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Katherine Stone

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Katherine Stone is an award-winning, nationally recognized peer advocate for women with postpartum depression and the founder of the blog, Postpartum Progress. She was named among the top ten most influential mom bloggers by Babble in 2011 and 2012. She also was named a WebMD Health Hero in 2008 and won the 2010 Bloganthropy Award, given for using social media to make a difference. At Babble, Katherine writes the column Something Fierce, and also covers maternal health for Babble Cares. Her readers love her for her authenticity, trustworthiness, ferocity, and vulnerability when it comes to covering issues important to moms.

Katherine has appeared on ABCNews.com, HLN TV, CNN, FOX, Health.com, More, Newsweek, Fit Pregnancy, US News & World Report, The Huffington Post, WebMD, Sirius Doctor Radio and more. Follow her on Twitter at @postpartumprogr.

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When Pleas For Help Go Unanswered: World Mental Health Day

By Katherine Stone |

It was 2:30 in the morning and I was hysterical. My son was a couple of months old and my postpartum depression had hit its stride, though at that moment I didn’t know I had PPD. I only knew my world was upside down and inside out. I wasn’t sleeping or eating, and my mind was continually assaulted by disturbing thoughts that I neither wanted nor understood.

I knew something was deeply wrong, but I didn’t know what it was and I was terrified. That morning in 2001, at 2:30am on my knees on the kitchen floor, I called my husband, who was in Las Vegas at a trade show, and I woke him up. I said I needed help, though I couldn’t explain exactly why. I begged him to come home right away, as soon as he could get on a plane, any plane, headed to Atlanta. I pleaded. I sobbed. He told me he couldn’t. I was devastated.

Two days later when my husband finally arrived home from his trip, I learned that he had sent his business colleague home early from the trade show and had chosen to stay in Vegas to pack out their booth. I had begged him to come home, and he had chosen to stay. He could have come home after all. He just didn’t. When I asked why he stayed after my desperate pleas, he explained matter-of-factly that his partner had been traveling a lot and deserved to come home first. I’ll never forget the feeling I had at that moment. I felt like nothing, like I was worth nothing. At the lowest point in my life I had stretched out my hand and been wholly rebuffed. Had he heard me? The fear and pain in my voice? Did he listen at all when I begged for help?

I am asked all the time by women with postpartum depression how they can make their partners see what they’re going through, and I continue to wonder … can they? Can you ever make someone truly understand what it’s like to be in the midst of a mental illness if they haven’t experienced it themselves? I know I certainly didn’t understand it until it happened to me. I didn’t have the compassion I have now, or the willingness to jump in and assist. I look back at how my husband responded to me at that moment and instead of anger I feel empathy. He was scared, too. At the time I had postpartum depression, I was a shell of the person he had married. He didn’t understand what was going on any more than I did in those early days. He didn’t know the impact PPD can have on a mother and her child any more than I did. Once we got a clearer picture of what was going on and what it would take to recover, he pitched in and supported me. Could he have done better from the start? Sure, but it takes what it takes, as we like to say in our house. Through our family’s experience with postpartum depression, we both grew in our understanding of mental illness. He’s been an amazing support ever since.

My husband happens to be in Las Vegas this week. At a trade show. He’s been there since last Thursday and was supposed to come home late tomorrow night. I’ve been having a wobbly week and though I’m doing fine I’ve told him more than once how much I miss him. This morning, on our regular check-in call, he surprised me and told me he was coming home early. When I asked why he said, “Eleven years ago you asked me to come home early and I didn’t. I didn’t listen to you. I’m listening to you now. I’ll be home this afternoon.”

How I love that man.

Happy World Mental Health Day.

Don’t miss a moment – make sure you add Something Fierce to your RSS reader by using this link. If you’re a pregnant or new mom (or dad), be sure to check out Katherine at her blog on postpartum depression, too. And, you can follow her on Twitter as she tweets inane things about her day. 

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Take Your Postpartum Depression Stigma And Shove It

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About Katherine Stone

katherinestone

Katherine Stone

Katherine Stone is the founder of the most widely-read blog in the world on postpartum depression, Postpartum Progress. She writes about parenting and maternal child health on Babble Voices and Babble Cares, as well as at Huffington Post Parents. Katherine is a mom of two and lives in Atlanta. Follow her on Twitter at @postpartumprog. Read bio and latest posts → Read Katherine's latest posts →

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12 thoughts on “When Pleas For Help Go Unanswered: World Mental Health Day

  1. Alexandra says:

    Crying b/c 17 yrs ago I remember pleading for my husband to come home earrly.

    I was barely hanging on.

    He came home.

    I’m still here, 17 yrs later, and I always will be … he’s a good man.

    Like yours.

  2. Mel says:

    I had PPD and it is a lonely path – my husband was supportive – but it’s hard even to know they are coming home in an hour – when to you a minute seems too long.

  3. Susan @learnedhappiness says:

    This took my breath away.

  4. Andrea says:

    Oh, Katherine. This just made me cry. I love it. Love that he gets it. (hugs) to you both and wishing you a better week.

  5. Gina Stalcup says:

    This made me cry…a happy cry.

  6. [...] When Please for Help go Unanswered Coping with postpartum depression by Katherine Stone [...]

  7. [...] husband has no idea that today is World Mental Health Day. And yet he said something to me this morning, out of the blue, that was the exact perfect thing for a day like today. And I mean, [...]

  8. Ewokmama says:

    Beautiful.

  9. Kim Rogers says:

    Tears, Katherine, as usual. What a sweet gesture – thank God for our husbands!!

  10. Sara H says:

    I am in this mist of this, while your husband my not ever fully understand what changed? My partner goes between trying misguidedly to help, for example: I could not get a baby sitter to even go to my psychology appointment so he went and did the washing at 8:30 at night, from that to avoiding me (as you describe) or asking me to leave. This goes around and around and around. So what changed for your husband to be supportive and for you to feel you had his support?

  11. Isha says:

    What an amazing story.
    I know that when I talk with my husband, it can be so hard for him. All he wants to do is fixfixfixfix. He doesn’t always understand that it can’t just be a switch that’s flipped. That said, I am so thankful to have his long and support, and most of all, understanding. He watches out for me in ways I barely can, and he steps in when he knows I’m getting overwhelmed.
    I am so glad your husband is such a support for you.

  12. Charity says:

    I am 2 years into this (now bipolar) and today i was so tempted to call my husband. When does the torture end?

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