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Speaking Up, Reaching Out, Inspiring Hope

That phrase.

It’s a powerful one. It encourages us to use our voices to reach out and inspire hope in those who need it most.

Right now, there’s a community that is imploding over a pattern of marginalization of women of color. A pattern that has repeatedly disenfranchised and discarded their efforts and their voices. It’s not okay for that to be happening. Anywhere, let alone in an arena where it’s already difficult for women of color to speak up and reach out because culture tells them not to do so. Culture tells them to be strong. To chin up and just move forward no matter what they are facing.

But.

They too, are human. They too have hearts. They too, have feelings. And they too, MATTER.

This is why we are angry.

This is why we are raising a cacophony of voices which will not be silenced until all is made right and the pattern ceases to exist.

We were told it would change. We were led, like sheep, to the trough of hope, and then that trough disappeared…it was empty. A mirage.

So here we are. Once again. But this time? This time we will not be silenced. We will not be dismissed.

In the meantime, for those who once sought support from Postpartum Progress for women of color and are in need of different avenues for resources, I strongly urge you to start with The Tessera Collective. Graeme Seabrook also has postpartum resources. And I will be re-opening #PPDChat soon as well, because moms don’t need to lose out as this battle wages on. Just because we are entrenched in this, doesn’t mean that Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders will be put on hold. No, they’re gonna keep knocking at the doors of so many and we need to be there to help them speak up, reach out, and inspire hope in their hearts that they WILL get through this.

(If you’re interested in helping me re-open #PPDChat, because I can’t do it alone, please reach out to me either on Twitter or email me. )

If you want to sign a petition to make it right?

Go here.

Want to support Graeme & Jasmine financially as they’ve now lost their PPI income as a result? Go here.

Make a difference.

#PPDChat 04.25.16: Babies after PPD

ppdchat 4-25-16Any one of us who has experienced an episode of any of the Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders has asked ourselves if we should have any more children.

Do we want to put ourselves through the emotional hell once more? Put our loved ones through it? Put our child through it? It’s a tough question – and one only you can answer.

Some go on to have more children while others join the “one and done” club. There’s no right or wrong answer here. You do what is right for you and your family. But there is grief. There is heartache. There’s the mourning of the child you wanted but won’t meet because you know, deep in your heart, you simply cannot tread back down that same path again.

I know because I have been there, at the mouth of that gaping path, trying to decide if I dare step foot upon it again. I did, and the first time back didn’t end well but the second time ’round (when I found myself on the path accidentally), didn’t go so badly. It’s different for every person and for EVERY pregnancy.

I sincerely hope you will join us tonight as we discuss the ups and downs of making the very personal decision to have another child after the roller-coaster of Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders.

See y’all at 9pm ET!

4.18.16 #PPDChat: Books for Moms

books for momBooks are powerful things. Within their pages, there is wisdom. There’s wit. There’s whimsy. There’s sheer magic. Books are answers. They’re hope. They’re stigma busters. They’re the shimmer of light at the end of a tunnel.

This is why, today, #PPDChat is proud to announce the development of a Book for Moms program. Here’s how it will work – through Amazon, #PPDChat will purchase books related to Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders for any mom who requests it and can’t afford to make the purchase on her own. No mom should have to go without access to a book that may just help her see the light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

We need your help, though.

I’ve signed #PPDChat up for its very own Amazon account. The email associated is ppdchat(@) gmail (no dash between ppdchat). How can you help? Amazon now allows you to send allowances to people – so if you want to donate funds to help with these purchases (and I will provide documentation regarding purchases on a quarterly basis), all you have to do is send an allowance to #PPDChat using the email address above.

Right now, unfortunately, this isn’t a charitable donation but I hope to have 501(c)(3) status within the next 12 months at the very least so that in the future, this sort of thing will be a full charitable donation and we can expand the program even further.

Also, if you have written a book about Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders that is available through Amazon, let me know so I can add it to our list of available books.

The chat will focus not only on the new program but also on the value of books in the healing process, and what books have helped our current community members.

Let’s get going!

See you tonight at 9pm ET!

#PPDChat 03.21.16: Self-Care with @HonestlyMamaG

Self-care discussion with @HonestlyMamaGYou know I am a HUGE proponent of self-care. Huge. So when I run into someone else who is actively creating a community around this concept, particularly for mamas, I have to get them involved in #PPDChat. Because self-care is at the core of our philosophy here.

Today, I’m so thrilled that Graeme of @HonestlyMamaG will be joining us. I had the pleasure of meeting her at last year’s first maternal mental health patient centered conference held by Postpartum Progress. We’ve kept up via social media. Every Saturday, Graeme would post Self-care Saturday posts. My self-care, particularly on the weekends, has increased because of these posts. (I am also a huge proponent of walking the walk so if I post something, better believe I’m going to do it!)

She’s recently started Periscoping and a separate community specifically for self-care. When I asked if she’d be willing to do a #PPDChat to talk about it, she enthusiastically said YES.

I hope you’ll join us tonight as we discuss the importance of self-care as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, heck… as a human. See you on Twitter at 9pm ET, y’all!

LNRed, tired eyes? Tear-streaked face? Spit-up- or drool-covered shoulder?  Leaky boobs or formula stains on your sleeve? Hair that is frizzy – or greasy – beyond belief – and has only been in a bun for weeks? An anxious brain that won’t shut off – or a foggy one that won’t turn on?

And – ahem – who even knows what’s going on down there?!

You’re a new mom. You’re in the thick of it. You’re likely terrified, and sad, and happy, and angry, and tired, and ecstatic, and all of the feelings all at the same time.

But I promise you’ll get better. I promise life will get better. I promise you’ll be able to shower, and sleep more, and claim some of your time back for yourself soon.

You’re an incredible mother – and if you feel like you’re not, and that scares you or makes you worried or upset or sad?

That shows even more that you are.

I promise.

(Lesley Neadel)

LDH

We may never have met in person but my love and compassion surrounds you every day. I pass the torch of warrior like strength, the torch that was handed to me- made up of several voices, words of wisdom and compassion, and virtual hugs.

You are doing more than great. You are loving your family while fighting the hardest fight of your life. I admire you, respect you, and support you with all my heart.

It will get better, it will pass. Keep going.

(Laurie DeWoody Hart)

#PPDChat 01.11.16: That Pesky Thyroid

PPDChat 01-11-16: That Pesky Thyroid. Join us at 8pm ET on Twitter.Did you know that the thyroid can cause issues that mirror several symptoms of Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders? It absolutely can. But – not a lot of people know it can. This is why tonight’s chat is SO important. I hope you will join us as we discuss the various ways in which the thyroid can cause symptoms which mimic PPD, how to deal with them, how to push your doctor to test for them, and why it is important to test for any thyroid issues.

Look forward to seeing you this evening at 8pm ET on Twitter!

 

An Attitude of Gratitude

It’s a tough time of year for me come fall. The sun doesn’t shine as long, the leaves fall from the trees after a magnificent burst of color as they dance toward death before winter, and the skies are nowhere near as bright in the middle of October as they are at the height of July. Toss anything else in that mix and I start digging a rabbit hole to crawl into until Spring.

Gratitude JarThis year, I decided to do my very best to keep out of that rabbit hole. In addition to my SAD Lamp, I created a Gratitude Jar. I don’t remember where I first saw the idea (probably Pinterest), but it struck me as something easy I could do that would help all of us focus on the positive instead of wallowing in the depths of The Nothing that surrounds us like a parasite through the fall and winter months.

I posted a picture of my Gratitude Jar on Facebook and a friend immediately asked me how I did it. I promised her a blog post about it, complete with printables. So here we are!

Step 1: Buy a jar. Or use one you have at home. I found a really fantastic one at the local Goodwill for less than $2.00. You’ll want a smaller jar or vase to hold the strips you’ll print out for writing just what it is you’re grateful for every day.

Step 2: Create a label. I used Microsoft Word. Chose a Gift Certificate Template and adjusted it to my needs. I replaced the wording with a description of what to do as well as a couple of inspirational quotes related to gratitude. I used this list at Inc for quotes. (40 really great ones!) Based on your jar size, you may need a different label. Feel free to play around in Word and create your own. The one I made fit my jar perfectly.

Step 3: Cut out the label. Using a simple glue stick (borrowed from a school age child), glue said label onto jar. Place face down on a hard surface (I had to put it in the middle of our dining room table so the cat wouldn’t bat it off onto the ground).

Step 4: Again, using Word, I created a simple one column table the length of the page, and simple copied and pasted the words “I’m grateful for” in each row, leaving plenty of space to write a few things. Print, and cut out. I used a paper cutter but you could use scissors. The nice thing about doing it this way is that instead of buying a pad of paper, you can just print and refill as needed.

Gratitude Jar LocationStep 5: Set up the Gratitude Jar in a place that makes it easy to use. A common area but not in the way of anything. As you see, I have the Gratitude Jar on one side, and the little vase with the strips on the other side of a gorgeous vase that sits on our game cabinet in our dining room. So far, it works well. (We’re on day 4, I think.)

And that’s it. Easy peasy. While I am having to stretch to think of something for which I am grateful every day, it’s a good habit to have. Positive thinking matters.

And now, for the printables:

Gratitude Jar Labels

Gratitude Strips

Go forth and be filled with gratitude! Oh, and you’ll notice that there are TWO Gratitude Jar Labels on the printable. Make one for a friend and share the gratitude!

#PPDChat 10.05.15: Say NO to Stigma

Having the Conversation SquareToday’s #PPDChat announcement is a slight departure from the norm as we are not using our standard announcement graphic. Today is National Day Without Stigma, according to Active Minds. You can read more about their movement here.

It’s also the 25th anniversary of National Mental Health Awareness week this week.

With both of these in mind, #PPDChat is following suit and will be chatting about signs and symptoms of all that is on the Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder spectrum this evening at 9pm ET.

We encourage you to join us. Not only on Twitter, but perhaps by downloading some of the tools Active Minds has made available. By calling and checking in on a new mother. By standing with those that you love. By refusing to let stigma keep us silent any longer.

I’ll see you on Twitter at 9pm tonight.

The Magic of Listen To Your Mother

My journey to Listen to Your Mother started three years ago, on a whim of filling a bucket list item – auditioning in The City for something.

I sent an email off to the good folks in NYC for an audition slot. I got one. J and I went into the city. I read, full of fear and nervous energy. We ate, then wandered a smidge, and drove home.

I wasn’t chosen.

So the next year, I emailed Northern Jersey. I drove over by myself, auditioned, and drove home.

I wasn’t chosen.

Then, this past year, instead of emailing for an audition, I emailed to see if it was too late to submit to be a HOST.

Ann connected me with Kirsten Piccini of The Kir Corner. I reached out to Kristina Grum and we added her to our hastily pulled together application on the last possible day.

Then, we prayed.

We were approved as a new city and we held our show this past Sunday.

I started this journey on a whim, full of nervous energy, determined to live outside my comfort zone.

This past weekend, I flew well beyond my comfort zone and read to a nearly packed house after working tirelessly with Kirsten and Kristina to bring together an amazing cast and show for the Lehigh Valley.

There is a magic to Listen To Your Mother, one which lives deep inside the heart. It’s a magic found in the words of stories of mothers, it is magic centered in the hopes and dreams of those who are falling toward the ground and building their wings as the earth rushes closer to them. The magic – it is enduring, it is powerful, and it does not end when you take that bow at the end of your show and the applause fades away.

It’s there, in the pictures, in the new friendships, in the new avenues opened to you when you are surrounded by amazing and driven people you meet through the entire process.

After our show on Sunday, I ran into a woman who auditioned for us but we ultimately had to turn down as her piece didn’t fit the arc of our show. I hugged her just as tightly as any of our cast – and she hugged me right back. THIS is part of the magic.

Life beginsThe magnet I bought before my audition in New York has brand new meaning now.

Because now? My comfort zone has been stretched and I have a LONG way to go to reach the life outside of it.

Here goes nothing.