All The Things Pictures Don’t Show About Maternal Mental Health

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“When my son was a few months old, I posted a picture that showed my husband holding both of our children and smiling down at me.

I gushed about how I didn’t know what I would do without him. Heart emoji.

I know people saw that picture as a snapshot of a loving couple with two adorable kids, out to dinner on a weeknight.

What that photo didn’t show was that I snapped the pic to remind myself of the positive in my life so that maybe I wouldn’t crumble that night.

It didn’t show that the reason we were out in the first place was because my depression was so bad that I couldn’t gather the energy to cook a meal.

It didn’t show that the reason my husband was holding our kids was because my anxiety was so bad that I couldn’t handle our 5-year-old being tired or put our 4-month-old down without him crying.

It didn’t show that my panic was so bad that I couldn’t breathe inside that restaurant.

I suffered from severe postpartum depression and anxiety after my son was born.

Not many people knew about my struggle at the time because I masked it both publicly and online.

My social posts stayed positive and showed my kids, the things we did as a family, photos of the birthday parties I threw…

I wasn’t posting updates about the times I stayed in bed all day on a Sunday and my husband would only bring my son in to nurse and then take him away again; or about how I would go far too long without sleep because the panicky obsessions in my head kept me up all night long.

I didn’t post selfies of me sobbing in the bathroom because I was in constant fear of what was happening to my mind and body.

It was an incredibly dark period.

I was breaking down, little by little, every day.

And for the longest time, I suffered in silence…

Eventually, I got help.

I went to my doctor and was completely honest with her about my feelings and the thoughts running through my head that scared me to death.

I started medication (which I still take to this day for a previously untreated anxiety disorder).

I let the people closest to me know about my struggle.

And I slowly began to heal.

Maternal mental health is so important.

If mood and anxiety disorders go untreated the consequences can be tragic.

Together we must raise awareness, support mothers and their children, and influence policy changes so fewer women and families will suffer.

If you think you may be suffering from a postpartum mood or anxiety disorder, please talk to your doctor immediately. You can also get great information and resources at PostpartumProgress.com.

A father holds his two young children in his arms
Courtesy of Leah Doyle

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Leah Doyle of Jacksonville, Florida. You can follow their journey on Instagram and LinkedIn. Submit your own story hereand be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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