The following blog piece was originally published by on May 21, 2016, on placentapalmbeach.com. Placenta Palm Beach was a collaboration between myself and a local colleague, Cher Kay.
Have you seen the blue dot? A circular bumper sticker or magnet that is starting to pop up on vehicles across the United States, the symbol does not make apparent its purpose, at least at first glance. What does it represent?
Here is the story, as stated by National Coalition for Maternal Mental Health:
The Blue Dot was created by Peggy O’Neil Nosti, a mom who suffered from postpartum anxiety with her third child who wanted to find a way to let other moms know they were not alone. Peggy created a subtle image of a blue dot and put it on magnets to put on cars. Peggy found that by being open about what she was going through, many people would share similar experiences with postpartum depression and anxiety. They had either gone through it themselves or knew someone who had. Peggy realized that knowing you are not alone helps in the healing process. In less than three years, her simple blue dot has become the new international and national symbol for PPD galvanizing a movement to let mothers know they are not alone.
As a survivor of postpartum depression myself (Christine typing), I can attest that, indeed, healing does come, to a degree at least, in knowing others who have been through this experience. Finding someone else who relates to the struggles of postpartum depression (or other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders — PMADs) creates security, strips away shaming, and allows the imperative truth telling to come out.
On a larger scale, the blue dots — and the sharing of our experiences in general — can transform the public conversations we have regarding the postpartum season. The point is to raise awareness, that we ultimately will listen better to new parents and respond to their needs more appropriately. Whether this helps with the creation of legislation that provides more resources for new parents, or if it merely changes our culture to be more caring towards young families, I am in love with the idea!
This is why when you see me driving around Palm Beach County, there is a blue dot on my car. I hope when you see it, you’ll remember that someone, somewhere, is not feeling the glory of motherhood that is depicted on parenting magazine covers. I hope, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the demands of this season or are afraid to speak the truth of how you’re feeling, that the blue dot will remind you that there is someone with whom it’s ok to be honest. Are you looking for that person, with whom you could have a coffee-play-date? Stop me, point to the blue dot, and let’s talk.
May is well known for the month in which Mother’s Day falls. It is also, however, host to National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week and Mental Health Awareness Month. Obviously, though, maternal mental health matters 12 months of the year. In the end, a postpartum parent’s well being has everlasting repercussions, not just for the newest generation, but for the generations that follow the newborn’s as well. So when you ask a new mom, or dad for that matter (they get postpartum depression too!), how she or he is doing, I hope you will ask how they’re really doing, and provide the time and attentiveness to really listen. I hope you will be prepared to hear that everything is not peachy. 1 in 8 mothers suffers from a PMAD. PMADs are common, and they are treatable. You do not necessarily need prescription-writing privileges to help treat a PMAD, either. Ask if you can bring a meal over, or invite the family for a meal at your home. Could you volunteer to help around the home in order to allow the parent to get a nap? If your time and energy are too limited to help in these kinds of ways, you could gift the family with a postpartum doula. Both Cher and I are trained postpartum doulas, and can point you in direction of resources that may be helpful, if we can’t help ourselves. Give us a call or email to learn more!