#PPDChat 02.08.16: Heart for Moms

Have a Heart for Moms: Submit a quote, a pic, artwork, words, whatever moves you as we strive to share love with struggling mamas.This week’s #PPDChat topic, Have a Heart for Moms, is meant to flow throughout the week. We will have chat tonight, but it’s more of an inspirational chat meant to share motivation and uplifting mementos, quotes, or photos with new moms who may be struggling.

The goal this week? To lift up struggling mamas with our heart, wisdom, and wit. To show them the light at the end of the tunnel they can’t quite see yet. To share with them that recovery is possible – that they are absolutely worth every step and every penny they need to take and spend on themselves to heal. That their HEART matters to all of us.

Love matters to everyone. If you have some heart, wisdom, or wit you want to drop on the partners and loved ones of new mamas, we welcome that too. We want it ALL. We recognize that a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder doesn’t just affect Mom. It affects the entire family. They ALL need love.

So, join us this evening as we lift up new mamas and then follow us throughout the week for even more inspiration. We’ll then share a large collection of all these love snippets on Valentine’s Day here on My Postpartum Voice.

See you tonight!

Oh! And if you can’t make chat, submit your wisdom, wit, and love below. If you’d like to email it, send it to mypostpartumvoice(@)gmail.com with Hearts for Moms as the subject line no later than February 12!

Ohming Postpartum Depression Away

meditation-884687_640The sunlight flowed into the room, bouncing off the parquet floor and spiraling up toward the white walls as women began to stroll in, bedecked in yoga pants, nursing tops, and covered in infants. Soft music played in the background as the waterfall in the front of the room bubbled and sputtered to life.

A woman entered the room once all the mothers were settled and latched their infants. She sat down in the front, her curly hair spilling down her back, nearly reaching the floor. As she adjusted her body into a seated pose, she began to hum as she reached her arms toward the ceiling, which was sprinkled with skylights to invite even more warm rays into the meditation room.

The mothers hummed along with her, deeply breathing in the soothing surroundings and welcoming the excise of the chaos of their lives outside of the room. Breath in, exhale out. Breathe in, ohm out. OHMMMMMMMMM.

For forty five minutes they did this, breathing in, breathing out, letting their minds clear of everything and anything that might possibly distract them from their current state of bliss. OHHHHMMMMMMMM.

Upon closing, the waterfall slowed, the chimes ceased as the water no longer washed over them.  Their guide stood, and made her way to the exit.

The women gathered their things, and went on their way. They’d be back tomorrow, they said to each other. For now, let’s all go to Whole Foods and buy only organic foods and supplements because we absolutely cannot let this motherhood thing get us sad. And then, we’ll meet in the garden at the park to pray fervently to keep the negative feelings away from our hearts.

With a spring in their steps and a clear path ahead of them, they all wished each other Namaste as they meandered away to fulfill their guaranteed destinies of avoiding depression after giving birth…without turning to the evils of medicine or therapy like that one mother over there. She cheated, they said, among themselves, as they unlocked their cars and settled their infants in for the quick drive to the Whole Foods. She’s not Ohm like us.

If only it were THAT easy, right?

Oh, I’ll just eat right. I’ll meditate, I’ll pray, I’ll do everything right and *I* won’t get depression after the birth of a child. And if I do, it’s totally big pharma’s fault because all they want to do is sell me drugs which will get me better.

STOP.

Nope. Hippocrates wrote about postpartum depression way back in the day – (you know, old school.. the father of modern medicine theology/ethics?) so this isn’t some new-fangled disorder created by Big Pharma just to get you to part with your money. 

Marianne WilliamsonThere’s been an irresponsible post by Marianne Williamson on Facebook regarding the recent announcement recommending mothers be screened for depression both during and after pregnancy is like giving stigma a nice fat hug. Follow the money, she says. Meditate more, she says. Pray more, she says. LOVE more. But dear heavens, leave big Pharma out of any possible solution because they prescribe meds like candy.

Know what, Marianne? We tell moms to run like hell from doctors who practice medicine that way. We empower them to rule out physical causes before just popping a pill. We tell them that hormonal changes are normal and what to look for beyond those changes. We follow the research. We follow the stories of the mothers who share them with us. We do not muffle their voices. We do not minimize their pain or magnify their shame.

And yet – in one fell swoop, you’ve managed to do exactly what you did not want to do – muffle voices. Do you have any idea how difficult it is for a new mother to speak up about experiencing anything besides joy and happiness after the arrival of a new little one? It’s incredibly difficult. We fight for it every single day. It’s exhausting. But if it helps one..just ONE mother – it’s worth it.

I do want to clarify that if meditation, nutrition, and prayer worked for you – that’s fantastic. I’m truly happy for you. But. It’s important to remember that not all solutions work for all mothers and to discredit one method of treatment which has helped so many is to do a disservice to those it has helped. It’s like giving Stigma a big fat hug and shaming millions into silence because they dared to take meds that HELPED THEM.

Ohm all you want if it helps. Ohm it away. But.

Be open to other methods. Don’t judge others for their journey to wellness.

Because when we do that?

We hurt all of us.

#PPDChat 02.01.16: NICU & Mental Health

NICU PPD February

My second daughter spent 21 days in the NICU. 21 long days. We had no idea there was an issue prior to her birth so the complications which arose were a complete shock. To go from expectations of a typical normal birth experience to one which involved a lengthy hospital stay and separation threw me for a total curve. The emotional roller coaster was not one I anticipated.

Tonight, we will discuss the emotional upheaval which occurs within families who spend time in the NICU, how parents can care for themselves, how NICU parents often delay treatment, and the crushing guilt which crashes down upon us in addition to any mental health challenges we are facing. We’ll also discuss knowing the difference between NICU stress/fatigue and PPD. It’s nuanced, but there is absolutely a difference.

I sincerely hope you will join us tonight at 8pm ET as we open up about the difficulty of navigating the NICU as a parent. See you on Twitter!

#PPDChat 01.11.16: That Pesky Thyroid

PPDChat 01-11-16: That Pesky Thyroid. Join us at 8pm ET on Twitter.Did you know that the thyroid can cause issues that mirror several symptoms of Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders? It absolutely can. But – not a lot of people know it can. This is why tonight’s chat is SO important. I hope you will join us as we discuss the various ways in which the thyroid can cause symptoms which mimic PPD, how to deal with them, how to push your doctor to test for them, and why it is important to test for any thyroid issues.

Look forward to seeing you this evening at 8pm ET on Twitter!

 

#PPDChat 01.04.16: Just The Facts – 8pm ET!

ppdchat 01-04-16 8pm ET Just The Facts http://twubs.com/ppdchatNew year, new time, back to just the facts.

#PPDChat moves to 8pm ET for 2016. 9pm is just a smidge too late for everyone, I think. Attendance really dropped off since changing the time so we’re going to try something new for this year.

Tonight, we’re doing what I like to call our “primer” chat – addressing signs and symptoms of Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders. Feel free to join us and hang out to learn all about what to look for not only in yourself but in those around you as well.

Hope to see you there!

Why We Need to Shout

medic-708125_640When I go to the gym to hit the pool (which hasn’t been as often as it needs to be at all lately), there is a gigantic sign explaining CPR methods for children and adults on the wall of the pool room.

Defibrillators in schools and malls. Emergency phones on the highway every few miles. Emergency numbers on signs everywhere for you to contact the police if anything goes wrong. Call. Text. Instructions on where to go and what to do if a fire breaks out. Fire extinguishers.

But.

No signs explaining what to do if someone is suicidal.

No numbers of hotlines or therapists or psychiatrists plastered in public places commanding us to call them for emergencies.

No emergency break glass here in case of mental health crisis.

These things – they are not part of our society. They are there, lurking, in the background, but they are not mandated to be part of our everyday scenery. Things we whisper about to other people when we need them because heaven forbid we talk about them out loud.

Breathing – that’s important. Of course it is, you say, because without breath, you die.

BUT.

Without life, you die.

And when things get really really really bad because of our mental health and we feel all alone? We die inside. For us, we have no life and for some of us, death is the ONLY WAY OUT.

We don’t reach out because it’s difficult. We stay silent because THE WORLD TELLS US TO. It tells us that we are selfish. That we are capable of snapping out of it. That we should be happy and therefore we should just BE HAPPY DAMMIT and stop being depressed because it’s a fucking luxury. As if being depressed is something I’d rather be doing than oh, I don’t know, anything else?

What if.

What if, right NEXT TO THE SIGNS EXPLAINING CPR, there were signs explaining MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID? WHAT IF right under the #77 to reach the state police, there was a shorthand number to text if we were feeling vulnerable emotionally and struggling with a severe mental health episode?

WHAT IF WE MADE MENTAL HEALTH JUST AS NORMAL AS PHYSICAL HEALTH?

I’m tired of the bullshit. I’m tired of the stigma. I’m TIRED OF LOSING MOTHERS BECAUSE NO ONE WANTS TO TALK ABOUT IT OR ASSOCIATE WITH MOMS WHO AREN’T HAPPY.

WE can do better.

We NEED TO DO BETTER.

We can’t do it alone. We shouldn’t do it alone. We are raising up. We are casting a wider net. It’s still not where it needs to be – and we need your help. We need those who don’t battle our demons to speak up. To not let us flounder. To check on us when we begin to creep back under the covers.

It’s okay to not be okay but it’s not okay to not be okay alone. Reach out. Even if it’s just to a loved one or a trusted friend. YOU are worth it. We are ALL worth it.

Things you can do every day to help combat the stigma of living with mental illness:

Speak up. Share your story. Be honest about how you are feeling and the challenges you face.

Ask businesses you frequent if you can share promotional/supportive materials from organizations such as Postpartum Progress, Postpartum Support International, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Make mental health support accessible.

Share posts from various organizations battling for increased mental health awareness via social media. I am constantly sharing Lifeline’s posts on both FB and Twitter. Why? Because someday, it may just save a life. Suicide is not a bad word – it’s an emergency.

Get trained in Mental Health First Aid. Heck, make a day of it with friends. The more you know…. (Find a class here)

Bottom line – live your life in a mindful way of others and their feelings. Of course, keep your own in check as well, but you never know just how far a smile at a stranger might go one day.

In the meantime, visit MHA’s Screening site. Share the graphic below. Let people know they’re not alone.

Depression Screen pic

#PPDChat 12.21.15: Mindful Holidays

ppdchat 12-21-15Just a quick and casual chat tonight before everyone dives into the holiday craze for the next two weeks.

We’ll be chatting about ways to keep your sanity, how to deal with nosy relatives, how to manage social responsibility and yet keep your boundaries intact.

Hope you will join us this evening.

See you at 9pm ET on Twitter!

so·lil·o·quy

light-bulb-517345_640Breathe. In. Out. Repeat. Breathe. Breathe.

You are bigger than this. This will pass. You have been through worse, he says. You will get through this. We will get through this, he says, holding my hand and kissing my cheek, his deep brown eyes full of love and worry, his brow furrowed.

My chest tenses. Body twitches. Legs bounce up and down involuntarily. Fingers play an invisible piano, my breath keeps tempo. Breathe slower, stupid. Breathe.

Swallowed whole by darkness. Sinking, sinking, sinking until the sunshine is a million miles away and murky mud slithers all over my body. Carried away from happy, just like that.

Breathe. Just breathe. Look up. Hold on. Breathe.

You have been here before. You have been further down before. You can do this.

I don’t want to.

I don’t want to.

I can’t… shut up. Can’t isn’t in your vocabulary. You are better than this. Bigger than this. Hold on. You CAN do this.

Light. Turn on the light. Take your medicine. Take the other one too. Talk. Reach out. Distract. Breathe.

Baby steps.

Lose yourself in something that is allegedly happy. Laugh and joke even though it feels like the most antithetical thing you can possibly do at the moment. Smile. Fake it if you have to. But move forward. Climb out of the muck toward the sun. Toward the hands. Toward him. Toward HIM. Toward love. Choose. Breathe.

Bake. Create. Eat. Give in to the minuscule joy surrounding you. Let go of expectations. Walk your talk. I don’t want to. Frown. Sink. Mumble incoherently out of frustration.

Smile. Laugh. Twitch. Eat. Sink. Smile. Laugh. Twitch. Sleep.

Repeat until you are out of the muck.

“Are we there yet?” your brain asks. I’m tired, it says.

Almost, you answer. We got this, we got this. He’s got you. HE’S got you – through Him you can do ALL things. HE will carry you. Let Him.

But don’t stop doing what you are doing. Breathe. Eat. Smile. Meds. Light. Distract. Repeat.

Find the funny everywhere. Fight until the fog fades. Fight until the light is bright. Until the laughter is real. Until your twitching stops. Fight. Breathe. REPEAT.

Inhale. Exhale as the light breaks through the clouds intermittently. Smile.

You got this.

#PPDChat 12.07.15: When Disaster Strikes

PPDChat 12-07015It’s been a rough month.

So much has happened. So many lives lost, so many of us not knowing how to respond but knowing that we are affected by what has occurred, even if it doesn’t directly touch our lives. It still winds its way into our hearts, our minds, and it toys with us as we go through our daily lives.

Monday’s chat is open to all – not just moms or families struggling with Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders. This touches all of us.

We’ll be talking about how to protect our mental well being in the face of a crisis, how to support someone who is struggling as a result of a crisis, and how to talk to your kids about it. Most importantly, however, we will be providing a safe politics non-solution focused space for people to simple exhale and let their feelings flow. That said – we will not be discussing anything political or any solutions to the situations which have occurred over the past month. Just us, our feelings, how they’ve affected our daily living, and how to move toward processing them and making a difference in our lives and those around us. That’s it.

I sincerely hope you will join me on Monday evening at 9pm for this very important chat. See you then.

#PPDChat 11.16.15: Holiday Survival

PPDChat Holiday SurvivalThe holidays. A time of year when we all celebrate our various faiths. They seem to blend together faster and faster these days, don’t they? Stores putting out Christmas decorations before we have even reached the end of October, seemingly skipping both Halloween and Thanksgiving. What ever happened to one holiday at a time?

Everyone counting down the weekends, the ensuing panic about gift shopping (thank goodness for Amazon, am I right?), and then the logistics of who is doing what where.

It’s enough to exhaust anyone.

The holidays are when our boundaries are truly tested. When our mental health is stretched to the limit for the sake of spending time with family and loved ones because it is expected. But what if you need time to recharge? What if being alone with your couch and Netflix is what heals you? How do you fit in time for yourself if you are dashing to and fro?

Tonight, we will explore how to fit in self-care during the holidays. We’ll discuss strategies to make that get together with your annoying relatives a little bit more manageable. And we’ll also chat about how to keep them from playing hot potato with a newborn little one (because yeah, everyone wants to hold the baby!).

Join us at 9pm ET for a chat that will help you survive the holidays without losing your sanity.

See you then!

{background photo sourced here}