Veronica’s Note: Today’s guest post comes to us via Crystal Clancy, MA LMFT.
I read an article today about Microsoft’s new study to work on identifying, via social media, if new parents may be suffering from Postpartum Depression (PPD). My initial response was one of excitement. It is truly awesome, and a huge step in the right direction, that a huge conglomerate like Microsoft is stepping up and saying that more needs to be done to recognize PPD, and that we shouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about it.
The skeptic in me (I call her “Evil Crystal”) creeps out of the woodwork, or into my brain at 11 pm as I am trying to fall asleep, and I start thinking about this research, and what the results will look like. I think back to my own experience with PPD, and did not have Facebook as an outlet. However, I can hypothesize what my posts may have looked like…
“Motherhood is amazing! Having two kids is a breeze and I feel like our family is complete!”
“I <3 being a mom! Every day is a blessing!!!”
“Enjoying every minute!!!”
In reality, here is what I really would have liked to post (but never would have):
“Projectile vomiting… another change of clothes… LOL!”
“Would it be OK for me to duct tape the pacifier to my daughter’s face so that she may stop screaming for several hours starting at 4 am (for the fourth morning in a row)?”
“Today, it took every ounce of strength to not carry out my plan to put my daughter down for a nap, pack my son up in the van, and take off to a hotel for the next six months”.
PPD is so fraught with shame and embarrassment, and a job hazard of specializing in working with new parents that are struggling is that many of them have shared that they would NEVER tell people that they are having a hard time, or feeling like they may hurt themselves, or having intrusive thoughts. In fact, most of my clients actually talk about how they avoid Facebook like the plague because they see so many “My life is so perfect” themed comments. I have (unfortunately?) become a bit wary and watchful about the comments that are just a little too cheerful. So as much as I am thrilled that more research is being done, I have to admit my skepticism that they will really get solid evidence that people put comments about how hard of a time they are having (beyond, “Yawn, I am tired”) for all the world to see. I hope I am wrong.
Crystal began her journey in perinatal/ reproductive mental health 12 years ago, when she found that adding to her family was not going to be as easy as planned. Infertility before her first child was followed by postpartum depression after her second child was born, and this experience has contributed to a passion for helping those who struggle with anything from infertility, to loss, to perinatal mood disorders. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who offers counseling with individuals and couples at Nystrom and Associates in Apple Valley. She is currently the Director of the PPSM HelpLine, and has volunteered her time speaking at conferences, pregnancy centers, and OB/GYN Clinics. An essay about her postpartum experience was recently published in the book “Not Alone,” edited by Alise Wright.
In her spare time, Crystal enjoys spending time spending time with her husband, John, and two children, Riley (9) and Kira (6). She is and avid reader, and blogs when she can find the time. More information about the services that Crystal provides can be found on her website.