Real Talk – motherhood journeys

My name is Maryam and I am a clinical psychologist with special interests in Maternal and perinatal mental health. I started my Instagram page, psychedmama_, in November 2020, to address different issues that pertain to maternal and perinatal mental health in South Asian communities – this is where I am from, and this is where I have most of my audience. Given that the topic of maternal mental health is not commonly addressed in South Asian cultures, I use my platform as a means to bring awareness to this topic and to also advocate for moms and their mental health struggles. My vision is to somehow change the narrative of motherhood to include all parts of motherhood – not just the beauty of it. So that this narrative reflects all of us.

In December 2020, I launched the real talk campaign on the page. This campaign shares stories of real women, with real experiences in their own motherhood journeys’. Real Talk aims to encourage women to share their stories in order to facilitate their healing through writing and eventually promote healing in the mama community by making other women feel less alone. By encouraging women to share their own stories, we #breakthesilence – the silence which constantly reinforces said expectations and ideas of motherhood – that is more detrimental than it is supportive. Real Talk reminds women that they are not alone in their pain, struggle and hardship. Real talk reels us in and connects us all in the community.  It helps us acknowledge that women have struggled – in similar ways to us. It helps us acknowledge that women have been silenced about their struggle, by a standard that is too perfect to achieve.  It helps us acknowledge that we are not alone. We know that with more conversation, and more challenging, we can make changes to the narrative – for ourselves. For the women who will come after us. Real talk is hope and healing.

Real Talk is featured through the black and white images on the Instagram page.

As for me, and my work, I recently completed by Masters of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (MPhil). During my training, I worked with some of the maternal population in Sri Lanka, and the cry that I heard from them was too loud to be ignored. I also became a mom myself in the middle of my training, and that also helped me realize how much I wanted to work with this community, and build conversation here, in Sri Lanka, where the awareness of perinatal mental health is mostly only limited to postpartum depression (and this is not for everyone, some people are completely unaware of this topic).
In terms of the work I do, the community on psychedmama has allowed me to create content and reach many women (and men) through it. I have created an awareness campaign with another social organization in Sri Lanka to improve the education and knowledge of perinatal mental health. This campaign targeted the youth – to help them understand what PMH is, what role they play, and how it can affect them in the future (if they choose to become parents). I also have my own private practice, where I see mothers, inside and also outside the perinatal period.

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