Recently, a photo of a mother dealing with postpartum depression went viral. Probably because the photo depicts a reality that many mothers face but most people do not really understand.
The photo shows 27-year-old mom, Kathy DiVincezo, in her sweatpants and bra, looking grimly at the camera while she sat on the messy floor with her babies.
She had just finished breastfeeding her son when her photographer friend, Danielle Fantis, took a candid photo, which Kathy posted on Facebook later on. She accompanied the picture with another — a staged photo where she appeared to be happy and very “put together.”
“Chances are, you’re feeling pretty uncomfortable right now (trust me I am too),” Kathy captioned the photo. “I’m going to challenge you to push past the discomfort society has placed on postpartum mental illness and hear me out.”
“The truth is, both of these pictures represent my life depending on the day,” she explained. “I would only ever comfortably share one of these realities though and that’s the problem. The only thing more exhausting than having these conditions is pretending daily that I don’t.”
Kathy said that most days, mothers like her work twice as hard to hide their postpartum depression, just to make people around them comfortable.
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“We need to stop assuming that the postpartum period is always euphoric, because 1 in 7 it’s not,” she urged. “We need to sort asking new parents how they’re doing in a deeper way than the normal, ‘so how are you doing?’”
Most of the time, questions like that results to a rushed “everything’s great!” response, Kathy said. She also urged people to watch out for signs and symptoms of postpartum depression in family and friends.
So far, her Facebook post has reached over 70,000 shares, which could be a sign that Kathy’s story is also a story of many mothers out there who are afraid, ashamed or too depressed to seek help.
According to Cosmopolitan, Kathy’s postpartum depression was accompanied by symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety, which she had previously had when she was a teen.
“It’s like you’re breathing in water, like you’re drowning, grasping for normalcy,” she told Cosmopolitan. “I’d take my daughter to preschool and I’d go grocery shopping, but the majority of the time, I didn’t want to leave my bed and only functioned because I had to.”
Kathy constantly worried about her baby, saying, “The majority of the time, I was suffering from intrusive thoughts and couldn’t help but feel afraid.”
“It’s easy to tell yourself, ‘You’re a new mom, of course you’re going to worry,’ and to shrug these things off whether it’s your first baby or your twentieth.”
Kathy hopes that by posting the photo, people will understand the struggles of dealing with mental illness after birth-giving.
“We need to break the stigma and #EndTheSilence by sharing our stories and letting others know they’re not alone,” she wrote.