Keep The Government Out Of My Head!

Not long after I heard about Mary Winkler, the preacher's wife in Tennessee who killed her husband, then took off in the minivan with their progeny, I asked my husband, "Where's the post-partum depression?" I could almost smell it. I could tell that even though the Winkler's youngest child was no longer a newborn, somebody was going to suggest post-partum depression as the cause of the murder.

Recently, while quickly flipping through People in my dentist's office, I had one of those hating-that-I'm-right moments. One of the speculators in the article about why Winkler killed her husband brought up post-partum depression, or PPD for those with a propensity for abbreviated mental states.

Why we women allow people to subject us to such silly stuff is beyond me. Blaming post-partum depression for killing someone and other horrid behaviors is supposed to, I'm guessing here, elevate women to some fragile social status. But why? What will we accomplish when women who have children can so easily be diagnosed with mental problems? Why aren't women rebelling against such labeling and subsequent drugging?

I'm not saying that no woman ever cries at a sad news story more quickly after childbirth than she would have before becoming pregnant. And I'm not saying that extra hormones don't contribute to some funky behaviors from time to time, but this post-partum depression mania that's sweeping the nation; it's enough to make a mom like me, well, depressed.

Most women are strong. Men are strong too, but in a different kind of way. And yes, I do realize that my belief that there are differences between men and women obliterates my run for the presidency of Harvard. But I think that media propaganda and the government schools are sapping our strength as women, strength that helps us to conceive, birth, and breastfeed our young.

Advertisements continually tell us how we're lacking – we're not smart enough, thin enough, or whatever else enough. The government schools raise us and/or our friends and in these halls of supposed education, where we learn all kinds of things: we're pitted against each other for such silly supposed honors as homecoming queen or cheerleader and the schools themselves take us away from our families and our homes, where we really need to learn life's important lessons.

Women are conditioned, subtly, to believe that we are not strong. We take tests in magazines that tell us how sexy or how worthy of a boyfriend or husband or how mentally healthy we are. We read articles by the supposed experts that tell us how to be more this or that, or less this or that.

We follow celebrities, especially when they tell us how we should think. One reason for the recent post-partum depression epidemic, of course, is mental health spokesperson Brooke Shields. Brooke, really, should know better than to prostitute herself to the mental health industry. And Oprah, if I may use the psychological parlance, should know better than to enable her.

Although I didn't have a problem with Brooke's nudity in Blue Lagoon, I have a real problem with her promoting post-partum depression and so easily taking the medications that made everything bright and cheery again, supposedly. The old-fashioned kind of prostitution, sans government intervention, harms few people. With the newfangled Brooke Shields-mental-health-prostitution, many new moms read her book and say, "That's me!" And then the moms jump on the post-partum depression bandwagon themselves, along with the little pills that supposedly cure the depression.

By the way, breastfeeding your newborn helps your hormones to return to normal, but how many times do you read this fact when you hear about post-partum depression? Instead of promoting this natural hormone regulator, Brooke was paid by the formula industry to promote bottlefeeding.

Being around family and friends also helps hormones to return to normal, but how many times do people reach for a prescription instead of the hand of a family member or of a friend? A blood test for thyroid often reveals a physical problem that can affect one's mental state, but how many times are moms placed on pills, with nary a blood test in sight?

I used to be a staunch believer in the mental health industry, but now I have my doubts. At one point, I even wanted to be a social worker. After all, social workers had been a part of my life from before I was born, convincing my mother that she wasn't good enough to keep me. Later on, when I just couldn't figure out what was wrong with me, I had eleven years of talk therapy with a social worker.

And yet, I had not one bit of medicine until after the talk therapy ended, while I was in graduate school. Some of you may know that the pressures of graduate studies, and in many cases, undergraduate studies, can send any sane person to a psychiatrist. Besides, as with many of my female friends, I really wanted to be a mom. But I was busy in graduate school, trying to make the ever-important A and trying hard not to listen to my body, which was telling me, in many ways, to have a baby.

This kind of conflict, which I imagine happens as much with women in the military as with women in graduate school, causes confusion. A good deal of confusion is best dealt with by a good deal of deep hard thinking, something not normally done in the superficial culture of most graduate schools, places where grades seem more important than life itself. And so, fearing deep hard thinking, I found myself face to face one day with a psychiatrist.

She asked me some questions and soon I had a prescription for something. There was no medical exam, no blood test. There was not much of anything except a sophisticated form of a Cosmopolitan or Self magazine evaluation. And then there was the prescription.

I was sure that the pills would help. That's what the psychiatrist told me. After I found myself waking up every night at 2 a.m., bitter in ways I'd not been before, I wasn't so sure about their help. I wrote a poem that later received honorable mention in some contest, but other than that accolade, not much good came out of my first round of legal psychiatric drugs. Never mind. The psychiatrist changed my medicine and suddenly, I was on another kind of drug. It was a milder, gentler drug, and I stayed on it for a year, believing that it was helping my sanity.

Now, I'm not so sure. Perhaps the talk therapy and year of pills helped, but it's amazing how much finishing graduate school, finding a wonderful husband, finding my natural parents, and having a baby helped my mental attitude, with nary a therapist or pill in sight! While many will call me insane for questioning the validity of the mental health industry and of post-partum depression itself, I find that my skepticism of this industry, especially in light of the present executive branch's focus on the New Freedom Mental Health Initiative, is quite healthy. Even if you haven't heard of this Orwellian term, you'll soon feel its tentacles. Unless you work to stop it and its funding, it will soon be coming to your state.

Recently, legislators in Illinois passed a mental health bill, in the same spirit that our U.S. Congress Critters passed the so-called Patriot Acts: In hindsight, many Illinois legislators claimed that they had no idea what they'd voted for. Their ignorance led to a law in which, despite numerous protests in Illinois and outcries from groups opposing mandatory screening, all pregnant women and all children will be screened for "mental health," whatever that vague definition means.

In Illinois, no child or childbearing woman will be left behind. If what happened in Illinois doesn't scare you, and it should, take a look at what's happening in New Jersey.

What I find especially interesting about the celebratory atmosphere regarding this latest draconian measure, which promises to screen every mom who's just given birth in New Jersey, is that there is no mention, nothing at all, about its connection to the larger picture, to the government's plan to screen everyone. Yes, everyone.

Leviathan has a willing accomplice in a New Jersey state senator's wife, Mary Jo Codey, herself a supposed victim, although less glamorous than Brooke, of this supposed post-partum depression. Codey claims that at one point she wanted to place her infant in a microwave.

While I must admit that even in my most frustrating times as a mom, my fertile imagination has never pondered such a thought, the good senator's wife received praise for her confession. Those of us who are lesser minions to Leviathan would have probably received a visit from our nearest child protective services social worker if we'd confessed a similar thought. One writer received a visit from a social worker after stating that her house was messy.

Needless to say, my plans have changed about becoming a social worker. And I'm not planning to enter talk therapy or take any little pills soon. I am thankful for that choice. I am beginning more and more to doubt the mental health industry's effectiveness, and even its necessity. Nonetheless, Leviathan plans to reach its slimy fins around our minds and souls by legislating mental health.

When the government has the power to deem our thoughts and feelings acceptable or unacceptable, we’re crazy if we think that the mental health industry may be making us think we're sick when we're not. We’re crazy if we think that women are strong enough that we can survive childbirth and the first few months of a new baby's life without being medicated for some supposed mental illness. We’re sane if we want to make women into victims.

As trumped up illnesses such as post-partum depression continue to make women feel as though we're victims, we will spend our time talking in support groups instead of fighting for our dwindling freedoms. Instead of educating our children ourselves and keeping them away from the government schools, we will believe that we are too dumb and too mentally fragile to teach them. Instead of fulfilling our God-given abilities as nurturers of our children, we will hire people to perform that awesome responsibility for us.

When the government's mental health minions diagnose us as depressed or incompetent or whatever, we will accept our fate and do the bidding of Leviathan. After all, we're willing victims. If someone tells us we're sick, we'll swallow the prescribed pills. As with most heavily-Leviathan-induced people, the senator's wife seems to be doing good. As all women are screened for this supposed illness and as Leviathan places many of these women on questionable anti-depressants, the senator wife's seemingly gleeful attitude may soon reflect the soma-induced state of women in New Jersey.

From People magazine's pre-trial indictment of Mary Winkler's mental state to Mary Jo Codey, who whined her supposed depression into a new law, the path has been paved for the nation's women to be diagnosed, for another level of government to creep into our minds and bodies.

    photo by John Thomas    

"Today, we're changing the rules,” Codey's husband said as the New Jersey bill was signed into law, following this prophetic statement with the ominous “Today, every mother can get the help she deserves;” it's important to add something that he didn't say: whether she wants it or not. Women “facing the fear and uncertainty of post-partum depression will have someone looking out for them.” Codey said. Unfortunately, it will be that giant monster, Leviathan – dressed in the clothing of a very tender and loving sheep.

May 2, 2006