In a recent article at ESPN Chicago, the term “postpartum depression” was misused in a recent interview with Mike Scully, Director of Golf at the Medinah Country Club in Chicago, IL, home to this year’s Ryder Cup, a bi-annual competition between Americans and Europeans. It’s a coup de grace to host this prestigious golf tournament.
The attention to detail, ensuring the course is pristine, organizing events, tee-offs, etc, must be excruciatingly stressful. But it doesn’t in any way excuse the misapplication of the term “postpartum depression.”
In the article, Scully relayed a recent conversation he had with a woman:
“A lady came up to me other day and said ‘You have a look of stress on your face,'” he said. “I apologized and she said ‘I understand but you’ve got to enjoy the ride, smell the roses. Monday morning [after the competition ends] will be the closest thing a man can experience to postpartum depression.'”
Now, I realize I can’t fault Mike for the misuse of the term –because he didn’t say it. I really can’t fault the woman for saying it because I’m sure she had the best of intentions. But he CHOSE to share it with Melissa Isaacson. She chose to include it in the piece.
No, Mike. No, Melissa. No, random woman who stated it’d be just like “postpartum depression.”
I get that this is like a baby, the intensity, the pressure, the demand to perform to an expected standard, I do. But would we say that the stress is eating away at him like “cancer” or threatening to cause a “heart attack?” I’m thinking no.
Not so long ago, Postpartum Depression wasn’t discussed except for backroom whispers. After you give birth, you’re supposed to be happy, cheerful, exhilarated, and all of the other synonyms listed for “over-joyed.” But when you’re not? It sucks. A lot.
That’s just in regard to women.
What about men?
You know, the father. The one running into the waiting room shouting, “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” then handing out cigars? The one who’s supposed to point to the baby through the window, beaming, saying “Look what I did?!” Heaven forbid HE get depressed after the birth of a child. What’s there to be depressed about? It’s not as if HIS body went through all the effort of growing the child for 9 months – he doesn’t bear stretch marks – didn’t give birth – won’t experience all the joys of sudden hormone drop postpartum which can send women into a tailspin. What’s he got to be depressed about, really?
Except that it does happen. Their life completely changes too. There’s a new mewing creature demanding attention 24/7. It’s not about the lack of sex, it’s not about competing for his wife/partner’s attention. It’s an unsettling depression which can hit him out of nowhere. It’s REAL. It happens.
I’ve written about Paternal Postnatal Depression before for The Good Men Project. I’ve talked to men who’ve had it, I was married to a man who experienced it. It’s hell. It’s less discussed than Postpartum Mood Disorders in women and is just now gaining the attention it deserves thanks to more and more voices speaking up about it. Research is finally proving it’s existence as well. An extensive study back in 2010, led by Dr. James F. Paulson, showed more than 1 in 10 fathers struggle with depression after the birth of a child.
The process for awareness is a slow one, requiring patience and raised voices when we see the misuse of the term in relation to men in particular given the common denial of the existence of mental illness in men as they are less likely to speak up when they’re struggling.