Tag Archives: guest post

Guest post over on Mama’s Comfort Camp

Today, I’m thrilled to have a guest post over on Mama’s Comfort Camp. Yael is an amazing woman, one I am honoured to call friend. When she asked me to write a post to help celebrate the birthday of Mama’s Comfort Camp, I immediately said yes. After a couple of scheduling snafus, the day is finally here.

You can read “The New Village” here.

Go. Read. And discover yet another amazing community of supportive Mamas on the Internet. We’re growing – and you are not alone in your journey along the path of Motherhood. Join us.

About Yael: Yael Saar is a mama on a mission to remove guilt and shame from parenting in order to make room for joy and love. She is the Founder and Keeper of the Mama’s Comfort Camp, a Facebook community that functions as a safe haven and refueling station for hundreds of moms from around the world. This community is free and open to moms of kids of any age, and we share our laughter, tears, and triumphs, all the while normalizing our motherhood struggles and bridging the gap between expectations and reality in a uniquely judgment-free environment.

www.mamascomfortcamp.com

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Guest Post: Erika Pearson Krull – Ripples of Postpartum Depression

I met Erika online through Katherine Stone over at Postpartum Progress. We were asked to participate in a Mother’s Day Rally together. From there, we kind of clicked as we both have had a similar experience with one of our children and occasionally lean on each other for support in that department. And then there’s our passionate love of college football. I’m humbled to have Erika writing here today about Postpartum Depression. She addresses the after-effects of PPD with power and eloquence. I hope you enjoy her piece and have a wonderful weekend!

 

Health problems sometimes have lingering effects long after treatments are given. For example, I know personally that once you get bronchitis you have a much better chance of having asthmatic symptoms every time you get an upper respiratory illness or the humidity changes a lot. I never had a problem with this until my daughter shared her bronchitis with me a few years ago. I haven’t gotten bronchitis again, but I can’t get too far away from its affect on my life ever since.

The same seems to be true of postpartum depression for me. Between 2000 and 2003, I had postpartum depression and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (like PMS with depression symptoms) following two of my three pregnancies. I eventually got treatment before my third pregnancy, but I still feel the lingering effects of those two problems at times.

During my periods of depression, I had the typical symptoms – crying, low self-worth, negative self talk, withdrawal, etc. Now I find that my anger can burst forth more easily than it used to. When I might have turned inward during my depression, I now turn outward. That’s not an entirely bad thing because my emotions aren’t bottled up. But it can go too far more quickly than I want to admit. I get mad at the dog, my kids, my husband, myself, and so on.

The bigger problem is that this gets noticeably worse during my premenstrual time. Still. After nearly ten years. And I’m using a birth control pill that has helped control the symptoms. I haven’t been honestly depressed in almost a decade and I yet I can’t escape its long term effect entirely.

My point is that in order to get your best quality of life after dealing with depression, you need to really understand how it can affect you after you’ve handled the major symptoms. The stigma surrounding mental illness can be disheartening and confusing. Get it treated, but maybe don’t talk about it so much after that. Or better yet, just get it fixed and don’t pull anyone into an awkward conversation about it. You don’t want to look too selfish or get too much sympathy. Or be seen as incompetent or untrustworthy. And geez, it’s been years, why aren’t you over that?

Here’s the reality – the sooner you treat it the better. And it’s never too late to get treatment because late is still better than never. I firmly believe I would have fewer problems with my long-term effects if I had gotten treatment within a few months instead of waiting nearly three years. The depression would have had less time to make a deep impression on my mind and body. But still, treatment made a critical difference in my life. I don’t truly know how I’d be living if I had to try digging out on my own.

Here’s the good news! These lingering effects don’t necessarily have to make you miserable all the time. I don’t have many conversations about these issues now. I do speak to my doctor at times when my symptoms needed better management, and I find it very helpful to write articles like this or do some public speaking about postpartum depression. I’m also able to handle those tough emotional moments in the moment and recognize what I need to do from there. I don’t allow myself to make my depression history an excuse, but I do recognize the roots of my emotional issues.

Many many women get through postpartum depression and recover well. But it’s realistic for some recovered women to feel ongoing ripples at times. It doesn’t mean you didn’t do a good job of getting through it or that you are broken as a person. That’s just depression for you. It’s a serious condition and requires treatment like many other health problems.

You probably wouldn’t beat yourself up because you had to use a nebulizer years after getting a bad case of bronchitis. You need to give yourself the same break after dealing with postpartum depression. Find what works for you to handle those emotional moments, the negative self-talk, the excess anger, the regrets, or whatever makes you feel stuck again. Develop good self-care habits like regular meals, frequent exercise, lots of social support, and other emotional outlets. When something comes up, you’ll be well-equipped to handle it.

Take care of your mind and body, learn how to recognize your needs, and keep moving forward each day. By the way, it’s mid-October and that means cold season. I’ll be going all out to keep germs away from my lungs, and to be kind to myself when they sneak in anyway.

Erika Krull is a freelance writer and part-time therapist in central Nebraska. She has been married to her college sweetheart for 17 years, stays busy raising three energetic girls and a bouncy puppy, and is still learns so much every day. She writes for the Family Mental Health on psychcentral.com and does local public speaking events about postpartum depression upon request.

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.

12 Days of Christmas Challenge: Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer

Today’s 12 Days of Christmas Challenge take on “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” was penned by Alycia Estok from Color Me Happy. She’s my partner in creativity and sarcasm these days. So of course I turned to her when my brain turned to mush. Alycia came through in a big way. I know you’ll love this as much as I do!

My daughter got run over by Postpartum,
After the birth of her first babe.
You may say there’s no such thing as PPD,
But as for those who suffer, we believe.

She’d been doing lots of crying,
And I begged her to let it go.
But she’d left her medication
So she sat crying by the big window.

When we saw her Christmas morning,
With all the tears and all the snot.
There were tissues on the counter
And an empty gallon of ice cream she had bought.

My daughter got run over by Postpartum,
After the birth of her first babe.
You may say there’s no such thing as PPD
But as for those who suffer we believe.

Now we are all so proud of her hubby,
He’s been takin’ this so well.
Ignoring all the warning signs,
Watching TV while her wife goes through hell.

It’s just not Christmas, without my daughter,
All the family’s gathered around.
And we can’t help but wonder
What on earth we could do to try to help?

My daughter got run over by Postpartum,
After the birth of her first babe.
You may say there’s no such thing as PPD
But as for those who suffer we believe.

Now the stockings are all hung,
And the presents lay around.
And we are hugging on my daughter
Loving her through a small break down.
I’ve warned all my friends and blog pals,
“Better watch out for PPD,
They should never say it’s a myth,
To a family struggling underneath the Christmas Glee”

My daughter got run over by Postpartum,
After the birth of her first babe.
You may say there’s no such thing as PPD.
But for those of us who suffer, we believe.

_______________________________

Alycia is the author at “Coloring Me Happy” and is formerly known as Crayon Wrangler. Widow, Suicide Survivor, Mother of 3, blending a family of 8 children and trying to get enough coffee. She’s tired. Also a photographer, she has learned to narrow the focus of the big picture into the little moments that matter the most in both pictures and her life.

Guest Post: The Most Common Complication of Childbirth by Dr. Jessica Zucker, Ph.D.

Perinatal mood disorders have been called the most common complication associated with childbirth. Mood struggles during the postpartum period run rampant but are consistently quieted by our culture’s focus on the overly idealized “glowing” new mother. Though many women gracefully transition into mothering, many others feel they are riding an emotional, hormonal, and physiological roller coaster- with no seat belt and no way to control the speed. With the glaring statistic of 15-20 % of mothers developing postpartum depression (not to mention all of the other perinatal mood disorders), it seems imperative that this public health crisis be addressed systematically and globally.

Perinatal and Postpartum Mood Disorder Statistics

Roughly 10-20% of pregnant women experience depression

One-half to three-quarters of all new mothers are affected by baby blues

Approximately 15-20% of all mothers will develop postnatal depression

Approximately 2-5% of new mothers develop obsessive-compulsive disorder

About 10% of postpartum women are impacted by panic disorder

1-2% of post-delivery women experience postpartum mood disorders with psychotic features (30-50% of women have suffered a postpartum depression or psychotic episode in a prior pregnancy)

Approximately 10% of men are affected by postpartum mood disorders

Postnatal mental disorders can be incredibly detrimental for infant development and attachment formation. “By 6 months, the infant exposed to a mother’s negative affect learns to extrapolate using that behavior with others. By ten months, the emotional responsivity of infants of depressed mothers is already organized differently from that of normal infants.” Determining primary, secondary, and tertiary preventive approaches to perinatal mood disorders will increase the likelihood of generations of healthy baby-mother attachments.

How do we make burgeoning families more of a healthcare priority? Who routinely has the opportunity to discuss maternal psychological and physical transitions with pregnant and parenting mothers? Through the dissemination of maternal mental health information, preventive education, employing diagnostic screenings, and providing additional supportive resources to women and families, the silence and shame that infiltrate postpartum mood disorders may begin to dissipate. Ideally situated, obstetricians and midwives (among other healthcare practitioners) and their unique relationships with pregnant and parenting women, can provide a way to thoughtfully prevent and carefully identify perinatal mood disorders. Here are some initial thoughts on the impact healthcare providers can have on the lives of pregnant and parenting families with the aim of precluding postpartum mood disorders.

Eight Ways the Obstetrician and/or Midwife Can Make Strides Toward Better Serving Pregnant Women and their Burgeoning Families

1. The obstetrician/midwife should be aware of the potential affects of antenatal mood disorders and maternal stress on fetal development and birth outcomes. Getting appropriate training in postpartum mood disorders will allow families to feel safer in their care.

2. Knowledge of the latest research about the efficacy and safety of psychotropic medications during pregnancy and lactation can facilitate authentic discussions about the risks and benefits if medication is indicated.

3. The obstetrician/midwife has countless opportunities throughout pregnancy and at the postpartum visit to talk with patients and their partners about the various risk factors that contribute to postpartum mood disorders, signs to be concerned about, and available local resources. These discussions can be woven seamlessly into routine appointments and allow the patient to feel more deeply understood. Research states that postpartum mood disorder prognoses are best when identified and addressed immediately.

4. Understandably, many women feel confused and conflicted by feelings of maternal ambivalence or outright unhappiness. The obstetrician/midwife can help normalize various feeling states as well as educate patients about perinatal mood issues and possible treatment options. Addressing psychosocial issues increases trust and patient satisfaction.

5. If women with mood disorders are identified at the initial prenatal visit, a consultation with a psychiatrist needs to become part of their care. Women who have experienced previous postpartum mood disorders are at increased risk for reoccurrence.

6. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends a timely screening method- asking the following questions:

(a) Over the past 2 weeks, have you ever felt down, depressed, or hopeless?

(b) Over the past 2 weeks, have you felt little interest or pleasure in doing things?

These simple questions may provide a springboard for exploring mood related concerns and becomes a way to check in about potential psychosocial issues at each prenatal visit.

7. Pregnant and parenting women should feel that all of their physical and psychological concerns are valid and have a place within the patient-doctor/midwife relationship. Fostering an intimate environment through relational sensitivity and candor may increase the likelihood that women will not suffer in silence.

8 . Obstetrician’s and midwives would benefit patients by routinely providing perinatal mood disorder literature as well as local and national therapeutic resources to women and their families.

Sources:

Perinatal and Postpartum Mood Disorders: Perspectives and Treatment Guide for the Health Care Practitioner (2008) edited by Susan Dowd Stone and Alexis E. Menkins

The Pregnancy and Postpartum Anxiety Workbook (2009) by Pamela Wiegartz

Dr. Jessica Zucker is a psychotherapist in Los Angeles specializing in women’s health with a focus on transitions in motherhood, perinatal and postpartum mood disorders, and early parent-child attachment and bonding. Earning a Master’s degree at New York University in Public Health with a focus on international reproductive issues led to working for the Harvard School of Public Health. After years of international public health work, Dr. Zucker pursued a Master’s degree in Psychology and Human Development at Harvard University with the aim of shifting her work from a global perspective to a more interpersonal focus. Dr. Zucker’s research and writing about various aspects of female identity development and women’s health came to fruition in her award-winning dissertation while completing her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Dr. Zucker is currently writing her first book about mother-daughter relationships and issues surrounding the body (Routledge). For more information: www.drjessicazucker.com

@EllieAdorn shares: An email from inside PPD

The response to my post yesterday, “Seeking Guest Contributors,” has been absolutely astounding. So much love and generosity. Today’s post comes from Cristi Comes over at Motherhood Unadorned. You can find her on Twitter as @EllieAdorn. There are so many more guest posts to come – I can’t wait to share them with you!

Cristi Comes, Mom of 2, My 3rd Baby: EllieAdorn Mom Support Site focusing on often taboo issues such as mental health, postpartum mood disorders, suicide prevention, infertility, etc. and challenging parenting topics like breastfeeding and attachment parenting.”

Without further ado, here is the first part Christi’s post in her own words. You’ll have to go to her place to read the rest of it. Trust me, you want to read the rest of it.

Postpartum Depression (PPD) can happen to anyone, even someone like me who already has mental illness and is medicated and treated for depression. With my first child, I thought “I’m cool,” my meds will protect me from PPD, and I think for the most part they did. BUT I wasn’t so lucky when I had Ellie. Perhaps it was because I changed meds in between kids. Or maybe it was the stress of managing 2 children. I’m sure it was all of that and more.

I hate pregnancy, or more to the point I hate the way my body and brain feel during pregnancy. The aches, the pains, the anxiety. So having the baby is blissful relief to me. I get my body and stamina back. But the first few months with 2 kids was really really hard.

My son, who was just over 2, had been a completely attached child. Mommy and Daddy were his whole world and he was the center of the universe. Now the universe had two center points and one needed mommy 24/7 for breastfeeding and care. His jealousy was BAD. Our sweet little boy was acting out so terribly I was losing it. I felt like I was on the defense protecting Ellie every minute of every day…besides the typical lack of sleep and general stress of caring for a newborn.

PPD was creeping up and I didn’t even realize it. My husband had suspicions when I started talking about desperately needing to get a tattoo, like yesterday. I also decided I needed a hobby, and got to work finding one by buying up the fabric store and sketching a million clothing appliqué designs. And I don’t even own a seeing machine, much less know how to use one.

I finally hit a breaking point, and started to realize what was going on. I do have some experience in this are afterall. I’m surprised I didn’t see the signs sooner. I FINALLY wrote my husband the below email asking for help. Here is my voice from inside of PPD.

Head on over to Motherhood Unadorned to read the rest of this amazing post.

Off the blog: Guest post over @AccustomedChaos

This past weekend, I wrote a guest post for Devon over @AccustomedChaos. I was in the mood to write, she needed a topic, it just kind of unfolded.

The post I wrote was not one I expected to have tumble forth from the keyboard, though. In fact, it’s quite possibly one of the rawest posts I have written in awhile.

I have only recently started to write again about the deaths of my grandparents. You see, I have no living grandparents. I was in college when I lost my grandfathers. It took a very long time to heal.

Head over to Accustomed Chaos to read my post “A Tale of Imperfectly Perfect Grief.”