In Charlotte Perkins-Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” which is written and set in the late 1800s (1892), the central figure is sequestered to a top floor bedroom where she is forced to “rest” for days on end. By being suppressed, oppressed, and depressed, the woman goes mad. One contemporary theory is that the woman, who it is implied has recently given birth, is not mad but suffering from the very real malaise of postpartum depression, or what we today call postpartum blues.

While women’s feelings or emotions have been discounted for centuries—From Hippocrates to Traturo of Salerno to with Freud, and his term, “hysteria”, for example, denoting only those emotions of a woman with a hyster, a womb, modern science has finally acknowledged (though still poo-pooed or dismissed too often) that postpartum blues are real and in some cases quite devastating.

Evidently, there are three stages of post-birthing depression, with postpartum blues—also called the “baby blues” or “maternity blues”—at the milder end. At the furthest extreme is what specialists at define as puerperal psychosis. At this level the malady manifests itself in hallucinations, delusions that the baby is a demon a saint or dying, and tendencies toward suicide or infanticide.

Was this what Medea was experiencing when she slaughtered her three children? Was this (to use a real-life example) what Susan Smith was experiencing when she drowned her two boys in the back of a car she sunk in John D. Long Lake? Can fathers get a form of postpartum blues? If so, can we account for postpartum blues of one Garrett Wilson, who murdered his five-month old whom he had with one wife, after, evidently, murdering his two-month old years earlier, a baby whom he had had with a different wife.

Than again, the motives in this man go beyond any kind of temporary insanity—to greed. But I ask the question to have us consider that postpartum blues are real, and are possibly the cause of many problems as well as the results of many non-birth related events. I know teachers, for example, who, though they adore their classes and work intensely to give them the best all semester (or year), and who though they are relieved to get a break at semester’s end, get a strange form of depression…as if they have just given birth (to multiple children!) and are now feeling the gaping void. In any case or any extreme, the important thing is to make appointments for consultation with one who believe, believes in, and honors, as well as has solutions for postpartum blues.

– Ravi Jayagopal / Indian Baby Names

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