In the open letter below, an anonymous mother explains that sometimes postnatal depression results from others forgetting that new moms have an identity independent of their babies and that their wellbeing matters too.
I'm a new mom.
I love my baby girl more than anything. She is so beautiful and so perfect.
I always wondered why postpartum depression is a thing.
Why would a woman want a baby so badly but then after having this bundle of joy, suddenly dwindle into the dark pit of depression?
I have come to realise that it's not the sleepless nights spent with a newborn that causes depression. We've all had those, even without a baby.
It's not the hormones as those have been raging through our bodies for the nine months before birth.
It's not the change to our bodies. Even though it may not be pretty we have grown accustomed to it. We prepared ourselves to never look the same again. We expected the stretch marks. We knew this was the reality.
No ladies, it's not even the overwhelming feeling of being responsible for a new life who depends on us for their every need to be fulfilled.
Let me tell you what we never see coming and no YouTube video or birthing class ever prepares you for:
The fact that everyone around you forgets your identity after you become a mother.
Your husband forgets that you're a wife. Parents forget that you're a daughter. Siblings forget that you're a sister. And society forgets that you're a woman.
It's as though our entire existence apart from our baby is forgotten.
Why is it so easy for everyone to forget who we are when we have a baby and treat us differently to the point where we forget almost our entire identity?
I wish every one would read this and know, or rather I wish I had the courage to tell this to the people in my life.
To my husband: please remember I am your wife first and a mother second. I need your support. I need your encouragement. I need your love. Don't reduce me to "mommy". Call me "honey", call me "babe", call me. Love me still. Make time for me. Hold me. Don't let me feel lonely.
Don't let me feel alone.
To my parents: I know you are excited and you love your grandchild so much, but love me too. Don't forget to ask how I am doing and coping when we get together. Be happy to see me as well and not just your grandchildren. I am your daughter first and then a mother. Don't forget me.
To my siblings: I still need you even if you may not need me much. I need you to speak to me like we always used to. Please don't make it all about the baby. Make me laugh. Joke with me. Fool around with me. I still need you. Don't forget me.
Society: Please don't forget me just because I have taken on the new challenge of motherhood. I am still me, just in a new phase of my life. Entering a new level in life does not mean I become a new person.
I am capable.
I am beautiful.
I am strong.
I am fearless.
I am brave.
I am a woman before I am a mother.
Please don't forget me.
Do you have a story about postnatal depression you'd like to share with us?
Share your stories and questions with us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymous contributions are welcome.
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