Okay, I have to be honest but Four Focuses for Thursday was not the post that I wanted to write today. I felt somewhat ill at ease doing it, and second guessed even publishing it. But it has an important place in this story.
Yesterday I wrote about my experience with the psychiatrist and their concern regarding my blog. This conversation left me confused and I deliberated with my husband about the value of continuing (look how much easier it is to write this post!!). I had an appointment with my GP today and on the advice of my husband as well as the natural flow of the conversation, I confided in them about the blog and my writing. They considered the position of the psychiatrist and replied that they could not see any harm in the blog unless, hang on… it is public? So people other than your friends and family can see? Hrm. Perhaps not so okay then.
- Women might want to come and take my child away because they might see what I am saying as a declaration that I don’t love or deserve my baby
- I might cop some negative feedback from the public about my posts due to the continuing stigma around mental illness.
I had a similar conversation with a soulfriend of mine just prior to walking into the appointment, and they offered similar concerns. I replied that:
Part of the problem of mental illness is that we don’t talk about it so it continues to be stigmatised. But this experience is now part of my identity the same way that giving birth is a part of my identity.
My soulfriend got it instantly.
I am still left confused as to the approach of professionals around mental illness. I was given truck loads of pamphlets around perinatal mental health, including of course, postnatal depression. It did not say in any of these pamphlets to ‘hide your experience’, ‘get better in private’, ‘beware of stigma’. In fact they say the opposite, about it ‘not being your fault’, and encourages women to ‘seek help’.
Where are we going wrong? Why is perpetuating this veil over mental illness, and especially perinatal mental health, such an accepted practice in Australia? I can make this blanket statement because I attempted to get help from MANY sources including hospitals, sleep school, doctors, midwives and still managed to fall through the ‘cracks’, quite literally and into a chasm of mania.