The journey of motherhood is often romanticized, with images of joy, love, and fulfillment. However, behind the facade of bliss, there lies a reality that is seldom spoken about – the mental health challenges faced by mothers. In Pakistan, where the prevalence of postpartum depression (PPD) is estimated to be 30.9%, it is crucial to delve into the unspoken battles experienced by mothers and raise awareness about the need for support.
In a society deeply rooted in traditional expectations, women are raised to believe that their purpose in life revolves around having children and nurturing a happy family. Balancing the responsibilities of taking care of in-laws, spouses, children, and personal aspirations can be overwhelming. The weight of these societal expectations often goes unnoticed until it becomes too burdensome to bear.
Mental health disorders affect women disproportionately, accounting for over 4% of Pakistan’s overall disease burden. Unfortunately, the available psychiatric resources are inadequate to meet the needs of the approximately 24 million people in Pakistan who require assistance, as highlighted by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The personal journey of a mother in Pakistan reflects these challenges. The author recounts her transformation from an optimistic teenager to an uninspired and overwhelmed mother. Struggling to reconcile her ambitions with societal norms, she found herself questioning her aspirations after marriage and experienced a harsh reality check during pregnancy.
The physical toll of pregnancy, coupled with the emotional and mental strain, can be immense. From relentless morning sickness to debilitating back issues, the author endured a rollercoaster of physical struggles. However, the societal pressure to maintain a picture-perfect image of motherhood compelled her to suppress her own feelings and push herself beyond her limits.
The article emphasizes that the idealized image of motherhood fails to capture the true hardships and sacrifices involved. Many mothers find themselves gaslighting their own experiences, struggling to fulfill numerous roles while neglecting their own well-being. In the author’s case, the breaking point came when she realized she couldn’t juggle sleepless nights, breastfeeding, work, studies, household chores, and the expectations she had set for herself.
The silence surrounding these battles is slowly being broken through online communities, such as Facebook mom groups, where mothers can share their experiences and find solace in knowing they are not alone. However, seeking professional help remains taboo in Pakistani society. The lack of psychiatrists and the stigmatization surrounding mental health further hinder access to proper care.
The author’s personal journey led her to a late diagnosis of postpartum depression, anxiety, and “mom’s brain.” She emphasizes the need to prioritize self-care, seek help, and challenge societal expectations. By embracing her own struggles, she found strength within herself and learned to appreciate the small joys of life.
The article concludes with a call to break the silence and destigmatize seeking help for mental health challenges. It highlights the importance of supporting new mothers, providing them with love, care, and understanding. By addressing these unspoken battles, society can create an environment that nurtures both mothers and their children.