I went to the bookstore today. Something I don't do much of these days, much to the chagrin of many a bookstore owner, I'm sure. I love books. Although my mother will tell you I don't read much, I am a self-help
groupie and I surround myself with self-help books. I share them with my friends, my clients, my neighbors and my children. I love to find answers in the written word. And, as many of you know, I love to provide some of those answers myself, within my area of expertise. So while there, I could hardly resist the temptation to check out the family and childbirth section, the traditional home for books focusing on after the baby is born. Mind you, I've been doing this since 1994 when my first book was published and my agent gently hinted that I should go to bookstores and inconspicuously position my book "face forward" so the cover, not the spine, is in full view.
So I scrutinize the shelves, as I had done so many years ago, and not again until now. Hmmmmm.... where are the books on postpartum depression? Driven by vain, albeit futile energy, I searched for books on PPD. My books by any slim chance? Nah. That's okay. Any books? Why aren't there any books on postpartum depression? Why, when one out of every eight women who gives birth experiences a clinical depression, do they not have one single book on the subject? I walked over to the psychology section to check there. OCD, schizophrenia, depression, depression after divorce, depression during adolescence, bipolar depression and more depression related to trauma. That's good. But nothing on postpartum depression.
I wandered over to that lonely lady sitting in the center of the store trying to look busy at her computer. "Do you have any books on postpartum depression?" I asked with my I-can't-believe you-don't-have-any-books-on-postpartum-depression skepticism. I mean, come on. DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? She wasn't impressed. "Well," she said, after searching for some time and staring intently at the screen so as not to disappoint me, "we have one book in the biography section written by Brooke Shields." Oh. Okay. That's a good one. But not enough. Really? Who goes to the biography section of a bookstore if they are looking for help with postpartum depression?
This is not a new issue for me. I have a brother-in-law who owns a number of bookstores. He doesn't have any books on postpartum depression either. Uh-huh. Not even mine. Why? Because they don't sell. Or something like that. Returns are expensive. There are no second chances if a book doesn't sell. That's it. They don't care who you are (even if they are related to you!) They need to make room on their shelves for the books that sell big. And that makes sense, from a business standpoint.
I still cannot believe there are no books on postpartum depression on the shelves at Barnes and Noble. I could picture the new mother, trying to keep her toddler entertained, while carrying her infant across her chest, looking unsuccessfully for something that might put her anxieties and feelings of hopelessness on paper. Something to make it real. Something to tell her she's not alone and she will not always feel this way. The books have been written. Trust me, I know. And she can find them on Amazon or other Internet book sellers. She can also find help/support on many online sites, my personal favorites are Postpartum Progress and My Postpartum Voice where she can find information, advocacy, awesome support, resources for treatment and a community of women who know precisely what she is going through.
So I'm wondering if I'm just getting old. Perhaps Facebook, Twitter, online support groups, instantly downloadable ebooks, and the like, will continue to replace the good old fashioned book. And I suppose that's a subject for another time. In the meantime, there are plenty of books in the bookstore. But there are not books on postpartum depression. I sincerely hope that women with postpartum depression and anxiety know where to go to find the information and support they need and are asking for. And since most of them are decades younger than me, I suspect they aren't even looking in bookstores!