And dads offer sweet messages of support.
Chances are if you’ve had children you’ll have experienced days when you feel on top of the world — those sorts of days when you’ve managed to clear away breakfast before getting all the kids to school on time, and you’ve even left the house in matching shoes. However, you’ve probably gone through your fair share of rough days as well, when putting a foot outside of bed is just a step too far. It’s often these harder times that impact us most and leave us feeling like failures. And this is only exacerbated when we see our seemingly got-it-nailed friends sharing their picture perfect lives on social media at 8 a.m. in the morning, and we’re left wondering how is their house so clean, how does this super mom manage to be so impeccably coiffed, and how are her kids not squabbling?!
We forget that these posed pics are just that, a snapshot of perfection. But as Kathy DiVincenzo reminded us in her recent Facebook post, we tend to share the very best of us and try and conceal when things aren’t going quite so well. Oh the irony. When we are at our lowest surely this is when we need to share our difficulties the most, reaching out to those who could help.
So, in honor of Postpartum Depression Awareness Month, DiVincenzo decided to share two photos that show two very different scenarios: one where everything is in control, with a smiling mom playing with her kids in the playroom; and a second where the same mom, kids, and room are in a state of total disarray. In fact the latter photo is often the reality that many suffering from PPD, or just exhaustion from trying to adapt to their new lives as mom, are so busy trying to hide.
“As someone with diagnosed postpartum depression, anxiety, and OCD, I feel like it’s time to show you what that can really look like.” She explains how the amount of effort it takes in portraying life as an exemplary mom leaves her exhausted, adding: “I work twice as hard to hide this reality from you because I’m afraid to make you uncomfortable. I’m afraid you’ll think I’m weak, crazy, a terrible mother, or the other million things my mind convinces me of and I know I’m not alone in those thoughts.”
And she’s right. She’s not alone. The CDC says that an average of 15 percent of American women suffer from PPD symptoms, which is roughly 600,000 women who are affected each year. “We need to stop assuming that the postpartum period is always euphoric,”DiVincenzo says.
With all the stigma concerning issues of mental illness, DiVincenzo is trying to break down that feeling of shame, encouraging moms to post their stories, letting other moms know they’re not alone. As she says to these fellow PPD sufferers: “In case no one has told you, you’re doing an amazing job. You are loved and you are worthy. You’re not alone.”
While DiVincenzo is courageous in revealing her true self to her Facebook followers, and therefore the rest of the world, she has also inspired dads to show their support and admiration for all the moms out there. Her post was shared on Love What Matters, prompting one follower, Brock A. Haralson, to share: “I support you brave women for not only going thru such huge act of love & sacrifice of being pregnant & giving birth. But to be open & honest about this issue in spite of negative & judgements from ppl [people].”
One dad, Ron Ankney, added in a very lengthy comment: “Please talk to your husband and allow him to help.” He went on to reveal that he sometimes found it hard to rise to the occasion of being the father he thought he needed to be because of being overwhelmed with the new responsibility. “It hits like a bolt of lighting the first time we hold them, and it can bring even a strong ‘manly man’ to his knees and keep him there,” he said. He believes that this pressure can lead men to isolate themselves. He implores moms to open up to their husbands, to communicate: “Share the good AND the terrifying with us, be open and honest or risk the real possibility of growing apart and losing the dream of success that we both want for each other and our children.” He finishes with: “Don’t baby us, we are tougher than you realize and will rise to the occasion like that knight in shining armor you need us to be.”
It seems only fitting that during this Month of Mary, the Mother of all mothers, these issues concerning PPD are highlighted. Of course children are a blessing (although it may not always feel like this when they jump on your bed at 5 a.m. in the morning), but for some moms the road to motherhood isn’t easy, through no fault of their own. The message to close family and friends who may be concerned about a new mom is clear: try to see beyond the people-pleasing photos that get posted, and look for signs of PPD in any mom whose broad smile seems to belie her true feelings. Offer practical support, seek help from a professional, and be a shoulder to cry on. And most importantly remind these moms that they are indeed super moms.