When Tori Block scrolls through old photos on her phone, one image always stops her.
It’s a memory that often manages to stir up feelings in the California mom, and this time was no different. In it, Block sits nursing her son while experiencing an agonizing emotional breakdown. The moment has served as a moving reminder of how far she’s come in her battle with postpartum depression.
Block is no stranger to sharing the ups and downs of parenting and regularly documents her motherhood journey on Instagram. So last week, she rallied the courage deep within and posted the image.
This is a picture I most likely will not keep up for very long. This is me, at the peak of my postpartum depression. I asked Shiloh to take a picture of me, so I could remember how far I’d come, if I ever came out of it. I was lower than low, I wasn’t even myself. Looking back at this photo I remember perfectly the pain I felt, the dread in waking up everyday, the physical pain that engulfed me from thoughts in my brain. I had never known consuming, mind altering emotion such as this that flooded every fiber of my being, making its way through my veins like a plague. This is what postpartum depression looks like, or at least what it did for me. I didn’t want to leave this life, but it seemed like the only way that would rid me of the pain I was in. I didn’t ask for it, it wasn’t welcome. But there it was, and I kicked its fucking ass and beat it to the ground before I let it consume me, or much worse, take my life. #thisisppd . . . . #ppd #postpartumdepression #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealth #overcomingppd #mentalhealthsupport #communityovercompetition #stopcensoringmotherhood #motherhoodunited #motherhoodrising #motherhood #takebackpostpartum #momblogger #empoweredbirthproject #mindfulparenting #mindfulmama #consciousmotherhood #motherhood #tribedemama #birthofamama
In her breathtakingly honest post, the mom recounts asking her husband Shiloh to snap the photo while she struggled to breastfeed their son. It was a time when she dreaded waking up each day, because the sheer amount of destructive thoughts and feelings left her in physical pain. And in her bleakest moments, Block considered suicide to escape the overwhelming challenges that came with her PPD.
“I didn’t want to leave this life, but it seemed like the only way that would rid me of the pain I was in,” Block wrote. “I didn’t ask for it, [and] it wasn’t welcome. But there it was, and I … beat it to the ground before I let it consume me, or much worse, take my life.”
The mom hoped that sharing the moment would help show the world what postpartum depression really looks like. She had absolutely no idea how many lives she’d touch in the process. In the week since sharing the post, the image has gone viral with over 2K likes, with hundreds of supportive comments pouring in from fellow parents. The response has blown her away.
“I keep trying to find the words to explain what it meant to me, but struggle because very few can describe the feelings it gave me,” the mom tells Babble. “The one word that I think would most accurately capture it would be hope. Hope that one day women won’t feel so alone in their PPD.”
Like most moms, Block avoided asking for help until it was almost too late. In fact, she didn’t even know she had postpartum depression until her sister checked in with her. By that point, the mom was in an emotionally dark place, with suicidal thoughts that left her paralyzed with fear. The ongoing negative feelings were made worse by the assumption that other moms around her couldn’t be possibly suffering in the same way.
“I thought nobody could feel what I was feeling. Everyone I knew who had kids seemed to be going through motherhood with ease. I had this newfound, unreal, unexplainable love for this little baby, yet I was simultaneously severely depressed. I didn’t understand it,” she says.
When she started researching different ways to end her life, the mom painfully knew it was time to seek out help. Block leaned on family for support and vulnerably shared with them how much she was struggling. Loved ones helped her find a therapist, and a psychiatrist helped her push past feelings of weakness and courageously accept medication. The steps taken led to Block’s healing, and what she learned along the way changed her forever.
“Bodhi and PPD weren’t planned, but reaching out for help when I needed it is how I got through, [and] how I continue to get through, motherhood. Both were the biggest blessings of my life. I’m stronger for it,” Block says.
Now, the mom is working to raise as much awareness about postpartum depression as she possibly can. Her biggest goal is to break down the societal walls around parents’ mental health, and by publicly sharing her own journey, she aims to encourage other moms to speak up about their own experiences.
“We need to talk about this silent killer,” Block tells Babble. “Postpartum depression doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to anyone. And being open and speaking the truth about this very possible kind of depression can prevent it, or lessen the severity.”
Beyond shattering the stigma of this illness, Block also hopes her example will inspire anyone suffering in silence to speak up and ask for support.
“Ask for help. There is zero shame in doing that. In fact, it makes you brave. Let those around you know what you’re going through, you’d be surprised at their willingness to help,” Block says.
Thanks to Tori Block, moms everywhere have yet another PPD hero to look up to.