I Dream Of A Day All Mothers Are Entitled To PPD Rehab

The Huffington Post Canada  |

By  05/13/2016

Rehab for postpartum depression.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

I don’t remember being given the option.

I do remember getting a weird look, being brushed off, handed a script and sent home.

I can only imagine (fantasize) what rehab for postpartum depression looks like.

A limo arrives at my doorstep and out steps Ryan Gosling.

“Hey girl. You’ve been working too hard trying to manage postpartum depression and taking care of a baby all on your own. Hop in,” he says. “We’re going to PPD rehab.”

His assistant gently straps my baby into the car seat and I slip in beside her.

“Champagne?” offers Ryan.

Don’t mind if I do.

We laugh and sing the whole way and just as I begin to feel some awful PPD symptoms coming on, we pull up to the most beautiful Muskoka lakeside property I’ve ever seen.

A tall and beautiful Hollywood starlet runs over to greet us.

“Welcome to PPD rehab!” Shouts a joyful Kate Hudson.

“Here is some exercise apparel from my clothing line you’ll need for your yoga classes.”

“Wow, thanks Kate,” I say.

“Your baby is soooo adorable!” says Kate. “Let me take her for a while so you catch up on your beauty sleep.”

My room is outstanding. My meals are all prepared. My view is glorious.

In walks Ryan.

“Hey girl. Just wanted to let you know that everything is being taken care of while you’re here so just sit back, relax and let us do our job. You’re in good hands.”

For the next six weeks, all I do is rest, rest and rest some more while in PPD rehab. I learn that in the past and still in some countries today, all moms get to do this, not just moms with PPD. It’s known as the “lying-in” period.

During my stay, I’m given access to the top psychologists and wellness experts in the country. I’m told about the merits and risks of medication and monitored closely. I’m given excellent evidence-based therapy and phenomenal child care.

I don’t know if this is the kind of treatment Hayden Panettiere is receiving at her PPD rehab, but it must be good since she’s back for a second time.

Though my PPD isn’t gone by the time I leave, I’m provided with fantastic home care to help with my recovery and the chance to return to PPD rehab if I need to. I attend regular PPD group support meetings and my family doctor closely monitors me every step of the way.

“Thank you so much for recommending PPD rehab,” I tell her at one of our regular weekly follow-up appointments. “I don’t like PPD, but I love being a mom.”

I don’t know if this is the kind of treatment Hayden Panettiere is receiving at her PPD rehab, but it must be good since she’s back for a second time. You can’t predict how long PPD will stick around and I truly wish her all the best.

But I also wish I could join her.

My PPD is kind of gone now, I think. In Canada, you’re kind of left on your own to monitor your progress. It lasted five years with my first daughter and 18 months with my second. I just finished weaning myself off my medication. I think I did a pretty good job, but I’m not sure. My cycle is kind of all over the place. My doctor takes notes.

Oh, how I would have loved to go to PPD rehab.

Or at the very least, been given adequate PPD screening, treatment and follow-up. Perhaps my PPD wouldn’t have lasted so long. Perhaps I wouldn’t have developed postpartum mania, quit my job and went broke. Perhaps I would have enjoyed motherhood. Perhaps my daughter wouldn’t be struggling so much with mental health issues at the age of six.

Perhaps… but we’ll never know.

I’ve written time and again about the abysmal treatment we give moms with PPD in Canada.

About how the onus is on the mom battling PPD to recognize she has PPD, convince her doctor she’s suffering, be given confusing advice on medication and put on a year-long waiting list for sub-par psychiatric services.

When are we going to wake up and realize that PPD is a serious medical condition affecting the mother and her baby?

Studies indicate that some children of mothers with PPD go on to have mental problems.

A mom with PPD can’t be sent home with a pill and expected to get better on her own.

Because she’s not on her own.

I dream of a day when a mom with PPD can walk into her doctor’s office for help and leave with a comprehensive treatment and support plan.

She has a precious and vulnerable little human to take care of as well as herself and maybe other kids, a home and a partner, while battling a mental illness no one seems to be taking seriously in this country.

When are moms with postpartum depression (and all its forms) going to be given the attention and respect they deserve?

We need a major overhaul when it comes to treating PPD in Canada and maybe it starts with recognizing it as its own distinct illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM).

The DSM is what doctors use to treat mental illness. As it stands, PPD falls under the Major Depressive Disorder category and is treated as such. The DSM is American but it’s looked to around the world as the authority on mental health disorders.

“The DSM has a qualifier major depressive disorder with peripartum onset but it’s only four weeks,” said Kate Kripke, a perinatal mental health specialist in Boulder, Colorado, in an earlier interview with me. “We all know that a mom can develop postpartum depression or anxiety, eight, nine, ten months in. We miss the point with that.”

Back to PPD rehab.

I dream of a day when a mom with PPD can walk into her doctor’s office for help and leave with a comprehensive treatment and support plan.

And who knows? By the time my daughters become mothers, if they so choose, maybe PPD rehab will actually be a thing in Canada that you won’t have to be a celebrity for or rich enough to have access to it.

Or better yet, maybe PPD will have been taken seriously enough to have researchers determine the cause and how to prevent it from ever happening in the first place so moms can get on with raising the next generation.

And enjoying motherhood.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

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