Category Archives: Perinatal Mood Disorders

Love Bombs for Moms

Love BombsIt’s Valentine’s Day, y’all. That one day a year when we are mandated to tell everyone around us just how much we love them even if we already tell them every other day of the year. We got you something – love bombs!

In the spirit of this fine holiday, I have gathered a few thoughts from moms who have fought the good fight against Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders. They’ll be shared throughout the day, wrapping up in a final post featuring a gallery of all the quotes included in the posts. Oh, and these posts? Will be short and sweet so those of you who are wrestling with kiddos can quickly scan them. We know the mom life gets crazy.

So kick back, stay tuned, and enjoy the love bombs coming your way. You’re worth every single one of them, mamas.

Ohming Postpartum Depression Away

meditation-884687_640The sunlight flowed into the room, bouncing off the parquet floor and spiraling up toward the white walls as women began to stroll in, bedecked in yoga pants, nursing tops, and covered in infants. Soft music played in the background as the waterfall in the front of the room bubbled and sputtered to life.

A woman entered the room once all the mothers were settled and latched their infants. She sat down in the front, her curly hair spilling down her back, nearly reaching the floor. As she adjusted her body into a seated pose, she began to hum as she reached her arms toward the ceiling, which was sprinkled with skylights to invite even more warm rays into the meditation room.

The mothers hummed along with her, deeply breathing in the soothing surroundings and welcoming the excise of the chaos of their lives outside of the room. Breath in, exhale out. Breathe in, ohm out. OHMMMMMMMMM.

For forty five minutes they did this, breathing in, breathing out, letting their minds clear of everything and anything that might possibly distract them from their current state of bliss. OHHHHMMMMMMMM.

Upon closing, the waterfall slowed, the chimes ceased as the water no longer washed over them.  Their guide stood, and made her way to the exit.

The women gathered their things, and went on their way. They’d be back tomorrow, they said to each other. For now, let’s all go to Whole Foods and buy only organic foods and supplements because we absolutely cannot let this motherhood thing get us sad. And then, we’ll meet in the garden at the park to pray fervently to keep the negative feelings away from our hearts.

With a spring in their steps and a clear path ahead of them, they all wished each other Namaste as they meandered away to fulfill their guaranteed destinies of avoiding depression after giving birth…without turning to the evils of medicine or therapy like that one mother over there. She cheated, they said, among themselves, as they unlocked their cars and settled their infants in for the quick drive to the Whole Foods. She’s not Ohm like us.

If only it were THAT easy, right?

Oh, I’ll just eat right. I’ll meditate, I’ll pray, I’ll do everything right and *I* won’t get depression after the birth of a child. And if I do, it’s totally big pharma’s fault because all they want to do is sell me drugs which will get me better.


Nope. Hippocrates wrote about postpartum depression way back in the day – (you know, old school.. the father of modern medicine theology/ethics?) so this isn’t some new-fangled disorder created by Big Pharma just to get you to part with your money. 

Marianne WilliamsonThere’s been an irresponsible post by Marianne Williamson on Facebook regarding the recent announcement recommending mothers be screened for depression both during and after pregnancy is like giving stigma a nice fat hug. Follow the money, she says. Meditate more, she says. Pray more, she says. LOVE more. But dear heavens, leave big Pharma out of any possible solution because they prescribe meds like candy.

Know what, Marianne? We tell moms to run like hell from doctors who practice medicine that way. We empower them to rule out physical causes before just popping a pill. We tell them that hormonal changes are normal and what to look for beyond those changes. We follow the research. We follow the stories of the mothers who share them with us. We do not muffle their voices. We do not minimize their pain or magnify their shame.

And yet – in one fell swoop, you’ve managed to do exactly what you did not want to do – muffle voices. Do you have any idea how difficult it is for a new mother to speak up about experiencing anything besides joy and happiness after the arrival of a new little one? It’s incredibly difficult. We fight for it every single day. It’s exhausting. But if it helps one..just ONE mother – it’s worth it.

I do want to clarify that if meditation, nutrition, and prayer worked for you – that’s fantastic. I’m truly happy for you. But. It’s important to remember that not all solutions work for all mothers and to discredit one method of treatment which has helped so many is to do a disservice to those it has helped. It’s like giving Stigma a big fat hug and shaming millions into silence because they dared to take meds that HELPED THEM.

Ohm all you want if it helps. Ohm it away. But.

Be open to other methods. Don’t judge others for their journey to wellness.

Because when we do that?

We hurt all of us.

Thoughts on Warrior Mom Con

This time last Friday, I had just rolled into Boston via Amtrak. I thought I would have to wait until I got into Boston to find other Warrior Mamas but no.. there was one right there on my train. During a stop, she meandered up from her seat and sat with me for the remainder of the ride. Despite never having met in person before, we sat there and chatted as if we were the oldest of friends as she worked on a blog post and I finished knotting, bagging, and labeling the huglets for the conference. It was fantastic.

Then, we got to Boston, dropped our luggage off at our respective hotels, and headed to lunch for the early bird arrivals. Again, all people we had never met in person before, but once we were together, it was like sitting with old friends.

Shared experiences, man, they’ll do that to you.

The entire weekend was full of love. Hugs. People you didn’t have to explain yourself to at all because you KNEW they got where you had been, where you were going, and why. Because they too, had been on similar roads.

Unfortunately, I missed Saturday afternoon sessions because my body crapped out on me at lunch, forcing me into a much needed nap back at my hotel before my live #PPDChat session at 4pm. I didn’t feel guilty about it, however, because as anyone who is familiar with my work knows, I emphasize self-care. Walking my talk is extremely important to me. I will not ever be the kind to tell someone “Do as I say, not as I do.” Nope. Not me.

Our #PPDChat session was intimate, but awesome. We closed with a fantastic meditation suggested by one of the attendees – perhaps you’ve heard of it: (language warning, because obviously)

Despite missing the afternoon sessions, I got so much from the conference. Surrounded by a mass of women who cared so much about their journeys and about the journeys of those around them was sheer magic.

There’s so much more I could write – and will write – but for now, I need to go sit down and continue recovering from the insane pace of my life over the past two weeks.

Suffice it to say that I am not a conference person, primarily because I’m an introvert and travel is draining. But this one? This is one conference I want to have a permanent spot at because it was so very fulfilling.

On Shonda Rhimes, Race, & Postpartum Depression

Last night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy has some folks flurrying around, claiming it stigmatizes mental illness and does some serious damage to women who struggle with Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders. (Click here to read more about this battle moms are taking to Shonda’s alleged shaming of Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders.)

I’d like to take a view that is the polar opposite of being infuriated.

Shonda Rhimes did everything right last night.


(This is where you go elsewhere if you haven’t seen the episode yet and don’t want spoilers – in fact, go get Happy with Pharrell!)

We start the episode out coming back from winter break – we last found out that Kepner & Jackson’s baby has serious issues and Derrick is leaving for DC after a fight with Meredith.

HELLLOOOO STRESS and high tensions.

The opening scene involves Meredith discussing the hiring of a nanny with Callie. The conversation is interrupted by the incoming trauma of a mom who drove off a bridge with her two kids in the car. At this stage, we do not know the ages of the children and I don’t recall if they mention mom is pregnant at this time (ie, no need to jump to the PMAD hopscotch square yet). Meredith remarks, as everyone starts to walk, “Maybe she needed a nanny.”

Doesn’t every mom need a nanny at some point or other? Why does this imply a mental illness? It doesn’t. It implies motherhood is fucking difficult and sometimes, mom just needs some help (which we do).

Then, we fast forward to another scene where Dad arrives at the hospital after Mom has, only armed with the knowledge that there was an accident and believes someone has pushed his wife’s car off a bridge. He’s dumbfounded to find out it was his wife who was the driver – and rightfully so. Would you truly believe that your spouse were capable of driving off a bridge?

Stephanie interviews the husband as doctors and nurses prep his wife in a room, asking him if there’s anything he had noticed about her that – he interrupts, and says “You mean do I think she’s crazy? No! Absolutely not!” He then sits down and starts to list signs he’d noticed – fatigue, forgetting things, stressed, etc. Admits he’s been working a lot of hours and perhaps hadn’t been paying attention like he should have been.

Meredith, meanwhile, becomes the woman’s advocate and pushes back against any judgement implying the patient is, for lack of a better word, crazy. In fact, Meredith is the one to push for a physical diagnosis of her behaviour instead of a psychiatric one.

In the second half of the episode, the husband breaks down with Jackson, weeping, asking how on earth he could have missed this and how could he have been prepared for something like this to happen? Of course this hits Jackson hard as he is facing the birth of a child with serious health issues.

April, in her own personal hell after learning the situation with her own unborn child, goes on the most glaring rant against the patient’s behaviour.   Callie attempts to calm her down but doesn’t really get anywhere. April’s reaction, to me, was completely justified because she’s reacting from a place of hurt and is projecting.

Here’s how I saw the episode go down, in bullet points:

  • Situation/stigma presented (start in the messy)
  • Situation/stigma delved into
  • Situation/stigma pushed back against

How often do we see a show that deals with a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder by introducing the stigma, toying with it, but not dealing with it and instead treating it like the elephant in the room?

Grey’s didn’t do that last night.


In fact, they brought the stigma in, expanded it by using a woman and family of colour, and then they smashed right through every single damn stigma aspect they introduced.

And yet, that’s still not enough.

A groundbreaking episode presented to us on a popular television show run by the ONLY woman of colour in TV running things right now and that’s STILL NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

What the actual hell?

I watched the episode, waiting for the horror to unveil itself. Instead, I found myself agreeing with every single situation I had seen bashed as being handled poorly. Every single situation in this episode seen as “stigmatizing” simply WAS NOT STIGMATIZING. AT ALL.

I expected one of the children to be an infant. But nope. Well out of toddler years for both children.

There was simply no reason to fly off the handle for this episode. None. Except wait, the line where someone mutters “crazy moms who…” We push back against this as hard as we can with facts, with exposure of what it’s really like to live with a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder. Guess what? Even though last night’s mom didn’t have a PMAD? They pushed back. They had a solid grasp on reality and they exposed it. Reality is, this is where we are as a culture – and that isn’t going to change over night. I, for one, welcome a show which is willing to push the boundaries of stigma and what exists there but also be willing to yank it back. Because in reality? Not everything is neatly tied up and beautiful replete with facts and details.

Shonda Rhimes starts where it’s messy. Then she wades through it and brings it to conclusion. Does it end up where we want it to? No. But you know what? It starts with what we recognize as a CULTURE. Is that right? Not yet. But we’re getting there and last night’s episode of Grey’s acknowledged that in a big way because it:

  • introduced a woman of colour who did something unspeakable
  • had the husband deal with it appropriately
  • involved the staff reacting in an appropriate medical manner without judging mom

In my book, that’s GROUNDBREAKING, not shameful. Not at all.

Thank you, Shonda Rhimes, for putting this episode together and doing so in a respectful and mindful manner. Keep that up.


Medication or Therapy?

In a very insightful piece at the NY Times in the Well section, “To Treat Depression, Drugs or Therapy“,  Dr. Richard Friedman, M.D., explores recent research which examined the manner in which people respond to either medication, therapy, or both.

It’s a question we hear a lot as we support women fighting their way through a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder. The concern is valid, for a variety of reasons. Breastfeeding mothers worry about what the medicine will do to their children. All mothers worry about the stigma about being on a medication. Therapy provides its own challenges with childcare and financial being the two primary ones.

So how do you choose? Why is it that what works for one doesn’t work for another?

Turns out, according to the research Dr. Friedman examined, it comes down to our brains. The research, led by Dr. Helen Mayburg of Emory University, holds great potential for successful treatment of those of us who struggle with mental health issues.

“Dr. Helen Mayberg, a professor of psychiatry at Emory University, recently published a study in JAMA Psychiatry that identified a potential biomarker in the brain that could predict whether a depressed patient would respond better to psychotherapy or antidepressant medication.”

Read that again. A biomarker. In the brain. This vein of research, which involves imaging the brain, may one day allow us to side step the arduous task of finding the right medication for our own situations.

Go read the article, which also touches briefly toward the end on Dr. Charles Nemeroff’s research regarding the treatment response of those who endured childhood trauma. (This is also very enlightening).

Mental health will always be a challenge. How our brain works affects everything we do, everything we are, everything we hope to be. It’s a fight to get it all done. But it’s a fight worth every single breath.

#PPDChat 01.05.15: New Beginnings

ppdchat-01-07-13A new year. New beginnings. Where to start? Resolutions? Baby steps? Intentions?

Wherever you decide to begin, join us tonight at we examine the necessity of going through your days with small intentions designed to snowball into larger achievements as you move through a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety diagnosis.

See you tonight at 830pm ET for the first #PPDChat of 2015!

#PPDChat Topic 08.04.14: Getting Pro-active: Facing Pregnancy after a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder


Along with countless women, I have been in this boat. It’s an intimidating boat, let me tell you what. But, with some preparation, things don’t have to be quite that scary.

My first experience with a PMAD was frightening. I had no idea what was happening in my head in addition to trying to get myself adjusted to motherhood for the first time around. Talk about one helluva screwball. Thanks, life.

I survived. My daughter survived. Did we come out unscathed? No. But I definitely came out wiser. I view my first brush with PP OCD as one heck of a learning curve which prepared me for the second time I found myself in an even deeper valley than the first.

Halle Berry said it best on Oprah: “Once you’ve been through depression, it gets easier to get out because you have a road map.” Each episode, while it may have different nuances and causes, is essentially the same basic experience deep down. You get used to battling your way out of it and yes, you absolutely have a road map. You learn to recognize the curves and know how to adjust for them well before they even appear on your horizon.

Just as with a road trip, preparation is key. While even the best preparation in the world does not guarantee that a PMAD will stay at bay, it does empower you and enables you to seek help sooner rather than later.

I sincerely hope you’ll join us tonight to discuss the importance of preparing yourself and your loved ones for the possibility of another bout of a PMAD after the birth of a sibling. I have experienced both a planned and an unplanned pregnancy after my episodes so there will be lots of insight into both situations, including a very honest discussion about depression and other mental health issues during pregnancy.

Tonight’s chat is an important one. Don’t miss it. See you on Twitter at 830pm ET!

Guest Post: On Meeting An Angel

PP Blogathon BlingToday’s post in celebration of Katherine Stone is brought to you by Deborah Forhan Rimmler, a member of the board of Postpartum Progress. There’s no intro to do it justice so I’ll just let you read.

I’m always curious about where God might pop up.  You see, I’m the kind of girl who finds a connection to the Divine in random places—a quiet snuggle with my boys, when my husband loves me even when I’m being a jerk, a long bike ride, my dear aunt’s funeral.  You get the point.

Five years ago I was struck with horrible postpartum OCD, the soul stealing kind where you have visions of hurting your own baby.  Even then, I was still lucky.  I had a swanky doula, got a great psychiatrist and slowly got better.  Still, there was this huge gaping hole in my heart that only I knew was there.  I swear you could see all the way to infinity and back that hole was so big.  I was sure I would never really be happy again or be joyful as mother because this terrible experience haunted me.  I put on brave face. I cared for and played with my baby.  I prayed, tried to meditate, did yoga, and watched chick flicks. I did all my happy things.  Only it was still there.  That big gaping hole of fear and sadness over this experience.

Then I met an angel—the working class kind, which in my opinion is the very best type.  You see, she is one of us.  A human with no special wings or privity with God’s plans for the universe.  She was just a very brave mother who had dared to share her story with the world about how she, too, had these intrusive thoughts about hurting her baby boy.  And I mean the whole world—she put in on a blog!  She just put it out there in a matter-of-fact way about how postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD and psychosis are simply treatable diseases.  And she got other women to share their stories on her blog.  And she gave up her lucrative marketing career, at a significant financial cost to her family, to build this blog day after day.  For. Ten. Years.

Every story was just as beautiful and brave as the one before.  And in these stories there was a divine truth that healed my draining soul.  We women are not alone, and it is not our fault we got sick.  I even felt God’s love for me, my sick brain, and all the other suffering mothers past and present in the community of these stories.  And the gaping hole in my heart and soul got plugged with the honesty and bravery of these women sharing their truth.  And one day I started to feel happy again.  Full of hope for my life as a mother.

Thank you, Katherine Stone, for being that angel.  Day after day you shine the light of goodness and grace on the dark side of motherhood helping to piece our broken hearts back together.  And when that light sparks a sad, tired soul and starts to help it heal, you give the gift that only a true angel can give:  Hope.

Bless you my darling friend and congratulations on the Ten Year Anniversary of Postpartum Progress!

Rimmler Family 09 051Deborah is a postpartum OCD survivor and on the board of Postpartum Progress, Inc.  She is a corporate attorney and lives with her husband and two sons in Western Massachusetts.

When the Awareness Month Ends

Where does the awareness go?

Does it get tossed in the trashcan? Do we save it and recycle it for next year’s shindig?

Or do we raise the banner and keep it waving for the entire year?

Awareness months are fabulous things.

But there’s a fault with them – they last only 28, 30, or 31 days.

Everything has an awareness month these days, it seems. We are all screaming about them from the social media rooftops. Pay attention to this, do that, say this, share that, use this hashtag, find this picture on Instagram, enter this, like this, donate here, etc.

It can all lead so very quickly to donor fatigue or the inability to comprehend anything regarding any of the topics we are supposed to give our all to because well, it’s the topic du mois.

Do you go home when it’s the first of the next month?

Or are you still there, in the stands, in the midst of the mess, yelling at anyone who will listen that this is something we should still give a damn about?

We need people who will stay and fight. People who will give their all for more than 28, 30, or 31 days. The people who scream and shout even when there’s nothing left – the people who sacrifice their entire heart and soul to save those around them – those are the people who make the difference. THOSE are the people I want to surround myself with as I move forward in life.

We all matter. Do we need to be ramped up even when it’s not THE MONTH for our cause? Yes and no. Advocacy is a shout in the sunshine but it’s also a quiet whisper in the dark. Sometimes it’s as simple as sharing your story. Other times, it’s far more complex and exhausting.

Whatever the form your advocacy takes, don’t drop it just because it’s no longer the right month.

Carry that flag with you throughout the year. Hold your head high, be a shining example and move others toward your cause by exemplifying the type of person you are inside – a fierce warrior capable of surviving anything life may throw your way.

NIMH Gets Failing Grade for Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder Chat

Last week, a friend of mine tagged me in a link on FB to give me a heads up about a NIMH chat this week about Perinatal Mood Disorders. Of course we were looking forward to it and hoping it would be a worthwhile discussion. I nearly missed it on Friday morning (May 16, 2014)  thanks to a nasty case of food poisoning which knocked me off my feet for the better part of this week. But, I managed to dive in just 10 minutes into the chat.

It was…….awful.



Spouting of facts and just the facts, according to the NIMH. (They managed to screw up a few things. Don’t worry, I’ll go there. Oh, yes, yes I will.)

Self-promotion and only self-promotion. No real response to the powerful Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder Advocates who showed up until we started really pushing back. Even then, their response was still stilted.

Just when it seemed it couldn’t get any worse, the NIMH began repeating tweets from the beginning of the chat instead of answering the flurry of questions coming in from those participating.

If NIMH handed this chat in as a graded project, it would have received an F.

When I asked what was being done to encourage medical professionals to become better educated about PMAD’s, this happened:

NIMHChat Congress


Congress MANDATED we pay more attention to PMAD’s. In fact, it got shoved in with the ACA. And we all know how well that’s going. After this response, I asked a follow up question asking how that was going – asked for hard numbers. Did I get numbers? Nope. BECAUSE THE ATTENTION MANDATED BY CONGRESS LACKS FUNDING AND THEREFORE ATTENTION.

I’m okay, I’m okay. *deep breath*

There was also this lovely moment in chat:

NIMHChat Snafu

I know, right?

Because we ALL got better by staying in bed thanks to depression, right? Right?

Instead of urging moms to get up, move, and care for themselves, the NIMH  provides them with excuses to stay in bed and well, suffer. Way to go, NIMH. WAY.TO.GO. *slow claps*

While I realize it is difficult to manage a large scale chat with several participants (something I have done myself, when #PPDChat was very well attended), there is absolutely no excuse for the following to happen during your chat:

1) Blatantly state misinformation/misleading facts about your topic. Particularly if said topic is subject to entrenched stigma and misinformation (which is why you are having the chat to begin with, right? Not because it’s a hot topic and you’re using it to draw people in…)

2) Not engage those who are participating – this is SOCIAL media, y’all. SOCIAL. ENGAGE. Like Jean Luc Picard on the bridge of the Enterprise. Even if you’re just going at impulse speed, ENGAGE for the love of ALL that is..well, you know.

3) Don’t repeat yourself word for word. It lets people know you’re unprepared.

4) Share resources other than your own. (see number 2 about social media).

5) Do NOT TREAT those participating with disdain, contempt, or as if they are idiots. They are attending your event which would be nothing without participants. Respond accordingly unless they are clearly bashing you (which we were not) and if they are bashing you, ignore them before you stoop to the level of responding with disdain.
Things to do during a Twitter chat:

1) Engage. Be Social. Greet people. Be happy and upbeat. SMILE through your keyboard.

2) Be knowledgeable and approachable.

3) Treat everyone as if they are your equal. They are there to learn, not to be kicked. Acknowledge their words, their struggle, their questions with the same respect you expect from them. You know, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

4) Offer insight through connections and share resources from others in addition to your own. The only answer is not yours. Crowd-source and use the media at hand to enhance your chat.

5) Do your best to make everyone be heard, even if it’s through just RT’ing what they’ve said. Again, I realize this is difficult on a LARGE scale but if you have known experts participating, acknowledge them.

I truly hate when things like this go wrong because there is such a tremendous opportunity for exposure when a government agency holds a chat like this. I want to say I’m surprised at how things went but sadly, I am not. Instead of raising awareness and building hope, NIMH decimated the chat with a lot of tweets about nothing, leaving at least one person (and possibly more) with the idea that there is in fact, nothing a mother can do to prevent a PMAD:

NIMHChat PPD cause

And that, dear friends, is NOT the taste you want to leave in the public’s mouth when discussing PMAD’s. Because there is hope. There is help. We are not alone.

Go to Postpartum Progress to find women who are fighting back.

Or Postpartum Stress Center’s website.

Or Beyond Postpartum.

Or find me on Twitter @unxpctdblessing. Or search the hashtag #PPDChat. Message me for the private FB group full of women who KNOW this is hell and yet are fighting back against it with everything they have.

We’re all here for you when you’re ready to reach out for help.

(And THAT is how you end a chat about Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders).

*drops mic and hits publish*