A Mother's Struggle: Suffering through mental illness in silence
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — The statistics are shocking.
1 in 5 new moms experience some form of maternal mental illness. It can present itself as Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Psychosis or other symptoms. Experts say 85 percent of those women will go undiagnosed or will not seek help.
The Lowcountry is home to a peer organization of Mothers, who have battled Postpartum Depression and bounced back, now giving hope to fellow Mom’s. It’s called Postpartum Support Charleston. The group hosts weekly meet-ups, peer listening sessions or one or one support in person, over the phone and online. Amber Weakley is a mother of two. She knows all too well the pain and struggles Postpartum Depression can bring. She’s dealing with it one day at a time. “I have to journal and keeping a clean house," she said. “That's one of my self-care things. If my house is clean my brain is clean." But that wasn't always the case for the James Island mother of two. Not long ago, her thoughts were cluttered; her outlook on life was muddled. "I was really depressed I couldn't get out of bed. I couldn't take care of my son. I couldn't take care of myself. And my husband and my mom were really worried about me. They would ask me what I wanted for dinner and I would explode” Weakley said. "I didn’t know what I wanted for dinner my brain couldn't handle that thought. I couldn't handle what was going on in my life." Her life. Her family. Her identity was slipping away. "9 months hit and I was just sad all the time," she admitted. “Not even looking at my son would make me happy. I would cry a lot it just felt lost; like I wasn't myself. Elaine DeaKyne knows the feeling. Her experience with Postpartum presented differently, but was equally debilitating. “I personally suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) with my first daughter and a combination of anxiety and depression,” she said. I bottle fed so I had this obsession with making sure everything was clean and sanitary even to the point where I wouldn't let people be around the sink.” DeaKyne reached out for help and is now in recovery. Her experience led her to Postpartum Support of Charleston where she now serves as its Executive Director. "We support Mom’s through peer support programs. We also do one on one support through email, phone, text. We also hold weekly support groups that just a way for moms to connect and share their stories with other moms,” DeaKyne said. DeaKyne stresses that Postpartum can present itself in several different ways and that no two diagnosis or experiences will be the same. “When people think Postpartum Depression, they think the absolutely think the worst-case scenario. Often, we hear mom’s say I don’t want to hurt my baby or hurt myself. And that’s not what is going on when you are struggling with Postpartum Depression. That’s more psychosis.” According to their records, Postpartum Support of Charleston says there are 2000 women every year in Charleston who are struggling with Maternal Mental Illness. Of those, DeaKyne says only one or two percent will reach out for help. But that help is available, and it can be life-changing. "If you can’t take care of yourself," Weakley said. “You can’t take care of anyone else.” "It’s a small intimate group, Weakley said. “We come together and share our stories and our feelings. We have moms on the other side of recovery and new moms who really help each other and try to lend some tips and a pat of the back and a hug and let them know they are going to get through it. With the help of therapy, medication and a self-care routine, Weakley like many other mothers are managing. She feels comfortable sharing her story, and now, helping others as a peer counselor at Postpartum Support Charleston; the same place that she credits for helping her overcome her depression. Her message for fellow mom’s: help is available. “When you are in the midst of your anxiety or depression or whatever you are going through, it seems impossible to get out. She said. You seem like you are never going to get better, but when you reach out for that help and you start doing the self-care and start seeing your doctor and you realize that life doesn't have to be as low as it was - and you can be happy and that you can enjoy your baby. That’s the important and absolutely you can get help and get through it.” Postpartum support also offers a private Facebook group by invitation only. Weakley says if you don’t feel comfortable going to a group setting it’s a great place to start.
11For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; 12for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
6Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy." 7But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a boy'; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you.