Monthly Archives: December 2008

So it’s New Year’s Eve…

It’s been a rough year.

Can I say that again?

It’s been a rough year.

One more time –

It’s been a rough year.

And here I sit, on the last day of it, sick, tired, and trying not to worry about the future.

I’m worn out. Slap worn out. But amazingly enough, still hopeful, still laughing, and still smiling.

I know I should focus on the positive. Focus on the gifts of my renewed faith, my renewed strength in God’s power and plan for my life. I’m trying. Really, I am.

It’s been a good year for my PPD work –

  • This blog has had nearly 20,000 hits since May
  • The PPD Dads Project has over 1,000 hits and has only been in offical existence for 26 days now.
  • An interview at 5 minutes for mom.
  • Lots of interviews here!
  • There’s been the development of a statewide initiative here in GA
  • Several local connections made, one of which has netted me two interns to help overhaul my support meetings!
  • I’ve really had a blast working over at iVillage as the CL of the Postpartum Depression Board and thank God I am able to provide support in that way too.
  • I’ve provided support for at least 1 woman/family each day this past year (that I know of). That’s a minimum of 365 families. Wow.
  • Chat at Pampered, Pregger & Beyond

Personally it’s been a rough year but I’ve struggled to focus on the positives instead of the negatives. I know if I focused on the negatives, I would be swept away into the deep dark depths of the sea of sorrow forever.

My car accident taught me we can never know what is coming our way and that the protection we thought we had here in the world may not be there at all. There is only one way protection and safe place in which to rest – on Him. He will never fail.

My probation as a result of my car accident taught me that if you do truly lean on Him, He will bring compassion to those around you and allow the repentant nature of your soul to be revealed to them. He will humble you.

Alli’s diagnosis with ADHD has shown me that we need to be understanding of others and patient with them no matter what. We are all beautiful no matter what because HE made us.

And more recently, my husband’s job loss has taught me that even when things seem irreparably damaged, there is hope as long as both parties are willing to work towards the same goal with the same fervrent dedication.

So while I am not ending the year on a high note, I have truly learned some valuable lessons this year. Lessons that have allowed me to grow by leaps and bounds and have carved a new me. Just as I have in the past, I intend on pulling myself up by my bootstraps (yes, I KNOW that’s a cliche!) and wading into whatever 2009 has to offer. Serve it up, baby. I’ve got God on my side.

Mary Jo Codey talks about PPD & The MOTHER’S Act

Yet again, Mary Jo Codey has bravely shared her story with a nation of viewers who need to know.. not only about postpartum depression, but about The MOTHERS Act which will be reintroduced to the new Congress early this spring. Thank you Mary Jo for all you have done and continue to do to help end these devastating illnesses.

The Insanity of Sickness & Christmas

Oh how it royally bites to be sick on a holiday. Especially when you’re the one cooking THE MEAL and it’s your first time at the helm for such a big event. I somehow managed to hold it all together and pulled off an awesome Christmas Lunch of (get this) Roast Beef Tenderloin with Beef Mushroom Sauce, Carrot Souffle, Green Bean Bundles, Creamed Corn, and Yorkshire Pudding. I baked a Scripture Cake the night before in honor of the man of the day, Jesus.

Yet once I stopped moving frantically about in the kitchen and sat down, my body realized the rush was over and apparently gave itself permission to implode.

My left hip? Out of alignment for the better part of the afternoon and evening. Only heat and a whopping dose of Tylenol and Ibuprofen cleared that up. And thank goodness it did because I was unable to bear weight on my left side without almost collapsing and crying outloud.

My head and chest? Obscenely Congested. Tylenol Cold did nothing for me. Ended up making a Walgreens run at 10p last night for myself and for Cameron. I got Severe Cold Meds and Nasal Spray. He got a little Flowing Vapors desk thingy by Triaminic. (Have I mentioned Charlotte’s sick too?)

All of this started last Friday when Alli was coughing slightly. The cough got worse and by Sunday evening I was at the ER with her. First thing I did when we got ushered back to a room? Turned on the NY Giants game! (Thank GOD they won!) She had to get a strep swab, flu swab (which is a nasal swab and not an easy thing to watch), take some ibuprofen and tylenol, get some chest x-rays, get said x-rays done again, and finally ended up with a diagnosis of Possible Pneumonia. She was given antibiotics there and we were sent home with a prescription. Half an hour after she took the antibiotics she threw up. Repeated this again in the morning when we tried to give Motrin. Off to the ped’s office with a feverish uncooperative toddler in tow.

Much of this past week has been spent in a headlock with Alli to get her to take her meds and trying to conserve the tissue use because her nose has been running a freakishly long marathon. We’re all coughing (except for Chris) and today has found me in bed for the better part of it – I’ve been awake a couple of times but not very long. I’m due to take some more medicine here shortly (I think – how bad is that!) and am ready to crawl back into bed and rest. I just can’t take being awake anymore. My head is pouding, my voice has apparently bought the last ticket to Clarksville, and this cough and congestion is driving me insane.

And for the record, Chris has been absolutely awesome today. He’s really taken the reigns and let me pass out. I can’t even begin to express how much that has meant to me!

So forgive me if I haven’t posted much the past week or don’t post much for the next few days. I’m taking my own advice and doing some much needed self-care.

In Memory of Jennifer & Graham Bankston

I received this from Jenny’s Light today and wanted to share it with all of you. Please remember to take care of yourselves!

Jennifer Gibbs Bankston
December 5, 1974 – December 19, 2007

Graham Gibbs Bankston
November 1, 2007 – December 19, 2007

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”
Robert Brault

lit-candle

In remembrance and honor of Jenny & Graham Bankston, we encourage you to light a candle today and do something Jenny would want you to do:
1. Enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend
2. Eat lots of candy!
3. Don’t feel guilty buying something you ‘really’ like and would make you happy (or do the same for someone you care about)
4. Take a moment to pet a dog you see someone walking on the street
5. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while
6. Sing along to Christmas carols, no matter how bad you might sound
7. Be extra friendly to a waiter, a store clerk or your neighbor
8. Enjoy a nice glass of wine, or two…
9. Smile, a lot
10. Laugh, out loud


One more quote that encompasses Jenny…

“Creativity, as has been said, consists largely of rearranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know.

Hence, to think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted. “

– George Kneller

Please Forward this to someone you care about.

His Turn…

This one gets personal for me. Very personal.

I am recovered from Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive/Depression. It’s taken some time and been a very hard and long road. The darkest depths witnessed me collapsed on the floor sobbing in tears after yelling at my husband in front of our then two year old daughter, fleeting horrible images racing through my head every waking moment, curled in the fetal position rocking back and forth willing myself to stay there so that I wouldn’t hurt myself or my children, and admitted to a psych ward.

The lessons I learned? Absolutely invaluable. While I wouldn’t wish my experience on anyone else in the world, I know that it was priceless and has truly carved me into the woman I am today. I know now that I cannot control what others think of me and I cannot give them permission to hurt me. I know now that God is with me and I feel his presence each and every day. I know now that I stand strong and breathe deeply because of His sacrifice for me. And I know that I will not let another family struggle the way mine has if there is something I can do to prevent that from happening.

All that said, my journey and growth is not yet over. Yes, I am recovered. But now it is my husband’s turn  to collapse and my turn to support him, to show him the same compassionate understanding, loyalty, and guidance he showed me when I too couldn’t tell which way was up.

My husband was a drug addict when I met him. At the time I thought it was merely recreational and did not realize how deep his problems went. The use became worse after our second daughter, again, unbeknownst to me. Nine months ago I was involved in a car accident and quite a bit came to surface. He had been spending nearly $100/month on his habit while we were struggling to barely pay our bills. He hadn’t paid our vehicle insurance and I went to jail for his mistake. Together we hammered out a plan and got him to a therapist, a psychiatrist, and a faith-based recovery program. He is still sober today.

But we are now in what we’re calling phase two of recovery. Dealing with the nasty habits the drug use hid and the habits that are residuals of an addict like lying. On November 18th he told myself and his family he had been laid off from work. The Sunday before our son’s first birthday, I phoned his boss to find out if this was true. It wasn’t. He had resigned without another job lined up and lied to us about the entire situation. I played my conversation with his ex-boss for him. He called the state’s Mental Health Crisis Line and had an intake appointment made for him at a local clinic the very next day.

Meanwhile I was left to ponder our marriage. Every single shred of trust that had been rebuilt now lay in shards – descimated by one single act. How could he do this to us? How does someone seemingly forget they have a family to provide for? Why does someone do this? Do I stay and continue to be satisfied with the baby steps forward or do I flee? These are the hard questions I’ve struggled with for most of the past year.

We’ve lost just about everything and yet we still have faith and know that we will come through this – as long as we work at it together – something we both excel at. Give us a crisis and we can power our way through it in now time. This time around is a little harder and I am certainly shaken to my core. We have a lot of hard questions and choices ahead of us but I have no doubt that no matter what the answer is, we will both be able to survive.

The reason I tell you all of this is to ultimately introduce my husband’s new blog to you. It’s entitled Diary of a Real Man. He’s posted his first entry tonight and I would really encourage you to go check it out. Share it with others including any men in your life that may be facing similar circumstances and just need to know that they are not alone.

I would also encourage you to visit Married to Depression for a wife’s insight into what it’s like to live with a man who’s depressed. Another blog I’ve also started reading is The Junky’s Wife. She offers quite a bit of insight into what it’s like to live with an addict.

Stigma

While writing the previous post regarding the sleep study, I remembered something.

When I was hospitalized, the one thing the nurses emphasized to me over and over and over again was that I didn’t have to tell anyone where I had been UNLESS I CHOSE TO DO SO. We even had a cover story for where I was that weekend as I was supposed to be co-hosting my sister-in-law’s baby shower. I was very ill and unable to attend. Everything was kept very quiet at the time and only immediate family knew what was really going on. My mother drove down from VA the night I was hospitalized so Chris could go to work and we would have someone to care for the kids (THANKS MOM!)

I don’t know why we kept it so quiet then. Fear? Shame? I wasn’t well enough to feel either of those things and honestly, I am obviously not ashamed of having been hospitalized because if I was I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing right now.

As far as my hospitalization goes, it was the best thing that could have happened to me. I rested and it was the beginning of what I do today. It opened my eyes to what a specialized population mothers with mood disorders are and strengthened my resolve not to let any mother go through the experience alone and unguided. If there is anything worse than a Postpartum Mood Disorder, it’s going through it alone, feeling misunderstood by everyone around you, wondering what on earth is going on with you and getting scared out of your mind.

You don’t recognize the person in the mirror – who is she and when will she leave? You learn to cope with her but still wish she would disappear or at least stop showing up so much. Eventually she does fade but the fading takes time when you wait for it to happen all alone in the cold. With the warmth and strength of others, you learn how to get her to fade much quicker. She stops standing in between you and your baby, stops yelling at your husband, stops soaking your cheeks or re-organizing the cabinets for the twentieth time today. There is something to that power in numbers thing. It works.

Stigma is a very powerful force in the human world. It’s peer pressure gone horribly wrong. Peer pressure that encourages you to be miserable, silent, and hang your head down low should not accompany any new mother. Instead, the peer pressure should be that it’s ok to talk about your feelings and open up, it’s ok to hold your head high and know that as long as baby is fed, diapered, and has a warm place to sleep, you’re doing the best you can with what you have at the moment. Peer pressure should be the warmth of another person who KNOWS what you’re going through because she’s been there too.

Don’t let the stigma keep you from getting help. Don’t let the fear keep you from getting help.

Getting help is the absolute best thing you can do for YOU and for your family.

So sleep deprivation makes it worse, huh?

sleeping-mother-and-baby

A study by Bobbie Posmontier of Drexel University published this past week concluded that sleep deprivation exacerbates symptoms of Postpartum Depression.

Really? Sure about that?

And money was spent on this research?

You’ve GOT to be kidding me.

So those endless sleepless nights, stolen moments of sleep here or there because I just couldn’t keep my eyes open or my mind awake anymore just made things worse? And wait a second – you’re also saying that women with PPD have a hard time falling asleep? So it WAS the PPD that caused all those racing thoughts and sleep problems! Wow. There’s an eye-opener.

What really gets me about this is that the end of the article published by Blackwell, there are recommendations for sleep habits of new moms.(You can read the article by clicking here)

Posmontier recommends clinicians treating women for PPD to address the importance of adequate sleep. “Mothers can develop a plan to have other family members help care for the baby at night,” she said. “They also should practice good sleep hygiene. That includes going to bed at the same time every night, avoiding naps and steering clear of caffeine, exercise, nicotine and alcohol within four hours of bedtime.”

Hey wait! Caffeine (and power naps) helped me get through those first few bleary weeks! Well, toothpicks too but that’s a whole ‘nother post in rebuttal to a whole new study – about how toothpicks are ineffective tools for keeping your eyes open due to the OW factor. (That study hasn’t already been done, has it?)

My sarcasm aside, Ms. Postmontier does make a valid point of getting practitioners and clinicians to increase their awareness and their patient’s awareness of adequate sleep.

And here’s where I get serious.

With our second daughter, we begged our pediatrician for a night nurse. Tube-fed, someone had to be up with her 24/7 as we couldn’t just let a feeding slip by. It mattered too much to get her as much food as possible. I was also pumping exclusively for her and my life revolved around caring for her but with a lot of above and beyond thrown in for extra measure. Typically my husband stayed up with her at night and let me sleep at least the five hours I could sleep without sacrificing supply.

Just one month after she came home from the hospital was when I was admitted to psych ward for suicidal ideation/thoughts and thoughts of harming my children. I slept most of the time I was there. The nurses would wake me so I could pump, which I did every three hours during the day until midnight or so and then I would go to sleep until 6a and start the whole routine over.

That weekend was a tremendous turning point for me. Not only was my medication changed but I got sleep. The nurses hounded me to change my routine at home and make sure I took time for myself, something I made sure to do when I returned home. I started walking every morning and learned the true value of self-care. I felt guilty at first but now not only have I come to expect it, my husband is an active enforcer of my self-care time. (He knows what a grump I can be if I don’t get my sleep!)

So while the whole study struck me at first as a “DUH” moment, it really is a valuable enforcement of the importance of sleep in a new mom’s life. The better care you take of yourself, the better shape your family will be in come the long-run. Thank you, Ms. Postmontier for your invaluable contribution to this important aspect of Postpartum Care.