Two days ago I read, along with a lot of women I talk to, the AOL article about Shaquan Duley. I read Her Bad Mother’s reaction and I read the open letter to a so-called expert on Pretty Babies.
I’ve let it sit for two days that this women, a criminal profiler that should never have been portrayed as an expert on this case or on Post-Partum Depression or Post-Partum Psychosis, declared that my problems are not chemical, unless I’m one of those “rare cases.”
I’ve let it sit, but I still can’t help but take it personally. I don’t think there’s any way to not take it personally since I’ve been dealing with depression for 13 years of my life, I’ve been suicidal on more than one occasion, and apparently, according to this criminal profiler who has no experience working with women affected by PPD, I just need to suck it up and stop feeling sorry for myself.
What I can tell Ms. Pat Brown is that when I was in the depths of my depression I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself, I was feeling sorry for everyone around me. When I was suicidal it was because those around me didn’t deserve the burden. When I was in the depths of post-partum depression, I felt that my daughter would be much better off with Joe’s memory of me.
I didn’t ever have feelings of wanting to harm her. It was the first question my caretakers asked and the thing I paid the most attention to. Hurting her never entered my mind because, as I told my doctor through tears, I knew that she was not the problem, I was the problem, and I didn’t want her to inherit my problems by watching me. I specifically didn’t want her to suffer, but I did have anxiety.
Every time we left the house together I felt as though I was going to do something that would cause some sort of accident. I might trip while I was carrying her, or lose the stroller, or forget to check my blind spot, and then she would get hurt. In that way I felt as though I was a danger to her.
I worked with two midwives and a licensed doctor who all agreed that I was suffering from PPD and needed to be monitored and medicated. I was actually lucky to have been suffering from depression for that long because I know my own signs. I see the appetite changes, the mood swings, the sleep problems, the voice in my head that starts to point out my mistakes and all the ways I’m not quite good enough. I warned everyone that I was at risk for PPD and I told them what I was feeling.
I say lucky because another woman might not have known her signs, might not have had the clarity, that soon after giving birth to tell someone what she was feeling. Lucky because I can’t be embarrassed about it anymore. My depression is part of me and any stigma just floats away.
If one other woman who is suffering finds me and recognizes herself, I’ve done some good. If a woman sees Pat Brown’s comments and takes them to heart, something very, very bad could result.
If you don’t get help, you’re not going to get better, and this woman who decided she had the right to speak about something she knows nothing about, has the ability, because of the way she was represented in that article, to get into women’s heads and make them think they don’t need help because they’re just fundamentally flawed – And that will send them further into the darkness.