Ebony Wilkerson’s story, or rather the many responses to her actions, hit a nerve and was the reason behind a mini rant on Twitter.
You see, I have seen post-partum psychosis up close and in person. In case you did not know, it is not pretty. I was 12 years old, and that person was my mother. She had just had her sixth child nine months ago. It was a scene from a horror story. I will never forget what it looked or smelled like. I worry that I, too, may suffer from a similar fate. That is why I speak out for those women who do not have a voice to speak for themselves. Post-partum depression is real. It is not made up any more than PMS is made up.
Just what is post-partum depression? According to PubMed Health, post-partum depression is defined as, “Moderate to severe depression in a woman after she has given birth. It may occur soon after delivery or up to a year later. Most of the time, it occurs within the first 3 months after delivery.” Like any other medical condition, if post-partum depression is left untreated, it can last for months or years. That’s where stories like Ebony’s come in at. From all accounts, it seems, that Ebony actually suffered from post-partum psychosis, which is far more severe than post-partum depression. According to WebMD, post-partum psychosis, “Is a rare, severe, and dangerous form of postpartum depression that can suddenly occur within the first 3 weeks following childbirth. A woman who has post-partum psychosis may feel detached from her baby and other people. Or she may have hallucinations involving smell, touch, sight, or hearing. She may have thoughts not based in reality (delusions), display bizarre behavior, or have urges to kill herself and her child or children.”
There is no question that Ebony needs help. There is no question that, her children need to be removed from her care. There is a question of whether she should be treated like a common criminal. While there are plenty of cases of women killing their children and not being mentally ill, mental illness does exist and should be taken into account. Most like to use the argument that pedophilia is a mental disorder too. What many fail to realize is that, in order to be diagnosed with a paraphilic diagnosis, one must meet certain criteria. As per the DSM-V, the criteria are:
- feel personal distress about their interest, not merely distress resulting from society’s disapproval;
- have a sexual desire or behavior that involves another person’s psychological distress, injury, or death, or a desire for sexual behaviors involving unwilling persons or persons unable to give legal consent.
Many do not know this, but, in truth, most people who have atypical sexual interests do not have a mental disorder. Rather, it is a perverse and willing choice that engage in such acts. To compare these people to women who genuinely have psychiatric issues is inhumane.
While my mother did not hurt her children, she hurt herself. Every time I smell a certain smell, I have flashbacks to when she hurt herself. I will never forget that lost look in her eyes. I pray that one day I, too, don’t walk around with that same lost look. Like so many other mental health issues, incarceration is not the answer. Rather, it is the problem. As filled as prisons are today, there is no way that the mentally ill will get the care that they really need. Rather, the deplorable conditions only make the conditions worse. No one wants to have cancer. To think that someone would want to be mentally ill is ignorant beyond words.
Let us not judge, or we shall be judged. If indeed Ebony is not ill, then I say, carry out punishment to the fullest extent of the law. However, let us make sure that’s the case. Shame on those who have disorders such as bipolar or schizophrenia and, because of medication, are functionally judging this woman. Your road is not the same as hers. Shame on society for not accepting that those mental disorders that only affect women are real and not some made-up figment of our imagination. Shame on the government for not doing more. Congrats to the person who decided that they should do more and created this White House Petition. Hopefully, you will do as I did and sign. We owe it to ourselves as women to protect ourselves before our right is taken from us.
If you or someone you know is suffering from post-partum depression/psychosis, please advocate for treatment and contact these sources if you need help:
- Post Partum International at – 1.800.944.4PPD
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at — 1.800.273.8255
Words of Wisdom: