Lisa Hardwick has written a startlingly honest memoir about her experience with postpartum depression. I asked her to talk about her choice to share this with readers.
What drove you to write this very personal memoir about your experience with postpartum depression?
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was instructed to savor every moment with my new baby. They told me I would be tired, of course, but I would also fall madly in love with my child and taste a sweetness of life that I never could have imagined before. They told me I would love being a mom. I have a stack of baby shower cards to prove it.
Then, I actually had the baby. The labor was hard. The pain? Unbearable. I didn’t fall madly in love with my baby. Instead, I got sick. Really sick. Physically and mentally, my health was shattered. Twelve days after my daughter’s birth I was diagnosed with severe postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. Fear entered my life in a way I never could have imagined. I lost all hope, and I wanted out.
What is wrong with me?
Am I the only one who feels this way?
I was completely unprepared for the reality of postpartum depression. I had no idea what the symptoms would look like. I didn’t think I deserved to ask for help. I didn’t know if I would lose my baby if I admitted that I wanted to kill myself. I just knew I was drowning, and I sunk deeper into the darkness as each day passed. I also knew that if I felt alone in this suffering, other women must feel alone, too. If I was lost and confused during this time that I was promised would be joyful and rich, I knew I wasn’t the only one.
Often, new mothers with postpartum experience:
Inability to make decisions
Thoughts of suicide
Culturally, postpartum depression carries a stigma with it, and I hate it. I hate it because it causes women to fear judgment when they most need support. It causes new moms to be silent when they need to speak up.
Fine. I’ll speak up.
Let me tell you about my weaknesses as a mother, because maybe no one else has told you about theirs. Let me show you my imperfections, my shortcomings, and my reality so that you can know you’re not alone. Now, let me also tell you about healing and restoration. Let me show you the hope and help that is waiting for you at this very moment.
I’m brutally honest with my story, because lives are at stake. Women are hurting, and they need to be comforted. We don’t need social media posts. We don’t need to compare milestones and parenting tips. We need to be honest with each other. We are failing ourselves and our families because we are trying to do this alone.
Now is the time we learn to be honest.