This isn't a sponsored post and I am not receiving any compensation nor do I have any affiliation with Bell. I just feel strongly about the subject and want to contribute to the conversation.
Today is Bell Let's Talk day. I usually pass on the whole "for every like/share/comment etc., we'll donate five cents to the children/whales/needy etc." bit but this one is different. Obviously, Bell is a business. They're selling something. But they're also starting a discussion. Mental illness is taboo. Bell Let's Talk is attempting to get the important conversations started so people who are struggling, people who feel alone, people who are confused and in pain, people who need help, know that they're not the only one out there who feels / has felt depressed, anxious, isolated, etc.
So. Let's Talk.
I have always been a feeler of the feelings. This was amplified in ways I couldn't have predicted after Grady was born. The emotions and hormones and changes were overwhelming. I had heard of postpartum depression but I had it wrong: I thought postpartum depression was something that caused women to hurt their babies (I had only heard of sensationalized versions of postpartum psychosis). I didn't know anything about postpartum anxiety or postpartum OCD. I didn't realize there was a spectrum of postpartum mood disorders. I thought as long as I loved Grady, and didn't spend every day crying in the bathroom, I was fine.
Except that I wasn't fine. I would walk by the kitchen counter and vividly see in my mind a clip of Grady rolling off the countertop (even though I never lay him there) and his head smashing on the tile floor below. It would play in my head over and over, hundreds of times, until I started closing my eyes whenever I walked past the kitchen. I would bundle Grady up in his stroller to take him for a walk and I would picture myself tripping on the curb, letting go of the stroller, and sending it straight out into traffic. So I would put him in his baby carrier instead and the picture would change to me tripping on the curb and being unable to move my arms to catch myself and falling flat on top of Grady. So I didn't take Grady for a walk. I stayed in the condo. Except that I couldn't be in the living space of the condo because the damn open concept meant that the kitchen counter was visible from all corners. So I would stay in the bedroom, door closed, and hold Grady. All day. So he would be safe.
I'm lucky. I had a very observant doctor who saw me six weeks after Grady was born and she quickly realized something wasn't quite right. I live in a place where help is available and relatively accessible. I was not shamed or belittled; I was given help and options.
Not everyone is as lucky as I was. Some people are made to feel like they're defective or less than because they struggle with mental illness. It's heartbreaking how many people suffer in silence because they fear being treated differently for something they have no control over. We would never tell someone with a broken leg to walk it off. We wouldn't tell someone with cancer to just get over it. But people who suffer from mental illness are somehow expected to just overcome it like it's something they can change if they want it badly enough.
Today, a best-selling author posted on Facebook that hormonal changes during and after pregnancy are normal and the US Preventative Services Task Force's recommendation to screen for perinatal depression is a ploy to sell more drugs. Big Pharma, don't cha know. These hormonal women just need to meditate. And pray. And love. Which I can scoff at now, four years after I got help. Four years after I sobbed in my psychologist's office because I wasn't sleeping because whenever I closed my eyes I saw my newborn's brains on my kitchen floor. But if I had read this author's statement four years ago? I would not scoff. I would feel shame. I would feel belittled. I would be destroyed.
So today, I am going to talk. I am going to talk about how I struggled. And how the support and love from my family and my tribe and my doctors pulled me out of the darkest hole. And if you currently find yourself in a dark hole? I want to talk to you. I don't have all the answers but I can help you try to find something that works for you.
If you're suffering from postpartum mood disorders, Postpartum Progress is a great resource. If you need help, the Canadian Mental Health Association has a list of crisis centres and their contact info, as well as different resources and services available. If you're a youth who needs help, contact the Kids Help Phone. Don't suffer in silence.