TIME Magazine misfires debate on MOTHER’S Act


Awhile back, I was contacted by Catherine Elton regarding an article which was to examine Postpartum Depression and the Mother’s Act. The email somehow got buried and I did not get a chance to participate in the discussion.

It seems that it would not have mattered if I had been able to discuss my story with her.

Time published the story this week. While the online version has been modified to correct an error with Ms. Amy Philo’s story, you can still see the original version in the hard copy. (Which by the way, I am personally asking you to boycott – even asking if you can take the copy of TIME home from the doctor’s office in order to keep other moms from reading it! And make sure you ASK – because just taking it would be stealing and that’s illegal.)

The original version, entitled “The Melancholy of Motherhood” includes one quote from Carole Blocker, the mother of Melanie Blocker Stokes, a mother who tragically committed suicide after unsuccessful treatment for severe postpartum depression after the birth of her daughter. The quote reflects Ms. Blocker’s confusion as to how someone could oppose the MOTHER’S Act, a bill which is designed to increase public and professional education regarding Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. Frankly, I’m confused right along with Ms. Blocker.

The only survivor story featured in this article is that of Amy Philo, one of five recipients of an Outstanding Achievement for Mothers’ and Children’s Rights awards from the Citizens Commision on Human Rights or CCHR. CCHR was founded in 1969 by none other than the Church of Scientology, well-known to oppose the entire psychiatric field.

Amy has tirelessly worked against this bill for quite some time now but continues to be tragically misled. Few discussions with her have led to quite the round robin with Amy unable to come up with legitimate research to back up her claims. When asked for said research, Amy refers to her own websites instead of to specific research articles supporting her claims.

I happen to know that Ms. Elton did indeed interview fellow survivors who support the bill. One has to wonder then, why did their stories not make it into the article? Was it length? Was it editing? Or was it intentional? Regardless, the finished piece as published presents a very frightening and deceiptful picture of what new mothers face is this bill is passed. To begin with, the MOTHER’S Act no longer mandates screening. It requires a study to be completed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (Kathleen Sebelius) as well as funds for an educational campaign for both caregivers and the general public.

I agree that just because a new mother shows emotion she should not immediately be diagnosed as having a PMAD. I also believe that a woman should have free choice when it comes to her treatment decisions and should NOT be judged for those choices. I chose to take Anti-depressants. My first prescription did not work out. But my second one did. Just as with any other medication, sometimes they don’t work so well with your system. So you try another one. You don’t suddenly take your own care into your hands – that’s ridiculous. Would you try to heal a broken leg or diabetes on your own? No? I didn’t think so. So why would you rely solely on self-care when it comes to mental illness? Self-care should be part of the picture but it shouldn’t be the ONLY part of the picture.

I am so tired of being judged and accused of not having informed consent. You know what? When I made my decision to go on Anti-Depressants, I had carried around an informational packet about AD’s & Breastfeeding given to me by the NICU Lactation Consultant with me for a week. I read that thing through and through. I was exclusively pumping for my daughter at the time and did not want to jeopardize her receiving my milk if I ended up having to take something. But I couldn’t function. I couldn’t take care of my family, I couldn’t take care of myself, and a lot of the same thoughts were coming back. Negative, scary thoughts about knives and hurting myself and my family. Yet I wasn’t on anti-depressants. I needed to be able to function. So I made a very informed decision to do so, one I do not regret to this day.

TIME – I am very disappointed in your lack of sharing both sides of this debate. Very very disappointed.

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7 thoughts on “TIME Magazine misfires debate on MOTHER’S Act

  1. Actually Lauren, I was one of five women to receive a group award called “Outstanding Achievement for Mothers’ and Children’s Rights” from CCHR not the “Humanitarian of the Year Award. ” The other women include two who lost children to antidepressants and ADHD medications, and two who were targeted by schools and CPS for refusing to allow their children to be drugged with antidepressants and ADHD meds. I am by far the least of these women, but thanks for bringing up my award. I was honored to be recognized by an amazing mental health watchdog group.

    By the way it’s the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, not of Human Rights. Their membership includes both Scientologists and non-Scientologists. I am not a member of CCHR, but I have zero problem with their group. Furthermore I have met several Scientologists since I co-founded CHAADA in 2005 with fellow victims of psychiatric drugs. All of them are wonderful people who are certainly not okay with babies being drugged via mom’s milk or in pregnancy. Unlike you and your friends.

    I think it’s hilarious that you choose to bring up Scientology. Especially considering that many of your friends received awards from drug companies.

    And why do you refer people to the ORIGINAL copy of the magazine? Is that because you want people to read the error about me which was the only correction made in the online version?

    Asking people to boycott the magazine and remove it from doctors’ offices is pretty extreme. But if your friends follow your advice, that’s fine by me since the original has an misprint about me that implies I was having fears of hurting Isaac before the medication.

    I normally ignore your blog, but here’s your satisfaction for the week. I’m commenting.

    (By the way, if I am so misled, I should have gone crazy and killed a few kids by now since I’ve been off meds for about 4 years and 8 months. How sad for you all that I haven’t done so.)

  2. This is wonderful! I wish I had seen the TIME article. I may have to write a letter to TIME as a survivor of PPD and someone who WHOLEHEARTEDLY supports the act.

    I, too, chose anti-depressants. And then I CHOSE to come off of them. My doctors gave me the pros and cons of everything. We discussed, at length, what going on them might do and what coming off might do. It was MY choice, no one else’s.

    It is frightening to me what people will believe without the least bit of research or deeper delving.

    • Alison – it IS scary what people will believe at face value these days.

      Thank you for your comment and for your support of the MOTHER’S Act!

  3. Pingback: The Mothers Act Debate Confuses Me « Life With Postpartum Depression

  4. I am amazed how comfortable people are about allowing misinformation to keep flowing! I’ll be spreading the word in my blog, with a link to this post if that’s ok.

    Thanks for the info!

    • Stacey –

      You are always welcome to repost anything on my blog as long as it links back here with an acknowledgement!

      It is amazing (and frightening) how quickly misinformation seems to flow when it comes to many issues but especially with the MOTHER’S Act.

      Warmest,
      Lauren

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