Tag Archives: mental health

Ohming Postpartum Depression Away

meditation-884687_640The sunlight flowed into the room, bouncing off the parquet floor and spiraling up toward the white walls as women began to stroll in, bedecked in yoga pants, nursing tops, and covered in infants. Soft music played in the background as the waterfall in the front of the room bubbled and sputtered to life.

A woman entered the room once all the mothers were settled and latched their infants. She sat down in the front, her curly hair spilling down her back, nearly reaching the floor. As she adjusted her body into a seated pose, she began to hum as she reached her arms toward the ceiling, which was sprinkled with skylights to invite even more warm rays into the meditation room.

The mothers hummed along with her, deeply breathing in the soothing surroundings and welcoming the excise of the chaos of their lives outside of the room. Breath in, exhale out. Breathe in, ohm out. OHMMMMMMMMM.

For forty five minutes they did this, breathing in, breathing out, letting their minds clear of everything and anything that might possibly distract them from their current state of bliss. OHHHHMMMMMMMM.

Upon closing, the waterfall slowed, the chimes ceased as the water no longer washed over them.  Their guide stood, and made her way to the exit.

The women gathered their things, and went on their way. They’d be back tomorrow, they said to each other. For now, let’s all go to Whole Foods and buy only organic foods and supplements because we absolutely cannot let this motherhood thing get us sad. And then, we’ll meet in the garden at the park to pray fervently to keep the negative feelings away from our hearts.

With a spring in their steps and a clear path ahead of them, they all wished each other Namaste as they meandered away to fulfill their guaranteed destinies of avoiding depression after giving birth…without turning to the evils of medicine or therapy like that one mother over there. She cheated, they said, among themselves, as they unlocked their cars and settled their infants in for the quick drive to the Whole Foods. She’s not Ohm like us.

If only it were THAT easy, right?

Oh, I’ll just eat right. I’ll meditate, I’ll pray, I’ll do everything right and *I* won’t get depression after the birth of a child. And if I do, it’s totally big pharma’s fault because all they want to do is sell me drugs which will get me better.

STOP.

Nope. Hippocrates wrote about postpartum depression way back in the day – (you know, old school.. the father of modern medicine theology/ethics?) so this isn’t some new-fangled disorder created by Big Pharma just to get you to part with your money. 

Marianne WilliamsonThere’s been an irresponsible post by Marianne Williamson on Facebook regarding the recent announcement recommending mothers be screened for depression both during and after pregnancy is like giving stigma a nice fat hug. Follow the money, she says. Meditate more, she says. Pray more, she says. LOVE more. But dear heavens, leave big Pharma out of any possible solution because they prescribe meds like candy.

Know what, Marianne? We tell moms to run like hell from doctors who practice medicine that way. We empower them to rule out physical causes before just popping a pill. We tell them that hormonal changes are normal and what to look for beyond those changes. We follow the research. We follow the stories of the mothers who share them with us. We do not muffle their voices. We do not minimize their pain or magnify their shame.

And yet – in one fell swoop, you’ve managed to do exactly what you did not want to do – muffle voices. Do you have any idea how difficult it is for a new mother to speak up about experiencing anything besides joy and happiness after the arrival of a new little one? It’s incredibly difficult. We fight for it every single day. It’s exhausting. But if it helps one..just ONE mother – it’s worth it.

I do want to clarify that if meditation, nutrition, and prayer worked for you – that’s fantastic. I’m truly happy for you. But. It’s important to remember that not all solutions work for all mothers and to discredit one method of treatment which has helped so many is to do a disservice to those it has helped. It’s like giving Stigma a big fat hug and shaming millions into silence because they dared to take meds that HELPED THEM.

Ohm all you want if it helps. Ohm it away. But.

Be open to other methods. Don’t judge others for their journey to wellness.

Because when we do that?

We hurt all of us.

#PPDChat 01.11.16: That Pesky Thyroid

PPDChat 01-11-16: That Pesky Thyroid. Join us at 8pm ET on Twitter.Did you know that the thyroid can cause issues that mirror several symptoms of Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders? It absolutely can. But – not a lot of people know it can. This is why tonight’s chat is SO important. I hope you will join us as we discuss the various ways in which the thyroid can cause symptoms which mimic PPD, how to deal with them, how to push your doctor to test for them, and why it is important to test for any thyroid issues.

Look forward to seeing you this evening at 8pm ET on Twitter!

 

#PPDChat 01.04.16: Just The Facts – 8pm ET!

ppdchat 01-04-16 8pm ET Just The Facts http://twubs.com/ppdchatNew year, new time, back to just the facts.

#PPDChat moves to 8pm ET for 2016. 9pm is just a smidge too late for everyone, I think. Attendance really dropped off since changing the time so we’re going to try something new for this year.

Tonight, we’re doing what I like to call our “primer” chat – addressing signs and symptoms of Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders. Feel free to join us and hang out to learn all about what to look for not only in yourself but in those around you as well.

Hope to see you there!

Why We Need to Shout

medic-708125_640When I go to the gym to hit the pool (which hasn’t been as often as it needs to be at all lately), there is a gigantic sign explaining CPR methods for children and adults on the wall of the pool room.

Defibrillators in schools and malls. Emergency phones on the highway every few miles. Emergency numbers on signs everywhere for you to contact the police if anything goes wrong. Call. Text. Instructions on where to go and what to do if a fire breaks out. Fire extinguishers.

But.

No signs explaining what to do if someone is suicidal.

No numbers of hotlines or therapists or psychiatrists plastered in public places commanding us to call them for emergencies.

No emergency break glass here in case of mental health crisis.

These things – they are not part of our society. They are there, lurking, in the background, but they are not mandated to be part of our everyday scenery. Things we whisper about to other people when we need them because heaven forbid we talk about them out loud.

Breathing – that’s important. Of course it is, you say, because without breath, you die.

BUT.

Without life, you die.

And when things get really really really bad because of our mental health and we feel all alone? We die inside. For us, we have no life and for some of us, death is the ONLY WAY OUT.

We don’t reach out because it’s difficult. We stay silent because THE WORLD TELLS US TO. It tells us that we are selfish. That we are capable of snapping out of it. That we should be happy and therefore we should just BE HAPPY DAMMIT and stop being depressed because it’s a fucking luxury. As if being depressed is something I’d rather be doing than oh, I don’t know, anything else?

What if.

What if, right NEXT TO THE SIGNS EXPLAINING CPR, there were signs explaining MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID? WHAT IF right under the #77 to reach the state police, there was a shorthand number to text if we were feeling vulnerable emotionally and struggling with a severe mental health episode?

WHAT IF WE MADE MENTAL HEALTH JUST AS NORMAL AS PHYSICAL HEALTH?

I’m tired of the bullshit. I’m tired of the stigma. I’m TIRED OF LOSING MOTHERS BECAUSE NO ONE WANTS TO TALK ABOUT IT OR ASSOCIATE WITH MOMS WHO AREN’T HAPPY.

WE can do better.

We NEED TO DO BETTER.

We can’t do it alone. We shouldn’t do it alone. We are raising up. We are casting a wider net. It’s still not where it needs to be – and we need your help. We need those who don’t battle our demons to speak up. To not let us flounder. To check on us when we begin to creep back under the covers.

It’s okay to not be okay but it’s not okay to not be okay alone. Reach out. Even if it’s just to a loved one or a trusted friend. YOU are worth it. We are ALL worth it.

Things you can do every day to help combat the stigma of living with mental illness:

Speak up. Share your story. Be honest about how you are feeling and the challenges you face.

Ask businesses you frequent if you can share promotional/supportive materials from organizations such as Postpartum Progress, Postpartum Support International, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Make mental health support accessible.

Share posts from various organizations battling for increased mental health awareness via social media. I am constantly sharing Lifeline’s posts on both FB and Twitter. Why? Because someday, it may just save a life. Suicide is not a bad word – it’s an emergency.

Get trained in Mental Health First Aid. Heck, make a day of it with friends. The more you know…. (Find a class here)

Bottom line – live your life in a mindful way of others and their feelings. Of course, keep your own in check as well, but you never know just how far a smile at a stranger might go one day.

In the meantime, visit MHA’s Screening site. Share the graphic below. Let people know they’re not alone.

Depression Screen pic

#PPDChat 12.07.15: When Disaster Strikes

PPDChat 12-07015It’s been a rough month.

So much has happened. So many lives lost, so many of us not knowing how to respond but knowing that we are affected by what has occurred, even if it doesn’t directly touch our lives. It still winds its way into our hearts, our minds, and it toys with us as we go through our daily lives.

Monday’s chat is open to all – not just moms or families struggling with Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders. This touches all of us.

We’ll be talking about how to protect our mental well being in the face of a crisis, how to support someone who is struggling as a result of a crisis, and how to talk to your kids about it. Most importantly, however, we will be providing a safe politics non-solution focused space for people to simple exhale and let their feelings flow. That said – we will not be discussing anything political or any solutions to the situations which have occurred over the past month. Just us, our feelings, how they’ve affected our daily living, and how to move toward processing them and making a difference in our lives and those around us. That’s it.

I sincerely hope you will join me on Monday evening at 9pm for this very important chat. See you then.

Tessera Chat Guest Announcement

#PPDChat 10.26.15: Talking with @addyeB

Tessera Chat Guest Announcement

I’ve known A’Driane for quite some time and am proud to count her among my friends. We’ve managed to meet in person – once – in the midst of her recent moves away from the east coast.

A’Driane is unafraid to tell it like it is and I love her for that. She and I have similar experiences yet they are also separated by different challenges. A’Driane has created this wonderful space specifically for women of color to come together and honestly share their challenges with mental health issues within their lives.

Why is this so important? Because women of color are consistently at a higher risk to experience depression and various other mental health disorders according to the APA. And yet, research is difficult to find or it is often skewed toward Caucasian women and those who have the means to access care.

Another reason Tessera Chat is so important is because it is often frowned upon to admit to any sort of mental health issue lest you dare defy the “strong black woman” persona found within the African American community specifically. (For a REALLY great personal essay which expounds upon this, go read “What It’s Like Having PPD As A Black Woman” by Tyrese Coleman at Buzzfeed.)

This coming Monday, we’re going to chat with A’Driane about the Tessera Collective and chat. We’ll be discussing how it got started, what it means to her, how it’s grown, and where she sees it going.

I truly hope you will join us for what I am sure will be a very powerful and insightful chat.

#PPDChat 04.06.15: Done

ppdchat 04-06-15

Done.

As mothers, it’s not a word we utter a lot. Nothing ever seems to be “done” completely, does it?

There’s always dishes to be “done”, laundry to be “done”, baths to be “done”, and the list goes on and on. We are never DONE.

And yet, we should be done with small tasks throughout the day. Why?

Because, according to a fascinating article at Fast Company this morning, saying the word “Done” after completing even small tasks, allows us to feel a sense of accomplishment.

Seriously. They even cite science, y’all. What does it do? It shifts our brain in a neurochemical fashion, creating more serotonin. And we could ALL use a bit more natural serotonin, yes?

Join me tonight and let’s talk about everything you got “done” today. I’m willing to bet it is far more than you think.

See you at 9pm ET on Twitter. Be sure to check back here to follow the live feed if you’d rather not hop on Twitter itself. Thank you, Twubs, for existing.

With that, I’m DONE.

Next?

#PPDChat 03.23.14: Healing Timelines

ppdchat-03-23-15“I should be better by now, right?”

“When do the thoughts go away?”

“When does the rage stop?”

“I started meds a few months ago. Why don’t I feel better yet?”

Many of us have heard these phrases echoed by women who reach out to us. They’re frustrated because they are still hurting and fighting. For many of these women, a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders is their first brush with mental health disorder. And like so many, they assume there is a timeline the disorder will follow. Thing is, even with medication and therapy, we all follow our own timelines.

When we get sick, we go to the doctor, get medicine, and are told when we can expect to feel better. With a mental health disorder, we are given medicine, told when we can expect it to kick in, advised of side effects, and possibly referred for therapy. That’s if we’re lucky. Then we are left to our own devices.

We find people like us. We do the most human thing possible – we compare our healing timeline to theirs. “She’s on the same med as me so I should get better as quickly as she did, right?”

Not necessarily.

Last week, we discussed knowing your symptoms. This week? We’re going to discuss knowing your healing timeline, how to keep from comparing yourself to those around you, and find solace in the small steps forward you’re making instead of seeking for giant leaps in healing.

Join us tonight at 9:00pm ET on Twitter. Don’t forget – you can come back here at 9:00pm to follow us, live.

See y’all then!

#PPDChat 03-16-15: Know Thy Signs

ppdchat 03-16-15Any navigator will tell you to know your landmarks when traveling. Know thy signs.

It’s the same with mental health. Know thy signs.

What happens when you start to spiral down? Do you have certain habits you repeat? These are your signs, your tips that something is going wrong.

Tonight’s chat isn’t just for those of us who face a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder – it’s also for those of us who fight the good fight against mental illness on a daily basis. We have to read our minds and know our signs. It’s exhausting, but necessary in order for us to make the best of the day which lies ahead of us. Sometimes, that day may require rest or sometimes we may have a really awesome day followed by sheer exhaustion because of everything we took in. It’s the ebb and flow of the war we wage as we live our lives.

I sincerely hope you will join us as we explore and chat about our own warning signs, what they mean, and how to learn to recognize your own.

See you tonight at 9:00pm ET!

PS. If you can’t get to Twitter, you’ll be able to follow the chat from here. Check back at 9pm ET, when a live chat feed will be embedded into this post!

We’ll be LIVE in 5 minutes. Follow along  here:

#PPDChat 03.02.15: Space to Heal

ppdchat-03-02-15

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!