Shreya Mitra is a blogger creating awareness for postpartum depression in women and club foot in children. Her social media influences mothers about maternal mental health and related issues.
Shreya Mitra is a professional lawyer, but now she is a full-time content creator on Instagram. The blogger’s page ‘Raising Shan’ concerns parenting and maternal mental health. Shreya Mitra’s blog is basically to create awareness about Postpartum Depression and other prenatal disorders because when she had it, she realized there was barely any conversation around it. So she wanted to initiate a platform to offer help to mothers to get the right kind of help and create awareness around it.
Icy Tales is in conversation with Shreya Mitra about her experiences as a mom blogger and content creator.
Q) When did you work towards awareness of postpartum depression? Was it something you felt during your life? How did you overcome it?
Shreya Mitra- During my pregnancy, I was doing fine physically. During that time, my mother got cancer, my grandmother passed away, my baby was diagnosed with clubfoot, and my husband got dengue; many things were going wrong, but I was doing mentally fine and was emotionally strong.
However, after my son Shaan was born, I suffered from a brain Hemorrhage, and I had to be taken to Chennai for treatment. My newborn son was living with my in-laws in Jamshedpur. I was not prepared for it at all. Even after so many things happened, I stayed strong, but this hit me differently.
I had amazing doctors, so I recovered from it on time. But when I came back to Jamshedpur, I was not the same person anymore who had left for Chennai.
I was always worried about Shaan’s health. I used to wake up at night to check if he was breathing. I remember I had an anxiety attack and didn’t even know then that it was an anxiety attack. I couldn’t breathe, and my hands started shaking. I thought it was due to low hemoglobin, but it turned out to be the early symptoms of an anxiety attack.
I used to have many physical and mental symptoms of postpartum depression, and I consulted many doctors, including cardiologists and gynecologists. One gynecologist told me I was too young to experience Post Partum Depression.
Being dismissed by two doctors and constantly feeling that everyone else was doing well except me was beating me up until I posted about my condition on an online group. Someone from the group suggested that I should get screened for postpartum depression.
It was the first time I got to know about it. I researched extensively about it, and then things started to add up. I reached out to my regular neurologist and told him about my condition. I was already on certain neuro medications. He prescribed me antidepressants. I was reluctant to use them but later agreed to them.
My son was born in 2016, and it was only in 2018 that I felt normal. I stopped my medicines and started feeling the way I was before. Besides medications, some things that helped me were lifestyle changes.
Q)There is a lack of knowledge about postpartum depression in society. What would you tell the women on how to identify that they are going through it?
Shreya Mitra- If you feel a disconnection from your child. If you think relationships around you are changing, you haveel difficulty bonding with your child and believn in unexplainable anger. You feel a difference in your appetite and sleeping patterns, and you feel palpitations, you experience severe body image issues, you feel like running away and not coming back, you feel like hitting your newborn, etc.
If you feel these symptoms, you should see a psychiatrist and seek maternal mental health training. Postpartum Depression, or PPD, is one of the most common reasons for suicide in new mothers, but this topic is hardly discussed.
Q)There is a lot of stigma in our society about poor mental health. On top of it, depression during postpartum isn’t something families of the woman would want to know. How should such women convince their families to seek help?
Shreya Mitra- You do not need to depend on your family for your mental health. This information does not come from a general doctor. It is usually experienced when a woman is going through it. Often when women share it, they are dismissed for overreacting.
But I would say that you should consult a doctor. It would be best if you did not refrain from it because your family is not supporting you.
Q) The majority of India’s population falls in the middle-class margin. Women of such families usually do not have access to a psychiatrist. What would be your advice to them as a person and a mother who has faced this?
Shreya Mitra- True. I believe there are now many free resources for people who cannot afford mental health services, for example, Practo. If someone can not access that also, I would recommend taking a break for themselves.
They should step out in the sun, walk and drink ample water. Do not mother all day; take time for yourself. It will take time to adjust. It would help if you kept recharging yourself.
Q)You also advocate for clubfoot in children. What was your reaction when you discovered that your son had clubfoot? How did you and your partner navigate through that?
Shreya Mitra- During my 20th week of pregnancy, we learned that Shaan would be born with a clubfoot. Our first reaction was questions like Is it permanent? Is it a handicapped condition? Is it reversible? During the anomaly scan, we were told that this is a correctable condition.
When we discovered it was the right condition, we started talking to orthopedics and preparing ourselves for the treatment. We had four months to try to handle the situation.
Q) In western countries, first-time mothers usually take courses or read books to learn about parenting. In India, a girl usually learns that from her mother. However, there are cases when due to certain circumstances, certain women do not have a clue about what to do. What would you suggest to those new?
Shreya Mitra- I believe there’s no fixed way to motherhood, and everyone figures out the journey themselves. No two mothers can mother the same way. No two children are the same, so you cannot copy-paste the same thing to two children.
Q) How do you aim to increase awareness about maternal mental health?
Shreya Mitra- I have been collaborating with many mental health professionals. I have also volunteered at a suicide help center. And I am blogging continuously to increase awareness about maternal mental health in India.
Q) You believe in positive parenting and “real motherhood” Tell us more about it.
Shreya Mitra- I believe every parent is doing the best for their child. I think most parents try not to practice the traditional Indian parenting style of hitting the child, manipulating them, etc. As for a mother, there is no perfect mother. You do not need to try becoming one.
On social media, we see a lot of advice going on. But real motherhood is “messy,” real motherhood is “hard,” and it is also very “soul-satisfying.” It is a mix of many things.
Shreya Mitra is a brave woman who still stands tall after enduring many difficulties in her life. She is leaving no stone unturned in helping other women worldwide speak for their mental health and about clubfoot. Fighting her own battles and coming out stronger, she surely proves to be an inspiration and a great learning source for many new parents and would-be parents.