Maternal Mental Health Research Collaborative
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21 Ridiculous Reasons Moms’ Mental Health Wasn’t Taken Seriously

Despite assurances from health care providers that maternal mental health issues are taken seriously, we know from our lived experience this isn’t always the case. There are many instances where a mom has reached out for help only to be met with blank stares. Or worse yet, ridiculous reasons why what they’re experiencing is either “normal” or “nothing to worry about”.

Being Dismissed Fuels Stigma

These false perceptions and misunderstandings from the medical profession, friends and family only further the stigma surrounding illnesses like postpartum depression, anxiety and psychosis. By failing to take moms seriously when they talk about their mood, mom’s lived experience is silenced. It clearly communicates that we don’t know or understand our minds or bodies. As advocates of patient-centered approaches to health care, we know that this couldn’t be any further from the truth.

Response from the MMHRC Community

We asked our MMHRC community on social media what are some of the most ridiculous reasons or excuses for why their mental health wasn’t taken seriously. Though the team here at MMHRC has been working with moms for years and we’ve heard a lot of stories, some of the responses still shocked us. Others were heartbreaking and still others were humorous-in-an-ironic kind of way.

After removing any personally identifying information from our respondents, here are 21 ridiculous reasons why a mom’s mental health wasn’t taken seriously.

  1. “Because I should just get on with it, I’m British.”
  2. “I got told to take some vitamin B, because clearly PND (PPD) is all about that.”
  3. “My OB told me I couldn’t be depressed…because I had a supportive husband.”
  4. “Because I was the happiest person he knew…which made the depression all the more suffocating.”
  5. “You just need to get out more, all you need is to take a vacation.”
  6. “The people with grown children who tell you how much worse it was for them and they never complained.”
  7. “You have to focus on the happy things. How can you be sad with this beautiful baby?”
  8. “I was told that I wasn’t sleeping (at all) because I wasn’t exercising enough. I had a broken leg.”
  9. “Because experienced moms close to me would tell me that the early postpartum period is “the easiest stage of a baby, and it only gets harder from here. I thought “oh shit, I better toughen up then.”
  10. “I was told by someone with grown children that I just need to get more sleep and sit out in the sun for five minutes every day.”
  11. “You’re just being lazy.”
  12. “Sure you’ve got your hands full…but I did it as a single parent.”
  13. “But you’re functioning!” Yes and also dying inside and paralyzed by anxiety and guilt.”
  14. “Because my PND (PPD) manifested through anger and anxiety… (when) I tried to get my ex-partner to understand I was told that I ‘m using it as an excuse for being a horrible person.”
  15. “But you’re always so chill!”
  16. “You’re certainly not alone in yelling at your toddler.”
  17. I told a health care professional that I was on antidepressants for PPD and his response was “ I don’t know why someone who looks like you would have that problem.”
  18. “Unless you are about to kill yourself , you’ll be fine.”
  19. “It’s not PPD. It’s just that you weren’t ready to be a mom.”
  20. “This is your third baby?! (Shocked face) PPD doesn’t usually happen with your third!”
  21.  “Women have babies all the time, you were made for this. Everyone else is doing it so you are fine”.

What reasons have you been given as to why your mental health isn’t a big deal? Drop us a note on Facebook or Twitter to continue the conversation.

Shannon Hennig is Program Director of the Maternal Mental Health Research Collaborative.

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