Tag Archives: #mhsm

#PPDChat Topic 08.04.14: Getting Pro-active: Facing Pregnancy after a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder

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Along with countless women, I have been in this boat. It’s an intimidating boat, let me tell you what. But, with some preparation, things don’t have to be quite that scary.

My first experience with a PMAD was frightening. I had no idea what was happening in my head in addition to trying to get myself adjusted to motherhood for the first time around. Talk about one helluva screwball. Thanks, life.

I survived. My daughter survived. Did we come out unscathed? No. But I definitely came out wiser. I view my first brush with PP OCD as one heck of a learning curve which prepared me for the second time I found myself in an even deeper valley than the first.

Halle Berry said it best on Oprah: “Once you’ve been through depression, it gets easier to get out because you have a road map.” Each episode, while it may have different nuances and causes, is essentially the same basic experience deep down. You get used to battling your way out of it and yes, you absolutely have a road map. You learn to recognize the curves and know how to adjust for them well before they even appear on your horizon.

Just as with a road trip, preparation is key. While even the best preparation in the world does not guarantee that a PMAD will stay at bay, it does empower you and enables you to seek help sooner rather than later.

I sincerely hope you’ll join us tonight to discuss the importance of preparing yourself and your loved ones for the possibility of another bout of a PMAD after the birth of a sibling. I have experienced both a planned and an unplanned pregnancy after my episodes so there will be lots of insight into both situations, including a very honest discussion about depression and other mental health issues during pregnancy.

Tonight’s chat is an important one. Don’t miss it. See you on Twitter at 830pm ET!

#PPDChat Topic 07.14.14: Chatting with @addyeB for Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

ppdchat-07-14-14This evening’s #PPDChat will focus on women of colour and mental health.

Why does this matter?

A quick visit to the Health & Human Services Department’s Minority Mental Health Statistics page for African Americans drives home some scary points right away:

  • Poverty level affects mental health status. African Americans living below the poverty level, as compared to those over twice the poverty level, are 3 times more likely to report psychological distress.
  • African Americans are 20% more likely to report having serious psychological distress than Non-Hispanic Whites.
  • Non-Hispanic Whites are more than twice as likely to receive antidepressant prescription treatments as are Non-Hispanic Blacks.
  • The death rate from suicide for African American men was almost four times that for African American women, in 2009.
  • However, the suicide rate for African Americans is 60% lower than that of the Non-Hispanic White population.
  • A report from the U.S. Surgeon General found that from 1980 – 1995, the suicide rate among African Americans ages 10 to 14 increased 233%, as compared to 120% of Non-Hispanic Whites.1

I’ll give you a few minutes to read those statistics over and realize what they mean. Then I want to highlight two specifically.

“Non-Hispanic Whites are TWICE as likely to receive a prescription for antidepressants than Non-Hispanic Blacks.”

“African Americans are 20% more likely to report having serious psychological distress than Non-Hispanic Whites.”

Taking those two statements alone, African Americans are 20% more likely to report having serious psychological distress than Non-Hispanic Whites BUT are less likely to receive a prescription which would help them deal with said psychological distress.

How is that even close to okay?

Mental health affects more than our minds, too. It affects several systems in our bodies with the stress it causes, it affects quality of life, it affects everything. Without it, we are not complete.

So join me tonight as we chat with the fantastic @addyeB, as she, in her own words, will be:

“…sharing what it’s been like for me, as a woman of color, to fight through & recover from a postpartum mood disorder. I’ll be talking about the stigma surrounding mental illness in minority communities and how it impacts awareness, education, and folks seeking treatment…barriers to treatment/access to resources in our communities…and various resources that women of color can find and use for support-especially online. I’ll also be asking other women of color to share their experiences and ask questions as well.”

It’s gonna be a good chat, y’all.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Warmest,

Lauren

#PPDChat Topic 07.07.14: Celebrating 10 Years of Postpartum Progress

ppdchat-07-07-14On July 13, Postpartum Progress turns 10.

Since inception, Katherine Stone has done quite a bit in the world of Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders. She’s fiercely led us forward, called people out on the error of their ways, and is whole-heartedly dedicated to making the world an easier place to navigate when women are struck with one of the issues on the spectrum of PMADs.

Tonight, at #PPDChat, we’re going to talk about Katherine and what she’s done, what she’s doing, and share memories of how she’s helped us. Did you know she supported #PPDChat when it was just an idea in my head four years ago? She did. She’s supported quite a few of us as we’ve moved into advocacy and we are beyond grateful.

Be sure to join us tonight at #PPDChat as we celebrate the woman, the work, and the sisterhood she has created.

See you tonight at 830pm ET!

#PPDChat Topic 06.16.14: Faces of #ClimbOut

#PPDChat Topic 06.16.14: Faces of #ClimbOutLast week, A’Drianne (@addyeB) hosted #PPDChat. She shared all about the upcoming #ClimbOut for Postpartum Progress (which, by the way, has surpassed the 100k goal!). If you’re interested in finding out more about this event, which happens this Saturday worldwide, you can read all about it here.

Tonight’s #PPDChat welcomes leaders of various Climbs throughout the world. Get to know the women who have fought through their own battles with Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders and are now doing something to help raise awareness of this insidious issue which affects 1 in 8 new mothers.

The two primary leaders joining us tonight are:

Susan Petcher, who is leading a COTD team of 6 up Mt. Washington in New Hampshire on June 21st.  She blogs at Learned Happiness about motherhood and mental illness, writes for Postpartum Progress, crochets compulsively, and loves Minecraft. (You can find her on Twitter @learndhappiness)

and

Courtenay Petracca, leading the COTD Team Rhode Island. She is a mother of a 2.5 year old girl. Suffered from perinatal depression silently until my daughter was born. The best decision of her life was to call the hospital and get help when her daughter was 5.5 months old. (You can find her on Twitter @Cxs918)

I am SO excited to chat with all these passionate women tonight. I sincerely hope you’ll carve out an hour to join us at 830pm ET. See you then!

 

#PPDChat Topic: #Semicolonproject416 – Life Goes On

#PPDChat Topic - ; and Life Goes On There’s a fabulous group bringing attention to those who live with mental health issues – The Semicolon Project. Their mission statement:

“The Semicolon Project is a Non-Profit Organization dedicated to presenting hope, help, and support to the people and communities suffering from mental health issues. We are here to address depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction, and suicide. We aim to inspire and encourage people to do one of the hardest things imaginable: ask for help when they need it most.”

These are similar goals to #PPDChat. We are here to encourage people to reach out, address issues, and educate those who are fighting against this specific set of mental health issues. Our passion is dedicated to helping new families thrive as they find their way through new parenthood and for many of them, a new struggle with mental health challenges along the way.
According to The Semicolon Project’s Twitter profile, the meaning behind the semicolon is this:
“A Semicolon represents a sentence the author could’ve ended but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.”
Life is challenging with twists and turns. The toughest challenge, however, is to place a semicolon where you feel like there should be a period. Join me tonight as we talk about choosing to move past the tough and continue the sentence into the rest of our lives.
If you, or someone you love, are in crisis right now, there is help and there is hope. Reach out, seek help. If you need to call someone who understands and can help you, dial 800-273-TALK (8255). You are never alone.
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#PPDChat Topic 03.24.14: Say This, Not That

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Language. It’s how we communicate with one another. It’s what I’m using right now to convey a message. We have so many -isms and quotes about how to use language in polite company, don’t we?

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

“Think before you speak.”

“Keep the communication lines open.”

“The pen is mightier than the sword.”

But those contradict each other, don’t they?

Yes, and no.

If you think before you speak, you won’t say anything horrible, therefore you won’t hurt anyone, but then the communication lines may be closed unless you only allow the positive out, right? And heaven forbid you grab a sword instead of a pen. A pen – writing – allows us to THINK before we “speak” – to work out what it is we want to say and to edit our thoughts carefully before sharing them with others.

My father drove home the point of thinking before I speak. My mother, on the other hand, emphasized keeping the communication lines open.

Do you have ANY idea how difficult that is to bring to a happy middle? DO YOU?

Sometimes I can’t help but laugh at my inability to speak up or comment on something because I know exactly what I want to say but can hear my father’s voice in my head telling me to “think before I speak” immediately followed by my mother’s voice telling me to “keep the communication lines open.” So sometimes I speak, other times, I remain silent. When I do speak, I do try to be succinct, compassionate, and non-accusatory. Does it always work out? Hell no, I’m human for crying out loud and to err is to be human or something along those lines.

But here’s the thing.

Language does matter. Tone matters. Perception matters.

That’s what we’ll be addressing tonight. Language. Tone. Perception. Not just our own, but that of those around us. Every single one of us has our own baggage. What someone says about you or how they choose to react TO you is not necessarily about you, or even about them. It might be something they’ve been dragging with them for years and it merely slips out at the wrong time. Or at the right time.

Language makes or breaks stigma. So do actions. This morning, I read this wonderful post over at Brain Pickings: The Unaddressed Business of Filling Our Souls: Mood Science and the Evolutionary Origins of Depression. It is a brilliant post in that she examines a book entitled “The Depths” by Jonathan Rottenberg (which is now on my MUST READ list). One of the points she mentions that Rottenberg makes is that emotion/mood are terribly languagecentric.

Think about it – we assign positives and negative stigmas to words which describe moods. Are we supposed to find “joy” when someone is depressed? No, of course not, but what if instead of reacting with pity, we instead dove in and asked if we could do anything to help? Or we saw it as Rottenberg sees non-severe depression (ie, paralyzing depression), just as part of the ebb and flow of the cycle of life?

How we describe ourselves and how we allow others to describe us affects our self-view and therefore affects our moods. It matters how much weight we ascribe to the words swirling around us in the dark.

Tonight’s chat will examine words commonly used to describe depression and those who are depressed or living with mental health battles raging inside them. It is up to us, the survivors and the warriors, to change the language we use to describe ourselves and our battles. Until we do so, the language used by others will not change.

I hope you’ll join in on Twitter tonight at 830pm ET to discuss this with me as we create a list of things for those who loves us to say…and not to say as we fight for ourselves.

 

#PPDChat Topic 12.09.13: Redefining Happy – The Road Back After PPD

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A funny thing happens when you Google “define happy.” You get a return of millions of results. There’s a prominent definition at the top of the results which is standard if you Google “define (variable word).”

It looks like this: Define Happy Google SearchThing is, those are all words.

They don’t capture the journey one must MAKE to arrive at “carefree, radiant, joyous, beatific, contented, etc…” do they?

No.

Words make a difference every single time. We use words to convey our feelings, our emotions, our journeys but we so often forget to dig deeper than the words leaping off the page (or screen) at us. We forget that behind the word “joy” there is a sour grape, lurking down the rabbit hole of the “o” in the middle of the word. Or we ignore the uncompleted circle in the “c” of carefree.

We use words to define ourselves to others in bios, in résumés, and on various other forms. Choose your words carefully for they reflect the journey of your life…of you.

Our words falter when we trip down the rabbit hole that is a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder or other Mental Health disorders. So we dust off our thesaurus and desperately search for happy. But it’s not where we will find our happy. We will find our happy in the battles we fight as we journey back to ourselves.

Join me tonight at 830pm ET tonight on Twitter as we discuss the challenge in finding ourselves again…the challenge of redefining our happy…it’s a helluva battle but it’s one worth fighting every time. See you there!

#PPDChat Topic – Creating a Menu for Mental Well-Being & Motherhood

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We all know that once Motherhood crashes into our lives our nutrition takes a dive for awhile. Sure, some of us may manage to get great food after we’ve given birth and/or while we are running around after the little ones but some of us are grabbing whatever we can to keep ourselves alive as we rush around in the vortex of our children.

For those of us who struggle with mental health issues, including PMAD’s, nutrition is extremely important. What we fuel our bodies with does affect our brains. We need to be mindful of how we feed our minds – and not just with thoughts or events, but with nutrients.

Join me tonight for a very casual (read: not technical/medical at all) discussion about what we can do to improve our moods through the foods we choose to fuel our minds. Looking forward to chatting with you about what’s worked for you, what hasn’t worked, and what foods are better choices as well as how to easily incorporate these foods into a hectic lifestyle.

See you at 830pm ET, y’all!

The Challenge of Moderating A Mental Health Peer Support Community

The world of advocating and supporting those fighting the hard fight against Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders holds within it a myriad of challenges. Moderating a community requires a lot – patience, compassion, understanding, and knowing when to properly apply tough love. The last one gets me every time -it is definitely a challenge and very heart-breaking to apply tough love to a struggling mama- but it is sometimes the only option left.

Within the #PPDChat community, some moms may end up being friends, others may just need me for a short period of time on their journey. I have to be okay with either, learning to let go as the moms who contact me move in a very fluid way in and out of my world.

My primary goal, however, is to keep everyone within the community safe above all else. To ensure that they feel respected, empowered, validated, and treated with all the dignity each of us deserves as humans and as adults, something all of us deserve. When someone within the community fails to meet this goal or feels these goals are not being met, I take action.

When there is a threat/disrespect for the community, a member requires more help than I or other members can provide, or threatens the safety of those close to them, I reach out for additional support. Dealing with threats to themselves or to the safety of the group is not a pleasant situation but it is something which is bound to crop up every so often. I must be prepared to provide solace for all involved – the community at large and the struggling member, without divulging too much information regarding either. Even though I am not legally bound by the classic “client/therapist” privilege rule, I hold myself to it unless threats are made. Even then, I only release information to the necessary parties.

Moderating #PPDChat has taught me a few lessons about dealing with people in general:

1) Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. This one is tough because sometimes, when I would like to be angry at someone, I see their pain. I see the suffering which is causing their anger. I have learned when to dive in and hold a conversation but at the same time I have also learned when to walk away and let them fight their own battles with their dark storms. Sometimes, and this is perhaps the toughest lesson of all, people need to fight the storm on their own and we have to walk away because they are simply not prepared to let others put on their battle armor with them. I have found that if I need to do this, the best way to do so is to leave the door open as I walk out, in case they are ready to have an army by their side.

2) Be kind to yourself, for the battles you face may be harder than you think they are and it’s okay to not be okay. We all do it, tell ourselves that what we’re going through isn’t as hellacious as it should be – a lie. It’s okay to fight, it’s okay to hurt, and it’s okay to be kind to yourself. I say this often: Self-care is not selfish, it’s selfless. There is a fine line between self-care and selfish, however – it’s importance to balance taking care of your responsibilities with taking care of yourself. In the same vein, it’s okay to say no to extras. Things which are responsibilities take priority over things which are “supplemental” to life. To figure out the difference, make a list and ask yourself if life will go on if you skip something. Meal prep is a responsibility. Gotta eat. Making a ton of cookies for the church social? Yeah, saying yes might put you in the good graces but if it’s at the sacrifice of your sanity, it might not be worth it. Instead, choose to spend that time with your family or with yourself.

3) Everyone won’t be happy with the rules…or with what other people in the group have to say about certain topics. We all come to motherhood with different expectations and beliefs about how things should go. We all walk different paths and need to find the right path for us – in the process, remember that the right path for US may not be the right path for those around us. Judging the choices of others is something I DO NOT tolerate in the #PPDChat community because we are already judging ourselves as women, as mothers, and as mothers fighting a mental health battle. The LAST thing we need to add to that full plate is our support community judging us too. When personal attacks happen, tough love knocks down the door dressed up as a Mama Bear.

4) Treating others with dignity goes a long way. We’re dealing with other adults here, not with children. I don’t even see Teen Moms as children. They are mothers now, with very real adult responsibilities. To treat them, or any new mother, as anything less than an adult with responsibilities, is to disrespect them. You’re not helping if you’re constantly holding someone’s hand and telling them what they can or cannot do. It’s not empowering to talk down to them. Mental health struggles do NOT equal incapable. I was an adult prior to my postpartum issues and I was still an adult when I was fighting the beast. I treat others with the same respect and dignity with which I would want to be treated in the midst of my own storm. I believe it lends to confirming to the woman/family seeking help that they ARE still human, they DO matter, and it provides a sense of normalcy, if you will. It’s possible to acknowledge struggles without demeaning or patronizing the person experiencing them.

5) Authenticity is important. Sharing parts of yourself as a peer moderator builds trust. It shows your community that you are indeed human and understand their pain. Particularly online, it is important to not just be a robot spouting self-care-isms, if you will. Mean what you say and say what you mean. My community is perfectly aware of my rather unhealthy obsessions with bacon, football, F1, Star Wars, and a myriad of other things. Why? It humanizes me and therefore humanizes the community as we are able to bond with each other over a myriad of topics. It allows us to talk about things beyond our “labels.”

6) Know when to be light-hearted and when to be serious. There is a fine line between these two approaches, particularly when dealing with mental health issues. Cross the light-hearted line a bit too much and you may end up in the stigma/discrimination zone. That’s never a good thing. We joke a bit more about it in closed group but I am always, always careful about how I phrase things because I absolutely do not put up with any form of discrimination within the community. I see everyone one equal footing – as people fighting like hell to just be themselves, whatever that may be now. We need laughter but we also need respect and tough love. Toeing the line requires finesse, something I work diligently at achieving.

I’m sure there are more lessons I have learned whilst moderating the #PPDChat Community but the six above are perhaps the most important ones.

It is my utmost desire that everyone who reaches out to #PPDChat for support find a community which respects them as a whole person, respects their individual choices regarding child-bearing and child-rearing, and empowers them as they fight with all their might on their journey toward being well once again.

I know people feel that way because I hear it every so often from those who have participated. In fact, just the other day @jenrenpody shared this with me:

“I turned to ppdchat because I felt safe, validated and heard. I needed that validation and support. I found so much more – community and friendships.”

#PPDChat works to do exactly what Jen states and it always will. If for some reason, you have a different experience, let me know and I will do my best to address the issue. You are absolutely not alone, you will be heard, and you are safe. Always.

What would be most important to you in a peer-based community support group and why? Has #PPDChat helped you feel empowered to fight your battle against Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders? Join in the discussion by sharing below!

#PPDChat Topic: Nitty Gritty – Ins and Outs of Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders

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Join us today on Twitter as we get nitty and gritty with the signs & symptoms of Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. Have questions about just what goes on inside a PMAD? Catch up with us at 1pm ET and 830pm ET on Twitter using the hashtag #PPDChat. See you then!