Tag Archives: mental health

#PPDChat 03.02.15: Space to Heal

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The Fourth Trimester. It has potential to be rocky for many. All those adjustments. And the potential of the complication of a mood disorder? HELLO.

For those of us who fight a mood disorder post-birth, or the further complication of a life long mental health battle post-birth/parenting, adjusting can be hard. Add in the well-meaning folks who have ALL THE ADVICE and ALL THE ANSWERS and ALL THE QUESTIONS (when will you have another one? Are you done with babies?) and well, yeah. The space to heal becomes an item on the highest shelf at the store that you just cannot reach but desperately need to take home with you.

So how do you create that space to heal? Do you wait for it to appear? Do you force it to appear? Do you say a few words and will it into existence?

Baby steps.

The space to heal begins with the first step – admitting you need it. Then the second (and possibly difficult) step of getting those around you on board. You know how we nest in the later stages of pregnancy? That’s what you need to do – but for yourself.

Join us tonight as we talk about creating the space you need to heal after the birth of a baby and the onset of a perinatal mood & anxiety disorder. Deciding how to move forward is a personal decision and not one anyone else can make for you. Walk with us as we help empower you to make that nest of healing space.

See you on Twitter at our NEW time – 9pm ET!

#PPDChat 02.09.15: Sharing PPD With Family

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Family is supposed to have your back, right? That’s what society says, anyway. But each family is different and every person holds “support” in their own box. They think they are helping but they are instead tearing you down with suggestions meant to heal you.

How do you decide when to share your diagnosis? What about when a beloved family member shames you for fighting this battle?  How large do you make the circle of people who are able to know?

Please join me tonight at #PPDChat to discuss this very issue. It’s one that is extremely important. See you on Twitter at 8:30pm ET!

#PPDChat 02.02.15: #DayofLight Chat

ppdchat-02-02-15This status update came into my feed yesterday evening via my good friend Addye. I’m thankful she shared it because it is certainly something I want to support.

The status read (emphases mine):

“Hey All! This Wednesday, February 4th is the 2nd annual ‪#‎DayOfLight‬. This is the day when I’m asking everyone to share their stories of depression on social media. So often folks suffer alone, believing that no one else understands what they’re going through.

Depression is real. It’s not something that can be wished away, and it’s not something to be ashamed about. Share your story on your blog, on your Facebook status, in a tweet, or on Instagram. Pick up the phone and check on a friend. Send an email, a text message or a DM to let someone know that you are there for them.

If you, or someone you know, has been affected by depression, please change your profile picture to black and white on that day to show solidarity to those who are going through it.”

Brandi, the founder of this movement, will be stopping by during #PPDChat this evening to talk with us a bit more about the history of the movement and how folks can participate and spread the word.

I hope you’ll join us and raise your voice with your story. We, none of us, are alone.

#PPDChat 01.29.15: Just The Facts

PPDChat topic 051611It’s that time again! Every so often, #PPDChat goes back to basics and talks about the signs and symptoms of the issues of Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders. It’s important because many folks aren’t familiar with the nuances of some of the symptoms. Or they associate PMADs with the things they hear in the news.

This chat battles two fronts  – informing as well as disarming any stigma that is out there.

So we’ll see you tonight (blizzard and all) at 8:30pm ET for an informative chat all about the signs and symptoms of a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder!

#PPDChat 12.08.14: 12 Things to Say to New Mothers

12 things to say to new momsRiffing on the 12 Days of Christmas in a nod to the holiday season, I invite you to join me tonight on Twitter at 830pm to share words of wisdom for new moms facing or possibly facing a Perinatal & Anxiety Mood Disorder.

I’m sure we will end up with more than 12 things to say but I will bring 12 points on which we can focus our advice.

See you tonight!

#PPDChat 11.17.14: Holidays & PPD

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As the holiday season rapidly approaches and social appearances are greatly expected, those of us who struggle with mental health issues store up excuses to bow out of gatherings. While saying no is a phenomenal practice, there may be some gatherings which are required. We grit our teeth and bear it, hoping to repair our anxiety once it is over.

Tonight’s chat will focus on coping mechanisms for surviving the holiday season. Learning to say no, surviving when we are sucked into the vortex of family and work gatherings, and building self-care for our souls into the holiday season. ‘Tis the season to give of ourselves, but also TO ourselves. Be kind to yourselves these holidays – refill your pitcher as you pour to others.

Join me tonight at 830pm ET on Twitter. See you at #PPDChat!

 

In case you missed the chat, here’s the transcript:

#PPDChat 09.21.14: When Darkness Falls – SAD & PPD

ppdchat-09-22-14Fall Equinox.

When I was a kid, I loved those words. It meant the leaves would soon change colour, setting the landscape ablaze in yellows, oranges, reds, and the sunlight would carry the newly found rainbow into the sky as it sank beneath the horizon earlier and earlier every night.

It also meant my birthday was only 4 days away.

But now, as I have journeyed several days down the path of life, I don’t enjoy those two little words as much any more. In fact, they make me sad. I strive to find the joy in autumn and not focus too much on the shorter days and looming increase in hours spent in the dark, away from the sun.

I moved back to the northeast United States a few years ago. The first year I was here, Sandy hit. I have not been right since. The cloudy days, the shorter days, the snow (dear LORD, the snow), the dark – it has me sinking into the depths of my couch in the winter, fighting for any shred of happiness I can find. I finally had a discussion with my doctor about it last year and we realized it may actually be a combination of PTSD from Sandy and the settling in of SAD.

So now, this year, I am prepared. I fought back last year with medication (finally) but after doing everything else I could do as well – a therapeutic SAD lamp, Vitamin D, socialization, etc. But this year, I’m still on my meds, I use my light every morning as I drink my first cup of coffee and catch up with friends on social media, easing myself into my day.

Tonight, we’ll discuss not only the very real issue of Seasonal Affective Disorder, but how that may complicate PPD and things you can do to battle both at the same time. I hope you’ll join us.

See you tonight at 830pm ET!

PPDChat 09.15.14: After Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders

ppdchat-09-15-14There is such a range of experience with mental health after the birth of a child. From the expected baby blues to the much more serious psychosis. But most of us expect the healing to come within a reasonable amount of time.

For many of us, it doesn’t and we find ourselves fighting a mental health battle we never saw coming. For others, it’s a battle which started before we became mothers and is continuing.

But tonight’s chat will focus on the continued, unexpected battle. Those of us who go on from a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder into a full blown life long battle against a variety of mental health diagnosis. What then? How do we cope? How do we keep from constantly falling down the rabbit hole? How do we fight the exhaustion? The parenting while fighting our own minds? It’s all too much sometimes and we retreat into ourselves, leaving our partners to hold the reins. What if that partner isn’t supportive? What if we can’t find the space we need to parent within the boundaries of these challenges? What then?

So many questions, different from the experience and transient nature of Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders. We’ll touch on them at tonight’s chat. I hope you’ll join me at 830pm ET on Twitter. See you there!

#PPDChat 08.18.14: Self-Care – Lists of Three

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I started this thing awhile back on Twitter, #listof3. It took off and I use it when I get down. Thing is, I haven’t used it in awhile so it’s been stuck on the backburner of my brain. Others have used it, however. It warms my heart to see others using it even if I am not because it’s comforting to see someone else lifted up because of you.

I was reminded of this #listof3 by a #PPDChat Volunteer late last week when I asked for suggestions for chat this week. I sat with it for a few days and decided to run with it today. Her suggestion read as follows:

“Name 3 things you’re thankful for, 3 things you wish your family knew, 3 things you want your kids to remember about you, and so on and so forth. I come up with 3 different things each time.”

We’re heading into that time of year when mamas are sending older kids back to school and schedules are drastically changing. In the midst of this chaos (regardless of whether or not you’re celebrating or missing your little ones), it’s important to remember to take care of yourself and focus on the positives in your life instead of all the little things running you ragged or pulling you down.

I sincerely hope you’ll join us tonight as we discuss our own #listof3, finding gratefulness tucked away even in the most chaotic corner of our lives. Who knows, maybe attending chat will end up on your list!

In the meantime, what are you grateful for today?

I’m grateful for coffee, sunshine, and sleep.

Your turn:

Fighting The Battle Against Suicide

The post below may be triggering for some. I blatantly discuss suicide and my own brushes with it as well as the recent news of the loss of Robin Williams. If you are fragile, you’ll want to skip this post. If you need to find some happy, go watch this video. It’s all of the awesome and then some.

The sun floated above the house in a swath of the kind of blue sky I long to see when I wake in the morning. The wind played with the trees, swishing the leaves and branches to and fro as birds and butterflies danced along with the melody Mother Nature played for them.

I stood in my bedroom, staring out at the phenomenal glory just beyond my physical reach and well beyond my comprehension. I stepped closer to the open window, staring down at the retaining wall at the edge of the house, calculating the angle necessary to hit it with my head. As my fingers brushed against the roughness of the screen, I drew back suddenly, as if I had been shocked into reality. I scurried downstairs, to a room well away from the retaining wall, and texted with a friend until the thoughts faded away.

I was not interested in beauty that day.  I was interested, suddenly, as I stood in my bedroom all alone, in leaving this world.

My divorce was final. I was no longer with my children. I could not find a job. Nothing seemed to be going my way. There was no sense in continuing with things. It was not the first time I felt like ending things and it turned out to not be the last. I dance with these thoughts from time to time but thankfully, so far, I have managed to fight them off. Believe me, the battle to fight them off is FAR HARDER than anyone who has never experienced them could possibly imagine. Sometimes, it is a daily battle. Some days, it is an hourly battle. Then finally, sleep, only to wake up and battle all over again. But I fight because my will to live is powerful and I am not done with my work here yet. I fight because my kids deserve a mother they can reach out and touch or talk to on the phone. I fight because I matter, I love, and I am loved.

There has been a lot of discussion this past week about suicide. The causes, the loss, how to cope, how to survive, and most of all, the matter of making the choice to go through with it.

Is suicide a choice?

Yes.

It is an easy choice?

Hell no.

If you wade through research, the average amount of time it takes from initiation of “I’m really going to do this” to completion is 10 minutes. I wish I had the link to this research but unfortunately, I don’t. (But there is this article you can read which references it.)

10 minutes to save someone’s life.

10 minutes to convince them they matter. That they are bigger than whatever demon is swelling inside of them and convincing them they are better off on the other side.

10.fricking.minutes.

In the grand scheme of life, 10 minutes is but a millisecond, but it is a millisecond with a number of chaotic screaming thoughts flooding your brain in an attempt to convince you to stop the life you know because it has toppled over and there is no other way to fix things.

In those 10 minutes:

It is not a matter of joy.

It is not a matter of prayer or faith.

It is not a matter of therapy.

It is not a matter of medication.

It is not a matter of love.

It is not a matter of religion, resources, and whatever the hell else you want to throw out there as a simple answer to the complexity that is suicide which is, frankly, a sandbox full of all the demons you have ever carried at any point in your life fighting each other for ownership of your soul.

In the throes of the “choice of suicide”, it is all about YOU and that huge ass demon screaming at you that yes, you are better off on the other side as it hacks away at any sense of self-respect, faith, or common sense you previously possessed. The bastard wears you down until finally, there is only one way out.

We all know the story of David and Goliath. It’s like that only sometimes, David doesn’t win.

It’s like Frodo vs. Sauron but all on his own.

It’s like Picard vs. the Borg all by himself. (And we saw how that ended – Locutus!)

I wrote an off-the-cuff status update on Facebook about the passing of Robin Williams. At last check, it had been shared over 200 times. Here’s what I said:

“I want to take a minute (or more) of your time to say something important.

Suicide is scary. It frightens us, particularly those of us who are vulnerable and know these thoughts intimately. These thoughts dance with us and sometimes have done so on a daily basis.

For people who know suicide intimately and have contemplated it, news like the passing of Robin Williams can be very triggering. It causes us to wonder how on earth we will survive if he didn’t make it. He had money. Access to care. He had just been in rehab. Dear Lord. If he couldn’t get better, what hope do “we” have?

Here’s the thing. Choose life. Choose to reach out. Choose light. Choose to fight. Every time you reach out for help, you are choosing to survive. It’s about creating opportunities for hope instead of succumbing to the darkness.

Unfortunately, we don’t know why he chose to leave us, but he did. And we’re left wondering what went wrong.

So if you want to honor his life, honor his time here, take from his death what you can and make it okay to discuss suicidal feelings. Because until mental health is a normal part of every day discussions, we will continue to be shocked when something like this happens, claiming we “had no idea.”

Know this.

There is hope. There is help. And if you are struggling, there are hotlines you can call. Things you can do. Start by reaching out to a friend, then a professional, and stay the course, even when the light fades. It will return.”

I have never had anything shared that much on Facebook before. The comments on the shares are tremendous – people are talking about mental health. But most of all, they are scared.

Because if Robin Williams, a man who had access to it all, committed suicide, then what hope do *we* have in surviving when we don’t have the access to care he did?

I questioned whether or not I should write about this here. I am not writing for page views. I am not writing to take advantage of a horrible situation. I am writing because until we make mental health check ins with each other part of normal, everyday conversation, things like this will ALWAYS shock us. Until we make mental health as normal as physical health, it will always be stigmatized, it will always be taboo, and it will always scare the shit out of us.

My heart has been heavy this week, along with millions of others. Not for the loss of Robin, but for HOW we lost him. I know that pain. I know what those moments of absolute desperation feel like as they strike terror into your very soul. Watching your body and hands go through the motions as your brain screams NO and questions your sanity but you are helpless to stop yourself. I’ve blogged about it before – here, here, and here. The second and third posts references the situation I used to open this post. There have been other times too, times in the car where I wondered what would happen if I just let go of the wheel and let myself drift into oncoming traffic – or into a tree. It’s been awhile since I have fought with these thoughts but the shadows of them are always there, lurking, waiting to spring forth and attack when the darkness threatens to swallow me.

That weight, the weight of sheer terror, isolation, and helplessness, is what spurs me to do what I do – to reach out to mothers struggling with Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders. No mother, hell, no human, should ever surf the tides of mental health alone.

So how do we change things? How do we make suicide less of a threat to ourselves and to those we love?

I wish I had the answer to that question. I have some answers, but not THE answer. No one does. All we have are suggestions.

We talk about our struggles, we don’t cover it up in polite speech or hide it in dark rooms and beneath whispers or under judgmental tones. We stop sensationalizing the horrors and instead write mindfully about the issue at hand. Let’s start there.

Suicide is not something we should dismiss. It is not something we cover up, and it is not solved by choosing joy, reaching out, or praying harder. It goes far deeper than any of that for it is insidious, tenuous, and a gut-sucking leech upon the soul of many of us who have walked this earth. Our lives, all of them, sooner or later, will be touched by suicide – someone we know, a friend’s friend, or our own. Is that acceptable? Hell no. Can we change it? Hell yes.

Baby steps.

Start here, with how to talk to a friend or a loved one about suicide. Carry resources and hotline numbers in your wallet or program them into your phone. Know the signs. Run toward the chaos and the danger instead of huddling away from it. Bring suicide into the light. Make it okay to not be okay. Not cool, but okay. Let them know you hear their pain, you acknowledge their hurt, and do what you can to encourage them to seek help. Don’t judge them. Don’t act shocked. Be compassionate. Be patient. Be understanding. Don’t justify their desire to end it but instead, talk to them about their reasons to live. Be their speck of light, as my good friend and amazing blogger John states in his own post about depression and cancer. Be the warm blanket they need to survive. Be the hope for them until they can be their own hope.

Will we still lose people?

Yes.

But those we save through our own daring to speak up may just be the ones to ultimately change the world. And in the process, we are already changing the world because we’re breaking the stigma of silence around suicide.

And that, my friends, makes the hell worth fighting through.