Leading up to and after the birth of my first daughter, my midwives were diligent about my mental health. As someone who had previously lived with depression, it was on everyone’s radar as my husband and I looked forward to becoming parents for the first time.
At every home or office visit, I filled out questionnaires and answered a lot of very personal questions. All my answers were within perfectly “normal” range. And yet it was three long months before anyone even caught a glimpse into what I had been living with.
At the very end of a baby check-up my family doctor was surprised when I finally spilled the beans about how I thought I was going crazy.
I told her about the terrible thoughts that were permeating my mind: How I was compelled to hide behind a garage while waiting for a city bus to go to my appointment, terrified that a vehicle would lose control and come careening toward me and my baby. It was the same when we travelled the highway as we were planning to move from Vancouver to Squamish. As if on a loop, the morbid possibilities would play out one after another, worse than any Tarantino movie you could conjure.
It turned out I had postpartum anxiety, and despite all the talk and steps taken to prevent depression, I had no idea this disorder even existed.
There is still shockingly little information available about the breadth of postpartum mood disorders in general, nor is there much support for women experiencing them.
In Squamish, we are fortunate to have at least one grassroots support group, called Après Baby, led by local mom Kimberly Daniels. Now, Brackendale-based photographer Bri Oliver along with writer Jenny Shafer are birthing a book project called The Naked Truth.
While still in the gestational phase, Oliver tells me the premise behind The Naked Truth is to share a diverse array of individual postpartum mood disorder stories and glamour boudoir-style photography of the brave women who met it head on.
“I’ve always said I wanted to give back and in January, when I heard that a PPD support group in Burnaby shut its doors due to lack of funding, I knew it was time to do this.
“Everyone in the book will be helped by telling her story — it’s therapeutic to share. The biggest thing that helped me was talking about it,” said Oliver, who experienced postpartum depression after the birth of her second and fourth sons. “The photography will give the book another dimension. I hope it will be empowering for these women. I want this book to have enough depth and difference to make it something everyone can read.”
The Naked Truth will also feature questions to ask and signs to look for in new mothers, as well as medical stats, quizzes, and some fun elements too.
Oliver said she and Schafer will donate an unspecified amount of proceeds from the book to the cause so that more women can access support.
Women are invited to submit their experiences for consideration by visiting http://herscoop.com/posts/postpartum-depression-stories/.
Kirsten Andrews offers Simplicity Parenting courses, workshops and private consultations in the Corridor and Lower Mainland. Visit Sea To Sky Simplicity Parenting on Facebook or www.SeaToSkySimplicityParenting.com.