Tag Archives: Just Talkin Tuesday

Just Talkin’ Tuesday: Reflections

Everyone seems to take time at the end of the year to look back toward events which transpired in their lives. While it’s important to look back to remember the past, it’s also important to keep your eyes on the road ahead of you. You are where you are. Not where you have been, not where you will be when your journey is done.

Rather, you are where you are in this very moment.

Part of recovery involves realizing from where you have come and to where you will go as you heal.

Today, I challenge you to not only look back at the past year but to look forward to the coming year.

2011 is YOUR year. It’s a year during which you can make the best of anything heading your way. It’s a year during which YOU advocate for yourself, don’t take no for an answer, set small goals to reach recovery. You can do this. You can.

I know you feel alone. I know you’re scared. I know you feel lost down there in the dark.

You’re not alone down there.

No matter what your story, no matter what your history, no matter what you think is holding you back, we have all been where you are. We have all felt that something holding us back. We have ALL felt swallowed by the bottomless black pit filled with Postpartum Mood Disorders.

We care. We are many. We care. Let us care. Lean on us when you hurt. Lean on us when you don’t hurt. Lean on us when you can’t get up. Lean hard. We are here. We are love.

Now that you’ve gone through an entire box of Kleenex, I would love it if you would share your hopes for the next year. Keep them small and achievable. But keep them filled with hope.

Let’s get to Just Talkin’.

Just Talking Tuesday: The Elephant in the Room

There may be an elephant in your marriage or relationship if you have been diagnosed with a Postpartum Mood Disorder.

Maybe you do not want to talk about it.

Maybe he does not want to talk about it.

You are both scared.

You are scared you might be permanently broken.

He is worried he has lost the woman he married.

Fear is a powerful motivator. Sometimes it leads us in the wrong direction. It can leave us away from those we love and the support we need.

So we grow silent with each other. Short, rude, snide. Judgmental, even.

With each other and quite possibly even with our children.

Silence is nothing more than taking your problems and shoving them in a pressure cooker. Eventually it will explode. Explosions are messy, non-discriminatory, and only serve to create additional trauma for you and those who love you.

Humans are not telepathic. If you need help, ask for it. Accept it. Don’t judge or nag how the person helping is doing the task. Unless the manner in which they are doing the task will harm someone, sit back and enjoy the break.

Your loved ones cannot help you heal unless you share with them what is really going on. There may be reasons for you to keep it to yourself – maybe they would judge instead of help. If their response is negative then revisit the relationship after you have healed. Right now, you need to focus on you.

Don’t keep your feelings to yourself because your husband has been at work all day and deserves to come home to a happy home. You’ve been working all day too. Instead, take 10-15 minutes to check in with each other when he gets home. You get 5 minutes, he gets 5 minutes. If you can take longer, do so. But while the other person is talking, you do nothing but listen. No talking back or interrupting.

Another great suggestion from @notsuperjustmom at Twitter is to hold hands if you feel a fight suddenly coming on. You can’t fight if you’re holding hands.

Have you talked about the elephant in the room? Has it been successful? What strategies have worked for you? Is your elephant still stifling your relationship? What challenges do you face? Share with us. Someone may have a suggestion that might just work for you.

Let’s get to just talkin’!!!!

Just Talkin’ Tuesday: How can you tell when “normal” is returning?

Every Friday, I am the volunteer on duty for Postpartum Support International’s warmline. (That’s right – you can call for them for help and I’ll actually call you back on Fridays! It’s staffed every day of the week by amazing volunteers though!) A few months ago, right after I started volunteering, a woman named Joan phoned the warmline. We talked and she used the term “Warrior Mom.” If you read Katherine Stone’s blog, you know that’s how she refers to Postpartum mamas. I asked Joan if she read Katherine’s blog. She said she did. Somehow we ended up talking about my blog as well. Turns out she reads mine as well. By now, we were both practically in tears. I had never spoken to someone who actively read my blog before. To hear the emotion in her voice as she talked about how much it meant to her truly blew me away. Joan and I have kept in touch via email since then. It is with her permission I share her story with you.

Joan emailed me today to ask a question of me. As soon as I read it, I asked her for permission to post her words to my blog. She agreed and I hope y’all will provide some good feedback for her current concern. Without further ado, here’s Joan’s email:

Hi Lauren:

I hope all is well with you. I have contacted you in the past, and I hate to be a burden, but was wondering if you could shed some light or your perspective on something I have been thinking a lot about lately. During the recovery process, how does a mom know if she is getting “better” versus the normal adjustment period to motherhood. PPD/PPA throws you all off and it’s hard to remember what “normal” is, especially when nothing is normal anyway after the birth of a baby. I have started a new med (2 weeks in – gradually increasing and so far – knock on wood- no weird side effects) and I know I need to be patient with it for sometime still, but I’m stuck in that conundrum. Is this PPD/PPA or is this a normal feeling? I think when you become a mother you give up so much naturally of yourself and you become someone else (for example I will forever be Joan plus J’s mom plus working Joan plus friend Joan, etc. etc. ) and need to merge all of those identities together. It’s hard when PPD (and the darn anxiety that about kills me at times) makes life so unbearable at times. It would be hard without the evil beast mixed in to straighten that all out in my head.

If I can ask, what were signs for you that things were returning to “normal”? Or, is there a common theme amongst survivors about when they knew that they were beginning to get well? I have read a lot of blogs, but am looking for any kind of advice if you are willing to share with me (if you don’t mind).

Any words of encouragement/advice/insight you can provide are always appreciated! Thanks for everything you do!

Warmest Regards,

Joan

My husband and I cajoled each other about our “new normal” after the birth of our second daughter. NICU, Cleft Palate, crash course in at home neo-natal care, both of us on antidepressants before it was all said and done, yeah, there was no going back to our own normal life. Hell, I think Normal may have even sprouted wings and flown to Jamaica. Not that I blame it at all, just wish it had offered a ride or at least one last romp before bailing.

I know my new normal settled in slowly. At first there was a routine of what I did when I first got up in the morning. Then I would add a new thing the following week. I stopped obsessing about how much milk I pumped because instead I was munching on chocolate. I began to think of pumping as me time instead of “I have to do this” time. I had more days of happiness versus irritability. I began to realize slowly that a bad day did not mean a downward spiral. I knew my signs and triggers and more importantly, I knew how to stop them. The world around me seemed to brighten. For me, recognizing my arrival at better involved my ability to take better care of myself WITHOUT guilt or anxiety about those around me not being able to function if I did take time away from them to do so.

What did “better” look like for you? Do you still struggle with adjustment to motherhood? What’s the most challenging for you as you journey/journeyed to better? Let’s get to Just Talkin’ and help a mama out in the process!

Just Talkin’ Tuesday: Revisited

It’s been a heck of a week around here.

Yes, I know it’s only Tuesday!

Is it Friday yet?

I’ll be leaving in a few minutes to finally go have an abscessed tooth removed. The prospect of a visit to the dentist office has never excited me so much before today! I have been in bed due to this tooth since last Wednesday. Like I said, rough week.

So, rather than writing a new Just Talkin’ Tuesday (which I’ve been unable to do because you see, I have been clinging to the ceiling in pain), I thought we could revisit some of the more recent posts instead.

Here are the five most recent Just Talkin’ Tuesdays. Feel free to jump in and share your thoughts on one or all of them!

Just Talkin’ Tuesday: Let’s talk about sleep

Just Talkin Tuesday: Surviving a Bad Day

Just Talking Tuesday: Did you have Postpartum Depression support from your Mom?

Just Talkin’ Tuesday: How do you Mother yourself?

Just Talkin’ Tuesday: The WE factor in Postpartum Mood Disorder Recovery

Just Talkin Tuesday 07.13.10: Surviving a Bad Day

Everyone has bad days. But when you’re depressed, a whole bunch of bad days get strung together. Then you start to heal. And then WHAM. A bad day pops up out of nowhere. It’s not quite relapse but it sucks nonetheless. Even those of us who are recovered still have sucky days. We may be recovered but we are far from perfect. Far far far from perfect.

I know typically this is a longer post but frankly, it’s been a rough day here and I’m about to fall asleep. I spent the better part of the morning at the pediatrician and lab with my 6 year old daughter. We’re now waiting to see if she develops a rash to determine a diagnosis. I’m praying the rash doesn’t show up and the symptoms are just an unlucky combination. Somehow I’ve managed to hold it together and I totally credit the hell I went through with Postpartum Depression for allowing me to make it through this day intact. Exhausted, but intact.

I looked forward to sitting down on the couch and just vegging out tonight, listening to some music, and hanging with the ladies over at #PPDChat on Twitter. I needed it tonight.

What are some things you do to help yourself get through a tough day? Have you learned your triggers yet? Are you able to cut it off before it gets going? (If you’re not, that’s okay – everyone is at different stages of recovery!) What gets you to calm down?

Let’s get to just talking ladies!

Just Talkin’ Tuesday: How do you Mother yourself?

When I was little and something didn’t go my way, nothing cured my sadness faster than a good ol’ fashioned Mommy hug. At nearly 34 years old, I still have days when nothing short of a Mommy hug will make things better. But that Mommy hug is nearly 400 miles away now so I can’t pop on over or run to her in the kitchen to snatch up a hug. So instead I call her. Every day. Sometimes multiple times a day. I’m trying to scale back but it has been hard! Research has shown though, that talking with your mom on the phone is just as good as getting a hug from her in person. Pretty amazing, huh?

Mothers are expected to take care of everyone around them. It’s just what we do. But we forget so very often to Mother the most important person in our lives – ourselves. If we are not caring for ourselves, we are then not able to care for those around us. We are only able to care for those around us as well as we care for ourselves. It is especially important to remember to take care of ourselves when a Postpartum Mood Disorder is slinking about the house. Self-care is a very important aspect of recovery.

While hospitalized, the same nurse who so kindly told me I did not have to tell anyone where I was that weekend also emphasized to me how important taking time for myself was to my recovery. Go for a walk, go for coffee, breathe. Find your space and make it all yours at least once or twice a week to begin with. I started walking the first full day I was home. That lasted for all of a few weeks because I let life get in the way again. But while I was walking, I felt so much better. I loved being alone, listening to the birds, watching the squirrels, side stepping the bird poo, yanno, the back to nature stuff.

I also started making myself loose tea. There’s a ritual there – some cultures are pretty particular about it but really it can be whatever you want it to be. I also got out the good china and crystal even if just chowing down on microwave pizza and a coke. Dressing it up made it special. It made ME feel special.

So … let’s get to just talking. Share some tips with everyone. How do YOU Mother yourself? Are you Mothering yourself? If not, I challenge you to do at least one special thing just for you – and not feel guilty about it – this week. Go for ice cream, coffee, go people watch at the mall, go for a walk or to the bookstore or the library. Pick something that interests you, pick a day and just GO. You’re worth it and your family will thank you for the recharged Mama!

Introducing the Just Talkin’ Tuesday Button

I don’t usually post again on Tuesdays. But this is related. And I didn’t want to just add it into the regular post in case some of you have already read it and moved on with your day.

About 30 minutes ago, I got asked to do a button for the Just Talkin’ Tuesday feature by @momgosomething at Twitter. She’s been answering the posts at her own blog the past few weeks. I think it’s a great thing she’s sharing my questions with her readers as well. (I’m sure she’s not expecting a button so quickly though!)

So now, if you feel the urge to answer the questions on your own blog, there will be a button included with every Tuesday post for you to grab and slap up at your place. All I ask is that you link it back here to the Just Talkin Tuesday post or to the main URL.

Enjoy and let’s get Just Talkin’ Tuesday on the road!

Just Talkin’ Tuesday 05.04.10: Did your Postpartum influence your decision about Breast or Bottle?

A lot of bloggers have been talking about mom guilt lately. I even threw my hat in the ring.

Anyone who has talked with me for any amount of time knows full well I am fully supportive of moms no matter what decisions they have made in their own lives. As mothers, it is part of our job to make the best decisions we are capable of making for our family. And we should absolutely not be judged for these decisions. It’s a shame that we have to put a disclaimer before discussing any aspect of motherhood for fear of offending a mother who may have made a different choice.

Growing up, I remember my mom nursing my brothers. Breastfeeding is how I was raised. I knew no different. For me, breastfeeding was akin to breathing. It was just something you did when you had a baby. When I got pregnant, I would breastfeed my daughter too. Failure never occurred to me as a possibility. The first full day after birth, she wouldn’t latch. We went home without having gotten it right. I gave formula the first night. I was failing. Scared, failing, what the hell? My mom had made everything look so easy. It was supposed to be easy! Why was I having such a hard time??? The next morning we got up and I was determined to get her to latch. She did and off we went into the breastfeeding sunset. 16 whole months of nursing with self-weaning two weeks before discovery of our second pregnancy. I had done it right! It had been one of the few things I had felt I had managed to get right about Motherhood.

Fast forward to 36 and a half weeks pregnant later. After a long labor, our second daughter was born. She too, would not latch. I thought her mouth didn’t look right but I was tired. Blamed it on the exhaustion. This time around I asked for an IBCLC. She immediately swept baby’s mouth with a gloved finger and diagnosed a cleft palate. My world turned upside down. I met a hospital grade pump that night. Barely got anything. Wondered why I was bothering to pump. But I kept with it, pumping at home, at the hospital, stashing breastmilk in the freezer, the fridge, feeding it to my daughter through her Kangaroo pump. Managed to keep it up for seven whole months before it came down to my daughter receiving breastmilk or my family and my mental health. I bought formula and cried the whole way home from the store. But that decision saved me, saved my relationship with my family. I was grateful formula existed.

A little over a year later would find me surprised and pregnant once again. I was scared. But I now knew formula was ok. I still tried to breastfeed. Our son latched on like a champ right after delivery. Nursed wonderfully, even through three bouts of thrush. But at 6 months, he was diagnosed as failure to thrive. He was born at 8lbs 15oz and had barely gained 3 lbs in the first six months of life. Our well-meaning pediatrician suggested I pump. I wanted to laugh. I was SO not going back down that road! After a day of contemplation, off I went to buy formula. He switched rather easily and was completely on formula by the end of the week, gaining weight, happy, not fussy, and we were all much healthier mentally as well.

There are women out there who will tell you that breastfeeding protects against depression because of the production of Oxytocin, the “cuddle” hormone. Then there are those who will tell you formula feeding will help you get more rest. So will pumping and having enough in the fridge/freezer for a bottle in the middle of the night. But then you risk not nursing at that time and killing your supply. But I say if you can do it and not risk your supply – go for it.

Bottom line here?

YOU have to do what is best for you. And if that means a balance of breastmilk and formula or only one or the other then SO be it. If someone giving baby a bottle of formula at night helps you sleep and recover, then go for it. If breastfeeding makes you smile and helps you feel like more of a mother, then so be it. No apologies, no looking back. Be bold, make the decision, and go with it. It is possible to continue to nurse with anti-depressants. If you choose to do so, make sure your prescribing doctor knows you are nursing and let your pediatrician know as well so both doctors can minimize any potential side effects. Ask questions. Get answers. Make an educated decision.

Now that I’ve stepped off my soap box, it’s your turn. Did your Postpartum Mood Disorder change your plans for feeding your infant? Did you give formula instead of nurse? Choose to nurse instead of formula to help ward off Postpartum Depression? Why? Would you do things any differently knowing what you know now? Why? Why not?Do you regret your decision?

Let’s get to Just Talkin’ Tuesday.

Just Talkin’ Tuesday 03.23.10: How did you find your therapist?

Original photo: "Everyday Use Items: a couch" by @foka_kytutr @ flickr.com

Congratulations!

You have broken through the fear to make the call for help.

But now what?

Unless you have a therapist tucked away with the burp cloths or shoved in a random diaper bag pocket, chances are you’ll be scrambling to find one after diagnosis with Postpartum Mood Disorder.

There are a lot of questions to be considered when searching for a therapist. Some are financial, some regarding training, and others regarding how experienced the therapist is with your specific diagnosis.

Just as you wouldn’t see an Oncologist for a Pulmonary Embolism, you wouldn’t visit a Substance abuse therapist for a Postpartum Mood Disorder.

But when you are in the throes of Postpartum Mood Disorder, you don’t necessarily have the wherewithal to be going down a checklist of requirements for a Therapist. (That is, unless you get lucky like me and develop Postpartum OCD. Then lists and keeping certain things in a very particular order becomes very very important to you.)

So how can you tell your therapist is going to be a good match or is trained in dealing with Postpartum Mood Disorders?

The first thing you need to know is what degrees to look for when ensuring the therapist you are considering is professionally and properly trained. A therapist will primarily hold a Masters level degree and be either a Licensed Social Worker or Counselor/Therapist depending on your state’s licensing office. A solid counselor should not hesitate to provide evidence of his/her training and current license status if requested. You may also see a Psychologist, who will hold either a Ph.D (research) or a Psy.D (Professional) for therapy.

The second thing to consider is specialized training in Postpartum Mood Disorders. If the therapist is truly focused/familiar with Postpartum Mood Disorder patients, he or she will be aware of Postpartum Support International, Karen Kleiman’s Clinician Training at the Postpartum Stress Center, or Pec Indman’s two day training via Postpartum Support International. If your therapist claims to be intimately involved with treating Postpartum Mood Disorder clients yet has no earthly idea who these people or organizations are, be wary. Ask what specialized training they have completed in the area of Postpartum Mood Disorders (if any) and how long they’ve been treating patients with similar diagnoses to yours.

Third, while your therapist is not meant to be your best friend, you should feel somewhat at ease during the appointment. If you feel uncomfortable or on edge during therapy, you’ll be less likely to disclose as much and therefore hinder your own journey toward wellness. It’s worth the search to find a therapist with philosophies similar to yours.

Do not be afraid to ask what their policy is on admitting to Intrusive thoughts. Many many women worry that if they admit they have thoughts of doing horrible things to their children, the children will be taken away from them. I faced this very same issue and asked my therapist this question before I admitted some pretty dark thoughts to her. Her response was that yes, she was required to report situations which indicated imminent harm to oneself or others but that she understood intrusive thoughts and their involvement in my particular diagnosis. This particular concern goes back to finding out what experience the therapist you are considering has with Postpartum Mood Disorders.

Dr. John Grohol over at PsychCentral has some good advice on how to tell a good therapist from a bad one. I would highly recommend you read it and keep these tips in mind.

Another great link to keep tucked away is “Tips for talking with your doctor” by Karen Kleiman over at the Postpartum Stress Center. She suggests starting with the doctor you feel most at ease with even if it’s your primary care physician. He or she can always refer you to specialists once a consensus is made that further help is indeed needed.

I now hand this post over to you, the reader.

What did you do to find your Postpartum Therapist? Any tips? Suggestions? What to look for? What to avoid?

Let’s get to just talking here!

(Tomorrow we’ll be discussing different types of therapy available for the Postpartum Woman. Stay tuned!)


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’.