How one mother is changing the stigma surrounding postpartum depression and helping other women find the support they need.
October is Mental Health Awareness month. The World Health Organisation marks today, October as World Mental Health day.
According to a study by SASH (South African Stress and Health) 16.5% of South Africans suffer from some form of mental disorder and a third of South Africans will at some point in their lives suffer from a mental health issue. Mental Health in South Africa is not given the support it deserves and there are few facilities available for education and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health.
Postpartum Depression is rarely if ever discussed. It affects 1 in 5 women and one South African mother is changing the conversation. Dev Rothman has not only opened up about her struggles, but she also started an organisation to remove the stigma and provide the support and education mothers need.
Below is an excerpt from a Facebook Post where Dev Rothman shares her story of postpartum depression and the decision to start “Achoti – My sister” to create a community of support for other mothers suffering from postpartum depression
“Even with a history of anxiety and depression, nothing prepared me for what lay ahead. In retrospect I wish I had found groups to be a part of and to be able to talk to other women who had been through it to know what to expect. Most importantly I needed to get rid of the shame and utter embarrassment.
At 6 weeks post-partum my family noticed symptoms of PND and sent me for some help. Unfortunately the medication game is so complicated and by the time I was seeing the right people I had to be admitted to hospital for suicidal attempts and severe post-natal depression.
There is nothing more scary than being in that place where u can’t escape from your own mind and body.
People often mistake depression as a feeling. IT IS NOT. It is an actual chemical disorder in the brain that is caused by hormonal changes in the body. It occurs in 1 out of 5 women!
A friend came to see me in hospital and I cannot describe the way she literally pulled me out of my deep black hole. All I could think was how relieved I was to have someone who understood and wouldn’t judge me for what I had tried to do to myself.
Between my friend, incredible family and most importantly the excellent team of doctors and therapists I was able to feel strong enough to create Achoti a year after my daughter was born.
I don’t think you ever go back to what you were before. It’s not possible after your marriage has endured that journey and you yourself have been reduced to your deepest darkest emotional state.
But I also think that is what makes you who you are. I am so proud to have gone through this illness and come out on the other side. I love my child to death and my husband even more for sticking by me through thick and thin. LITERALLY.
I want other women to feel this as well. You are part of a special group of people who feel deeply and have experienced one of life’s hardest challenges and you will come out on the other side better for it!
Join me in speaking out about maternal mental health disorders and make women suffering feel strong and empowered. Because we are strong and beautiful mothers.”
The above excerpt was republished with permission from Dev Rothman.
Achoti is a support group for Jewish mothers suffering from Post-natal depression. Their aim is to provide the education, support and awareness around post-natal depression so no woman has to suffer alone.