Tori Block, from California, US, shared a throwback photo of herself on Instagram breastfeeding her son while feeling overwhelmed by her responsibility as a new mother.
Block said she intended to take the image down shortly after posting, but was encouraged to keep it up after realising she had opened up a conversation with other new mums.
“This is me, at the peak of my postpartum depression,” Block wrote on the post on 15 February. “I was lower than low, I wasn’t even myself. Looking back at this photo I remember perfectly the pain I felt, the dread in waking up everyday, the physical pain that engulfed me from thoughts in my brain.”
Block continued: “I had never known consuming, mind-altering emotion such as this that flooded every fibre of my being, making its way through my veins like a plague.
“This is what postpartum depression looks like, or at least what it did for me. I didn’t want to leave this life, but it seemed like the only way that would rid me of the pain I was in. I didn’t ask for it, it wasn’t welcome. But there it was, and I kicked its fucking ass and beat it to the ground before I let it consume me, or much worse, take my life.”
Reflecting on why she posted it, Block told HuffPost UK she was looking at old photos on her phone, and stumbled across it as she had done many times before: “I decided it was time, I felt a fire within me, a confidence to own who I am and what I’ve been through and let the world know by posting it. I wanted to show society what postpartum depression can look like, and let others know the very real reality of what it can look like.”
She explained at the time, she had asked her husband, Shiloh, to take it because she wanted to look back on it and reflect on the woman in the photo to see how far she’d come, “if I ever in fact did”.
I decided it was time, I felt a fire within me, a confidence to own who I am and what I’ve been through and let the world know by posting it." Tori Block, from California.
“We need to talk about this silent killer,” Block said. “Postpartum depression doesn’t discriminate, it can happen to anyone. And being open and speaking the truth about this very possible kind of depression can prevent it, or lessen the severity.
“Breaking down the walls of the stigmas attached to mental health is the first step in changing how we view it. Maybe if it were more widely talked about then I wouldn’t have gone so deep into the depression I was in, and I would not have felt so alone.”
The photo certainly sparked discussion among other mums about how postnatal depression affected their lives. One mother commented on the photo: “I feel this photo with my soul. I have one very similar. The amount of nights I cried myself and my baby to sleep; the feedings where I sat just like this crying in pain and in rejection, hating that I was feeling regretful, hating that I wanted to not be near my partner or my baby, hating that it was so different and so much harder than I ever could have imagined. But like you, I fought. And I came back.”
Another mother wrote: “Never delete this. I want to give you a huge hug. I felt like this whilst breastfeeding my one-week-old child feeling blue and overwhelmed. You’ve made me feel... I don’t even know what but I’m sure my heart beat a bit faster.”