My Thoughts on A Mouthful of Air, a movie about Postpartum Depression

So yesterday, I finally rented the movie A Mouthful of Air on Amazon. It is a movie about a woman who gets postpartum depression. There will be major spoilers in this if you have not already seen it and there are so many triggers in this. If you are easily triggered by discussion of suicide or suicide attempts, please do not read ahead. I am trying to be more understanding of people’s triggers, but I personally like to be triggered so I can face things head on. Many don’t understand it, but it is often part of how I heal. I already had seen and heard spoilers before I watched this movie, but they were much needed to emotionally prepare me to watch it personally. I was told before watching that the character takes her own life, and when I saw that the movie was rated R, I expected some graphic scenes I did not want to watch, but that was not the case. I am honestly not sure why it is rated R. I guess you cannot even openly discuss suicide without it being rated that, but why? I think it should be PG-13 personally.

There is a warning at the beginning that if you have a history of depression and anxiety this may be hard to watch and there are tons of warnings elsewhere warning many they may not want to watch. I do have that history, and it was hard to watch, but I am still glad I did. I personally am far enough in the healing process I thought I could handle it and I could. Not only did I handle it, despite the sad ending, relating to the character still comforted me in ways, that feeling again of not being alone, but it also brought so many emotions back for me again. I cried during the movie, and I cried for a little bit after the movie had even gone off. I know I am making a truly hard sell on watching this, right? But hear me out. I often feel that those close to me probably think I dwell on the worst time in my life, but that is not the case. I will never stop talking about it because it would have helped me if others had talked about, if others had warned me, that is it. I am happy now, my life is great, and I am thankful that my story ended with my daughter reading a book about how I conquered it instead of the book the daughter in the movie got. I also hope that one day my story, or at least one more like it, will become a big movie to show people the happy ending you can have, but I do also think it is important to see the possible unhappy endings too.

I am going to try to possibly get rawer in this post than ever before, which those of you know me know that is pretty raw, and I will try to turn this into a podcast soon for those of you who prefer it to blogs. I did not have a happy ending because I was braver or stronger or a better person than the woman in this movie. I also did not have one because I had more support than her, she actually had more than I did because no one around me knew what was going on because I was even better at the character at hiding it for a very long time, but even once I no longer did, most did not seem to understand and seemed angry at me instead. Even though I had never been the person it was all about, it was always about everyone else, I think for once I wanted it to be about me, I needed love and help and attention and I was treated the same as people who act like that their entire life, even though I had never acted like that before. I thought it was my turn, but instead I eventually learned to set boundaries and take better care of myself.

I never tried to take my own life. I prayed to go to sleep and not wake up, that way it would not be my fault, and no one would be mad at me, but I could still have peace and the pain could go away. I had thoughts about if an 18-wheeler swerved into my lane and hit me I would not care when driving alone and the thought of driving into a wall or off a bridge sometimes crossed my mind for a moment, but I am not sure if I could have ever actually acted on it. People are often called cowards for committing suicide, but I honestly think being a coward saved me. Recently watching the Yellowstone Prequal 1883 with my husband, a character who lost her husband and 7 children to death ends her life with a gun to her head after her last remaining child dies. While burying the character, Sam Elliott’s character mentions how brave she had to be to do that, and Tim McGraw’s character disagrees at first, but Sam Elliott continues to basically say that it took guts. I knew what he meant. We don’t want to say that because it feels like we are encouraging suicide, but that is not what he meant nor is it what I mean. The thought of cutting myself or shooting myself or doing anything else painful to myself just never truly crossed my mind and never has. However, if there had been a pill in front of me that I could have taken and known it would have happened quick, I might have done it. I had heard of people taking a lot of pills but often that did not work and resulted in them waking up in the hospital upset they were still alive and now everyone was mad at them, and they were in physical pain as well.

I watched the first season of 13 Reasons Why before they cut the graphic details of the suicide scene. I honestly never knew how people slit their wrists until seeing it portrayed in that show. I honestly thought people must just cut the bottom of their wrist and it is a spot that just bleeds so much you would die quick, but no she went all the way up one arm and then the other and died a lot slower than I thought. My arms hurt watching and not only did I not want to do that, but I had even less of a desire than ever before to ever think about doing anything like that to myself. In the movie, those around the main character were not aware of her condition at first until she tried to take her own life once and failed in doing so. When she is later explaining to her doctor and her husband why she did what she did, I did relate to that part though. She said that any time she was alone with her child she would constantly worry something was going to happen to him. If she got distracted at all while giving him a bath he might drown, something might fall on him, he might fall and hit something, etc. She thought he would be better off with someone else and someone else was on the way over to visit and she did it then because she knew that person would take care of the baby.

In another part of the movie, the main character can hardly hold a conversation with other adults because she is constantly watching her son and worrying about him even when around tons of other people. I was the same way. I worried if I looked away for a moment someone might take her, or everyone else might not be paying attention and she might run off or hurt herself or tons of other horrible scenarios and it would be my fault because I am her mother, and it is my job to protect her. My worst fear was something happening to her and the burden of constantly trying to stop or prevent that was too much to bear making me at times want to run away or wish I’d never had a child or making me wish for death for relief. In one line of the movie, I believe it is when she leaves behind a children’s book that she wrote to explain to her daughter why she did what she did, but how much she loved her, she says, “She knew the beauty she was leaving behind, yet her pain was so bad, death was her only option.” She discusses how the little girl, and her mommy were best friends, but the mommy got sick and could not get better. The mom had been on medication, but when she found out she was pregnant again when her first child was still a year old and not even out of diapers, she was afraid to take her medication because she thought it might hurt the baby and prevent her from breastfeeding and bonding with her child.

I have been in a lot of online support groups and often women have more children before they have even healed from postpartum depression. They also often refuse to take medicine despite the advice of their doctors and/or family and friends for the same reasons. This happened in the movie. So, despite having support from others, despite knowing medicine helped, she chose not take medicine but even that decision was not rooted in selfishness, it was out of concern for her child. Her OBGYN told her once in the movie that he now asked women how they were doing emotionally not just physically when they came in for appointments. When I say the movie brought back emotions, anger was one of them in moments like that one, like why was this not already a thing? But mixed with that anger was hope, that what she went through, despite the sad ending, did change people, people around her did grow from the experience and learned, but that is possible even with a happy ending I can say, speaking from experience.

I lost a fellow author and friend to suicide a little while back. This friend had already tried once and actually used that experience to blog and write books like me and try to help others. However, like in the movie, he had been through such bad childhood trauma he still could not overcome it and the second time he attempted, he did not fail. I don’t know that we can always prevent it. We want to and we often blame the person and/or ourselves, but I think our number one focus personally should be trying to prevent these traumas from happening in the first place, so people do not have to overcome them, and I do feel that overall, that is happening in so many ways. I think everyone has some trauma and some can overcome it, and some cannot, but it is not as simple as being a better person or being stronger or having more support. Support often can and does help and I still strongly encourage it, but when I say I have some childhood trauma it comes from many things, but I also still feel like I had a pretty good childhood overall. Also, when I went through what I did, my mom and stepdad did not understand at first, but like every other time in my life, they tried their best to be there for me and my daughter. We all made mistakes along the way, but we learned from them, and we learned from each other.

My friend who died by suicide was molested as a child by a neighbor and I don’t think much if anything was ever done to the person who did it. Yes, we have all been through trauma, but I had not been through as much trauma as he had been. You just never know who has been through worse and what people’s limits are. A person can only take so much. Despite the sad ending for my friend, he still impacted many lives before he passed, including my own. He helped me in being brave enough to share my story and he helped me become more confident in being my true self. Even in those unhappy endings, you can still find some good.

Bio: Amanda Dodson Gremillion published her first book in 2012. She began revising it in 2019 and republished it as Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine. The story chronicles her experience with severe postpartum OCD, anxiety and depression. Amanda is a graduate of Auburn University, and now lives in Calera, Alabama, with her husband, Jay, their daughter, Aubrie, and their two dogs, Honey Girl and Cooper. She hopes to write more books in the future. Follow Amanda’s journey on Facebook,  or twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaGremilli2 and order her book here.  Also, follow her on the Mighty here Amanda Dodson Gremillion | The Mighty Contributor or listen to her podcast here Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine • A podcast on Anchor . You can also find her on Instagram here Amanda Dodson Gremillion (@justbuyheradress) • Instagram photos and videos.

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