I started reading Robin's blog in 2012 when we both participated in the Mother's Day Rally on Postpartum Progress, the most widely read blog on postpartum mood disorders. In her own words, Robin is "a woman, a writer, a wife, a runner, a communications professional, a speaker and a mom. At least that’s the chronological order of my current roles in life. Having undiagnosed postpartum depression after my first son was born in 2008 mixed me up philosophically in quite a spectacular way."
Robin is certainly spectacular to us. She has established herself as a leader in the movement to erase the stigma surrounding mental illness, as evidenced by her TEDx talk which she gave in 2011. We are honored to feature this post from Robin on This Is My Brave. You can read more of her incredible work at Farewell Stranger, and be sure to follow her on Twitter.
A Folder Full of Thank Yous
I got an email the other day. I noticed it when I was checking email on my phone from work; it was long, but worth the read.
“I am pretty new to following your blog, but I love it!” it started. “I found you one day when I was Googling PPD and rage, and poof - there you were! I'm pretty sure I read your entries on the topic with my mouth on the floor and tears in my eyes.”
This is not the first email I’ve had that starts this way. With every one I get, I pause, and really read it.
I keep these emails in a folder on my computer because there are some days I need to go back and read them. Some days, I just need to remember that what I’m doing matters.
“I wanted share a bit of my story with you and say thank you for sharing yours. It means so much to know that others have the same experiences. I find it cathartic to read someone’s story that so captures in words what I couldn’t say.”
I started blogging about my experience with postpartum depression at the beginning of 2011. At the time I thought I was some kind of pioneer, writing about something no one else was. As it turns out, I wasn’t. Not in general, anyway. There are many others who write about PPD, but some of the specifics of my experience that I’ve shared on my blog have made a difference for other mothers.
“I just wanted to write you and tell you how wonderful your post [on Huffington Post] was today. I thought it was so inspiring to see someone being so honest about something that is so hard to talk about. I experienced very much the same thing and it was so difficult to really nail down what was going on. You really were able to illustrate your experience with so much honesty and grace. Thank you for writing it.”
There is one part of my story I thought I would never write about. I could never imagine sharing it with anyone, ever. I hadn’t even shared all of it with my husband. But as my email folder started filling up with emails from women who took the time to write and tell me that my sharing has helped them, my determination never to tell that story started to weaken. Then one day, about seven months after I started blogging, I decided to break that silence.
I wrote about my experience with postpartum rage. I ended up having to write the story in two parts. I cried the whole time.
It was really hard to hit publish on that post, and I expected very critical comments. But I didn’t get one. Not a single one. Even now, over two years later, I have yet to hear from anyone–either on the post or elsewhere–that I’m a bad person or that I shouldn’t have shared it. Quite the opposite, in fact.
“I discovered your blog last night. Thank you so very much for your honest words… I have read tons about PPD...you are the ONLY one that I have found to speak of the RAGE. I experienced it as well… Thank you for talking about RAGE. I really cannot thank you enough!!”
Some form of “postpartum rage” is still one of the top search terms that bring people to my blog, and those posts were a turning point for me. After that, sharing my story was a little less scary. It made me realize that speaking out was so much more powerful than the fear of staying silent.
And because I have spoken out, others started to.
“About a year and a half ago I posted a lone comment on your blog and you commented back in such a friendly, loving, understanding way that I cried… Finally, I published my own experience on my blog. Thank you so much for your support, even though you didn't even know you were providing it!!”
There is power in sharing. There is power in being brave. And I have a folder full of thank yous to prove it.