The Center for Disease Control (CDC) claims that about 15% of women will develop depression after childbirth. And that statistic is a low estimate, as the data come simply from self-reporting. Chances are you or someone you know has suffered.
I’ve suffered. I suffer. Some of my dearest friends have suffered. Suffer. And yes, it is suffering. Nothing about the way one feels while depressed is natural, good, or safe. Your mind is not your own. The darkness of life is impenetrable. You lack control. Anger and resentment rise spontaneously from hidden chasms within you. Your child, your precious human creation, is a sad, demanding intruder who you know would be better off without you. It lies to you. It sucks the life right out of you.
Postpartum depression is hell. But, postpartum depression is not just the result of a chemical imbalance or hormonal disparity. The twenty-first century, with all its wonders and conveniences, has produced depressed and anxious mothers because we lack community. We do not value motherhood or prioritize the health of individual mothers, and thus the power that comes from giving and nurturing new life has diminished into fear and second guessing our abilities. We, women, men, and ultimately western society, have turned pregnancy, birth, and motherhood into consumptive beasts that trample women’s psyches and bodies.
Pregnancy and childbirth have become industries in America. Companies and society have capitalized on the excesses of childbirth and childhood, effectively pushing aside the needs of women in favor of overindulging babies, and hospitals and healthcare institutions have exploited the business of giving birth at women’s expense. And it is worse in communities among minority women and women of color. And mommy culture, instead of uniting and empowering women and rebuilding lost villages of hope and health, has ultimately divided us and forced us to take sides on often-trivial childrearing and body image issues. Think this doesn’t contribute to our negative mental state? Mothers, (and fathers, but that is a post for another time) are casualties of modern medicine the industry of childrearing.
Over the coming weeks, I will address five contributing factors to the distressing increase of postpartum depression and anxiety in the 21st Century, and what we as women, mothers, sisters, can do to change and reverse them. And though post-partum depression and anxiety are legitimate, long-standing conditions that can and should be treated medically and therapeutically, there are modern behaviors, pressures, and expectations that contribute to their development and severity. We have suffered long enough.
- Comparison and Isolation- The perils of social media and the loss of our villages.
- The undervaluing of motherhood and exploitation of childhood as an industry.
- Too many experts -You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
- Uniformed Women- Diminished empowerment in modern context.
- The trauma of birth- the business of childbirth, and doctors know best.
Join me in the coming weeks. Lend your voices. Share your stories. Vent your frustrations. Provide differing perspectives. Let’s empower ourselves once again. Let’s rebuild our villages.
Because if it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes that same village to raise healthy mothers.