At first it was “if I just get some sleep, I’ll feel better” or “if I can take a hot shower, I’ll feel better”. However, the next six months would continue to take me to a darker and darker place…
I often hear that my niche is very specific. Some people love it, some people hate it, I feel like it is needed. In fact, when doing a market analysis, there are not enough people that specialize in the niche of Perinatal Mood Disorders. Aside from the need though, let me explain why this is so important to me. In 2014 I graduated with my master’s degree in social work and became a therapist. A year and a half later, in fall of 2015, I found myself a single mother with a newborn. Everything was okay in the hospital, aside from a less than perfect delivery. The first night home with my newborn baby, I could not stop crying. At first it was “if I just get some sleep, I’ll feel better” or “if I can take a hot shower, I’ll feel better”. However, the next six months would continue to take me to a darker and darker place. Eventually, when my son was about 2 months old, things were so bad that I considered leaving. You see, I never wanted to hurt my bub, but I did think that everyone would be better off without me. I thought if I just left, went to another state or country everyone else would be happier. I struggled with this feeling for months. I only was asked one time how I was feeling emotionally, and I replied “fine”. I had a whisper in my ear saying “you’re not a good mom”, “this isn’t rocket science, why is it so hard for you?”, and “they will judge you, they’ll call DCS, they’ll ruin your life”. No one around me understood what I was going through, so I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I thought to myself “you’re a therapist Traci, you should be able to figure this out”. Every single night I cried. Eventually it got better, I suffered through.
One year later I took a class called Perinatal Mood Disorder which was put on by Perinatal Support International. They began the class warning about triggers, that some of the content would be difficult. I sat in that class, not feeling upset, but relief. What I had experienced was common, in fact, there was tons of research on it, therapy practices and medication. Why had I never heard of postpartum depression? Why had no one asked me? Why had I, a change agent in the field, felt that no one would understand and kept quiet about it? Why did I do the very thing I encourage my clients not to do? Something started simmering in me that day. Today, it has spread like a wildfire in my soul. Today I know that my mission in life is to try to make sure moms know that they are not alone, that it is not their fault, and that with help they can be well. This is the PSI mission, and this is my personal mission. Today I wish that someone at a pediatric appointment or at the daycare would have noticed my comments, my rundown appearance, my fatigue, my sadness and told me it was a safe place. I wish someone would have related to me, said “it is hard, and you are not expected to know everything the day your baby is born”. I wish someone would have seen. Now, I am that person. I see you momma, I heard you, and I will not judge you for thinking that maybe this isn’t for you. I will help you through those thoughts, you are not your thoughts and your thoughts are not actions. Good moms have scary thoughts sometimes. It is okay. With the right help, you will be well.
Today, years later, I have a healthy and happy 4.5 year old son that I adore and he adores me. Today, years later, I am a survivor of postpartum depression…we are survivors of postpartum depression.
If you are a new mom, what thoughts and things do you struggle with?
If you’re a practitioner, I want to know your WHY?
Traci Schank, LCSW