We recently asked black mothers in the BuzzFeed Community to tell us about their postpartum mental health experience:
1. "Mental illness wasn’t accepted."
"I had no one to talk to because mental illness just wasn't accepted, especially by my mother. One day I had this feeling at work that I wanted to jump over a table and scratch my boss's eyes out! I sat down at my desk and called a psychiatrist. I needed to get back to being me. I also had to forgive myself because it wasn't my fault. It's 13 years later and I still have bouts of depression. I'm just more equipped to handle it and I have a great support system."
2. "My family didn't believe PPD was real."
"An aunt of mine told me that there was no such thing as PPD, and I needed to quit faking it."
3. "There's nothing wrong with you."
"I got the 'Oh, you'll be fine. There's nothing wrong with you,' and 'Girl...' followed by a 'bitch, please' look from family and friends. So, without telling my boyfriend or my mother, I went to my doctor with tears in my ears explaining that 'I don't know myself anymore,' 'I can't control my emotions,' and 'I've been doing all I can but I don't feel like a good mom.' Now I'm working out and seeing a therapist once a month. I'm slowly realizing that I'm not just a mom and someone's girlfriend. I'm me. I feel a change in me but I know I still have a long way to go."
4. "I felt completely insane."
"I often had suicidal thoughts, though I never would follow through and never wanted to hurt my baby. My husband brought up the idea of postpartum depression and after research and consideration, I came to the realization that I needed help. I had to take Zoloft which weirded me out, and use cognitive therapy. Five years later, I am much more in tune with my emotions and feel I have learned a lot from my experience.
I now tell women — new mothers especially — to stay in touch with their feelings, ask for advice, and seek help when they are feeling overwhelmed."
5. "My husband didn't understand."
"I suffered with PPD and was too afraid to tell anyone for fear of judgement. My poor husband didn't understand it, and grew to resent me at some point. I felt so unlike myself."
6. "My close friends still don't know."
"I got pregnant when I was 18 and the tension in the environment was so thick, I cried every day. Pregnancy is supposed to be a wonderful experience, but other than eating rocky road ice cream every day for 15 weeks — my pregnancy sucked. Fast forward to the munchkin being born and I was in LOVE. But when she was 5 months old, the depression came back and I was not making rational decisions. I did what I had to in regards to physically taking care of her — but I couldn't nurture. There was a disconnect. Not even my close friends really know my struggle after I had my daughter."
—Moe Cain, Facebook
7. "It's a taboo subject."
"Being black with mental illness is very lonely. It is a taboo subject, but we need to know we are not alone. I was afraid to get help. I have never felt comfortable about sharing my story because I did not want to be labeled. I suffered in silence. No one knows how bad it got. I am a survivor."
8. "My doctor wouldn't give me medicine."
"My PPD was at an extreme state. I found it really hard to leave our bedroom. I didn't want to deal with anybody, I only wanted to bond with my little one and nobody else. Not even my husband. He didn't understand. My doctor wouldn't give me medicine and kept saying she'd see where I was at the next time I came in. I still go through bouts of depression but I'm trying to work my way through it and it seems like my husband is finally getting on the same page as I am."
9. "I was so lost."
"Everything made me cry, and I was so lost I didn't know what to do. It was like I'd fallen into an abyss. Everything was just awful. I was tired and irritated. My ob/gyn did warn me that I may feel this way and to come to him as soon as I felt depressed, but for whatever reason, I thought I could tough it out. At the urging of my husband and mother, I went to see my doctor. He gave me a prescription (Zoloft), that made me completely numb to everything. I stopped crying, but I also couldn't smile. However, in the month that I did take the meds, it sort of gave me some clarity on how to deal with my emotions."
10. "I forgot to wear underwear."
"I cried every chance I got — in bathrooms, in the car on the way to pick up my son from daycare, you name it. I forgot important things (like wearing underwear and feeding myself). It was so bad that my husband and my boss hid every sharp object within my reach. Finally, after about a month of baby blues, my boss got me a discount at a boxing gym in my town, and I beat the crap out of everything for four nights a week on the heavy bag. With exercise, medication, counseling, and a local PP support group, I kicked PP in the butt, and I've never been happier."
11. "I was raised not to complain."
"I truly believe that the generational and cultural discouragement for a black woman to express vulnerability adds to the preexisting stigma in the black community about diagnosing and treating mental health issues. Like many African-American women, I was raised to not complain and to place MY emotions and needs on the back burner. It has been hard to break that chain of wearing a mask of strength and showing vulnerability, especially while generations before you are watching and expecting you to show the same level of quiet strength they exhibited in their past."
12. "I was afraid they would take my baby."
"Culturally we are expected to bare all of our ills in silence. To complain is a show of weakness. Almost 20 years ago I hadn't heard of anyone dealing with PPD. No one in my family spoke about it, so surely, I was crazy. I loved my son instantly and cared for him but I got this overwhelming sensation that I was going to do something bad to him. I didn't share this with anyone because my fear was that they would take my baby from me and lock me up in a mental hospital. I struggled in silence and felt myself wanting to get away from my beautiful baby. With my second I didn't experience any of those waves of wanting to hurt her but I know it wasn't imagined and I forgive my younger self for not knowing."
13. "I'm not the best mom, I have moments that are great, and some that are not so great...but at least my relationship with my daughter now is amazing."
—Morgan Cain, Facebook