Earth laughs in flowers.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson~
Earth laughs in flowers.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson~
Then Allison from O My Family tweeted an amazing post, “Proof that I am in a better place.”
And I knew.
In her post, Allison thoroughly enjoys cuddling with her son as he sleeps on her chest.
Sure, it sounds innocent and as normal as could be for any mother and child. But for a mom with a Postpartum Mood Disorder, the ability to enjoy a “normal” moment with our babies is often beyond our reach. It fell beyond my own reach for the longest time. Then one day, as I sat watching all three of my children play together peacefully, normal slammed into me.
I wish this moment for every woman struggling with a Postpartum Mood Disorder. We fight so hard against the darkness which envelops us after we give birth. The sunshine is always so much sweeter once the fog has lifted.
As Allison so eloquently closes her post: “By the end I was in tears as the joy flowed over me and I was hit like a brick wall with the realization that this is who I am. This is me, this is my son, this is reality.
It IS good.
I wish you so many more moments like this in the months and years to come. You will certainly have earned them!
P.S. Allison, grab the graphic above and slap it up on your blog, linking back to this post. Brag about your status as the Postpartum Voice of the Week! You deserve it!
Yesterday afternoon I escaped the zoo ran some errands.
(Oh, and consider yourself warned. If you’re drinking liquids right now, swallow. Do NOT drink any more fluid until you finish reading. Your keyboard/laptop will thank me.)
First up, I picked up a used Semi-Truck Matchbox Car Holder for our son via Freecycle. I just know he’ll love it! (Don’t know what Freecycle is all about? Find out more here!)
Next, I jetted off to my favorite new department store: Goodwill. We are in need of an extra dining room chair as the boy has figured out he can body slam backwards to get his high chair to lean back. We are days away from breakage.
Goodwill did not have any dining room chairs. So I bought sheets for the girls.
Oh my and then.
And then I roamed. Looked through shorts for hubby but they were fresh out of his size. Looked at shirts for me. Wandered to the back of the store and perused the knick knacks. (Bad, Lauren, BAD!)
Hanging on the back wall amidst the luggage were some purses. I already have two purses I switch between plus my bible carrier for Sunday. I did not need a new purse. I am not easily impressed by name brands either. But when I laid eyes on this particular bag, it sang to me. Whispered to me, actually, told me it wanted to come home with me. So I picked up the black soft leather tote, turned it over and….
Holy Frijoles people!
KATE FRICKIN SPADE.
For less than $3.
Needle in a haystack!
I bought it. I SO bought it.
Because dammit. I’ve earned it.
And I never, ever, ever pass up a damned good deal.
Grandma taught me well.
Thanks, Grandma. This one’s for you!
The trace elements included were Zinc, Magnesium, Iron, and Copper. All four elements were involved in both pathophisiologies and treatment of Postpartum Mood Disorders.
With Zinc, levels were lower in women struggling with a PMD. Altered levels of Zinc can lead to behavioral disturbances including depression according to the researchers.
Magnesium deficiency is linked to a number of psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia and various other mood disorders. According to the researchers, “In pregnancy, the fetus and placenta absorb huge amounts of nutrients particularly magnesium from the mother; this depletion of magnesium with not enough intake of magnesium is hypothesized to be a cause of postpartum depression. Further, nursing is known to deplete maternal magnesium as well. (This is cited as source 31 in their writing)
Iron deficiency can be at the root of depression, learning difficulties, and a number of additional issues. “Iron is the most common single nutrient deficiency in the world and more than 50% of women at reproductive age suffer from iron deficiency,” according to the researchers. Primarily in depression though, the researchers focused on the need of normal iron levels in order to produce dopamine, “a neurotransmitter that plays a significant role in mood disorders.”
Copper is intrinsically important in the conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine, as stated in the researchers report. A deficiency in Copper contributes to a deficiency in dopamine and norepinephrine, causing depression and possible additional mental disorders. Low copper leves showed an association with Postpartum Mood Disorders in one of the studies examined but yet a different study showed higher levels. More research is needed to further examine the specifics of Copper to Postpartum Mood Disorders and to determine what levels are therapeutic in warding them away.
The researchers concluded an examination of the levels of the above four trace elements is important both in the diagnosis and treatment of Postpartum Mood Disorder. These trace elements may prove to be a good alternative approach for treatment, especially for nursing mothers who wish to avoid pharmacological involvement in their recoveries.
Bottom line though – make sure your doctor examines physical causes including vitamin and mineral deficiencies before handing over that script for an anti-depressant.
When a new mom struggles with Postpartum Mood Disorders, her absolute first line of defense and support is her partner/spouse. If she has no support from the person to whom she is closest, the chasm into which she finds herself opens deeper, wider, and threatens to swallow her forever. A new mom turns to those closest out of sheer instinct. It’s a bit like falling off a cliff and reaching out for anything you can grab a hold of as you fall. If there’s nothing there or it breaks under the weight, you continue to fall with an unrooted twig in clasped in your hands and dirt under your fingernails.
Oftentimes, loved ones are the first to notice something is not quite right with Mom. They notice the lack of sleep or the increased sleep. They notice the irritability. They notice she does not want to hold the baby or spend time with them. They notice the housework piling up and Mom curling up in the corner. But they do not know how to tell Mom. They do not know where to turn for help. They do not know what to do. Instead they stand there. Watching. Helpless. Sliding toward hopelessness.
This is why education about Postpartum Mood Disorders is so absolutely important.
Husbands/Partners are especially vulnerable because they are left picking up the slack if Mom does not improve or seek treatment. Often this may create resentment between a couple and harm the marriage, sometimes irreparably. A harsh environment of anger, irritability, resentment, and discord seeps into the home as a result. This very environment has nearly destroyed my own marriage. Even six years later it still persisted, it’s ghost inserting itself into every interaction and conflict. We are FINALLY dealing with this negativity head-on now.
How do you prevent something like this from happening? I wish there was an easy answer. But alas, there is not.
A Postpartum Mood Disorder sneaks into life much like a thief in the night. It steals things like happiness, sanity, serenity, and harmony. Evil little bastard, really. Thing is, just as with any other life event, you can prepare for its arrival even if it may or may not happen. It’s a bit like installing a security system with alarms to go off to keep you safe. Even if this is your first pregnancy, it is absolutely imperative to educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of Postpartum Mood Disorders including how to recognize depression in your husband/partner.
Up to 50% of dads with a depressed partner will experience a form of depression called Paternal Postnatal Depression. It’s real, it happens, and two depressed parents make for a very tense household. There’s yelling, shouting, uncomfortable silence, judgment, and misunderstandings which lead to very ugly places. Trust me, I’ve been there. I would not wish the past six years of my life on anyone. Not even the devil himself. It’s been worse than hell.
As you struggle to fight your way back, please remember that your husband has been right there with you. Hopefully he jumped into the trench with you instead of staying on the sidelines watching you battle your way down field as you kick PPD toward the goal of Good Riddance. But if he stayed on the sideline, don’t count him out. He might be scared. He might be depressed himself. Or he might be self-medicating with alcohol and drugs. And just as you have expected space in which to heal, he too deserves the same space in which to heal himself. The both of you deserve permission to not be okay if that indeed is what’s going on with you.
If your husband is not responding to any of your attempts to get him involved, it may be time to take him to a doctor /therapist appointment. He may have questions he needs answered. Or he may be unsure of anything he can do to help. Or he may be struggling himself. Regardless, many men find solace in hearing facts straight from a professional. It’s not personal, ladies. It’s just the way some men operate. The degree/training matters.
But what if your husband/partner disagrees with your choice of treatment? If your treatment option is working for you and has been discussed with a medical professional, quite frankly, it doesn’t matter what anyone else things, even your husband or partner. YOU are the one who has to live with you. YOU know what works and what does not. Do not let anyone bully you into switching to a form of treatment you are not comfortable with or does not work. It is okay to shop around for a good doctor or therapist but do not use “I did not click with Therapist X” as a reason to stay away from help, as @postpartumprogr pointed out in yesterday’s #PPDChat.
There were quite a few ladies at yesterday’s #PPDChat discussing this very topic. But I wanted to open it up to those of you who read the blog but don’t/can’t make it to our Twitter Chats on Monday.
A few of the questions asked at Chat were:
Did your husband notice there was something wrong before you did? Did he tell you? How did he tell you? How did you react to this news?
What advice do you have for other dads/partners who might be struggling to figure out how to tell their loved one she/he needs mental health help? What approach worked for you?
What are some simple things Dads can do around the house to help Mom out after the birth of a baby? What were some little things your own husbands did for you that made a big impact?
Dads? What advice do you have for Moms? Anything we can do to try and help you out in the midst of all of this? Realize we are not capable of a lot when we are incapacitated by a Postpartum Depression but a little knowledge and insight goes a looooong way.
Please share any resources you have found invaluable not only for Postpartum Mood Disorders but for marriage as well.
Let’s get to Just Talkin’ on this Tuesday!
(P.S. If you choose to answer this on your own blog, grab the above button and link it back to this post with your response! Thanks!)