We always expect that bringing home a bundle of joy is going to be, well, a bundle of joy.
But for some moms, the hormonal changes, stress of a newborn, and severe lack of sleep can turn in to something serious: postpartum depression.
Many moms hide that reality out of shame or embarrassment. But Kathy DiVincenzo, a mom of two from Cleveland who suffers from postpartum depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), teamed up with a photographer friend to shoot two distinct photos illustrating the difference between what many moms project to the outside world and what they feel on the inside.
One photo shows the reality of postpartum depression (a mom slumped on the floor, sporting a nursing bra with her hair thrown up in a messy pony), while the other depidcts a perfectly-styled picture (a mom sporting a cute outfit, styled hair, a big smile plastered on her face).
“The truth is, both of these pictures represent my life depending on the day,” Kathy writes in her post. “The only thing more exhausting than having these conditions is pretending daily that I don’t. I work twice as hard to hide this reality from you because I’m afraid to make you uncomfortable. I’m afraid you’ll think I’m weak, crazy, a terrible mother, or the other million things my mind convinces me of and I know I’m not alone in those thoughts,” she adds.
Postpartum depression affects one in seven women, according to the American Psychological Association. Moms may feel sad or hopeless, withdraw from family or friends, and have trouble bonding with their baby. In honor of Postpartum Depression Awareness month in May, Kathy posted these pics to show moms what the condition “can really look like, not just the side of me that’s 'Facebook worthy,'” her post reads.
So far, her post has gotten nearly 72,000 shares and 13,000 comments. Many moms shared their own experiences with postpartum depression. " I knew I had it but didn't tell anyone. I felt alone and thought if it got out my husband and everyone would think I was a unfit mother," wrote one woman. Another woman said of her experience: "It was the scariest time of my life."
Kathy ends with a plea to break the stigma by calling on fellow moms who’ve suffered through postpartum depression to share their stories on #EndTheSilence. “Let’s show others that they don’t have to suffer in silence,” she writes. Amen to that.