Tag Archives: self-care

#PPDChat 10.06.14: Art of Self-Care

ppdchat-10-06-14Guilt over what we should be doing for ourselves often translates into a serious lack of self-care. We forget to gift ourselves the grace we so often extend to everyone else in our lives to those who need it most – us.

I am constantly saying how important self-care is to the journey of motherhood. We HAVE to fill our own pitchers before we can pour ourselves to those around us. If we don’t, we will have nothing to pour into the cups of those we love and soon we will turn to dust.

Join me tonight as we chat about the art of self care through the art of self-grace.

Gift yourself grace, and steep yourself in the self-care you deserve.

See you on Twitter at 830pm ET!

#PPDChat 08.18.14: Self-Care – Lists of Three

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I started this thing awhile back on Twitter, #listof3. It took off and I use it when I get down. Thing is, I haven’t used it in awhile so it’s been stuck on the backburner of my brain. Others have used it, however. It warms my heart to see others using it even if I am not because it’s comforting to see someone else lifted up because of you.

I was reminded of this #listof3 by a #PPDChat Volunteer late last week when I asked for suggestions for chat this week. I sat with it for a few days and decided to run with it today. Her suggestion read as follows:

“Name 3 things you’re thankful for, 3 things you wish your family knew, 3 things you want your kids to remember about you, and so on and so forth. I come up with 3 different things each time.”

We’re heading into that time of year when mamas are sending older kids back to school and schedules are drastically changing. In the midst of this chaos (regardless of whether or not you’re celebrating or missing your little ones), it’s important to remember to take care of yourself and focus on the positives in your life instead of all the little things running you ragged or pulling you down.

I sincerely hope you’ll join us tonight as we discuss our own #listof3, finding gratefulness tucked away even in the most chaotic corner of our lives. Who knows, maybe attending chat will end up on your list!

In the meantime, what are you grateful for today?

I’m grateful for coffee, sunshine, and sleep.

Your turn:

A Few Thoughts On Rejection

For those of you who had the balls to go audition for Listen To Your Mother, you rock. To those of you who made it, congratulations.

To those of you who didn’t – hello, my sisters.

I have seen friends celebrate and I have seen friends react to not being chosen. Of course it’s natural to be upset. In addition to pouring our souls out through words, we then got up in front of others and *gasp* read those words aloud.

The challenge in being rejected is to not take it personally. But.. but… those are my words, you’re thinking! I READ THEM. HOW IS THIS NOT PERSONAL???

Think of it this way – you plan to sew a gorgeous quilt. You need fabric first, right? So you go to a local fabric store with hundreds of choices. You spend hours sorting through the fabric, comparing them to each other and analyzing the appearance of each scrap in the final design. You can’t possibly use every single scrap of fabric in the quilt and end up with the appearance you want, right?

That’s what the people in charge of LTYM are doing – they are creating a quilt of words and they can’t possibly use all the words they hear or read during the audition phase. So they are forced to make a final selection after browsing the most amazing “fabrics” they have to choose from. In doing so, they work to find pieces which fall into a specific pattern, pieces which will work together for the show they envision. So, you see, it isn’t about you at all. It’s all about their job to select the best pieces for the design they see before them.

I went into auditioning this year with the mindset that I wouldn’t be chosen. But if I did that, then why bother auditioning?

Because standing in front of people, reading words I wrote, scares the ever-loving crap out of me. It is beyond my comfort zone. I don’t even read my blog posts to myself after I write them if that gives you any indication of how much I dislike reading my words. I struggle to accept the compliment of “hey, you’re a really great writer!” to be completely honest.

I am genuinely happy for those who made it into LTYM shows this year. It is an honor to be chosen and it takes courage to get up in front of such large audiences and read personal stories. To those who with me in not being chosen – you are still just as awesome as you were the moment before you took a shaky deep breath and stepped inside that audition room (or connected via G+ Hangout or Skype). No one gets to tell you any different. It takes guts to do that and even more guts to cope with rejection.

Below is the piece I read on Sunday morning for my audition. I like it, they laughed, everyone who has read it has told me it rocks. But it just didn’t fit into the show for whatever reason. I’m okay with that because you know what? I’m writing way more this year than I was last year and with each audition, I’m getting better at it. Sure, it’s nice to have acknowledgements and acceptance from others but in reality the only opinion which matters of yourself is your own.

Enjoy reading my audition piece!

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It’s a strange balance, this juxtaposition of womanhood and motherhood.

If we falter even the slightest, it’s as if someone yanked the worst possible Jenga block out of our intricately formed tower and we’re left hoping we’re as brilliant as Raymond Babbit, able to immediately calculate what’s fallen down as well as how to fix it.

As mothers, we are expected to heal everything, know everything, cook everything, be everything. I don’t know everything, I can’t heal everything, I am not everything, but I am able to cook almost everything. Except insects because that’s just gross.

When I was a little girl, I shoved stuffed animals under my shirt in the sunroom of our family cottage over on the Jersey Shore. I’d unceremoniously yank them out after a few minutes (which back then, felt like an eternity), giving birth to my “children.”

Stuffed animals made the best children in the world. They didn’t cry, they didn’t poop, they didn’t throw up….seriously. They were awesome. Plus, how on earth could you be sad whilst cuddling an adorable fuzzy teddy bear?

Fast forward about 20 years or so and there I was, in a hospital in rural South Carolina, about to give birth. It was a bit more complicated than yanking a stuffed animal from under my Mickey Mouse shirt – this time, I was screaming, pushing, and praying the epidural would magically start working on the side of my body engulfed in enough pain to convince me it was on fire.

Then, after 14 or so hours of labor, she arrived. In true Jersey Girl fashion, my oldest slid from the womb giving the doctor the finger on my behalf. I didn’t know what to do with her. She wasn’t soft and fuzzy. She was wet, naked, kicking, and screaming. The advice from the nurse about breastfeeding? Make sure you get the entire areola in her mouth – you know, the brown part. (Gee, thanks!)

I sought help at 12 weeks postpartum for depression only to be told “Hey! You don’t have PPD because at four weeks postpartum, your hormones slid magically back into place! But wait, there’s more…you’ve won a visit with our in-house therapist who will keep rescheduling!”

Swell.

We moved back to be closer to his family and I toughed it out without professional help. Then we got pregnant with our second.

Second time around saw me through over forty hours of labor. Delivery was fast once I pushed. But then, she was diagnosed with a cleft palate and I lost my mind. Medication at 10 days, hospitalization at 56 days, enlightenment shortly thereafter.

I didn’t have to suffer. I didn’t have to struggle. I had forgotten to mother the most important person in my life…me.

Self-care is not selfish, it is selfless. If you attempt to pour a glass of water from an empty pitcher, it is impossible. The same goes for self-care. If you attempt to care for others while not filling yourself, you will give nothing.

My third child was born after a quick and relatively simple labor. I didn’t have any issues after his birth as I did what I needed to in order to take care of myself first. I took care of my little guy and his sisters, but I managed my own well-being at the same time instead of just theirs.

I mothered all of us.

That, my friends, that is the key to mothering. It isn’t in balancing. It isn’t in being the Martha Stewart at the bake sale. It isn’t in knowing how to solve every single issue that may or may not crop up. It isn’t in being the Joneses on the street or even in being the Mom who lets her kid do whatever he or she wants.

The key to mothering is mothering EVERYONE in your family the best you can, yourself included. You are the nucleus of the family, the center of their worlds, and they are yours. Embrace this. Cherish this. Nourish this. In the process, however, remember to take impeccable care of yourself for without this important step, all of this may suddenly disappear into a dark vortex and suddenly, you won’t be in Kansas any more.

Remember Dorothy’s mantra? There’s no place like home. Only in real life, a mother’s ruby slippers are self-care and you absolutely must remember  to click them together….often.

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#PPDChat Topic 11.4.13: Developing Self-Care Strategies

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With the holidays rapidly approaching, it is time to revisit the topic of self-care. As women, we so very often forget to mother the most important person in our lives – ourselves. If we do not take the time to refill our souls and our bodies, we are useless to those around us. Self-care is not selfish, it is selfless for it allows us to give others more when we are giving from full capacity. Just as it is impossible to pour a glass of water from an empty pitcher it is difficult to pour ourselves into others if we are empty.

Go check out this worksheet and rate your level of self-care. What areas are lacking? Where are you thriving? Then I want to challenge you to doing what the worksheet says at the top – commit to improving at least ONE thing from each section every week. Baby steps matter and with the busy holiday season right around the corner, it is important we all remember to give the gift of ourselves to ourselves. While the small things are not at all a FIX for your issues, they matter and they add up over time.

It is also important to remember to care for ourselves during the winter months, particularly if we struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Having moved back north where there is less sunshine during the winter, I am finding this a challenge. Feel free to jump in and share any strategies you may have to combat this common issue as well as discuss the challenge struggling with SAD in addition to PPD may bring.

Looking forward to chatting about the importance of self-care during the fall & winter months at 1pm ET & 830pm ET. See you on Twitter!

Saturday Sundries: When Suicide becomes reality

Saturday Sundries Banner

Morning y’all.

I hope you have imbibed at least one cup of coffee because today I am going to get serious. Life and death serious.

Over the course of my time as a peer advocate/support person for women and families struggling with Postpartum Mood Disorders, I have faced suicidal mothers more than once. Each time it is draining. The first time I faced this issue I’ll be honest – I didn’t know what to do. The first time I faced it on Twitter, I recruited people to support me via DM, reached out to emergency contacts, and the mom connected with someone via phone. It wasn’t me but that did not matter. What mattered was that she reached out and held on to hope. She got help and is still here.

Over time I have grown more comfortable at dealing with someone in a suicidal crisis. Each time it still drains me though. But it’s part of what I do. I am very careful to ensure care for myself during and after an intense time of support. I watch a lot of comedy, exercise, and talk with others honestly and openly. I love that my support asks how I am doing if I’ve clearly gone through supporting someone.

I have had to learn how to help others. I have also learned how to help others deal with very real tragedies resulting from the often invisible illness that is a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder. Right now, our community, those who suffer from, have survived, and fight for those who are struggling, is coming to grips with the events which led to the death of Miriam Carey. There’s a wonderful article over at USA Today dealing with the situation. The article covers PMAD’s respectfully and take the time to differentiate the various types of disorders. If you read any article about what happened, make it this one.

Do you know facts and statistics about suicide? Would you know what to do if someone you loved or knew admitted to active suicidal feelings? Would you be able to recognize the signs of potential suicide? It’s important to be able to do so… think of it as basic first aid for the mind. Just as our bodies can hurt, our minds hurt too. And sometimes? Sometimes we’re not capable of recognizing the extent of the injury until it’s too late.

You are not at all helpless when it comes to suicide. You CAN do something. Start with this list over at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Know how to report suicidal behaviour on Facebook. Program the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number -1-800-273-8255- in your phone.

Start a discussion about suicide with friends. If someone jokes about it, correct them by saying that it is a serious matter and deserves serious attention, following that statement up with facts and statistics. It is absolutely not something one should ever joke about. Ever.

Despite all this, sometimes we lose people. Even if we know all the signs and know exactly what to do. We can’t put our plans into motion if we do not know the plans and thoughts of those around us. It hurts like hell to lose someone to suicide. It is a pain I know well. It is a pain others I know also know well. We can do everything right and still have suicide implode our lives. How do we cope then?

When we have lost someone to suicide, we are then termed as “survivors of suicide.” People who have survived someone who completed suicide. You are not alone in this, not at all. There are others out there who are going through the anger, the frustration, the sadness, the regret, the what if’s… the entire gamut of emotions one goes through after losing a loved one to suicide. There are a few online resources. The first one is at Suicidology on their Suicide Survivors page. Then there is Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors.

There are also friends and family. Some of them may not understand your grief. They may not understand the length of it or the manner in which you choose to grieve. But grief is different for all of us, just as life is different for all of us. Grieve in the manner which feels best to you and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. Let it out, let it flow through you, and process your emotions in the best possible way for YOU.

Bottom line – suicide is not something we need to remain silent about. It’s not something we should continue shoving in a corner and pretending it doesn’t happen. It happens, to everyone in all walks of life. We ALL are affected by suicide.

Let’s get together and talk about it – open up, let people know they are loved, they matter, and we do care. Today, take the time to smile at a stranger. Say hello and ask how they are and mean it – stick around for the answer, don’t drift off into the crowd. Offer to help someone with something. Do a good deed. You may just be the one thing they’ve been needing to brighten their ever so darkened life.

After that good deed? Start a conversation somewhere about how important it is to discuss suicide and the issues that can cause it but also what to do when the mere thought of it is looming on the horizon. You may just save a life doing both. And that, my friends, is why we all matter.

Special #PPDChat Announcement & Guest Post: “How Are You Expressing Your Authentic Self?”

During my time on Twitter, I have had the privilege to “meet” some absolutely amazing people. One of these amazing people is Josh Becker of i simply am. Josh’s spirit and his outlook on life is breathtaking. We graduated from knowing each other on Twitter to being friends on Facebook. Josh is one of those people every single one of us should have in our lives, a soul filled with light, gratitude, and ready to lift you up even when you don’t know you need it. His words have a way of speaking truth about whatever I’m going through right when I need to read them. He’s grown so much over the past years and I am beyond grateful to see him do so. I’m even more thrilled to be sharing him with you this coming Friday afternoon at 3:00pm ET for a special #PPDChat. Josh and I will be discussing the importance of self-talk, about being your authentic self as you journey toward healing and life. I sincerely hope you will be able to join us because I guarantee this is a conversation you WON’T want to miss. Go follow him over @isimplyam and say hi!
Below is a guest post from Josh, an intro, if you will, to the discussion we’ll be having on Friday afternoon. Read, comment, and share. And mark your calendar for 3:00pm ET Friday to dive into a live conversation!

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This is one of my favorite quotes and for good reason. The way we think and speak about ourselves has the single greatest impact over the way we see ourselves and the world around us. Yet from a very young age we’re taught that what others think and feel about us is what really counts. As toddlers we were (very lovingly I might add) given praise from our caregivers for the things we performed well. On the flip side, when we didn’t perform as expected, we heard about that too. There was one question we never heard enough of…
“How do you think/feel you did?”
We were never given the permission to explore our own thoughts and feelings about life. We were usually told that something was good, bad, silly, stupid, smart, dumb, pretty, or ugly without any concern about what it meant to us. It didn’t take long from that impressionable age to know that to feel whole, loved, valuable, worthy, and important we had to go searching for it. Obviously these weren’t qualities we could identify and affirm in ourselves (so we believed). Our caregivers, and those closest to us, showed us these are qualities that you obtain after, and only after, you accomplish something. Even worse than having to “work” for your qualities, they would be judged first by them.
The problem with this model is that these qualities, and many others, are Inherent. That means that you were born with them. You didn’t have to do anything to get these qualities nor could you do anything to have them go away. They were there and have been there your entire life. As we’ve seen though, this isn’t exactly what we were taught from a young age. We wound up mirroring what we learned from our caregivers. If we heard we were dumb, ugly, fat, slow, weak, unimportant, unworthy, or not enough in any way then that is what we knew. Even worse than knowing this, we came to believe it as truth.
Our entire value system was taken from us and placed “out there”. That meant that we were drawn to those that affirmed us and turned off by those that didn’t. So much so that it was literally of no consequence how we valued ourselves. Esteeming ourselves came 100% from the outside world.
It’s one thing to have someone shame  you (any comment or action that makes you think you are “less than”) but we’ve been doing it to ourselves. I’ll give you some examples of ways you might be shaming yourself today and not even realize it…
“Let me get my fat ass off this chair.”
“Oh, I’m so stupid!”
“I’m not good enough to do that.”
“I’m ugly and no one will ever accept me as I am.”
“I’m not important.”
“I don’t matter.”
“I’m not vulnerable.”
“She’s better than me.”
The way we think and feel about ourselves has everything to do with how we treat ourselves (our bodies, our thoughts, our feelings, our minds, and our spirit) and everyone else. Yet, when is the last time you corrected yourself for saying any of the above? In fact, often times you’ll stand up for yourself if someone else calls you stupid but then turn around and joke about how dumb you are after making a mistake.
If our goal in life is to become the fullest expression of who we are then we must change our starting place. Your starting place can’t be, “I’m dumb but sometimes I do smart things” or “I’m so ugly but once in awhile I can clean up nicely” or “I’m worthless so I’m going to take what I can get.” Making this your starting place forces you to express that which you think you are. If you really and truly think you’re dumb, ugly, not good enough, slow, weak, and unimportant then these are the exact qualities you’ll wind up expressing to the world.
The difference between who we truly are and who we think we are is that the latter is what’s always expressed.
I hope by now you see that you are not truly what other people think about you. You’re not truly even what YOU think about you. You are your inherent qualities that you were born with and you’ll always be those things. The question isn’t “Who Am I?”. We already know who you are. The question is, “How can I fully express my Authentic Self?” This begins with your self-love and that is expressed through your self-talk. As the Upanishads so beautifully pointed out, it starts with your thoughts but manifests in your destiny.
You are Beautiful, Intelligent, Creative, Compassionate, Important, Precious, Strong, and Thoughtful. Guess what? There’s literally nothing you can do to change that! So stop trying, stop listening to others, and start reminding yourself what is true and express that truth. It’s in that expression that your dreams, your hopes, and your Authentic Life lives!
What “I am” statement can you affirm right now? Even if it hurts to type it, let me know in the comments what the Authentic You looks like!
With Gratitude and Appreciation,
Josh
Josh_800_600Josh Becker is an author, speaker and mentor dedicated to helping you take off those glasses of false belief in exchange for your glasses of inherent nature. Josh is bridging the gap between the needed healing of our past and the tools necessary to live authentically now and in the future. You can find him at www.isimply.am, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

On Caring for Your Emotions After a Tragic Event

Over the past few years, I’ve grown to be close friends with Erika Krull. She’s an amazing woman and we have a total blast during football season. (Well, except this past year when our teams who RARELY play each other actually played each other. That was painful. But I’ve digressed.)

Erika writes over at Psych Central and is a practicing mental health counselor. We occasionally chat about mental health issues. This week has been no different and I was glad when she asked me, after I posted something on Facebook, for permission to share it with her readers at Psych Central.

I shared tips on how to take care of yourself after a tragic event, specifically in response to the events in Boston on Monday. Turns out they really apply to this entire week because it’s been a doozy.

To read Erika’s article and get some really helpful tips on how to care for your emotions after a tragedy, go here.

Thank you, Erika, for a wonderful piece, and for turning my struggles with Sandy into something meaningful. I sincerely hope it helps someone.

#PPDChat Topic 02.25.13: Outta Steam – Coping on the Hard Days

ppdchat-02-25-13Motherhood, heck, parenthood period, doesn’t come loaded with sick days or days off when the going gets tough. No, we have to steel ourselves to push through it. Sometimes we soar right on through whatever is flung in our direction and then there are times when we feel we fail miserably.

It’s not easy.

With a Postpartum Mood Disorder on board, it gets even muckier. We barely have the energy to fight that in addition to taking care of our children, let alone tossing anything else on top of the flames. So how do you handle it when a tough day (or days) hits when you’re struggling? What if you get sick? What if everyone is sick? Or there’s an emergency family situation? Or..the list could go on.

Today’s chat will focus on these situations. Feel free to join us to vent, share tips, or just hang out. We don’t promise to instantly cheer you up or fix all the tough in your life, but after today’s chats over on Twitter, you’ll know you aren’t alone.

See you there!

 

 

A Postpartum Valentine

February.

A sparkly, shiny, red month filled with nearly naked flying toddlers armed with arrows.

What’s not to love?

Sure, there are regular every day people who moan about Valentine’s Day because they won’t have anyone with whom to celebrate.

rottenecard_33445963_b54n9nhfv8But then there are those of us who do have someone to celebrate with –or are single moms with children old enough to celebrate plus a new baby –and a Postpartum Mood Disorder.

Ugh.

Who has time to put energy into telling someone you love them just because Hallmark says we have to do so? Why this day instead of that day? Just…ugh.

With a new baby in the house, chances are both of you are exhausted. Nobody is sleeping, you want to scream at the world or are worried about everything BUT pulling an awesome Valentine’s Day off. Because let’s face it, when the nearly naked toddler in your life is busy screaming about needing to eat or refusing to cooperate with potty training, the last thing you want to do is make a gazillion Valentine’s with glitter because it will get all over ALL THE THINGS.

I think Susan over at Learned Happiness nailed it in her post for today.

They’ve been celebrating it all month.

Then she points out the bonus of 50% off candy on February 15th.

What’s happier than half-price chocolate? (Okay, half-price wine but I digress).

Today, I want you to give yourself a Valentine.

Do something, anything, little or big, whatever is in your budget, for yourself.

Because today, you matter too and you shouldn’t have to wait today (or any day) for someone to show you how much you matter or are loved.

It starts inside you.

Your Valentine to yourself might just be the pick-me-up you need right now. Plus, you know yourself better than anyone.

Or…wait until tomorrow.

Because you know, all the good stuff will be on sale, as Susan so deftly pointed out.

That’s really winning.

In the Aftermath of Tragedy

There was an event this morning, as I’m sure many are already aware – how could you not be? You won’t find a link to it within this post. It is horrible, and people struggle to make sense of this senseless tragedy as the news races across every platform to which I (and you) belong.

People sharing every shred of new information as the media spoon feeds it to us, commenting on how the media should be handling the situation, what could have been done to prevent it, quarterbacking the chaotic mess from the safety of their living rooms, coffee houses, and wherever else they may be. For some, it may be their job. For others, they may simply be newshounds obsessed with over-sharing the hot story of the day or the moment. For others, they may have followers in the area or live there themselves.

For those of us who struggle with things like OCD which sprung up after childbirth, a disorder of which harmful thoughts toward our own children is a hallmark, days like today are HARD. For those of us who struggle with any sort of mental illness and are triggered by disaster or tragedy, days like today are damn near impossible.

I just spent 45 minutes cleaning the bathroom. Why? Because ALL that was on my timeline at Twitter and Facebook was in regards to the events at an elementary school today and I couldn’t cope with every shred of information overwhelming my otherwise cheery feed. I needed today to be happy. Selfish of me considering it’s horrible for so many in that town?

No.

It’s self-protective.

In this day and age, when we have the most access to information, we also have the MOST CONTROL over what comes into our lives, into our digital lives. If we can’t handle it or we find ourselves triggered, turn it off. Walk away. Go do something productive. Don’t let the chaos swallow you whole.

This is a lesson I learned nearly 5 years ago when, after watching a live car chase, the man responsible exited the vehicle with an infant in one arm, a handgun in his other hand. I don’t know how it ended by that image is forever burned on my psyche.

I have a fast and hard rule – unless it affects me directly, I don’t watch or read the news. I haven’t intentionally turned on a network based news broadcast in years. If I watch anything political, I watch CSPAN. Why? Because I know that I am easily triggered.

If you’re active on Social Media, as I am, please ask yourself before you RT every bit of evidence/news regarding an unfolding story -

  • What’s the point of this RT?
  • How will it help my followers?
  • Do they need to know this?

If you have followers in the area in which the situation is unfolding, then yes, share. I RT’d a lot of information regarding Sandy and resources – even though Sandy was and still is somewhat triggering for me. But if the event will only serve to potentially trigger my followers (most of whom follow me for my PPD work), I don’t RT it. Not because I want them to be in the dark, but because I don’t want to add to something which may already be triggering for them. Instead, I let them know that I am aware of the situation and I’m available to talk if they need. Then I suggest they @ or DM me – because I’m not going to be active on Social Media once an event like today’s blows up my timeline.

If you find yourself triggered today as well, know that there is help. Reach out. Talk to someone. Unplug from Social Media and the Internet if it’s too much. Go do a puzzle. Take a walk. Bake a cake. Coffee with a friend. Playground with your kids. Watch a funny movie or some stand-up comedy. Call your therapist if you have to.

Laugh. Live. Love.

Days like today hurt because they remind us of our mortality and how fragile it is – no one wants to be reminded of that. No one wants to have it shoved in our faces.

Sometimes, as hard as they had it, I think our forefathers had it easier because they didn’t get this sort of thing tearing into their day. Sure they lived shorter lives because they didn’t have access to the medical technology and other technology which extends our lives today but you know what?

I’m willing to bet their lives were happier.

If you are in the U.S. and find yourself triggered by today’s events, please reach out to @distressline on Twitter or call their Hotline (1-800-985-5990) or SMS (text TalkWithUs to 66746) operate 24/7 to be connected with a trained volunteer who can talk you through your feelings & connect you with local resources.