Monthly Archives: October 2012

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Guest Post for Mental Illness Awareness Week – @MotherUnadorned – You are NOT a Bad Mom

I cannot simply tell you how much I adore and admire Cristi’s drive to speak up about mental illness. The woman is fearless and is always speaking up or doing something to bring awareness to mental health, suicide awareness in particular. I’m honoured to have her posting here at the blog for Mental Illness Awareness Week. Without further ado, I present Cristi’s amazing post. Read. Take to heart. Share. You are not alone.

 

You are NOT a Bad Mom.

The other day I posted on Twitter:
“Sometimes I wonder what others think of me because of my #mentalillness and then I remember I really don’t care. #stigma is stupid.”

Truth is, most of the time I honestly don’t care if others have an unfair opinion of me because of my mental illness. But that is a truth for me born from living with and learning to accept that my mental illness is just that, a REAL illness like any other medical condition. Others’ opinions and stigma are born from ignorance.

It’s not my fault.
It’s not a weakness.
And it needs real medical treatment.

But I know that for many who are blindsided with postpartum depression, OCD, anxiety or psychosis, it’s not that easy to brush off the stigma. Especially when you’ve never experienced mental health issues.

You probably don’t understand what’s happening.
Maybe right now, today, you’re feeling like a bad mother.
Maybe you even feel like a bad person because you’re having “intrusive thoughts” of running away from your family or hurting yourself or your child*.

I want to tell you.
You are NOT a bad mother.
Your thoughts and feelings DON’T make you a bad person.
And, you are NOT alone.
You just need a doctor to treat your medical condition.

I’ve been there myself after the birth of my 2nd child. I felt hopeless and wanted to run away as my 2 year old’s relentless jealousy surfaced. I felt like I couldn’t handle my life, my kids, my home or myself.

It was all falling apart.
I was falling apart.

But I asked for help because I knew I needed professional treatment.

And so do you, right now, if you’re struggling.

You need REAL medical treatment for this often temporary, but very real illness that affects so many women (and even men on occasion.)

I am going to say it again.
You are NOT a bad mother.
You are NOT a bad person.
You are NOT alone.

So many moms have been where you are right now and WE are here with open hearts and open arms to help you find your way. There’s no stigma with us. Just love and support and help.

If you’re here reading Lauren’s blog you probably already know about the beautiful gift of #PPDChat on Twitter and #PPDChat Support on Facebook. If you don’t, I encourage you to check them out. Social media can offer such an amazing support when we feel alone, at home, and haven’t yet been able ask for help in person.

I also encourage you to visit Postpartum Progress for loads of information and resources for perinatal and postpartum mood disorders.

If you’re struggling or in crisis, the Lifeline hotline number 800-273-TALK is always available to you. And Befrienders.org offers a list of hotline numbers worldwide.

There are so many women who have been where you are today and have made it through.

There IS a happy ending with the right help. I promise you.

This is your health, your child, your family, your life. You all deserve the happy ending. And stigma really truly is stupid. Please don’t let it hold you back from finding yourself again.

You are NOT a bad mom.
You are NOT a bad person.

You are LOVED.
You are BEAUTIFUL.
And, you are NOT alone.

Cristi Comes
Wife. Mom. Me. Advocate for mental health & suicide prevention. Attachment parent. Survivor of mental illness & PPD. Jewelry designer. Motherhood Unadorned Blog is motherhood naked, plain & uncensored. On Twitter @MotherUnadorned, on Facebook at Motherhood Unadorned

*If you are having such intrusive thoughts, please contact your doctor immediately.

 

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Guest Post: Amber Koter-Puline’s “Banding Together Over Books – The Warrior Mom Book Club”

Continuing this week’s theme of celebrating National Book Month, Amber Koter-Puline of Beyond Postpartum shares about The Warrior Mom Book Club. It’s worth checking out! I thank Amber for her dedication to families struggling with Postpartum Mood Disorders. She truly is an inspiration on so many levels! Without further ado, here is Amber’s guest post:

 

This summer I began hosting a new feature at Postpartum Progress: the Warrior Mom Book Club. Even just since 2007 when I suffered from postpartum depression and anxiety, so much more information, education, and just plain old sharing around women’s mental health has occurred. From books on personal accounts of postpartum depression to the plethora of rockin’ blogs written by Warrior Moms, we have no lack of reading material right at our fingertips.

I don’t know about you, but with so much out there I often have difficulty choosing what to read, especially since I’m a married WAHM of two young boys. I just don’t have time to keep up with all the blog posts, and my stack of books waiting to be read is enormous (both on paper and virtually on my Kindle list).

As members of the Warrior Mom Book Club, we read and have casual talk about what we’ve read, in the midst of our busy lives. We read books about postpartum depression and related illnesses — approximately four books per year — and as a group we do a review after reading each one, which I then write up for Postpartum Progress so that everyone can read it there.

We began the club with Adrienne Martini’s awesome book, Hillbilly Gothic, which I first read when my first son was about two and then again for the club, three years later. I have to say I enjoyed it as much, if not more, the second time! In case you didn’t get a chance to read along with us, you can check it out on Amazon.

Right now we are reading The Ghost in the House by Tracy Thompson.  It’s a really eye-opening account of maternal mental health and its impact on the entire family from both a genetic and environmental perspective.  While the Book Club is currently closed because we’ve already begun work on it, you can still order a digital or paper copy HERE or do what many savvy mamas did with our previous read and order it from your local library.

The review of The Ghost in the House will probably be up at Postpartum Progress in November and then we’ll announce our third read.  Right now we plan to read Sleepless Nights by .  You are welcome to join us for that one.  Once the announcement is made, you can just email me at atlantamom930@gmail.com and join the Facebook Group “Warrior Mom Book Club” which becomes secret while the discussion is happening to protect the privacy of the participants.

We have nearly 50 moms who have participated so far and I look forward to growing the group as the selections change and time goes on.  Here’s what a few moms have to say about their experience as members of the WMBC:

“Being a part of the bookclub has helped me give words or describe some the aimless thoughts/feelings that I had, especially in the deepest part of PPD/OCD/Anxiety that I was unwilling or more likely, unable to speak about, name, and come to terms with.” ~TM

“I have found it invaluable to read these books. I had not read any of the ones that we have read while I was going through my struggle with postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression. Reading and reflecting on the books is helping me continue my recovery process. The book club offers me the ability to read other’s perceptions of the books as well which allows me to take different messages and incorporate it into my own recovery.” ~Jennifer Pody Gaskell



”Being a part of the WMBC has been like a life raft for me. I live in area of the country with almost no PPMD resources and no in person support group. This book group has enabled me to feel part of a community of amazingly strong and courageous women (authors and fellow readers). Reading these works has also assisted me in gaining more knowledge about PPMD, which has helped me tremendously in making sense of my experience and continuing my journey to wellness and health for me and my family.” ~Becky Ruess

I hope that reading can be a cathartic experience for you, as well, regardless of whether you join a book club, read a book with a friend, or on your own.  Reading is one of the few self-care activities that I prioritize and tends to be a great source of enjoyment and escape for me.  I personally have found that reading a combination of fiction, non-fiction (self-care/help), and faith-oriented books allows me to balance and blend my reading hobby in a healthy manner.

Thanks, Lauren, for inviting me to write about the Book Club!

Take good care,
Amber Koter-Puline
Beyond Postpartum

Mom and wife.  PPD Survivor/Advocate. Yoga lover. Oh…& coffee, bacon & prayer. Amber also blogs at atlantamom.net- a site devoted to information, inspiration, and networking opportunities for all moms in the Atlanta area.

 

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Guest Post: Ivy Shih Leung – Why I wrote my book

Ivy Shih Leung is a fellow PPD Blogger and someone I consider to be a friend. She’s had a rocking journey through PPD as well, but her path is unique. Ivy is ferocious, fearless, and doesn’t mince words. I asked her to write this post as part of this week’s theme focusing on books about PPD. Ivy’s book, “One Mom’s Journey to Motherhood: Infertility, Childbirth Complications, and Postpartum Depression, Oh My!” can be purchased through Amazon. The link is not an affiliate link of mine so I don’t stand to make any money off of your purchase. Read on for what motivated Ivy to share her story.

 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Lauren, for letting me share info about my book to your blog readers! I would like to share how fulfilling an experience writing this book has been for me, what factors motivated me to write my book, and what I hope to accomplish with my book.

 

Writing my book has not only been an amazingly cathartic experience, it has turned out to be one of the most fulfilling accomplishments of my life and a tremendous confidence builder. Writing this book has boosted my self confidence in such a way that negative thoughts and attitudes of those around me— people who are competitive, jealous or just plain mean-spirited—no longer have the same crippling effect on me as they had before I finished my book. About a decade ago, I remember telling a former manager (who was, quite simply, a totally callous and condescending jerk): “There’s nothing more satisfying than being creative and seeing the fruit of your labors,” while he just sat there and gave me this “I don’t give a damn” look. Well, eat your heart out!

If asked what motivated me to write my book, aside from my personal goal for over a decade of wanting to create a piece of work I could feel proud about, I would answer in the following chronological order based on the circumstances that presented themselves:

  • The 2005 infamous words “There’s no such thing as a chemical imbalance” were my initial trigger. Tom Cruise is a name that resonates negatively the most, I think, among moms who have experienced a PMD and thus realize how idiotic his infamous words were. If it weren’t for him, I’m not sure my creative juices would’ve flowed the way they did. Over the past few years, I’ve learned that I write the most passionately and words seem to flow more naturally and quickly when I am angry.
  • I needed a means to release pent-up anger, emotions, thoughts and feelings. Starting in June 2005, my manuscript became my journal that enabled me to release and process pent-up anger, emotions, thoughts and feelings, as well as keep track of the chronology of my experiences. In February 2009 I decided to try to reach a wider audience via my blog before my book was done. It’s at that point that I realized there are many more moms who have experienced, or are in the process of experiencing, a PMD than I had previously realized.
  •  I wanted to help other moms feel less alone in their experience. Remembering how alone and anxious I felt during my bout with PPD, I wanted to share my experiences to help expectant mothers become knowledgeable about PMDs so that, if they succumb to a PMD, they won’t be totally caught off guard. Being ignorant about PMDs causes unnecessary fear, anxiety, guilt, and inability to appreciate one’s baby for the mom who succumbs to a PMD. For example, insomnia after the third week postpartum is a common first symptom of PPD. Since my blog is hit numerous times each day via Google and other search engines using words relating to insomnia in the days and weeks following childbirth, to me that means that there are many moms out there who are going through what I went through, in terms of insomnia as one of the initial symptoms of PPD. Had I known about PPD and its symptoms BEFORE my daughter was born, I would not have been as scared as I was as to why I had insomnia and couldn’t sleep even though I was exhausted beyond words and even when my baby slept. My fear would not have escalated into full-blown anxiety attacks. I would’ve recognized other symptoms like loss of appetite and quick weight loss. As soon as I started to have insomnia, instead of merely taking the Ambien prescribed to me by my OB/GYN, I would’ve immediately known to question it as a sign of PPD and gotten the right treatment then, and I might have been able to prevent the panic attacks from ensuing. As they say, hindsight is 20/20….but at least now I can help other moms know that insomnia is an indication that they need to seek medical and/or mental healthcare right away.

I find that, and I’m sure others will agree, pregnancy books and magazines focus too much on how moms can quickly get their pre-pregnancy figure, weight and libido back—things that shouldn’t really matter but somehow do—and not enough about the silent epidemic of PMDs experienced by as many as one in eight new moms, plus child-care complications like colic, eczema, and cradle cap that add to the anxiety levels of first-time moms.

So, I wanted to write a book that would let me share the following with other moms (and their significant others and loved ones):

  • Just as the title suggests, my journey to motherhood, comprised of infertility issues, childbirth complications, and postpartum depression (PPD).
  • Practical tips from what I learned from my journey, including things to know/do to minimize risk of a postpartum mood disorder (PMD) before baby arrives and things to know/do if a mom were to develop a PMD.
  • My experience with child-care complications like colic, eczema, and cradle cap, so new moms wouldn’t be as anxious and in the dark as I was on how to cope with these types of issues.
  • The biopsychosociology of PMDs—as there is a biological, psychological and sociological element to PMDs—including a brief introduction to the biology of the brain and reproductive hormones (to debunk the ignorance behind the expression “there’s no such thing as a chemical imbalance”), as well as PMD symptoms and risk factors (nature vs. nurture).
  • Info on how to get help (medical, mental, social) and the kinds of help available (e.g., doctors and medication, therapy and therapists, postpartum doulas/baby nurses), including the historical perspective of social support and why it is so crucial, yet lacking, in the early postpartum weeks.
  • How far we’ve come in the past decade and how much further we need to go to improve postpartum experiences, reduce PMD rates, improve public awareness and combat stigma, and improve patient experiences with medical/mental healthcare professionals.