Stigma

Next month, I am walking with a group of individuals who have been impacted by postpartum mood disorders.  We are raising funds in an effort to help families and educate providers about the very real issue and impact of postpartum mental illness.

Although I would consider myself “cured” of my own experiences with postpartum PTSD and anxiety, I continue to recognize the need to express my support for those currently suffering with the very real emotional and physical ramifications of postpartum mental illness, their family members, and the medical community.

The stigma surrounding this issue, the issue of mental illness, and the issue of mental illness after childbirth continues to both annoy and devastate me.  I can see the divide in my own community of family and friends when I bring up my participation for the fundraising walk that I am participating in.

This divide clearly plays out on social media.  After posting recently a brief synopsis of my journey with postpartum mental illness, and adding a link to my fundraising page, I was met with three types of responses.  Inherent in the two latter responses is the stigma attached to the very real, and quite frankly, horrific, postpartum mood disorders.  The responses that I received were as follows:

  1. Positive Love and Support. These responses included a mention of my journey and my courage in tackling this very real monster after the birth of my daughter.  Sometimes, this included a donation to the cause.  Honestly, acknowledgement and knowing what both I, and many other woman struggled with or continue to struggle with is appreciated just as much.
  2. Nothing.  No active mention both on social media or in person about the walk that I would be going on or why.  Now, here I am not talking about the people who didn’t see my post…I’m talking about the people who I KNOW saw my post and chose not to comment.
  3. Active Disengagement.  “Liking” and commenting on every other social media post in the timeline. Supporting and contributing to other fundraisers posted the same day.

I want to say that I don’t take it personally.  However, that wouldn’t be true.  Not only have I, and my family!, suffered greatly at the hands of postpartum mental illness, I have made it my mission to educate my friends and family members about the possibility of postpartum mental illness.  I have not been shy in sharing in an effort to release the stigma surrounding this disease.  It continues to baffle me that people who I love and care about cannot acknowledge not only my journey, but recognize that this is a journey for many others in their community.  It continues to be disheartening to recognize that if I can’t bridge the gap in my own community, making strides in the community at large will continue to prove a challenging task.

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

 

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