This blog post features “Pam’s Perusings” by Pamela Smith, Kenosha LIHF Program Coordinator, Kenosha County Division of Health.
I hope you recognized the play on words in this blog title from the hit movie/book, “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race”. It seems there are common threads in the art of things hidden and the tapestry of truths that are unveiled with revelations.
The author of “Hidden Figures”, Margot Lee Shetterly, has said that the astronauts and engineers told their stories – and now it was the women’s turn! “Hidden Figures” tells the extraordinary true story of black female mathematicians at NASA who by their calculations helped launch some of America’s greatest space achievements. Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson were part of NASA’s team of human “computers”, a group made up of mostly women who calculated by hand the complex equations that allowed heroes like Neil Armstrong, Alan Shepard, and John Glenn to travel safely to space.
In this blog “Hidden Feelings: the Untold Story of Black Women Who Experience Depression”, I want to share another remarkable black woman’s story – a real account of her hidden journey with postpartum depression. The article “Being Black With Postpartum Depression: Too Blessed to be Stressed“ by A’Driane Nieves (addyeB and the Tessera Collective) reveals truth through a cultural lens of African American experience not often vocalized.
July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and for too many families, mental illness is a hidden disease. Many efforts have been made to bring it to light. There are national campaigns to recognize the signs of emotional suffering and eliminate stigma that hinders people from getting help. Psychiatrist, psychologists, behavioral health therapists, suicide prevention professionals, and social workers are at the forefront of efforts to help individuals achieve emotional healing and wellness. The National Institute of Mental Health, Mental Health America, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration are but three of numerous organizations seeking to speak up about mental health, mental illness, and wellness in our country.
But still, we have much more work to do.
Bringing it closer to home and the work we do through LIHF, Wisconsin PRAMS tell us that 11% of all moms in Wisconsin experience postpartum depression symptoms. And among African American moms in the LIHF communities, 23% experience signs of postpartum depression. We know that symptoms can appear at any time in the first year after delivery, and left untreated, it can be disabling for the mother, limit her ability to care for her new infant, and affect her child and family members. It is not just the baby blues.
The purpose of Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is to educate the public, and bring attention to the realities of life for individuals diagnosed with mental illness and strategies for restoring health and wellness. This month – and every month, for that matter – let’s bring forward stories of strong women like A’Driane and work to keep mental health from being a hidden issue.
Being Black With Postpartum Depression: Too Blessed To Be Stressed?
No one told me.
Not my doctor.
Not my mother.
Not the other women at my church.
Not my friends.
Not any family members.
Not a single person told me postpartum depression about as I came to experience it. Sure, I received pamphlets from my OBGYN about it, but they only mentioned feeling sad, depressed, and having the “baby blues.”
They didn’t mention the uncontrollable rage that would explode in my chest when I least expected it.
The pamphlet said absolutely nothing about the sweat-inducing anxiety that made me jumpy and left me wanting to crawl out of my skin. I was unaware anxiety would hit me like a wrecking ball, immobilizing me……