NOTE: This is a suicide awareness post. If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the suicide crisis lines in your country here: List of suicide crisis lines.
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and today (Sept 10) is International Suicide Prevention Awareness Day. And I wanted to take this time to talk about a group we often forget to include when we discuss the problem of suicide and about mental health — MOTHERS.
Mostly because Postpartum Depression, Postpartum Psychosis and the subsequent Suicidal Tendencies are topics that people want to stay as far away as possible. Instead, we prefer to think that motherhood (especially for new mothers) is a bed of roses and that mothers can’t possibly be sad, let alone — suicidal — because they have a beautiful child and so much to be happy about! Isn’t it? And we prefer not to break that warm bubble of ours.
Aah! the joys and beauty of motherhood!! But what about the struggles and the ugly reality that a lot of women experience? We should talk about that too.
As a society, we like to think that we celebrate motherhood and mothers. We like to think of them as Goddesses that have to be perfect, but the Goddesses that we are unkind to. There are so many things that are problematic with us, as a society, and how we treat mothers. Especially mothers struggling with mental and physical health post-childbirth. We simply let women go through it all alone and we constantly judge them if they stumble. We do not run to pick them up, instead, we run to mock them!
We aren’t appreciative enough of the mental, emotional and physical struggles that mothers go through while raising the child(ren). It is even worse if the woman suffers from mental health issues like depression, postpartum depression/psychosis, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, etc. We more often than not — as a family and society — assume that they will automatically know it all, and are automatically wired to bond with the child and experience maternal feelings. That she can and should balance her individual life, motherhood and work all by herself.
We put the new mother on the road to failure by putting them on a pedestal and assume she will automatically have everything under control. And in case she doesn’t, then she is a bad mother!
In reality, we force her to struggle to attain an unrealistic image of a woman in society, and an unrealistic image of a mother that she should have all things in control. And when she struggles to do so…we fail to support her, we proceed to shame her. We discard our duty as a family and as a society to help her.
A lot of time we force women to bear a child – against her will • despite her being mentally, emotionally and physically not ready — to take on that responsibility. We force her to become a mother and shame her for not wanting to become one. We coerce her to do something so drastic that will forever change not only her life but also her mental and physical state for the worse in case she isn’t ready for it. And we validate our bullying sexist behavior by calling it ‘looking out for the family.’ However, who is looking out for the woman who is forced to become mama even when they aren’t prepared? Who is even looking out for the woman who happily becomes a mama and then discovers how unprepared she is?
We are mere mortal human beings and while we continue to mistreat our women or leave them to struggle on their own, especially as mothers — we also assume them to be perfect Goddesses. But a Goddess that everyone abandons, and disrespects; yet is to continue performing her duties.
What we need is to take a pause, take off our rose-colored glasses and understand the reality and struggles of mothers, and help them as a society… instead of leaving them to struggle on their own between suicidal thoughts and handling a baby. Because let’s be real, raising a child isn’t easy, nor it is possible to have everything under control when it comes to motherhood. The mental, emotional and physical toll it takes on the woman is a harsh reality we need to understand sooner — we owe it to our women and mothers. And it is time to discard the shame out of mental illnesses and encourage people to seek help.
Because, people who struggle with mental health issues eventually breakdown when things get too much, and when a child is involved – the stakes are higher, the situation is much more precarious and is even a more dangerous situation — for both the mother and her child.
The truth is that women who already suffer from one or multiple mental health conditions (including suicidal tendencies) they all run an almost certain risk of struggling and suffering mentally post-childbirth and while raising the child. And the sooner we understand this and accept this truth, instead of forcing an unreal image of a mother who has it all under control, the better it is for us as a society to help our mamas heal. It will even destigmatize seeking help by mothers when they need it.
And she concluded it perfectly by writing — “I see you, mama, fighting against all odds because your children need you. I see you struggle and I see you persevere because there is nothing more powerful than your will to protect your kids. They don’t know it yet, but their mom is a warrior, a queen, a saint, a testament to the unyielding power of love. Yes, people may judge you because you haven’t changed your clothes in three days or they hear you crying to yourself in the bathroom stall or they disagree with the way you parent your kids, but I’m here to tell you, none of that matters. It doesn’t matter because you showed up and you loved your kids and that’s enough. Let that be enough“.
Whenever you feel that you aren’t enough, remember that we aren’t supposed to be perfect, we aren’t supposed to have our shit figured out all the time. We are only human after all.
And so I am grateful to my mother and every other woman who suffers from mental health issues and struggles daily, yet continues to exist and survive for the sake of their children. I am sorry that this society continues to fail you, but don’t be ashamed to seek help and therapy. Don’t be ashamed of feeling what you are feeling. And it is okay to struggle… some days more than the other. But hang in there!