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June 14, 2019

Dear Scarlet: The Story of my Post Partum Depression by Teresa Wong ~ a Review

by MK French

Dear Scarlet is a memoir in graphic form, starting out as a letter to her daughter Scarlet. Teresa Wong outlined her thoughts and emotions with both words and pictures in this graphic novel, and we see glimpses into the reactions that her husband, mother, and friends all had in response to the depression, and then to finally getting a formal diagnosis of postpartum depression.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Dear Scarlet
May 2019; Arsenal Pulp Press; 978-1551527659
print (128 pages); memoir
This book was released in time for Mental Health Month and Mother's Day and is a frank look at postpartum depression and the unglamorous side of motherhood. Teresa had all the risk factors to develop it a first child she had ambivalent feelings about while pregnant, a difficult delivery, and limited support network she could reach out to. While it helped to have her mother with her, especially with the traditional month of care that is part of Chinese culture, it still left Teresa isolated in bed a lot. Though it's unintentional, others' attempts to help leave her feeling even more weak, useless and worthless, compounding the depression.

Teresa is very open with this book, and my heart goes out to her through this period. So little about this is discussed, and in the text she describes knowing that she shouldn't need reassurance from authority figures (doula, lactation consultant, doctors, etc), hearing that she's doing the best that she can is actually comforting. The fatigue and helplessness are starkly drawn; the art is in black and white, and she or her daughter are small figures in the middle of an otherwise empty frame. It's a haunting image, visually showing us how small and helpless they are in this situation.

People rarely talk about the exhaustion, the lack of sleep, the judgments and the continual bombardment of the "perfect" mother that comes to us, which is especially difficult for a young mother. This volume is perfect to start the conversation about postpartum depression, as well as reassure mothers with it that they're not alone, and it doesn't mean they're monsters. They're human and tasked with the sometimes frightening responsibility of caring for another creature at the expense of her own health and happiness. It's a daunting task, one that we should applaud more people for undertaking.

Buy Dear Scarlet at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

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  1. This is amazing. People need to be talking about postpartum more. One of my friends dealt with it, and she was so nervous to tell her close friends what was going on. I'm going to have to check this book out so I can better understand! <3

  2. It's such a touching and real look at postpartum depression, and really helps you understand what she had gone through.