The short story is this: I have been dealing with anxiety for years, and had a terrible flare-up of anxiety and panic during and after my third pregnancy. After much healing and probably more hemming and hawing, I made the choice to submit my story to Postpartum Progress, an award-winning website devoted to maternal mental health. I wrote the essay in response to PPP’s creator, warrior mom Katherine Stone, reaching out through Facebook to say that there weren’t enough personal stories of postpartum panic disorder on her incredibly informative site.
It struck me to think what an opportunity it might be to help another woman by sharing my experience. It’s not a paid gig or anything, but I ultimately decided it was my way of paying back the powers that be for getting me as far from that terrible place as I am now.
It wasn’t easy to put my experiences out there, but I think it would have been helpful had I read a similar account when I was in the thick of it, Googling desperately into the night trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with me. In some ways, the stigma is as bad as the illness itself. It took me ages to admit my feelings to some of my closest friends, and there are still far more people in my life who don’t know about it than who do. Not that I really owe an explanation to anyone as it’s not their business, but honestly, that’s not why I haven’t told them. I don’t want to be the person people wonder about, that they aren’t sure they can trust with their kids, or that they make assumptions about based on whatever their limited experience with mental illness might be.
This is as far as I can reach out right now, but I’m ok with that. It’s still pretty far.