I can’t separate the two. I can’t just be a woman or just be Black. I can’t just be a mom or just be a woman with a mental illness. I can’t be ‘just’ anything.
I am a Black mother with a mental illness. Almost every day I feel alone. I feel like a freak. From all sides I hear the message SHUT UP. No one wants to hear my story. We are all so comfortable being horrified by the mothers who harm or kill their children every year. We sink into our comfy sofas and take to the Internet to talk about how ‘we would never!’ or how ‘I just can’t understand’ and ‘that horrible woman’. No one wants to talk about HOW that happens.
If the general public thinks anything about Maternal Mental Health they think of a cartoon grey raincloud following a mom around all day. This is a middle class White mom, of course. A few times a year they think about whatever mom has finally lost her battle and with it her life or the lives of her children.
To live in that world as a person who is awake and aware of what the truth is can be daunting. To live in that world as me, a person who physically cannot keep her mouth shut, is exhausting. To suddenly be in a place with over a hundred other women who know the truth and are fighting the same fight? That was revolutionary. That changed my life.
I got to Boston for the Warrior Mom Conference full of pain and trauma. I left hollowed out and I’ve since been slowly filled with hope and energy and FIGHT.
Here is the truth, here are the things that we know for sure. One in seven moms will battle a Maternal Mental Illness. The newest numbers put it at closer to ONE IN FIVE. This is not simply Postpartum Depression. This is also Anxiety, OCD and Psychosis.
We know that giving women information during pregnancy and treating women who become ill during pregnancy (about 1 in 10) can significantly reduce the rates of postpartum distress.
We know that the number one complication of pregnancy is mental illness and we know that the number one killer of women in the first year postpartum is suicide.
We know the risk factors: