Postpartum Depression and Anxiety is the “sneakiest” and most stigmatized mental illness in my opinion. Sneaky, because it can sneak up on you anytime in the perinatal period, even after recovery, the traces of guilt can show up here and there. The most stigmatized, because everyone expects you to be a glowing, happy mother, and if you are not, then society tells you that “it’s your fault and there’s something wrong with you”. My own struggle has brought me to this amazing organization, PSI that I’m forever grateful for. Even though it’s been 8years, I can still remember, feel, taste the helplessness, shock, fear and guilt I experienced after my son’s birth. I felt lost, lonely and angry. I didn’t have any support, literally. My husband at work all the time, I’m taking care of the baby alone. I didn’t know anyone at the time, my family and friends back in Hungary where I grew up, and lived there until 2011. My wonderful mother had passed back in 2006, so I couldn’t even call her about questions, or just when I needed her emotional support. I was in “this” brand new country, different language, different culture, new marriage. Thinking back now, no wonder that I ended up feeling depressed and anxious. I had all the “textbook” risk factors. There was unsolicited advice from many people that I didn’t even know, I heard and felt their judgment, even other mothers that made me feel guilty and more ashamed.
Even though I took care of my son, he was part of my “to-do-list”, but I didn’t feel like playing with him, I didn’t even leave the house for weeks. I knew I loved him, but I didn’t feel it. I was sleep-deprived, feeling clueless about what to do, I had more and more arguments with my husband. I felt inadequate, worthless, and I felt like I was going crazy. I suffered in silence for over a year, it was suffocating me.
Fortunately, I was enrolled in a Nurse-Family program, a wonderful nurse would come and check on me and the baby every other week. She would diligently make me fill out the EDPS, but I lied. I wasn’t honest with myself, in fact, I didn’t even know what to look for, I didn’t know that I was sick, I just thought there was something wrong with ME. After a year, I couldn’t take the pain anymore, I reached out to the nurse who helped me get connected to PSI. PSI helpline helped me find a therapist, and that transformed my life completely for the better.
For the first time after becoming a mom, I felt heard and seen. Throughout the therapy process, I decided to become a mental health professional to help other parents and families that are suffering in silence. I signed up for volunteering with PSI helpline, I went back to school to become a therapist. Slowly by slowly, I started to find my new voice, my new identity and my purpose.
Today, I’m a Licensed Therapist and just recently passed the PSI Perinatal Mental health Certification. This full-circle moment has made me reflect on the past 8 years and was able to find the purpose in those dark, sad days, months back in 2012. I know I was one of the lucky moms, there are many other parents that go through hell in silence and ashamed of what they are feeling. I would like YOU to know that you do not have to suffer and you’re NOT alone, there’s help out there. PSI is an amazing organization that has your back, they can help YOU find the right support group, therapist. You are a good enough parent and with the right help You will be well! I’m beyond thankful to PSI, my therapist and that nurse who helped me in my darkest times, but I’m the most grateful to my handsome, funny, smart son who is the reason for my Postpartum depression and anxiety, as well as the REASON why I was able to turn my pain into my purpose, and I am who I am today.
Love, Eszter Kalman