Write Your Postpartum Story: Let’s Brainstorm!

If you had a maternal mood disorder, writing about that experience can be intensely cathartic and healing. Here are some benefits I reaped from writing my memoir:

  • I identified the “red flags” that let to my depression. When I had my second child, I had a much healthier and happier postpartum period.
  • I stopped feeling like the victim of a mental illness and became the author and editor of my adventures.
  • I released bad feelings and felt emotionally lighter.
  • I got really curious about my mental health and made it a priority. Now, thanks to postpartum depression, I feel happier than I have in my entire life.

But remember: I’m not saying you need to write or publish your memoir. If that’s what you want to do, fantastic. I’ll write some posts about that later. Besides, you don’t have to decide to write a memoir right away. I spent several months journaling about my mood disorder before I felt the call to write a book.

I’m going to post a series of journaling prompts that cover different topics from getting pregnant to healing from postpartum depression. But today, let’s talk about brainstorming.

When I was in the third or fourth grade, we learned about brainstorming. We had to write a word in a bubble and then draw out lines with all the different ideas that emanated from that main topic. It kind of looked like a brainstorming spider.

I’m not asking you to make anything that looks like a spider.

Instead, let’s make a list! Lists are fun and an easy way to get into the flow. I wrote a lot of lists when I was getting started with my postpartum journaling. Then, when I wanted to write, I did not have to rack my brain for a topic. I just reviewed my list and picked whatever jumped out at me first.

Everyone’s list is going to look different. For a mom who experienced pregnancy depression, the list might look like:

  1. morning sickness
  2. constipation
  3. shitty obstetrician
  4. best friend with fertility issues
  5. work issues
  6. etc.

Whereas a mom with an easy pregnancy might have a very different list:

  1. emergency c-section
  2. baby with jaundice
  3. husband traveling for work right after delivery
  4. mastitis
  5. loss of appetite
  6. etc.

Just start listing all the things that pop into your mind when you think about your maternal mood disorder.

Your list might only have two or three items on it. Don’t worry. I have a whole list of posts to write on this. (See what I did? I wrote a list.) I think writing our stories can help countless women heal from having a maternal mood disorder, so I’ll share plenty of prompts to get you writing.

If your list is long, don’t get overwhelmed. You don’t have to write about everything on your list. In fact, many feelings and experiences just need to be included on a list for you to experience some catharsis. Also, when you sit down to write, you’ll probably end up writing about a bunch of different things at the same time. So what looks like a list of 400 topics might actually only be 10.

Don’t judge your list. It’s just a tool to help you get started. It might even look like this:

  1. I hate lists.
  2. I hate having postpartum depression.
  3. Courtney is a dumb-dumb for thinking this will help.

If you think my ideas are stupid, go ahead and write about that! I’m game for anything that might help you heal.

And if all this sounds overwhelming, I have more posts coming with prompts to get your started. Maybe brainstorming a list is too much for you today. That’s okay. You have to do what works for you.

Today’s prompt:

Write a list of everything that comes to mind when you think about your maternal mood disorder.

Today’s alternative prompt:

Write a list of reasons why Courtney is a dumb-dumb for thinking this will help.