Monthly Archives: March 2010

Just Talkin’ Tuesday 03.30.10: Symbols of Recovery

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two years ago today

I wrecked my Mazda.

Without insurance, I went to the hospital on a backboard.

My fingers and toes were numb. Tingly but mostly numb.

I was scared.

It got worse.

After what seemed like an eternity in the hospital, I was released.

Into the custody of a Police Officer.

For not having auto insurance.

Because my husband was addicted to marijuana and had not been paying our bills because he had been too busy paying his habit.

All of this after surviving two episodes of Postpartum Depression.

Giving birth to a third child and FINALLY experiencing bliss. What it was SUPPOSED to be like. Heart Soaring Heaven.

Two years later from that night  – tonight –

I am in my living room.

My husband is sitting in his chair.

We love each other more than ever. We talk more than ever.


WE are strong.

Still not perfect but hey, who really is?

God had to tear us down first and whooo… did he tear us down.

But it was worth it. Oh so very worth it.

Marriage is for better. For Worse. We’ve been  both places.

Better is well, better. But Worse is survivable.

And I am grateful.

SO grateful He chose me all over again.

Today is his 2 year sober anniversary. And our two year brand new marriage anniversary.

Happy anniversary, honey.

I love you more than I can ever ever tell you with words.

Postpartum Depression formal screening not worth the cost, BMJ study says

According to a recently published study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Postpartum Depression Screening is not…. brace yourselves. Worth the cost.

That’s right.


In their cost effective analysis, the researchers used “A hypothetical population of women assessed for postnatal depression either via routine care only or supplemented by use of formal identification methods six weeks postnatally, as recommended in recent guidelines.”

The conclusion was that overall not using a formal screening method was much more cost effective as it eliminated false positives.

So the mental health of a woman which will then affect her child, her family, her community, the world at large, are just not worth it to the National Health System of the UK. The EPDS scored out at about $67,000 per quality adjusted life years while no screening method scored at a price tag of just $20 – $30,000. No value for the money was found to exist when using the formal identification methods.

Did these researchers not read Murray & Cooper’s Controlled trial of the short- and long-term effect of psychological treatment of post-partum depression which explores the effects of postpartum depression treatments on children?

There is SO much more at stake here than the dollar value to the National Health System.

There’s the potential for broken families. The potential for children growing into their own mental health issues, the potential for continued need for mental health treatment due to an undiagnosed episode of postpartum depression, potential for increased incarcerations due to untreated mental illness, continued sadness, the continued stigma, continued and perpetuated lack of education on the part of physicians in regards to Postpartum Mood Disorders.

The most interesting aspect of this study is that it focused on screening for Postpartum Depression in the Primary Care setting. Primary care physicians are not always comfortable or knowledgeable in screening for mental health issues. If a patient were to screen positive, that physician is then morally responsible for referring them to a specialist. Often times, at least here in the states, a Primary Care physician is unaware of where to refer a patient for help with a Postpartum Depression Disorder. Therefore, they become afraid of screening because they fear what will happen if a positive were to occur. What would they do with the patient? Where would they send them? How would they respond? Are they familiar enough with Postpartum Mood Disorders to recognize a false positive?

I think the key to the results of this study is not so much in blaming the high percentage of false positives but in urging that Primary Care physicians receive more training to enable them to recognize a false positive through more in depth questions after a positive is scored via the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale.

original photo/graphic "Hand holding necklace" by K.Sawyer @flickr

A stronger safety net involving a stronger communication between midwives, Obstetricians, Pediatricians, and General Practitioners is so desperately needed to keep women from falling through the very big cracks which currently exist in the system.

Let’s think about this for a moment, shall we?

A woman gets pregnant. She sees a medical physician to get the pregnancy confirmed. Most mothers seek OB or midwife care for their entire pregnancy. Unless they’re depressed – depressed and mentally ill mothers are less likely to take good care of themselves during a pregnancy, making specialized care even more important even when baby is still in utero. Once mothers give birth, they are then shuttled off to the pediatrician’s office for the bulk of their medical contact. One six week or eight week visit to the midwife or OB to ensure mom is healing properly then an annual PAP visit unless something arises in between. Many Pediatricians focus on babies and not mother. But the tide is changing as more and more Pediatricians are taking into account the family lifestyle and well-being. My own Pediatrician does this and I absolutely adore her for it.

But overall, there is typically no continuity of care, no communication between physicians throughout the birth process. There should be. There needs to be. A woman deserves a team of support. She deserves to thrive. So do her children.

No matter what the cost.

Because once you fail woman and her children, you fail society.

Fail society and we fail to exist.

If we fail to exist….

Friday Soother: 03.26.10

coffee cup

"Coffee Cup Reflection" by Jason Tavares

Mourning Coffee

(by Steve Krupnik)

– Ask for help when you need it.

– Take it one day or one moment at a time.

– It is ok to say no when you are not ready to do something.

– Be patient with people who may not understand.

– It is ok to not want to do your normal daily routine.

– Don’t be upset when others tell you how to feel.

– Learn to not isolate yourself for long periods.

– Understand people are trying to help, don’t fault them for trying.

– Talking will help you bring out your feelings and emotions.

– Find meaning in your loss and reach out to others.

– Just because someone is gone doesn’t mean they are not with you.

– Eventually people will stop calling, don’t let this surprise you.

Just when things seem to settle down, grief will visit again.

Learn to accept and embrace it.

Inspire Someone.

Enriching postpartum therapy through at-home activities

In addition to the different types of therapy we discussed yesterday, there are some at home activities you can do (provided your therapist has approved them) to enrich your professional care and journey toward wellness.

First, start a gratitude journal. But I don’t journal. I hate writing! Don’t worry – this isn’t having to write an entire page every day. It’s a simple two entries a day. In the morning, when you first wake up, grab your pen and journal. Write down three things for which you are grateful, no matter how small that thing may be. As your day progresses, focus on what has made you laugh or smile. Once you have retired to bed each night (even if it’s for two hours), write down at least three things which made you smile or laugh during the day. At the beginning, even just barely cracking a smile counts. This activity is two-fold. First, it forces your brain to refocus on the positive things in your life. Second, it provides physical evidence of the positive influences in your life you can look through on the particularly tough days.

Second, write down all five senses on a sheet of paper. Taste, touch, smell, sounds, and sight. Write down five of your favorite things for each sense. Chocolate, silk, a favorite perfume, a cd or song that makes you smile, favorite color or flower or art. Post the list on the fridge. Treat yourself to at least one thing from EACH SENSE every week. Rotate them out. Putting the list on the fridge helps family members and friends to know what to help keep around the house as well. (Sneaky, I know)

Third, take time for yourself. Schedule it if you have to. One thing I love to do is to dress up my lunch. It’s my quiet time of day and I have been known to make a frozen pizza and a coke look like it belongs on a table prepped by Gordon Ramsey. Lean Cuisine never looked so haute. I’ll also treat myself to the routine of making tea. The key is finding one thing you love and making sure you do it at least once a day. Without interruption.

Some other moms will put positive post-its throughout the house and even in the car to help give them a boost when they need it most.

A successful recovery relies heavily on your active participation. If you’re not participating, you’re not getting better. YOU are the most important quotient in the equation when it comes to journeying toward mental health wellness!

How did you actively participate in your recovery? Have any tips for currently struggling moms? We’d love to hear them!

Be sure to stop back tomorrow for the triumphant return of the Friday Soother, my weekly gift to you!