Amy Koppelman is the author of A MOUTHFUL OF AIR, the story of a new mother struggling with severe postpartum depression. Now that novel is a film written, directed, and produced by Koppelman. We discuss how our understanding of PPD has changed, and why it’s still in many ways, a silent health crisis.
While many women experience mild mood changes during or after the birth of a child, 15 to 20% of women experience more significant symptoms of depression or anxiety. But with informed care, you can prevent a worsening of these symptoms and fully recover.
If you or someone you love needs help, call Postpartum International: 1.800.944.4773.
In 2003, Amy Koppelman published the novel A Mouthful of Air , a compassionate and wrenching portrait of a new mother torn between the love she feels for her family and the voice in her head that insists they’d be better off without her. Now that novel has become the film A Mouthful of Air, starring Amanda Seyfried and written, directed, and produced by Amy Koppelman. Amy is an outspoken advocate for women’s mental health.
In this episode we discuss postpartum depression as it's reflected in Koppelman's book and film; how treatment for PPD and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders has improved in the last two decades, and why some sufferers still struggle to find support; and why Koppelman hopes this film has a small part in helping us address this silent health crisis.
Special thanks to this month's sponsors:
Expressable is an online speech therapy company that has helped thousands of children of all ages reach their communication goals. Speak with a speech-language pathologist for free today and learn more about your child's communication development at expressable.io/fresh.
Jane.com is a boutique marketplace featuring the latest in women’s fashion, accessories, home decor, children’s clothing, and more. By shopping at jane.com, you support small businesses, 1500 of which are women-owned. And you will not believe the prices! Visit jane.com/laughing.
KiwiCo projects make science, technology, engineering, art, and math super fun– and best of all, kids of all ages can work on them independently! Get 50% off your first month plus FREE shipping on ANY crate line with the code MOTHERHOOD at kiwico.com.
Magic Spoon is breakfast cereal that gets protein into your kids’ breakfast- Go to magicspoon.com/FRESH to grab a custom bundle of cereal and try it today! And be sure to use our promo code FRESH at checkout to save five dollars off your order!
MamaZen is a revolutionary solution for motherhood burnout, anxiety, impatience, and more. Download MamaZen today– and use the code "FRESH" to unlock a free trial!
SuperBeets Heart Chews are a tasty treat that give you the energy you need and are good for you. Get FREE shipping and returns plus a FREE 30-day supply with your first purchase at SuperBeets.com/fresh.
FT 50 Amy Koppelman
Margaret: [00:00:00] Hello, everyone. And welcome to fresh take from what fresh hell. Laughing in the face of motherhood. This is Margaret.
Amy Wilson: and this is Amy. And today we're talking to Amy Koppelman. In 2003, Amy Koppelman published the novel, A MOUTHFUL OF AIR, a compassionate and wrenching portrait of a new mother torn between the love she feels for her family and the voice in her head.
That insists they'd be better off without. Since then Amy has written two more critically acclaimed novels. One of which became the film. I smiled back starring Sarah Silverman. Amy's new film is an adaptation of that. First novel, a mouth full of air, a new edition of which was released in conjunction with the film, the film, a mouthful of air starring Amanda C fried is in theaters nationwide, starting October 29th.
The movie was written. And produced by Amy Koppelman. Amy lives in New York city with her family. She is an outspoken advocate for women's mental health. Welcome Amy. Thank you for having me. I loved this novel. I read it in [00:01:00] two days. Could not put it down. it's about a woman named Julie who from the outside.
She has it all. She has a loving, attentive husband. She has. Beautiful kids that are healthy. She has enough money not to worry. She loses the baby weight really quickly. Like everything seems like it's going her way. And yet all is not as it seems. And I'm curious why you created her that way
Amy Koppelman: back then.
Really? No one was talking about postpartum depression and we weren't really even talking that much about depression. Styrene had a great book called darkness visible. Was the first thing that I read that I was like, oh, that's what depression is. And so for me, it was really important to show that depression is an illness.
And so I thought if you take every obstacle away from her, you know, all the things that would get in the way from healing and yet she still can't figure it out. You know, imagine what happens if you add a subway stop. Imagine what [00:02:00] happens if you're a single mother That was my, my drive behind, how to situate her.
I also have no imagination. So I was like, well, I live on the upper west side, so I just keep it here. But that is what I thought, take every obstacle away so that you can say, this is no different than if you had asthma or if you've had diabetes, you'd go to the doctor and you would get better. And this is somebody who has healthcare and has a support system.
And it goes to the doctor, but the power of this illness, the symptoms kind of reaffirm the illness. There's probably a smarter way to say that, which I should learn, but you know, you're constantly telling yourself when you're depressed depressant. There's no hope that you're a terrible person, that you shouldn't be here, that everybody would be better off without you, that you're going to fail your children.
You're going to fail your husband. And so those symptoms make actually going and trying to get that. Especially more difficult.
Margaret: One of the things, we hear a lot about it from our listeners. Is this kind of feeling of [00:03:00] almost not deserving that space to be safe.
To be depressed, to struggle with their kids because they do feel like their lives are going well, and they have all of the kind of markers of happiness. One of the things that I think the book really captures is the loneliness of that feeling, that the depression.
Brings you this feeling of isolation.
Amy Koppelman: Yeah. I mean, you know, last month watching those mothers in Afghanistan, if you're at home with a baby in a house or apartment, a room that has air conditioning, forget air conditioning that has walls. Right, right. Water running water. What right. Do you have in any world to be sad, right?
You have no, right. You are in a safe place. You have been given a healthy child. You know, you love this child more than anything. You've never felt even this kind of love. And yet you're just feel all alone and sad and undeserving, and that [00:04:00] voice in your head just keeps reinforcing itself, you know? Cause you keep comparing, you go look at the women in Afghanistan, look at the homeless woman on the street.
How are these people? I'm so lucky and why am I like this? And that also just reaffirms the shame and um, you know, I did not know. I was writing at the time I was writing it. I mean, I don't think anybody sets out to write this novel, like once you've written it and you're like, this is never going to be a best seller.
Like, no, one's going to read this, but I did know I was writing about shame and how women often judge themselves. Within the confines of that chain, whether it's like real shame for things that we did wrong, or the shame that's been put on us by people telling us the things that we did wrong. And it's almost like that's the barometer of what we allow our experience of joy to be or happiness to be.
But I also think that when people have children, the coping mechanisms that they've often had to like repress memories, Or other feelings come out [00:05:00] because you look at this little child and they're so innocent and helpless, and no one really explains that to you. Like in mommy and me class, they don't really explain all of a sudden one day, this thing's going to come out of you and look at you and think that you have all the answers and it's going to be your responsibility to take that child to make sure they stay safe. And, you know, if you are the most healthy person in the world, that's a horrifying thought.
So if you're depressed the volume, you just can't adjust it. It's like, you just can't reach the volume. Not to turn down the knob to give yourself time to say, oh wait, this isn't true. I'm actually maybe not the worst person in the world. Cause that's all you hear. You can't hear anybody else saying, I love you.
You can't hear anybody else say. You're great. You did a great job. You can't feel. The baby against your heart and gets your chest. And instead of feeling the heart to heart warm, wonderful feeling, you're feeling petrified. You know, what, if that hard [00:06:00] stop, what if I, you know, and so that's what I did know.
I was writing about shame. To answer your question with the loneliness, we're so ashamed still, even still with all the conversation with it, for me getting to go. And learn about like this whole mommy world there is this whole community of moms, like actually really trying to help moms.
It's not just like moms making the perfect sandwich. I said to my daughter the other day, thank goodness I wasn't a mom when there was Instagram, because I used to like cut things out, like in her chips and decorate the bag. And now, like on my scroll, I see that. Then tow boxes with 3d sandwiches that talk, you know, that are like, eat me, I'm really held.
And it's just like, it's just too much. But the good part of that is there are people talking about this. So you're able to be less lonely, but have the anonymity of not being a face. But we have to get to the point as women where we actually talk about it in person, in the mommy groups, in person, you know, [00:07:00] places of worship, you know,
where we're not just talking about what we feed our child, but we're talking about how we feel and how we're worried about how that will affect our child. We still like really don't talk about that, that much, because we're scared that nobody else is feeling. Like us. And like I said, even the most healthy person knows it's very scary to be a mom.
Amy Wilson: Yeah. You said in another interview that when you write fiction that you try to get as close to the truth as possible, even if it's ugly so that somebody else might read it and feel less alone. I think this book is so brave and I really thought, wow, that's it. I mean, you go there in this book and you express things that every mother has felt at some point, even if it's for five seconds and it's compounded by the fact that I feel this feeling and now I feel horrible shame because no mother ever feels a Sprite.
Just me that has these dark moments. And this book by going there really helps with that. I would think,
Amy Koppelman: There's a scene in. Book, [00:08:00] there's a variation of that scene in the movie where she's at this party and, you know, to her, everybody appears perfect because what's also this weird disconnect is of course the people at the party who she thinks are, you know, cause she doesn't even really like, the other moms that all of us have, been with that weren't necessarily.
People that we might want to be friends with. Like really think that they, everybody, whether they, we liked them or not, it does not have these feelings, even though we know intellectually, like somebody else in this room has to be feeling the same way.
Margaret: We’re talking to Amy Koppelman, who is the author of a mouth full of air.
And we'll be right back.
We're back with Amy Koppelman, the author of a mouthful of air. There's sort of two aspects of this. Get into in the book, this sort of internal shame of this is how I'm feeling. How can women in Afghanistan be in these horrible situations while I should be grateful?
And then there's this kind of societal shame that we were just sort of touching on. How can she. So [00:09:00] self-indulgent with the way she's feeling or maybe realistically that friends of ours, or maybe moms in your playgroup are looking and going, oh, this person doesn't seem like they're handling it very well.
is that something you think that has gotten better or worse with this social media kind of new world, Instagram, . Is that dividing us, do you think, or is it bringing us closer together?
Amy Koppelman: Well, I think it's a mix. And I think one of the things about when you're depressed or when you're just a mom is, you know, you're constantly looking for affirmation of where you're failing.
You know, I used to say my kids were little, like go to bed every night and I'd say to my husband, well, you know, if I didn't fail today that I must not have tried to be a good mom, because like, you know, you always go to bed feeling like you could have done this more. You should have done that more. So in terms of Instagram, like you can make it where the things you're looking for.
3d lunches that you don't have time to make. Cause you're working, you know, and you could feel like a failure. Those are the negative parts where like the women who have like, lost so much weight so [00:10:00] fast and you're sitting there and it's like eight months later and you still haven't lost the weight.
Those are the negative parts, but the positive parts are that people are talking about this. Online and like my daughter, who's 21 years old, couple months ago, she sent me an Instagram post and she said, you have to meet this woman. Look at her, she's pregnant. And she's talking about perinatal depression.
She's depressed while she's pregnant and look at her like she's crying and you should know this women. I was moved by that because I was moved that this woman was brave enough to be talking about these things while she was pregnant. But I was also moved that. My daughter knew what that was. It somehow nearly came across her scroll.
Why did that come across whatever the algorithm it was and that she knew that that was something that we could talk about. So that dividing wall between at least the mother and the daughter if she had those issues, she would know she could speak to me about them because I guess I've spoken to her.
So I think this is a very, it [00:11:00] always sounds like kind of corny, but like, The two things that you can do, or one, of course you need to ask for help, but the other thing you need to do as a woman, or as a mother, or as somebody who has, or maybe hasn't had this kind of terrible depression after having a child is, when you're walking down the supermarket aisle and you see somebody who drops something and they're flustered, you know, if you actually take a second to look at them and see, they just flustered with their kid in the supermarket card.
Are they okay? And sometimes if you just say hi to somebody and smile, or, you know, you see it as an older mom, you see a new mom and you watch them and you kind of know when you go to the, you know, park or wherever and you see them, you can give an opening to somebody so that they could talk to you.
And I think we just have to do that more, person by person, just kind of literally and metaphorically. Put our arms around the younger mother and say, I felt this way. Or my friends felt this way, this is what's happening to you. It's no different than asthma. If you go to the doctor, we can get you [00:12:00] better you have bad postpartum depression and you go to the park and you have your baby on a swing, you put your little kid on a swing. You're worried about so many things you're worried about is the baby gonna fall out of the basket?
Or if you're there. And you're not worried about that, you're pushing the swing, but there's like a numb gassiness between you and the swing. And you know, if you were at the park and you were having a hard time breathing, you would have no issue whipping out your inhaler from your genes.
You know, taking a puff of your inhaler and then going back to playing with your baby, but self, somehow, as I keep saying in the intellectual way, the symptoms of depression just only reinforce the illness. You don't blame yourself for not being able to breathe. You do blame yourself for not being able to calm down, or be there with your child.
But if you're wheezing, You don't blame yourself. So why is this idea of saying I'm having a hard time as a mom, so hard and I guess it's because your whole life, you know, you're raised it. Women are supposed to be [00:13:00] maternal. Maternal means X and nowhere in that narrative. Does anybody say to you, you might be petrified, your hormones are going to play such tricks on you.
You might be somebody who's never experienced depression. And, has this one-off of this happening. You might be somebody who has had depression, episodes of depression throughout your life. And now this is like a stronger worst version. And also you might be somebody who was traumatized as a child.
There's a big correlation between those things and looking at that child and this idea of not being able to protect you. When you actually are finally having like the visceral understanding of you having one's been that little and somebody not protecting you. Those things become overwhelming, no different than asthma, like asthma in your heart or your mind, but we don't allow ourselves to forgive ourselves for that because we do look around and think everybody else is okay, because we're all smiling behind our strollers, you know, we're.
so I'm hoping that with the movie. I [00:14:00] mean Amanda's performance is so incredible. It's almost like too good. She feels so. Palpable and real. And I'm hoping that when people see the movie, they'll understand, oh, wait, I can talk about this. Cause it's a, I hate to say actors or braid. Cause it sounds so silly, like firemen or brief, you know, but if you can be brave as an actor, this performance is.
Brave because, you know, she is just totally vulnerable. And I'm hoping that the trickle down of that is people will say, well, if she can do that, either she as Amanda or she has, Julie can do that, then I'm going to go online and look up. postpartum depression, international call post partum, depression, international.
They have people all over the country, you know, who you can meet and who will help you. And so I'm hoping in some tiny, tiny way we can get to.
Amy Wilson: Can we talk about how awareness and treatment of postpartum depression itself has changed since this novel first came out, it's been more than 15 years, right.
And it seems like there's more [00:15:00] awareness at least of what postpartum depression is. Do you think there's more societal support than there was. When the book
Amy Koppelman: came out, yes. A hundred percent. But I think there's also much more societal support than we think there is even now. like I would never have thought of writing this book.
If I knew it was going to be this book, this is not a book that you go like, oh, I'm going to adapt this into this particular three X structure. Like, no, like it's just not set, but I was driving down the west side highway, picking my kids up from school and I must've been listening to. Doctors radio. And this woman called in from the middle of the country somewhere.
And she was alone in her house and she was crying and she felt all these feelings that she was too ashamed. And the radio host said, well, you know, why don't you speak to somebody? I couldn't possibly tell my husband, why don't you tell your mother I couldn't do. Why don't you go and speak to, you know, your clergy, , oh, I could never do that.
And she felt that she had nowhere to go and I was just like, whoa, wow. I thought everybody was like, totally cool with this. Now, like I thought that, you know, famous people were talking about it. [00:16:00] It's been on the cover of people magazine or whatever, you know, everybody knows about this. Isn't this great, everything has changed.
And then I heard this woman, this must've been like seven years ago and I was like, no, I live in a city. So of course I think that, and yes, it might be on the cover of people magazine, which is national, but still we tell ourselves we can't talk about it. So I think there is much more external support and organizations and understanding of depression and especially now of mental health and the burden that's placed on the mother.
I think people really saw that. During quarantine, but I think it hasn't translated to the person who's having it. If that makes sense, personally. Yeah. I had never taken antidepressant medication and then I had my son. And I was a nervous wreck.
I don't think I slept for like the first two weeks. I remember at some point thinking like if only I had toothpicks, because if I had to fix, I could put my eyes to keep them I've been there. I was so petrified. If I close my eyes for even one [00:17:00] second, something would happen. I can't look away for one second, cause something's going to happen.
And I don't want anything to happen to him. And then when he was around. One or so I finally went on antidepressant medication and you know, all the kind of choke things of like, everything did go from black and white to color. Like I could see things, I could feel things, all the things that they tell you about it aren't, you know, that people see that are negative about it.
Aren't true. It's not like taking Xanax or getting junk or even getting high. It's not something that's going to make you feel other it's something that somehow makes. Feel like yourself. And it's only once you feel like yourself that you realize like how far you've gotten from that person, because you're so unwell.
when I got pregnant with my daughter, no one really knew if you should stay on antidepressants or if you shouldn't cause would it come through your breast milk, and so I was like, oh, well, forget this. Of course. I'm not going to do this. I mean, I'm somebody who, you know, when it have taken an Advil, unless I really, really had to, I was pregnant.
I'm not going to take this, but again, I mean, not to keep going back to the same analogy, you would [00:18:00] never say that about your asthma medication, you would never say like I'm going to not use my inhaler for nine months, but in all fairness, No, what it did. And now there's been enough time to see that, it's safe.
The fears of these big, bad things happening when you're pregnant. If you take an SSRI have been disproven. So like you can take that safely. That's a change you could know afterwards to go back on medication. You know, that's a change you can ask for it, but still, you know, when you see the gynecologist at the six week moment, not all gynecologists, test you to see what your thyroid number is.
And that's also a very important thing. If you're feeling down and low after having birth, you could also just have. Postpartum thyroiditis. And so like, that would be the first thing to get checked, to make sure that you don't just need more Synthroid. I actually had had that.
I have both those things, but they don't all screen. I'll say, how are you? They might say, how are you feeling? Okay, great. You can go [00:19:00] back to exercise. You can go to work, but they don't often stop and say, how are you feeling? And that's not necessarily the doctor's fault. Like it's also the system's fault.
People don't have time. Or sometimes the doctors don't know sometimes it's the older doctors and they haven't caught up. This conversation. And so that's why I really do think, at least for now, it's up to us to go to look at new mothers as older mothers and to say, how are you feeling?
And to actually give them some kind of signaling that they could actually tell you how they're feeling. then even if somebody is telling you, they're great, but you have a feeling they're not so great to check in with them. And I think. We can do that. Almost mentor younger mothers, like care about younger mothers, then we'll be able to compensate where there are holes
Margaret: We're talking to Amy Koppelman, the author of a mouth full of air, and we'll be right back. Okay. We're
Amy Wilson: back. We're talking to Amy Koppelman, she's [00:20:00] the author of a mouth full of air, which is also now a movie written, directed, produced by Amy. Can you tell us a little bit about how moving the book to a movie changed the story?
Amy Koppelman: It's actually not here. Do you see written, directed and produced? I thought, boy, at least all the blame is on
Margaret: or all the glory, maybe all the glory.
Amy Koppelman: And I was just like, That's a good thing. Cause I know when my last book came out, I was very disappointed with certain things, the movie on my last book.
But when you said it like that, just now, I was just like, oh,
Margaret: that's really happening. That little surge
Amy Koppelman: I can't blame anybody else. If I'm a rotten tomato, the fact that that's a metric in my mind, talk about feeling ashamed. Warranted shame that I can actually look at rotten tomatoes and go like, oh, I'm so dumb, but I'm so bad at this.
So it's very exciting. I honestly can't believe it. The book got rejected [00:21:00] truly like this isn't apocryphal by basically every agent in New York, it took so long to get the book published. I finally found an agent in San Francisco named Amy Renner. She got it published by an independent press. It came out, it had like two printings.
And then, you know, that was the life of the book. And then not until I heard that interview that I was telling you about, did I think, oh, I should bring this back alive. Like this still matters.
Now, seeing that it's going to come out in 800 theaters, that's like 800 communities. That's 800 places where like this story can possibly touch people and help people. not until just now when you said that, did I have I stopped to think of like, oh, what if people don't like it? I've just in my mind have just been like, you are going to be able to get to some of those people that you didn't have the ability to get.
The last time around. And I know for me, reading was really so much of a salvation. It was so much how I learned that I wasn't alone, [00:22:00] or I wasn't as much of a freak. You know, you read something and the author of the thing you're reading is able to put into words or, you know, their characters where it's these thoughts and feelings that you might not even have known that you've been feeling.
And then you read that. And you're just like, yes, that's exactly how I feel. They're able to articulate that. So that you have this connection and, you know, somebody, whoever wrote this book and that person exists and you are not. The only person who feels this way. So now I'm thinking, okay, there's 800 theaters where people can see this.
And it's so much easier and more fun to go to a movie than to read a book. And so I'm very excited that that I'm really proud of Amanda's performance. she gets a profoundly beautiful portrayal of like, I keep saying, you know how scary it is to be a mom.
all moms can be. Relate to that. And I'm hoping that it makes the places that aren't cities or the, you know, the towns or the communities that don't talk about this, that in [00:23:00] some small way, we get to some of them so that, you know, people aren't as scared to go into their church or people aren't as scared to tell their doctor because.
They can say, oh, it's like this movie or who loves somebody like this can see this movie and be like, oh geez. I tried really hard in the movie to show that her husband, you know, when you love somebody who's depressed, depression has collateral damage and suicide is the worst thing you could possibly do.
But even just the depression alone has collateral damage. Your kids feel it, your husband feels it. And if you're somebody who like Julie had tried to kill herself, you've put your spouse. Everybody who loves you in a very difficult situation, because no one wants to be the person that hurts you. They don't want to hurt you.
And so somehow it makes the people who love you. Okay. You know, impotent to do anything because they don't know what to do. So maybe if they see this movie, they'll at least be able to say to somebody like, look, this is what I'm seeing her doing. She is acting like this person. And I'm really [00:24:00] scared. I do not know what I'm supposed to do.
And maybe that will help. The person be less of a prisoner because you do become handcuffed when you love somebody who you're worried about
Margaret: I do see women, I feel like talking more about their anxiety and depression. I see those conversations happening.
And I do note that when I talk to my mother and people of her generation, that they talk about stuff and I'm like, that was postpartum depression.
Somebody said. About being with their little kids. Like I was in a basement apartment and all I saw all day was wet feet and I just stared at wet feet.
And I was like, oh, you were depressed. That was the most part of depression. And I see those conversations happening. But I think this metaphor that you have about using an asthma inhaler is also really interesting for us as observers that in the same way that you say you wouldn't feel guilty about using an asthma inhaler, similarly, you might see someone struggling with depression.
And a mom's struggling and think, oh, well that doesn't really involve me. That's not really [00:25:00] my problem. Or I shouldn't get involved in that. But if you saw that same person struggling to breathe, your instinct would be to run over and figure out how to help. That's an aspect of it. I think that's really interesting , how can we help people help moms who are struggling with this kind of depression?
Amy Koppelman: You're saying made me think that also, you'd call home and you'd be like, I'm at the park. And I left my inhaler. And you and your spouse or your partner with. Problem coming to help you. But I think the whole topic of what it is like to become a new father, how isolating that is how you feel outside the two of them.
I mean, there are so many things that make being a father. Difficult, I do think that that is a topic that nobody talks about because that would make, you know, that's a weak thing. And I think that that's a very big problem is that we still look at depression and again, the depressed person does this more than anybody as being weak.
It's like weak and strong versus well, And we [00:26:00] have to somehow like bridge that. And if you love somebody like this, if you're married to somebody like this, if you think that they are having an asthma attack, take them to get an, a Hiller. Like, it sounds like such a stupid analogy. Now that we've brought it, even to this length, I'm like, oh my God, am I still using this analogy?
But it's actually, it's a perfect analogy.
Margaret: Fans of analogies. Cause it helps us understand sometimes. Complicated
Amy Wilson: things, but he's a good husband. I mean, Julie's spouse and the novel. And I'm assuming in the movie too, like he's trying really hard. He's doing everything right. I thought it was a really interesting choice sort of dramatically that he's not abandoning her.
He's really doing his best, but the depression is bigger than both of them. So he, it becomes more complicated than asthma because it's a lot less clear cut. What's going on.
Amy Koppelman: Right. Yeah. So if we kind of could explain to people, this is what's actually going on, look until there's a way to quantify.
What's actually happening until there's a blood test or a way to measure. So, you know, you have a hard time breathing. You go, you breathe [00:27:00] into that little ball. The doctor can say, oh, you need this. You need one. You know, whatever it is. I think that all of us, including myself, Are going to always question, is this a real thing?
Cause like, look at those women in Afghanistan, somehow they don't even have beds and they, so they were able to get out of bed this morning, which wasn't even a bit and get to the airport and try to escape. And I, in my house, can't figure out how to get out of my clean sheets to get to the kitchen, to make a cup of coffee.
What rights should I have to be alive? Like it only reinforces it. So I tried to make Ethan the same as everything else for Julie. I didn't want it to be in reaction to having a husband that wasn't there. I didn't want it to be in reaction to having a husband. That was mean to her, cheating on her and the alcoholic abusive.
Even I, about a month ago, when I started speaking to people on zoom and I was getting confused with time, because it's been such a long time since I've had like a real episode of depression, even I called my psychiatrist and I made an appointment to see her.
And I said, did I have [00:28:00] postpartum depression? Like, did I ever really have depression? Because I feel like when I'm talking to people like. Was it that bad?
Like, was it, you know, when you first saw me before I had kids, because when I had kids, I never had wanted. Kill myself, not for like a second, but when I, before having kids and I was in a very dark place, I mean, I know that feeling. And so I was like, I know all those things happen, but even me now I'm thinking, oh no, it's not real.
I'm not real. I'm making this up. And I mean, I've spent my whole adult life talking about this, and finally, maybe what I've been talking about and where we are. And how we're thinking about mothers and community are all going to dovetail. And instead of feeling like this huge sense of relief, like maybe you're going to get to a point where you're not like screaming into an abyss, which is what it was like when it started.
I'm like, oh my God. This doesn't even exist. I never even had it. And that's like the trick that your mind [00:29:00] plays on you. And it's one of the things that people have asked me about with the film is this idea of why would anybody ever feel that they would be at peace? Weren't alive. why would somebody think that the best thing that they could do for their children, who they love?
Like, that's the other thing I really wanted to show a character just like taking weight, those obstacles. I didn't want to show depression as a dark emo kind of thing. That's. Broke me. What broke me constantly was the beauty, beauty of everything. My children, the beauty of the love I had for them, the beauty of like the little yellow flower punching through the snow in the spring.
The fact that knowing that everyone you love and you care about you're going to have to say goodbye to. All of that was just so overwhelming to me and I couldn't get past it. I know that all happened. And yet part of me and still I can break from moments from time to time, but it's a confusing thing.
Margaret: I do think there's that [00:30:00] distance between, I was saying on a recent podcast, I was looking at my new niece and I said to my husband, Why don't I remember having a baby girl, there's a fog that envelops some of these experiences that are in our lives that I think is it makes some of them kind of hard to access,
I have pictures of me holding a one-year-old girl. I did it, but why don't I have access to that anymore?
It's in the fog
Amy Koppelman: somewhere, in retrospect, I think I was writing through the fear of what if I hadn't gotten. The help that I needed. And I had gone off the medication to have my daughter. I was basically praying to the bottle of Sola.
I was like, you know, 42 more days, 39 more days. Oh my God. Tomorrow, I'm going to be able to take this and I'm going to be able to feel better. I'm going to be able to lift my son up without being where, you know, I wasn't petrified that I was going to drop. And where I actually had the physical strength to carry him around.
And then I gave birth to her and I put her against my chest [00:31:00] and she began breastfeeding and she was such a good little breastfeed her and she was so beautiful and small, and I thought, yeah, Well, I basically live like this my whole life. Then I had this like respite of, you know, everything being different.
And then like, what, six more weeks, if I could just breastfeed for six more weeks, I can give her every single thing that you need to be healthier. I went home from the hospital. I wasn't lying. Like nobody would have ever said you taking your medication. Cause nobody would have thought I wasn't like they would have been more scared that I was going to like chug the.
it was like a couple of days in, and somehow I had this understanding that I was like a train, like about to hit a wall, like at a hundred miles an hour. Like I was about to crash. I just saw that somehow. And I called my husband at work and I was like, when you get home, I haven't been taking this medicine, please make sure I take, he goes, we'll take it now.
And I was like, no, I actually need for you to get home because I need you to check under my tongue and make sure that. I really took the medicine cause I really didn't trust myself to take it. So I, you know, talking about this, sometimes I [00:32:00] just daydream out of it. Cause that must just be more painful even though it never happened.
Margaret: But yeah. Then talking about that connection and those memories.
Amy Koppelman: Yeah. And I was like, Uh, coffee shop before COVID. And I saw these moms sitting around these young moms and they were talking about screen time, I give Bobby 20 minute, you know, whatever their child's name was.
And then somehow they were talking about food, you know what? They pack your food. And there was part of me that wanted to go over to them and say, Guys, don't worry. This is no big deal. If you give your kid a hotdog, there'll be okay with all those nitrates. And then I had this moment of real understanding that, you know, we kind of make these rules of what's being a good mother.
You know, a good mother is somebody who's always playing with their child and only let some be on their screen for 20 minutes. A good mother only feeds organic food. A good mother, only a bad mother. Wouldn't breastfeed a good mother's always breastfeed. And we make these. That we torture ourselves with, but I finally understood that, like, we almost do it because we have to because the whole.
Idea of being responsible [00:33:00] for this life is so vast and so overwhelming that these kind of rules of what's being good and bad and we can show on they're like guard rails. That's
Margaret: right. We need them.
Amy Koppelman: If we did that then, okay, they're safe. They're safe, they're safe. But you know, you can't. Prevent cancer cells from mutating.
You can't prevent cars from hitting you when you're on your bike, but like you actually can't prevent those things. But thinking about that and understanding that is so horrifying that you go, like, he can't have a regular Oreo.
Margaret: Right. I can prevent him from meeting a hot
Amy Koppelman: dog. Yeah. You don't think about it consciously that that's what it is that it's like somehow negotiating with God.
Like, you know, you're negotiating with that. Like if I stand here and don't move. You know, will everything be okay? And you can't as a mother. And I think that if we all let ourselves speak about that in those terms, I've been really anxious lately and on top of my kids, what does that really mean?
And then we realize that screen time, sometimes it's just about screen time, but sometimes it's about just our own [00:34:00] anxiety or feeling like we're not doing enough. And if he can start to understand what we're really saying and feeling what it actually really means.
And if we actually listen to our friends and think about what that means for us, everybody in every coffee shop understands to varying degrees. These feelings, the book
Amy Wilson: is heartbreakingly. Beautiful. I know this movie will be too. And the movie, a mouthful of air starring Amanda Siegfried is out today. 800 theaters.
I think you said Amy. Congratulations. That's so exciting.
Amy Koppelman: Please go see it. So they keep it meters. I know I'm always waiting. I'm always like, oh, I'll wait for it to come out on streaming. And I'm like this isn't going to come out on streaming for like a year or so.
Margaret: So, so see it go to the
Amy Wilson: movies, go see it.
Support women, making art. Amy. Thanks for talking to us today. Thanks so much.