One in seven mothers nationwide experiences postpartum depression, a serious mood disorder with many faces, including extreme sadness, anxiety, self-doubt, exhaustion, restlessness, withdrawal, anger and thoughts of self-harm or harming others. But these warning signs are often ignored, and when a mom leaves her family or dies by suicide after bringing a baby into this world, the question of "how could she?" reverberates among those close to her, as well as those who don't know her at all.
"I get it. I finally get it," Krysti Motter wrote in a viral Facebook post on PPD. "You see moms committing suicide. And I couldn’t understand it. How do you leave your kids behind like that?"
But the thing is, Motter realized, it's not that the world would be better off without you. What you feel is that you would be better off without this world.
But then come the comments of how those who knew her "never knew" the mom was suffering from PPD.
"She told you," Motter said honestly. "And it seemed small to you, you didn’t get it."
The mom lists some of the signs that go unnoticed. Maybe she has said she's behind on life and feels as if she's drowning. Maybe she has said that too much is expected of her. Maybe she has declined seeing you because she's too busy, and if you offer to help her with the kids, she feels so guilty she doesn't accept.
"Stop saying you didn’t know. Because she told you," Motter wrote.
Maybe she has said she's behind on life and feels as if she's drowning. Maybe she has said that too much is expected of her. Maybe she has declined seeing you because she's too busy.
Actress and mom Alyssa Milano also opened up in May about suffering from postpartum depression. She talked honestly about the overwhelming feeling of guilt she experienced since she had a C-section against her wishes, and how she worried about all the ways her child could die in the hands of his caretakers as she drove to work. No one else knew how much she worried and blamed herself.
But she was able to find the support that she needed through her psychiatrist and therapist, who convinced her she had "the bravery to face her illness, the value to seek help and the strength to recover."
So, how can you help someone who is suffering from PPD, which can happen up to a year post-birth?
"Help her in some way so she feels like she’s not so behind. Like she’s not alone. Like she’s HUMAN," Motter suggested.
This could be stopping by and visiting, letting the mom take a shower, driving her to her appointments, offering emotional support consistently and encouraging her to talk with a health-care provider.
Mom.me contributor Mary Sauer also shared 6 things moms with postpartum depression need most from their friends, including the reassurance that they're not alone and that you're thinking of them.
Step up. Show up. And remind her that she does not have to face this by herself.