My name is Walker Ladd, Ph.D. and I am a researcher and author. My first book, Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth, explored the lived experience of 20 women who had experienced postpartum depression as both traumatic and transformative.
When Postpartum Depression Grows Up is my next book project. The vast majority of research and writing about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders is, rightly so, about new mothers. My own work has looked at the gravity of the experience during the postpartum period. Still, now, questions linger.
When I had my son, Ziggy, 16 years ago, the experience of PPD and PTSD left me undone. I don’t think I have ever put the pieces back together. As I see him move through adolescence, I am haunted by memories of living through PPD with him. That baby, that essential reason to live, embodied now in a talented, empathic, glorious teenage boy. Dare I say that I miss PPD as it linked me, in body and mind, to the baby I loved more than anything? That love is the starting point of my research.
A great majority of research done on the subject of postpartum mood and anxiety disorders has focused, understandably, on the mother and baby. Substantive evidence has been generated regarding the prevalence, effects, risk factors and treatment disabling mood and anxiety disorders in mothers around the time of childbirth. This research has advanced the awareness, diagnosis, and prevention of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs). There is little research developing a deeper understanding of the experience of these disorders for mothers with older children. What happens to the women who suffer through and survive a PMAD? How is the experience remembered? Does the impact of the experience remain? The basis of the research for this current project stems from these questions.
My hope is that this research will address the gap in knowledge regarding how perinatal mood and anxiety disorders impact mothers over the lifespan. More personally, I hope to give words to the power of the bond between mother and child uniquely created by sharing the journey of survival. You can learn more about me and my journey here.
“Re-vision – the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction – is for woman more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival.”
— Adrienne Rich