Tag Archives: PSI

This one time at PSI camp…

I had dinner & wine with the lovely ladies of @MotherWoman. They did not let me escape without a tattoo. I heart them. (I really do – I was sad when they left)

I got to hug Jane Honikman and Pec Indman.

I FINALLY met Wendy Davis, Program Director of PSI, in person. She was every bit as awesome as I thought she was BEFORE we met. Possibly even a little more!

I got to share my story in a roomful of women who GOT it. (I totally cried while doing so and then did the one thing I tell every woman not to do – apologized!)

Cheryl Tatano Beck said meeting me made HER day. (And then she told me the next day as she was thinking over the day while falling asleep, meeting me was the highlight of her day!)

Adrienne Einarson gave me a hug and said I embarrassed her with all the lovely things I say about her on my blog. (I won’t be stopping that any time soon because Adrienne does amazing work!)

I got to meet and chat with Brian Shanahan, the CEO of MedEdPPD.

Margaret Spinelli told me to keep up the good work.

I finally met Ivy Shih Leung of Ivy’s PPD blog and she is awesome.

I had a chance to chat with Ian Jones, this year’s recipient of the Marce Medal. He’s been doing amazing research with women who suffer from Postpartum Bipolar and Psychosis.

But most importantly, I connected with several of my fellow PSI Coordinators – women who, like me, are so very passionate about their work.

Women who are in the trenches, supporting families and women as they go through some of the toughest times they will ever face. Regardless of the situation, these Coordinators hang tough as they compassionately educate and advocate for these families and mothers. It’s amazing to watch them in action, actually. Honoring to be one of them. And beyond humbling to have brilliant members of the Marce Society thank us for all the hard work we, at PSI, are doing to support the very women for whom they research.

Last week was amazing and I am so very thankful I was able to attend. Thank you again to my angels and to God for providing such an amazing experience. Just four years ago I was a Mom with a determined heart. This past week that heart got me to the PSI/Marce Conference.

I want to close with something Wendy Davis emphasized so very often in every PSI meeting I attended last week: Everything you are doing today is more than was done yesterday.

It’s true for us as Coordinators and for those recovering. It’s a small goal to do just a little more today than you did yesterday. Today, I’m putting that into practice. Will you join me?

Pittsburgh, here I COME! (Prayer is awesome!)

Prayer is awesome.

So very very awesome.

This morning when I searched for flights at Delta, they were upwards of $400. Even with my voucher, that was way out of my reach.

I emailed my brother, who had said early on that if something came up, to let him know. I felt horrible for even asking.

We emailed back and forth and lo and behold – a $178 ROUND TRIP FLIGHT popped up. With taxes/fees, my flight came to a total of $199. With my voucher, the total was $99. A WEEK before the flight, people!!! And my brother? Said to consider it a Birthday/Christmas present. How totally awesome is he????

So thank you for the prayers.

Keep them coming for food though – still working on that – but I’ve got a hotel, a flight, and conference cost! God is GOOD.


Pray me to Pittsburgh for the PSI/Marce Conference?

A week from this coming Monday I am supposed to be in Pittsburgh, PA for the PSI/Marce Conference.

So far, God has provided:

A scholarship to the conference

A hotel room at no cost to me

But I am still in desperate need of:

Travel arrangements (I planned to drive but of course our cars are now on the fritz and given my husband’s unemployment, we can’t afford to get them fixed) I have a travel voucher with an airline that would help significantly but the remainder of the flight cost is out of reach for me right now.

Food provisions – because yanno, I can’t starve myself while there – that would be highly uncool.

I want to make it clear that I am not asking anyone to provide anything. All I’m asking for is prayers and positive thoughts that my needs will be provided. God has truly been working with me as of late to trust in Him for all things and I am working very hard to trust that He will get me there. It’ll help me so much to know that others are praying as well.

I have to be there as I am co-hosting a Special Group with author Teresa Twomey. We’ll be brainstorming how to create an integrated network of professional and peer support in your area. It’s often hard to connect peers with moms but even harder to get medical professionals to talk with each other as a Mom navigates a Perinatal Mood Disorder.

So won’t you pray me to Pittsburgh?

ABC’s Private Practice misses the mark

Like many other members of the PPD advocacy community, I watched Private Practice tonight. It’s a show I don’t usually watch but tuned in because the storyline had to do with Postpartum Depression. It said so right in the description: Cooper, Violet and Pete treat a woman with postpartum depression. But she didn’t have postpartum depression which affects up to 20% of new moms.

A jump was quickly made to postpartum psychosis and mom was sedated and put on meds that were not compatible with breastfeeding (even though she WAS indeed nursing). There was also no clear cut consent shown to this course of treatment.

Then Violet didn’t want to give the baby back to the mother for fear that THEY would be the ones thought of as “what were you thinking!?” We work SO hard to fight against the myth that a mother’s baby will be taken from her if she seeks help. I can’t help but think about how many new moms saw this show and may possibly avoid seeking help because of this portrayal.

There were a few things they did get right. Cooper pointed out how rare psychosis is and stated that it’s NOT normal. And he’s right – postpartum psychosis affects 1 to 2 moms per 1000 births so no, it’s NOT normal.

And the portrayal of the mom with psychosis? Her behaviors and irrational beliefs? The fast talking and incoherent babbling? Totally on point. In fact, the one scene where she admits to how she’s really feeling got me right there. All of the sudden I was back in bed, curled in the fetal position waiting for my husband to get home. My breath caught and my eyes watered up. I’m nearly three years past that point but man it came rushing back in a heartbeat. It’s SO hard to forget that fall yet at the same time it has become a very empowering memory for me because I know how far I have journeyed since then.

The PSA was missing from the end of the show as well. If you go to ABC’s website and click on Private Practice then go the The Ex-Life (I think that was the title of tonight’s episode), the PSA is the first of the scenes you can select to watch. Hopefully your computer works their site better than mine does – I had two video audios running at once which made it really hard to hear what Amy Brennan (Violet) had to say (and thanks to Katherine Stone over @ Postpartum Progress for working with ABC on the PSA! Good job!)

Overall I have to give them credit for trying. They got a few things right. It could have been better but hey, it is a fictional drama, right? And just as here, not everything is perfect there. I suppose we’ll just have to be happy that they even bothered to broach the topic and consulted PSI in the process, right? Right?

Sharing the Journey with Wendy Davis

Wendy Davis is the glue that holds all of us Postpartum Support International Volunteers together. She is an amazing woman and I have come to enjoy her friendship and support. Since embarking upon my peer support journey, Wendy has been more than willing to answer any question I may have and has encouraged me the entire way. It’s almost been like having a personal cheerleader! I know that I can take anything to Wendy and she will not only listen to what’s going on but aid in coming up with a solution that will work for all involved. Wendy does absolutely amazing work each and everyday and for this, I thank her. I am honored to post her interview today and hope you enjoy reading!

Tell us a little about yourself – What makes you tick?

I am married and a mom of two children who amaze me with their wisdom and humor. I was the 4th out of five myself, and then had 4 stepbrothers. I thrive on relationship even though I am by nature an introvert.

How did you get involved in Postpartum Depression work? What drew you in?

I had postpartum depression and anxiety after the birth of our first child in 1994 and I had no idea what was happening to me. Every negative theory of depression crowded into my anxious brain, and I could only believe that I was a complete failure and that my life was ruined. I thought I had made a terrible mistake by deciding to have a child. I had already been a therapist for 14 years when that happened, and had specialized in depression, anxiety, and grief. But nothing had prepared me, no course had taught me, and I was completely ashamed and frightened. When I did start to understand that I had postpartum depression, I found very few pictures of hope and healing, and that scared me more. After I recovered I was compelled to learn everything I could and to make a real difference for other women and their families. I wanted to make it safe for them to reach out. I didn’t need to reach big numbers, I just wanted each woman and dad that to know that there was hope for them. I wanted to help them learn to see their strengths and healthy instincts.  After I had our second baby three years later, and I didn’t have a repeat PPD, I was even more motivated.

As a Mother, how important is it to remember to care for yourself? What do you do to recharge your batteries when they’re down?

I feel like it’s a continuous practice to remember to take care of myself. It’s not enough to just know I need to do it – I need strategies and reminders. And if I’m lucky, I get positive reminders like feeling good or having a friend ask me out, not negative reminders like getting sick or cranky. I recharge my batteries by taking walks in the beautiful Oregon mist, listening to music, going to visit my mom at the coast, having dinner with my sisters, brother, and their kids. And now that my kids are at the wonderful ages of 11 and 14, I really do recharge by being with them. That’s a great surprise!

What do you find the most challenging in motherhood? The Least?

The most challenging thing for me on a daily level is scheduling time for myself.  The challenges change as kids get older: when they were little, the biggest challenge was having patience when I was frustrated or angry with them. I learned a lot about conflict management and how to express my frustration and anger by working on that. Another challenge is that it’s hard to make time to have dates with my husband or my friends. The least challenging? I seem to have a lot of tolerance for their individuality and creativity and it has always brought me joy to see them express themselves even if it’s … unique.

How did you get involved with PSI?

I had started the Baby Blues Connection in Portland and of course I found PSI as the main clearinghouse for information and support. At first, to be honest, I wanted to do it myself and didn’t know if I needed PSI. (PPD Risk factor: off the chart need for self-sufficiency.)  All it took is one conversation with PSI founder Jane Honikman. I wanted to know her, to learn from her, and I felt immediately welcome and encouraged. That was in 1997, after my daughter was born. I became the Oregon Coordinator that year. In 2005 I volunteered to be the Coordinator of the State and International Coordinators and then I joined the PSI board as the Coordinator Chair. I love our PSI volunteers and I am immensely proud to be volunteering with them.

Awareness of Postpartum Mood Disorders has come a long way. In your opinion, what are some obstacles we still face in gaining even more acceptance and reliable treatment for new mothers who struggle with this?

There is less of a taboo than there used to be, but shame and fear still exist.  I think that it’s hard for people, providers and the public alike, to have positive images of healing and recovery. Our local and federal policy-makers still have the habit of ignoring the needs of new mothers. It’s the same challenge WE have! I am optimistic though, and remain undaunted. Every challenge I see is another opportunity for education and communication. I used to be angry that people didn’t get it; now I’m just busy.

How important is it to have the entire family involved in Mom’s recovery? What can family members do to create a supportive and positive environment around her during her journey towards recovery?

It is essential to have the family involved not only in Mom’s recovery but in the prevention of a crisis. Family members can first gather information for support and care before there is a crisis. Every family that is planning to bring home a new child needs to know where to turn for help if they need it. If mom is struggling, family members can be most helpful by believing in her strength and recovery, and truly listening to her when she is able to tell them how she feels and what she needs. In the beginning, most women don’t know what to ask for. At that time, family can just stay present, don’t judge her, don’t scare her, but tell her you’re there for her all the way through.

You currently serve as the Volunteer Coordinator Chairperson for Postpartum Support International. What advice would you provide to those who wish to provide support to women with Postpartum Mood Disorders? What is most important to remember when embarking on this endeavor?

If you want to provide support for other women, the first step is to check in with yourself to make sure that you are taking care of your own needs. Contact PSI to find out what is going on in your area and how you can become involved. You can contact the office or go to the support map and find your area coordinators. Learn about the great service of social support and what that means. Read through Jane Honikman’s website as well. It is not giving advice or recommendations; it is being a peer who can listen and help women learn that they are not alone, it is not their fault, and there is help.

Name three things that have made you smile today.

This question. Voters. My daughter made a necklace out of a peace sign.

Last but not least, you have a chance to share with an expectant mother (new or experienced) some advice regarding Postpartum Mood Disorders. What would you share with her?

Don’t be afraid to reach out. Know that it is a statistical risk factor to be a high-achieving, self-sufficient person and that it might not come naturally to you to look for support or help. It is a great new skill and made the biggest difference for me between my first and second postpartum experience. What we survivors have learned is that the new strength is the ability to ask for help when needed, even before it’s needed, and to take it in. If you are struggling now, know that you are not alone and that you will get better if you stick to a plan of self-care and recovery. There are many options for treatment – choose what works for you. The universal aspect of recovery is the connection with hope, coming out of isolation, and knowing that you will come through this no matter how severe your symptoms are when most acute. If you need help, we are here to help you find what you need.