When Postpartum Depression Strikes
A look into the Capitol Building shooting through the lens of PPD
It’s not often that a woman is involved in a car chase like the one in DC yesterday, which left 34-year-old Miriam Carey, of Stamford, Connecticut, dead by police gunfire. Adding another layer of sadness to an already grim story, Carey’s 1-year-old daughter, Erica, was in the car the whole time.
Now Carey’s mother, Idella Carey, has come forward to say that she believes her daughter was suffering from postpartum depression (PPD). I’ll admit that when I heard that, I finally made the connection. Now the whole story made more sense, except it was somehow even worse.
Over and over, it seems that when women are involved in acts of violence, often harming their own children, PPD is the root. (The US Department of Justice reports that only 20% of violent crimes involve female offenders. That’s not to say it never happens but statistically speaking, it just doesn’t seem to be in our makeup.) PPD is the silent, scary and a very real threat lurking in family homes across the country. My point is not that any one of us could suddenly snap. My point is that too many of us do.
Depression (or any other mental condition) is still so embarrassing and shameful that most new mothers don’t even admit how bad they feel until months have gone by. Or, as Brooke Shield’s described in her memoir about her struggles with PPD, Down Came the Rain, mothers often scare themselves with their own erratic behavior. (Brooke considered driving her minivan into a brick wall. That’s when she knew something was wrong.)
As friends, co-workers, neighbors and family members, we all need to seek out new moms, even if it’s not their first baby, and lift them up. Be real with them. Share our own truthful accounts, not just the cheerful Facebook status updates with all the cute pictures. And listen to them. Don’t be suspicious. Just listen. If something sounds off, get them help and do it NOW. Pin this site on your Pinterest board of “Things I need to know”: Postpartum Support International (1.800.944.4PPD).
I’m going to send this link to every new mom I know. Just like I send them handy make-ahead meal ideas, muffins you can freeze for easy breakfasts and the best nursing bras. It can’t be embarrassing to talk anymore about because it’s just too dangerous not to.
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