Postpartum Depression Art
A flood of memories and emotions came back to me like a dam had just been broken. I stared at the canvas a little longer in silence. Not many think of the possibilty of postpartum depression (PPD) after miscarriage. Immediately after my first miscarriage I identified my feelings as "normal"; but the heartbreak, distress, anxiety didn't seem to get any better weeks to month after the miscarriage. My preexisting PTSD reared its ugly head, as it always does during any emotionally consuming time in my life. My nights again became riddled with flashbacks a happening I was all to familiar with. My weeks were consumed with the need for answers. Why me? Why did my body let me down again?
I remember on the night I painted this piece I was sitting on the floor of my office; the room that we had planned to be our nursery for the new baby. I felt the urge to vent but there were no words that could describe what I was feeling. So I took out my painting supplies and laid them on the carpet. I could feel a release of emotion as I poured all my anger and sadness onto the canvas. This particular piece didn't match my usual art; it was rushed, it was emotionally charged, it told a story I felt would never come to light. A struggle between my desires for another child ripped away by nature. The emptiness inside me and the lack of a face to my suffering. I didn't feel human, I felt like a vessel meant to keep life with a hole in it. The fear that this hole would never be mended, just like my mind, dragged me into the dark abyss. the familiar feeling of helplessness was layered onto a canvas. I then packed up my art and hid it in the closet where it would not see the light of day until today, three years later. The feelings that coincided would also be packed away and pushed aside. I would try to ignore the pain so that I could keep a glimmer of hope. After many more months of trying and a second miscarriage the office that hid my canvas eventually became the nursery we had dreamed of. The painting packed away like the memory of our journey to get here.
Our daughter is called a rainbow baby. It is understood that the beauty of the rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears it does not mean that the storm never happened, or that we are not still dealing with the aftermath. It means that something beautiful and full of light appeared in the midst of darkness and clouds. I will never forget the struggle and the mental impact the miscarriages had on me and my husband. I am grateful that awareness of miscarriage's mental, emotional and physical impact are now being more addressed in society. The end of a pregnancy in miscarriage or still birth still has the hormonal ramifications of birth but we do not have a baby in our arms. Post Partum Depression is hard to identify when it iscommonly identified with the birth of living babies, creating misinformation that one will not get PPD after miscarriage. Just like many of the subjects I cover on this blog, PPD after miscarriage makes me want to scream from the rooftop "Yes this can happen, it happened to me, you are not alone"
I am looking forward to the opportunity to participate in this traveling art exhibit to raise awareness about maternal mental health using an artistic outlet that helped me through my personal struggles.
Are you an artist that suffered from a Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder? (paint, photograghy, sketch, clay, quilting, knitting, film) and would like to participate in the upcoming traveling art exhibit to raise awareness on maternal mental health?
Please contact Emily Jankowski Newton