Tag Archives: social media

#PPDChat 02.08.16: Heart for Moms

Have a Heart for Moms: Submit a quote, a pic, artwork, words, whatever moves you as we strive to share love with struggling mamas.This week’s #PPDChat topic, Have a Heart for Moms, is meant to flow throughout the week. We will have chat tonight, but it’s more of an inspirational chat meant to share motivation and uplifting mementos, quotes, or photos with new moms who may be struggling.

The goal this week? To lift up struggling mamas with our heart, wisdom, and wit. To show them the light at the end of the tunnel they can’t quite see yet. To share with them that recovery is possible – that they are absolutely worth every step and every penny they need to take and spend on themselves to heal. That their HEART matters to all of us.

Love matters to everyone. If you have some heart, wisdom, or wit you want to drop on the partners and loved ones of new mamas, we welcome that too. We want it ALL. We recognize that a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder doesn’t just affect Mom. It affects the entire family. They ALL need love.

So, join us this evening as we lift up new mamas and then follow us throughout the week for even more inspiration. We’ll then share a large collection of all these love snippets on Valentine’s Day here on My Postpartum Voice.

See you tonight!

Oh! And if you can’t make chat, submit your wisdom, wit, and love below. If you’d like to email it (or have issues with the form below), send it to mypostpartumvoice(@)gmail.com with Hearts for Moms as the subject line no later than midnight ET February 12!

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#PPDChat 02.02.15: #DayofLight Chat

ppdchat-02-02-15This status update came into my feed yesterday evening via my good friend Addye. I’m thankful she shared it because it is certainly something I want to support.

The status read (emphases mine):

“Hey All! This Wednesday, February 4th is the 2nd annual ‪#‎DayOfLight‬. This is the day when I’m asking everyone to share their stories of depression on social media. So often folks suffer alone, believing that no one else understands what they’re going through.

Depression is real. It’s not something that can be wished away, and it’s not something to be ashamed about. Share your story on your blog, on your Facebook status, in a tweet, or on Instagram. Pick up the phone and check on a friend. Send an email, a text message or a DM to let someone know that you are there for them.

If you, or someone you know, has been affected by depression, please change your profile picture to black and white on that day to show solidarity to those who are going through it.”

Brandi, the founder of this movement, will be stopping by during #PPDChat this evening to talk with us a bit more about the history of the movement and how folks can participate and spread the word.

I hope you’ll join us and raise your voice with your story. We, none of us, are alone.

#PPDChat Topic 12.09.13: Redefining Happy – The Road Back After PPD

ppdchat-12-09-13

A funny thing happens when you Google “define happy.” You get a return of millions of results. There’s a prominent definition at the top of the results which is standard if you Google “define (variable word).”

It looks like this: Define Happy Google SearchThing is, those are all words.

They don’t capture the journey one must MAKE to arrive at “carefree, radiant, joyous, beatific, contented, etc…” do they?

No.

Words make a difference every single time. We use words to convey our feelings, our emotions, our journeys but we so often forget to dig deeper than the words leaping off the page (or screen) at us. We forget that behind the word “joy” there is a sour grape, lurking down the rabbit hole of the “o” in the middle of the word. Or we ignore the uncompleted circle in the “c” of carefree.

We use words to define ourselves to others in bios, in résumés, and on various other forms. Choose your words carefully for they reflect the journey of your life…of you.

Our words falter when we trip down the rabbit hole that is a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder or other Mental Health disorders. So we dust off our thesaurus and desperately search for happy. But it’s not where we will find our happy. We will find our happy in the battles we fight as we journey back to ourselves.

Join me tonight at 830pm ET tonight on Twitter as we discuss the challenge in finding ourselves again…the challenge of redefining our happy…it’s a helluva battle but it’s one worth fighting every time. See you there!

The Art of Social Media

Earlier today, something happened in my mentions on Twitter that made me go over to Facebook and rant for a few paragraphs. The more I think about it as the day passes, the more I feel it deserves more attention than just a small tirade on my personal Facebook account. It’s a lesson in how Social Media works and not just a rant against one particular person even though it started out as such.

Social Media is a bold new world. Okay, maybe not so much any longer, in fact, some of us are old hat at the methods and etiquette of the Social Media realm. But, for those of us who are old hat, it’s important to remember that there are people still discovering Social Media and adjusting to the lay of the land.

These new residents may not understand how to go about getting noticed and in the process of trying to get someone’s attention may very well break a well-known rule of etiquette. Is it our responsibility, as old-hat, to completely ignore them, or should we take the time to explain to them the proper way of getting things done?

Most of the time, I ignore them unless I have reason not to do so – such as they have made an effort to actually engage in conversation with me. You know, the first word in SOCIAL media. SOCIAL. So many forget this word but it is a crucial word to remember.

According to Dictionary.com, social is defined as follows:

so·cial

[soh-shuhl]

adjective

1.pertaining to, devoted to, or characterized by friendly companionship or relations: a social club.
2. seeking or enjoying the companionship of others; friendly; sociable; gregarious.
3. of, pertaining to, connected with, or suited to polite or fashionable society: a social event.
4. living or disposed to live in companionship with others or in a community, rather than in isolation: People are social beings.
5.of or pertaining to human society, especially as a body divided into classes according to status: social rank.
Nowhere in there does it say that social requires you to yell at or insinuate yourself into the good graces of someone. Although sadly, that does seem to be the case for many these days. I am of the stock which believes upward and onward should happen organically when it is earned by genuine methods, not by skirting the “rules” set forth.

Books, lots of them, of the paper and electronic variety, have been written about the proper etiquette of Social Media. Some of them are right, some of them are just out to make a quick buck. For me, the bottom line to Social Media is to be social yet balance it just enough with the message I am here to provide which is that no one is alone in the battle against Postpartum Mood Disorders.

The very reason I am on the Internet REQUIRES me to be sociable. Why?

Because if I am at all fake, at all not real, and don’t exhibit compassion, honesty, integrity, and knowledge about my message, I have failed. No one will trust me, no one will seek out my help, and I will fail.

I don’t like to fail. (Who does?)

So. I tweet. A lot. About everything. About football. Bacon, hockey, beer, F1 racing, books, sometimes politics and faith, love, life, laughter, and everything in between. There’s a line, sure, because for everyone, there’s a line. Although for some… anyway, I digress. But I am REAL on Twitter and on FB because it’s part of my desired online identity. The more open I am, the more likely it is that I will reach that mom or dad or family member who is struggling and doesn’t know where to turn. My identity, my “truth” factor is far more important to me than any numbers or analytic algorithm.

I have worked very hard to get to where I am in the Twittersphere. Some of it has come from deep heartache and needing Twitter to get through. But the bulk of it has come through developing #ppdchat and being honest about Postpartum Depression.

So when someone who has not put in their time and is not social with me sends me a tweet asking me to share something they wrote, like they did this morning, I get annoyed.

Why? Because I will share if I want to, not because you asked me to do so. I’m also more likely to share if you’ve taken the time to be social and engaging with me as opposed to only tweeting me to ask me to share your stuff when you’re obviously not taking the time or energy to build up your own following. Say hi. Talk to me about more than your business or your blog. Be a real and transparent person. Own your words and your presence.

I didn’t just suddenly “get” over 4k followers on Twitter. No. I EARNED them. I didn’t pay for them. I EARNED them by being social and taking the time to get to know people. I don’t believe in Team Followback or any “get followers quick” scam. Sure, I don’t have daily conversations with every single one of my followers, but I am also not just plugging my blog, my chat, or a product. I am ME and I encourage others to boldly be themselves.

To take blatant advantage of my hard work for some free publicity for your work without being social and engaging first is downright disrespectful of what I’ve worked to do with my image and my brand. I am actually quite picky about what I share on Twitter because of the nature of my targeted audience – moms and families struggling with postpartum mood disorders. Even if your post applies to either, unless I know you and trust that you are only putting forth the best of the best, I don’t just retweet anything out there. To do so would be disingenuous to my followers and ruin the integrity of my identity. I am fiercely protective of my integrity.

I am also fiercely protective of #ppdchat. No one truly “owns” a hashtag, but when you start one, you hope for the best. I am thankful no spam has occurred with this hashtag and people have used it for the original intended purpose. The community springing forth from this hashtag is gorgeous, strong, and wonderful. I hope it continues to be such for a long time coming. I do not take kindly to folks abusing this hashtag.

As I pointed out earlier, Social Media is SOCIAL, it’s not someone standing in a mall handing out stacks of pamphlets to someone saying, “Here. I made this now go give it to someone else.” Social Media is hanging out at a coffee shop with friends, having meaningful conversations and then deciding to share certain aspects of those conversations and ideas born in those conversations.

Social Media is NOT one person with a megaphone. Because if it was, I’d want to smash the megaphone and not have a damn thing to do with Social Media.

Treat Social Media as you would a get together with a close friend and you’re already way ahead of the pack. Treat Social Media as if you’re a street vendor trying to get as many sales as possible and we’ll happily ignore you as we sip lattes and change the world one tweet (and follower) at a time.

(Although this is totally an afterthought and not at ALL a sales pitch, if you want great Social Media Advice? Go follow @ChrisBrogan. He knows what he’s talking about and his latest book, The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise?, is absolutely wonderful. And this is a perfect example of how Social Media works, people. Chris didn’t ask me to share, doesn’t know I’m sharing, I just happen to respect his work, he’s engaging, and BAM. Organic share. Brilliant.)

Thoughts on beginning a #PPDMD Twitter Chat

For nearly a year and a half now, I have successfully run #PPDChat on Twitter. This chat is specifically for moms, families, and their loved ones as they navigate the issues faced while dealing with Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders. During the past few months, a new idea popped into my head as I actively joined in with #hcsm and #mhsm chats on Twitter.

Why not host a #PPDMD Chat? The thought process here, or logic, is to get providers from all walks of practice comfortable with discussing Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders in a setting with other physicians. Everyone from OB’s to Pediatricians to General Practitioners to Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Therapists, etc. Anyone and everyone who is a professional in contact with or has the potential to be in contact with a Postpartum family. If providers are more comfortable in discussing Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders online, perhaps they would be more comfortable in bringing it up with their patients. More adept at recognizing signs and symptoms most professional information doesn’t cover. More inclined to grow referral networks within their communities. Access to others on Social Media in the same field with the same issues is a powerful thing, one which #hcsm, #mhsm, and even #ppdchat have exemplified as of late.

Interested?

Please take a second to vote in the poll below.

Comments? I welcome those too. Let me know your thoughts. What you think #PPDMD should offer. How it could best help Physicians and those in a position to professionally care for mothers and families struggling with Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders.

Let’s get this discussion going. We’ve waited long enough. It’s time to do something.

 

[polldaddy poll=5668893]

All alone in a digital world

The following post is not meant to make anyone feel guilty or wonder if they should have leaned on me for support over the past few months. Everything I’ve done to support others has been of my own volition and if I needed to step back, please know I did so. It’s because of what i do that I’m writing to you today.

It’s been a helluva summer over here in my world.

I’ve not talked publicly about the details and will not do so now but I am now divorced. So when I say it’s been a helluva summer, I mean it. Over the course of this past summer, I’ve had a lot of emotional upheaval come my way. There have been things in addition to my divorce, which, I also will not divulge the details of, but these things have shaken me to my very core. I’ve gone to bed in tears. I’ve screamed. I’ve cried. I’ve wailed. I’ve wondered why I have to wake up. If I wanted to wake up. And yet… here I am.

In Nashville, I arose at 530a CT, made my bed, got dressed, drove to a nearby park and hiked 1.5-3 mi, showered, ate breakfast, made coffee, then onto the job hunt. I didn’t find a job. So at the beginning of July, I moved back home with my parents. Which, hello, humbling.

I lost my drive. My routine. I’ve been job hunting but I’ve also felt frozen. Frustrated. Scared. Rejected. Dejected. Alone.

Me? Alone?

But you’re a well-known blogger. The founder of #ppdchat. Giving. Compassionate. Funny. Awesome. One of the best friends I could ever imagine. Always there when people need you.

Surely you have people.

I have people. But I type to them on the computer. On my phone. They’re electricity, phantoms at best. In person?

I have my parents. People with whom I have been close with from a distance for the better part of the past 11 years. And let’s face it – you really don’t want to sit down and share everything with your parents.

Here, in person? I have no friends. I’ve lost touch with them all and really, at this point, don’t want to reconnect. I haven’t had an in-person best friend (other than my former husband) in nearly 11 years.

Then.

Trey Pennington.

Well known. Over 100k followers on Twitter. Committed suicide.

Alone.

Trey’s death scared the shit out of me.

Why?

Because there have been thoughts. A lot of thoughts.

Oh look. That tree is sturdy. I bet it’d destroy me and my car if I hit it going 70mph. Or… A steep hill… a ravine…. And trees. Surely I wouldn’t survive that.

But the one that scared me into really reaching out to someone?

Standing in front of my bedroom’s second story window wondering if I had what it took to fling myself out of it – at what angle would I have to do this in order to hit the cement wall? How long after I hit the ground would I survive for? Would I feel anything? Surely that pain had to be better than living in constant anxiety and frustration.

As I reached out to push the screen, I recoiled and rushed downstairs. Too close. Too.FUCKING.CLOSE.

A friend had reached out and told me if I ever felt Not OK, to text. So I did. We talked. He searched for some local agencies and found one for me. Today was my second therapy appointment. It rocked me. Hard. I drove for nearly an hour just to be okay enough to come home.

I’ve been wanting to write this post for almost a month now. I’ve been lying to myself. To you. To people who love me. I’m not okay. On my good days, I’m okay. But most days? Most days I’m a shell wrapped around shattered porcelain supports threatening to break any second. I rock, I pace, I can’t get my leg or my hands to stay still. I’ve been telling myself I’m okay, that I can do this, that I’m strong, that I have to make it through this because there’s no other choice but through. I can’t get out of this. It is my life. But – I’m alone in my life right now and I’m not so okay with that even though really, I have to be. There I go again.

Why now? Why today?

Because over the past week or so, I’ve had a couple of friends who have been in the same place come to me for support. I’ve watched myself type things to them I should be heeding but haven’t been. Words I need to live by but haven’t been.

It’s so very easy in this day and age to isolate ourselves. To live in an ivory tower connected to the world only with Wi-Fi. There are walls we put up, a lack of contact, a lack of true connection even if we try to impress upon others how much we care, they are, ultimately, still alone in their private hell. Our words are not three dimensional. They’re not hugs. They’re not “real” no matter how real they may seem or feel to those sending them. You can’t hug an email, a tweet, or a comment on a status update. Well, you can.  But it’s awkward. And you’re still alone in the dark. It hurts, y’all. Like hell.

Trey’s death especially hit home because again, here was someone who was not only connected online but in person and yet he felt so profoundly alone and lost that the only way out he could locate was death.What’s really scary is that from initial suicidal thought to completion, time lapse is typically only 10 minutes. 10 MINUTES, people! Which, in the Social Media Realm seems like forever but in the real world? It’s only 10 minutes. That’s not a lot of time to do anything. No amount of Klout in the world is powerful enough to prevent someone from going through with suicide if they’re truly determined.

I don’t want that to be my way out. I don’t want to be a statistic. I can’t let myself be a statistic. I’m fighting as hard as I can but it’s exhausting. Some days, I may be quiet. I may not be able to handle supporting you. I need you to be okay with that. I need to be okay with that. I need to be okay with not being okay right now and admitting that I’m tired. It’s a work in progress and I suspect will be such for quite some time to come.

I’m not posting this for pity. I’m not posting this for attention. I’m posting this because the more honest we all are about how we feel and the more truthful we are with facing the hard, the easier it is for us to make strides in healing the hard. The easier it becomes for the NEXT person to talk about the hard, especially when that hard is suicide or a mental health issue.

I’m refusing, once again, to remain silent. I hope my refusal to stay silent about this will help someone somewhere.

Know I’m on my way to my new okay. I don’t have a plan right now and I am seeking help. In the meantime though, and especially right after I post this, I’m going to need some time to myself because wow has this been hard to write. I imagine deciding to hit Publish will be even harder. Because once I hit that button there’s no more hiding this from anyone.  And also? I’m supposed to be strong. I’m supposed to be the support. Once I hit publish, that flips. Being on the opposite side of the equation is a bit scary… it’s territory I’ve not been in for quite some time. At least not publicly. Or ever, really, because I didn’t go through my PPD in real-time through my blog or on Twitter. Maybe I’ll just close my eyes and click. Like Pin the Tail on the Donkey except this is Bare your heart and soul to the entire fucking Internet and never take it back. It’s a pebble which, once dropped, will create uncontainable ripples.

Also? Make those connections. Online and off. Lean on them. BE HONEST when you’re not okay. Lying about your well-being only hurts yourself. I am SO sorry for not being honest but it’s hard to be honest with others when you’re not even capable of being honest with yourself. Now that I’m somewhat heading toward self-honesty, I will do my best to be honest with you too. I pray you’ll forgive my dishonesty and understand my struggles. I know most of you will. But I do worry some of you will worry unnecessarily about me as well or even wonder if you’ve done anything to add to my issues. Rest assured you have not, I promise.

I love all of you to pieces and hope you’ll continue to support me as I go through this new and not so stable time in my life. I know you’re going to want to help but a lot of this involves things I need to work through on my own. Just knowing you’re out there to support me as I’m moving forward will be more than enough.

I’m working to find my happy again. I promise.

To be Anonymous or Not…

Tonight I participated in the #hcsm chat over at Twitter. I love this chat. It’s full of passionate healthcare providers and patient advocates discussing the role of Social Media in Healthcare. It’s moderated via the account @HealthSocMed and lately by the wonderful @danamlewis.

The topic tonight debated the existence of anonymous doctors as well as patients within the Social Media world. Is an anonymous source authentic? Credible? In choosing to be anonymous, do we have to work harder to earn credibility? What is the motive for remaining anonymous? Can opening up about your condition as a patient hurt you when you seek employment? Why would a patient choose to not be anonymous?

As a patient who has chosen to be authentic in my presence online, I am here to tell you I do not regret the decision at all. My audacity in revealing my identity from the beginning has emboldened other mothers and families. It’s provided an honest insight into my journey, given a face to Postpartum Mood Disorders. If I had chosen to remain anonymous, the results may have been the same but if, down the road, would everything I worked for be instantly discredited if it were discovered I had used a pseudonym? What if I had done so but had been honest about my reasons for doing so from the start? What then?

Sure, I risk a LOT by using my real identity. I risk future employers reading about my experience in a psych ward. I risk judgment. I risk labeling. I risk my identity. But it’s all worth it when my authentic boldness saves lives. When a mom knows I am REAL and have been through the hell she is experiencing. When a dad knows I understand where his wife is and can offer invaluable insight into her journey. When a sister seeks me out on Twitter because she’s at her wit’s end.

Authenticity is the biggest stigma-buster in the world.

Can you be authentic and anonymous?

YES.

Some of the most authentic journeys shared here at My Postpartum Voice were submitted by those who wished to remain anonymous. Anonymity lends an empowering shield when it comes to mental health patients. It allows us to speak up with such detail and courage we may otherwise shun if we were forced to stand on a stage with a spotlight trained upon us, knowing our words will be broadcast to thousands upon thousands, forever memorialized on the Internet.

My refusal to be anonymous has saved lives. My compassion, respect, and understanding of those who wish to remain anonymous has also saved lives.

Anonymity can be a good thing. Authenticity can be achieved within the realm of anonymity. Credibility – possibly, but you have to work for it as well as be prepared for future fall out if you’re not honest about your desire to be anonymous from the start.

When it comes down to it, we can only decide for ourselves how comfortable we are with letting our stories out of the bag. We can only decide if WE choose to be anonymous or fling our true identity into the ring.

I’m in the heart of the ring. I love it here and wouldn’t leave for the world.

What about you? Are you anonymous in sharing your story? Or have you also thrown yourself into the ring of authenticity?

Guest Post from @SavageLaura: A tale of two sisters & the power of social media

Last summer. It was terrifying.

My heart skipped a thousand beats and my butt barely clung to the edge of my office chair when “I’m at the hospital. I’ll call you back” were the last words my mother said before the call ended. My eyes filled with tears. That lump in my throat, hard as a fist, reached down and wrenched my guts.

Rewind a few months, and I will tell you why.

It was the end of April, 2010 when a pretty yellow envelope peeked at me from inside the mailbox. It was addressed to me; my sister’s chicken-scratch handwriting a dead giveaway she was the sender. The cutest card adorned with white buttons and a pastel tree slipped out of the envelope. A cutesy font read “Your Family Tree is Growing More Beautiful Each Day”. Oh my God. I read it over and over, the blurb “See you in November” on the inside written in the same chicken-scratch handwriting.

Excitedly I fumbled with my cell phone to take a photo of myself, card next to a wide grin, and send it to my sister. Within minutes she was calling. An immediate barrage of questions ensued. “Yes, I really am pregnant. No, we don’t want to know what it is. Yes, I already told you I AM PREGNANT. Yes, mom knew. We wanted to wait until we were past the first trimester in case something happened.”

I was happy for her. For them. Really I was, but I couldn’t push aside some strange feeling that something wasn’t right. I could hear a smile in her voice, but it was entwined with a sort of sadness. Why didn’t she tell me? I’m her big sister… she could tell mom, but not me? My mind tried to recount the last month or two, searching my memory for something I may have said, or not said, or did or didn’t do. She had been quiet. Her calls had been infrequent.

A few weeks later I confronted my sister. She said she’d been a little down, and having morning sickness. And wanting to sleep a lot. She’d been real tired. Ding ding! I asked her about her meds. The antidepressants. I know my sister, and when the depression starts looming her recourse is to retreat to her bed and stay. For days.

At one point she broke down and cried. I encouraged her with whatever uplifting words I could muster. And then I asked her, “Have you talked to your doctor about this? Pregnancy blues are one thing, but you sound miserable. You really should talk to her.”

And that was the beginning of a long, horrible pregnancy.

I can’t even really recall what happened, or when, or why. But I do know that one summer morning I called my mom, her breath strained and that tone in her voice, “I’m at the hospital. I’ll call you back.” I was scared to death. I managed, somehow, to call my mother when she was walking into an emergency room at a hospital three hours away from where she was supposed to be.

My sister had been admitted by her OB. Delusional and suffering anxiety attack after anxiety attack, an orange band was secured around her wrist. Her shoelaces removed. Her purse and its contents taken. She had been placed on a suicide watch.

The psych ward became her world for a week. My sister had access to psychiatrists, therapists, and even a nutritionist due to a discovery of an eating disorder she had hidden for years. They tried all the pregnancy-safe drugs available, supplements, diets and exercise. But it didn’t help. My sister’s downward spiral was in full force and moving fast.

After she had been hospitalized for a third time, their last resort was electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT. Most patients receive benefits from this treatment, especially pregnant women since it doesn’t harm the baby. I was shocked (no pun intended) and buried myself with articles, anything I could read and get my hands on. My mom had quit her summer job and resorted to living with my sister and her husband, desperately trying to hold it together herself. I became my mother’s confidant. At times she would call, and I’d listen to hours of tears and sniffles.

I believe I didn’t sleep more than four hours straight for two months, my sister’s emotional rollercoaster weighing heavy on my mind.

By October, emotionally spent and drained, my sister had been through it all – gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, tremendous weight gain, nightmare after nightmare. Her doctor agreed it was time to induce. At 34 weeks she gave birth to my beautiful niece, weighing 4 lbs 14 oz and a headful of silky hair.

But the fight wasn’t over.

Due to the medications, my niece was unable to eat for 24 hours. Even more depressing news, my sister was unable to breastfeed. My mother still scared out of her mind. And then the news that my niece would have to stay in the NICU for four weeks blew my sister down like a violent midnight tornado.

My sister and her husband finally brought their daughter home, it was so foreign. Here was this baby that was in her belly, but had been taken and cared for by these other women. For four weeks. And now she was stuck, all alone, with this tiny person she didn’t know. Loved? Yes, with all her heart. Bonded? No. Once they brought her daughter home, it was as if she’d stepped in the path of a freight train; her world had been turned upside down as it went from being self-sufficient to OMG WTF I have this crying thing 24 hours a day.

As weeks went by, my sister called every couple of days to vent. Until one day she had called me twice a day, at work, for two weeks straight. I had had enough. And as much as I wanted to say “Get the f**k over it. Put your big girl panties on. Shit or get off the pot”, I knew I couldn’t. And until she decided she wanted to do those things, it was pointless to waste my breath.

Now. I’m going to tell you something about being a big sister. No matter how bad you get pissed off, or irritated, or want to haul off and slug your little sister(s), you still love them with all your heart. When they hurt, you hurt. When they’re happy, you’re happy. But when they’re miserable and can’t do anything about it, you do what ever it takes, come Hell or high water, to open their eyes. To fill their heart with golden love and make their soul sing. You roll up them sleeves and take charge. Why? Because you’re THE big sister. That’s why.

For me, taking charge meant scouring the Internet for hours, looking for postpartum resources until my tired eyes would send me into a migraine. I looked up mother’s groups, even though I knew my sister wouldn’t go. Short of myself driving 12 hours in order to MAKE her go, I knew it was impossible. I have a husband, and a daughter, too.

One day (and I’m still not sure quite how it happened) I was on twitter, when a tweet caught my eye. Someone I had been newly following, a friend of a friend sort of thing, tweeted something about motherhood and then put ‘#ppdchat’ at the end. My eyes got huge. I’m telling you, I’m pretty sure I pee’d my pants with excitement. And being the bossy move-out-of-the-way big sister that I am, I simply tweeted: Need #ppdchat info.

I still tear up about it, like right now, but this simple tweet changed my sister’s life. The power of social media came to my rescue. And somehow I am sure God had a hand in it. It all happened so fast that within ten minutes I had a message from Lauren Hale, of My Postpartum Voice, giving me her email. Within 24 hours I had been in contact with a therapist whose office is located five minutes from my sister’s house. FIVE MINUTES. TWITTER. WOW.

It has taken time, months, and will probably take years for my sister to heal. She is receiving help, guidance, and nurturing to become the mother she has always wanted to be. I know it’s not easy. I mean, I had a touch of depression after pregnancy. Nothing to the magnitude my sister has endured. And I hope I never will.

I do know this. Never be afraid to speak up for someone who can’t. Someone so down and distraught is neither sinking nor swimming, just stuck treading water. There’s nothing to be ashamed about. Do not be afraid to reach out and grab a hand for help. Do not be afraid to try. Do not be afraid.

Go. Do. Be.

Laura Savage finds at least four new gray hairs every morning. At thirty, she still wears a retainer (only when she sleeps).
She has battled migraines, college algebra, ugly prehistoric-looking centipedes, and an addiction to Dr. Pepper. And won. 
Laura currently lives in Southern Colorado with her husband, daughter, and three canine companions.

Whatever Wednesday: I am not my @klout score

If you’re at all active in the Social Media realm, you are familiar with Klout. You either have it or you don’t. You either joke about it or you take it very seriously. Klout defines some. It confuses others. It depresses many more because try as they might, they just can’t get their Klout score any higher.

In the interest of full disclosure, my Klout score is 62. It’s been that way for months now. Not terribly bad for someone who has a niche blog and mostly socializes on Twitter. Thing is, my Klout score means nothing to me.

The people over at Klout lay out how they determine your score on their Understanding the Influence Metric page. From their page: ” The Klout score is highly correlated to clicks, comments and retweets.” They then go on to describe how they test, retest, use machines, etc, to determine your Klout score.

My Klout will never be determined by a machine.

I will never be defined by my Klout.

Ever.

When I started blogging over four years ago, it was for a very selfish yet not so selfish reason. Unexpectedly pregnant with our third child, I needed to reframe my pregnancy after two very serious episodes of Postpartum OCD, depression, and a case of PTSD from our second daughter’s NICU stay. After ferociously reading “What am I Thinking: Having a Baby after Postpartum Depression” by Karen Kleiman in which she suggested reframing your pregnancy in a positive light, I decided to start blogging. I was already active in Postpartum Advocacy and had been for a few months by then. Blogging seemed  a natural evolution for my advocacy. So I went to WordPress, snagged a blog, and began to write.

I knew nothing about social media when I started blogging. Twitter was brand new then and FaceBook wasn’t yet on my radar. I blogged away. I found it helped with the tough days. Knowing I would be able to sit down at the end of it or whenever I needed to and just pour my heart out made the hard things easier. My mind began to rework the hard things into funny things. Karen’s idea took hold. My pregnancy began to be positive despite the initial depression which, quite frankly, made me wish at my first few appointments that they wouldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat and I could go on without being pregnant. For the first three months of my pregnancy I was delusional in thinking that the pregnancy was not real and was instead, just a dream. I did not begin to fall in love with the idea of this unexpected pregnancy until nearly five months along.

Eventually I joined Twitter. I do not remember what I talked about in the early days. I do know that @MommyGeekology was one of the first friends I really made there. (We STILL have yet to meet in person – we SO need to remedy that!) From there, my friends on Twitter grew. I shared my blog posts, found other parents to whom I could relate, and was absolutely not shy about discussing the hard stuff with anyone.

A year ago I really embraced the power of Twitter. I started #PPDChat on the third anniversary of my blog. I had no high hopes for attendance nor did I have any expectations for how things would go once chat started. Would I be talking to myself? Would others want to talk about the hard stuff with me? Who would show up? Would I lose followers for talking about nothing but Postpartum Mood Disorders twice a day once a week? Taking a deep breath, I dove in to the first chat.

Our first chat was small and cozy but the sharing blew me away. The evening chat was slightly bigger. I’ve tracked the numbers with TweetReach after each chat. But again, for me, it’s just a way of keeping record. The world likes tangible. I’m not a fan of the tangible. I measure chats by how many people I’ve reached. By how many people asked me questions. Or how many people took a deep breath and said “Hi. I’m hurting. Can you help me?”

My online presence is not about the numbers. It never has been and it never will be about the numbers.

My online presence is about the love and comfort others feel when they talk to me. About the way people mention me to people they know are or might be struggling with a Postpartum Mood Disorder. It’s about the heart. My heart as well as the growth and change in the hearts of those who talk to me. Watching people heal and grow stronger is an amazing thing. Knowing that you’re a part of it is even more amazing. It’s humbling.

One year after #PPDChat started, we’re still going strong. In fact, to speak to just how much I don’t pay attention to the numbers – I started a closed FB group for the #PPDChat ladies this past week. It’s a safe place where they can express themselves in more than 140 characters outside of chat. (Note here: you MUST be an active member of #PPDChat to join.) In less than two days, there were 50 members. There are now 61. I’m astounded. I had no idea so many were chatting. I truly love each and every one of the moms and dads who come to me for help. I care deeply for them. You can’t put a number on love. You can’t put a number on heart. You can’t put a number on networking that level of compassion.

Yes, I understand why so many put the emphasis on Klout and why it’s necessary. It’s a tangible measurement of your reach. According to Klout, my true reach is 1k. In my heart though, I know it’s so much more – it’s limitless… and it’s only limitless because of those who have reached out to me, found solace, and then shared me as a resource with others.

I am humbled and grateful for all who have sought me for solace and compassion as you navigate the very dark place filled with Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. I can only pray I’m allowed to continue to be a shining light in that dark place for years and years to come…. outlasting even Klout.

Sticks and Stones will break my bones but Words…..

Who among us hasn’t heard this childhood chant?

I used to chant it at my brothers. At others on the playground as they attempted to say mean things to me.

Why do we say it when it is not true?

Words.

Words are more powerful than any stick, any stone.

I have scars on both knees from bicycle and running falls as a child. A couple of them still have dirt and rocks from New Jersey embedded deep under my skin because it was easier for the doctors to leave it in than to take it out. That gravel? That dirt? Has never bothered me a day in my life. Not one ache, not one infection, nothing.

But the chilling echo of the teasing I endured in elementary school because my family did not cough up the cash to belong to the local Yacht club? The teasing because our Green & White Dodge Ram Charger backfired whenever Mom drove us to school? The teasing I endured because my family did not own a Limo or a Porsche? Lingered in my heart and made it heavy. Achy.

The words written by a 10th Grade English teacher on a paper I had written about losing my Grandmother to ovarian cancer – the words which questioned whether I had really not had a chance to say goodbye or if I had just not taken the time to do so? Chilling. Enraging.

The words scribbled on all of my Creative Writing class assignments? Nearly impossible to read without invoking some sort of impassioned response. Sometimes the criticisms of my fellow classmates were even harder to read than the Professor’s words scrawled in blood red ink across every single line.

Words.

Words are the world in which we live these days. They surround us every day. At Twitter, at Facebook, on our cell phones as we text friends, read the news, browse the internet, read billboards, as celebrities attempt to use them to achieve fame.

In our lives, it is not only our actions of which we need to be mindful. It is our words as well. For our words may spurn another into action. Our words may speak to another in a way we are not even capable of fathoming. Our words – if chosen poorly – may even end a life.

If chosen wisely, with care, with love, with respect, our words may snatch that same life deep out of the pit in which it has wallowed. Our words, wisely and carefully chosen, may prove to be the helpline just one person has been seeking. Our words should always be love.

Sometimes this means tough love. Even then, our words should be chosen with respect. With earnest and honest warmth. Our words should always extend an olive branch into another person’s soul even if we do not agree with them. Even if all we want to do is tell them to go to hell. Seal your lips. Do not let such harsh words tumble forth from them. There are those among us who have – and they have gone on to regret those harsh words. Walk away. Breathe. Think. Reflect. Many times the anger you feel is not worth it. Many times the anger you feel is the other person’s Karma, but not yours.

Your words are your reputation, your heart, your very soul.

Recently, a well known Twitter account, @TheDailyLove, operated by Mastin Kipp, tweeted a message which set off a flurry of reaction, including a post at BlogHer by Morgan of @the818.

This tweet included the following words:

“Depression exists in selfish people. Step outside yourself, helps others [sic] & you will feel better!”

Martin has since posted a message of apology and deleted the Tweet. But the damage of his words will lurk forever on the Internet.

I left a comment at his post thanking him for his apology and acknowledging the courage it takes to own up to such an action.

Depression for me was anything but selfish. It was because of the intense expectation to be suddenly selfless, to suffer in the face of caring for others in an intense and unexpected environment that I fell from my white horse of dreamy motherhood into a slathering messy pit of despair. I had no clue what to do, I had no support, I struggled, sought help, was turned away. Here I was, hurting, doing everything right to try to improve my situation yet found myself shot down at every turn. No one tells you at the baby showers about the sleepless nights. No one gifts you a case of coffee. No one warns you that your butt and your couch will become one for three months. No one tells you about the weeks for which you’ll go without a shower. No one tells you about the maddening thoughts that may drift through your head or how the sleepless nights will make your mania that MUCH WORSE.

No one uses their words to tell you, in love, how damn hard motherhood will be for you.

No one tells you that once you fall off that white horse, it IS possible to get back on. Granted, you’ll be a wreck, the horse may have a busted hoof or two, but it won’t matter. Because you’ll be back on the horse dammit. Grass in between your teeth, mud stains on the side of your face, on your satin nightgown, but grin dammit. This is motherhood. You’re required to be happy. Right?

We are all in this together. All of us, all of humanity.

Without love, without mindful awareness of those who struggle beside us, we will be forever lost.

So I ask you. Fill your words with love.

If something angers you, ask why. Respond accordingly but for love’s sake, do not respond in anger. If you must respond in anger, be sure to use it to bring about positive change. Do not lose yourself to hate.

It is simply and utterly not worth it.

Social Media moves quickly. We read, we browse, we share. We often do not think before we type. Just as Social Media can damage a fragile person, it can also build a fragile person up. The reason I started #PPDChat at Twitter was to provide a safe space in which women and families could discuss their issues with others. To talk about Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders in a very public manner with no sense of shame as we chatted and created a warm community full of love, acceptance, yet free of hate, judgment and stigma. I am amazed on a weekly basis as to the level of participation and amount of sharing which goes on at #PPDChat. These mothers, fathers, friends, and loved ones openly share their challenges with each other. Often from private Twitter accounts, personal Twitter accounts, openly talking about the difficulties of motherhood and the complications a Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorder bring into that equation. I love my #PPDChat family. I do not think any of them selfish. I do not think any of them as wanting to suffer. But what I have seen is that knowing they can reach out to others, to be VALUED by others and validated by others has helped them immensely. That said, many are also involved in additional Professional care.

Depression is not selfish.

Depression is helped by reaching out to others.

But as we reach out to others, we must be aware of our own fragile states. We must know when to say no, when to take care of ourselves and be okay with not helping others. If we fail to first help ourselves, we are unable to help others. And yes, THAT is selfish. But it is necessary for us to be selfish in order to improve the help we provide to those around us.

Above all else, we must first mother ourselves.

What will YOU do to mother yourself today? How will you show the world love? How will you be hope? How will you be the light at the end of the tunnel for someone else?

Do not blow out their candle. Ignite their candle. Empower them with words of love chosen warmly, wisely, and carefully.

YOU have it within you to be the spark. Pass it on.

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