image: Lucien Fraud/Shutterstock Mother suffering postpartum depression after birth of child

New Mom Seeks Treatment for Her Postpartum Depression, Has the Police Called on Her Instead

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Last week, a new mother in California went to the hospital with her newborn for her first post-birth OB appointment, after having been cancelled on several times for four months. The reason she made the appointment? She wanted treatment for post-partum depression. What happened instead was that the hospital called the police.

Jessica Porten of California took to Facebook to tell the harrowing story of how she and her newborn, Kira, went to an obstetrician appointment that she’d been waiting on for four months. She explains how, when her husband made the appointment, he had mentioned that she was going in specifically to discuss her post-partum depression, and so she assumed that they would know that in advance and be able to help her.

Then, the unthinkable happened:

I had an OB appointment yesterday, my first since giving birth 4 months ago (because they kept cancelling my appointments), which is inhumane in my eyes. I went to the appointment alone with Kira. It was at 2:10, and I was not called back to a room until 3:15. A nurse practitioner comes in (one I don’t particularly care for) and I tell her everything my husband told them when he scheduled me the appointment a week ago. That I have postpartum depression that is manifesting in fits of anger, and I want to discuss my medication options. I tell them I have a very strong support system at home, so although I would never hurt myself or my baby, I’m having violent thoughts and I need medication and therapy to get through this. She rushed through my pelvic exam, barely spoke about medication, said she needed to talk to the doctor about my PPD, and left the room.

They called the fucking cops on me.

She then describes how the cops had to escort her to an emergency room, where after waiting for hours with her baby and having very little to eat, followed by a humiliating wait for a social worker that she didn’t get to see until almost 11PM, all that happened was that they decided she didn’t need to be put on psychiatric hold, and they discharged her and sent her home.

She was never once seen by a doctor.

Porten shared this on Facebook, because she doesn’t believe that this is how any woman who initiates treatment for PPD should be treated, and that the treatment she received could cause women to get worse if they don’t have strong support systems as she says she has. She posed some interesting questions in her post that she wants all of us, as well as the state government in California, to think about with regard to women and mental health:

  • Why is the way I was treated standard procedure?
  • What can we do to improve standard procedures for all postpartum mothers, but also specifically those at a higher risk for developing PPD and presenting with signs of PPD.
  • Who is most qualified to make suggestions for improvements?
  • Who is actually capable of making the changes to standard procedures, and how can we can contact them?

[…] I have some more questions I need to add this list. I may be marginalized as a woman, but I am white and heterosexual and hold privileges in these places. I am scared for our mothers of color and our LGBTQ mothers who seek out help in these situations.

  • Why was I let go, when so many others would have been put on a mandatory 72 hour psychiatric hold, and had their children taken away?
  • Why do a disproportionate number of women of color who have PPD not receive the services they need, even when they initiate treatment?
  • Why are a disproportionate number of women of color who have PPD misdiagnosed?
  • Why are black women half as likely to receive mental health treatment and counseling as white women?
  • What can we do as a community to lift up our marginalized memebers and make sure they receive the quality care that we ALL have a right to?!?

Porten has teamed up with an organization called 2020Mom, a national organization focused on maternal mental health, to join in the fight for four bills related to maternal mental health that are being introduced in the state legislature. A rally will be held in Sacramento in the next two weeks.

If this is an issue that speaks to you, and you want to speak out on behalf of those suffering from maternal mental health conditions like PPD, visit the 2020Mom site linked above, and follow the hashtag #4Bills4CAMoms on socials to keep up with the conversation.

No one should be made to feel like a criminal for seeking out the mental health care they need.

(image: Lucien Fraud/Shutterstock)
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Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.