Tag Archives: recovery

1st Annual Postpartum Balloon Release today

It’s here!

The day of the 1st Annual Postpartum Balloon Release! (Oh, and my birthday!)

I was woken up this morning by three of the most amazing angels on the face of this Earth. They all piled into bed and curled up with me, yelling Happy Birthday. My youngest informed me that “Birfday coming up! Birfday coming up.!” Yeah buddy. Today!

Then, as I walked into the living room, streamers and balloons seemed to spring from every corner and crevice. The little angels were there as well, cheerfully batting the balloons about and yelling more Happy Birthdays!

And then, then it started. The rain. And the thunder. And I freaked out. How am I supposed to do the Balloon Release in the rain with thunder and lightning? So I rushed to weather.com and guess what? The weather isn’t supposed to let up. Right now, it’s just grey, not raining. But later, when I had planned on doing my own release (because I’m supposed to be at church but am not because of allergies), the weather is supposed to be WORSE. Lovely.

SO… I am kind of waiting to see what the weather actually does. If it improves, I’ll do my release today. If not, I’ll do it in the morning first thing. That is, if the weather is cooperative.

It’s kind of interesting that the weather isn’t cooperating, actually. That a storm is trying to rain on my parade. Because really isn’t that just like Postpartum Depression? Doesn’t it just sneak up on you and WHAM totally screw up any plans you have for how things are supposed to go? Doesn’t it force you to make new plans? New plans that you may not be happy about but are forced into accepting? I know my Postpartum taught me, albeit the hard way, to learn how to roll with the punches. I wanted nothing more than to give up and curl up into a ball in my darkest days. Back then, it was okay for me to do that. It was okay that I fell apart. Sometimes we all need to fall apart to rebuild ourselves into a new and stronger us. It has taken me almost four years to be able to say that it was okay for me to fall apart. If you’re still struggling, know that your day to say it was okay for me to fall apart is waiting for you. It may not be tomorrow, it may not be a year from now, but it is waiting. It is patiently waiting for you to arrive and is shivering with anticipation to celebrate with you. Today is a celebration of survival. It’s a celebration of struggle. It’s a celebration of US and the stronger US that awaits us down the road. And if need be, tomorrow will be too.

If you’re participating into today’s festivities, please leave a comment here linking to your photos and stories about your balloon release. Feel free to post at your own blogs about this as well. The Flickr group has been opened for public joining – you can access it here: Postpartum Awareness Balloon Release. There is also a Facebook Event Page you can access here: First Annual Postpartum Awareness Balloon Release.

I thank each and every one of you for joining me to celebrating today. It is an honor to be able to share my birthday with so many strong and passionate people. I wish we all knew each other for another reason. But here we are, together, growing stronger, and reaching out to help others do the same. We rock. All of us.

Graham Crackers & PB series will return on Monday

It’s been an emotionally draining week to share my story in such intense detail.

I need to take a few days to myself before wrapping up my story.

The feedback from all of you has been absolutely amazing. It’s thrilling that so many people have found such power and beauty in my words.

It has been such a relief to finally get all of this out in the public eye. I feel free from PPD. Finally. I’ve taken the last step and kicked it to the curb.

I hope you’ll stay tuned and check back in on Monday for the wrap up to my story!

(Once the entire series is published, I’ll create a new page that will link to all the posts for easier navigation.)

Just Talkin’ Tuesday 03.30.10: Symbols of Recovery

“Cool ring,” she said, catching me completely off-guard.

I managed to mumble a thank you once I realized it wasn’t my plain gold band about which she was talking.

On my left hand, I wear a silver butterfly ring. It’s a symbol of how far I have come. I know in my heart I’m recovered. But it’s nice to have a symbol.

I also have an African Violet plant in my kitchen given to me by my brother and sister in law on the Mother’s Day shortly before my hospitalization. Back then I did not really want to take care of it, much like I did not want to take care of myself, my family, anything. But now? Now we are all thriving and it is too. I recently replanted it, actually. The thing is monstrous!

Much like holidays have their own symbolism, each one of us may have a symbol we have come to associate with recovery or our journey toward wellness.

What’s yours? What are you holding on to when nothing else seems to help? Is there a story behind it? Share it with us.

Michael Phelps and Marijuana

The story broke over the weekend – Michael Phelps used marijuana. A photo of him using a bong led to his admission of pot use. It will damage his career, his endorsements, his reputation. It has probably hurt those around him and affected their ability to trust anything he says or does. How do I know that other than the fact that every single news article states these facts?

I know this because I am married to a recovering marijuana addict. My husband has worked very hard at his sobriety over the past 10 months. Along the way we have had pitfalls and are just now realizing how much damage his addiction has done to our marriage and to his habits. He’s got nearly 23 years of addiction related habit developments to undo. I am proud of how far he has come and how much he has done to prove his dedication to our family and our marriage.

My heart goes out to Michael’s family, to Michael, to his friends. I can only hope that this will serve as his wake-up call and allow him to leave the pot use behind. I know this is a hard thing to do and I will be praying that God is using this as an opportunity to work with him. I wish Michael all the best as he deals with his addiction.

A Closer Look at Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

 

Why write about Charlotte Perkins Gilman at a blog about Postpartum Depression you might ask. She suffered a near nervous breakdown after the birth of her first child, leading her to author The Yellow Wallpaper, an intense short story about a woman’s treatment during a nervous breakdown, a story that one led a Boston Physician to state in The Transcript that “Such a story ought not to be written, he said; it was enough to drive anyone mad to read it.” Possibly so, but a physician from Kansas also wrote that “it was the best description of incipient insanity he had ever seen, and–begging my pardon–had I been there?” (Perkins Gilman)

Sadly, her nervous breakdown led to divorce and leaving her daughter in the custody of her ex-husband. Turning to writing as a way of earning money,  Gilman eventually found herself as a spokesperson regarding “women’s perspectives on work and family.” Perkins Gilman believed that men and women should share household duties and particularly that women should be taught to be economically independent from a very early age (DeGrazia, Jodi), a topic she focused on in her work, Women and Economics, penned in 1898.

The Yellow Wallpaper has been a favorite story of mine since first read, love at first words. I identified with the main character well before experiencing motherhood and my own brush with insanity shortly thereafter. Perkins Gilman did an exquisite job of breathing a realistic insanity into her main character as well as exposing the mental health diagnoses and “cures” of the day for what they truly were – sadly insufficient and ignorant of treating the illness and instead closeting away those who suffered in hopes of recovery or at least not be part of mainstream society and  therefore remain to be a “figment” of one’s imagination, the dark family secret.

In 1887, Perkins Gilman sought treatment for continuous nervous breakdown from the best kThe Yellow Wallpapernown nervous specialist in the country. The rest cure applied and she responded well physically; however, the physician then declared all was well; sending her home with “solemn advice to ‘live as domestic a life as far as possible,’ to ‘have but two hours’ intellectual life a day,’ and ‘never to touch pen, brush, or pencil again’ ” for the remainder of her days. Gilman then writes regarding the effectiveness of this advice, saying “I went home and obeyed those directions for some three months, and came so near the borderline of utter mental ruin that I could see over.” (Perkins Gilman)

Engaging the help of a close friend and gathering what strength she had left, Perkins Gilman picked up her artistic work again and began to recover, finding strength within her work and “ultimately recovering some measure of power.” This experience is what led her to write The Yellow Wallpaper. Perkins Gilman admits to embellishments, stating she “never had hallucinations or objections to my mural decorations”. Written as a celebration of return to her success, her true motivation behind sharing her story, albeit in a fictional world, lay within the hope of saving others from her fate of mistreatment and the nearly paralyzing insanity following soon after.

In Perkin Gilman’s own words regarding her authorship of The Yellow Wallpaper, she states:

It has, to my knowledge, saved one woman from a similar fate–so terrifying her family that they let her out into normal activity and she recovered.

 But the best result is this. Many years later I was told that the great specialist had admitted to friends of his that he had altered his treatment of neurasthenia since reading The Yellow Wallpaper.

 It was not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked.

The number one reason I hear when women have chosen to share their experience with a Postpartum Mood Disorder is the hope that it will provide comfort to another as she travels down the same road. It is with the same spirit Perkins Gilman penned The Yellow Wallpaper that I share my story. Recovery is a hard road and sometimes a lonely road. I said from the very beginning of reaching out to others with a helping hand that if I could help even one woman, it would all be worth it.

The screaming, the agony, the tears, the lifting of the fog – it would all begin to somehow make sense and instead of continuing to drag me down, it would lift me up. The fog did not begin to lift until I reached out for help and found it – drenching myself in the stories of others who had been where I no longer wanted to be and read with new understanding and an intensity I had never known before just how they were able to escape the depths of depression and reach the light, breathing in sweet fresh air again.

Determined to shine a light on the path for those behind me and around me, I dove full force into sharing my story. Every time I shared my experiences with a woman who believed she had no hope left and found herself ashamed of her condition and witnessed what an impact my openness and vulnerability had on her, I knew supporting Mothers was my calling.

So I write about Charlotte Perkins Gilman in order to better explain my mission here at this blog and in life. I refuse to let another woman suffer alone and in silence. Not on my watch.