I started stitching stories of perinatal mental health in 2016 with two story quilts . However the story never quite felt finished so in 2018 I revisited the subject and put out a call on social media asking if anyone would like to share their personal experiences of perinatal mental health difficulties.
I chose to tell three different stories from three different women. None of the women thought that they were the ‘type’ of person to experience these difficulties and all kept their feelings secret from friends, colleagues and even family through feelings of guilt & shame.
The front of each dress shows ‘the front’ the women presented to the world but the viewer is invited to look beyond this, to turn the dress around and find the real story stitched on the back of the dress, hidden from view.
The hand stitched writing takes time & effort to read… the stories were a lot more difficult to write.
Displayed with the dresses are three pairs of vintage baby shoes – you’re supposed to be happy, everything’s great, everyone’s smiley…so why do I feel like this? These words came from my original project with Midlothian Sure Start.
I have been so touched listening to all these stories over the years and the lengths women would go to hide their real feelings even from the people closest to them, let alone health professionals and the outside world in general. The relief they felt when they did open up and discover that so many other women felt exactly the same way. This whole issue is now magnified a hundred times over as we are bombarded with images of the ‘perfect family’ over social media.
You can read more about the background story & inspiration behind this series in my blog post.