Category Archives: #PPDChat

#PPDChat 02.01.16: NICU & Mental Health

NICU PPD February

My second daughter spent 21 days in the NICU. 21 long days. We had no idea there was an issue prior to her birth so the complications which arose were a complete shock. To go from expectations of a typical normal birth experience to one which involved a lengthy hospital stay and separation threw me for a total curve. The emotional roller coaster was not one I anticipated.

Tonight, we will discuss the emotional upheaval which occurs within families who spend time in the NICU, how parents can care for themselves, how NICU parents often delay treatment, and the crushing guilt which crashes down upon us in addition to any mental health challenges we are facing. We’ll also discuss knowing the difference between NICU stress/fatigue and PPD. It’s nuanced, but there is absolutely a difference.

I sincerely hope you will join us tonight at 8pm ET as we open up about the difficulty of navigating the NICU as a parent. See you on Twitter!

#PPDChat 01.04.16: Just The Facts – 8pm ET!

ppdchat 01-04-16 8pm ET Just The Facts http://twubs.com/ppdchatNew year, new time, back to just the facts.

#PPDChat moves to 8pm ET for 2016. 9pm is just a smidge too late for everyone, I think. Attendance really dropped off since changing the time so we’re going to try something new for this year.

Tonight, we’re doing what I like to call our “primer” chat – addressing signs and symptoms of Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders. Feel free to join us and hang out to learn all about what to look for not only in yourself but in those around you as well.

Hope to see you there!

Why We Need to Shout

medic-708125_640When I go to the gym to hit the pool (which hasn’t been as often as it needs to be at all lately), there is a gigantic sign explaining CPR methods for children and adults on the wall of the pool room.

Defibrillators in schools and malls. Emergency phones on the highway every few miles. Emergency numbers on signs everywhere for you to contact the police if anything goes wrong. Call. Text. Instructions on where to go and what to do if a fire breaks out. Fire extinguishers.

But.

No signs explaining what to do if someone is suicidal.

No numbers of hotlines or therapists or psychiatrists plastered in public places commanding us to call them for emergencies.

No emergency break glass here in case of mental health crisis.

These things – they are not part of our society. They are there, lurking, in the background, but they are not mandated to be part of our everyday scenery. Things we whisper about to other people when we need them because heaven forbid we talk about them out loud.

Breathing – that’s important. Of course it is, you say, because without breath, you die.

BUT.

Without life, you die.

And when things get really really really bad because of our mental health and we feel all alone? We die inside. For us, we have no life and for some of us, death is the ONLY WAY OUT.

We don’t reach out because it’s difficult. We stay silent because THE WORLD TELLS US TO. It tells us that we are selfish. That we are capable of snapping out of it. That we should be happy and therefore we should just BE HAPPY DAMMIT and stop being depressed because it’s a fucking luxury. As if being depressed is something I’d rather be doing than oh, I don’t know, anything else?

What if.

What if, right NEXT TO THE SIGNS EXPLAINING CPR, there were signs explaining MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID? WHAT IF right under the #77 to reach the state police, there was a shorthand number to text if we were feeling vulnerable emotionally and struggling with a severe mental health episode?

WHAT IF WE MADE MENTAL HEALTH JUST AS NORMAL AS PHYSICAL HEALTH?

I’m tired of the bullshit. I’m tired of the stigma. I’m TIRED OF LOSING MOTHERS BECAUSE NO ONE WANTS TO TALK ABOUT IT OR ASSOCIATE WITH MOMS WHO AREN’T HAPPY.

WE can do better.

We NEED TO DO BETTER.

We can’t do it alone. We shouldn’t do it alone. We are raising up. We are casting a wider net. It’s still not where it needs to be – and we need your help. We need those who don’t battle our demons to speak up. To not let us flounder. To check on us when we begin to creep back under the covers.

It’s okay to not be okay but it’s not okay to not be okay alone. Reach out. Even if it’s just to a loved one or a trusted friend. YOU are worth it. We are ALL worth it.

Things you can do every day to help combat the stigma of living with mental illness:

Speak up. Share your story. Be honest about how you are feeling and the challenges you face.

Ask businesses you frequent if you can share promotional/supportive materials from organizations such as Postpartum Progress, Postpartum Support International, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Make mental health support accessible.

Share posts from various organizations battling for increased mental health awareness via social media. I am constantly sharing Lifeline’s posts on both FB and Twitter. Why? Because someday, it may just save a life. Suicide is not a bad word – it’s an emergency.

Get trained in Mental Health First Aid. Heck, make a day of it with friends. The more you know…. (Find a class here)

Bottom line – live your life in a mindful way of others and their feelings. Of course, keep your own in check as well, but you never know just how far a smile at a stranger might go one day.

In the meantime, visit MHA’s Screening site. Share the graphic below. Let people know they’re not alone.

Depression Screen pic

#PPDChat 12.21.15: Mindful Holidays

ppdchat 12-21-15Just a quick and casual chat tonight before everyone dives into the holiday craze for the next two weeks.

We’ll be chatting about ways to keep your sanity, how to deal with nosy relatives, how to manage social responsibility and yet keep your boundaries intact.

Hope you will join us this evening.

See you at 9pm ET on Twitter!

#PPDChat 12.07.15: When Disaster Strikes

PPDChat 12-07015It’s been a rough month.

So much has happened. So many lives lost, so many of us not knowing how to respond but knowing that we are affected by what has occurred, even if it doesn’t directly touch our lives. It still winds its way into our hearts, our minds, and it toys with us as we go through our daily lives.

Monday’s chat is open to all – not just moms or families struggling with Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders. This touches all of us.

We’ll be talking about how to protect our mental well being in the face of a crisis, how to support someone who is struggling as a result of a crisis, and how to talk to your kids about it. Most importantly, however, we will be providing a safe politics non-solution focused space for people to simple exhale and let their feelings flow. That said – we will not be discussing anything political or any solutions to the situations which have occurred over the past month. Just us, our feelings, how they’ve affected our daily living, and how to move toward processing them and making a difference in our lives and those around us. That’s it.

I sincerely hope you will join me on Monday evening at 9pm for this very important chat. See you then.

#PPDChat 11.16.15: Holiday Survival

PPDChat Holiday SurvivalThe holidays. A time of year when we all celebrate our various faiths. They seem to blend together faster and faster these days, don’t they? Stores putting out Christmas decorations before we have even reached the end of October, seemingly skipping both Halloween and Thanksgiving. What ever happened to one holiday at a time?

Everyone counting down the weekends, the ensuing panic about gift shopping (thank goodness for Amazon, am I right?), and then the logistics of who is doing what where.

It’s enough to exhaust anyone.

The holidays are when our boundaries are truly tested. When our mental health is stretched to the limit for the sake of spending time with family and loved ones because it is expected. But what if you need time to recharge? What if being alone with your couch and Netflix is what heals you? How do you fit in time for yourself if you are dashing to and fro?

Tonight, we will explore how to fit in self-care during the holidays. We’ll discuss strategies to make that get together with your annoying relatives a little bit more manageable. And we’ll also chat about how to keep them from playing hot potato with a newborn little one (because yeah, everyone wants to hold the baby!).

Join us at 9pm ET for a chat that will help you survive the holidays without losing your sanity.

See you then!

{background photo sourced here}

#PPDChat: #EndPPDMyths with @HerStoriesTales

It’s almost here, y’all. Almost!

It has been killing me to keep this under wraps. Hold on to your hats because there’s a lot of info coming your way:

  • #PPDChat Announcement
  • Book Review
  • #EndPPDMyth Campaign
  • CONTEST (Yes, a CONTEST!)

Are you ready? Here we goooooo…..

 

PPDChat Mothering Darkness#PPDChat:

On Monday night, #PPDChat will be chatting with the fabulous Dr. Jessica Smock from @HerStoriesTales about the upcoming anthology, Mothering Through the Dark. Oh, and some of the contributors might just pop in. So you know you want to be there. Because this chat? This chat is going to be AHMAZING.

I use Twubs to keep up with chat. It makes things SO easy because it automatically adds the hashtag for you. Join our community! All you need is a Twitter account (and Internet)!

I’M SO EXCITEDfor Monday and hope to see you on Twitter at 9pm ET!!!!

MOTHERINGTHRUDARKAbout the Book

Mothering Through the Dark is a vivid and powerful anthology of essays from 35 amazing women writers who openly share their experiences as they navigated the world that is found in the dark valley of Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders. In the book, not only will you find hope and truth, but you will find candid and bold honesty. Each essay portrays the reality that is motherhood for so many who fight against the vortex of Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders. It is a book you need to have. It is a book that will make a difference in how women are heard and understood. I love that so many voices I know as well as new voices to me are in this book. I also love that so many more voices are bravely speaking up about these experiences. We will push stigma into a corner, together. I will caution, however, that if you are fragile or easily triggered, it may not be for you. Even though I am nearly a decade away from my last PMAD episode, I found myself immediately sucked back into several emotions because of the transparent and honest writing within the pages of this anthology.

In fact, there was one specific piece that hit me really hard, early in the book. It was during “A Different Shade of the Baby Blues” by Jill Robbins. On page 54, she writes about her reflection in the mirror:

“She had my hooked nose I’ve always hated and she was wearing my favorite purple sweater. But she didn’t look like me.

“She has no joy,” was the thought that rolled through my foggy mind as I studied my reflection.”

I’ve been there, after the birth of my second daughter. To look at yourself in the mirror and not recognize the reflection? Scary. Truly difficult to capture but Jill did it so well here that I immediately saw the reflection in the mirror from the first time I didn’t recognize myself (yes, it happened more than once). But in recalling this, I didn’t find a trigger, I found hope, grace, and a promise that even though I had been there, I knew my way out because here we are. And this is what is so powerful about this book. The moments it captures, albeit dark ones, reflect to us how far we have come since experiencing them. The power therein is priceless.

If you want to help promote the release of the book, you can also join the Thunderclap HerStories has set up. Go here!

Shatter the MythsAbout the #EndPPDMyths Campaign

We’ll be chatting with Jessica not only about pulling the anthology together, but also about the social media campaign they’re running next week to mark the release date of the book (which is Tuesday, November 3). According to their press release:

“The HerStories Project, a writing and publishing community for women, is organizing a week-long social media campaign during the first week of November called “Shatter The Myths.” The goal of the campaign is to end the widespread misconceptions about maternal mental health disorders that prevent mothers from speaking up about their struggles and getting help.”

How can you participate in their campaign?

Follow the hashtag. Share a photo of yourself with a quote that shatters a myth about Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders or empowers fellow fighters, being sure to post it with #EndPPDMyths.

contestCONTEST

One last thing – even though the book releases next Tuesday, you will have a chance to win it during chat on Monday night! That’s right! One lucky participant will win a copy of Mothering Through the Dark. No pre-registration required. All you need to do is attend the chat (and of course, not be included in the anthology). Winner will be announced on Twitter shortly after chat and Random.org will be used to select the winner. If you don’t want to wait, you can pre-order the book here. Did I mention that ten percent of proceeds from this book go to support Postpartum Progress, a non-profit that is making a LOT of waves and progress right now? It’s a win win!

Tessera Chat Guest Announcement

#PPDChat 10.26.15: Talking with @addyeB

Tessera Chat Guest Announcement

I’ve known A’Driane for quite some time and am proud to count her among my friends. We’ve managed to meet in person – once – in the midst of her recent moves away from the east coast.

A’Driane is unafraid to tell it like it is and I love her for that. She and I have similar experiences yet they are also separated by different challenges. A’Driane has created this wonderful space specifically for women of color to come together and honestly share their challenges with mental health issues within their lives.

Why is this so important? Because women of color are consistently at a higher risk to experience depression and various other mental health disorders according to the APA. And yet, research is difficult to find or it is often skewed toward Caucasian women and those who have the means to access care.

Another reason Tessera Chat is so important is because it is often frowned upon to admit to any sort of mental health issue lest you dare defy the “strong black woman” persona found within the African American community specifically. (For a REALLY great personal essay which expounds upon this, go read “What It’s Like Having PPD As A Black Woman” by Tyrese Coleman at Buzzfeed.)

This coming Monday, we’re going to chat with A’Driane about the Tessera Collective and chat. We’ll be discussing how it got started, what it means to her, how it’s grown, and where she sees it going.

I truly hope you will join us for what I am sure will be a very powerful and insightful chat.

#PPDChat 10.19.15: Word Play

ppdchat-10-19-15

Words. They are powerful. They allow us to communicate everything from the mundane to the grandiose. Sometimes, though, words are seemingly too little for situations; not enough for experiences which defy description in any language.

But words have been a form of communication for eons.

Tonight, we’re going to play with words as if we’re toddlers playing with a brand new package of blocks.

Tonight’s chat will be all about what words and phrases inspire us; about the words which keep us going when everything else has us wanting to crawl back into the dark hole from whence we came.

I hope you’ll join us for this playful and spirited chat. See you on Twitter tonight at 9pm ET!

#PPDChat 10.12.15: Gut Check with @PhilStrandwitz

Gut Check AnnouncementHey, y’all!

First, phew! It’s Friday! Another week down. I don’t know how your week went but mine was a chaotic whirlwind from the start. It’s been nice to finally have some relaxation, even if it has been for just a little bit here and there.

I know you’re used to me announcing #PPDChat stuff on Mondays but this coming Monday, we’re going to have a guest, Phil Strandwitz. Phil emailed me the last week of September with an interesting project he’s got going on.

Phil is currently crowdfunding the research he’s working on. And no, this chat isn’t to demand that you donate (although I know Phil would appreciate if you did so), it’s to discuss the research he’ll be doing.

You see, Phil’s project (which you can read more about here) explores the connection between the microbes in our gut with our mental health. It’s a relatively new field but one which is garnering a lot of interest and has already uncovered quite a bit.

According to Phil’s email:

“…we are generally searching for connections between the gut microbiome and psychology. Two of our major focuses are on depression anxiety. If we find there is a link between out gut microbes and these conditions, it would enable us to potentially develop novel microbiome-based therapeutics. This is incredibly important, as depression affects 1:5 people in the U.S., and anxiety 1:10. Incredibly, a substantial portion of people being treated with front-line drugs do not respond to treatment — suggesting we need to understand these diseases and develop new treatments.”

I have been reading some journal articles that Phil sent me and have to say that I’m absolutely fascinated by what I’ve read so far.

I truly hope you will be able to join us on Monday night at 9pm ET to discuss this topic – dig a little deeper with us into the connection between our brains and our guts!

See you there!

You can read the chat here: