In 2019, Veronica “Verdi” Jones was living the dream. She married her high school sweetheart, and the entire occasion—from the planning, right up to the big day—was documented by WE tv ‘s film crew for the reality show, Bridezillas.
Jones was in love, a TV star, new stepmom to a bonus daughter, and she found out the week after her wedding that she was expecting her very own bundle of joy who came into this world in the summer of 2020.
However, despite the fairy tale she seemed to be living, Jones became one of the estimated 600,000 women who experience postpartum depression every year. She has made it her mission to educate others on a topic nobody wants to talk about and to end the stigma surrounding it.
When and why did you decide to write “The Part They Left Out?”
Jones: Being a first-time mom and never having heard of postpartum depression, I honestly wrote my book out of frustration. Once I had my son, I could not figure out why I was not as excited as everyone else around me. There were no explanations for my crying spells or lashing out. While I suffered from PPD, I wrote in my journal almost every evening as an outlet. These journal entries are implemented throughout my book.
Can you share with Fredericksburg Parent your personal experience with postpartum depression?
Jones: My PPD symptoms were active from the second my son was born. I did not know it at the time, but the immediate disconnect and emotional rollercoaster I experienced upon giving birth would only get worse as time went on. My son, the innocent baby boy I brought into this world, was unapologetically an infant that I viewed as more of a burden than a gift. There were times I would lash out at my husband for no reason, and a few minutes later I couldn’t explain why it happened. Sometimes, I would have the best day, then start to cry out of nowhere.
I was finally able to overcome it. It took a lot of talking. I mean, a lot of uncomfortable conversations on how I felt. My feelings were such that are usually frowned upon.
In addition to talking about it, mainly with my husband, I also had a list of positive affirmations I would repeat to myself multiple times on a daily basis. Exercise and writing were also a huge part of my recovery.
Now that I am on the other side of things, I look back and it breaks my heart how much of my son’s infancy I missed. My outlook on life was so clouded by postpartum depression that I couldn’t be in the moment. PPD is not something you can control, but I am happy I’ve now become self-informed on the topic, so I know what to signs to look for in the future.
What parts of your experience were very typical postpartum depression symptoms, and what parts were more unusual?
Jones: There were days I felt like sleeping all day and there were days I felt like disappearing. The crying, the mood swings, the loss of appetite—all of these would fall under symptoms of PPD. I wish I would have sought professional guidance on the days I experienced the extreme symptoms. I had a great support system between my husband, family and friends. However, I did not always feel comfortable discussing what was going on in my head. I was ashamed that I felt this way and didn’t want to be judged.
Writing about something deeply personal takes a lot of courage. Where did you find the strength to do this?
Jones: When I was suffering with PPD, (my husband) knew that writing was always an outlet for me. So, every evening, he would take the baby and tell me to go have some me time and write, so I did. Once I was recovered and looked back at my journal entries, I told myself that I needed to keep the conversation going. Even if that meant that the world would have access to me at the darkest part of my life.
As I joined PPD support groups, I realized that not everyone received the care and attention I did, and that is not OK with me.
What are your plans going forward?
Jones: I made a vow to myself that my actions would not end with the book. I need to keep creating awareness in any way possible. I’ve created a logo for my brand. I will be coming out with merchandise that I will consider conversation starters. My hope is that a parent will be rocking one of my cute t-shirts while in the grocery store line and someone will ask them what it represents. It seems minimal, but this is part of starting and keeping the conversation going about PPD.
In addition, I respond to parents in PPD support groups who are looking for guidance or to speak to someone about their PPD experiences.
I am going to do whatever I can to be the beginning of the conversation so we can put an end to the stigma surrounding postpartum depression.
Are you available to meet/speak with groups (like church or school groups) to talk about PPD?
Jones: I am available to tell my story to whoever will benefit from it. This year, I made a list of different organizations to reach out to in order to be able to meet with parents who are experiencing PPD. My list contains, schools, jails, and churches, to name a few. I am not an expert or a doctor. I am just a mother who wants to spread awareness. If that means I tell my story over a thousand times and answer the same questions over and over, so be it. That is what I want. I want to reach as many human beings around the world as possible to spread PPD awareness.
Any words of wisdom for anyone going through PPD or maybe knows someone who is?
Jones: For anyone suffering from PPD, please get the help you need. The hardest part of going through PPD is actually accepting the fact that you are suffering. Your thoughts make you feel horrible about yourself and make you question whether you are parent material. I can tell you that these feelings are normal. It is important to come to terms with them as early as possible so that you can create a plan of action to overcome it. Nothing positive will come from hiding your thoughts and feelings due to the fear of how others will perceive you.
If you know someone who may be going through PPD, the best thing you can do is keep them close to you and listen. Keep a close eye on them, offer help and relief from the kid(s), if possible. Ask the person if they are having negative thoughts and if you can help coordinate getting a professional involved.
I like to remind people that just because Postpartum Depression is not spoken of on the same level as other types of depression, it can still lead to the same negative results if not treated. If you or someone you know is suffering from PPD, there is a helpline specifically dedicated to people suffering from perinatal anxiety and mood disorders. Call 1-800-944-4773 if you are suffering or are not sure if you are experiencing PPD. It’s a phone call that could change a huge aspect of your life.
Verdi Jones can be reached on Instagram at @v.erdi. Visit Amazon.com to find her book, “The Part They Left Out.”