#PPDChat 03.02.15: Space to Heal

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The Fourth Trimester. It has potential to be rocky for many. All those adjustments. And the potential of the complication of a mood disorder? HELLO.

For those of us who fight a mood disorder post-birth, or the further complication of a life long mental health battle post-birth/parenting, adjusting can be hard. Add in the well-meaning folks who have ALL THE ADVICE and ALL THE ANSWERS and ALL THE QUESTIONS (when will you have another one? Are you done with babies?) and well, yeah. The space to heal becomes an item on the highest shelf at the store that you just cannot reach but desperately need to take home with you.

So how do you create that space to heal? Do you wait for it to appear? Do you force it to appear? Do you say a few words and will it into existence?

Baby steps.

The space to heal begins with the first step – admitting you need it. Then the second (and possibly difficult) step of getting those around you on board. You know how we nest in the later stages of pregnancy? That’s what you need to do – but for yourself.

Join us tonight as we talk about creating the space you need to heal after the birth of a baby and the onset of a perinatal mood & anxiety disorder. Deciding how to move forward is a personal decision and not one anyone else can make for you. Walk with us as we help empower you to make that nest of healing space.

See you on Twitter at our NEW time – 9pm ET!

#PPDChat 02.09.15: Sharing PPD With Family

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Family is supposed to have your back, right? That’s what society says, anyway. But each family is different and every person holds “support” in their own box. They think they are helping but they are instead tearing you down with suggestions meant to heal you.

How do you decide when to share your diagnosis? What about when a beloved family member shames you for fighting this battle?  How large do you make the circle of people who are able to know?

Please join me tonight at #PPDChat to discuss this very issue. It’s one that is extremely important. See you on Twitter at 8:30pm ET!

#PPDChat 02.02.15: #DayofLight Chat

ppdchat-02-02-15This status update came into my feed yesterday evening via my good friend Addye. I’m thankful she shared it because it is certainly something I want to support.

The status read (emphases mine):

“Hey All! This Wednesday, February 4th is the 2nd annual ‪#‎DayOfLight‬. This is the day when I’m asking everyone to share their stories of depression on social media. So often folks suffer alone, believing that no one else understands what they’re going through.

Depression is real. It’s not something that can be wished away, and it’s not something to be ashamed about. Share your story on your blog, on your Facebook status, in a tweet, or on Instagram. Pick up the phone and check on a friend. Send an email, a text message or a DM to let someone know that you are there for them.

If you, or someone you know, has been affected by depression, please change your profile picture to black and white on that day to show solidarity to those who are going through it.”

Brandi, the founder of this movement, will be stopping by during #PPDChat this evening to talk with us a bit more about the history of the movement and how folks can participate and spread the word.

I hope you’ll join us and raise your voice with your story. We, none of us, are alone.

On Shonda Rhimes, Race, & Postpartum Depression

Last night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy has some folks flurrying around, claiming it stigmatizes mental illness and does some serious damage to women who struggle with Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders. (Click here to read more about this battle moms are taking to Shonda’s alleged shaming of Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders.)

I’d like to take a view that is the polar opposite of being infuriated.

Shonda Rhimes did everything right last night.

Everything.

(This is where you go elsewhere if you haven’t seen the episode yet and don’t want spoilers – in fact, go get Happy with Pharrell!)

We start the episode out coming back from winter break – we last found out that Kepner & Jackson’s baby has serious issues and Derrick is leaving for DC after a fight with Meredith.

HELLLOOOO STRESS and high tensions.

The opening scene involves Meredith discussing the hiring of a nanny with Callie. The conversation is interrupted by the incoming trauma of a mom who drove off a bridge with her two kids in the car. At this stage, we do not know the ages of the children and I don’t recall if they mention mom is pregnant at this time (ie, no need to jump to the PMAD hopscotch square yet). Meredith remarks, as everyone starts to walk, “Maybe she needed a nanny.”

Doesn’t every mom need a nanny at some point or other? Why does this imply a mental illness? It doesn’t. It implies motherhood is fucking difficult and sometimes, mom just needs some help (which we do).

Then, we fast forward to another scene where Dad arrives at the hospital after Mom has, only armed with the knowledge that there was an accident and believes someone has pushed his wife’s car off a bridge. He’s dumbfounded to find out it was his wife who was the driver – and rightfully so. Would you truly believe that your spouse were capable of driving off a bridge?

Stephanie interviews the husband as doctors and nurses prep his wife in a room, asking him if there’s anything he had noticed about her that – he interrupts, and says “You mean do I think she’s crazy? No! Absolutely not!” He then sits down and starts to list signs he’d noticed – fatigue, forgetting things, stressed, etc. Admits he’s been working a lot of hours and perhaps hadn’t been paying attention like he should have been.

Meredith, meanwhile, becomes the woman’s advocate and pushes back against any judgement implying the patient is, for lack of a better word, crazy. In fact, Meredith is the one to push for a physical diagnosis of her behaviour instead of a psychiatric one.

In the second half of the episode, the husband breaks down with Jackson, weeping, asking how on earth he could have missed this and how could he have been prepared for something like this to happen? Of course this hits Jackson hard as he is facing the birth of a child with serious health issues.

April, in her own personal hell after learning the situation with her own unborn child, goes on the most glaring rant against the patient’s behaviour.   Callie attempts to calm her down but doesn’t really get anywhere. April’s reaction, to me, was completely justified because she’s reacting from a place of hurt and is projecting.

Here’s how I saw the episode go down, in bullet points:

  • Situation/stigma presented (start in the messy)
  • Situation/stigma delved into
  • Situation/stigma pushed back against

How often do we see a show that deals with a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder by introducing the stigma, toying with it, but not dealing with it and instead treating it like the elephant in the room?

Grey’s didn’t do that last night.

No.

In fact, they brought the stigma in, expanded it by using a woman and family of colour, and then they smashed right through every single damn stigma aspect they introduced.

And yet, that’s still not enough.

A groundbreaking episode presented to us on a popular television show run by the ONLY woman of colour in TV running things right now and that’s STILL NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

What the actual hell?

I watched the episode, waiting for the horror to unveil itself. Instead, I found myself agreeing with every single situation I had seen bashed as being handled poorly. Every single situation in this episode seen as “stigmatizing” simply WAS NOT STIGMATIZING. AT ALL.

I expected one of the children to be an infant. But nope. Well out of toddler years for both children.

There was simply no reason to fly off the handle for this episode. None. Except wait, the line where someone mutters “crazy moms who…” We push back against this as hard as we can with facts, with exposure of what it’s really like to live with a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder. Guess what? Even though last night’s mom didn’t have a PMAD? They pushed back. They had a solid grasp on reality and they exposed it. Reality is, this is where we are as a culture – and that isn’t going to change over night. I, for one, welcome a show which is willing to push the boundaries of stigma and what exists there but also be willing to yank it back. Because in reality? Not everything is neatly tied up and beautiful replete with facts and details.

Shonda Rhimes starts where it’s messy. Then she wades through it and brings it to conclusion. Does it end up where we want it to? No. But you know what? It starts with what we recognize as a CULTURE. Is that right? Not yet. But we’re getting there and last night’s episode of Grey’s acknowledged that in a big way because it:

  • introduced a woman of colour who did something unspeakable
  • had the husband deal with it appropriately
  • involved the staff reacting in an appropriate medical manner without judging mom

In my book, that’s GROUNDBREAKING, not shameful. Not at all.

Thank you, Shonda Rhimes, for putting this episode together and doing so in a respectful and mindful manner. Keep that up.

 

#PPDChat 01.29.15: Just The Facts

PPDChat topic 051611It’s that time again! Every so often, #PPDChat goes back to basics and talks about the signs and symptoms of the issues of Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders. It’s important because many folks aren’t familiar with the nuances of some of the symptoms. Or they associate PMADs with the things they hear in the news.

This chat battles two fronts  – informing as well as disarming any stigma that is out there.

So we’ll see you tonight (blizzard and all) at 8:30pm ET for an informative chat all about the signs and symptoms of a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder!

#PPDChat 01.19.15: Love & PPD

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Love. It envelops you and claims you whole, much like a cozy comforter on a cold winter night. Then, reality rips the comforter away and brings with it a freezing breeze. Struggle as you may, you just can’t get the comforter back. So, you fight to do your best with what you have.

This is what love is like during a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder. We pull away because we are working to keep ourselves warm (read: sane) and do not have the ability to keep those around us warm because we are barely staying afloat. So our loved ones watch, helplessly, as we fight ferociously (or for some of us, drift away), along this confusing path.

How do we make love thrive during the time of PPD?

How can those of us who are struggling reach out to those around us?

How can those who love us dearly reach out to us without being afraid of further hurting us or stifling our progress?

Patience. Acceptance. Compassion. Mostly patience.

Join me tonight at #PPDChat on Twitter at 830pm ET as we navigate this roller coaster road of love in the time of PPD.

See you there!

Medication or Therapy?

In a very insightful piece at the NY Times in the Well section, “To Treat Depression, Drugs or Therapy“,  Dr. Richard Friedman, M.D., explores recent research which examined the manner in which people respond to either medication, therapy, or both.

It’s a question we hear a lot as we support women fighting their way through a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder. The concern is valid, for a variety of reasons. Breastfeeding mothers worry about what the medicine will do to their children. All mothers worry about the stigma about being on a medication. Therapy provides its own challenges with childcare and financial being the two primary ones.

So how do you choose? Why is it that what works for one doesn’t work for another?

Turns out, according to the research Dr. Friedman examined, it comes down to our brains. The research, led by Dr. Helen Mayburg of Emory University, holds great potential for successful treatment of those of us who struggle with mental health issues.

“Dr. Helen Mayberg, a professor of psychiatry at Emory University, recently published a study in JAMA Psychiatry that identified a potential biomarker in the brain that could predict whether a depressed patient would respond better to psychotherapy or antidepressant medication.”

Read that again. A biomarker. In the brain. This vein of research, which involves imaging the brain, may one day allow us to side step the arduous task of finding the right medication for our own situations.

Go read the article, which also touches briefly toward the end on Dr. Charles Nemeroff’s research regarding the treatment response of those who endured childhood trauma. (This is also very enlightening).

Mental health will always be a challenge. How our brain works affects everything we do, everything we are, everything we hope to be. It’s a fight to get it all done. But it’s a fight worth every single breath.

#PPDChat 01.05.15: New Beginnings

ppdchat-01-07-13A new year. New beginnings. Where to start? Resolutions? Baby steps? Intentions?

Wherever you decide to begin, join us tonight at we examine the necessity of going through your days with small intentions designed to snowball into larger achievements as you move through a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety diagnosis.

See you tonight at 830pm ET for the first #PPDChat of 2015!

For @JimGaffigan: 12 Days of Star Wars

Inspired by a tweet by Jim Gaffigan, here’s a parody of 12 Days of Christmas, but about Star Wars for his son who claims his favorite Christmas song is STAR WARS (smart kid):

On the first day of Star Wars, my Yoda to me gave:

A Droid in a sandy desert.

On the second day of Star Wars, my Yoda to me gave:

Two jawa scavengers and a Droid in a sandy desert.

On the third day of Star Wars, my Yoda to me gave:

Three Storm Troopers, two Jawa scavengers, and a Droid in a sandy desert.

On the fourth day of Star Wars, my Yoda to me gave:

Four Jedi Knights, three Storm Troopers, two Jawa scavengers, and a Droid in a sandy desert.

On the fifth day of Star Wars, my Yoda to me gave:

Five TIE fighters. Four Jedi Knights, four Jedi Knights, three Storm Troopers, two Jawa scavengers, and a Droid in a sandy desert.

On the sixth day of Star Wars, my Yoda to me gave:

Six furry Ewoks, five TIE Fighters, four Jedi Knights, three Storm Troopers, two Jawa scavengers, and a Droid in a sandy desert.

On the seventh day of Star Wars, my Yoda to me gave:

Seven Gungans-a-swimming, six furry Ewoks, five TIE Fighters, four Jedi Knights, three Storm Troopers, two Jawa scavengers, and a Droid in a sandy desert.

On the eighth day of Star Wars, my Yoda to me gave:

Eight Senators a-bilking, seven Gungans-a-swimming, six furry Ewoks, five TIE Fighters, four Jedi Knights, three Storm Troopers, two Jawa scavengers, and a Droid in a sandy desert.

On the ninth day of Star Wars, my Yoda to me gave:

Nine Tuskens dancing, eight Senators a-bilking, seven Gungans-a-swimming, six furry Ewoks, five TIE Fighters, four Jedi Knights, three Storm Troopers, two Jawa scavengers, and a Droid in a sandy desert.

On the tenth day of Star Wars, my Yoda to me gave:

Ten Siths-a-leaping, nine Tuskens dancing, eight Senators a-bilking, seven Gungans-a-swimming, six furry Ewoks, five TIE Fighters, four Jedi Knights, three Storm Troopers, two Jawa scavengers, and a Droid in a sandy desert.

On the eleventh day of Star Wars, my Yoda to me gave:

Eleven Wookies fighting, ten Siths-a-leaping, nine Tuskens dancing, eight Senators a-bilking, seven Gungans-a-swimming, six furry Ewoks, five TIE Fighters, four Jedi Knights, three Storm Troopers, two Jawa scavengers, and a Droid in a sandy desert.

On the twelfth day of Star Wars, my Yoda to me gave:

Twelve Biths drumming, eleven Wookies fighting, ten Siths-a-leaping, nine Tuskens dancing, eight Senators a-bilking, seven Gungans-a-swimming, six furry Ewoks, five TIE Fighters, four Jedi Knights, three Storm Troopers, two Jawa scavengers, and a Droid in a sandy desert.

 

 

#PPDChat 12.08.14: 12 Things to Say to New Mothers

12 things to say to new momsRiffing on the 12 Days of Christmas in a nod to the holiday season, I invite you to join me tonight on Twitter at 830pm to share words of wisdom for new moms facing or possibly facing a Perinatal & Anxiety Mood Disorder.

I’m sure we will end up with more than 12 things to say but I will bring 12 points on which we can focus our advice.

See you tonight!