Tag Archives: health

Be Well – Your WAY

I want to talk about an old childhood game tonight.

Go get your pillow, a sleeping bag, chocolate, popcorn, a stuffed animal or a doll, and slip into some cozy PJ’s. I’ll wait.

Seriously. I will.

*hums Jeopardy theme a few times*

Do you remember playing the telephone game when you were a kid?

Whispering something ridiculous into the ear of the person next to you who would then repeat it to the person next to them and so on until it got to the last person who would say it out loud?

It was never the same thing that it started as, was it?

(If it was, your friends had amazing hearing or no sense of humour).

The goal of this game is to show you how something you say can be twisted by others. It is a practice in watching what you say – thinking before you speak.

In this electronic age, it is still important to watch what you say but even more important to keep that filter in place when the keyboard and therefore the Internet is your outlet. It is easier, when you are behind a keyboard, to judge, to proffer advice, and to act as an expert.

Here’s the thing – we are all still human. We have hearts, we have brains, and we live and breath. It is difficult to remember that the personas we talk to on a daily basis through our keyboards are PEOPLE.

I have said this time and again on this blog, in my chat, in my groups, on my blog’s FB page – but I believe in treating people as adults regardless of their situation or condition. I am part of a community. I am not a dictator, I am not a medical professional, I am not at all capable of making a care decision for anyone other than myself. I find it heartbreaking when some people behave as if they are capable of making decisions for others.

Mental health is just as subjective as physical health. We all have our own baggage. However, our baggage is not a road sign for anyone but us. It does not grant us carte blanche permission to tell someone else who has articulated their own issues to a professional care giver they may want to give it a second thought. Ever.

One of the things I adore most about the #PPDChat community is their ability to function in a way that is uplifting and supportive without being judgmental regarding the treatment choices another mama needs to make for her own sanity. Not all communities are like this. I am beyond grateful the #PPDChat community embraces this concept.

The road into Perinatal Mood Valley is a steep one. The road out is curvy with plenty of blind turns and potholes. There are multiple ways out, not just one path. It is important to listen to your internal GPS as you navigate your way out of your personal darkness. Listening to someone else’s GPS will result in driving in circles as you attempt to free yourself from the mind-boggling vortex.

You can do this. You are not alone. You will be well.

Your way.

An Exercise Program Selling Point: Not losing baby weight leads to Postpartum Depression

I happened across a website for a Mom and Baby fitness routine yesterday. As I scrolled down the page, I got angry. And then I got pissed off.

Here’s one of their selling points from about 2/3 of the way down the page:

If you need help getting back in shape after baby, if you have postpartum depresssion, if you need creative ways to bond with baby, if you need to lose the baby weight —

Okay, so yes, exercise helps with Postpartum Depression. In fact, some studies have proven that exercise has an almost anti-depressant effect.

But do you need THEIR product to achieve that effect? No. All you need is yourself, some clothes, decent shoes, and somewhere to walk or run. Bam.

What got me really pissed off was the sidebar section. I took a screen-shot of the most offensive section to share with you. I have blacked out the company’s name as I sure as hell am not advertising for them. You also will not find a link to them here either.

Clearly, these folks know something about Postpartum Mood Disorders I have never heard:

“Gaining pregnancy weight and struggling to get back in shape after birth can lead to post pardum depression and difficulties bonding with baby.”

First of all, you are SUPPOSED to gain weight during pregnancy. Here’s a breakdown of weight gain expectations as found at the March of Dimes website:

If you began pregnancy at a healthy weight
You should gain 25–35 pounds over the nine months. Assuming you gain between 1 and about 4 ½ pounds in the first trimester, you should put on about one pound every week in the second and third trimesters

If you began pregnancy underweight
You should probably gain a little more than women who are at a healthy weight. That’s because underweight women are more likely to have small babies. A 28- to 40-pound gain is usually best. Assuming you gain between 1 and about 4 ½ pounds in the first trimester, try to gain slightly over a pound a week in the second and third trimesters.

If you began pregnancy overweight
You should gain only 15–25 pounds over the nine months. Assuming you gain between 1 and about 4 ½ pounds in the first trimester, you should put on slightly over ½ pound every week in the second and third trimesters. While you don’t want to gain too much weight, you should never try to lose weight during pregnancy because that could harm your baby.

If you were obese at the start of your pregnancy
You should gain only 11–20 pounds over the nine months. Assuming you gain between 1 and about 4 ½ pounds in the first trimester, aim for gaining slightly under ½ pound every week in the second and third trimesters.

If you’re expecting twins
You should probably gain between 37-54 pounds over the nine months if you began pregnancy at a healthy weight. If you began pregnancy overweight, aim for gaining a total of 31-50 pounds. If you were obese at the start of your pregnancy, you should gain between 25-42 pounds over the nine months. (That means gaining about 1 ½ pounds a week in the last two trimesters.

Another important thing to note here is that if you have a history of eating disorders, you are at a higher risk for developing a Postpartum Mood Disorder.

It’s also important to know that Thyroid issues may also be at the heart of abnormal weight loss or weight gain.

That population is exactly who this spam page is targeting. Get thin. Be happy. Avoid Postpartum Depression. Stay perfect.

Want to know something interesting?

This company has a spammy blog to go along with their website. Postpartum Depression is nowhere to be found when a quick search was done for the term at their blog.

For this company, Postpartum Depression is merely an SEO term they tossed onto their page in order to garner more hits and target an entire at-risk population.

Companies like this make me absolutely sick.

They pray on women who are at their most vulnerable. Granted, this particular company’s product is not insanely priced, but price is not the issue here. The issue is that they are insinuating that their product, not exercise in general, will help you fight off depression. You NEED their product to avoid Postpartum Depression and bond with your baby. Truth be told? You don’t.

Here are the things you may need to battle Postpartum Depression:

  • Professional support
  • Personal/peer support
  • Family support
  • Exercise (any kind will do)
  • Therapy/medication/supplements – IF prescribed and or/approved by your Professional support

Things you do NOT need to battle Postpartum Depression:

  • Products which promise to cure or ward off Postpartum Depression
  • Negative People/Support
  • Sparkly Unicorns (although they are awesome)
  • Leprachauns
  • Wizards
  • The Trix Bunny

Depression happens. There’s a right way to go about getting help and a wrong way. Ending up on a page like the one I have just blogged abut is the wrong way. Unfortunately, many, many people prey on at-risk populations so that they will spend money they don’t have on products they do not need. So how do you tell the difference between a good, solid, and helpful website vs. a bad, for profit, grubby website? Educate yourself starting with these two posts:

The reprehensible spammification of PPD

Tips on Identifying Reliable Health Information on the Internet

Then make sure to involve a medical professional in your Postpartum Mood Disorder care to help keep you safe and well as you travel toward recovery.

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Sticks and Stones will break my bones but Words…..

Who among us hasn’t heard this childhood chant?

I used to chant it at my brothers. At others on the playground as they attempted to say mean things to me.

Why do we say it when it is not true?

Words.

Words are more powerful than any stick, any stone.

I have scars on both knees from bicycle and running falls as a child. A couple of them still have dirt and rocks from New Jersey embedded deep under my skin because it was easier for the doctors to leave it in than to take it out. That gravel? That dirt? Has never bothered me a day in my life. Not one ache, not one infection, nothing.

But the chilling echo of the teasing I endured in elementary school because my family did not cough up the cash to belong to the local Yacht club? The teasing because our Green & White Dodge Ram Charger backfired whenever Mom drove us to school? The teasing I endured because my family did not own a Limo or a Porsche? Lingered in my heart and made it heavy. Achy.

The words written by a 10th Grade English teacher on a paper I had written about losing my Grandmother to ovarian cancer – the words which questioned whether I had really not had a chance to say goodbye or if I had just not taken the time to do so? Chilling. Enraging.

The words scribbled on all of my Creative Writing class assignments? Nearly impossible to read without invoking some sort of impassioned response. Sometimes the criticisms of my fellow classmates were even harder to read than the Professor’s words scrawled in blood red ink across every single line.

Words.

Words are the world in which we live these days. They surround us every day. At Twitter, at Facebook, on our cell phones as we text friends, read the news, browse the internet, read billboards, as celebrities attempt to use them to achieve fame.

In our lives, it is not only our actions of which we need to be mindful. It is our words as well. For our words may spurn another into action. Our words may speak to another in a way we are not even capable of fathoming. Our words – if chosen poorly – may even end a life.

If chosen wisely, with care, with love, with respect, our words may snatch that same life deep out of the pit in which it has wallowed. Our words, wisely and carefully chosen, may prove to be the helpline just one person has been seeking. Our words should always be love.

Sometimes this means tough love. Even then, our words should be chosen with respect. With earnest and honest warmth. Our words should always extend an olive branch into another person’s soul even if we do not agree with them. Even if all we want to do is tell them to go to hell. Seal your lips. Do not let such harsh words tumble forth from them. There are those among us who have – and they have gone on to regret those harsh words. Walk away. Breathe. Think. Reflect. Many times the anger you feel is not worth it. Many times the anger you feel is the other person’s Karma, but not yours.

Your words are your reputation, your heart, your very soul.

Recently, a well known Twitter account, @TheDailyLove, operated by Mastin Kipp, tweeted a message which set off a flurry of reaction, including a post at BlogHer by Morgan of @the818.

This tweet included the following words:

“Depression exists in selfish people. Step outside yourself, helps others [sic] & you will feel better!”

Martin has since posted a message of apology and deleted the Tweet. But the damage of his words will lurk forever on the Internet.

I left a comment at his post thanking him for his apology and acknowledging the courage it takes to own up to such an action.

Depression for me was anything but selfish. It was because of the intense expectation to be suddenly selfless, to suffer in the face of caring for others in an intense and unexpected environment that I fell from my white horse of dreamy motherhood into a slathering messy pit of despair. I had no clue what to do, I had no support, I struggled, sought help, was turned away. Here I was, hurting, doing everything right to try to improve my situation yet found myself shot down at every turn. No one tells you at the baby showers about the sleepless nights. No one gifts you a case of coffee. No one warns you that your butt and your couch will become one for three months. No one tells you about the weeks for which you’ll go without a shower. No one tells you about the maddening thoughts that may drift through your head or how the sleepless nights will make your mania that MUCH WORSE.

No one uses their words to tell you, in love, how damn hard motherhood will be for you.

No one tells you that once you fall off that white horse, it IS possible to get back on. Granted, you’ll be a wreck, the horse may have a busted hoof or two, but it won’t matter. Because you’ll be back on the horse dammit. Grass in between your teeth, mud stains on the side of your face, on your satin nightgown, but grin dammit. This is motherhood. You’re required to be happy. Right?

We are all in this together. All of us, all of humanity.

Without love, without mindful awareness of those who struggle beside us, we will be forever lost.

So I ask you. Fill your words with love.

If something angers you, ask why. Respond accordingly but for love’s sake, do not respond in anger. If you must respond in anger, be sure to use it to bring about positive change. Do not lose yourself to hate.

It is simply and utterly not worth it.

Social Media moves quickly. We read, we browse, we share. We often do not think before we type. Just as Social Media can damage a fragile person, it can also build a fragile person up. The reason I started #PPDChat at Twitter was to provide a safe space in which women and families could discuss their issues with others. To talk about Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders in a very public manner with no sense of shame as we chatted and created a warm community full of love, acceptance, yet free of hate, judgment and stigma. I am amazed on a weekly basis as to the level of participation and amount of sharing which goes on at #PPDChat. These mothers, fathers, friends, and loved ones openly share their challenges with each other. Often from private Twitter accounts, personal Twitter accounts, openly talking about the difficulties of motherhood and the complications a Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorder bring into that equation. I love my #PPDChat family. I do not think any of them selfish. I do not think any of them as wanting to suffer. But what I have seen is that knowing they can reach out to others, to be VALUED by others and validated by others has helped them immensely. That said, many are also involved in additional Professional care.

Depression is not selfish.

Depression is helped by reaching out to others.

But as we reach out to others, we must be aware of our own fragile states. We must know when to say no, when to take care of ourselves and be okay with not helping others. If we fail to first help ourselves, we are unable to help others. And yes, THAT is selfish. But it is necessary for us to be selfish in order to improve the help we provide to those around us.

Above all else, we must first mother ourselves.

What will YOU do to mother yourself today? How will you show the world love? How will you be hope? How will you be the light at the end of the tunnel for someone else?

Do not blow out their candle. Ignite their candle. Empower them with words of love chosen warmly, wisely, and carefully.

YOU have it within you to be the spark. Pass it on.

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On the Third day of Dismissmass: Three Healthy Babies

On the third day of Dismissmas,

Postpartum sent to me

Three perfect babies

Two depressed parents,

And a wailing mess in a pear tree.

 

How many of you have heard (or thought) this zinger: “But the baby’s perfectly healthy. Why on earth are you sad?”

As a mother of two children who were born perfectly healthy and one who was born with a cleft palate and needed major surgery at just 9 days old to help her breathe and eat, I know what it is like to be on both sides that statement.

Yes, having a child with additional needs is hard. But just because baby is perfectly healthy does not mean that Mama is going to be happy after giving birth. There are a whole host of reasons for mom not to be happy. Thyroid, Anemia, Vitamin D deficiency, history of personal or family psychiatric illness, perceived trauma during the childbirth experience, hormones that are now all out of whack and not shifting back into place properly, financial stress, moving, life decisions, etc.

Those who say things like “Baby’s healthy. You shouldn’t be sad” have never been depressed after the birth of a child. It happens. It’s real. And it is absolutely not yours OR the baby’s fault.

The next time someone says that to you – respond with this: “You’re healthy too. Why aren’t you helping me get healthy too?”

Then snap a picture. Trust me. It’ll be a Kodak moment for sure.

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Is PPD a series of mini-episodes or thoughts vs. something major: A reader makes an important point

Yesterday, I posted this piece regarding a DM I received at Twitter. Tonight I received this response which includes some excellent points. I wanted it to have more than just an afternoon meandering about. So here it is- in all it’s bloggy goodness. Thanks for commenting!

I so much appreciate your honesty here, Lauren. And, of course, am always so glad to know that you are out there sharing your important journey with other moms who are struggling or who have struggled.

I am going to make a point that, please know, comes with a huge amount of respect. It is more of an observation and a request to look at this question with another perspective than anything else.

The title to this post is “Is PPD a series of mini-episodes or thoughts vs. something major?”- I imagine that the woman who wrote this might be wondering if she could possibly have PPD- because for her, this is characterized by a series of on again off again thoughts or feelings that come and go and come back again, You know the situation I am sure: mom feels awful and confused by her thoughts and then for a day or two feels better. So she doesn’t reach out And then, again, WHAM, she feels awful again.. for a few days, and so she thinks she will seek out help. But then, ahhh.. a few days of feeling much better so, again, she holds back. And on and on. This mom thinks she must not have PPD because hers is not a knock-down -lights out situation. And so it takes her months and months to get the help that she actually needs.
I see this over and over in my psychotherapy practice when moms come in, finally and exhausted, at about 8 months postpartum when they have been feeling this way for a longer time than they needed to.

I appreciate your last few paragraphs about how everyone’s experience is unique, and so I think this is what I am trying to highlight in my comments. PPMDs come in all shapes and sizes and on a spectrum from mild to severe.
Your last paragraph is a set of questions to moms out there and it reads “is your PPMD JUST a series of thoughts?”

I would ask that we all make sure that we acknowledge that no PPMD is a “just” anything… No matter what someone’s challenge is, it can be pretty darn ugly for them.

with respect and admiration,
Kate Kripke, LCSW

Dear Kate,

Thank you so very much for commenting and bringing to light such invaluable points regarding Postpartum Mood Disorders. They are indeed unique to each woman. It is true that just because a woman hasn’t been knocked flat off her feet she can’t struggle with a PMD. Just as clothes, PMD’s really do come in all shapes and sizes and they come in every season too – no mom deserves to have her experience with Postpartum Mood Disorders dismissed as you’re completely right – no one deserves to have their experience termed as “just” something. The word “just” is dismissive for me.

I chose to blog about this question because it legitimately intrigues me. The writer was asking a question about PMD’s in a way I had never considered them before. Honestly, I think it was the word “just” that drew me in to the question at hand. No mother should ever have to decide if her experience is “just” this or “just” that. It IS what it IS and that is what she will heal from as the days go on and the sun continues to rise on the new days ahead for her. No mother should ever have to worry about someone pointing the finger at her and telling her that it’s “just” a series of thoughts or “just” a series of episodes. And even if it is thoughts or episodes for her – they should ALWAYS be considered and handled as if they were a serious knock-down case of PMD’s. Each and every mother deserves our support regardless of where she may be on the “spectrum.” In fact, regardless of where she is on the spectrum, our compassion for her should remain in the same place. High.

Thank you again for your comment and for taking the time to point out some very invaluable information.

Warmest,

Lauren Hale


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Postpartum Voice of the week: Sue of @SueandFadra at Lives Less Ordinary

As I was clicking through all the Postpartum blog posts from this past week, one stood out.

The sheer honesty, power, intensity, and raw emotion of the writing leapt off the screen at me. I found myself nodding my head several times, connecting with her story. It is a rare thing to find a writer who not only opens up about her experience with mental illness but does so in such a way that she captivates you, drawing you in until it is just you and her words.

You can find her story here.

Sue’s story really started to speak to me when she mentioned her issues with her pelvis. I had similar issues with all three of my pregnancies. It was never as severe as hers but lemme tell you, when your body produces entirely too much relaxin and your hips can barely keep themselves together to keep the baby in, the pain is excruciating. During my first pregnancy, I could barely put on underwear or shoes without weeping from the intense pain. Turning over in bed? Out of the question. I prayed I wouldn’t have to pee in the middle of the night. We had to get a tempurpedic mattress topper just to make it tolerable. And sleeping on my side (ie, on my HIPS/Pelvis) made things worse. My first OB, classic knowledgeable God that he was, simply told me “Welcome to pregnancy.” Sorry dude, but normal pregnancy should not have you in tears as you get dressed. I ended up on self-commanded bed rest the last two months of my first pregnancy because walking around hurt too much. I stayed propped up on the couch with a vibrating heating pad most days and watched TV. It sucked.

My second pregnancy began to head the same way at four months along. New OB this time – I got PT, which helped. Third pregnancy, symptoms showed up at three months. I got water therapy and it? Was a lifesaver. I ended up agreeing to getting induced at 38 weeks because by that time, baby was so low and weighing so heavily on my weary pelvis that I could again barely walk.

Often times, doctors here in the US are misguidedly unaware of this rare pelvic disorder and brush it off as “normal” pregnancy pain/adjustment. But it’s not. And it can disable you for life if handled incorrectly, especially if you have a vaginal delivery and are suffering from a severe case of it as Sue found herself. For most, the pelvic pain does fade after birth but many women struggle with pelvis issues for life. I could feel my pelvis shift in and out of joint after my second pregnancy, especially when driving my car. It was worse after my second delivery. I can still pop it in and out of joint. But lemme tell you, it hurts like the dickens if it’s out. Oh, the burning, the aching… it’s enough to make me want to take a tranquilizer. I am doing much better these days as I’ve been faithful with doing yoga each and every morning. But the issues caused by pregnancy and relaxin will haunt my pelvis for life, I fear. It’s a large part of why I will never get pregnant again. I don’t think my pelvis could handle another pregnancy. Physically and mentally, I am done.

Enough about me though, let’s get back to Sue. This is, after all, her award post! (I apologize for the digression, it’s just so rare to read about someone else who went through similar pelvic issues during pregnancy!)

Sue’s post is entitled “My Voice, My Depression” and with those words, she owns her Depression instead of the other way around. Sue takes back the power which Depression can hold over so many of us.

My favorite passage:

I am desperately trying to get past this time in my life, but I know it will take some time. I have acquired the amazing talent of hiding all of what I have said above from the rest of the word. If you see me on the street you would think nothing but, there goes funny, upbeat Sue. While underneath I an working, fighting and choosing a happier path than I have had the last few years.

These days are hard because I am trying my best to work though them. Emotional work is extremely difficult. It consumes you and can bring your life to a screeching halt.

Sue is in the middle of her Postpartum experience, still struggling, still fighting to escape the fog and the darkness. And yet she has written with such clarity about the journey she is currently experiencing. For that, she is The Postpartum Voice of the Week.

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Writer’s Block sucks

Maybe it was my kids being sick for over a month this summer.

Maybe it was struggling to finally celebrate and enjoy my new life with my family (once they were healed).

Maybe it’s having to process the whole Otty Sanchez thing.

Regardless, I’ve been struggling lately to write about anything Postpartum related. And I mean REALLY struggling.

School started a few weeks ago, my husband started a new job, and I’ve been the family chauffeur to boot. In the middle of the day, I now have time to myself with just Cameron. We’ve been laughing, bonding, and just getting a kick out of getting to really know each other. He’s 20 months old now, walking, learning new words, and developing a really hilarious sense of humor while he’s at it. His favorite thing? To walk around in circles whilst screeching “wheeeeee!” almost at the top of his lungs. Second favorite is watching Mama make the cross-eyed and tongue stuck out funny face. His laugh instantly warms the room!

So forgive me for leaving you hanging – I’ve been enjoying the truly important things in my life – my kids, my husband, and just life in general.

I promise I haven’t forgotten about you!