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Dear Scarlet: The Story of My Postpartum Depression

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In this intimate and moving graphic memoir, Teresa Wong writes and illustrates the story of her struggle with postpartum depression in the form of a letter to her daughter Scarlet. Equal parts heartbreaking and funny, Dear Scarlet perfectly captures the quiet desperation of those suffering from PPD and the profound feelings of inadequacy and loss. As Teresa grapples with h In this intimate and moving graphic memoir, Teresa Wong writes and illustrates the story of her struggle with postpartum depression in the form of a letter to her daughter Scarlet. Equal parts heartbreaking and funny, Dear Scarlet perfectly captures the quiet desperation of those suffering from PPD and the profound feelings of inadequacy and loss. As Teresa grapples with her fears and anxieties and grasps at potential remedies, coping mechanisms, and her mother’s Chinese elixirs, we come to understand one woman's battle against the cruel dynamics of postpartum depression. Dear Scarlet is a poignant and deeply personal journey through the complexities of new motherhood, offering hope to those affected by PPD, as well as reassurance that they are not alone.


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In this intimate and moving graphic memoir, Teresa Wong writes and illustrates the story of her struggle with postpartum depression in the form of a letter to her daughter Scarlet. Equal parts heartbreaking and funny, Dear Scarlet perfectly captures the quiet desperation of those suffering from PPD and the profound feelings of inadequacy and loss. As Teresa grapples with h In this intimate and moving graphic memoir, Teresa Wong writes and illustrates the story of her struggle with postpartum depression in the form of a letter to her daughter Scarlet. Equal parts heartbreaking and funny, Dear Scarlet perfectly captures the quiet desperation of those suffering from PPD and the profound feelings of inadequacy and loss. As Teresa grapples with her fears and anxieties and grasps at potential remedies, coping mechanisms, and her mother’s Chinese elixirs, we come to understand one woman's battle against the cruel dynamics of postpartum depression. Dear Scarlet is a poignant and deeply personal journey through the complexities of new motherhood, offering hope to those affected by PPD, as well as reassurance that they are not alone.

30 review for Dear Scarlet: The Story of My Postpartum Depression

  1. 4 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    January, February, March, April, May--I'm alive June, July, August, September, October--I'm alive November, December, yeah, all through the winter--I'm alive I'm alive--"Calendar Girl." I seem to be reading a few (comics memoir) books this year that insist on telling the whole truth about pregnancy and childbirth, undermining all those simple happy generalizations about how easy (not for everyone, not for a lot of people!) it is to get and stay pregnant, about easy (not for everyone!) pregnancies an January, February, March, April, May--I'm alive June, July, August, September, October--I'm alive November, December, yeah, all through the winter--I'm alive I'm alive--"Calendar Girl." I seem to be reading a few (comics memoir) books this year that insist on telling the whole truth about pregnancy and childbirth, undermining all those simple happy generalizations about how easy (not for everyone, not for a lot of people!) it is to get and stay pregnant, about easy (not for everyone!) pregnancies and childbirths. Lucy Knisley's Kid Gloves, Jennell Johnson's Graphic Reproduction, others. Books about miscarriage, about difficult pregnancies and births, and this one about postpartum depression (ppd), which I learned about mostly from a few women who have shared their stories with me, family and friends. A friend of mine wanted a baby more than anything else in her life and when she gave birth she spun into the deepest depression, and she had never been depressed in her life. It took years for her to recover from the idea that the depression was somehow her fault. I'm a guy so maybe I am not aware of dozens of helpful books about ppd, but this is surely one, and the first I have read, a book that acknowledges there is a kind of widespread cultural sense of shame around not being positively blissful with this whole idea of becoming a mom. Now we know it is a very common thing to have struggles, and specifically to have ppd, but there still seems to be this shaming aspect to it for many people. Maybe in part born of a kind of perfectionism, in part cultural conditioning? Self-blame, I'm not a whole woman, I'm not good at this, what's wrong with me?! With miscarriage, too. My own mother had a miscarriage a few years before I was born and I never knew about it until I was in my forties! (Some of the women and girls in my family had known about it). And a book I heard about recently, a kind of cultural shaming about menstruation. I say the more books that "normalize" struggle and difference with respect to this process the better. Give this book to every ppd person you know, I say. This book is tough to read in places, but it is ultimately liberating and useful, with lovely, elegant, simple artwork, though you know, I have to say, with some sadness, that she still throughout expresses some guilt that she was "selfish," putting her needs "over" her kids' needs. She still trying to get over this self-blaming and shame, too. :( So it's a process.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    Teresa Wong's illustrated account of her post-partum depression is courageous, funny, and sad -- difficult things for a book to be all at once. She wrestles with her guilt over not being able to breastfeed, feelings of inadequacy and self-blame, but through all of this, still manages to convey the love she feels for her newborn daughter. It's one of the first graphic novels that I can recall frankly addressing PPD, and that alone makes it a standout.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    Wong uses a simple, straightforward narrative with simple, straightforward art to tell a deeply painful story of her struggle with depression following the delivery of her first child. Very effective and affecting.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    There needs to be more out there about postpartum depression. My mom had it for two of her six kids (one of which was me), and didn't have the support that she desperately needed because it wasn't understood back then like it is today. But it's still not as mainstream as it should be. In addition to being a great snapshot of postpartum depression, this is a great book for anyone with depression of any sort because the strategies are similar. One of my favorite bits in in the postscript, where Wo There needs to be more out there about postpartum depression. My mom had it for two of her six kids (one of which was me), and didn't have the support that she desperately needed because it wasn't understood back then like it is today. But it's still not as mainstream as it should be. In addition to being a great snapshot of postpartum depression, this is a great book for anyone with depression of any sort because the strategies are similar. One of my favorite bits in in the postscript, where Wong talks about the Chinese word "ngai" and how it goes further than the English word "endure," in that "ngai" acknowledges that "difficulties are not unusual, and that often life is about waiting it out in a sort of joyless existence." It's a tough but good reminder that we weren't meant to be happy all the time, and that sometimes the most difficult times are the times when family and loved ones have an opportunity to come together in a way that strengthens those relationships that times of happiness don't. My only complaint is that I wish it were longer!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brigitte

    Reading this book took me right back in time to the birth of my premature first born. It has my mind whirling and wanting to spend some time in quiet reflection. While my heart hurts for the trials and suffering Teresa went through on her postpartum journey(s), it’s also almost relieving to know someone else has been through rough times and ‘gets it’. It’s a short and endearing read which I completed in a waiting room while my son is undergoing oral surgery. It’s a touching tale with lovely illu Reading this book took me right back in time to the birth of my premature first born. It has my mind whirling and wanting to spend some time in quiet reflection. While my heart hurts for the trials and suffering Teresa went through on her postpartum journey(s), it’s also almost relieving to know someone else has been through rough times and ‘gets it’. It’s a short and endearing read which I completed in a waiting room while my son is undergoing oral surgery. It’s a touching tale with lovely illustrations and something I think every mother should read. I can think of a few friends and family members who I’d like to give this to as a gift.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Wow. This book was such an incredible read. The author depicts her experience with PPD in a way that clearly describes how emotionally and physically weakened she felt. She said so much with such simple drawings. I highly recommend this book to anyone struggling with PPD or any form of depression, or wants to learn more about it. It gives you a sense that you are not alone and that there is hope. I received a DRC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cassidy Steinke

    Very beautiful, real memoir about Postpartum Depression. "Becoming a mother did not happen naturally or easily for me. I felt like a failure most of the time. And I believed that you deserved so much better." "I wanted to die, but I'm thankful that I didn't."

  8. 5 out of 5

    b.andherbooks

    I had to return this before I could finish reading it. Dear Scarlet is heavy, poignant, and important, I just had to take it in small doses.

  9. 4 out of 5

    vostendrasamigosyotengolibros

    Thank you Edelweiss for this DRC. Well this a honest and necessary book about motherhood, so many things goes under taboo about that subject that I think it's really important to start talking to stop this ideal idea about maternal instinct and how people who gestates are just program by nature to manage that highly stressful situation.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Barbara McEwen

    3.5 stars? Teresa Wong describes her experience with postpartum depression. I did think a lot of the experiences she describes are actually common to all new moms but regardless it is comforting to know you are not alone. I do wonder somewhat if it is glancing over just how hard it is with PPD or she just didn't want to go into that level of detail?

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tara Mackinnon

    That feeling when you pick up a book and you're completely immersed in mere moments. That's this book. The power of this book lies in its honesty. It's a beautifully written, illustrated journey through a story that is unlike my own, yet so relatable because of the way Wong tells it. I can relate to parts about being a new mother and the strangeness that ensues when it happens. When relaying her experience with postpartum depression, Wong isn't asking for your sympathy, she is sharing a space and That feeling when you pick up a book and you're completely immersed in mere moments. That's this book. The power of this book lies in its honesty. It's a beautifully written, illustrated journey through a story that is unlike my own, yet so relatable because of the way Wong tells it. I can relate to parts about being a new mother and the strangeness that ensues when it happens. When relaying her experience with postpartum depression, Wong isn't asking for your sympathy, she is sharing a space and time she occupied. It's poignant, culturally fascinating and personal. And I love her visual style. Simple, yet emotive enough to convey what it needs to. Thank you for sharing.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amit Verma

    This is a lovely help book for all mothers and would be mothers. It focuses mainly on post partum blues and depression but also discusses othe aspects like peripartum problems faced by mother and whole family. It is simple, informative and very helpful. Easy to understand language and diagrams. If you are looking for art, colors and designs you will not find any as drawings are simple. But thats how guidebooks should be. Simple and to the mark with minimum jargon. It would be helpful foe everybody This is a lovely help book for all mothers and would be mothers. It focuses mainly on post partum blues and depression but also discusses othe aspects like peripartum problems faced by mother and whole family. It is simple, informative and very helpful. Easy to understand language and diagrams. If you are looking for art, colors and designs you will not find any as drawings are simple. But thats how guidebooks should be. Simple and to the mark with minimum jargon. It would be helpful foe everybody involved in great event in every family's timeline- arrival of the new member. If educated beforehand many problems can be attenuated. Symptoms and treatment of post partum depression is nicely depicted.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    Short and straightforward, 'Dear Scarlet' is a to the point account of one woman's battle with postpartum depression. I have not experienced PPD, but having experienced birth trauma and regular depression, parts of this were very familiar and relatable to me. I always appreciate people who tackle the things others go to great lengths to avoid talking about, it's so valuable. The art is quite basic but does a fine job relating the story, a story that I am happy Teresa bravely shared with the rest Short and straightforward, 'Dear Scarlet' is a to the point account of one woman's battle with postpartum depression. I have not experienced PPD, but having experienced birth trauma and regular depression, parts of this were very familiar and relatable to me. I always appreciate people who tackle the things others go to great lengths to avoid talking about, it's so valuable. The art is quite basic but does a fine job relating the story, a story that I am happy Teresa bravely shared with the rest of the world. 3.5 stars/5

  14. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    A lovely graphic memoir about the author's struggle with postpartum depression. I also had postpartum depression. This is the second or third memoir I've read about having PPD, and each experience is so different. I think it's really important for families considering having children to read books like this one. My only complaint is that I wanted more!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    This graphic memoir is about so much more than PPD. It also recounts the narrator's experience with birth and nursing trauma and speaks to the greater notion of the ways healthcare absolutely fails new mothers. There's no doubt a lot of people would relate to a lot of this, and I think the graphic novel style lends itself well to the PPD topic in particular, because so much about it is unseen and needs to be seen and understood more.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sachi Argabright

    DEAR SCARLET is an honest graphic memoir about Teresa’s struggle with postpartum depression after her first pregnancy. Told as a letter to her daughter, Scarlet, this book is an intimate look into the thoughts of loneliness, guilt, and fear that can be experienced by new mothers. This book shows how common PPD can be, even though most people don’t talk about it very openly, and acts as a resource to let others know they’re not alone. I’m not a mother, and I honestly didn’t know much about PPD bef DEAR SCARLET is an honest graphic memoir about Teresa’s struggle with postpartum depression after her first pregnancy. Told as a letter to her daughter, Scarlet, this book is an intimate look into the thoughts of loneliness, guilt, and fear that can be experienced by new mothers. This book shows how common PPD can be, even though most people don’t talk about it very openly, and acts as a resource to let others know they’re not alone. I’m not a mother, and I honestly didn’t know much about PPD before I read this book. I’ve read books where characters suffered from PPD, but didn’t realize what I was reading about. Teresa’s book clearly illustrates PPD in a relatable way, and I empathized with her throughout the story. She also brings a hopeful note to her memoir by showing some solutions and resources that can be used to help those suffering from PPD. I learned so much from this book, and will definitely be revisiting it as I approach motherhood. Great for those wanting to learn more about postpartum depression, or mental illness in general.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Carol Tilley

    For anyone who is pregnant, works with pregnant folks, or wants to understand postpartum depression.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kelly K

    A crazy important book. Major kudos to Teresa for sharing her story.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Katelyn

    Impactful graphic novel about Wong's experience with postpartum depression. Highly recommended.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Linn

    I would give this ten stars if I could. Thank you, Teresa Wong, for sharing this story with the world, and for letting other moms know they aren't alone and there is hope. ❤

  21. 5 out of 5

    Leonard

    In this graphic non-fiction book the author tells about her severe case of postpartum depression. The book is simple but artfully drawn and the account is not without some humor.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ola Matychuk

    Great, lightning fast read relevant to anybody who struggled with post-partum depression. Possible to read while baby’s snoozing!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brigette

    Three words: Brave. Healing. Beautiful.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Angelina

    Brave, honest and truly important! I’m so glad Teresa Wong has courageously decided to share her struggles with PPD and motherhood since this is still an area sadly lacking enough stories that show how difficult and challenging being a new mom can be. I can only hope more parents will read it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)

    I just read this wonderful graphic novel by the Chinese-Canadian writer/illustrator Teresa Wong and it was just wonderful. I suffered badly from postpartum depression. And reading her account so much of what she talks about was the same for me. There is so much pressure on being the perfect mother especially when they are just born, that when you feel like the darkness is going to swallow you up, you feel even more like a failure because surely you should be so happy. And in a way, I was, but it I just read this wonderful graphic novel by the Chinese-Canadian writer/illustrator Teresa Wong and it was just wonderful. I suffered badly from postpartum depression. And reading her account so much of what she talks about was the same for me. There is so much pressure on being the perfect mother especially when they are just born, that when you feel like the darkness is going to swallow you up, you feel even more like a failure because surely you should be so happy. And in a way, I was, but it was also really hard. Without Anthony, who came home to a weeping mess a lot, and Joy, health visitor extraordinaire, I would have not made it. But we did. I am proud of my girl every day who is 12 now and funny and ace. Grateful every day.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Enid Wray

    Fresh. Refreshing. Topical. Sensitive. Funny. Sad. Poignant. And oh so necessary. This book is perfect for a book club pick. This book needs to be in the hands of every pregnant woman and every new mom. You cannot hear some of her messaging too often, particularly (1) Sometimes you have to take care of yourself before you can do anything else (p86) and (2) We have to learn to be kinder to ourselves (p116) Oh how I wish there had been something like this when my son was born! Who doesn’t relate to Fresh. Refreshing. Topical. Sensitive. Funny. Sad. Poignant. And oh so necessary. This book is perfect for a book club pick. This book needs to be in the hands of every pregnant woman and every new mom. You cannot hear some of her messaging too often, particularly (1) Sometimes you have to take care of yourself before you can do anything else (p86) and (2) We have to learn to be kinder to ourselves (p116) Oh how I wish there had been something like this when my son was born! Who doesn’t relate to the ‘Mom guilt’ (p42), and the baby blues (thankfully I did not suffer from full out PPD)... but for me, it was in that moment that she decided not to breastfeed (p39) that she absolutely had me. We hung in trying to breastfeed for far too long… baby slowly starving, we beating ourselves up, me taking it totally personally and deeming myself a failure at the one thing that should be coming naturally. Then finally that one person who gave us ‘the permission’ we needed (let’s not talk about why we felt we needed it!!)... and for us, that was a game changer. And how can you not love a book that ends with a Leonard Cohen song? And I will admit that my heart took a little skip when I saw the testimonial from Teva Harrison on the back cover… she having died less than two weeks before this book launched.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Erica Metcalf

    Dear Scarlet The Story of my Postpartum Depression by Teresa Wong is a beautifully honest story about her experience as a mother of a newborn. Oh my goodness, this is such an important read. I’m so thankful that Teresa Wong created this. I have a few friends that have experienced postpartum depression, and I wish I had read this earlier so I could both try to help more and recommend this book to them if they were feeling up to it. While I can’t personally relate to the postpartum element, I can cer Dear Scarlet The Story of my Postpartum Depression by Teresa Wong is a beautifully honest story about her experience as a mother of a newborn. Oh my goodness, this is such an important read. I’m so thankful that Teresa Wong created this. I have a few friends that have experienced postpartum depression, and I wish I had read this earlier so I could both try to help more and recommend this book to them if they were feeling up to it. While I can’t personally relate to the postpartum element, I can certainly relate to the depression and sense of hopelessness. This account was just raw honesty. The author didn’t shy away from the darker elements. The artwork was a lovely element to the overall creation of this. The art was simple, but very powerful. My Favorite Passage: Never be afraid of your feelings. Although they may overwhelm you at times, there is a strength that is born out of weakness. My Final Thoughts: Whether you’re an experienced mom, a new mom, an expecting mother, or just someone who knows someone that fits the previous criteria, I highly recommend this to you. I think we can all use some education on postpartum depression so we can be there to help ourselves and others.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Peyton

    “Dear Scarlet: The Story of My Postpartum Depression” is an amazing book that everyone should read. It is one of those books that highlights mental illness and shows that people are not alone in their struggles. It has a very important message and gives a more realistic perspective of some peoples’ experience with childbirth. I feel movies and media glorify birth and hide what the reality actually is. “Dear Scarlet” does not hide the truth, but instead present it in an easy, quick read. It is a “Dear Scarlet: The Story of My Postpartum Depression” is an amazing book that everyone should read. It is one of those books that highlights mental illness and shows that people are not alone in their struggles. It has a very important message and gives a more realistic perspective of some peoples’ experience with childbirth. I feel movies and media glorify birth and hide what the reality actually is. “Dear Scarlet” does not hide the truth, but instead present it in an easy, quick read. It is a wonderful and necessary book. I loved how simple “Dear Scarlet” was. The images are basic, yet hold so much emotion. Nothing overwhelmed me. I read “Dear Scarlet” and felt better for knowing a different perspective of childbirth. Reading some of the reality women went through during birth is horrifying. I found that “Dear Scarlet” provided hope and optimism about postpartum depression. It is a shining beacon for those living in a world of darkness.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Merri

    Every now and then you get a book that comes along and it's what you needed. I now have a 3 year old and had crippling PPD for about the first year of her life. Transition into motherhood did not come easy or natural for me post-birth. I had a really easy pregnancy and birth but had an incredibly hard transition in actually becoming a mom and leaving my old life behind. I also had a very difficult first year in raising a baby by myself and starting from scratch. I see this book and one woman's j Every now and then you get a book that comes along and it's what you needed. I now have a 3 year old and had crippling PPD for about the first year of her life. Transition into motherhood did not come easy or natural for me post-birth. I had a really easy pregnancy and birth but had an incredibly hard transition in actually becoming a mom and leaving my old life behind. I also had a very difficult first year in raising a baby by myself and starting from scratch. I see this book and one woman's journey among many and I'm so glad I had the privilege of reading it. Thank you Teresa Wong for writing this book! I think you painted every character around you fairly and real--with their perfections and flaws, including yourself. Nothing was sugarcoated but you also captured pure moments of joy and "getting better".

  30. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    This hit pretty hard for me, since I've had depression for the majority of my life and I've accepted that I'm not going to have kids. I 100% relate to Wong being afraid that she isn't doing enough for her family, in addition to wondering if it would be better if she wasn't there at all. The art is pretty simple, but it totally gets the story across. I also loved that Wong included her Chinese culture and showed how her family acted as her support system. While it kind of solidified for me that I This hit pretty hard for me, since I've had depression for the majority of my life and I've accepted that I'm not going to have kids. I 100% relate to Wong being afraid that she isn't doing enough for her family, in addition to wondering if it would be better if she wasn't there at all. The art is pretty simple, but it totally gets the story across. I also loved that Wong included her Chinese culture and showed how her family acted as her support system. While it kind of solidified for me that I never want to have kids, it made me feel so validated for putting myself first when it comes to my well-being - that's something I've struggled with for a few years now, and even though Wong's story is tough, it has a happy ending.

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