donation – from $5 to $500 – makes a world of difference in extending our reach to so many more Moms and families suffering needlessly.
Thank you for your support.
PSVa Executive Director