Editor’s note: We’re thrilled to feature this award-winning documentary film in full. ‘Year One’ is a raw memoir of one woman’s transition to motherhood and her personal struggle with recognizing and overcoming postpartum depression. Watch the film + read a statement from the filmmaker, Erin Bagwell, on her creative process and why she decided to tell her intimate story.
I shouldn’t say this out loud, but the first three months after my daughter was born I resented being a mom. I was totally unprepared for how much work it was going to be and how it would change every relationship in my life. The biggest one being my relationship to myself.
When I became a mother, it was as if I became a new person. Not only did my clothes not fit, but my identity didn’t fit. Every day I was looking into the eyes of a stranger. Who was this girl? And who had time to figure it out when you’re sleeping in 45-minute shifts?
I felt lost. Especially when I tried to find solace in the media, hoping I’d see something that would reflect my experience back to me. Where was the Carrie Bradshaw of flawed motherhood? And why did people keep telling me to “enjoy every minute”?
As a filmmaker, I felt called to share a different story, one where motherhood wasn’t seen like a dress that fit perfectly the first time you put it on, but rather, one that needed to be carefully altered and adjusted while you grew into it.
WATCH + SHARE THE FILM ON OUR IGTV:
[Content warning: This video contains references to postpartum depression and suicidal ideation.]
So I started filming with my family and doing a series of candid interviews about what I was experiencing, my ideas about motherhood and memories I wanted to document for my own records. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with postpartum depression that I realized the story I wanted to share was my own. Having PPD gave me a new lens on my relationship to motherhood that I knew I wanted to explore more deeply as an artist.Little by little my friend and videographer Mary Perrino filmed my daughter Ginny and me. A few days here, a few days there. As the weeks would go by I’d sit at the editing table during nap time and watch myself as a mom of a three-month-old. Then a five-month-old, a seven-month-old, and a one-year-old.
While I was working through the story with my production partner Diana Matthews, my feelings about my transition into motherhood started to soften and change. Instead of being buried by the exhaustion and the overwhelm of it all, I started to feel a deep sense of pride for how strong I was. How despite feeling my worst, I was somehow making it through.
And even though having postpartum depression was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced, it was also a gift. It allowed me to burn down everything I knew and start over. To be more present, to be more vulnerable, to be more resilient, and most of all to learn how to take care of myself while I learned how to take care of my little girl.
I’m not a bad mom because I have postpartum depression. I’m a great mom and I have postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression and anxiety is a common thread in motherhood. In fact, one in seven mothers experience postpartum depression in their lives. So, mama, know this—you are not alone. For a comprehensive list of PMAD support resources, click here.