One of the things we believe in at PPDKenya is awareness and advocacy for Postpartum depression and maternal Mental Health. So, when a popular TV Show, no less on ABC, does that, anyone in the maternal mental health heaves a sigh – or relief, of excitement and certainly, of the hope that this ushers in a new era where TV shows will not be afraid to tackle mental health and highlight the numerous intricate complexities thereof ” class=”wp-more-tag mce-wp-more” alt=”” title=”Read more…” data-mce-resize=”false” data-mce-placeholder=”1″ />
(PS: We are late to the party because this particular episode aired in late 2017, but it is never too late to talk about PPD, now is it? )
The TV show in question is Blackish, a family sitcom that brings to light the challenges of a modern black family living in a predominantly white neighbourhood. In S04E02 that highlights PPD, Rainbow Johnson, who is fondly referred to as Bow (and played by the phenomenal Tracee Ellis Ross), is seen to be a tad bit anxious. Having just given birth to her fifth child, she fusses a lot over the heat in her house. We also get to see her caught up in an emptiness of sorts, staring at the baby monitor and wondering if her new born son is still breathing (something that many moms who have gone through PPD can attest to – a perpetual fear of death seems to hang over).
There are a couple of instances where Bow is also seen sobbing endlessly, seemingly over nothing. This is another symptom that characterises PPD. Most affected moms are weepy and irritable, even when they cannot point out exactly why. Another instance that stood out is when, staring into the empty space, Bow pours over tea into a glass. This remarkable change in behaviour, from the usually boisterous Bow, to a weepy mom is picked up by her mother-in-law, Ruby Johnson (played by Jenifer Lewis). According to Ruby, however, ‘This is what new motherhood looks like… She (Bow) is just weak.”
Again, the show brings to the front the stigma associated with PPD where struggling moms are deemed to be weak, or seeking for attention. Dre, Rainbow’s husband (played by Anthony Anderson) realizes that Bow has postpartum depression, but at first, she is denial saying, “I don’t have postpartum. I am a doctor and I would know.” In the end however, she admits she is struggling and is willing to get help.
In the end, this is an incredibly powerful show that steers conversation on PPD right where it matters. Not only does it show the challenges a family faces when mom is suffering from PPD, it also addresses the issue of medication in a sensitive manner that gives perspective. It is worth watching for anyone who has had/ is struggling with PPD, or for anyone interested in one of the most common perinatal mood disorders.
Catch the preview here on their fb page