I turned to photography to cure PPD
postpartum. The part of your life that begins the moment you welcome your child into the world. That period of your life that isn’t really just a period, it’s actually that relax of your life – the aftermath of motherhood. It is perhaps one of the most complex trials mothers go through.
I was careless enough to believe that the journey would be only joy and bliss, but as I moved into my motherhood experience, the naivety began to wane — and the realities began to trickle, or rather flood, in. As soon as I entered maternity, there was an eclipse. Everything went dark. I felt alone. Despair. A stranger in my own skin. And during one of the hardest times of my life, I found my salvation in a creative outlet: portraiture.
More than a year and a half after giving birth, I was still dealing with feelings of grief. I kept feeling at rock bottom. I knew there was a chance I was suffering from postpartum depression, but at the time I felt I lacked the guidance I needed to get the help I needed.
But in such a vulnerable moment, I felt a jolt to grab my camera and start documenting. I wanted to capture every aspect of motherhood – the beautiful, the dark, the raw, the intimate, the all consuming. I wanted quiet the moments and use these photographs as a means of reflection. And I wanted to share my story. Because as isolated as I felt, I knew I really was far on its own. Not only did I have to share what motherhood looks like, but also what it feels like happy to go through such a significant change.
And I did. My study of motherhood portraiture grew out of a need to embrace vulnerability and engage in dialogue about the universal experiences and hardships of motherhood. Motherhood: The Thread That Holds Us Together is a visual synthesis of not only my own motherhood experience, but also the stories of six other mothers who have willingly let me into their lives and homes to capture their stories.
I began capturing most of my motherhood narrative on film. I immersed myself in exploring the shift in my emotions. I captured the intimate and painful moments of breastfeeding. I traveled through the pain of my grief. In any case, I used portraiture to calm down the woman I once was and to welcome with open arms the new being I was to become: a mother.
Capturing my motherhood journey through photos allows me to honor and fall in love with my changes. It allows me to bring grace to this new territory I am attempting to navigate gracefully. And I had no idea how opening my brokenness could be the very thing that began to mend those fragmented pieces. I truly believe that portraiture has helped me pull myself out of a dark place. It allows me to see myself, to see my motherhood experience from the outside in. And that, in part, led me to finally seek the help I needed.
I called a postpartum support hotline. I have a therapist who specializes in postpartum. And I was diagnosed with an adjustment disorder with symptoms of high-functioning postpartum depression and anxiety. As I said, I knew I had probably suffered since birth, but I never gave myself the space to say I needed help. I have never surrendered Gracefulness to admit that I needed help.
I think a lot of us moms do that sometimes. We bear the burden of our silence because we believe we cannot share our needs. We believe that a difficult time adjusting to motherhood equals being a bad mother. But it doesn’t.
When I turned to portraiture in one of my darkest moments, the reality of the motherhood experience was revealed to me. Motherhood is an ebb and flow. Easy one moment and hard the next. Full of good days and full of bad. Nice and very hard. But that’s what might It.
My camera became a tool of healing, weaving and redemption. It became a vehicle for telling stories and sparking conversations. It became a way to explore the physical, mental, and emotional changes that motherhood has brought upon me. And it became what helped pull me out of the heartache of grief.
This story is part of The Motherly Collective contributor network, where we showcase the stories, experiences and advice from brands, writers and experts who want to share their perspective with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood and that every mother’s journey is unique. By expanding every mom’s experience and offering expert-led content, we can support, educate and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you are interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective, please click here.