May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month.
Try saying that a few times fast - it probably won't happen - but say it at least once - to someone who might be needing to hear it. Because they'll thank you. I'm sure of it.
And in honor and recognition of the importance of this month, Postpartum Support International is hosting its annual Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month blog hop. I participate in this blog hop with PSI almost every year because I think it's extremely important to help get the word out about maternal mental health.
Between the stereotypical news stories whenever a mother has a supposed mental break, and the fear-mongering of word of mouth when gossip comes into play, all of that and more? It hurts my heart. It makes me ache for mamas in need who could benefit from the reminder that they are not alone. And that they're not crazy. And that not every single one of them will do whatever the mom in question has done. And maybe that mom being reported on and spotlighted didn't experience what they're experiencing. And that we're all unique - and yet we're never alone.
As a mom-to-be I experienced anxiety that would keep me awake at night. And as a new mom it didn't really subside much. I joked that I had PPD-lite. I had no idea that PPA was actually a thing. But it was. It was a thing - AND I had it.
It wasn't fun. My mind did a lot of racing. I couldn't close my eyes without thinking about the what-ifs. But I found a way to resurface. To hang on. I spoke to friends. Family members. Doctors. I got the help I needed. During pregnancy. After childbirth. Postpartum. All of it. Anxiety is a part of my life, and I get that. I know it's a huge component of who I am. But the ability to speak freely about it helped me to engage with people who knew of what I spoke. They knew me. They got me. And many of them WERE me. *Not literally, but you get it - right?*
A few years ago I shared a list of some of these incredible mamas who have muddled through postpartum mood disorders and write freely about their experiences. These women are just a sampling of people I have learned from, grown with and found hope through. I strongly recommend you take a peek at their worlds, as they remind us all that there is always hope. They remind us that there are so many people who struggle in their postpartum window, but make their way to the other side. You will, too.
I will state over and over that women everywhere need to be educated about maternal mental health - for their own information and awareness - of course - but also for the ability to reach out and help others. You don't have to have experienced any of this to understand it exists. You don't have to have breathed your way through it to know that there is hope. And help.
You can support your friends and loved ones. You can encourage a family member to get help. You can learn the signs to look for that might be just what that new mama needs. You can reach out. You can remind others that help is out there.
If you or someone you know is in need of immediate help, please contact the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
Please reach out. Help is out there. You deserve support. Allow us to connect you to the right resources. Allow us to help you.
If you would like to participate in this year's PSI blog hop, head on over to the info page to find out exactly what the post requirements consist of and how to submit/link up when you're ready to do so.