Tag Archives: Postpartum Voice of the Week

Postpartum Voice of the Week: Postpartum Thoughts – The Postpartum Trifecta

One of the least discussed aspects of the Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorder experience involves intrusive thoughts. Those of us who struggle with these nasty beasts are afraid to admit to them because we fear it will result in our children torn away from us. Some of us fear these thoughts mean we’re stricken with Psychosis. So we suffer silently until they have faded into the distant past.

Intrusive thoughts are not Psychosis. Instead, they are more closely related to Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Women who struggle with Intrusive thoughts are immediately horrified by their thoughts which involve harming themselves, their infants, or harm coming to either of them. They are violent flashes which jet through our brains. We are unable to control them. They leave as quickly as they arrive. Psychosis on the other hand, involves thoughts which make logical sense to the person having them regardless of the lack of logic. There may be auditory hallucinations, visual hallucinations, and a belief that if these actions are not followed through, a worse harm will swoop down upon the affected parties. Psychosis is a medical emergency. No mother suffering with auditory or visual hallucinations should ever be left alone with her infant and should be placed in medical care immediately. ER, people. Immediately.

In today’s Postpartum Voice of the Week Post, the author explores her experience with intrusive thoughts. She describes how severe intrusive thoughts can lead to OCD (which they did in my case as well) and mentions Emma Pillsbury from Glee but digresses to point out: “But let me tell you that in real life, coping with intrusive thoughts is not cute and fun like an episode of Glee.”

Coping with intrusive thoughts can be exhausting. It wears you down. Leaves little energy for the end of the day when you finally get baby down to sleep for the night. All day, you’ve waged a battle in your mind with an army of flashing horrific pictures and thoughts. So you sit on the couch like a zombie, exhausted, yet unable to sleep. Many moms I know use mental imagery to stop the thoughts – picturing a stop sign for example – or going to a happy place. Others distract. I know for anxiety I force myself to count backward from 100. In Spanish. I speak enough Spanish to be able to do this but it really forces me to think and distracts me from the issue at hand. I also use music.

At the end of her post, the author asks, “Have you ever battled any of the postpartum trifecta: depression, anxiety, or intrusive thoughts? What helped you to cope?”

Pop on over and let her know, won’t you?

Postpartum Voice of the Week: @MammyWoo’s “Radio Silence”

Earlier this week, @MammyWoo messaged me to let me know she submitted a blog post for consideration this week. I could not wait to read it! Then life happened and I did not read her post until this morning but my sense of anticipation was dead on because the post is amazing.

In it, Lexy is amazingly honest about her experience with Postnatal Depression. She describes waking up to discover that indeed, morning has arrived and is not two weeks away as she wishes. Her 1 year old pokes and prods her to play, but she is unable to respond.

Once again, she’s stuck in Radio Silence, unable to talk, communicate, play, reach out. She’s trapped. “All the little men that live inside my body making things work (I was never very good at biology) have gone on strike and normal service delivery is brought to a complete halt.”

I especially love her reference to being a Postnatal Zombie. It’s so true that when you are in the depths of a Postpartum Mood Disorder one feels like a Zombie. Mindless, numb, drifting dangerously toward nothingness. For some, that numbness is solace. For others, it is a tailspin toward panic. If you feel you are trapped in Postpartum Zombieville, there are some tips for you here.

I remember that numbness. It did not hit me after the birth of our first daughter but it slammed into me during my second pregnancy. There were so many days when I would lock my daughter and I into her room, get her toys out, and then lay on the couch against the wall, staring up at the ceiling. Our 18 month old daughter excelled at independent play not because she was independent but because I was incapable of playing with her. I lacked the motivation to drag myself out of bed and certainly lacked the capacity to be imaginative enough to get down in the floor and pretend a bunch of blocks were involved in a tea party with Princesses. So many days spent on that couch without energy to do anything. Scared that if I did get up and do something it would end tragically. So I stayed. On the damned couch.

All I wanted to do, all I could do, was lay there. Listlessly. Mindlessly. Hopelessly. I did just enough to get by but not enough to thrive. She seemed happy enough. I justified my actions with her increased independence. It’s good for a kid to learn independence at such a young age, right?

Once I had our son though, and managed to have a pregnancy and postpartum without mental health issues, I became angry. I realized that all my “Radio Silence” had done was distance me from my daughters. To this day, I have a closer bond with my son than with his sisters. It is certainly not because I love them any less. It has nothing to do with their abilities as daughters but rather, everything to do with my illness after giving birth and during my pregnancy with our second daughter. I failed them. I failed myself. I failed my husband. I failed. (Hello, Postpartum Guilt. How you doin?)

Turns out these days that I did not really fail them. Both our daughters are brilliantly independent, wickedly smart, and hilarious little girls. They are full of sass, spunk, and determination. I don’t know that my issues with mental health affected the development of those skills or not. I like to think they would be the same way even if I had been a happy healthy mom when they were brand new to the world. Bottom line though, eventually I got help and got well. I may not have bonded with them when I should have but we are bonded now. I cannot change the past but with every new moment and opportunity I can change my future. I can change their future. It is a fine line to walk though because it is very easy to want to over-do it and make up for my past failures which is a dangerous slope down which to slide.

Enough about me though.

Lexy, oh sweet Lexy. I know you feel alone there in your Radio Silence. So many of us have been where you are now. We know how unquietly quiet it is there. We’re there with you, ready to listen. You’re not worthless. All you have to do is let us know you need us and we’ll be right there. Ready to listen, encourage, support, whatever you need from us, we’ll be there. You are not alone.

Go leave her some love and support.

Postpartum Voice of the Week: @jamesandjax Reflecting on PPD

There comes a time in the postpartum experience when you are well enough to look back. It’s challenging to look back. To see the scary so intimately intertwined with the happy. To see a piece of tiny snuggly clothing and then be triggered with anxiety, scary thoughts, flashes of depression – is a frightening thing. Yet, all who have struggled with postpartum struggle with this very issue at one time or another. It’s what drives us to think about whether or not we should have another baby. It’s what casts shadows over our children’s first birthday, second birthday, etc. This.IS.HARD.

This week’s Postpartum Voice of the Week takes this precise issue and writes about it beautifully. The post is short, simple, and to the point. She takes you from happily nursing her child and drinking in his scent to screaming on the phone with her mother about how hard motherhood is – I can’t do this! Yet, through all of that, she still loved her son. During PPD and even more today.

Without further ado, I encourage you to read her story in her words. You’ll be glad you did.

 

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Postpartum Voice of the Week: @ksluiter’s Secret Mommyhood Depression Confession

 

background stock from http://www.sxc.hu/photo/510010

One of the hardest questions a mom with Postpartum Depression harbors somewhere deep within her is “When will this be over?”

A couple of months? A few? More? A year? When? How will I know I am better?

When?

When a doctor prescribes antibiotics, we take them, usually for 5-10 days. And then we’re supposed to be better.

Depression does not work that way. Mental illness does not work that way.

For some of us, just as with any illness, we may heal faster.

For others, it may take some time for our minds to bounce back from the issues we are facing. If we’re on the longer end of the expected time frame, it does not mean there is something wrong with us. It doesn’t mean that we have done something to deserve to continue to suffer. Our road is just longer. We may have more baggage, more to work through, continued external drama, less support, struggling to find the right meds, therapists aren’t working well, etc. There are a whole host of reasons for our road to be longer. Reasons we may not understand in the here and now as we scream for a shorter road. Scream to be able to sit down and rest, to stop fighting with this beast of depression.

We just want it all to go away.

But when on a long road toward recovery, it may not seem as if it will ever go away.

That’s when it gets tough all over again.

Katie Sluiter of Sluiter nation is there. She’s there and struggling with thoughts that her depression may never go away.

This past Friday, as part of Secret Mommyhood Confession, she wrote about her continued battle against Depression. She shared that it may well have gone from Postpartum to full blown depression. This post is worth reading for a few reasons.

One – sometimes Postpartum continues into a full blown depression or other mental illness. Sometimes it doesn’t go away as quickly as we would like it to and sometimes it morphs into a tenacious little monster we are unable to get off our backs. And it sucks.

Two – Katie, once again, approaches this issue with a raw honesty that is absolutely the essence of the Postpartum Voice. Honesty, above all else, is an important element toward recovery. It garners positive support from your doctor, important support from your peers, and it allows you to work through some pretty hard stuff in a very clear cut manner. Once you are honest with yourself, it is hard to be dishonest with others.

With no further ado, I give you Katie Sluiter of Sluiter Nation and her Secret Mommyhood Depression Confession.

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Postpartum Voices of the Week: Janice of @5minutesforMom & @Racheous

This week, I had both a submission of a blog post and another blog post I stumbled across which I could not ignore. Both posts are about looking back at the lived experience of a Postpartum Mood Disorder.

The first post I read was written by @Racheous from Twitter. On her blog, she looks back at her experience as “Cam’s Mum” over the past year.

My favorite quote from her post:

As much as I hate to remember the depths of the negative emotions I felt at first; I know that they play a huge part in how amazingly beautiful motherhood is now and has been for most of my journey as Cam’s Mummy.

The post I stumbled across happened to be authored by none other than Janice over at 5 Minutes for Mom. Entitled “Nine years later — and I am OK,” Janice starts with the baking of a cake for her son. Then she takes us on a journey through her Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. She describes how she went to find a nurse and ended up in tears as she talked with her about the overwhelming anxiety slamming into her even at the hospital. And then Janice does something for which I absolutely love her even more than ever. She writes this:

“Every year, on the eve of my son’s birthday, I remember — like a day of observance. I look at where I was, how far I have come, and how grateful I am.

And I think of how I want to tell every woman who is in that desperate, lonely place that there is hope. I survived. And they will too.”

Not only do both of these posts exemplify the courage it takes to look back and share the story of a woman’s journey through a Postpartum Mood Disorder, they both provide hope at the end. Hope for a light at the end of the tunnel. Both posts also refer to sources of help – @Racheous refers to the Australian Post and Antenatal Depression Association (PANDA) while Janice refers to Katherine Stone’s Postpartum Progress, a website which has helped thousands (if not millions) of women around the globe.

Thank you both for raising your voices and sharing hope. Congratulations on being this week’s Postpartum Voices of the Week. Feel free to grab the above badge and slap it on your blog. You’ve earned it.

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Postpartum Voice of the Week: @mooshinindy

Happy. Glowing. Ecstatic. Overjoyed. Thrilled. Sparkling. Beside herself with glee.

Glum. Dark. Frustrated. Angry. Irritated. Depressed. Guilty. Scared. Anxious.

Which group of the above words do you expect to hear when the words “pregnant woman” hit your ears?

I am willing to bet it’s the first group. Not the second group.

More often than not, you would be right. But sometimes? Sometimes we aren’t sparkling. Sometimes we’re buried in mud and wishing for a hole to climb in somewhere until it is all over. Sometimes? Pregnancy goes way beyond the every day annoyances. Sometimes it takes a huge emotional toll.

I struggled with depression during my second pregnancy and during the first half of my third pregnancy. It sucked. There I was – pregnant. The very essence of survival hanging out in my uterus – and yet.. and yet… I couldn’t muster a smile. I did not want my child. I prayed for the doctor to not find the heartbeat with out third. Because then it would go away. It would all be a dream. Instead of a rollercoaster car clattering uphill for the downhill I was certain would follow delivery.

After our second, I fell into the worst Postpartum hell I have ever known.

After my third? I had picked up the pieces, surrounded myself with support, and advocated for myself. Thankfully, I was fortunate to not experience Postpartum after my third. (A statistical miracle, I was told by Dr. Jeffrey Newport)

Today’s Postpartum Voice of the Week offers up her insight into a subsequential pregnancy after Postpartum Depression. Kudos to her for sharing it so openly.

Thank you.

Now go. Read. Comment. Share your love with her.

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Postpartum Voice of the Week: Raising Little Women’s “The “D” Word”

I loved this piece not only for the beautiful and talented writing but for the inclusion of Christianity into the battle this Mom is currently fighting.

When I was first struggling through Postpartum OCD, I had a Christian background but did not consider myself to be Christian at the time. As I started my support group, I shied away from starting it at a Church so as not to make potential attendees uncomfortable. Then I met Tara Mock, the founder of Out of the Valley, a faith-based Postpartum site. Tara led me to Sue McRoberts and eventually I met Rebecca Ingram. While we all haven’t met in person yet, I admire all three of these women for their strong faith and know in my heart of hearts that God put them in my path to help my own faith grow.

And grow it has.

I was baptized (again) this past April. I have no doubt that whatever has come my way is for a reason even if I do not believe it a the time. It has been so very comforting to finally be in a place where, if something goes wrong, I know I can lean hard on God to take care of it all. Even when I was not at this place, it was not because I had not prayed enough. It was not because I had been a bad “Christian.” It was not me. It was God, carrying me through a storm because He knew what was down the road for me. I am finally grateful for my experience. Do I wish it had never happened? Sure. But it did. So I deal with it I must.

Today’s voice hid her depression for five long years despite having noticed not feeling right after the birth of her daughter, Sarah. She observes her reason why so many struggle in isolation with depression:

Depression is a subject that many people do not like to talk about, especially in the church, which is very unfortunate for those that face this day in and day out. We should be able to come to one another, as brothers & sisters in Christ, and share one another’s burdens. But yet so many people face depression alone.

I believe the cause of this is due to what is being said from pulpits, what is written in books, blogs or spoken amongst friends. I once believed the lie, that if you are struggling with depression 1) you have sin in your life, 2) you have turned your back on God 3) God is punishing you for past sins.

As she moved forward to seek help, she also struggled with these very issues.

I started searching online, found a sickness that I thought I had, went to the doctor, told him what I thought was wrong, and wanted him to fix it. I can’t remember exactly what I told him I thought I had, something about blood sugar. When he told me he thought I was dealing with depression, I fought him on it, and then I broke down in his office. He told me, basically, I was dealing with PPD (postpartum depression) I wouldn’t let him speak the word depression, he finally started calling it postpartum anxiety so I would listen to what he had to say.

She found herself on and off medication for the next few years. This past April she stopped taking her medicine again.

A couple weeks/month later I hit the bottom. Hard. I literally could not think straight, make a decision, or go a day without having a meltdown.  I didn’t want to leave the house, I felt terrible, sick, all the time. To make it worse, all the thoughts I’d had previously, came back. The guilt alone was enough to push me over the edge. Looking back, I don’t know why it took me so long to go back to the doctor. I think I was still clinging to the lies, in fact, I’m pretty sure that was it. I started questioning my salvation. I started doubting everything I knew to be true. I hated myself, who I’d become. I felt like a liar and cheat. I hated that people thought me better than I was, who said kind words about me, I actually, to put it nice, wanted to hit,  and yell at them. Those who told me they wish they could be like me, stay at home, do it all, I wanted to take them up on it, but I just smiled and said, thank you.

I applaud her for speaking up about her experience even if it took her so long to do so. Her story will undoubtedly touch women of faith as they too struggle with their own brushes with depression. We are just human, even if God is on our side. He is there to lean on in the hard times, and will always be there when we need Him most. And ladies? HIS opinion is the only one that matters. He will always love us. Always.

Now go read the whole piece over at Raising Little Women: The “D” Word.

 

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Postpartum Voice of the week: Sue of @SueandFadra at Lives Less Ordinary

As I was clicking through all the Postpartum blog posts from this past week, one stood out.

The sheer honesty, power, intensity, and raw emotion of the writing leapt off the screen at me. I found myself nodding my head several times, connecting with her story. It is a rare thing to find a writer who not only opens up about her experience with mental illness but does so in such a way that she captivates you, drawing you in until it is just you and her words.

You can find her story here.

Sue’s story really started to speak to me when she mentioned her issues with her pelvis. I had similar issues with all three of my pregnancies. It was never as severe as hers but lemme tell you, when your body produces entirely too much relaxin and your hips can barely keep themselves together to keep the baby in, the pain is excruciating. During my first pregnancy, I could barely put on underwear or shoes without weeping from the intense pain. Turning over in bed? Out of the question. I prayed I wouldn’t have to pee in the middle of the night. We had to get a tempurpedic mattress topper just to make it tolerable. And sleeping on my side (ie, on my HIPS/Pelvis) made things worse. My first OB, classic knowledgeable God that he was, simply told me “Welcome to pregnancy.” Sorry dude, but normal pregnancy should not have you in tears as you get dressed. I ended up on self-commanded bed rest the last two months of my first pregnancy because walking around hurt too much. I stayed propped up on the couch with a vibrating heating pad most days and watched TV. It sucked.

My second pregnancy began to head the same way at four months along. New OB this time – I got PT, which helped. Third pregnancy, symptoms showed up at three months. I got water therapy and it? Was a lifesaver. I ended up agreeing to getting induced at 38 weeks because by that time, baby was so low and weighing so heavily on my weary pelvis that I could again barely walk.

Often times, doctors here in the US are misguidedly unaware of this rare pelvic disorder and brush it off as “normal” pregnancy pain/adjustment. But it’s not. And it can disable you for life if handled incorrectly, especially if you have a vaginal delivery and are suffering from a severe case of it as Sue found herself. For most, the pelvic pain does fade after birth but many women struggle with pelvis issues for life. I could feel my pelvis shift in and out of joint after my second pregnancy, especially when driving my car. It was worse after my second delivery. I can still pop it in and out of joint. But lemme tell you, it hurts like the dickens if it’s out. Oh, the burning, the aching… it’s enough to make me want to take a tranquilizer. I am doing much better these days as I’ve been faithful with doing yoga each and every morning. But the issues caused by pregnancy and relaxin will haunt my pelvis for life, I fear. It’s a large part of why I will never get pregnant again. I don’t think my pelvis could handle another pregnancy. Physically and mentally, I am done.

Enough about me though, let’s get back to Sue. This is, after all, her award post! (I apologize for the digression, it’s just so rare to read about someone else who went through similar pelvic issues during pregnancy!)

Sue’s post is entitled “My Voice, My Depression” and with those words, she owns her Depression instead of the other way around. Sue takes back the power which Depression can hold over so many of us.

My favorite passage:

I am desperately trying to get past this time in my life, but I know it will take some time. I have acquired the amazing talent of hiding all of what I have said above from the rest of the word. If you see me on the street you would think nothing but, there goes funny, upbeat Sue. While underneath I an working, fighting and choosing a happier path than I have had the last few years.

These days are hard because I am trying my best to work though them. Emotional work is extremely difficult. It consumes you and can bring your life to a screeching halt.

Sue is in the middle of her Postpartum experience, still struggling, still fighting to escape the fog and the darkness. And yet she has written with such clarity about the journey she is currently experiencing. For that, she is The Postpartum Voice of the Week.

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My Postpartum Voice of the Week: @whodemis – Unplanned

It’s Monday night as I type this. I’ve just arrived home from a small gathering at which Henci Goer spoke. I’m tired. I can’t see straight. But this is important.

I am not sure how Amanda (@whodemis) found me on Twitter. Perhaps through the new friend suggestion feature, perhaps via #PPDChat or another common acquaintance. Regardless, we’re on Twitter together.

Tonight, she posted a very moving blog about her recent miscarriage.

As @KristineBrite wrote about some time ago, there does not have to be a baby in order for mom to suffer psychological distress. A mom who has lost her baby regardless of when, still hurts. And we may not know what to say to her as she struggles to make sense of her world which has just for all intense and purposes, been dumped upside much like a snow globe. All the pieces are still up in the air and she is uncertain as to where they will land.

Without further ado, I want to share her post, Unplanned, with you. Please know though that it is intense emotionally so if you’re feeling fragile and vulnerable, you may want to skip this read.

Amanda  – my heart goes out to you as you move through this. You and your family are in my prayers.

Postpartum Voice of the Week: @Daddysdown

Today’s Postpartum Voice of the Week post was written by my husband, Chris. He’s been through hell right along with me. We have both learned so very much from this long bumpy road. My husband has not only survived my own bouts with Postpartum Depression, he’s also survived his own depression and overcome addiction to Marijuana. He has been sober for two years and counting. I have watched him grow as a father, a friend, a person, and as a husband. Amazing does not even begin to describe his transformation. We have a long way to go and our marriage has been dashed against the rocks more times than we care to admit. But through it all, we have managed to cling to each other and God. Smooth sailing may happen once in awhile but we both rest confidently knowing God will carry us through anything else that comes our way. Recently, he has become more active in supporting fathers as they journey through their own Depression after the birth of a child or through their partner’s depression. Believe you me, he’s got some experience under that belt of his. He just started a blog to share his insight. You can visit him at Daddy’s Down. Swing on by and show him some love! And now, I give you my husband’s words of advice.

“Congratulations on your new baby!” “How’s baby?” How’s the new Mommy?”

Someone I know just had a new baby. These are the questions that I heard asked on Facebook. They are good questions. They are appropriate questions. The only thing I didn’t hear among the accolades and congratulations is “Dad, how are you doing?”. I understand everyone is concerned about this precious new life, so delicate and innocent. That baby needs the love and support. Mom, well she just sweated and toiled through 10 hours of labor, not to mention the nine months of swollen feet, cravings, morning sickness and whatever else that baby growing inside her threw her way. That Mom needs the love and support as well. But Dad often gets forgotten. He is an important part of the equation too. After all, who do you think is going to be there to provide the love and support that baby and Mommy need after all the well-wishers are gone?

Daddy is under a lot of stress to perform. He was probably raised to be a man and not share his emotions. If Mommy and baby are well, there is still stress and adjustment. But if Mommy is not well, and is suffering from a postpartum mood disorder, the stress and adjustment can be magnified. Dad may be handling it all fine, or he could just be faking it. Making him feel like he matters is an important part of the support that he needs during this time. And if Daddy isn’t well because he is suffering from depression himself, as one in ten new fathers do, he is not able to be there for his family to give them the support that they need.

So, here are 5 things that you can do for Daddy to help him get through this time and to help him be there for his family.

  1. Give him a gift. It may sound small or inconsequential, but Mommy and baby have received all kinds of goodies; flowers, gift baskets, stuffed animals. It doesn’t have to be big, but something to help him know that he hasn’t been forgotten.
  2. Offer to babysit so that he can have some time alone with Mommy. Chances are since baby has been born that Mommy and Daddy haven’t had a moment to themselves. Daddy needs some time with his partner, if for no other reason but to have a brief moment of the way things were before his whole world changed.
  3. Take Daddy out for dinner or coffee. Daddy needs to know that his friends and family haven’t abandoned him. Usually family and friends don’t want to bother Daddy when he has a new baby at home. Trust me, Daddy needs to know that even though his whole world has changed at home, he hasn’t lost his friends too.
  4. Encourage him. Daddies need to know that they are doing a good job too. Hey, Daddy may be new to this baby thing, and it is really easy for him to feel like he doesn’t know what he is doing.
  5. Just ask him how he is doing. He very well may not be honest, but he will at least know that you care. Even if no one does any of the other four things, this is one thing that you can do that will go the furthest in making Daddy feel like he is important.

I remember when my first two kids were born. I remember the joy I felt knowing they were a part of me and that I was their father. I also remember feeling neglected and unappreciated by everyone else around me. While suffering from depression after the birth of my second child, this feeling only helped to feed the depression. I felt as if my entire world had been turned upside down, my friends had left me, my family had abandoned me and that I had lost my wife forever. I wish that someone had asked me how I was doing or had given me some time away with my wife or with a friend. It would have gone a long way to make me feel important and wanted.

Daddy has to be taken care of too. Part of taking care of his new family is making sure that he is taken care of. If Daddy is depressed or is struggling to maintain his sanity, then it can make it impossible for him to be there for his family. “Being there” doesn’t just mean physically, but mentally as well.

Let’s just make sure that Daddy doesn’t get forgotten in all of the excitement. His role is important too, and it is most often appreciated by everyone, but if that appreciation is not expressed it can leave Daddy feeling like he is not important. Let’s face it, we all need to feel important.