When Katherine Stone’s first child was born, she experienced severe postpartum depression (PPD) and anxiety. At the time, she discovered a startling lack of resources. Since then, Katherine has become a pioneer for postpartum mental health and support.
After her first son was born, Katherine Stone felt like she was falling apart. She was convinced her son would never love her. She didn’t feel fit to be a mother. Though she had always considered herself a capable and healthy woman, these feelings were very real.
For a year, she was unable to bathe her infant son because of intrusive thoughts of drowning him. “I had never heard of intrusive thoughts or anxiety symptoms,” says Katherine. “I had always envisioned that postpartum depression was feeling sad and wanting to sleep all day, but since I couldn't sleep at all I didn't think I had PPD. I just thought I was a failure as a mom, had gone crazy, and would never get better.”
Katherine experienced varying levels of support. While her first therapist understood what was going on with her, her psychiatrist was not familiar with postpartum depression and put her on several medications that weren’t effective. “It wasn't until later in my son's first year when I switched to a psychiatrist who specialized in women's mood disorders that I really started to get better,” Katherine says. “I felt like I was alone and crazy and had no one to talk to. The one resource that stands out in my mind from that time, in 2001 and 2002, was a Yahoo forum for moms who had PPD.” While the information wasn’t from a doctor, Katherine felt that it was better than nothing.
It was startling to Katherine that so few resources existed to help struggling moms. “I was so angry that in this day and age there wasn't a lot of comprehensive information and support about postpartum depression, and no one was talking at all about anxiety or OCD symptoms, or depression during pregnancy,” she says. “There was no excuse for that in my mind so I felt I had to do something.”
Galvanized by her experiences, Katherine began writing about her own battle with PPD. The positive responses to her first essay inspired her to begin her blog, Postpartum Progress. “I have such a deep connection to how vulnerable it is to be a mother, to love that much and care that much, and how devastating it is to have postpartum depression or a related illness,” says Katherine.
Since its inception, Postpartum Progress has grown to become a major resource for mothers. Katherine has built up an active community of readers. “They keep me going with their comments, their tweets, their shares on Facebook and their emails. Knowing them as I have over these past nine years, I can say with full confidence that women who've had antenatal depression, postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD and postpartum psychosis are some of the loveliest people and I'm so happy to know them.”
Katherine keeps track of emails from women who say that Postpartum Progress gave them the courage to seek help from a professional. “I get a lot of those,” she says, “and each and every time I do it makes me feel like I've won the lottery.”
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