Tag Archives: peer support

#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 06-23-14: Kicking The Summer Blues to the Curb

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We associate winter with the blues. Everyone stays inside to stay warm.

But summer is the opposite – some of us stay inside to stay cool. Or because it’s too much trouble to tote the little ones outside because OMG WE HAVE TO PACK ALL THE SUNSCREEN and everything else in the house just to go to the pool and dear sweet lord don’t forget that we need swim diapers, formula, a nursing swimsuit (OMG – nursing at the pool…)…the list goes on and on and on and on…you get the point.

Summer blues are just like Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. We’re supposed to be happy and carefree in the summer. Cheery. WHOOOO!! Water! Camping! No responsibilities. (Have you ever been a parent with three small children home for the summer? HAVE YOU?! I’d rather..well, anything.)

This chat will be chock full of tips and mamas chatting about how to manage the issue of parenting/adjusting to a newborn in the summer months. Summertime creates an entire extra set of issues, issues we all seem to just dance around. Well, tomorrow night, we’re gonna stomp on them and figure them out.

Join me on Twitter at 830pm ET. See you there!

#PPDChat: 05.05.14 – The Beast We Don’t Fear with @Alycianeighbour

Alycia is the kind of person every one deserves to have as a friend. She’ll laugh at all the inappropriate things with you, scoop you up when you’re down (even if she’s down too), and then take you to the park where you stomp at pigeons to keep them away. Seriously though, the woman has a very deep heart and has been through quite a bit (you can read her fabulous blog here). She’s the type of friend you can call even if you haven’t talked in awhile and it’s like you never stopped talking. Alycia’s spirit is grounded in her faith in God. It’s constantly challenged by her large (occasionally, okay, mostly chaotic) brood and her menagerie of pets, and soothed by her amazing husband and friends. Somehow, she manages to write and sorta stay sane enough to be friends with the likes of me.

Today’s #PPDChat is based on a post Alycia wrote for me, which appears below. She discusses her dogs (yes, it’s applicable) and how their personalities convey the type of people we might find in our lives. She urges us to find a person like one of her dogs, Tuesday. You’ll have to read the post to discover the details.

This is a chat you don’t want to miss. You’ll laugh, you’ll snort, and most of all, you’ll get some hard truth from both of us about life. See you tonight on Twitter at 830pm ET, 730pm CT, and 530pm PT!

Without further ado, here’s Alycia’s post:

The Beast We Don’t Fear

In our home of 8, there are a lot of beasts we deal with. Recurrent Depression, PTSD, ADHD, and a host of other beasts that show up, because this is Life and sometimes it gets really messy.

This is going to seem like a side note, but is essential in us learning to not fear when the beast shows up.

I have 4 dogs. Their names are Fat Tuesday (160lb English Mastiff) Black Friday (wanna- be alpha male husky 70lbs) Lady Monday (35 lb Shepherd recovering from a broken leg and tentative) and Walter (40lb total mix and MY dog)

I observe them a lot and do a lot of training with them, but never to take away from their inherent nature. The dogs also serve as emotional conductors in my house where nerves get raw and sometimes we need to snuggle and pet something.

(Yes you are seriously reading about dog posturing on a blog that focuses on mental health – hang with me)

Friday has a tendency to get mad easily and will try to take it out on the two smaller than him. Monday will cower and pee on the floor unless cornered and then she takes the teeth out. Walter won’t take his crap at all. But he’s outweighed. So both of them have learned to avoid Bad Mood Friday.

Unless Tuesday is around.

(This sounds like a three stooges routine huh?)

Tuesday is our negotiator and protector when there is a problem, or she perceives an impending problem. Children or dogs beginning to argue, she physically puts herself between them and will nudge the offender or bigger away from the innocent or weak. When someone new is around, she stands guard and on the ready for the unexpected and her services are needed.

Not much gets past a 160lb mammoth dog that is clearly ready to put you in your place.

We all need a Tuesday. I don’t mean we all need a dog as big as a horse, but we need people who will be our Tuesday as we sludge through our mental illness.

We need that one person (or a group is better – but a group dynamic can add emotions which confuse the initial purpose) who we know when we are having a weak day, getting picked on or having an angry day; will lean on us and steer us away from the attack (real or perceived – hurt is hurt, pain is pain – no sliding scale of judgment).

But as great as online groups are and their support can be immediate, we need to find someone tangible, someone who can hold us. Perhaps a relative, friend, family, counselor, etc. just somebody you can touch. Never discount the simple act of your hand on someone’s shoulder who is about to cave.

Alycia & TuesdayGo find yourself a Tuesday and give that person orders to protect you in your fight. You won’t be shunned, I can guarantee that despite your bleak view of the world right now, you will be embraced and you will be safe.

 

#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.

#PPDChat Topic 03.10.2014: Media Sensationalism & PPD

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Join me tonight as we explore the issue of media sensationalism and PPD. So often, as I stated in my post “On Not Wanting To”, when a mom hurts herself or her children, we get the sensationalized version of it and the details of her journey to that point (and her journey after the event) are dramatized as well. I hope you’ll join me for a passionate and insightful chat into why this needs to change as well as why we owe it to ourselves and to society to reach out to every new mother dyad with care, compassion, and understanding.

We cannot let the village continue to fail.

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#PPDChat Topic 1.27.14: Making Unsolicited Advice Turn Into Your Swan

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On Sunday evening, a post entitled “Finding Life Beyond My Comfort Zone” poured forth from my soul. This morning, a post entitled “Meeting Enemies Undaunted” spilled forth at almost twice the length of last night’s post. Today’s post was a response to an unpublished comment on Finding Life.

Someone saw fit to recommend that I do “more awesome things than take medicine” for my current bout of depression. Instead of staying angry, I used her comment as fodder for a post to explain why such comments do more harm than good and how we, as those who are brave enough to speak up about our battles, should not allow people like her to ruin any progress we may have made toward healing.

We all have different ideas for how to heal and must do what is best for ourselves. In the same vein, we must respect the educated decisions others have made whether they be on their own or with the help of a professional (that is, unless said person is in crisis, then we must urge them to seek help immediately). Recommending a different course of action when someone has settled on one which is working for them is well, rude.

Do you know the story of the ugly duckling? It is one I grew up hearing quite a bit. A young flapper (or cygnet), somehow ended up with a family of ducks. He looked nothing like his brothers and sisters and was teased mercilessly, labeled ugly for not appearing to be the same. Then, he grew older, matured, and turned into a beautiful swan, one of the most graceful birds in the world.

Then there’s Rudolph – who wasn’t allowed to play any reindeer games until Santa asked him to lead his sleigh.

In both situations (yes, yes, fictional, I know), the main characters took something which was negative and let it go. It is difficult to do. But once you learn to flip the negative on its head, a funny thing happens. Less is negative and your outlook on life brightens. Perhaps not overnight, but over time you find yourself able to see even the most negative of things as a lesson from which to learn.

That’s what today’s chat will focus on – turning the negatives in your life into situations from which you learn valuable positive skills.

Make that unsolicited advice your swan, perhaps even your swan song. Bring down the house with it as you rise up toward joy.

Look forward to seeing you tonight at #PPDChat. Be there at 830pm ET sharp!

Here’s the worksheet, “How to Write Your Swan Song“, which goes along with this chat. Feel free to download it and use it. Let me know how it works out for you!

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.

On Helping Others

“How do you help all the women you do and not carry their pain with you?” asked my therapist as we sat in her office a little over two years ago.

“I don’t know. I just do.” I fidgeted slightly as I readjusted in the chair, popping my neck and a few vertebrae as I did so.

“But day in and day out, you are seeing people at their worst and helping them solve their problems. How do you manage to do that without internalizing it?” she rephrased, pushing me to answer.

“How do you do it?” I answered her push with a question.

“Nice try. You’re good at deflecting, aren’t you?”

I smiled and recrossed my legs, staring back at her.

“It’s an art, really. As for how I don’t carry their pain and issues with me, I just don’t. Their issues are not mine. I have fought my battles, I am fighting my battles, and I leave their battles to them. I learned, from fighting my own battles, that I cannot fight anyone else’s battles for them. They have to fight them. All I can do is point them in the right direction and hand them the right tools. That’s my job. That’s where it ends.”

“So you have never had a situation that shook you?”

“Of course. Haven’t you?”

“Yes. The difference is that….”

“You’re a trained professional and I am not?”

“Well, no. Perhaps. It is just that it takes a lot to be able to listen to issues day in and day out and not get worn down by that. Given that you are here and still helping other people, it is my job to make sure you are taking care of yourself.”

“I am. I know when to step away. I have people I can hand things off to if they get too intense and I know that I am not equipped to handle crises. I also have people I debrief with after any situation which involves a crisis – people check on me which is wonderful. I am peer support only, something I make very clear to anyone who reaches out to me.”

We wrapped things up shortly thereafter, this particular session not nearly as rough as the one where she pushed me to consider whether or not I had ever shown my true self to anyone at all including myself. But this session left me deep in thought too, which is what a therapy session is supposed to leave you doing – thinking about your issues in a constructive manner instead of just wallowing & ruminating.

Sometimes I would go hiking after my sessions. Other times, I would go for a long drive, music blasting, the windows down. I wish I could say I remembered what I did after this session but I don’t because frankly, the after sessions blurred together.

The discussion in this session though, is one that we can all learn from. While not everyone is actively helping stranger after stranger through what some consider to be the worst time of their lives (most of us who have been through a Perinatal Mood Disorder kindly call it hell), it is important to remember that when we are helping others to not allow their pain to become our own. It is possible to be compassionate without tucking someone else’s pain into a pocket in your own heart. Difficult, but possible. It is also important to know your own emotional limits. Do not ever sacrifice your own emotional well-being for someone else if you can help it. (Remember the whole your glass must be full in order to give to others rule here.)

My goal, when someone reaches out to me for help, is to empower them to deal with their issues on their own with help that is much closer (and far more professional). This should be your goal as well if you are a fellow advocate or a non-professional. Educate, empower, release. I follow up, of course, and some of the folks end up being pretty good friends, but most of the time, it is a catch and release sort of contact. It’s something I’ve grown to expect.

With each person I help, my own personal hell loses just a little more of its darkness, shoving me further into the light, allowing me to help even more people.

No woman or family should ever have to struggle through a Perinatal Mood Disorder alone. This is why I do what I do and why I will never stop.

Because every single one of us matters to someone out there.