Motherhood can be both an extremely joyous experience and a cause for the worst kind of depression there is. And it’s not just ordinary folks who fall prey to it.
I’m in an emotionally bad place!Eva Amurri Martino, US film & TV actor
That is how American film and television actor and daughter of Hollywood icon Susan Sarandon, Eva Amurri Martino, began her New Year's entry on her lifestyle blog HappilyEvaAfter.com. The "bad place" the actor, who has appeared in Friends, was referring to is the postpartum depression she is battling. Postpartum depression affects parents post childbirth. .
"The Struggle Is Real", she titles the blog post before the naysayers can dismiss it as an imagined malady.
The mother of two — daughter Marlowe Mae, 2, and son Major James, 3 months — opened up about her difficult end to the year.
A Mother’s Worst Nightmare
"A couple of days after Thanksgiving, our Night Nurse fell asleep while holding Major and dropped him, and he cracked his head on the hardwood floor,” Martino writes. “Kyle and I were sleeping at the time and were awoken by the sound of his head hitting the floor, and then hysterical piercing screams.”
The blog goes on to say: “He suffered a fractured skull and bleeding on his brain, and was transported by ambulance to Yale Medical Center where I spent two harrowing days with him to receive emergency care and further testing....To be in one for two days under such circumstances was nearly unbearable for me, not to mention how scary and emotional those days were for the entirety of our family."
The Guilt Trip That Followed
Though the child has recovered with minimal health damage, Martino says she faced destructive moments when "...the guilt I bore in the days and weeks after this accident was more intense and more damaging than anything I would wish upon my worst enemy..."
So Easy To Judge Others
Amurri Martino writes that she chosen not to share her feelings so far “for fear of judgement”. “The internet can be a peculiar place, where some people forget about humanity and go for the jugular. I know that this news might reach many, and of those many there will always be the people who say that this accident was my fault. That if it had been me in there holding him instead of a Night Nurse, that this never would have happened. That I deserve this for allowing my child to be in the care of somebody other than me,” she writes.
Postpartum Depression: Acceptance & Therapy
Amurri Martino added that she believes she is dealing with “some form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, possibly linked to some form of Postpartum Depression.” She also said she is seeking help from a therapist to deal with the trauma.
Hey, That Sounds Familiar
With two teenaged children of my own, this gives me a sense of déja vu.
I have seen and experienced how this 'emotionally “bad place” is like. And what's worse, given the typical (not exceptional, please) Indian setup, the elders in the joint-family I was married into decided I was just tired and that it will pass. "All mothers go through this," was the common refrain I heard. Under pressure to deliver my 100% at my job to deliver and also not allowed to fail as a mother, the stress a modern-day mother undergoes is tremendous.
What is Postpartum Depression?
The US-based National Library of Medicine defines postpartum depression as follows: "Pregnancy and postpartum depression are considered high-risk periods for the emergence of psychiatric disorders.”
It says postpartum depression is marked by “loss of interest, insomnia, and loss of energy experienced by mothers within the period of 4 to 6 weeks after delivery."
The National Institutes of Health carried out a cross-sectional study to find out socio-demographic, obstetric and pregnancy outcome indicators of postnatal depression (PND) among rural women in Karnataka.
Sit Up, India!
Shockingly, the reported prevalence of PND in this study was as high as 31.4% . And to think that we do not even consider it an issue is indeed a shocker.
I recall a woman once telling me that she had developed tuberculosis as postpartum depression sent her immunity nosediving and she was further discriminated against.
A recent study in the US showed that over 400,000 women in the country suffer from postpartum depression each year.
Only a few days ago, a maternal mental health legislation, the Bringing Postpartum Depression Out of the Shadows Act, was passed by the US Congress.
While artists and health workers battle to end the stigma often associated with mental illnesses, it is an uphill task for the sufferer and those around her.
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