Today is #MoreThanDepressionMonday and it kicks off Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week! This week you’ll see blue dots all over social media and on some of your favorite blogs as moms all over the world stand up, step into the light and tell our stories about maternal mental health. Each day we’ll have a new topic and you can follow them all here.
Maternal Mental Health Week
More Than Depression?
Awareness around postpartum depression continues to grow and we are so grateful for that. As more and more moms reach out for help people all over begin to understand that this is common and treatable. But there are other mental illnesses that can strike pregnant and postpartum women that are not as well known.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can occur during pregnancy or at any time in the first year postpartum and it can be a really scary and lonely experience. The most common (and most misunderstood) symptom of PPOCD is the “Intrusive Thought”. This is exactly what it sounds like – thoughts the intrude on your everyday life. Thoughts that you cannot stop or control, and thoughts that you do not WANT to think.
They can show up in different forms. Some moms report that they are like watching a movie superimposed on your life. Sometimes they are words and not images. They are almost always terrifying. Reading about intrusive thoughts can be very triggering, so I will not get specific here.
The Most Important Thing
The MOST important thing to know about PPOCD and intrusive thoughts is that having the thought DOES NOT mean that you will follow through on it. These are usually our worst fears being replayed over and over in our minds. Support groups, therapy, and medications all can help you. Intrusive thoughts are very common but are usually not reported to supporters until a trust relationship has been established. And that makes sense – I can totally understand you not wanting to share a really scary thought. But please listen to me when I say this: THE FIRST STEP TO GETTING BETTER IS REACHING OUT.
If you, or someone you know, is dealing with a mental health issue during pregnancy or in the first year after the baby has been born please know that there is help available! You can reach out to me directly. You can get more information on online and local resources through Postpartum Support International. You can also help other parents by sharing this blog post and making sure that you ask pregnant and new parents in your life how they are feeling.
For Expecting Mamas
If you would like to lower your risk of postpartum depression, anxiety, and OCD, I have put together a free course for you. This is a five-day class that is delivered via email to you and will walk you through the steps you need to take now and beyond Maternal Mental Health Week.
Maternal Mental Health Week
Once upon a time a theatre major from Charleston, SC met a software designer from NJ. They fell in love, they had a baby – and that’s when everything changed. When I got pregnant with my son I also got two perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. In my case, it was depression and anxiety. The trauma surrounding his birth left me with PTSD. In dealing with and healing from these illnesses I have found my voice and my passion.