Tonight’s #PPDChat was about depression during pregnancy.
Prior to the first chat at 1pm ET, I decided to search for “Pregnant Woman” via Google images. Wanna know what I found? I bet you already know.
Smiling pregnant women. All of them happy and glowing. 30 pages in, I gave up.
I asked both chats to send pictures of themselves, pregnant, not glowing, REAL.
Will you share too? I want to show moms that not all pregnant women smile. That it’s OKAY to look (and be) something other than happy during pregnancy. Can you help?
Email your photos to me at mypostpartumvoice (@) gmail (dot) com. Subject Line: Real Pregnancy Photos.
You totally Rock. Let’s show the world pregnancy isn’t all happy grins. Time to get real.
I am SO excited to invite y’all to the very first LIVE VIDEO #PPDCHAT!!!
(The caps and the exclamation points drive that home, right?!)
Starting this Thursday at 8pm ET, I will be going live at OnTheAir for the very first time. I’m extremely excited and somewhat nervous. I’ve only done video conferencing/chat with my kids. But I guess if you can get a 4 year old to respond via the Internet, you can handle adults, right? Right?!?! At least that’s what I’m telling myself.
#PPDChat started nearly 2 years ago as part of a makeover here at my blog. It’s skyrocketed. #PPDChat is a wonderful, compassionate, resilient, and amazing community both on Twitter and at Facebook. The closed FB group is nearing 100 members and I know we have far more participants on Twitter. The 24/7 peer support offered through the hashtag is a beautiful thing when in motion. To this day, I have not witnessed one single act of abuse or mal-intent with this hashtag, which is mind-boggling given the inherent stigma which goes along with the issue of Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders.
So, it’s with a deep breath, a lot of nerves, and a very excited heart I dive into the world of video for the community of #PPDChat. I believe it will bring us closer, increase our authenticity, and further reduce any stigma which exists around the world of Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders.
A few notes though:
OnTheAir does not currently have any way to come “On Stage” without activating your video camera. IF you do not want to be seen but want to be heard, I suggest taping paper or doing something to block your video camera (point it away from you if you have to) before you click the “Call In” button. I know many of you value your anonymity. I want you to feel comfortable participating without sacrificing your privacy. You don’t have to “Call In” to participate as there is a chat feature which scrolls out to the side.
If you want to “Call In” and be on “Stage” with me, you will need to register with the site. If you just want to watch, there is no need to register. Registration is free at this time and can be done by signing up through either Twitter or FB. You’ll need to RSVP to the show in order to get an email reminder of when it’s happening.
If you have any questions I’ve not covered here, please ask them via comment or find me on Twitter (@unxpctdblessing). I’ll do my best to answer them or get the answer for you.
Links you’ll need to participate:
Join OnTheAir here: http://www.ontheair.com/home
RSVP to this Thursday’s show (Topic – Open Forum) here: http://www.ontheair.com/show/483
I look forward to seeing everyone on Thursday!
The main reason I started this blog was to lend a voice to the experience of having a baby after postpartum depression. At that time, my advocacy for families struggling with Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders was in its infancy.
Over the past few years, my experiences, both personal and online, have lent to an understanding that it’s not only moms who experience depression after the birth of a child.
I’ve interviewed dads like Joel Schwartzberg and Jeff Tow who have personally experienced it. I’ve lived with a dad who experienced it. I’ve spoken with experts who have conducted research in the area and also with experts such as Dr. Will Courtenay, who provide counseling and support for men who experience what is properly termed as “Paternal Postnatal Depression.”
Yesterday, The Guardian published a piece by Barbara Ellen entitled, ” ‘Postnatally depressed’ dads? Give me a break.” I read it this morning as yesterday I was on the road. Barely awake and still blinking to bring words into focus, I saw a tweet on my timeline referring to the article. I clicked. It was a response post by the folks over at Mind Hacks. I knew this required more response than I could provide via Twitter. So here I am.
[tweet https://twitter.com/mindhacksblog/status/191478302169501696 align=’center’]
The Guardian has a less than stellar record when it comes to Postnatal Depression stories to begin with so I’m not terribly surprised they allowed something such as this to be posted. More often than not, stories involving PND at The Guardian include gruesome details with no trigger warnings, and they also link to further triggering articles. No resources or further information is ever given.
Let’s begin by examining the definition of postnatal:
post·na·tal (pst-ntl) adj. Of or occurring after birth, especially in the period immediately after birth.
It states “after birth,” yes? It does not state “after giving birth.” Postnatal depression, for most women, is intrinsically linked to childbirth, but according to Ms. Ellen, adoptive parents are also excluded from the experience of Postnatal depression because they fail her test for the qualifications to achieve proper “Postnatal Depression” legitmacy:
“Were hormonal levels tested? Was postpartum bruising measured? How about the emergence of a human head in what – in deference to what might be your leisurely Sunday breakfast – I will refer to as the front-bottom area?”
What about women who had a cesarean section? Given that their child also did not technically emerge from “the front bottom area”, are they also excluded from experiencing Postnatal depression?
Ms. Ellen, in her bashing of men who experience Postnatal Depression, does not just bash them. She completely denigrates any experience of Postnatal Depression. It’s clear she read the research but I wonder if she bothered to even talk to any men who have experienced Paternal Postnatal Depression. Or frankly, if she even cares to, given her obvious feelings on the topic:
“The research from Oxford University is all about new fathers becoming stressed and depressed, their condition triggered by the sleepless nights, strain and the responsibilities of parenthood. I believe the official medical term for this is: “Pissed off, knackered and yearning to be carefree again.” “
The addition of an infant, to any relationship, is a difficult one. There are sleepless nights, there is strain, and there absolutely are responsibilities of parenthood. Some of us fight even darker demons after the birth of a child, regardless of our gender, regardless of how (or even if) we gave birth, and, regardless of our socioeconomic status.
I watched my former spouse fight Paternal Postnatal Depression as I fought my own battles with Postpartum OCD, Depression, and PTSD. His experience is no less valid than my own, and I certainly did not feel as Ms. Ellen states I should have felt,
“…were having to put up with such exhausting narcissists as partners – men incapable of hiding their sulky self-absorption…”
There’s an importance in acknowledging men with depression after the birth of a child. Why? Because men are far more likely than women to complete suicide. They are also more likely to TAKE THEIR FAMILIES WITH THEM.
This is not solely a male v. female issue. This is not men attempting to lay claim to “…a foul, debilitating condition directly related to the physical act of pregnancy and childbirth?” This is a family issue, just as it is with a mom. This is a mental health issue. Men, yes, are capable of experiencing depression. It doesn’t make them any less of a man, it doesn’t mean we suddenly have to contend with “male PND.” It means we should be understanding, accepting, and supportive of fathers, a group who is largely forgotten after the birth of a child and is simply assumed to carry on as if his life has not changed.
Men are more involved in the childbirth experience than ever before. They are in the delivery room, they are staying home to take care of their children, and they are engaging in their children’s lives. Why shouldn’t we acknowledge their struggle? Men experiencing emotion is not new. It’s simply not accepted by society and therefore brushed under the rug.
Let’s stop doing this.
As I told my son, who broke down in tears after Skyping with his Dad, it’s okay for him to cry. Anyone telling him any differently is wrong. It’s okay for a man to cry. It’s possible for a man to be depressed after the birth of a child – it’s not him feeling “pissed off, knackered, or yearning to be carefree.”
Stop giving ignorance a platform, dear media. Just stop.
Dear 16 year old self:
I’m sitting down to write this letter to you with nearly 20 years of wisdom on you. Wisdom garnered from the life which awaits you. There are a few things I feel you should know:
Stop slamming the bedroom door. Your parents mean it when they say they’ll take it away. It’s going to break in less than 6 months. And a curtain? Doesn’t have the same dramatic effect.
You’re going to say bitch in front of your entire AP Government class your senior year. It’s okay though, because there’s always someone who says it every year. Don’t worry, you stumble through it beautifully. A heads up though might just give you the extra oomph to be even more sarcastic when it happens. PS. ON THE BEACH. Not ON THE BITCH. Just saying.
College will both rock and be one of the biggest challenges of your life. You’ll lose yourself a bit too much in alcohol and partying but you’ll make amazing friends after that phase. You’ll become grandparentless. This will hurt like hell and make you want to go back to the alcohol. Don’t. Let it pour out, allow yourself to feel it, allow it to consume you until you’re through. It’s okay to hurt this much.
Kids – there are three of them in your future. They’re hilarious, witty, beautiful, amazing, and so much more. Don’t ever forget this, especially when things get hard.
Things will get hard, especially after you have daughters. Incredibly hard. But you know what? there are moms out there JUST LIKE YOU. You’re not alone and you will eventually get better.
All of this hard and then some to which I am not speaking in a public forum will make you an amazing woman who knows how to laugh, appreciate the little things, and not take life so damn seriously all the time. The good things are brighter, the happiness is sharper, and the joy is exquisite. Life is all yours – and remember, how people choose to react to you is their gig, not yours.
So go. LIVE. Be happy. Be sad. Get angry. But above all, be free.
(you can see this poster online here as well)
The following is an actual brief discussion with a friend via email.
By far the most amazing discussion of the week.
And yes. I’m kvetching about the haikus at the onset of this discussion.
Me: “I hate formulaic poetry. It’s so restrictive.”
Him: “You cannot have meaning without structure, grasshopper.”
Me: “I disagree.”
Him: “Then you need to read your Wittgenstein.”
Him: “So that you can get a full understanding of structure and it’s value.”
Me: “You’re a big believer in structure and rules, aren’t you?”
Him: “You can’t have language without them.”
Me: “Really? The best writers consistently disregard the rules.”
Him: “If you disregard the rules too much you are only writing for yourself…”
Me: “Perhaps at first, yes. But rules are meant to be disregarded, yes? If we always followed rules and logic, nothing would ever change.”
Him: “If you didn’t have rules to the game there would be no game.”
Today I took some time just for me. I drove an hour to a state park and meandered on the trails for over two hours. I ended up at a dam which is where I sat and ate lunch, listening to the rushing water, the birds, and enjoyed the gentle breeze flowing around me.
I watched a crow fly from one side of the lake shore to the other. Boats came and went on the water beneath the dam, some of them stopping to cast a line in the hopes of catching a fish.
As I sat there, soaking up the atmosphere, sunshine, and basking in the relaxing view, I realized that no matter how hard things get, no matter how dark they might seem, the sun always rises the next morning. So shall we.
I lost myself today. Not in the darkness, but in the light. I didn’t want to leave the grassy knoll above the dam. I could have stayed there all day. Losing yourself in the light instead of the darkness is an experience like no other. Your heart soars and tumbles like the strong hawk floating on a thermal high in the sky. You smile as you exhale, closing your eyes as you drink in the peace around you, remembering a time when you could have sat there and not seen or felt a thing.
It’s days like today which make me grateful for the dark. Because without it, days like today wouldn’t mean so much to me.
mothers, babies, snuggle
in quiet cover of night
lone tear slides down
whirlwind swirling round
fall down stand up breathe in out
bright blue sky overhead
clouds drift across as I stare
tiny leaf bud clings
tightly to branch, mother hug
yearning to escape