Category Archives: public awareness

Happy Third Birthday, Text4Baby!

partner button_300x250When Text4Baby first came on the scene, I was very excited. Here was a service that offered moms, for free, information about their infants and motherhood which would come straight to their phones. No signing into email or having to go to a website, just sign up for the service and BAM. Valuable information about your baby comes right to your phone. What’s really cool is that Text4Baby includes information about Postpartum Depression as well!

They turn three this month and I am thrilled to wish them a Happy Third Birthday! Text4Baby has grown quite a bit from a small service to a network of over 900 partners.

Here are a few wonderful facts about Text4Baby:

  • Text4baby is a free service that delivers three text messages a week to pregnant women and moms with children up to 1 year old. The text messages are timed to the mother’s due date or the age of her child.
  • A recent study by GW found that moms who used text4baby were “nearly three times more likely to believe that they were prepared to be new mothers”
  • A study by UC San Diego found that 63.1% of women reported that text4baby helped them remember an appointment or immunization that they or their child needed; 75.4% reported that text4baby messages informed them of medical warning signs they did not know; 71.3% reported talking to their doctor about a topic that they read on a text4baby message.
  • Text4baby is a collaboration of 900 partners. A comprehensive list can be found here.
  • 95% of women who use text4baby would refer the service to a friend

I haven’t used Text4Baby as when they began, my youngest was just a little over two years old so I was out of the target audience range.

As the founder of #PPDChat (which also turns 3 this year, incidentally – in May!), I am all for any technology which helps provide solid information and support to moms. Text4Baby does just that!

I hope you’ll join me in wishing an amazing service a Happy Birthday. May Text4Baby continue to grow and make a difference in the lives of mothers & babies!

I did not receive any compensation for this post. @Text4Baby approached me about writing a post and I happily accepted because I believe in what they do for new parents.

The Art of Social Media

Earlier today, something happened in my mentions on Twitter that made me go over to Facebook and rant for a few paragraphs. The more I think about it as the day passes, the more I feel it deserves more attention than just a small tirade on my personal Facebook account. It’s a lesson in how Social Media works and not just a rant against one particular person even though it started out as such.

Social Media is a bold new world. Okay, maybe not so much any longer, in fact, some of us are old hat at the methods and etiquette of the Social Media realm. But, for those of us who are old hat, it’s important to remember that there are people still discovering Social Media and adjusting to the lay of the land.

These new residents may not understand how to go about getting noticed and in the process of trying to get someone’s attention may very well break a well-known rule of etiquette. Is it our responsibility, as old-hat, to completely ignore them, or should we take the time to explain to them the proper way of getting things done?

Most of the time, I ignore them unless I have reason not to do so – such as they have made an effort to actually engage in conversation with me. You know, the first word in SOCIAL media. SOCIAL. So many forget this word but it is a crucial word to remember.

According to Dictionary.com, social is defined as follows:

so·cial

[soh-shuhl]

adjective

1.pertaining to, devoted to, or characterized by friendly companionship or relations: a social club.
2. seeking or enjoying the companionship of others; friendly; sociable; gregarious.
3. of, pertaining to, connected with, or suited to polite or fashionable society: a social event.
4. living or disposed to live in companionship with others or in a community, rather than in isolation: People are social beings.
5.of or pertaining to human society, especially as a body divided into classes according to status: social rank.
Nowhere in there does it say that social requires you to yell at or insinuate yourself into the good graces of someone. Although sadly, that does seem to be the case for many these days. I am of the stock which believes upward and onward should happen organically when it is earned by genuine methods, not by skirting the “rules” set forth.

Books, lots of them, of the paper and electronic variety, have been written about the proper etiquette of Social Media. Some of them are right, some of them are just out to make a quick buck. For me, the bottom line to Social Media is to be social yet balance it just enough with the message I am here to provide which is that no one is alone in the battle against Postpartum Mood Disorders.

The very reason I am on the Internet REQUIRES me to be sociable. Why?

Because if I am at all fake, at all not real, and don’t exhibit compassion, honesty, integrity, and knowledge about my message, I have failed. No one will trust me, no one will seek out my help, and I will fail.

I don’t like to fail. (Who does?)

So. I tweet. A lot. About everything. About football. Bacon, hockey, beer, F1 racing, books, sometimes politics and faith, love, life, laughter, and everything in between. There’s a line, sure, because for everyone, there’s a line. Although for some… anyway, I digress. But I am REAL on Twitter and on FB because it’s part of my desired online identity. The more open I am, the more likely it is that I will reach that mom or dad or family member who is struggling and doesn’t know where to turn. My identity, my “truth” factor is far more important to me than any numbers or analytic algorithm.

I have worked very hard to get to where I am in the Twittersphere. Some of it has come from deep heartache and needing Twitter to get through. But the bulk of it has come through developing #ppdchat and being honest about Postpartum Depression.

So when someone who has not put in their time and is not social with me sends me a tweet asking me to share something they wrote, like they did this morning, I get annoyed.

Why? Because I will share if I want to, not because you asked me to do so. I’m also more likely to share if you’ve taken the time to be social and engaging with me as opposed to only tweeting me to ask me to share your stuff when you’re obviously not taking the time or energy to build up your own following. Say hi. Talk to me about more than your business or your blog. Be a real and transparent person. Own your words and your presence.

I didn’t just suddenly “get” over 4k followers on Twitter. No. I EARNED them. I didn’t pay for them. I EARNED them by being social and taking the time to get to know people. I don’t believe in Team Followback or any “get followers quick” scam. Sure, I don’t have daily conversations with every single one of my followers, but I am also not just plugging my blog, my chat, or a product. I am ME and I encourage others to boldly be themselves.

To take blatant advantage of my hard work for some free publicity for your work without being social and engaging first is downright disrespectful of what I’ve worked to do with my image and my brand. I am actually quite picky about what I share on Twitter because of the nature of my targeted audience – moms and families struggling with postpartum mood disorders. Even if your post applies to either, unless I know you and trust that you are only putting forth the best of the best, I don’t just retweet anything out there. To do so would be disingenuous to my followers and ruin the integrity of my identity. I am fiercely protective of my integrity.

I am also fiercely protective of #ppdchat. No one truly “owns” a hashtag, but when you start one, you hope for the best. I am thankful no spam has occurred with this hashtag and people have used it for the original intended purpose. The community springing forth from this hashtag is gorgeous, strong, and wonderful. I hope it continues to be such for a long time coming. I do not take kindly to folks abusing this hashtag.

As I pointed out earlier, Social Media is SOCIAL, it’s not someone standing in a mall handing out stacks of pamphlets to someone saying, “Here. I made this now go give it to someone else.” Social Media is hanging out at a coffee shop with friends, having meaningful conversations and then deciding to share certain aspects of those conversations and ideas born in those conversations.

Social Media is NOT one person with a megaphone. Because if it was, I’d want to smash the megaphone and not have a damn thing to do with Social Media.

Treat Social Media as you would a get together with a close friend and you’re already way ahead of the pack. Treat Social Media as if you’re a street vendor trying to get as many sales as possible and we’ll happily ignore you as we sip lattes and change the world one tweet (and follower) at a time.

(Although this is totally an afterthought and not at ALL a sales pitch, if you want great Social Media Advice? Go follow @ChrisBrogan. He knows what he’s talking about and his latest book, The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise?, is absolutely wonderful. And this is a perfect example of how Social Media works, people. Chris didn’t ask me to share, doesn’t know I’m sharing, I just happen to respect his work, he’s engaging, and BAM. Organic share. Brilliant.)

In the Aftermath of Tragedy

There was an event this morning, as I’m sure many are already aware – how could you not be? You won’t find a link to it within this post. It is horrible, and people struggle to make sense of this senseless tragedy as the news races across every platform to which I (and you) belong.

People sharing every shred of new information as the media spoon feeds it to us, commenting on how the media should be handling the situation, what could have been done to prevent it, quarterbacking the chaotic mess from the safety of their living rooms, coffee houses, and wherever else they may be. For some, it may be their job. For others, they may simply be newshounds obsessed with over-sharing the hot story of the day or the moment. For others, they may have followers in the area or live there themselves.

For those of us who struggle with things like OCD which sprung up after childbirth, a disorder of which harmful thoughts toward our own children is a hallmark, days like today are HARD. For those of us who struggle with any sort of mental illness and are triggered by disaster or tragedy, days like today are damn near impossible.

I just spent 45 minutes cleaning the bathroom. Why? Because ALL that was on my timeline at Twitter and Facebook was in regards to the events at an elementary school today and I couldn’t cope with every shred of information overwhelming my otherwise cheery feed. I needed today to be happy. Selfish of me considering it’s horrible for so many in that town?

No.

It’s self-protective.

In this day and age, when we have the most access to information, we also have the MOST CONTROL over what comes into our lives, into our digital lives. If we can’t handle it or we find ourselves triggered, turn it off. Walk away. Go do something productive. Don’t let the chaos swallow you whole.

This is a lesson I learned nearly 5 years ago when, after watching a live car chase, the man responsible exited the vehicle with an infant in one arm, a handgun in his other hand. I don’t know how it ended by that image is forever burned on my psyche.

I have a fast and hard rule – unless it affects me directly, I don’t watch or read the news. I haven’t intentionally turned on a network based news broadcast in years. If I watch anything political, I watch CSPAN. Why? Because I know that I am easily triggered.

If you’re active on Social Media, as I am, please ask yourself before you RT every bit of evidence/news regarding an unfolding story –

  • What’s the point of this RT?
  • How will it help my followers?
  • Do they need to know this?

If you have followers in the area in which the situation is unfolding, then yes, share. I RT’d a lot of information regarding Sandy and resources – even though Sandy was and still is somewhat triggering for me. But if the event will only serve to potentially trigger my followers (most of whom follow me for my PPD work), I don’t RT it. Not because I want them to be in the dark, but because I don’t want to add to something which may already be triggering for them. Instead, I let them know that I am aware of the situation and I’m available to talk if they need. Then I suggest they @ or DM me – because I’m not going to be active on Social Media once an event like today’s blows up my timeline.

If you find yourself triggered today as well, know that there is help. Reach out. Talk to someone. Unplug from Social Media and the Internet if it’s too much. Go do a puzzle. Take a walk. Bake a cake. Coffee with a friend. Playground with your kids. Watch a funny movie or some stand-up comedy. Call your therapist if you have to.

Laugh. Live. Love.

Days like today hurt because they remind us of our mortality and how fragile it is – no one wants to be reminded of that. No one wants to have it shoved in our faces.

Sometimes, as hard as they had it, I think our forefathers had it easier because they didn’t get this sort of thing tearing into their day. Sure they lived shorter lives because they didn’t have access to the medical technology and other technology which extends our lives today but you know what?

I’m willing to bet their lives were happier.

If you are in the U.S. and find yourself triggered by today’s events, please reach out to @distressline on Twitter or call their Hotline (1-800-985-5990) or SMS (text TalkWithUs to 66746) operate 24/7 to be connected with a trained volunteer who can talk you through your feelings & connect you with local resources.

Postpartum

Guest Post: @momgosomething – “You Never Know What Lies Behind a Perfect Smile”

There aren’t enough words in the universe powerful enough to explain how I feel about Kim from All Work and No Play Makes Mommy Go Something Something. We met on Twitter, through #ppdchat. She’s become one of my friends, even though we’ve never met in person. (God, I love the Internet for that!) She is real, she is honest, and the girl can write. She’s hilarious. Also, obsessed with Chuck Norris, which is just awesome. I’m honoured to have her writing here for Mental Illness Awareness Week. Without further ado, here are Kim’s words.
It was 9 in the morning when she had called and asked if she could come see him. I looked down at my pajama bottoms and the state of my kitchen. Bottles stacked one up against the other waiting to be sterilized, breakfast dishes left on the table, and his swing covered haphazardly with a blanket speckled with spit up.
“Of course you can come over,” I said with an exaggerated chipper tone.
She said in 2 hours.
In those 2 hours I cleaned the kitchen.
I dressed myself, including doing my hair and make-up.
I dressed my son in the finest clothing that was hung neatly in his colour coordinated closet.
I made the beds.
I swept the floors.
I got on my hands and knees and plucked out any noticeable lint and dog hair from the carpet.
I had just finished wiping down the bathroom with antibacterial wipes when the dog started barking at the door.
There she was.
My Aunt held a bouquet of daisies, my favourite, and an outfit for my son.
She immediately swooped him up in her arms and looked me over.
“You look so beautiful. I mean that. When I was 2 weeks postpartum, I was still in the same pajamas I had worn home from the hospital.”
She roamed my house with my newborn son, holding him tightly on her chest.
I watched her anxiously, looking for any indication that she had figured out that there was something seriously wrong with me.
“Your beds, they’re made. Kimbers, your house is absolutely spotless. Did you hire someone to do this?”
I bowed my head, “No. I do it.”
“Kimbers, you should be resting when the baby rests.”
I nodded in agreement.
When she finally left, she told me she was proud of me; that I was “rocking” motherhood with ease.
And as her car pulled out of my driveway, I took a breath of relief.
I fooled another person into believing that everything was ok.
In the days following, I went to great lengths to conceal my internal struggle.
If I looked perfect, if my son looked perfect, if my home looked perfect, no one would know.
It was so easy to hide my internal battle behind the cheerful facades that I had created.
And why did I do this?
Because I was scared that I would be labeled as a terrible mother.
Weak.
Failure.
Monster.
Crazy.
Not to be trusted with her child.
For weeks, and even after my diagnosis, I still kept a perfectly pretty barrier between me and my personal hell.
When I finally admitted to friends and family that I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety, they all had the same reaction:
“I had no idea. You looked like you had everything under control.”
Postpartum depression and anxiety does not have a face.
People cannot see it.
What they do see is what is portrayed on television, in the newspapers, tabloids, internet, etc.
They see monsters, psychos, nuts, disheveled, with twitches in our eyes and all the other horrible words and images that are associated with mental illness.
This sort of exaggerated misinformation breeds stigma like a wild fire. This is why so many men and women suffer in silence when they don’t have to.
Just like I did.
That’s why we have to stand up. We have to use our collective voice to teach others about our illnesses.
They need to understand that the way we experience depression looks completely different from everyone else’s.
This was me at 4 weeks postpartum.
 
Can you tell that I was crumbling inside?
More importantly, we need to keep talking to Moms. We need to ask those difficult questions like, “Are you ok?”
Even if they get offended, just ask them.
You never know what lies behind a perfect smile.
You could save a life.
 
Kimberly is a Registered Nurse, Mom and wife to a beautiful 4 year old son. She is a 4 year postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety disorder.

She writes on her personal blog, All Work And No Play Makes Mommy Go Something Something.

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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.

 

award quote

Take Your Award and SHOVE IT

I received an email this morning informing me my blog had been chosen, after careful review by a panel of expert judges, for “excellence due to the contribution its top editorial offers the depression world.”

I’m already skeptical because well, I don’t know the sender.

Then, the second paragraph begins and it gets better. Oh yes, it does.

The award comes from none other than an online pharmaceutical company.

RIGHT. Like I’m gonna link to an online pharmaceutical company from THIS blog because yanno, I have no ethics and it’s clear this is now a marketing ploy to gain more consumers and yadda yadda yadda.

But then, oh then, I decide to go check out the website with my “award” on it. It’s there I find this lovely little nugget once I get to the listing of my blog:

First of all, and correct me if I’m wrong but…when you’re giving someone an award (unless it’s a Roast on Comedy Central), it’s a bit “off-putting” to insult the person to whom you’re giving the award, yes?

Also, there’s a reason my blog is plain visually, thank you very much. It’s because here? Here the WORDS are what matter. Not the graphics, not the bling, not the whatever the hell else this person obviously requires of a blog in order for it not to be “off-putting.” For the record, that header up there? I designed it myself, as is the case with most of the graphics you find throughout my site. And no, I’m not a professional, don’t claim to be but I have been paid for graphics in the past and frankly, am of the school of “less is more.” Clearly this person is of the school which thinks “more is never enough.”

I don’t care if your website has been featured in a zillion places with a zillion readers and endorsed by organizations with a ton of credibility. You clearly don’t give a flying eff about anyone but yourself and increasing your bottom line. Also? You didn’t read much of my blog because if you had, you would know I call people out for this crap – marketing ploys which prey on those with mental health issues ALL.THE.TIME.

So no, I don’t want your stinking award. I don’t want the insults associated with it and I am quite comfortable with the appearance of my blog right now. Yeah, it *could* be organized a smidge better and I am working on that but hey, let’s not get ugly.

My blog has ALWAYS been plain and ALWAYS will be thus. I’m not here to showcase bling. I’m here to provide a safe space for women who feel like I did after I had my girls. To welcome them and let them know they are absolutely not alone. There is nothing off-putting about that, thank you very much.

Johns Hopkins Study Says Moms with Depression have Shorter Kids

A friend of mine on FB commented on an article at MSN Now this morning. The title of the article? “Study links mother’s depression with shorter kids.”

Um. ‘Scuse me?

Apparently, researchers at Johns Hopkins, clearly with nothing better to do, filled their time  reviewing up to 6500 mother/child dyads to discover that children of mothers with depression of the postpartum variety were 40% more likely to have children of shorter stature. Their grand conclusion? “We don’t know why the hell this happens, it clears up by the time the kid’s 5, and well, moms with Postpartum Depression need support.”

Can we just file this under “Shit I didn’t need to worry about and well, DUH?”

Because.

Sighs.

Dear Researchers – if you’re going to bother to study something associated with Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders? PLEASE make sure it matters and serves a purpose other than to make us worry about something that, well, frankly, isn’t worrisome. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with kids of a shorter stature and to blame it on depression is just an anxiety attack waiting to happen because yanno what? When you have Postpartum Mood Disorders, you worry about the stupid stuff like this. So thanks. No, really, thanks.

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On finding peace, solitude, and solidarity at the 9/11 Memorial

I began blogging well after the terror attacks on September 11, 2001. Even though the focus of my blog is Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders, I have always tried to post something in remembrance of this day each year. It’s a day which will always replay in my mind, a day which replays in all of our minds. A day on which, we all came together as Americans swallowed whole by grief and yet spurred forward filled with intense renewed resolve not to allow our country to falter in the dreams of our forefathers.

Sure I know where I was that day. As do we all. I don’t want to rehash where I was, what I was doing, how I watched the second tower hit live on TV, the first tower fall, and then the second tower. We all know where we were with intense detail. What I want to share with you today are two separate events – one involves a road trip last September 11, the other involves my visit this past December to the Memorial Site in NYC.

———–

I’ve already blogged about the road trip because frankly, it took my breath away. But I’ll rehash it here. I was on my way to Georgia to visit with my kids. I had NPR on because they were broadcasting the services from NYC and then from the Pentagon. As I listened to this coverage, the requisite moments of silence, I drove. Not a tear. Not until Spartanburg, SC.

In Spartanburg, SC, patriots gathered on the first overpass over I-85 with all the American flags and then some they could find. They stood on that overpass, waving their flags at all the passing traffic, covering it on either side with the symbol of America’s enduring freedom.

I lost it. Tears poured forth at this raw yet powerful show of patriotism, a stark reminder that when it comes down to it, we are ALL AMERICANS.

Then, as I turned off the interstate, I pulled off to the side of the road for a motorcade of motorcycles riding in memory of 9/11. I stayed there for a good 10 minutes, out of respect for their ride and the day at hand even as other vehicles raced past me. I sat there, blinkers on, quietly respectful.

———-

This past December, while visiting a friend in Northern NJ, we planned a day of sightseeing in NYC. He advised me to think about what I wanted to see while there so we could plan our travels across the city. As I thought, long and hard, I realized there was nothing I wanted to see more than the WTC Memorial site. How could I be in NYC and *not* visit?

Once I decided to visit the site, I braced myself. You see, I have this knack for sensing emotions and feelings when I visit places. Given that this was a site of such tragedy, such heartbreak, such…..darkness, I had no idea what to expect so I began to steel myself against the barrage of what I was sure would be negative emotion as early as I could.

We arrived at Penn Station early in the morning, ate breakfast across the street at Europa then booked over to the site. We walked by and he, assuming I’d be like everyone else he’d taken there, thought we were done. I said, no, I want to go in. So we stood in line to get our tickets. (They’re free, by the way, donation suggested but free.) Then we killed some time until the first available “tour.”

Walking into the site is a somber, somber experience. Everyone is quiet. Sure, some people are talking, but their tones are respectful. We move toward the entrance to the site. There are no less than 4 security checkpoints, one which is Airport grade, requiring you to remove jackets, bags, etc. You have to keep your ticket out at all times to prove you are supposed to be there.

Once we got into the site, we walked quietly for the most part, talking a bit here and there. I was taken aback completely. Not by the beauty of the monument, but by the sense of peace and beauty filling the space. I prepared myself for an onslaught of anger, frustration, sadness, and god knows what other negative emotions. But instead, there was peace, love, acceptance, solitude and solidarity, completely blowing me away.

You can search for names at kiosks on the far side of the memorial. We walked around both towers. I couldn’t help but reach out and trace some of the names etched into the memorial. Families milled about, people by themselves, friends, etc. In that space, just as on September 11, 2011, we were all Americans paying respect to lives lost in what my generation and those not alive for Pearl Harbor will remember as one of the most atrocious attacks on American Soil in our lifetime.

I am glad I went. My friend thanked me for wanting to go inside as he’d never been even though he lived just 30 minutes away via train.

New York has done right by the victims of 9/11 with the memorial. Sure, there are people who argue they haven’t or will criticize other issues surrounding 9/11 from a political standpoint. But the enduring peace and solidarity I felt inside that memorial space is all that matters to this American.

Thank you to the first responders who rushed toward the towers as they burned. Prayers and thoughts to the families and loved ones of the victims lost that day, to those who survived the day. Thank you to those who rushed to sign up to fight for our great nation and defend her honour. Thank you to those who worked tirelessly to clear the rubble after the towers fell. Thank you to those who worked endlessly to ensure the memorial site was a respectful one, as you succeeded.

May God bless America as we continue to heal from this tragedy. May we never, ever forget and always, not just today, but every day, be grateful for the freedoms we hold dear in this country and always be ready to fight to keep them.

To Write Love on Her Arms Suicide message

In which I thank a friend for saving my life

I shared the above graphic on my personal FB page tonight. You see, today is National Suicide Prevention Day, kicking off a full week of awareness. I’ve seen blog posts, links, graphics, etc, pop up all over the place. Hell, even Wil Wheaton shared about depression.

A year ago this time, I was dancing with Suicide. Tango, actually. Cheek-to-cheek. There was no rose, no romantic embrace, just chills, thoughts, wondering, wanting, yearning. It was a dirty affair with no promise of a happy ending.

But I had this friend. An online friend who recognized my fall from grace despite my best efforts to convince everyone around me (and myself) that everything was hunky dory. My divorce had just been finalized. I was still unemployed. Not with my children. My heart broken into a zillion pieces, scattered and yet still throbbing on the cold hard floor. Yet somehow, I fell asleep every night and awoke every morning.

Did I want to? No.

Every time I was in my car, I wanted to swerve in front of every 18 wheeler I saw, every sturdy oak, down every steep hill. But I didn’t.

Then there was THE day.

The day when I stood upstairs, in my bedroom at my parents’ house, staring out the window, calculating at what angle I’d have to throw myself out of it in order to hit the cement retaining wall which separated the house from the lower driveway. As my hand reached out and touched the screen on my window, I recoiled. Ran downstairs, phone in hand, and sat in the living room with my mother, silent.

I texted my friend.

“I am not okay.”

He responded. Wanted me to call him. I did. He talked me through it. Searched online for an agency which offered income sensitive help. I called them the next day. I was in therapy until this past May with an amazing therapist who constantly pushed the envelope and forced me to face life head-on, something I hadn’t done for years.

That friend?

SAVED.MY.LIFE.

Do you hear me?

HE SAVED MY LIFE.

For so long, and even now, I am *that* person for others. To be on the other side of the equation is impossible for me to fathom. It was then and it is now. But even those of us who *KNOW* about mental health and the toll it has on lives struggle from time to time. We are not perfect. We are human. We too need support when it gets dark. In fact, I’d even postulate that it’s sometimes more dangerous for those of us who *KNOW* about mental health because we tend to talk ourselves out of it without reaching out for help because dammit, we’re supposed to know our stuff.

Reach out.

If you’re suffering, reach out.

If you’re not suffering, reach out to those around you and ask how they’re doing.

Then LISTEN. Don’t listen and think about what you’ll say in response, just listen. Let them pour themselves out and wait for them to need a response. Sometimes? We don’t need a response.

Sometimes?

We just need a comforting and safe place into which we can pour our fear, our darkness, and let go of our terrors. We need a warm hand willing to lift us out of our miry clay into the light. We need to be rescued before it’s too late.

To the friend who saved my life, thank you. Thank you more than the number of stars in the sky, atoms in the universe, and more than all the bacon I will ever eat in a lifetime. Because of you, I am still here. I am still breathing. I.BREATHE.BECAUSE OF YOU.

Thank you more than I can EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER say.

If you or a loved one are thinking of suicide, there’s a button at the top of my sidebar on my homepage here at the blog – click on it for resources. You are not alone. Suicide is a very permanent answer to a very temporary problem. There IS light, laughter, and love on the other side – I’ve found it and I will never again take it for granted.