Monthly Archives: January 2011

PMD Support Group this Thursday in Greenville, SC

This morning on Twitter, I discovered a PMD Support Group announcement for Greenville, SC.

I contacted the woman who had made the announcement for more information. She has a Meetup Page for the group. I’m thrilled she is doing this as my first and sadly untreated episode of Postpartum took place only 20-30 miles away from Greenville, SC. To see support in that area for moms like me is so very meaningful.

Here’s the description for the group from the Meetup Page:

Join other new mothers who are struggling with postpartum depression and the many changes that come with having a new baby. Meet with other local women who are dealing with Perinatal mood disorders. PMD affects millions of women in the US every year and most cases are sadly undiagnosed but are very, very treatable. Please go to PSI International on the web to learn more about this terribly debilitating condition and please join the group. Families and friends are welcome. Our purpose is to help each other work through the challenges of PostPartum Depression (PPD) by providing a private, safe, supportive environment to share experiences, ask for help, offer advice and to provide support & encouragement on the road to recovery. We’re accepting members who are currently pregnant and at risk for PPD, first time moms with PPD, experienced moms with PPD, moms with a history of PPD who are in recovery and supportive family and friends of moms with PPD.

If you know of anyone in the Greenville, SC area or YOU are in that area and need support, let them know about the meeting this Thursday. Go here for more information.

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Postpartum Depression is not just tears

Postpartum Depression is not just tears.

It can be anger. It can be irritability, frustration, insomnia, obsessive compulsive, or anxiety.

Postpartum Mood Disorders can manifest in mothers in so many different ways.

Not only do we fight against the stigma of struggling with a mental illness and/or not being thrilled about our newfound motherhood, we also fight against the stigma of what a mom with Postpartum Mood Disorder must be like. So many moms don’t reach out for the help they so desperately need because they don’t “have the typical symptoms” of Postpartum Mood Disorder.

It’s not all tears.

I found a blog post which speaks to this precise issue. Written by a mother of three currently expecting her fourth, she bravely shares her experience and admits that she would never have classified herself as having Postpartum Depression because she “wasn’t sad, I didn’t cry, I took care of my children.  My house was clean, my responsibilities taken care of. I didn’t sleep a lot, or wallow in my own misery.”

Go read the entire post here. Leave her some love and let her know she’s not alone!

After hitting publish, another mama left her blog post about the VERY SAME topic in the comments. Rather than leave it hidden down there, I want to encourage you to read her post too. Entitled Postpartum Disorders, this mama, Sarah, over at Dandelion Roars writes a great piece about how Postpartum Mood Disorders were not all she thought they were supposed to be – she even states she had never heard of Postpartum Depression. Most importantly, she points out that there is a myriad of disorders between Postpartum Depression and Psychosis.

Go read Sarah’s post too.

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Saturday Sundries: 1.29.11: Meds, More babies, When PPD becomes more

Good mornin, y’all. How’s it going?

I love Saturdays. LOVE. There’s something so cozy about Saturday mornings. Round here, we take things slow and easy, enjoy a delicious brunch, and just hang out. This morning we’re having Turkey Sausage, cheesy scrambled eggs, whole grain toast, mango juice, and coffee. NOM.

That’s what we’re doing here. We’re just sitting down for coffee, brunch, and chatting about some serious stuff, girlfriend to girlfriend. Or friend to friend.

So get cozy, grab your coffee, OJ, or tea, oatmeal, danish, waffle, Cocoa Puffs or Honey Smacks, and prop up your feet (yes, that’s allowed here), and enjoy. This is for you.

As always, I am not a doctor. I am a Mom who has lived through the same hell you (or someone you love) is currently or has lived through. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to be alone and not know where to turn. Please check with your doctor before you do ANYTHING mentioned below. What works for one person may not work for another. This disclaimer is brought to you by Common Sense and Covering my, well, you know.

If you have a question, I’d love to hear it. Email it to me at mypostpartumvoice(@)gmail(dot)com. If you want to stay anonymous, that’s fine. Just tell me in your email. You can also catch me on Twitter via @unxpctdblessing or on Facebook at the My Postpartum Voice Fan Page. With any of these, be sure to mention your question is for the Saturday Sundries feature! I’ll answer just about anything including questions about my personal experience with Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. What I will NOT do is recommend medications or one form of treatment vs. another form of treatment. That’s for you to discuss with your doctor. I’ll be happy to provide resources and information regarding therapies, etc, but I do not get specific in regards to pharmaceuticals here. It’s an ethical thing.

Now, before your coffee gets cold, let’s get onto the questions!

@walkerKarraa asked: How do moms manage their meds during time in hospital when babies come?

This is really specific from situation to situation. If you are on psychiatric meds during pregnancy and will be on them through delivery and postpartum, this is something you will want to discuss with your provider. Many providers have Mom bring her meds from home. When I delivered my son, I was on medication. I brought it with me and gave the prescription to the nursing staff. They wrote down the information and then gave it back to me. Every morning, they checked with me to make sure I had taken my dose.

I would strongly recommend only bringing as many pills with you as will be needed for your stay in the hospital, if that is where you will be birthing. This way, if there is a misplacement of your prescription, you’re not out an entire month’s supply. This is also a question you can ask at pre-registration. Inquire about hospital policies regarding existing patient prescriptions and how the hospital handles them. Do not assume your hospital will know you need to take Med A at x o’clock and Med B at x o’clock. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have this discussion with your caregiver AND the hospital staff where you will be giving birth.

This question came in via email. While the reader did not specify to remain anonymous, I’m going to go ahead and respect her privacy anyway. Given the nature of the question, I immediately emailed an expert on this topic, Karen Kleiman. It was Karen’s book which led me to start this blog, actually. I did not know if I wanted to have another baby after our first one. In fact, we started trying for another one, I totally freaked out, we stopped, and then a few months later, we started up again and bam. Pregnant very quickly. I was on that train. After our second, we were once again on the fence. We had begun to lean toward not when we became pregnant with our son in a very unplanned manner. He’s 3 years old now and the happiest little boy you will ever meet. His happiness is infectious. But I am done. Done done done. I did not have PPD/PPA after his birth. I spent a good bulk of the time during my pregnancy focusing on resources and support for me, not for him. It sounds selfish, I know, but it really paid off. In the end, it WAS for him because the happier I was, the better mother I was able to be for him. Without any further ado, here is the question and the answer from the fabulous Karen Kleiman:

I got PPD/PPA 5 months after my daughter was born and that was 3 years ago. How does a mom like me even consider having another biologically? I read about moms who do it and don’t understand how they get there with the fear, and all. Where are the moms who have had PPD and choose not to have another? Where can I get encouraged from other moms who are like me, and not to feel guilty about not “doing” it again? The guilt is horrible for me.

Karen Kleiman’s answer: The decision to have another baby after experiencing postpartum depression and/or anxiety is complicated by a number of factors:

1) your personal experience

2) your medical history

3) your available support network

4) your course of treatment/recovery and

5) your (and your partner’s) desires, expectations and preferences, just to name a few.

So you can see how complex this decision can be. There are women who decide that having another baby is not worth the anguish of a subsequent pregnancy and unknown postpartum experience. There are women who decide that having another baby after PPD/PPA is worth the risk. It is, to say the least, an extremely personal decision. And one, I might dare say, that is no one’s business, but yours and your partner.

I know there is significant pressure, from society, from friends, from family, etc., but it is perfectly okay for you to determine what course of action is best for you and your family. And the guilt? It can feel overwhelming, to be sure, but guilt can only thrive if you provide the opportunity. You can, with proper support, learn to embrace your decision and more forward with confidence. Find a good therapist, read good books J, find support online, (ppdsupportpage.com, Lauren and her awesome PPD twitterdom, for example). Trust me, there are many many women who struggle with this and there is never one right answer. You will feel better if you can find a therapist who specializes in this area, so you can discuss the pros, the cons, the fear, the guilt, and ultimately make an informed decision that fits your needs the best. Then, take a deep breath, and give yourself permission to stop torturing yourself. All will feel right again soon.

@Zeeke75 asked a question that I’ve been hearing a lot lately. “how do you know when it’s no longer PPD and something else?”

Oh look, a leprachaun – over there! Seriously. Look!

What? You don’t believe m… OOOH! Unicorns! There!

Okay, here’s the deal.

This is a touchy question. This question is really the crux of the current DSM-V debate. It’s very hard to answer. VERY hard.

When I attended the PSI/Marce Conference in Pittsburgh this past October, there was a presenter, Ellen Frank, Ph.D, a volunteer working with the Mood Disorders group. Dr. Frank postulated that due to the lack of research indicating a clear off-set for Postpartum Depression, the current onset of Postpartum Depression and other Postpartum Mood Disorders would continue to show a cut-off date of four weeks. What this means is that according to the new DSM, a woman cannot “officially” have Postpartum Mood Disorder if she presents with symptoms any later than four weeks after birth, something I think is a total crock of BS but hey, what do I know? I’m just someone who did not present with symptoms until 3 months in with my first and was actually told by my physician I didn’t have PPD because I was more than four weeks Postpartum. The DSM’s staff’s argument is that the DSM is merely a reference book and is flexible for interpretation from case to case – well, someone should have told my doc this. He actually pulled out the DSM-IV and read to me.

In the bigger picture, this also means that there is a lack of research in the area of a clear “off-set” of symptoms. This means that it’s really hard to “officially” say that a PMAD has moved from being a PMAD into something else.

Many of us in the field will tell moms that onset for a PMAD is anytime within the first 12 months after birth. We also state that it can take up to 18 months to recover properly. But that doesn’t mean that once your little one turns 18 months you should be running through fields of poppies and floating on clouds.

Recovery time line depends on oh so much. It depends on when you were first PROPERLY diagnosed, when you first received an effective course of treatment/therapy, what kind of support you have, what extenuating circumstances may be present in your life, how cooperative and honest you are in the recovery phase, etc.

How this question is answered from woman to woman varies depending on all of these variables. For some physicians, it’s quite cut and dry. At a certain time, your doctor may consider you no longer Postpartum and into full blown depression, anxiety disorder, etc.

The important thing to remember here is that even if your diagnosis changes, you are still making forward progress even if it doesn’t feel like it. I know it’s overwhelming to go back into that dark place, I do. I went back twice. Each time, it was worse than before. But you know what? I had been there before. I KNEW what I need to do in order to get out. Think of it as playing a video game level. Once you’ve played, even if your character fails and you find yourself at the beginning of the game, you know precisely what to do in order to get through what previously were potholes. So you see, you’re already ahead of the game. You can sides step these really dark holes which trapped you before. Fall into one? Okay. Climb out – you KNOW how to do it. You’ve done it before. You can still do it.

And just because you no longer have the official label of “postpartum depression/anxiety/OCD, etc, doesn’t mean that those of us who have PPD labels, etc, are going to shun you. If anything, we’ll just love you that much more.

Also important to note here is that if you develop a full-blown mental illness, expect your family to struggle with this new diagnosis as well. Many times it is just as hard for them to coped as it is for you. Your loved ones may have previously been accepting, understanding, and supportive. But they may now feel that you are out of the woods and this “relapse” is all in your head. If that happens, send them to me. I’ll set ’em straight.

Those are all the questions we have for today. Don’t forget to submit your questions for next week’s Saturday Sundries. I KNOW you have them!

Postpartum Voices of the Week: @jme814 & @Atlantamom

I wish this post was longer but it’s late, it’s been a busy day, and I am tired.

The posts really do speak for themselves and don’t really need much of an introduction. Be sure to go visit them and leave some love there too. Congrats, ladies!

Earlier in the week, I read a great post over at James & Jax about PPD and emotional triggers. We discussed this at #PPDChat this past week. I love this post because in it, James not only states that triggers “was one of the most profound topics covered during any of the PPDchats in which I’ve participated” but she also shares her own issues with triggers during her PPD. It’s so very important to let other mothers what may cause your postpartum to flare up but that it can be different from Mom to Mom. Thanks for sharing and writing an entire blog post on this very important topic.

Go read James & Jax’s post here: PPD & Emotional Triggers.

Then the other day, Amber at Beyond Postpartum wrote about the Strength & Influence of a Survivor. This post is also short and to the point. But it is very powerful. Amber points out the power of a survivor. That there is power in the voice of a survivor when someone who is lost hears that voice. Amber’s words are a must read for the struggling and survivor mom alike. Go read it.

 

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PANDA Perinatal Depression Video

I just watched the most amazing trailer for a Perinatal Depression Video, entitled “Behind the Mask: The Hidden Struggle of Parenthood.”

It’s done brilliantly, respectfully, and you HAVE to watch it. And then you have to share it with every single person you know.

This DVD is part of an initiative to get people talking about Perinatal depression in Australia. According to their profile at YouTube, PANDA is a national, not for profit organisation whose helpline provides confidential information, support and referal to anyone affected by depression and anxiety during pregnancy and after childbirth, including partners, family members and friends.

Thank you, PANDA. Thank you.

Go here to watch the video. Now. Why are you still here?

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Post a day 2011: Stranded with U2’s War

As if I needed more things to shove on my overloaded plate, I decided to take WordPress up on their challenge to post at least once a day in 2011. So far, so good. And as usual, I’ve been over-achieving. (I’ve already posted today)

While I’ve not usually blogged on their suggested topic as they don’t often apply to my blog topic, this one, about music, I couldn’t resist. It sucked me right in – a black hole topic.

Many of you who follow me on Twitter know that I’m a nut about my music. I have very eccentric taste…. all over the map. I listen to everything from Dr. Dre to Bjork to Shania Twain to Red Hot Chili Peppers to Cree Summer to Incubus to Pharcyde to Shakira to Flo Rida to Pitbull to Vieux Farka Toure to Sting to The Eagles to Jesse Cook to The Fugees to Big Pun to The Roots to Alicia Keys to The Fray to Sublime to No Doubt to 311 to Brandon Heath to Chris Tomlin to Sheila Walsh to Amy Grant … to U2.

U2 is a band very close to my heart.

I have been listening to them since I was knee high to a grasshopper.

All through my childhood, U2 was one of the few non-christian bands allowed in our house. I say non-christian but even then, three of the four members of U2 were dedicated Christian men.

My father and I listened to U2 for hours on end. We bonded over Boy, War, U2 live at Red Rocks recorded on Beta Max. (Yes, I am THAT old.)

I remember the crackling of the records playing, the way it would burst into the guitar riffs, Bono’s voice, and Larry’s drumming.

Just four men from Ireland who didn’t have a damn clue about music.

Today’s topic asked: If stranded on a desert island, and could only bring one music album with you, which would it be? What is it about this music that never gets old for you?

War. by U2. Hands down.

Why? Because it brings back such warm childhood memories. I lost a lot of relatives when I was younger. I would go in my room, turn on U2, and everything would be okay as I lost myself in their soulful rock. U2 WAS my solace.

In college, my dad and I finally made it to a concert in Anderson, SC. We literally met up on the road as he road his motorcycle down from VA and I drove up from Georgia. We had a blast. Rage Against the Machine opened for them – a band I had not really known until I saw them live. And man – that night? I also became a Rage fan. At the U2 concert? I was THAT fan. I cried. Dammit people – I cried. I am SO not like that … or so I thought. Until I saw them a few years later in Atlanta, again, with my father. And I went and cried again. Clearly, I AM that fan. I’m still quantifying that with myself. I will say that in Atlanta, I felt totally screwed. PJ Harvey was supposed to open. She didn’t. Nelly Furtado did. Live? She sucks. She has grown on me since then but ahem. I digress.

For me, U2 has strong family ties. U2 is solace. U2 has existed for not much longer than I have been alive. I have grown up with them intertwined with my life. But the one album I keep going back to is War. For me, it’s a definitive album. It’s the album when U2 burst forth from their shell and really grew their wings into a sense of self. They found confidence and have yet to let it go.

I leave you with my favorite song from the album, Seconds.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ae1ZO1VhV1k]

Whatever Wednesday: Prayers for a bully

"Praying Girl" photo taken By t.na~★ @flickr.com, text added by Lauren Hale

Over the past few weeks, our oldest daughter, who is quite normally a happily yet distracted little girl, suddenly changed.

Distant, prone to outbursts, inexplicably rude, snapping at all of us, quick to tears, frustrated, very hard on herself.

Flags went up.

So I started to reach out to her. I asked if there was anything bothering her. I told her to let me know. Mommy would listen. So would Daddy if she preferred talking with him.

She continued to insist nothing was wrong.

Her outbursts continued. She became even more introverted. Dragged her feet as she got ready for school in the morning.

Then we got an email from her teacher.

Our daughter was doing the same thing at school. Frustrated easily, crying, pouting, only doing work when prodded to do so.

SOMETHING was going on at school.

Finally, after a particularly difficult afternoon, I had to discipline her for intentionally throwing something across the living room. As we talked afterward, she broke down.

Tears streaming down her face, she finally shared with me what had her so frustrated and down.

As I suspected, my daughter was being bullied. Not by one but by two boys on her bus on the way home from school.

She shared with me that they were teasing her about something which happened last year. Calling her names like “baby” and telling anyone who would listen on the bus about her mishaps from the previous year.

I gathered her in my arms and rubbed her back as she wept and poured out her frustrations. My oldest daughter turns seven this year.

We had a long talk about the best way to handle bullies.

It’s helped that for a couple of years already, we have encouraged the girls to develop a strong sense of self. We’ve both worked hard to instill in them that the only opinion of self that matters is their own. That they are amazing girls and can be anything if they put their mind to it. We have already worked to share with them that God will love them no matter what. That WE will love them no matter what.

We strive to impress upon them the right way to go about dealing with negative people in their lives.

I quietly shared with my daughter a story of epic embarrassing proportions from my own elementary school. She looked at me with understanding eyes and said, “I bet that was very embarrassing.” It was epically embarrassing.

Then we talked about what she could do the next time these boys teased her.

I suggested that she just look at them and say, “I forgive you and I know God does too.” Or she could simply turn away and ignore their words as she prayed for God to change their hearts. I suggested that maybe this was happening because God wanted to use her to create a change in the lives of these boys.

We also discussed what to do if it kept on happening. How she needed to approach the bus driver and let her know what these boys were doing. She shared with me that she had and so far, nothing the bus driver had done had been successful in keeping the boys from teasing her. I promised her I would make some phone calls on Monday.

We lay there in her bed, snuggled together as we talked about all of this. Then we got up and went about the rest of the afternoon.

As I put her to bed and we said our prayers, I reminded both girls to pray for at least one other person beside themselves.

My oldest daughter prayed this:

“Dear Jesus, Please change the heart of the boy being mean to me. I know you can.”

And I?

Totally melted.

My daughter is already leaps and bounds ahead of where I was when I was her age.

I think she’s gonna be just fine.

On Monday, I called the Director of Transportation to talk with him about the incidents on the bus with my daughter. He went to the school, to her bus, talked with the boys before they even got on, and informed them that if they didn’t stop their negative behavior, they would be riding with their parents because public school transportation would no longer be an option. My daughter had a great bus ride home and felt safe for the first time in weeks.

Nobody deserves to be bullied. Nobody.

Sure, some may argue that bullying builds character. I was bullied in elementary school. All it did for me was deflate my self-esteem. Later in life, it has become a mark I use to measure my progress against. It shouldn’t be that way. Bottom line, it is my responsibility to raise children who won’t bully. It’s our responsibility to protect our children from harm, whether it be psychological or physical. Yes, there are learning experiences that must be had but I do not feel that bullying is one of those experiences.

I am grateful to live in a school district which clearly takes bullying seriously and will not hesitate to protect it’s students from the negative effects of such behavior. My children should not have to be the victim of someone else’s poor parenting. When I send my children to school, I am entrusting their safety and well-being to them. I fully expect them to fulfill that obligation on a daily basis. You should too.

Rest assured that if any of my children were caught bullying, there would be serious consequences. Bullying is not a skill any child should be taught. Children learn by watching, by imitating, etc. It is OUR responsibility to raise them in such a way that they don’t learn how to bully. It is also important we teach them how to positively deal with a bully even if it involves going to an adult and requesting help.

I have no doubt that my daughter has grown from this experience. I am glad it is over (for now) and know we will have many more issues down the road.

She’s already got a very powerful tool on her side though – her faith in God.

For that, I am grateful, amazed, and reassured.

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Just Talkin’ Tuesday 01.25.11: Buried under Mama Guilt

 

Original Graphic by Lauren Hale, Author, MPV

Mama Guilt.

What does this mean to you?

In your life, right now, what invokes this emotion within you?

Is it when you work? Is it because you don’t work outside the home?

When you do something just for YOU?

When something goes wrong? When you lose control? Fail at perfection? Compare yourself to another mom who is perfectly wrapped and coiffed?

Yelling at your kids instead of gently guiding them toward the desired behavior?

Sleeping when you should be up at the crack of dawn because it’s just not motherhood unless you throw yourself under the bus every second of every day?

Wondering if your child is missing milestones because of something you did or didn’t do?

Are you enrolling them in enough extracurricular activities? Engaging them?

Or are you sitting on your computer chatting on Twitter, reading blogs, commenting at blogs? Judging other moms?

Chiding your husband? Wishing you could stay home with the kids instead of going to work?

Doing ANYTHING without your kids?

Loving bedtime?

Loving naptime?

Mama Guilt.

Dangerous ground, this emotion.

This week’s Just Talking Tuesday isn’t really a conversation starter. Perhaps it is – but I want to issue a challenge along with it.

This week? Pick ONE thing which causes you the most Mama Guilt. Write it down on a piece of paper. BURN THE PIECE OF PAPER. TEAR IT UP. DESTROY IT. LET.IT.GO.

Then Post here. Tell us what you destroyed, how you destroyed it, and why. Let us know how we can help you keep moving away from your guilt. Alone, we are powerless. But together? Unstoppable.

Let’s do this.