Anna-Leena Harkonen

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Ewa Doktór

JOURNAL

Myth Meets Reality

Faint Lines was the first of my books in which I wrote directly about myself.

The threshold for writing was high: I wanted to write about postpartum depression honestly, but I was also aware of all the myths associated with motherhood.

For example, it is taboo for a mother to admit to experiencing negative feelings, even hatred, toward her newborn.

THE BOOK PROVOKED intense debate, for and against. Many mothers were grateful that the topics of postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis were discussed openly. 

Some people were appalled and responded with hostility. One journalist wrote that I was exactly the kind of mother whose children grow up to be drug addicts.

Another pitied my husband for having “such a listless wife that she let herself sink into depression,” as if depression were a choice.

I felt so hurt and fundamentally misunderstood by these reviews that for a while I regretted ever writing the book.

I ALSO WANTED to make a difference, to address such issues as the poor quality of mental health services and the treatment of women at maternity hospitals.

For example, women who feel they are not ready to go back home should not be sent home from the hospital. There should also be an opportunity to talk to a therapist after a traumatic childbirth experience.

I believe the most important aspect is to not blame the woman for her feelings. Instead, people should listen without passing judgment.

Having the courage to put distressing thoughts into words can prevent accidents from happening—harming your own child, in the worst case. 

WRITING ABOUT sensitive and intimate topics was very therapeutic. I needed to write.

Fortunately, the feedback was mainly positive, and many people could relate to the events. Readers were often greatly relieved to learn that they were not the only ones who had experienced depression and other negative emotions after childbirth.

Anna-Leena Harkonen

New Terrain Press 2021. All rights reserved.

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