Although about one in nine women in the U.S. experience postpartum depression, not a lot of moms are comfortable with openly talking about it.
On top of being intensely sad, anxious, irritable, and exhausted, many have feelings of guilt because they think they should be happy about the new life they brought into the world. Unfortunately, mental illnesses are neither rational nor easy to break out of on your own.
Photographer Danielle Fantis is a mother herself who wanted to help other moms realize they don't have to hide their postpartum depression, so in addition to capturing powerful photos of a friend who was going through it, she shared her own story of dealing with depression after giving birth to her second child.
"I had my first baby six weeks early when I was 18 with no support from my son's father. My situation was the perfect recipe for Postpartum Depression, yet I never got it. When I had my daughter, seven years later with the cookie cutter 'perfect' situation, the feelings that started to surface were completely unexpected. I felt blindsided. I had a supporting husband, I was able to stay home with my baby, we had a beautiful home and were financially stable, and my baby was healthy."
"I felt so guilty for having the intrusive thoughts and feelings that I was having. I thought many times that I could just 'snap' out of it and that I had absolutely no reason to be feeling the way I was feeling. You see, that's the problem with Postpartum Mental Illnesses, women feel guilt and shame and aren't prepared for the fact that postpartum mental illness is real and does happen."
Read More: If The New Mom In Your Life Is Showing These Signs, She Could Need Your Help
"Finally, at four months postpartum, I reached out. I vividly remember pulling off into a parking lot and calling to make an appointment with a care provider I found through a google search. The intake specialist on the other end of the line had to keep asking me to repeat myself because she couldn't understand my words through my sobbing tears. Postpartum Mental Illness is so hard. It is the most difficult thing I have ever walked through in my entire life."
"First and foremost with my faith and trust in God, my supporting mother, and through finding the right care provider, I was able to get help. I gave birth to my third child almost exactly two years later. I was able to get preventive care throughout my pregnancy and had safeguards in place in case I developed PPD again. Fortunately, I did not develop PPD again. As weird as it sounds, I'm so thankful for my PPD. I'm a true believer in that God allows things to happen to us for our good and His glory."
"There are so many people that I've been able to share my story with. Most of all, it's given me a true understanding and compassion for those battling mental illness. If you are struggling, please don't be afraid to reach out! You are loved, deserving, and worthy. You are NOT alone!" To learn more about Kathy (the subject of the photos) and her story, check out the video below.