Two weeks ago I participated in #ppdchat on Twitter. I do not always go now, but I wanted to know how I could help. The topic was minority mental health awareness week.
This discussion was enlightening and uncomfortable. I know how fortunate I am and that I had access to resources that others in my local community do not. This discussion forced me to look at how many more resources were available to me because of where I lived. I did not fear any retaliation from speaking up and disclosing my condition to my employer. I became anxious when I asked for an accommodation to work from home. I considered the fact that I might not receive the accommodation initially, but my therapist and I had a back-up plan to obtain the necessary documentation from my therapist that this accommodation was necessary for my recovery. What about the mama who cannot afford the luxury of working from home? What about the mama who only gets help when she is in extreme crisis? What about the mama who just pushes through every single day because she is the sole breadwinner and she cannot afford to lose her job? How can a working mama afford to take time off of work to get to therapy? What about the mama who cannot afford to see a therapist? What about the mama who finally finds a therapist that she likes, but they cannot accept her insurance? What about the mama who does not have insurance?
I had a lightning bulb moment when Rachana talked about the subtle nuances of cultural norms. “And in my culture we’re supposed to brave everything with a gentle smile, never complaining.” Social media like Twitter and Facebook only offer the written word which means that nonverbal cues are absent from these conversations. Significant cultural cues can be missed. Emoticons cannot replace the face to face connection. We need the voices of all Warrior Moms.
When I asked A’Driane what I could do, she responded with pointing women towards support groups, both online and face to face. Sometimes all a struggling mama needs to hear and know is that she is not alone. She needs a hand to hold on to and to guide her to the available local resources. The Warrior Mom community is well-connected in terms of resources. Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders do not discriminate. It can happen to any mom; therefore, all moms need to be aware of the signs and symptoms. All partners, significant others, family and friends of a new mom need to educate themselves. This is a community health issue.
It all comes down to this. Everyone’s voice matters. Everyone’s story is unique. Everyone needs a chance to share their story. Every time we share our stories, we never know who may need our voice or who we are giving permission to speak. So to all my fellow Warrior Mamas, we need the details of your story. It is those details that matter, and the details make other mamas feel less alone.