If I asked you to name the top complications women develop during the perinatal period (pregnancy through one year postpartum) what would your answers be?
Gestational Diabetes? Hypertensive disorders? Anemia?
Was perinatal depression on that list?
What if I asked you to name the top causes of perinatal deaths, how would you respond?
Hemmorage? Hypertensive disorders? Infection?
Did suicide cross your mind?
An estimated 1 in 8 moms will develop a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD), making mental illness the most common complication due to pregnancy and childbirth. When mental illness becomes an issue, so does suicide.
According to Science Daily, 20% of postpartum moms die by suicide making it the second most common cause of maternal deaths in postpartum women. Second. But moms are also dying during pregnancy. So, accounting for the fact that the US doesn’t yet have complete data on pregnant moms, I will bet the percentage is a little higher than that.
Moms are not surviving things like pregnancy and/or postpartum depression and anxiety. They aren’t surviving the most common complication due to childbirth. They aren’t surviving illnesses that are treatable.
But at the end of the day, statistics don’t matter when it’s YOUR mom, spouse, sister, friend who dies. One is one too many.
During my three years as a Climb Out of the Darkness organizer, I’ve had the honor of getting to know other moms from around the world who have struggled with perinatal mental and anxiety disorders. Unfortunately, during this time, I’ve also read about moms within our community not surviving their battle.
Climbs have been dedicated in their honor. Other community events are being organized in their names. Postpartum Support International has two quilts honoring the memory of women who died because of a postpartum mood disorder.
The road to recovery can be hard, long, and very lonely. But you aren’t alone. I want families to know that many others have similar stories. I want them to know that treatment isn’t a one-size-fits-all and that for many of us it’s taken a combination of things for us to get well.
In sharing our hard, we help others. That’s been a huge reason why I started blogging publicly after my miscarriage. It’s why I use this platform to share my stories, whether it’s to educate those who don’t quite understand or help those who do in some small way.
As I mentioned last week, I am stepping down as my city’s Climb leader next year, but I don’t plan to stop raising awareness. I’ve shared parts of my PMAD story throughout the years, but mine isn’t the only one worth sharing. That’s why I’ve decided to try something new. I want to interview survivors of PMADs and share their experiences here to help raise awareness, reduce stigma, and possibly give parents the courage to push past the stigma and seek treatment. So they can survive.
I’m calling it Surviving the Darkness.
The first post goes live on Sunday, but ultimately I’d like to feature one of these interviews here on my blog each week. If you’re a PMAD survivor, I would love your help.
If you’d like to share your story and help others in the process, please fill out the form below and I’ll email you some more information and 10-12 questions about your diagnosis, treatment plan, struggles and favorite resources. And this isn’t just open to women. The fact is, men are also at risk and that’s a demographic that desperately needs attention as well. Every parent is welcome to share their story.
My first Surviving the Darkness post will be up on Sunday, so I hope you’ll come back and visit!