The theme of postpartum psychosis in the movie “Tully”

Towards the end of the film “Tully” it is revealed that Tully is a younger version of Marlo, a figment of her imagination, and that she isnt real. This is evident when Marlo and Tully go out at night which eventually leads to a car accident as a result of drunk driving and Marlo is seen alone at the hospital.This plot twist has sparked a lot of conversation between young mothers and professionals, defining Marlos illness as postpartum depression or even postpartum psychosis.

According to What Is Postpartum Psychosis?, postpartum depression is characterized by the loss of interest of pleasure, lack of sleep and appetite, feelings of low self-worth, delusions, hallucinations and etc., most of the symptoms that were evident in Marlos behaviour. Other symptoms include the inability to respond emotionally to the baby and the inability to bond, which were a result of the deciding factor to get the night nanny (Vann). This is also the most obvious symptom, as Tully is a personified version of Marlos younger self.

By revealing that Tully is in fact not real, the earlier scenes in the movie are now altered as the clean house and decorated cupcakes, were things that Marlo did herself as she stayed up all night. Other examples of Marlo indicating postpartum psychosis is when Marlo talks about suicide twice saying I want to kill myself in front of her kids, which then leads to her husband telling her kids that shes joking, to the time when Tully jokes that Marlo wants to murder her, meaning she wants to kill herself. However, in both circumstances, what she said was treated as a joke, and nothing was thought of seriously as her husband dismisses this as a sign of fatigue from being a mother.

Throughout the movie, Marlo is seen longing for the glory days of her life when she was still young as she longs for the freedom of youth. One scene of the movie portrays her running on a trail trying to keep up with a younger girl, however she ends up falling over soaked with breast milk. The second scenario was a very unnerving moment, when Tully was seen wearing a cute diner waitress outfit and Marlo coaching her about what her husband likes as they then proceed to having sex. As well as the final scene where Tully and Marlo go out to drink and end up crashing her

car into a body of water. Although this movie shows the reality of motherhood, it also tries to show Marlo trying to let of her younger self and to face who she is as a woman right now.

Unlike Tullys lifestyle, Marlo is no longer that young, free-spirited woman she was before, instead she is a mother with 3 children, and is married to her husband. In conclusion, although there is controversy surrounding this show and how it portrays early motherhood, this powerful movie is a reminder that mothers are still human beings who are strong and vulnerable, and starts an important conversation on how we think about motherhood in todays society. Whether it is the mothers first, second, or third child, the birth of a baby can result on changes to lifestyle, sleep patterns, and identity (Epifanio).

Marlos postpartum body in the film is real and raw as we see her stretch marks, sore nipples, dark circles, and etc. It offers a view on the day-to-day female experience exploring feelings that are rarely portrayed in the media and are often overlooked, opening up womens stories and experiences and the issue of mental health. Motherhood is now represented in media and by showing the raw, real, and vulnerable experiences, women hopefully feel more empowered to share what they are going through. Throughout the movie, Tully heavily asserts the idea that motherhood is in fact difficult, and that mothers need help sometimes, no matter what form it comes in ( Movie Review).

However, the need to address the issue of postpartum psychosis is what strikes the controversy as individuals who have suffered from the same mental illness will be triggered and will not have been warned. The producers of this movie could have helped to fix the stigma of maternal mental health by showing Marlo receiving help, but since they just ended there, the audience remained,  confused and uninformed. Tully, was in fact not a solution to her problem, but a symptom of a bigger mental illness.