During Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, I was fortunate to be able to join a webinar hosted by The Motherhood Center. I was absolutely floored by all the incredible panelists and speakers and this statement from Wendy Davis, Executive Director at Postpartum Support International, really stuck with me.
"This is not about love and if I love my baby. This is about health and mental health." - Wendy Davis
After my son was born, I felt broken. Why couldn’t I bond with him like a mother is supposed to? Why couldn’t I be patient when he cried? Why couldn’t I stop my head from filling with panicked and scary thoughts about something terrible happening to him? I knew I loved him in my heart but my brain kept telling me “this isn’t what a mother’s love looks like. This can’t be love.”
Now I know better. So much better. When I heard Wendy say those words above, I immediately started crying because I felt seen and understood and not broken.
The biggest love you’ve ever known can coexist with the deepest sadness, the fiercest rage, and all-encompassing anxiety. Experiencing perinatal mood and anxiety disorders does not mean you love your child any less or any more. It just is what it is: a treatable mental health experience.
If you’re struggling, I highly recommend checking out Postpartum Support International, The Motherhood Center, or any of the other amazing maternal mental health organizations out there to learn more about PMADs and find support. We have a growing list of mental health resources on the Joey for Roo website here.