I have a light up sign in my office that says "normal is boring". I've never wanted to be normal or boring. What I have wanted to be was a happy wife and mother who could post "beautiful" pictures of my family on social media. By doing this I would be proclaiming to the internet world----"Look at my life! Isn't it great! See what I have accomplished! All of you who never believed that I was special look what I have and how special I am now!"
As much as I would have liked to show my perfect life I couldn't. The reason is because I don't have a perfect life and neither does anyone else. It is impossible in the imperfect world to have a perfect life. But we can be perfectly imperfect!
Let me back up a bit and explain.
My son was born in May of 2008. That was also the time that I signed up for Facebook and posted my first picture with the few Facebook friends I had at the time. I believe my first few posts I shared were of my cute pug named Randolph, an old picture of my husband and I dressed up fancy and looking young, and a picture of my new baby boy. What I did not post was that at that time I was suffering from severe postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and postpartum OCD. I was going through an unbelievably hard time and I was truly living a nightmare. Somehow I was still sharing beautiful, happy pictures of my new, little family.
Let's really think about this...I hadn't spoken to or seen my "Facebook friends" in years. These were the first pictures of me that they had seen for at least 20 years! Why would I want them to see me as a struggling, depressed person?!
It made me think. Does anyone have a perfect life? I see so many people on social media that only post how happy they are or all the fabulous vacations they are able to take. Their children are always beautifully dressed with smiles on their faces. I often wondered if they ever had a bad day. One day I was so confused because a friend told me she wanted to get a divorce from her husband. The next day she posted a picture with him telling the "Facebook world" how much she loved him. Did I miss something? What is the obsession with portraying a perfect life? Why are we hiding behind pretty, perfect pictures?
After suffering from postpartum depression for many years, I joined Jamielyn Lippman and Tanya Newbould and together we made When The Bough Breaks-a documentary about postpartum depression. The film is narrated and executive produced by Brooke Shields. It also shares my story with postpartum depression and my journey to recovery.
When we were making the film I did not think about it coming out and everyone seeing the "real" me. At the time I simply chose to open up and share my story in hopes that I could help one person out there know that they are not alone. There is hope. There is a gate they can walk through from the darkness to the light. However, the film became so much more than that. I opened up and not only shared my story but the film showed my most vulnerable and painful moments. We interviewed my husband who cried and shared how hard my illness had been for him. We shared stories from moms who experienced some form of postpartum depression and other mothers and family members who suffered from postpartum psychosis. These brave moms, dads, husbands and children tell stories of the beauty in fighting through the tragedies and seeking peace. They embraced their imperfections and showed truth and honesty.
There is such stigma surrounding postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. We do not want to be seen as "crazy" or as an unfit mother. We are neither of those. Rather we are mothers, fathers and families trying to work our way out of the dark. If we focus on a perfect world in pictures and worry about what others think of us we stay lost.
When The Bough Breaks will educate, help break the stigma attached to mental illness and help moms like myself not feel so alone.
I never wanted to be normal or boring. We each have a unique story to tell. Each story is never boring. I hope we all share our truth. And truth is beauty.