So…I was reading some articles about the recent comments by Ivanka Trump about dealing with postpartum depression. One article in particular was rather critical about the casual announcement during her Dr. Oz show appearance.
A couple of things here:
Each author points out that Ivanka Trump has a history of self-interest in a way designed to be uncontroversial while allowing her to relate to American women to garner support and sympathy. We can sit here and argue about the merits of those arguments. But I really don’t care about that.
I don’t care what Ivanka Trump’s intentions were. I also don’t particularly want to judge her experience. I’ve never been one to say that we should attempt to be relativistic and that we can’t or shouldn’t judge; rather we should judge and discern when needed. But I don’t want to judge whether or not she had postpartum depression. This Slate article even very subtly implies that she didn’t really have postpartum depression…she probably had “baby blues”.
We have enough problems getting women to get the help that they need when they have postpartum depression. I have talked to a number of women who are convinced that it’s “all in their heads” and that they just need to practice “mindfulness” or just exercise. For some women, with very mild postpartum depression or anxiety…that might work. But I’ve been incredibly frustrated that media and society continuously tries to treat postpartum depression and anxiety like a mind issue when it is a straight up medical problem. A woman’s hormones, for whatever reason, create a dangerous cocktail that fight against the body’s normal instincts to survive and nurture. The last thing that we need is the community trying to adjudicate whether or not some famous person really had postpartum depression.
Does it really matter if Ivanka Trump was angling for something different? No. Does it matter if she actually experienced postpartum depression or not? No. We don’t need to pick apart Instagram posts, Tweets or her own return to work to determine her diagnosis. In fact, as I’ve said before, the symptoms of postpartum depression manifest themselves very differently. There’s actually a lot of women who go back to work to hide from their postpartum depression. So, let’s just let this one go and not analyze it to death.
In fact, I actually hope Ivanka Trump didn’t have postpartum depression. Because that’s a dark, awful place that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. So even if this is just a self-serving stunt, I don’t care…because the more we talk about this, the more women we can save. Right, wrong or indifferent, she’s got a platform to the public. Let’s hope she uses it judiciously and responsibly. Let’s hope her talking about postpartum depression can bring one more woman suffering in isolation out into the sunshine.