Dark Side of the Mum & the Medicalisation of Maternal Mental Health
I’m Annie, a perinatal & grief counsellor, author, and mum. I’m writing my next book and developing a podcast about the dark side of motherhood.

Currently, any mother struggling beyond two weeks post-partum raises alarm bells with health visitors and midwives and is at risk of being given a diagnosis of a post-natal illness. This represses and shames the shadow side of mothering, making the true nature of motherhood, and all its messiness, forbidden and unmentionable. We are split between mothers with, and mothers without a post-partum disorder.

I am researching our current understanding of post-partum illnesses and in particular how mothers relate to their diagnosis - to what extent it serves and limits their experience of motherhood when their symptoms are diagnosed as 'abnormal' or 'wrong' in some way.

Did you ever suspect you had post partum depression? Did you want a diagnosis or fear it? If you received one, how did it shape/impact your experience? What type of support was received? What type of support was lacking/wanted/needed?

My mission with my podcast and book is two-fold - to destigmatise the dark side of motherhood, and to raise awareness of the normality of negative thoughts and feelings towards ourselves and our babies during this phenomenal transition women go through. And to unpack and uncover the impact of the current medicalisation of maternal mental health on mothers and on society as a whole. Please follow my instagram @dark_side_of_the_mum to join the community of mums sharing their stories without fear of judgement or shame.

This anonymous survey is for any mother, new or old, willing to share their experience of the difficulties they've encountered. I want to find out what mothers really think and feel about themselves and their babies and how they understood their experience, if they ever suspected something was 'wrong'. I also want to understand how those mothers who were given a post-partum diagnosis felt about it, whether on receiving a diagnosis they felt they received better support, and how they understand it now.

My podcast and book will be a collection of mother-mother dialogues sharing stories about the darker side of motherhood - making space for the often secret and shameful thoughts and feelings we all have at some point or another.

My book will be a similar format to my first book, Speaking of Death, (in which all contributors were anonymised.) If you’d like to get a feel for my style then please do have a look - https://anniebroadbent.com/about-me/

I need as much honesty as possible. Please see this as an opportunity to express yourself freely without fear of judgement. I'm aware that many of the questions request answers far simpler than your experience will have been, but this is in part a quantitative survey. At the end you're very welcome to qualify/add to any answer you've given.

If you would be willing to be a guest on my podcast and/or contributor to my book, please leave your email address at the bottom. You can still remain anonymous to listeners/readers as we can change your name, but you would obviously be revealing your identity to me.

Finally, please do pass this on to any mothers you think would be interested in and willing to participate.

@dark_side_of_the_mum

How did new motherhood meet/not meet your expectations of what motherhood would feel like? *
Do you have more than one child? *
How did your experience with your second/third etc child differ from first, if at all?
Did you ever think you had post-partum depression, or another post-partum illness? *
If you answered yes, please explain why you believed you did or might have.
Were you given a post partum diagnosis? *
If yes, what was it?
How did you find this diagnosis?
Did you agree with the diagnosis? Did it make sense of your experience?
On receiving this diagnosis, were you then offered professional support you found useful/felt was sufficient?
If this diagnosis was some time ago, does it still make sense of your experience of motherhood when you reflect back on it?
If you did not receive one, did you ever want one? Was there a time/times when you felt it would have helped in any way?
For how long after the birth of your child/children, did you find things difficult in the ways described above eg. how long did you feel unexpectedly anxious, depressed, angry, afraid - even if only fleetingly at a time. *
Have you felt comfortable talking to people about the challenges and darker side of motherhood? *
If you said no to the question above, please explain why not.
Your answer
Have there been times you have felt, even for a moment, any of the following feelings about being a mother and/or towards your child: (Even if it was for a second. That counts.) *
Required
If you're willing, please share some of the thoughts that accompanied these feelings. (eg. wanting to shake your baby when not going to sleep, or run out the door and leave them.)
Your answer
If there is anything else that feels important to mention about your experience of motherhood, please feel free to do so here.
Your answer
Would you have found it helpful if the darker side of motherhood was normalised and talked about more openly? *
If you'd like to hear more about the project, or if you're happy for your experience to be on the podcast/in the book, please leave your email address here. Full anonymity is guaranteed and your data is wholly protected.
Your answer
Thank you so much for taking the time to engage with my project. I am really grateful for your support in helping me contribute to changing the distorted projection of mothers and motherhood in our world today.
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