Letters written to problems, not people – by everyday champions, like you.
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The ripe belly of a pregnant woman is presented with her wife's hands interlaced atop it, as selected by the courageous author whose letter to postpartum is featured at

Dear Postpartum Bipolar

What you didn’t tell me about the postpartum period is how my hormones would send me on such a roller coaster that the old lady in line at the pharmacy could make me cry within thirty seconds, as she inched closer and tried to breathe on my newborn during a pandemic.

What you didn’t tell me is how I would lose my sense of self in both good and bad ways, how I would go a bit crazy. How I would dance and hula hoop on the sun-kissed deck at 6am before the baby woke up, how I would cry with joy and swelling emotion as I listened to a favorite song. How I would experience a manic episode starting a week after the baby was born.

You didn’t tell me that I would be awake at 1am with inspiration flowing, jotting down idea after idea, trying not to wake my spouse in bed with the light. That I would be shopping online at 3am, researching coupon codes and handy household items such as a pot lid holder.

You didn’t tell me that during my mania I would realize at my core that I needed to quit my job, that it was making me unhappy and sapping my creative energy. That I would brainstorm dozens of different career possibilities including inventor, blogger, and house organizing consultant.

You didn’t tell me that I would be so uncharacteristically friendly and talkative that even the Sprint customer service representative and the staff at the emergency room would become delightful conversation partners.

You didn’t tell me I would be so irritable that I would push away anyone who tried to tell me how to take care of myself and my body, how I would nearly burn bridges with loved ones. That I would get annoyed at the midwife office when they asked me if I was seeing my psychiatrist regularly.

What you didn’t tell me is that months into my recovery, the emotional wounds of the postpartum period would still sting. That I would cry when the doctor claimed I had psychotic symptoms or when my spouse recalled the ways I was not present for my family during this time. That I would feel like less of a mother for missing some of the key moments during his first month of life.

You didn’t tell me that this would be the most carefree I had ever felt in my life, despite the insomnia and impulsive behavior that came along with it. That I would giggle in the bathtub, that I would move my body without inhibition, and that I would feel – for the first time in my life – absent of worry and anxiety about what was to come next. That I would recall this time period with conflicted feelings yet deep down, I would long for that sun-kissed sweet feeling of freedom as my hips swayed through the morning air.

34, Female
Postpartum Mood Disorder/Postpartum Bipolar

An eviction notice posted to a wooden door selected to accompany a letter written to a painful condition at

Dear Diagnosis (AKA One of my Shitty Roommates)

I was glad to finally meet you face-to-face, after ailing me for so long. The story started about 10 years before I even knew your name and while out on my adventure to find you – during which I managed to pick-up some other annoying housemates along the way. You are not a very tolerable roommate, which I do not appreciate. You embarrass me. You depress me. You raise my anxiety. You are debilitatingly painful. In an effort to evict you, I had a few procedures. Thereafter, your name stayed but your essence was gone (hooray!) Until now, when you birthed your way back (are you fucking kidding me??) Just when my life was pain free, you moved back in without my consent!

Well, I’ve got another eviction notice coming your way: This is temporary housing. Your name may be on the lease in MY body that we share, but I don’t have to tolerate your obnoxious ways nor will I acknowledge you once you’re gone. I will see the doctor Friday in hopes of scheduling another eviction. You may never be gone permanently – damn these tenant ‘rights’ – but I will not allow your shenanigans to hurt our household, as I have in the past.

Ouch Ouch Go Away,

Female, Age 40
Pudendal Neuralgia, Endometriosis

graphic images representative of pregnancy created by the author of a letter to postpartum perfectionism

Dear Postpartum Perfectionism

NOTE (from the Project Director): As Michael Schreiner points out in his own blog, “Perfectionism is difficult to treat… while most people are poignantly aware that the attitude causes them undue suffering & distress, they’re also secretly proud of their life orientation & deeply afraid that if they were to let go of the compulsion to do everything perfectly, their performance would suffer & their lives would fall apart… This makes narrative therapy an excellent treatment option, since by separating the person from the problem it’s possible to view the situation more objectively.” By way of the letter that follows, the Dear Diagnosis project takes on a new leaf. Conversations hosted with any sort of externalized problem, are now welcomed here.

Let me just start by saying postpartum is rough, let alone when you creep in. Hormones and lack of sleep aside, my body is fighting and still healing from an infection. I want to say it doesn’t matter how my baby entered the world, but I would be lying. Although, you know that. You’re the one that told me it does matter, and it has to be a certain way! Look, I pass no judgment on how anybody else’s baby entered the world… but I find myself ashamed and frustrated by how my baby entered the world. Thanks a lot, Perfectionism. Everyone told me to prepare for my birth plan to go out the window, but you convinced me our plan was perfect. The plan really only consisted of ‘get baby out of my vagina’ and, instead, what I got was a C-section.

OK, rewind, I should give you a little gratitude here. Thanks to you, I was really good at being pregnant. Sure I missed the soft cheeses, turkey sandwiches and wine, but I genuinely enjoyed my growing bump and the feeling of having this ever-present sidekick. You were in control of our schedule and we knew all of the Do’s and Don’ts—that gave me confidence in being pregnant. I was terrified of giving birth but felt this weird sense of pride that I would get to experience labor & delivery. I was surprised when I went into labor a few days shy of my due date but, because I had you at my side and my birth plan in place, I was ready for our plan to take flight. Thing is, I was only prepared for our plan. The contractions started around 5 AM and got progressively stronger throughout the morning. I got things ready around the house, checked and re-checked my hospital bag and pulled out all of my postpartum care, which we had carefully prepped. You were proud that morning, Perfection, really proud of all the work I’d done on your behalf. Upon arrival in triage, the nurse told us “baby is breach and we’ll have to perform an emergency C-section.”

Fuck you, Perfectionism.

The C-section video was optional at the end of our labor & delivery class. Optional! As in, if you’re planning on a vaginal birth – you don’t have to stay to watch it. We stayed, but I still don’t know what the hell happened when they opened me up and yanked out my baby! Perfectionism, why did you have me focusing on just vaginal birth? Why didn’t you ask the questions and allow me do the research? I’d have known that a woman is more likely to deliver your baby C-section if your mother did. You make me feel jealousy every time I read someone else’s “amazing birth story.” You make me feel robbed of an experience to be otherwise proud of.

Cue the arrival of baby boy. You’ve continued to tell me our story was wrong. You’ve made me second-guess everything I do as a new mother. You even made me ask my husband if I would love him more if our birth plan had gone as expected. How did I let you influence me like that? You may forever be a part of me and this birth story of mine, but I won’t let you question my love for my son ever again. Do you know how amazing he is? Do you see how my body is finally healing? Do you get that I nourish him, bathe him, clothe him and cuddle him? I bet if we asked him how I was doing, he would say something along the lines of, “Fucking awesome, Mom!”

Female, Age 31
5 Months Postpartum

A statue holding pedals in honor of a woman's condition - endometriosis.

Cara Endometriosi (Dear Endometriosis)

Che strano darti un nome, come fossi una figlia…Una gravidanza che dura da 23 anni, con “parti” multipli – interventi chirurgici ripetuti – per portarti fuori e lasciare il mio ventre libero. E cure ormonali che fanno diventare molli nel corpo e nell’animo, e dolori, tanti, talora insopportabili. Da poco qualcuno ha iniziato a capire che sei una malattia invalidante, ma chi ti conosce, lo sapeva da tempo. Ricordo ancora la prima volta che mi parlarono di te come “nodi cioccolato”, dando l’illusione che fossi simpatica! Sei, invece, aggressiva, insensibile, prepotente, vendicativa… mi hai portato via alcune cose tra cui il sogno di un figlio e la sicurezza di provare piacere nella sessualità. Con te come terza incomoda, il sesso è una slot machine. E mi fai paura… perché cresci in modo subdolo, non si sa mai dove potresti moltiplicarti e infiltrarti, cosa ti inventerai per sciupare gli attimi. Sei una malattia cronica che fa stare connessi al presente, che fa godere di momenti in cui ti assopisci e imparare a rispettare ogni occasione in cui il dolore è assente. Sebbene io abbia scelto di farti dormire, con una sorta di menopausa forzata, riesci ancora a pulsare, pungere, picchiare, quando ti sembra che io ti abbia dimenticata. È proprio vero, sei come una figlia che chiede attenzione. E dando attenzione a te… be, ho imparato a darne a me.

Questo è il dettaglio per cui ti ringrazio. E perché mi hai mostrato, con la tua prepotenza e le invasioni sprezzanti, come non voglio essere.

Femmina, 39

A woman in a striped shirt and red coat creates a heart with her hands over a pregnant body, which was chosen to accompany the respective letter written to endometriosis at Dear Diagnosis: a literary project.

Dear Endometriosis

You came into my life when I was only 18. I was young and totally unaware of all the trouble you would cause me. All I knew at first was that my periods hurt, a lot. Family and friends thought that I was just exaggerating my level of discomfort. But, somehow, I knew that this was more painful than it should be.

This cycle of pain went on monthly until it became too much. I was doubled over in pain, completely crippled by lower abdominal pain when my mom finally took me to the emergency room. She finally believed that this had to be something more.

They did all kinds of scans to find out what you were. They found a cyst, caused by you, the size of a lemon on my left ovary; gave me pain pills; and told me to see a reproductive specialist, which I did. When the OB-GYN came into the room, he began to explain the differences in types of ovarian cysts – what causes them, what they may or may not be filled with, and explained that 90% of the time they were harmless, and the body would naturally reabsorb them. I asked him what about the other 10 %? That was the moment I heard your name for the very first time. He said, that in rare cases, women have a condition called Endometriosis, which is characterized by painful periods and painful intercourse, black-blood- filled-cysts, and eventually infertility. He explained that the only way to find out which percentile (I felt like a statistic) I fit into, was to rupture the cyst, drain it, and examine what came out.

Deep down I knew that this wasn’t normal pain. I already knew that it was you…

I got into the female examination position. He put on gloves and grasped a 6-inch needle with tubing attached to the end and some sort of collection device. Your unforgettable black blood slowly drained out. I wanted to cry, I wanted to get up and leave, but I was still in a compromised position. I remember thinking about all the things I had been experiencing for months – they were exactly what the doctor described as your traits.

You made me never want to have sex. You made every period the worst week of my life. You made me dependent on pain pills for periods of time. You made me doubt whether I would ever be able to have children of my own. You ultimately made me doubt my woman-hood when the doctors told me that the only affective “cure” was to have my entire reproductive system removed from my body.

I was confused by you. I was hurt by you. You made everything about being a teenage girl incredibly more difficult. Periods were excruciatingly painful, I had to have surgeries to remove blood filled cysts, I was told that I was most likely infertile anyway and the best way to move forward from here was to have a complete hysterectomy.

I had never been so confused. An 18 year old female having her entire reproductive system removed seemed to be too much. It was too drastic, too severe. I was realizing that my desire to be a mother was being taken from me, and it was your fault.

Despite these doctors “infinite wisdom” on what was “best for me” I decided to continue in this crazy cycle of pain. They put me on birth control which helped the pain to a small degree, but I was NOT going to have a hysterectomy. I made a choice to live with you, take my chances, and hope that the doctors were wrong about the infertility issue.

I would go back and forth in my head over the next 10 YEARS on whether I had made the right choice by keeping my uterus and ovaries. I never got pregnant, never even a possibility. I began to believe that I was infertile and there was no hope. I re-considered my choice to not have a hysterectomy so many times, all because of the doubt and fear that you instilled in me. BUT, last year – right after thanksgiving – a miracle happened: I became pregnant! I can feel my little miracle kicking inside my belly as I write this letter to you, now. Maybe all the suffering was worth it. I still have you, you will always be with me, but fear of you doesn’t plague me anymore.

Female, Age 30
Endometriosis, Cirrhosis the Liver – Stage 4
Chron’s Disease, Bipolar Disorder