“This is a picture I most likely will not keep up for very long,” wrote American mum Tori Block, in the caption of her brutally honest postnatal depression photo that’s gone viral just about everywhere.
“This is me, at the peak of my postpartum depression [in the US, postnatal depression is called postpartum depression or PPD]. I asked [my partner] Shiloh to take a picture of me, so I could remember how far I’d come, if I ever came out of it.
“I was lower than low, I wasn’t even myself. Looking back at this photo, I remember perfectly the pain I felt, the dread in waking up everyday, the physical pain that engulfed me from thoughts in my brain.
“I had never known consuming, mind-altering emotion such as this that flooded every fibre of my being, making its way through my veins like a plague.
“This is what postpartum depression looks like, or at least what it did for me.
“I didn’t want to leave this life, but it seemed like the only way that would rid me of the pain I was in. I didn’t ask for it, it wasn’t welcome.”
“But there it was, and I kicked its f***ing ass and beat it to the ground before I let it consume me, or much worse, take my life. #thisisppd”
It’s no wonder this moving account has resonated with so many mums, is it?
After all, so many of us experience the symptoms of PND following the births of our babies. Maybe only a few of us ever feel as suicidally low as Tori but lots of us can identify with some of the feelings she’s describing.
Sometimes, we don’t even know that’s what we’re going through until we’ve come out the other side, and we look back in hindsight, or at pictures like these, and realise the magnitude of what we’ve experienced.
That was certainly the case for Tori. She’s touched so many people with her honest and self-aware story – but she also admits that she didn’t even recognise she had PND until her sister asked her about it.
“I didn’t know I had PPD until my sister asked me if I was experiencing it. I was that much in denial,” she says in another Instagram post.
“As someone who is very much in tune with her emotions, I chose to resist facing it that much! It’s scary, nobody wants to admit they have PPD.
“Once I realised I was very much depressed and in a dark place, I started having suicidal thoughts. I became hyperaware of how sad, angry, alone, and unhappy I was feeling.
“I thought nobody could feel what I was feeling. Everyone I knew who had kids seemed to be going through motherhood with ease.
“I had this newfound, unreal, unexplainable love for this little baby, yet I was simultaneously severely depressed. I didn’t understand it.
“I alienated myself from my family, husband, and friends. I wanted THEM to reach out to me, and was SO upset when they didn’t in the way I wanted them to. Who thinks like that? I thought surely I must have gone mad.”
Tori’s PND dragged to her to her lowest ebb, and she really seriously considered taking her own life. Thankfully, she decided instead to reach out to her nearest and dearest for help.
Something we want to reiterate is SO important – whether you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom, or even you’re just starting to notice you don’t feel quite yourself. You have to tell someone ?
“When I started googling different ways to kill myself, I decided it was time to reach out for help.
“I straight up told my family that I wanted to die, I wanted to end my life. I was in so much pain, nothing seemed to help it. I just wanted it to stop.
“I didn’t want to take medication, because I was exclusively breastfeeding and, in my mind, that meant I was weak. Oh how wrong I was!
“My family arranged therapy sessions and psychiatrist appointments for me. Both of which saved my life.
“Body [her child] and PPD weren’t planned, but reaching out for help when I needed it is how I got through, how I continue to get through motherhood. Both were the biggest blessings of my life, and I’m stronger for it.”
We’re so glad Tori has come to a place of acceptance in her PND journey, and that this story has a happy ‘to be continued…’ ending.
But if you ever see yourself in Tori’s crying new mum photo, or feel the way she felt, please always, always reach out and talk to someone. Anyone.
Images: Instagram/The Manifesting Mama