I’m a strong woman. I’m a black woman. I had postpartum depression.
I tried for years to have a baby. I prayed and pleaded. I had a beautiful birth experience. I still had postpartum depression.
I was surrounded by a loving family and husband. I took placenta pills. And yet, I had postpartum depression.
There are some things you can control in life. Postpartum depression is not one of them. I had to come to terms with that reality when I found myself in the deepest, darkest moments of the fourth trimester. Depression crept up on me three months after having a baby. It didn’t manifest itself in extreme ways you see in Lifetime movies. I didn’t want to hurt myself or my baby (though this may be a reality for some people). For me, depression started very subtly.
My doctor told me that the “baby blues” were normal and to be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary. That was the extent of my screening. So when I became emotionally unstable, I thought it was a normal part of the postpartum period. I had extreme fear around my daughter sleeping alone, but I was nervous about her sleeping with us, so I became incapable of sleeping altogether. It was all downhill from there. I cried every day about everything. I thought about my former miscarriages constantly.
During this time, I loved my daughter and felt enormously blessed to have her. I just could not move from under the rain cloud I had over my head. The final straw happened when my daughter was crying. I completely zoned out. I was numb to the crying. In that moment, I wanted to drive myself to the hospital and get checked in. I knew it was time for professional help.
My husband looked up resources and the next morning, I went to a postpartum depression support group in Austin. I told them everything. It was the most validating experience of my life. The therapist facilitating the meeting told me it’s not uncommon for moms who are sleep deprived to consider checking themselves into a mental hospital just to get a good night’s sleep. I walked away from the meeting knowing I wasn’t alone in this fight.
In fact, I’m far from alone in this fight. Up to 80% of women will have the “baby blues” and 1 in 7 women will experience postpartum depression. That’s only the case in live births. Studies show that women who miscarry and have stillbirths experience postpartum depression as well. Lastly, data shows black women experience higher rates of postpartum depression. Researchers found that 44 percent of African Americans reported depressive symptoms compared to 31 percent percent of white women.
As a black mother who had experienced recurrent losses, the odds weren’t in my favor. But I survived postpartum depression. I share my testimony because we need to have an open dialogue about depression. It’s a reality that many people face, and the more we openly share our experiences, the more people realize they are not alone in this fight. To treat my depression, I got on medication and saw a therapist along with a slew of other holistic treatments. I’m hypervigilant about my mental health because I want to be my happiest and most successful self for myself and for my family. If any of the above symptoms seem familiar in you or someone you know, look for resources in your area.
There’s an entire community waiting to support you.
Postpartum Depression Resources:
- Moms who are struggling with postpartum mood disorders need help and support, but they also need the assurance that those providing that support know where they’re coming from. If you are a women of color and need postpartum support, these organizations can help.
Tessera Collective: Mental health empowerment for girls and women of color
- Perinatal Mental Health Alliance for Women of Color: Provides a safe space for clients, families, and professionals of color around perinatal mental health.
- Postpartum Support International: Promotes awareness, prevention and treatment of mental health issues related to childbearing in every country worldwide.
- The Problem with Motherhood: Personal website and blog of Motherhood Life Coach and postpartum depression survivor Graeme Seabrook.
- The Postpartum Stress Center: Provides support and treatment for the pregnant or postpartum woman and her family as well as guidance for her treating physician or therapist.
- The Seleni Institute: Treats, trains, supports, and advocates to improve the emotional health of individuals and their families during the family-building years.
Brittany Clay is a bereaved mom who recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She previously worked in food and beverage marketing, but now takes pride in her work at a social justice nonprofit. When she’s not working, she’s traveling with her husband and daughter and cherishing each moment with her loved ones.