My career in corporate marketing was sailing along. I had fully recovered from postpartum depression (PPD) after the birth of my first child and had a great little family.
Things were going swimmingly, yet something kept eating at me.
When I was at the worst point struggling with PPD, there was so little help. There weren’t thousands of women standing up saying, “Me too! My first year of motherhood has been nothing like I dreamed it would be.” Even though the first year is a miserable disaster for many of us, during that time I felt more alone than I had at any other point in my life.
Why hadn’t I known more? Why didn’t anyone tell me? Why weren’t there signs and support groups on every corner making sure new mothers had all the support they needed? Why did I have to spend so many months convinced my life was over and I was ruined forever when that wasn’t true? Should I do something about it?
That last question was counteracted by another voice telling me I already had enough on my plate as a mom, wife and full-time employee. It was easy to convince myself that I didn’t need to be tackling a problem like PPD. No one had asked me, or given me permission. I didn’t have any sort of medical degree. Besides, it’s not exactly smart to go around talking about one’s mental health, or lack thereof, publicly, right? I was fairly worried that speaking out would affect my career trajectory.
No matter the arguments I had with myself, I couldn’t stop the feeling that at some point I was going to have to do something. Then the opportunity came in an unexpected package: I was laid off. At first the transition was awful. I had been working at a Fortune 500 company I loved for many years, and to be without my colleagues and my job on a daily basis was frightening. Slowly I emerged from that initial fear and headed toward a new light, which was advocacy for moms with postpartum depression.
With $25 and a whole lot of passion, I started Postpartum Progress, now the most widely-read blog in the world on postpartum depression. I hesitated so many times before I finally leaned in fully to focus on an issue that meant so much to me personally, and one that I knew needed more hands on deck. It has been nine years now, and I wouldn’t change a thing. To know that I have helped support hundreds of thousands of women as they struggle through postpartum depression is such a gift.
I recently started a nonprofit to take that work even further, and I must admit I go through daily periods of thinking it was a great idea followed by abject panic. Looks like I’ll be doing a lot more leaning in.