When #PPDChat started, all I wanted to do was provide a safe space for moms to connect with each other. To learn about Postpartum Mood Disorders and find support. Over a year later, the community it has come to be so much more than my original vision. We talk, we laugh, we go well beyond support and education. We truly are friends. So when a friend is struggling, we band together to support her.
Many of you are close with @signingcharity and know she’s been struggling this week. So I emailed you. And asked you to support her today. Without hesitation, so many of you accepted. Said yes immediately. That? Is Love. And that is why the #PPDChat community is awesome. You are so full of love and nothing but love. You GET where she is, you know how she’s struggling. And I know each and every one of you will have good things to say for her. Things she needs to read and hear. I know today will be a blessed day.
Charity – you have come so far since we first began talking. You are strong even when you don’t feel like it on the inside. You are among the first to dive in when someone else is struggling. Offering advice even if you’re struggling yourself. Your self-care and self-advocacy has grown by miles. You are rocking it, mama. You are an inspiration and I am honoured to call you friend. One of these days we’re gonna meet and hug. I may not ever let you go when that finally happens. Seriously. I may not. We may need a crowbar. Or a greased cat. You’re that awesome.
And now, I’m gonna let the other mamas who have good things to say for you speak. Because well, they want to and they love you too.
Without further ado, I give you our link up for today:
I know you hurt.
Physically and mentally.
I know you are tired.
Physically and mentally.
Know what else I know about you?
I know that you’re full of spunk. Full of fire.
I know that you have an amazing spirit.
You are tenacious.
YOU, my dear, are a fighter.
You don’t give up.
You don’t give in. You keep going.
I know your bat is huge. I know you know how to use it.
And I KNOW that your troubles will have some real big trouble
I love you.
I am here for you.
You, my dear, are not alone.
In fact, you are far from alone.
And there are mamas across the blogosphere sending you lots and lots of love today.
Here are just a few of the posts ALL For you:
I’ve heard from women who have had excellent support from their Mothers. I’ve also heard the exact opposite. Nightmarish stories from women who’s own Mothers told them to suck it up and get over themselves. Motherhood is hard. Get over yourself. Those stories always hit me right in the stomach and make me want to reach through the computer to have a word or two with the mothers of these women.
Postpartum Depression is so much more than facing a tough day as a Mother. It’s debilitating. It’s wanting desperately to love and hug your child while so not wanting to love and hug your child. It’s wanting to not be angry with your husband as you yell at him for not putting the cap back on the toothpaste or something equally as inane. It’s wanting to keep up with the housework but instead all the physical and mental strength you have barely allows you to get out of bed and survive the day. It’s wanting to believe no one else knows the horrible thoughts racing through your head as you try to talk yourself down out of the figurative tree you’ve now climbed all the way up. It’s believing you really are the worst parent in the world but deep down trying so hard to talk yourself into believing you are a good parent despite all the negativity swirling about your head. It’s wishing desperately for the return of hope, sanity, happiness, patience, and strength and the imminent flight of disillusionment, insanity, intense sadness, impatience, and physical weakness.
I’m ever thankful when a woman’s mom calls me or seeks me out for support and education about her daughter’s experience with Postpartum Mood Disorders.
My own mother was very supportive when I was struggling. I never hesitated to call her (sometimes several times a day – thanks for listening!) when I needed to vent. Granted, I probably shared more than I should have and probably still do sometimes. (I’m working on that!) My mother always emphasized the importance of keeping the communication lines open. She kept them open when I needed them most.
I want to hear what your experience was with support from your Mom during your Postpartum Mood Disorder Experience. Did she accept your diagnosis? Help you out around the house? Listen? Help you make sense of life when it just didn’t seem to make a lick of sense? Or did she judge you? Tell you to get over yourself and grow up? Criticize your treatment decisions? Not respect your boundaries as you healed? Or perhaps your mother wasn’t there – for whatever reason – how do you think that affected your experience?
Let’s get to just talking!
We’ve touched briefly on seeking support and how you overcame the stigma of admitting something was wrong.
Today I want to take that topic to a more personal level.
How did your partner take the news?
My husband was so confused right after we had our first daughter. One minute I’d be fine, the next – yelling at him for simple things – like criticizing how he blew his nose or something equally inane. Or one of my favorites – the laughing hyena fits. Oh how I hated those! They hit at the most inopportune time! Him: “My day sucked.” My response: laugh so hard milk I had drank that morning would come spewing out my nose. Yeah, peachy, huh?
Once I kind of figured out what might be happening it really helped us both immensely. I stopped believing he had been born with super powers which would magically allow him to know precisely what (and when) I needed him to do with the baby and he started asking what he could do to help out. Before you knew it, we were navigating the perilous yellow brick road of communication quite successfully! (Did I mention he even talked to his parents about PPD for me? How sweet!)
By the time my second episode occurred, he knew more than enough to recognize old habits and encouraged me to seek help. We did have a bump when I was hospitalized but I think anyone with a loved one with a need for mental health hospitalization would be understandably stressed.
Third time around he was just as big an advocate as I was, knew a ton, and fortunately, sailed right through the experience with me. We were both very blessed to be able to fully enjoy the newborn stage with at least one of our children. That experience is something neither one of us takes for granted.
So – what I’d like to talk about today is how you told your significant other that everything was not alright in New Momville. How’d that conversation go? Did you initiate it? Did they? What was the reaction? What did they do to support you as you recovered?
I do want to take a moment to mention that if you have an unsupportive partner, talk with your caregiver about this. See if you can arrange to have your partner attend an appointment with you so that the doc can explain to them how important it is for you to have support at home. Good support at home is essential to a solid recovery and as your partner, they are on the front lines. In fact, it’s always a good idea to take your partner with you to your appointment because they may be witness to behavior you are not aware of in yourself.
Let’s get to Just Talkin’ Tuesday!
Tonight’s PSI Chat with an expert will take place at 9:00p.m. EST with Susan Dowd Stone.
Callers may remain anonymous and don’t even have to say anything if you so desire.
To participate, just dial 1-800-944-8766 five minutes before the call is scheduled to begin. You must enter the Participant Code (listed below) A maximum of 15 callers is allowed. Facilitators will end the call 15 minutes after starting if there are no participants. For detailed instructions click here.
Here is the entire Men’s schedule for the month of May:
Monday, May 4, 9:00 EST, Susan Dowd Stone, MSW, LCSW (Participant Code 83506)
Monday, May 11, 9:30 EST, Will Courtenay, PhD (Participant Code 56403)
Monday, May 18, 9:00 EST, Susan Dowd Stone, MSW, LCSW (Participant Code 11990)
Monday, May 25, 9:30 EST, Will Courtenay, PhD (Participant Code 52177)
As those of you who are familiar with Postpartum Advocacy know, Mary Jo has worked tirelessly to increase awareness and education of those around her. In fact, along with her husband, former NJ Governor Ritchie Codey, Mary Jo aided in passing New Jersey’s state-wide legislation for Postpartum Mood Disorder Screening education and screening. She also strongly advocates for the passage of The MOTHER’S Act, a bill that will increase funding for research, education, and awareness of Postpartum Mood Disorders here in the United States. Mary Jo has graciously agreed to Share her Journey today with the hopes of increasing signatures to the Perinatal Pro list as well as calls to the Senate H.E.L.P. Committee.
I sincerely hope her words will help spur you into action. Let me put it this way. If you know ten mothers, at least eight of them have experienced the Baby Blues. Two of them have experienced full-blown Postpartum Depression. And these are only the ones we know about. How many other mothers have suffered in silence? Help them break the silence. Let them know you are on their side. As New Jersey’s campaign says – “Speak Up when you’re Down!”
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who is Mary Jo Codey when she’s not passionately speaking out about Postpartum Mood Disorders?
I’m a teacher at the Gregory Elementary School in West Orange NJ. I love spending time with the children, watching them grow and flourish, and to instill a good self concept about themselves so they can take with them and utilize throughout their lives. When I’m not teaching I love to spend time with my husband Ritchie and my two boy’s, Kevin and Christopher. I also enjoy gardening, playing golf and eating chocolate with my dear friend Sylvia!
In 1984, after the birth of your first son, you began to experience some very frightening thoughts and moods. Would you share with us what you went through?
After the birth of my first child, Kevin, I had terrifying thoughts about hurting him. I had intrusive thoughts about smothering and drowning him. Those scary thoughts raced in my mind over and over throughout the day and night. It caused me such a great deal of pain and shame.
After the birth of your second son, with the aid of medication, you were able to have a “normal” experience. Describe the differences. At any point during this second postpartum period, did you find yourself upset about having missed out on your first son’s infancy?
With the birth of my first son Kevin, I had no idea what postpartum depression was. I never even heard those words before. I couldn’t even get out of my bed to visit the nursery to see or feed him.
With the birth of my second son Christopher, I was immediately put on medication which were extremely effective. I was elated that I could care for him and take care of him. I did however feel cheated by postpartum depression with my first child. At times I mourned and felt guilt for missing the first years with Kevin. I remember reporters coming to my home to do a story on me and I was asked if I had any pictures of Kevin. I was ashamed that I could not provide them with one picture of him.
When you first talked with your sons about Postpartum Mood Disorders, what did you tell them? How have they handled knowing about your experience?
I started to talk to my boys about my experience with postpartum depression at a very young age. I made sure that they understood that, it wasn’t their fault and that I loved them more than they could ever imagine. I explained to them that I was sick at the time. I also told them that they were the two greatest gifts that God had given me. They’ve handled it remarkably well.
New Jersey is the first state to enact legislation for Postpartum Mood Disorder screening and education. How did this law come about and what was your involvement in it’s development?
The minute Ritchie became Acting Governor for New Jersey the first item on our agenda was postpartum depression. Which led to “Speak Up When You’re Down.” It encourages women and their families to talk openly with each other and with their health-care provider if they are feeling depressed after the birth of their child. It also provides a 24/7 PPD Help line and postpartum depression information and resources; 1-888-404-7763.
Name three things that made you laugh today.
Watching my friend Phyllis come out of her home with 5 dog’s on leashes and luggage as we were leaving for the airport!
Trying to get on a large tube for “The Rapid River Ride.” After numerous failed attempts trying to get myself positioned on the tube, a stranger approached me and shoved me on the tube finally! He said that he couldn’t stand watching me struggle anymore…well it finally worked!
Calling my friend Sylvia and listening her imitate her Sicilian mother on the phone. Every time she imitates her mom it literally slays me!! It leaves me in stitches!
Senator Robert Menendez, NJ, introduced The MOTHER’S Act earlier this year to Congress. Share with us what this bill would do for women and families.
This bill is so very crucial for all women and families suffering with postpartum depression. It will help provide support services to women suffering from postpartum depression and psychosis and will also help educate mothers and their families about these conditions. In addition, it will support research into the causes, diagnoses and treatments for postpartum depression and psychosis.
Stigma plays a large role in women not reporting symptoms of Postpartum Mood Disorders. What can we do to overcome this stigma and replace it with acceptance and compassion?
Having women share their experience with postpartum depression, rather than keeping it to themselves is very important. To not be ashamed or afraid to speak up to their family members, health providers and women’s groups when they are grappling with postpartum depression. This will help replace the stigma of postpartum depression with acceptance and compassion.
How did your husband handle the changes your struggle with Postpartum Mood Disorder brought into the home? What can new dads do to support their wives as they fight to move back to “normal”?
At first my husband Ritchie blamed himself for what I was going through. He thought it was because he didn’t pay much attention to me because he was too involved with sports. He couldn’t understand what and why I was going through this. He was angry that I asked him to find another wife when I went to the hospital because I believed that I wasn’t going to get better. He never gave up on me! He stayed with me and understood that postpartum was an illness that we were going to overcome as a family. He never stopped praying. New dads need to be supportive and understanding towards their wife who is suffering with postpartum depression. Most importantly, they need to be patient and compassionate.
Last but not least, if you had the opportunity to give an expectant mother (new or experienced) just one piece of advice about Postpartum Mood Disorders, what would you tell her?
Women suffering with postpartum depression need to know that they are GREAT MOTHER’S! Do not worry about not being able to bond with your baby, it will happen. First you need to get well. Most importantly please, please, please don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
Over at Life of a Wife, Nicole shares about her second time around with PPP and asks for advice. If you have any to offer, I know she’d appreciate it. I’ve already emailed her and am keeping her in my prayers.
Here are a few of her thoughts:
Of course when I came home things went back to normal. Bill went back to work, I went back to full time mom. So other than getting meds I’m not quite sure what it helped. I see a therapist and a psychiatrist and I’ve changed my meds around a bit because I was like a zombie. My therapist said that I’m one step away from winding up back in the hospital for three weeks this time so that’s not good. But I just don’t have the help.
Anyone that has ever been through PPD knows how awful it is, anyone who has been through PPP knows how devastating it is. If there is anyone out there who has been through it more than once, I’d really love to talk to them, this is an ongoing struggle. I am not out of the woods yet. I have my good days and my bad and people who haven’t been through it can be helpful but can’t completely understand. I’m looking for any advice here.