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Opinion: We need more support for Utah moms’ postpartum mental health

Jun 25, 2021, 7:19 PM
postpartum mental health depression survey Utah Department of Health YWCA...
Mrs. West Jordan seeks to help those experiencing postpartum depression. Photo: Canva

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom. 

Every year, women from around Utah gather to support moms who have experienced problems with their mental health, or postpartum mood disorders, like depression and anxiety. These so-called “warrior moms” have usually healed from their mood disorder, but now want to shout from the mountain tops about the issues that robbed them of motherhood’s joy. Others may be currently suffering, and are there seeking support.

This year’s event is at Sugarhouse Park at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 26 and is being put on by Utah’s chapter of Postpartum Support International.

As a mother of two and the host of KSL’s Mom Show, I know first hand what this feels like.

We need more support for postpartum mental health

I had postpartum anxiety and OCD after the birth of my first daughter. That was my introduction into motherhood. Two years ago, I made this post on Instagram which sums up what it felt like.

Three months after Lucy was born I started having scary, intrusive thoughts about harm coming to my baby sometimes at my own hand. These thoughts terrified me and caused so much anxiety and panic. I didn’t want to be around her for fear I might act on the scary thoughts. “If I was capable of thinking them, wasn’t I capable of acting on them?” I falsely thought. NOPE. What I learned in therapy, and what mental health professionals will confirm, is that it’s not the content of the thought that’s important but how much distress it causes that needs paying attention to. I found so much relief after learning that. And so I climbed out of the darkness thanks in large part to medication, therapy, and lots of support. —- Tomorrow we climb to support moms who’ve had or have postpartum mood disorders.✊✊

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by The Mom Show (@kslmomshow)

Organizers plan the Climb Out of the Darkness event on a day close to the summer solstice, or the longest day of the year, to metaphorically shine as much light as possible on the darkness of postpartum mental health.

“…we know how important it is to feel connected, supported, informed, and ready to help the next person who needs us,” said PSI Executive Director Wendy Davis. “We climb because it saves lives. We climb because of YOU.” 

It’s events like these that give hope to moms like me.

Moms like me need to see other moms like me

I’m talking to those moms. Moms like me who didn’t know what they were experiencing when they started having intrusive thoughts. Who thought they were the only one on the planet who weren’t loving motherhood. Moms like me who thought they were broken for not loving the realities of caring for kids, despite fiercely loving their children. Who felt like motherhood didn’t come naturally to them, like they expected. Moms like me who didn’t think they were capable of caring for their little human(s). Who wish(ed) it was easier for them.

Moms like me need to see other moms who feel like me.

We need to see the realities of what mothers go through — whether clinically diagnosed with a postpartum mood disorder, or just feeling overwhelmed and inadequate. Moms need to see what other women find hard, so we can know we’re not alone. We need to know that society at large supports us, because often it feels like we’re left to the wolves to care for these humans.

Read more: Postpartum depression or anxiety impacts 43% of Utah moms study says

We receive messaging left and right about how much joy we should feel when becoming a mother. And don’t get me wrong, there are joyful moments. But when you don’t feel like you’re “supposed” to feel, you just feel broken. 

Full disclosure, I am hosting this year’s Climb Out of the Darkness event. But I’ll be there soaking in the glow of women who I know support Utah moms, women, and families. 

Lindsay Aerts is a reporter and anchor for KSL NewsRadio and the host of the KSL Mom Show. 

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Opinion: We need more support for Utah moms’ postpartum mental health