Tag Archives: Susan Dowd Stone

Video of Capitol Hill Press Conference celebrating enactment of MOTHER’S Act

As my regular readers know, I typically do not post anything beyond my Friday Soother on Fridays.

But this important and I know you will want to watch it.

The video is 33 minutes long but OH SO WORTH IT.

What a wonderful celebration!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oosq2oQuzA]

MOTHER’S Act supporters gather to celebrate enactment of historic postpartum legislation

Today, at 1130 a.m. EST, a gathering will take place. A gathering that has been years in the making, has had some of the most amazing and dedicated supporters I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, and a gathering that celebrates the thousands and possibly millions of lives which will be saved in the years to come.

Senator Menendez, Rep. Bobby Rush, Carol Blocker, Susan Dowd Stone, Katherine Stone, Sylvia Lasalandra, and several other advocates are gathering on Capitol Hill to celebrate the enactment of the MOTHER’S Act. This is a momentous day indeed.

This past year I spearheaded a blog event to help increase grassroots support of this bill. Several other women also worked diligently to increase support and gather signatures for a petition which was presented to Senators in support of this bill. It was not an easy task. We had opposition. Opposition which attacked us like nothing I’ve ever experienced. They said things about us that simply were not true in an attempt to bring us down and decrease our support for the bill. But it didn’t work. We persevered through their words, through their hatred, through their guilt-ridden tactics. Was it easy? Heck no. But we kept on in the trenches because we had truly been IN the trenches fighting off our own battles with Postpartum Mood Disorders before our births as advocates. We knew what it was like to be tragically alone in that cold, damp place. And we were gonna be damned if we let that continue to be the norm.

Along the way, we proved our compassion for all new moms. We provided resources and supported them as they cried out for help in the darkness of their battle with Postpartum Mood Disorder instead of attacking them for choosing to use certain therapies available to them.We lifted women and families up with love, warmth, and cherished each one of their experiences. We cried with them, laughed with them, celebrated victories and comforted in times of loss and grief. We were there.

We won a good fight.

And today?

Today’s just the icing on the cake – the party.

But beneath that icing, rest assured we will continue our hard work. We WILL be there for all those who contact us, who lean on us for support, for reassurance that yes, YOU too can beat this beast.

Today though, I’m giving you permission to have your cake and eat it too. We’ve damn well earned it.

Blog Day 2009 for MBSMA: Speak up NOW!

Recently, I’ve joined forces with Susan Dowd Stone over at Perinatal Pro to support The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHER’S Act (or MBSMA.

I strongly support the passage of this legislation. I have been out in the cold without resources. It’s not a pretty place to be! I will not let another Mother struggle the way I have on my watch!

On April 20th, 2009, we’re holding an online rally. One we hope will spill over into the phone lines of the Senate H.E.L.P Committee and onto the desks of Senators on Mother’s Day, showcasing the support America has for the MBSMA!

The focus of this rally is to increase signatures to a growing list of supporters at Perinatal Pro and encourage phone calls to the Senate H.E.L.P. Committee in support of the MBSMA.

Grand Central for this rally will be here at Sharing the Journey where we’ll be featuring an interview with Mary Jo Codey, another tireless advocate for the MBSMA!

We’ll also have a list set up for you to register your blog posts. (Guidelines for participation in this list will be posted later this week) Don’t worry, if you don’t have a blog you can still participate by leaving a comment to let us know you’ve phoned the H.E.L.P. Committee. You’re also encouraged to email, twitter, or share the event at Facebook. (Click here for the Facebook Cause associated with this event)

Contact information for the H.E.L.P. Committee, a call script, and a quick Postpartum Mood Disorder Fact Sheet will also be provided. Just in case you’re wondering, no, you don’t have to be from the state of any of the H.E.L.P. Committee Members. It’s a federal committee so anyone can contact them regarding legislation in review.

The MBS MOTHER’S Act needs to be passed now. American Mothers cannot wait any longer. They do not deserve to suffer in silence and fear judgment from loved ones, from their community. They deserve to be educated about Postpartum Mood Disorders so they won’t feel guilty or confused when the harsh waves come crashing down around them after the birth of a loved child.

We’re not asking much.

Just your voice in support of the MBS MOTHER’S Act in one post at your blog. Your name added to the list of supporters at Perinatal Pro.

And in return you can rest easy knowing that you have brought light to a new Mother’s world.

NASW Supports MOTHER’S Act

Susan Dowd-Stone shares the announcement at EmpowHer.com. The importance of this endorsement is that social workers are among the first responders when it comes to therapy and providing aid to women and families in need. You can read more about this announcement in Susan’s own words over at EmpowHer.

Sign the petition in support of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act!

Sign the petition in support of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act!

written by Susan Dowd-Stone

Last year the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance based in Chicago IL, created a fantastic online petition in support of the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act. The online petition generated over 24,000 signatures – in record time – to send an urgent message to Congress in support of the legislation. Thanks to the consistent efforts of Gloria Pope, Advocacy, Public Policy and Training Director for DBSA, the online petition has been reintroduced as of March 9, 2009 again in partnership with Postpartum Support International.

By clicking on this link (or copying and pasting it in to your browser) http://capwiz.com/ndmda/issues/alert/?alertid=12832296 , you will be taken to an advocacy alert page on the DBSA website where you can scroll down, enter your zip code and generate letters of support for The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act to your Congressman, Senators and committee chairs. It could not be any easier!

While U.S. Senator Robert Menendez and Congressman Bobby L. Rush have lent their power and tireless advocacy to the creation of  protective postpartum depression legislation for years, our support and constituent advocacy will add the force of the people’s will to their upcoming efforts. When well coordinated, the internet offers a constituent megaphone not previously available. Fifteen seconds of your time could forever change a nation’s view of these disorders!

The petition can track results from states and even constituencies within the state based on zip code, so will give us great information on where we need to target continuing advocacy efforts. By consolidating the petition on one website, our results are more reliable as truly representative of individual supporters.

With the legislation expected to go for a full house vote within the month before proceeding to the senate, this is a great time to go on the record in support of this critical legislation. Please visit the website and add your signature or individualize your letter today!! Then forward this link to everyone you know – colleagues, friends, family members and community organizations, so our legislators continue to understand the enormous bipartisan support that exists for this bill! We cannot wait any longer for this life-saving legislation to pass! Help make it happen THIS YEAR!!

More irresponsibility from ABC regarding PMD’s

Wow.

ABC has really outdone themselves on the stigma and ignorance angle. Before we go any further, yes, I realize this is a fictional show. BUT keep in mind that ABC approached PSI to attempt to be responsible but didn’t follow through and instead jumped straight through the flaming media sensationalization hoop. Why? Because that’s what brings in the almighty dollar. Shame on ABC for selling out on responsibility.

A quick visit to Katherine Stone’s blog this morning got my juices revving again. And Susan Dowd Stone was not happy about the display either.

Bad enough that Private Practice chose not to air the carefully crafted PSA but they didn’t provide proper direction for the PSA to even address the right thing.

Then, ABC now has a poll up at the Private Practice website asking if a mother who is being treated after attempting to drown her baby should have access to her baby. The answers available? Yes, it would motivate her to get better and then No. Totally insensitive and irresponsible.

And let’s not forget the attempt at being “professional” by Private Practice with their Researcher’s Blog which is supposed to explain the weekly episode with facts, etc. This week’s entry blows. The researcher explains mania and manic behavior yet offers no insight into how the dad missed mom’s behavior. (Hello! Unless Dad knows what to look for and has been educated by professionals around him AND mom is communicating because she too has been educated, it’s very easy for dad to miss the signs and symptoms – I know I hid my symptoms pretty well for awhile the first time around because I knew how I was supposed to be acting.)

Katherine is calling for a boycott of the show and I have to wholeheartedly agree. Pull the Plug on Private Practice and their sham of attempting to represent the medical world. How dare they drop the ball on such a sensitive topic! No voice will have a louder effect than a sudden drop in viewership because that means decrease in advertising and then well, if a show isn’t profitable anymore……. Spread the word – and stop watching.

Sharing the Journey with Susan Dowd-Stone

As the immediate past President of Postpartum Support International, Susan continues to be committed to supporting women with Postpartum Mood Disorders through advocacy and treatment. Susan has been very encouraging towards the beginnings of my work and advocacy with Postpartum Mood Disorders which has been very meaningful to me. As President of PSI, she was aided in the development of a series of PSA’s with CBS that highlighted increased awareness of PPMD’s and has also been very active in support for The MOTHER’S Act. She maintains a private practice, Blue Sky Consulting as well as a website, Perinatal Pro.  Thank you for all your hard work and for being such an influential voice for so many women, Susan. We are fortunate to have such a wonderfully compassionate ally!

Susan, along with Alexis Menken, have put together a wonderful book, Perinatal and Postpartum Disorders: Perspectives and Treatment Guide for the Health Care Practitioner. This book offers a major resource for healthcare professionals, mental health professionals, and medical, nursing, psychology, and social work students who will be confronting this problem in their practices. The contributions, by renowned experts, fill a glaring gap in the knowledge professionals need in order to successfully manage maternal mental health. Click here to order.

Tell us a little about yourself – just who IS Susan Dowd Stone when she’s not advocating for women and families struggling with Postpartum Mood Disorders?

An empty nester, I enjoy teaching and clinical social work. I am ardently involved in the promotion of animal assisted therapy, i.e. exploring and demonstrating the curative powers of our animal companions in therapeutic settings. Through associations with Angels on a Leash and The Delta Society I have initiated and helped sustain AAT programs in hospitals. After the death of my canine partner,I began facilitating a pet bereavement program on a volunteer basis and writing a column on pet loss for the Animal Companion Magazine. Deeply mourning the loss of companion animals is sometimes viewed askance leading to another form of disenfranchised grief. Currently I evaluate teams of handlers and animals for hospital work and live with 3 spoiled dogs and a husband who completely enables this.

I see many human parallels in maternal animal behavior which has broadened my understanding of birth trauma. For example, I watched a show on HBO called “Weeping Camel” about a mother camel who had an excruciating breach birth. When her baby was born after two agonizing days, she rejected it. The movie focused on frantic efforts to effect that maternal infant bond, seemingly to no avail. Finally a shaman was called in to play soothing music while the baby was again brought to his mother. The moment of reunification was deeply moving. Yet, when human mothers suffer greatly during pregnancy, the birth process or its aftermath, we unrealistically maintain expectations of immediate maternal bonding and bliss.

How did you get involved in advocating for women and families struggling with PMD’s?

As a social worker in the Department of Psychiatry at Hackensack University Medical Center, I was charged with guiding the hospital’s implementation of the emerging, but not yet passed, NJ PPD legislative mandates. We initiated a free mother baby support group and invited every mother who gave birth at HUMC to attend. In addition, we developed a postpartum depression psychotherapy program for women identified or diagnosed with a perinatal mood disorder. As the programs facilitator I became more involved in the process and developed awareness of my own isolating experience with the illness, never acknowledged and never treated. I then became involved in a specialty peer group, was recruited by PSI to be their conference chair and then their president. The legislative work continues and I believe we will prevail.

Postpartum Mood Disorders are receiving more and more press coverage these days. Recognition and even treatment options have come a long way but in your opinion, what else needs to happen to improve the current atmosphere and attitude towards these disorders?

We need to spread the message that these are MEDICAL ILLNESSES with true biological underpinnings. It neither signifies weakness or strength if a woman does or does not develop a pregnancy related mood disorder. These disorders have no association to a woman’s character.  Such stigma is crippling to progress understanding and obscures our ability to appropriately respond. The only time we can surely associate character with PPD is through acknowledgement  of the tremendous bravery and courage it takes each woman to reach out and accept needed help.

We often encourage mothers to remember to take time for themselves. What is it that YOU do to recharge your batteries?

Top of the list is spending time with my “baby” girl Julia now 29. Like any proud mom, being in her presence brings incomparable joy which keeps me buzzed long after our lunches or conversations have ended.She’s a  an intelligent hard working entertainment news executive who retains her grace and tender heart. My husband and I hike, read and sometimes just watch the sky. We are easily entertained by simple pleasures.

I find great solace and restoration in nature and try to practice Mindfulness when stressed.  I am captivated by hummingbirds. Their population peaks in August when the babies start coming to the feeders; they do not know fear and will perch a foot away and watch you intently, a truly magical exchange. It reminds me that fear is a learned response. Their long migration every fall to Mexico and return to their same home each spring is profoundly wondrous natural mystery.

I am always interested in new and different therapies used in treating PMD’s. Would you share a little bit with us about EMDR as a type of therapy? What is the basic idea behind this therapy and who would typically benefit from it the most?

EMDR can be a powerful adjunct to psycho dynamic or CBT oriented therapy. It is an empirically validated treatment with solid research to support its application in trauma, but its mechanisms are not entirely understood. Theory postulates that stimulation of eye movement “loosens” traumatic memories held either by the body without conscious awareness, or stored in our brains’s trauma sector (the amygdala) where their reactivation can be stimulated by sights sound and smells associated with the original trauma. This may cause the victim to feel as if they are re experiencing the event and its accompanying feelings of terror and helplessness.

EMDR seems to enhance the conscious processing of such memories allowing analysis and sometimes rapid resolution of troubling symptoms when managed in a secure safe environment. EMDR is especially helpful in supporting recovery from PTSD including war and other disasters. Offered prior to  infant delivery it can help increase levels of tolerance and acceptance in  women who have suffered physical or sexual abuse in the past, or who are fearful about delivery. In addition, it can be helpful in the postpartum for women who have had traumatic birth experiences and are “stuck” in an endless loop of traumatic recollection.

I also use EMDR to “install” positive associations between achievement of new skills and feelings of mastery. As interpersonal challenges often accompany new motherhood, many women are motivated to choose different behavioral options to better parent their child. This offers mothers and clinicians alike a unique therapeutic opportunity to remediate long standing issues.

EMDR is not appropriate for women who are experiencing suicidal ideation, who evidence psychosis, or who are extremely anxious. It should always be offered within a supportive psychotherapy framework AFTER the mood has stabilized and works best in this context as an adjunct treatment to supportive therapy.

What is your philosophy regarding your approach to Postpartum Depression? How did you develop this philosophy?

First, that it is a medical illness with optimal recovery dependent on attention to biological, psychological AND social support issues.

Secondly,  NO TWO ILLNESSES or RECOVERY PLANS are alike. I am outraged when I hear someone discouraging a woman from doing what she, her doctor and her family feels will best help her recovery. The incredible guilt associated with these disorders is often unbearable, increasing and prolonging associated symptoms. Well meaning loved ones can make it worse by presenting comparisons and opinions which invalidate sufferers experience.

This philosophy was developed witnessing the agony of women who felt like failures if they were unable to live up to recovery or treatment expectations set forth by others – including practitioners!!! If one recovery plan is not working, we need a new plan… As one of my therapy icons Marsha Linehan of DBT fame says, clients don’t fail, but treatment can!!

What advice would you give to medical professionals who may come in contact with a mother who is depressed? What are some of the best things they could do for this mom? What should they not do?

If depression is identified at a medical visit, an immediate referral should be given for further assessment, along with respectful reassurance that the mother is “not alone, not to blame and with help she will be well!” (PSI’s motto). This simple early validation goes a long way to mediate a mother’s sense of fear, shame, failure and isolation.

Many medical practitioners do not want to be in the business of mental health as their training and practice may not have prepared them for this additional challenge. But developing a referral list of professionals with a specialty in maternal mental health is both doable and essential for obstetrical and pediatric practitioners. This could lead to greater likelihood of more rapid engagement in the recovery process.

No one should EVER say…”Don’t worry, You’ll get over it, this is normal, go home and enjoy your new baby!! Even if a physician has known their patient for 30 years, all bets are off when rapid emotional and hormonal shifts introduce new and powerful vulnerabilities. The moment for connection is then lost and the silent suffering resumes. Many solid homes that lasted through decades of natural wear and tear on the Texas coast couldn’t survive Hurricane Ike! But we don’t blame the builder!

I feel family support is essential to postpartum recovery. What can we do to foster family involvement in the recovery period?

While we are doing a better job of implementing social support for moms, how about support groups for partners? They often feel ignored in the process and may develop their own feelings of depression as dreams of parental bliss are challenged by a mystery illness claiming their partner while increasing their responsibilities. How about friends and family members who want to know WHAT TO DO. Women often ask me “Can you tell that to my husband, father, mother, sister??”  So I bring in the immediate circle who are often grateful for clear information about what is happening to their loved one and how to best support them.

Family and partners MUST be part of the recovery plan. The social work perspective tells us that without environmental (as well as psychological and biological) adjustments, stressors may continue which prolong the primary episode. My assessment always includes inquiry about what has always been important in this new mother’s life, what she has found comforting in the past. If she rates her spirituality at 10, we explore how to incorporate such options. It’s not just about focus on psychological dynamics, mothering skills and past and present relationships, but on reintroducing the uniquely individual environmental and emotional supports that make each woman’s life worth living.

What is it that you are most grateful for today?

The capacity to love and exchange ideas with others. Solid belief in God and country. Optimism.

And last but not least, if you had a chance to give an expectant mother (new or experienced) one piece of advice, what would you tell her?

Successfully parenting your child requires diligent attention to your own needs. Self care and self love are no longer optional and illusive concepts, but requirements of motherhood.

Ahhh – the irony of it all

I have debated whether or not to post about this but I cannot keep it to myself any longer.

It would seem dear Amy Philo has a blog here at wordpress. Those of you who are fellow bloggers (and readers) know that at the bottom of a post WordPress now includes Possibly Related Posts. Enter irony.

Amy’s prime mission is to derail the passage of The MOTHER’S Act, legislation that if enacted, would mandate screening, education, and further research for Postpartum Depression. One of her posts regarding an article against the MOTHER’S ACT blockers has a link at the bottom. To my blog. To a Post which includes Susan Dowd Stone’s Statements regarding the MOTHER’S ACT.

Yeah.

I love the internet too.

Statement from Susan Dowd Stone about The MOTHER’S Act

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Republicans Bail on Advancing American Priorities Act,

but there is still encouraging news!

Despite yesterday’s senate vote not to consider The Advancing American Priorities Act at this time – which included The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act , the bill will come up again sometime soon.

The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act is not “dead” nor was it “defeated”. While Republicans except for Senators Warner, Coleman and Smith continued their obstructionist ways and chose not to move forward on yesterday’s package of bills, The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act actually has garnered broad bipartisan support. Yet its lead Republican sponsor – Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine – yesterday voted against this package of non controversial bills. I have begun the process of requesting statements from all senators whom voted NAY and I will share them with you.

Meanwhile, click on this link to see how your state senators voted. Then call them with your thanks, or let them know their vote was unacceptable!

But there is good news! The inclusion of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act in this package generated unprecedented coverage by major press agencies resulting in even more attention and awareness of the need for its critical initiatives for mothers, infants and families. We have been deluged with requests for information about the bill, emailed and faxed hundreds of copies taking full advantage of this current national platform to solidify ever wider, bipartisan support for this “no brainer” bill.

We are thankful to Senator Robert Menendez and Senator Harry Reid for including this bill in The Advancing American’s Priorities Act and their determination to end the public health crisis of untreated maternal depression. We applaud their efforts and that of every senator who voted to end needless suffering. The vote was very close. The current national spotlight also refocuses attention on legislative obstructionists responsible not only for suspension of the bill’s progress, but for the lowest Congressional rating in history. The failure of our elected officials to recognize and adopt an initiative as basic and indisputable as supporting the mental health of America’s new mothers and their infants suggests a legislator/constituent divide that might only be healed through an election cycle bringing new blood and energy to an impotent Congress.

While disappointed in yesterday’s outcome, we remain encouragingly galvanized by our widening circle of support, this week’s national attention on our issue and an election which promises to shake the status quo to its core.

Meanwhile, THANK YOU to the 20,000 plus individuals who have written letters, signed the petition and verbalized their support. Thank you to the community of bloggers, who have helped spread the urgent message to mothers and families nationwide. Thank you to the national media outlets who now offer their support for the bill’s adoption and join us in expressing outrage at its further delay. We continue to prepare for the next presentation of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act with a growing force of American families who have waited too long and long enough.”

Warmly,

Susan

Sharpen those keyboards and use those phones!

Ladies! (And gentlemen!)

Get those advocate attitudes revving!

The MOTHER’S Act is set to see action THIS WEEK in the Senate.

So pick up your phone, email your Senator. Let them know that supporting the MOTHER’S Act is a brave first step towards battling this illness that affects thousands of American Families each year. Give these families a voice!

Here’s a clip from what Susan Dowd Stone, immediate past President of PSI has to say:

Today, America’s mothers, infants and families have reason to be encouraged and to reach out to their state senators to again request their support of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act in its final push to passage.YOU HAVE BEEN HEARD and this morning, Majority Leader Reid introduced a package of bills called Advance America’s Priorities Act which now includes The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act. Senators Robert Menendez (NJ) and Richard Durbin (IL) have been working very hard with Majority Leader Harry Reid and Chairman Edward Kennedy to pass this legislation.
These initiatives will be considered over the next week.

Your renewed advocacy and attention is especially welcome RIGHT NOW! We need to continue make it deafeningly clear how important this bill is to women and families all across America.  The online petition in support of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act has been reintroduced and we invite your signature and call to your state senators office. If you wish to write a personal letter, this would also offer welcome support. By clicking on this link you will be connected to the petition and information on how you can reach your senator and sign the petition.  http://capwiz.com/ndmda/issues/alert/?alertid=11668371

We are almost there!! After years of unfathomable and needless suffering, American women may finally get the relief offered through increased research into the causes of perinatal mood disorders, better education of healthcare professionals to identify and treat these disorders, and grants for programs and services to help women to recovery. Thanks for the tremendous efforts which have brought us to this point and your steadfast participation in this final effort.