Tag Archives: courage

Postpartum Voice of the Week: Afterbirth by @angiekinghorn

Music. The way feelings sound.

The above is a quote featured in a picture I shared at my Facebook account not too long ago. I believe in it, strongly. Music, for me at least, is one of the most powerful ways to enhance or change mood. It’s powerful, all-encompassing. Hidden in the beats, rhythms, and lyrics of certain songs, there are memories. Some blissful, others haunting and terrifying.

I blogged about overcoming the haunting memories which Linkin Park’s album Reanimation held for me. It’s the album I listened to as my then 9 day old daughter had major surgery for the first time in her life. It was while listening to this album I first slid under the waves of the sea of Not Okay and wanted to stay there, drowning in my terror at the hard swirling around me. It took me five years to listen to the album in it’s entirety.

Yesterday I read Afterbirth over at Angie Kinghorn’s blog. In it, she recounts how a specific song, “Lines Upon Your Face” by Vertical Horizon, holds similar memories for her. Angie writes, “I’ve tried playing it in small doses to get used to it, musical allergy shots, if you will, but the violin pulls my heartstrings out and flays them bloody every time.” 

Unlike me, she didn’t play this song purposely, it simply happened to play on her iPod as she sat in the dark in the nursery after a traumatic birth, her father in pain in his illness, and the fear it brought forth within her soul.

With each verse, she swirled deeper into the darkness, just as I did while listening to Linkin Park. The darkness was comforting for me, but for Angie, it broke her wide open, shattering her into pieces, ultimately leading her to the realization she needed help.

I’m listening to the song Angie listened to that night in the dark right now via Grooveshark. I understand how it could break someone apart.

Go read Angie’s post. Show her some love for sharing such a powerful experience with the world. It takes courage to fight your way out of the dark but it takes even more courage to share it as Angie has done at her blog.

Dear #PPDChat Army: An Open Love Letter

Dear #PPDChat Army:

You are the most amazing moms in the entire world.

Your heart, your fire, your compassion, your wicked strength, your wisdom, your drive to not let anyone else suffer alone is mind-boggling.

This week, one of ours struggled publicly. You didn’t run away. You ran toward her. You held her. You listened. You reached out. For her. For yourselves.

So many of you dove into her maelstrom right along with her. You were there for her when it mattered most.

At the closing of every chat, I always say that help is only a tweet away. To use the hashtag and an army will be at your disposal.

This week?

You proved it beyond any reasonable expectation.

This week, you were an army. This week you bonded together, rallied around one of our own. This week you brought tears to my eyes. To the eyes of everyone involved. (HUGE thanks to the BAND for giving our mama a safe place to vent)

Thank YOU.

But now, now that she’s safe, in the hands of professionals and hopefully receiving the care she so desperately needs, we need to focus on ourselves. Turn the army toward ourselves.

When we support others, we often push aside our own fears. We push aside the scary, the hard, the sad, the bad. We suck it up because we don’t want the one to whom we’re reaching to think we are anything but strong.

It’s okay to exhale.

It’s okay to cry.

It’s okay not to be okay right now.

It’s okay to collapse.

It’s okay to say “Hey, #PPDChat? That was hella hard and I need support.”

We will be there.

It’s what we do.

It’s who we are.

It’s how we run things.

We’re strong, each and every one of us.

We’re beautiful, each and every one of us.

But we’re fragile too.

Together though?

As an army?

We are unstoppable.

We are here.

Together.

You, just like her, are not alone.

If you feel triggered by this past week, USE the hashtag.

I promise, an ARMY will be at your side instantly.

Because that’s how we do it.

I love each and every one of you so much it hurts.

You all ROCK.

Today, the #PPDChat Army walks into a hospital

Today, one of our own is taking a deep breath and walking into a hospital.

She’s not going alone.

We are all going with her. The whole #PPDChat army. Because that’s what we do… we go wherever we are needed. Today, we are needed at a hospital.

Pam, we love you. All of us. We are proud of you for taking this step. Proud of you for the courage we all know too well required to take this step. We know those doors are heavy, frightening, and full of all we don’t want to admit is wrong with us. But you are not pushing them open without us. We are all there, helping you push. Helping you heal. You’re not alone. You are loved. You are supported. By the Army. By the Band. You ROCK.

Also, #PPDChat Army & The Band? We totally rocked it this week – the love we showed Pam is a true testament to the power of social media – and proof that friendship doesn’t have to just be in person to be real. Thank YOU for helping to save a life.

Go leave Pam some love to read when she returns… read her blog post about checking in.

For those of you reading who are part of the #PPDChat army or the Band or just want to show love, @d20Blonde has brilliantly suggested we send Pam a gift to show her our love. Please find me on Twitter @unxpctdblessing or leave a comment stating you’d like to contribute. We’ll be collecting the money via Paypal. Anything you can spare would be greatly appreciated. Update: A gift was ordered and delivered to Pam today. Thank you to everyone who contributed. I’ll be checking into getting a virtual card for us to all sign for her as well.

My Postpartum Voice of the Week: Bryce Dallas Howard

If you have not taken a few moments to read Bryce Dallas Howard’s piece about her experience with Postpartum Depression in the most recent GOOP newsletter, you really really should. (It’s the third section down)

Bryce shares so openly. She even includes a description about emotions felt as she watched an interview she gave while promoting a film during which she was asked about Postpartum Depression, admitting she was unable at the time to truly put into words how bad things really were.

This time around, she found her words. And folks, she doesn’t mince them or shy away from the intensity Postpartum Depression brought into her life.

One of the most powerful paragraphs Bryce penned: “It is strange for me to recall what I was like at that time. I seemed to be suffering emotional amnesia. I couldn’t genuinely cry, or laugh, or be moved by anything. For the sake of those around me, including my son, I pretended, but when I began showering again in the second week, I let loose in the privacy of the bathroom, water flowing over me as I heaved uncontrollable sobs.”

The imagery of isolation thrusts through her words, leaving no doubt to how alone Bryce felt at the depths of her struggles.

Bryce, thank you so much for your bravery. For being one of the rare celebrities to open up about this difficult path on which so many new moms find themselves.

I love, absolutely love that she also addresses the danger in not speaking up about Postpartum Depression: “Post-partum depression is hard to describe—the way the body and mind and spirit fracture and crumble in the wake of what most believe should be a celebratory time. I cringed when I watched my interview on television because of my inability to share authentically what I was going through, what so many women go through. I fear more often than not, for this reason alone, we choose silence. And the danger of being silent means only that others will suffer in silence and may never be able to feel whole because of it.”

Last but not least, I have to share my absolute favorite paragraph of her piece with you. It’s a retrospective of her experience with Postpartum Depression and speaks volumes:

“Do I wish I had never endured post-partum depression? Absolutely. But to deny the experience is to deny who I am. I still mourn the loss of what could have been, but I also feel deep gratitude for those who stood by me, for the lesson that we must never be afraid to ask for help, and for the feeling of summer that still remains.” ~Bryce Dallas Howard~

Just Talkin’ Tuesday 11.17.09: When did your fog lift?

base photo credit "water droplet with fall reflection" by mahalie @ flickr

All the cliches you hear about not being happy are profoundly true. The grass is a dull shade of green – khaki almost, for me at least. The trees filled with sorrow, the birds didn’t chirp as cheerily, the leaves waved as if mourning, the air filled with the weight of the entire world as the clouds swooped down and swarmed around my mind, fogging my vision of anything in front of me. My grandfather called those infamous fogs “pea souppers.”

I remember the day my Pea Soupper existance finally lifted. It was a bright spring day. The trees stood ready to burst forth brand new leaves still wrapped tightly in buds, rain had rushed through – not drenched us but rather left just enough behind for everything to sparkle a bit. I can still smell the rain of that day if I close my eyes and think long enough. THIS is the day I want to hold close to my heart forever when I think of my PPD.

Sure, I remember the bad stuff. I remember the cold sleep room where I first checked out. I remember all too well the smell of the soap from the NICU. I remember the cold hard plastic and mechanical whirring of my breast pump, the flat pillow at the psych ward. But when I think of my PPD, I want to remember that spring day. The day that not only Mother Nature birthed yet another child of spring but I found myself reborn as a complete person – myself and motherhood all rolled into one – ready to take on the very world which waited at my feet. Had it still been raining I may have pulled over and danced a little jig.

So tell us – when did your fog lift?

Let’s get to just talkin’.

 

PPD Survivor Shares her Story for the first time

On Tuesday, this was a comment left by a mom who had never shared her story with anyone besides her husband (who lived it with her). I emailed her to ask if she would be comfortable with me giving it a post of it’s very own. Her story begins when she is 34 weeks pregnant and continues through to postpartum. I hope you find it as inspiring and as strong as I did…..

This is my first time to share my story in any capacity…. I don’t know if I’m ready, but here goes nothing…

My depression started around 34 weeks into my pregnancy… I had never heard of PPD and I didn’t know what ante partum depression was… I started to realize something was wrong somewhere between 30 – 34 weeks. I’m not afraid of medication, and think of it as an aspirin would be to a headache.

I have had depression and anxiety before so, I somewhat, recognized the signs. I told my husband that I wasn’t quite feeling right, and he encouraged me to speak with my OBGYN. At my next appointment I told my doc that I was worrying excessively, and not feeling quite right. It was really a whole new type of depression for me.. I never could and still have difficulty describing the way I felt. But worry was a BIG concern. The OBGYN said it wasn’t a big concern, and not to worry lots of new mom’s worry a lot.

My husband is a member of the “mind over matter” club. While he, I’ll say, tolerates, my need for meds to get my depression under control, he definitely is one of those, “Just push through it,” kind of people.

I saw my OBGYN on Tuesday, and she prescribed me Prozac, I ended up going to the E.R. on Sunday because I felt very overwhelmed; with what exactly, I do not know… They gave me an Ativan shot, made sure I calmed down and sent me on my way, with no real information. Or possible expectations. I then saw my OBGYN again on Wednesday, explained what had transpired over the weekend, and she prescribed me some Xanax. I felt so horrible that day, that we went straight to the nearest pharmacy and filled the script so I could take one. That Sunday I woke up and I felt worse than I thought I ever could. I told my husband that he had to take me to the E.R. So they could take the baby out so that no harm would come to her, if I did end up harming myself.

I thought this was a completely rational thought process; and was even more distressed when they told me that instead of delivering my baby early, they were sending me to the Nut House. All of this scared my husband to death, not only was he in fear of losing his wife, but that there was a possibility that he could end up without a wife and a child, or raising a baby on his own. And it was definitely one of the two, because the baby could not stay in me anymore.

I think that is when he realized, after two weeks of doctors and E.R. visits, that something was really wrong and a real threat existed not only to my life but to our unborn daughter’s life as well! I went to the psych. ward at a private hospital, where they were fairly knowledgeable about pregnancy related depression. The one thing that is VERY FRUSTRATING in my case, is that, since I was pregnant I was having a OBGYN come in and check on me daily, and since I was high risk (because of a blood disorder) I had a specialist coming to see me daily as well. They kept telling me it would be okay for me to get some Ativan, which had provided tremendous relief at the E.R. Visits, but the psychiatrist that was assigned to me when I arrived, REFUSED to give me anything other than Benadryl and Celexa, neither of which were providing any immediate relief.

As I have learned over the past year and a half since this all occurred, most psych. Wards have limited visitation, and mine was no different. My husband could come to the evening visitation and spend an hour with me. The first few days all I did was cry the whole time he was there. He was so scared. I was breaking his heart and that just made me feel even worse. I really just wanted to give him the baby and leave (you know d-i-e…) I didn’t want to burden him with all of my problems anymore. The thought of me not being around anymore, was the thing that was really bothering him. He got it in those moments.

I got out of the hospital and managed to hold it together until 38 weeks!!! YAY ME!!! When my OBGYN, asked if I wanted to go ahead and deliver, I practically took myself straight to the hospital right then. Coincidentally, I went into labor on my own the day I was scheduled to deliver. My delivery was easy… But there were some complications with my epidural, which lead to added stress. It is the most horrible feeling in the world to think back onto that day and to look at pictures and to know in those moments there was no joy, no love, and no want, for my beautiful, brand new baby girl. You can see the blankness in my face and the fakeness in my smile in all of the pictures… It breaks my heart to think of it. Will she understand, what was wrong with me then? Will she know how much she has ALWAYS been loved and wanted!

This was my husband’s first baby, but my second. I have a, now 10 y.o., daughter from a previous relationship, so I had been through the nursing and diapering and everything before. I was uncertain of myself because of my depression and anxiety, but I knew what I was doing automatically. My husband second guessed everything I did. He questioned my positioning of the baby while nursing, and was convinced that she was not getting any milk, despite the fact that the nurses had told him multiple times that everything was going fine. As one would assume this only compounded the problem I was dealing with.

A couple of days out of the hospital and other than the epidural complication I thought I was feeling much better! I look back now and think that the depression was just masked by the Vicodin they were giving me for pain after the delivery. I probably had about a weeks worth of Vicodin, and within a few days after that, I was back in the E.R. I won’t go into all of the how I was feeling… But I ended up back in the psych. Ward.

Telling my husband the second time felt easier to me… With the flawed logic of depression, It seemed very simple. I leave (aka die) and then he doesn’t have to worry about me, he now has his child, life will be easier without me… Yada yada yada… The same visitation schedule existed, naturally, I had just been there little less than a month before… My husband came to all the visitations and brought our daughters. (the first time I lied to the oldest about where I was, she still doesn’t really know why I was there either time) again, in the moment, he was understanding, apologetic, and sympathetic. He just wanted me to do what ever I need to do to get better, and come home to our family.

We had tough decisions to make. Since I was nursing, and since I had the same psychiatrist that I had had previously, she was equally unwilling to provide me with any REAL meds, until I agreed to stop nursing ( as I type that, I think I hate her for that!) Up until the point in which I agreed, I pumped and dumped, my milk every few hours in my room there in the ward. That too was heartbreaking, but I was finally at a point mentally where I knew I had to get better and go home, and without me at home, there wouldn’t be breast milk anyway! So I stopped pumping and finally got some relief!!!

When I first came home my husband was great!!!! He did the laundry without being asked, he made sure there were meals for everyone, he helped out with our new daughter a lot. But as time passed and things have gotten better his back to his same old self. Mind over matter. He really does spend a lot of time wondering what the hell is wrong with me.

I’m glad to report, that I’m now doing great, as long and I don’t have to talk about the time around my daughter’s birth, (this post has resulted in the need to take some Ativan!) And you don’t talk to me about having another baby, which my husband definitely wants to do, and I’m not so sure I can handle it… I can’t even type out what happened to me without having a panic attack!!!! But for the most part I’m GREAT! ;o) I’m down to 30 mg of Cymbalta a day, and Ativan as needed (which is rare!). We are working on weaning off the Cymbalta, but I’m in no hurry! I want to be well and I want to be here with my family.

I’m looking forward to sharing this post with my husband. I think I have stated fairly well, what I will need him to do better next time. I have also printed of a “Me First” letter (got it from a post on a PPD site) and will be well armed if we decide to have another baby! I wish my husband had a better understanding of depression. I which he could remember how VERY REAL everything we went through during our daughter’s birth was. Maybe then he would have more compassion for my now fleeting struggles, and be WELL prepared for the next time!

Depression Sucks – One Dad Shares His Story

This morning as I was checking out The Father Life.com, I noticed a link about depression. Well of course I clicked on it – and I was rewarded with one of the best pieces I’ve read in awhile about a personal journey through depression. Click here to read it for yourself. Kudos to the dad who wrote this story – I know the emotions behind putting your journey into words and the power that comes with it. I hope he has found his strength as he moves past depression and onto a new and brighter world!