Tag Archives: advocate

Welcome to #PPDChat Voices!

Hi there!

My hopes for this faded when I hit a tech snafu this past weekend. Granted, I should have recorded earlier than this past weekend but life has been crazy up and down with recovering from a road trip and days full of pain which induce fog-brain so, yeah, I was totally behind. HOWEVER.

I’m having a decent week now, still taking it slowly but I’m thrilled to be introducing this new feature at the blog! We’ll be rolling it out as we get submissions so feel free to send yours in whenever you want. I had grand plans of doing mine first, but recording is just not cooperating over here so I need to get that aspect ironed out.

PPDChatVoicesToday’s #PPDChat Voice is Lindsay, or if you know her on Twitter, @lilloveandluck. She is all sorts of awesome. Her piece is too, despite the fact that she keeps apologizing for all the uh’s and um’s. It’s tough to put yourself out there on camera, yo.

Huge thanks to Lindsay for submitting. (Check your email for your badge for your blog!)

LindsayLindsay’s bio: Powered by espresso and cake, Lindsay is a jill of all trades trying to find her niche in the world. She became a serendipitous advocate after being diagnosed with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety in 2011. She lives and breathes New Orleans with her patient husband, sprightly son, and critters. She blogs at www.withalittleloveandluck.com¬†, and you can find her over-sharing on Twitter @lilloveandluck.

YAWP!!!!! (a rant)

(the following was inspired by The Daddy Yo Dude Unfiltered’s piece entitled: Bent, not broken)

In the deepest depth of the darkness, I had days unlike any days I had ever experienced.

Days on which life swirled around me, flowed up, down, backward, east, west, and pulled me in every direction. A thought? What was that? Thoughts were for other people, other humans who could engage in meaningful conversation with each other, meaningful multi-syllabic conversation. Other people who did things besides dishes, diapers, breastfeeding, feeding dogs, cooking, cleaning…. other people who did things like shower, leave the house because they weren’t afraid of everyone else knowing their secrets. Other people who could chop vegetables for their families without a zillion thoughts about how to use that knife for something besides chopping the vegetables.

Life was for other people.

Not for me.

Life requires you to hold it together. To not fall apart. To NEVER fall apart – not even behind closed doors.

We hide those who fall apart. We hide ourselves when we fall apart. Because we are not supposed to do this – we are, above all else, to stay together. “Keep it together man!” or “Just keep swimming” are a couple of recent quotes which come to mind here. (And yes, I realize that I am quoting Monsters, Inc. and Finding Nemo. I’m a parent with three kids six and under. I watch these films often therefore the dialogue is applicably stuck within my few remaining brain cells)

Legs break.

Arms break.

Hearts break.

Sympathy for all. No stigma or shame attached there.

But if your MIND breaks?

Holy effin’ robin eggs, batman.

If your MIND breaks …..

Society at large would have you believe:

It’s YOUR fault.

YOU can snap out of this.

And if you can’t snap out of this? YOU will never get better.

Once you get better, you are never ever allowed to break your MIND again.

(yanno, because YOU broke it to begin with and should now know how NOT to break it again)

Dear Society At Large:

My Mind broke. Twice. Or more. I wasn’t to blame. It happened. I sought help. I didn’t get help. I got worse. My mind broke even more. Shattered, dare I say. Decimated. Dust. I got help then. I wandered aimlessly about the hidden place – the hush hush ward of the hospital. The place where they say “You don’t have to tell anyone you were here.” (The first rule of Psych Ward is that there is NO Psych Ward!) The stigma? It starts THERE. It travels home. It spreads. In every direction, in every crook and corner of society it creeps and crawls. And it is there we, the ones with the broken minds, are expected to stay. We are sent home with this expectation, this order to hide ourselves away, to lie about what really happened to us. In the dark corners. The crooks and the crannies. Where NO ONE CAN SEE OR HEAR OUR BROKEN MINDS AND VOICES.

Guess what?

I’m in the middle of the room.

On a table.

Shouting out my story.

TO ANYONE WHO WILL LISTEN.

(Not as sexy as a stripper but I’m there and I’m rockin’ the room)

Because you know what?

I was broken. But I’m not anymore.

I broke the old me. I broke the scared human. I broke her and I left her far behind, crumpled in your dark corner. I gave birth to the new me. I like the new me. She says things outloud. Things that shouldn’t be said and don’t want to be heard by you. But she says them anyway. At the top of her lungs to anyone who will listen.

She is healed. Scarred, but healed. New scars don’t scare her. New scars excite her because it gives her another avenue full of houses to which she can reach out.

I wish you the best of luck, dear society.

The best.

YOU may bend me. But YOU? May never ever break me again.

Love,

ME

Just Talkin’ Tuesday 10.13.09: I’m OUT with my PPD – are you?

JTT in or outWithin the past couple of weeks I read a great article by a columnist down in Palm Beach, Florida. Of course the article is from February 2008 but still relevant. The author waxes over various reactions she’s received as a result of coming clean about her mental struggles and illness. But in the end she decides that shes would not change a thing about coming “out” about her struggles.

I started this blog as a way to cope with my third and very unexpected pregnancy on the heels of a nasty episode of Postpartum OCD which landed me in a psych ward. While there, several of the nurses specifically told me I did not have to share with anyone where I had been or why I had been there. Even at the time I remember thinking that was an odd thing to say. Why would I want to hide what had happened to me? Why would I do such a thing when all I wanted was to talk with another mom who was struggling just like me? Wouldn’t it make sense to reach out to other moms? To open up? What good would hiding my “light under a bushel” do?

So here I am.

Out. Shining. And still struggling from time to time. I have stages – right now I’m struggling a bit with not having the same bond with my girls as I do with my little guy. You see, I didn’t have PPD with him so we got to have the fun bonding way it’s supposed to be according to the books experience. Which, by the way, I found a little weird considering I had never done it that way before. But now I find myself saddened and angry that I never got to bond as strongly with the girls as I have with my little man. But alas, I digress.

Let’s get to just talkin here!

If you’ve “outed” your PPD whether it be through a blog, a book, a news story, sharing with a friend, loved one, co-worker, etc, tell¬† us about the experience. Was it positive? Negative? What you expected? Has the experience of “outing” your PPD changed your life? For the better? For the worse? Let us know!

We Cannot Afford to be Silent Any Longer!

Shhhh…. Don’t tell anyone this but Postpartum Depression is fake!

It’s all a ruse by Big Pharma to get you to spend thousands, er, no, millions, on their products.

And that pesky MOTHER’S Act is at the very heart of the ruse.

The above is what the opposition of the MOTHER’S Act would have you believe about Postpartum Mood Disorders and The MOTHER’S Act.

If this were true, I highly doubt Hippocrates would have first written about Postpartum Depression thousands of years ago. (You know, WAY before Big Pharma even existed)

If this were true, then Big Pharma would have ensured my first OB wrote a prescription instead of turning me away and laughing me out of his office when I presented four years ago with rather significant symptoms at three months postpartum. Did I mention I was not “fed” any psychotropic medication or “propoganda”? I knew that thoughts of hurting my child and myself were NOT part of the normal postpartum experience and sought help to keep both of us safe!

Keep in mind that the MOTHER’S Act has been fighting to be passed for eight years now – more than enough time for Big Pharma to have properly funded a ton of education for lots of doctors and civilians. But wait – why do we have accounts of PPD experiences that go much much further back than eight years? What about Milk Fever? What about the UK’s law from 1922 relating to Postpartum Psychosis and infanticide? Wow. Big Pharma really has been at it for much longer then, huh?

And I suppose Charlote Perkins Gilman, author of The Yellow Wallpaper was paid off by Big Pharma to write her story protesting the very treatment of women struggling with Mood Disorders back in the 1800’s too.

If this were true, then Big Pharma “infected” me (twice) with Postpartum Depression just to get me to spend a ton of money on psychiatric medication.

If this were true, I would have been screened and treated with much more scrutiny during my second and third pregnancies because you know, the risk goes up after one episode. (But alas, I was not) Woohoo! More money for Big Pharma, right?

Oh yeah, that seems completely believable, doesn’t it?

Go, read the bill, and decide for yourself.

The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHER’S Act (S 324) does NOT endorse medicating pregnant or postpartum women. It does not even endorse screening of new mothers. The MSB MOTHER’S Act instead provides for a study of screening efficacy, increased education and awareness on both sides – patients and physicians.

Knowledge is power, it is prevention. With each subsequent pregnancy I became more and more educated about my options. I made decisions in consultation with my physicians. As a Coordinator with Postpartum Support International, I encourage women who contact me to explore all their options. I do not encourage medicating specifically but will support whatever decision a mother makes. To medicate or not is a decision to be made between a woman and her doctor. The MSB MOTHER’S Act respects this. PSI respects this. I respect this.

We need to support mothers on their journeys. Twenty percent of new mothers (new or experienced) will experience a mood disorder. And up to 50% of their partners will experience depression as well. The last thing we need to do is to close the door on them. I have had this happen to me with no alternative treatment or options available. It is a very scary place to be indeed and is why I do what I do. I refuse to allow any mothers suffer in silence and fear as I did, holding on for dear life to the precious hope that one day she’ll wake up and be normal again.

Please do not let this happen to any other mothers. Don’t let them suffer in silence. Raise your voice. Let it be heard. Let mothers across the country know they are not alone, they are not to blame, and they will be well, no matter what road they choose towards help. Give them options instead of taking them away. Help us educate physicians. Help us educate American communities and remove the stigma and fear that all too often befalls a new mother struggling with intrusive thoughts, sleepless nights, and sobbing days. Let her know you are there for her. It is time to reach out with open arms and bring back the village that once raised Mothers and Children. The Desperate Village is running out of time and hope. Don’t let your voice be the one that causes their downfall. Speak up now.

(You can Speak up now by visiting Susan Dowd Stone’s website to email her with your name, state, any credentials and affiliated organizations. Your name will then be added to a list of supporters for The MSB MOTHER’S Act which will be delivered to all Senators on Mother’s Day. Won’t you do this one little thing for the Mother in your life?)

Sharing the Journey with Teresa Twomey

Teresa Twomey is a fellow Coordinator with Postpartum Support International. Over the past couple of years we’ve emailed back and forth about a few various issues and I’ve really enjoyed my exchanges with her. More often than not, we’ve shared our mutual frustration regarding the mis-conceptions about Postpartum Psychosis vs. Postpartum Depression.

This past Tuesday, her book, Understanding Postpartum Psychosis: A Temporary Madness, released. I immediately scooped her up for an interview this week. Teresa is a survivor of Postpartum Psychosis and other PMD’s as well. In her book she hopes to present a realistic portrait of PPP and aid in removing the stigma so often associated with this misunderstood condition. With no further ado, here is Teresa’s interview. I am honored to share the journey with her!


Click here to purchase Teresa's book

Click here to purchase Teresa's book

Tell us about yourself – who is Teresa when she’s not a mom or a Postpartum Advocate?

Before I had children I was a litigation attorney and a professional mediator. I am now beginning to re-enter the workforce as a professional mediator. I also do some business consulting. I am currently working on a turnaround project for a packaging company.

I also enjoy writing – I have several writing projects going at any given time. Right now I have three children’s stories finished and another two I’m working on. I also am doing some more non-fiction writing that I plan to develop into a book. (In addition to my postpartum book, I co-wrote a chapter on mediation in a newly-released textbook on Employment Law and have had several academic articles accepted as proceedings or for publication in journals.)

I am active in our PTA, our Newcomers Group, our church and I co-lead two Girl Scout troops.

I enjoy doing new things and my latest “hobby” is working with stained glass (the soldered with lead type). I enjoy designing and creating a variety of pieces.

Sometimes I teach as an adjunct at a local university. I’ve taught Business Law, Business Communication, and Introduction to Women and Gender Studies.

As many of the moms who visit this blog, you’ve traveled down the dark road of Postpartum Mood Disorders. Share your experience with us.

After the birth of my first daughter I began to experience many strange things – I had nightmares, hallucinations, I could not read, I was paranoid. I did not know something like that could happen to someone like me – I was totally blindsided. I did not get treatment at the time, although I told everyone who would listen that I could not cope. I had physical complications and I think those around me thought that was the basis for my frustration and complaints. And I think that even the medical professionals did not understand that something like postpartum psychosis could happen to someone like me (educated, smart, capable, personable, and dynamic). After the psychosis I went into a depression. But still I did not identify it and did not receive help. I did not learn the name for my experience until I was on bed rest during my second pregnancy (with twins!) I was frustrated about the lack of information and misinformation. But I was fortunate – I did not have postpartum psychosis following the birth of my twins. Then when Andrea Yates killed her children and I heard many hurtful and ignorant comments, I decided to do this book. (The more detailed version of my story is in the book.)

At what point in your journey did you realize you needed professional help?

I knew I needed some kind of help almost immediately – but I did not know there was help for what I was experiencing. I did not know there was a name for it. I thought maybe I was going crazy. I did keep telling people I could not cope – that I was a terrible mom – that I wanted someone there to help me all the time – but I was afraid (and paranoid) so I didn’t actually describe in detail what I was experiencing. I just remember telling myself “just hold on – just hold on.”

What roles did your husband and family members play in your recovery? How did they handle your diagnosis?

I was better by the time my family learned of it. They expressed shock, dismay, some denial, and concern — all in a loving way.

My husband, mom, dad and brothers have all been very supportive of my work with Postpartum Support International.

You’re now a Coordinator with Postpartum Support International. What made you decide to become an advocate?

I recognized a need. Plus I was profoundly grateful that we had not suffered any loss of life. It felt right to express my gratitude for that by turning around and helping others. Plus, Jane Honikman asked me to be a coordinator. (I sometimes joke that she roped me in – and am usually met with a response like “you and everyone else at PSI,” or “join the club!”) I am honored to be a part of such an amazing organization.

Earlier this week your book, Understanding Postpartum Psychosis: A Temporary Madness, released. Tell us about this book and the concept behind it. What is your hope for this book?

I was dismayed about how little information there is about the actual experience of women with postpartum psychosis and the amount of misinformation most of us have. I believe those contribute to the ongoing mental anguish many women have as a result of this disorder as well as the occasional loss of life. I passionately believe that professionals and the general public need to know more about this disorder. It strikes so seemingly randomly that if people do not become informed until faced with this disorder it may be too late.

Public ignorance and mis-perceptions lead to:

  • Failure to identify and warn women (and their families) who are at high risk of having this disorder
  • Failure to take measures to prevent the illness
  • Failure to properly identify the illness
  • Failure to provide adequate care
  • Failure to take the steps necessary to prevent tragic outcomes
  • Mistreatment at the hands of police and other law enforcement professionals
  • Inequitable treatment by the legal system based on discredited science and societal myths
  • Misinformation and inaccurate portrayals in the media
  • Oppressive social stigma even for those who do not do any harm

In the short term my hope is twofold: First, I hope that this book will educate medical and legal professionals and the public to effect change regarding how we approach this illness. That this change will lead to aggressive steps to identify those at risk, to prevent the illness and when prevention fails, to adequately treat it and protect the woman and those around her. In the long term I hope this book helps to eradicate postpartum psychosis. I believe that could happen in my lifetime.

Secondly, I hope this book helps women (and their families and friends) who have had PPP to heal. I always say there are two levels of healing from this illness: There is the recovery from the psychosis and then there is the recovery from having had this illness — the learning to trust yourself again, dealing with the fear of a recurrence, being tormented by questions of “why me?” and so on. The illness is temporary – women recover from it relatively quickly. However, the emotional pain from having had this illness can last a lifetime. Just as these stories helped me to heal, to know I was not alone, to believe I could be completely well, I want them to be available to help others heal as well.

Name three things that made you smile today.

My girls singing.

Joking with the ladies in my aqua-aerobics class.

Seeing the sunshine.

I know my advocacy has affected those around me and increased their knowledge and understanding of Postpartum Mood Disorders. Have you found the same to be true about your loved ones?

Oh my, yes!

What do you find the most challenging about parenting? The least?

Most challenging: consistency and discipline.

Least challenging: loving, enjoying and genuinely liking my children.

If you had one chance to speak with an expectant mother (new or experienced) about Postpartum Mood Disorders, what would you tell her?

I would tell her that, unless she has a medical history that would indicate otherwise, it is unlikely that she will have a PPMD. But if she does, there is NOTHING she could experience that other women have not thought or felt and that ALL postpartum mood disorders are treatable. So if she does not feel right in any way, she should tell her doctor and contact me OR someone else through www.postpartum.net for peer support and information.

Thank you for this opportunity Lauren.