Postpartum depression among women is a common phenomenon. Their mothers (the victim) can define it as a feeling of hopelessness and inadequate caring of the infants, (Billings, DeCastro and Place). The condition is associated with suicidal ideation, sadness, agitation among other symptoms. It is believed that postpartum depressions affect women two to four weeks after childbirth. It is crucial to evaluate the symptoms of the condition that according to (Billings, DeCastro, and Place) includes agitation, denial, or sometimes crying. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman tells a story about a woman who seems to undergo postpartum depression or rather has a mental illness, considering her narration. Gilman, who is the narrator of the short story, seems to have gone through the experiences of the main character in the story, this is portrayed by the way she narrates the story. The plot of the story clearly shows the experiences most women through after childbirth. On the other hand, postpartum can also trigger happiness, and joy as stated by (Clinic). Rather than suffer from depression, women can also experience excitement after childbirth. Depending on how they are taken care of, victims of postpartum depression may recover from their conditions or get worse. This paper will look into and argue out the ideas/and or ordeals of postpartum depression of women as portrayed by Charlotte Gilman.
Postpartum Depression (DPP) affects both men and women although it majorly occurs among women. Considering the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression, the condition is portrayed by the main character in Gilman's ""The Yellow Wallpaper"". The narrator holds a number of beliefs that she expresses on paper to relieve her mind from the condition she is going through. Her description of the house is what leads her to the irritation of the wallpaper, which she considers strange. She believes she is sick despite her husband John not seemingly believing so, describing her condition as a temporary nervous depression (Gilman 647). She also believes that she has to keep her mind occupied, just as advised by John, and this leads her to write the story. This fact is reflected in the work by the way she acts which shows symptoms of depression through anxiety and agitation. Many health workers would tend to ignore or rather normalize this condition among women, however, sometimes it usually affects the victims and may lead them to do certain un-thoughtful acts. The argument, in this case, is that depression should be treated as a common occurrence majorly among women. According to (OHara 1259) it is second to HIV/AIDS in regards to total disability this means that it is a serious condition which should be treated with a lot of care. Postpartum depression should be differentiated from postpartum blues which do not require any intervention. Victims of postpartum depression should, therefore, be monitored closely for any weird acts.
The characters in this story include the narrator's husband, John, and his brother who is also a physician and Jennie brother to John. John and Jennie both live with the narrator monitoring and taking care of her. Jennie helps the narrator to take care of the child and other house duties, while John, who's the narrator's husband, goes to work and prescribes medication for her. Gilliams husband and her brother's psychological states are represented at the beginning of the story as snobbish. The narrator thinks they are snubbing her condition by thinking it is a temporary nervous depression (Gilman 648). According to (Corrigan, Kwasky and Groh 46) most women report that health professionals tend to minimize their postpartum symptoms, a situation that makes them feel worthless. Arguably, postpartum victims should be taken into consideration and checked well for conditions that may cause them more harm. The narrator herself is a character in the story and the things she writes represent her psychological state. She is writing about their rooms that she thinks its patterns amount to "artistic sin". This psychological state portrays irritation of how the wall looks. Almost everything in the house agitates the narrator but despite all these, her husband thinks it's mere nervousness. At some point in the story, she says she fears John saying that he seems queer, this happens after their argument about her recovery. Moreover, she thinks Jennie, who is John's sister, has those inexplicable looks. Anyhow, the victims of postpartum depression may look better in body but in the real sense, they suffer from inside. It is important to consider their psychological, mental and other factors apart from just the physical body.
The narration talks about her imaginative power, which John thinks can lead her to all manner of fancies. This is portrayed in the story when she fancies the area outside her window. Apart from that, the narrator unearths various instances of control by her husband. She at some point is hesitant to share anything with him for the fear of being silenced. It is also because of his power and control that he does not listen to her when she suggests that they should change their room. This piece of literature can be placed in a cultural/historical context when men thought that a woman's place is in the kitchen and home keepers. The narrator does not seem to have the freedom of expression, or even to air out her ideas. It seems like power and control is confined within the hands of her husband John. It is important to note that women too have opinions and despite their condition, they too can give valuable ideas.
In most cases, postpartum depression may be confused with postpartum blues. The latter is normal mood symptoms that appear a few days after delivery and disappear without interventions (OHara 1259). The former on the other hand is associated with disorganized thinking, psychotic thoughts among others. The symptoms shown by Gilman show disorganized thinking she gets tired and lazy and lies down a lot. In the story, Gilmans narration points out many cases of the main character losing strength that makes her lazy and lies down often. However, she takes cod liver oil and many tonics to give her strength. The story narrator portrays lack of counseling from her physician husband but rather taking of medicine in order to relieve her from what she is suffering from. Postpartum victims need not to be given one medication after the other, sometimes this may be disastrous understandably, they go through some kind of anxiety which if counseled can relieve their conditions (Corrigan, Kwasky and Groh 49). Unlike postpartum blues that may go away without any intervention, PPD must be treated and the victims counseled for recovery. She seems to be immersed in an ocean of thoughts that in most cases she does not share with anyone. This can be treated as a psychotic act, but writes or confesses that Its so hard to talk with John (Gilman 652) who is actually her husband and a Physician. This shows how victims of postpartum depression are kept away until they cannot share their conditions with other people, not even health professionals. It is important to note that these victims sometimes need someone to talk to. If at all, John could give a listening ear to her wise council, he would get to know what she is thinking and what worries her. Moreover, by sharing her concerns, Gilman would feel relieved rather than get the relief by writing.
Feminism dominates the story it portrays a woman who after giving birth suffers postpartum depression and is confined in a room by her husband to recover. In her mind, she believes that she does not have to be locked indoors to gain recovery. In a more keen analysis, her husband thinks that she should stay indoors because she is a woman, an idea she refutes. It is no wonder he stays at work late and sometimes spends the nights out. At some point in the narration, it is evident that the narrator fears to share her thoughts with her husband. This part shows the psychological orientation of some men in the society. It is also important to note that postpartum depression may also affect men. In the story, Gilliams husband who is also a physician may not be seen battling the condition but in the real sense, it is affecting him indirectly. The fact that he has to put up, care and even treat his wife means that he is involved. Studies show that both fathers and mothers who had the live birth of their first child experienced PPD (Serhan, Ege and Ayranci 280). The effect of the condition particularly on women dominates the story though. It commands the attention of communicating postpartum depression as a condition among women and this is done through the main character. Although to some extent the condition affects both parents, it should be noted that its effects are more prevalent among women.
Gilmans narration is a short story that is a narration of experiences of postpartum depression. It gives the story a true picture of the experiences postpartum victims go through, despite being a fiction story. This genre does not involve a lot of characters but the main character who dominates the story, thus retaining the reader's attention. Consequently, through narration, the reader is able to connect with the writer as the work portrays real-life experience narrated in a manner portraying what happens in real life. They are different types of literacy work genres; this narrative presents a captive narrative genre depicted by the experiences of the narrator with her captors, which is her condition. It also concentrates on one character, and one event that is the experience of postpartum women. It is a tale written by an "insane" narrator to unnerve anyone who reads it. She also includes romance scenes, which also gives the story a juicy taste.
Although Gilman thinks she has been confined in a formless pattern and revolting room by her husband, she stills thinks he loves him. It is important to note that victims of postpartum depression are also human beings who have feelings. This means that they can notice when they are shown love and vice versa, despite their conditions. Apart from being dormant of her condition, John shows Gilliam love which is also an important element for her recovery. It is also important to note, from the story, that despite the challenges victims of postpartum go through, family, friends, and relatives play a big role in their recovery. In the case of Gilman, her husband played a big role by caring and moving her to a new place that was conducive for healing. Moreover, the fact that he was a physician came in handy because he could prescribe medicine and give necessary advice whenever necessary. John's sister, Jennie was also important in ensuring the victim had a conducive environment to stay in comfortably.
Billings, Deborah, Filipa DeCastro and Jean Marie Simms Place. MHTF Blog. 23 April 2014. 16 May 2018. < https://www.mhtf.org/2014/04/23/postnatal-depression-what-should-we-know-about-it/> .
Clinic, Mayo. Postpartum depression. 2015 08 2015. 16 05 2018. < https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20376617> .
Corrigan, Catherine P., Andrea N. Kwasky and Carla J. Groh. "Social Support, Postpartum Depression, and Professional Assistance: A Survey of Mothers in the Midwestern United States." Journal of Perinatal Education (2015): 48-60.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper. London: Hodder & Stoughton., 1999.
OHara, Michael W. "Postpartum Depression: What We Know." Journal of Clinical Psychology 65.12 (2009): 1258-1269.
Serhan, Nilufer, et al. "Supporting Parents and Families: Prevalence of postpartum depression in mothers and fathers and its correlates." Journal of Clinical Nursing (2012): 279-284
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