Why ‘I’m Fine’ Is A Big Fat Lie

After pushing for what felt like hours, he was finally here.

I was tired.

I was amazed at what I’d done, amazed at this precious miracle of a tiny person.

But I was so, so tired.

The weeks went by. We settled into a routine, and things seemed to get a little easier.

I was cranky. I was sleep deprived. And I cried. A lot. I couldn’t remember if I had taken a shower, and I couldn’t remember if I had eaten lunch today, or the day before, or…

But when people would ask how things were going, I’d tell them everything was fine.

Im fine is a big fat lie. #ConnectTheDots @MMHCoalition Click To Tweet

I mean, clearly, it wasn’t. But I couldn’t tell people I was struggling. I couldn’t explain why I didn’t want to leave the house anymore. I couldn’t tell them that even though I looked happy and excited on the outside, I was only pretending. Inside, I was absolutely terrified.

I wish I had known that I wasn’t alone.

One in seven women have postpartum depression in the first year after birth. Maternal mental health disorders can include depression, anxiety, and in some women, delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking–symptoms of a rare disorder called postpartum psychosis.

A few days after my son’s birth, I had an episode of psychosis. After a trip to the emergency room, I knew that everything was not fine–and that I needed to get help.

I'm Fine is a Big Fat Lie

Unfortunately, only 15% of women with postpartum depression ever receive professional treatment. The stigma that surrounds mental illness can keep women from getting the help that they need.

“In the United States, the vast majority of postpartum women with depression are not identified or treated, even though they are at higher risk for psychiatric disorders,” said Katherine L. Wisner, MD, a psychiatry and behavioral sciences and obstetrics and gynecology at professor Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “It’s a huge public health problem.”

The National Coalition for Maternal Mental Health is helping to support mothers with Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week. Since being founded in 2013, NCMMH has fought to raise awareness of maternal mental health disorders and impact change. In 2016, they helped to create the Bringing Postpartum Out of the Shadows Act. If funded, states around the nation will receive federal grants to develop programs for screening and treatment of maternal mental health disorders.

Across social media, women (and men!) will be sharing their personal stories with daily messages, videos, and images to start a dialogue about maternal mental health. Follow the hashtag #ConnectTheDots and @MyMommyVents on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to join the conversation.

When you ask a new mom how she’s doing, pay attention. “I’m fine” may be a big, fat, lie.

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Tiffani is the wife and mom behind MyMommyVents, co-creator of The Mommy Conference, and co-founder of the digital collective Sisterhued. Her writing and parenting tips have been seen on The Washington Post, Mommy Noire, Yahoo Parenting, and Fit Pregnancy.
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  1. May 1, 2017 / 10:51 pm

    I can’t speak about a woman’s experience with postpartum depression, but I would agree that the term “I’m fine” is often times a big fat lie. I try not to use is because it requires people to read into what I’m trying to say. If we are aware of our feelings and able to communicate them we should try and use words that clearly articulate our feelings.

  2. May 2, 2017 / 4:27 am

    I’m happy that you got help! This is a topic that needs to be talked about more. Thanks for sharing.

  3. May 2, 2017 / 2:39 pm

    This is such an important post. I think women tend to say ‘I’m fine,’ to just about everything, not just post-pregnancy. One of the hardest things to do as a mom is ask for help. Thanks for sharing this!

  4. May 2, 2017 / 4:03 pm

    Great post. A lot of people don’t think postpartum depression is real. Especially in the black community. I wasn’t aware of this week.

  5. Jennifer
    May 3, 2017 / 5:44 am

    I am sorry that you had to experience PPD. After I had my fourth baby (2015), I was hit with PPD really hard. It took me the entire year to heal from it. I still feel guilty about having PPD because I feel like my precious time with my baby was stolen from me. Women definitely need more support for PPD and other maternal healthcare issues. Great post! Thank you for being so brave and sharing your story with us!

  6. May 3, 2017 / 2:02 pm

    Wonderful post! We need to have more of this discussion among women of color, especially mothers and really talk about postpartum depression in our community. So many women go through this everyday without any support or proper help to push through the tough days! Thank you so much for sharing!
    Toiia L. Rukuni recently posted…Missing My Mother On Mother’s DayMy Profile

  7. May 3, 2017 / 2:35 pm

    1. I’m glad you’re sharing this.
    2. I’m glad you faced this. Most people don’t take this seriously, they say “oh suck it up”, “why are you said you were part of a miracle”

    keep talking about it. It’s needed in our community and share how you came out.
    Nay recently posted…Are You Intentional With What You Want?My Profile

  8. May 3, 2017 / 5:11 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I don’t think women realize how common it actually is, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. I have dealt with anxiety my whole life, and pregnancy/birth really increased that as well. I’m lucky that I did get help, but you’re right that so many women do not and suffer in silence.

  9. May 3, 2017 / 9:09 pm

    Tiffani, thank you so much for this post. As a African American female and a former Child care center Director, postpartum depression is very real. I had a couple of new moms that could see it in them right away by the way they interacted with their new baby. Thank you so much for this post and I am very happy to share this.
    Evelyn Reese recently posted…Cinco de Mayo – Fun Activities for PreschoolsMy Profile

  10. May 3, 2017 / 11:59 pm

    As one who never experienced PMAD it is very important that we rally behind and validate the experiences that other mothers have had. Thank you for sharing. I’ll be sure to follow and promote #ConnectTheDots

  11. May 4, 2017 / 3:12 am

    Great post. Shining light on an issue that often ignore. I have no children so I have no experienced postpartum depression but I have friends who have kids and try my best to continue to check on them

  12. May 10, 2017 / 10:50 pm

    Great post on post-partum depression. I have never experienced it, but I know someone who has. I am happy people like you are shedding more light on it so women going through it do not feel alone.

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