Time Article Off the Mark….But What Else Is New?

I know I said my next post was going to be about the importance of sleep for postpartum moms, but there are times that I cannot wait to get my thoughts–not to mention anger–out of my system (and onto this blog…after all, that’s what my blog’s for…to vent and share my thoughts with others).  What’s got me riled up this time?  I’ll let you guess (but then again, my title is a give-away, isn’t it?).   As many of my friends (and blog followers know), my #1 anger trigger is when people say things out of ignorance/stupidity/condescension/racism.   What falls under this category of anger triggers is when the media wastes its ability to reach out to mass audiences with the truth, and instead focuses on one thing, which is to generate sales and attract attention while distorting the truth and adding to the misconceptions (or myths) that exist about motherhood and postpartum depression (PPD).  

Check out  the Time article I am ranting about.  It’s about the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act.  And here is my letter that I sent to the editor on Friday in response.  I am sharing this with you because, quite frankly, I doubt anyone at Time would pay any attention to it.  Why would they?  After all, they chose not to include my interview in the article because I don’t say things that shock and disturb.  I’m only telling the truth from a PPD survivor’s perspective, who has taken on blogging and writing a book to join the growing numbers of women who are gaining the courage to share their experiences with others.

– – – – – – –

Frankly, I am shocked and dismayed at this article, which shows a completely one-sided view with respect to the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act.  Catherine Elton only named an opponent but no advocates, despite the fact that she interviewed me and a couple of other PPD survivors who are active on the PPD blogging scene.  By failing to mention advocates, you are giving—whether intended or not—the appearance of a lack of support for this bill, particularly of women who happened to survive a perinatal mood disorder, happen to have their eyes wide open, and can see clearly how this bill would bring us from out of the Dark Ages and into the 21st century in terms of public awareness and once and for all ending the myths that keep women suffering unnecessarily in silence.  

Passage of this legislation would benefit thousands of mothers in this country each year through an increase in public awareness campaigns, education, support services, and research to ensure early detection and treatment of perinatal mood disorders.   Those with a strictly anti-pharma agenda fail to see what this bill is truly about.  They are letting their hatred of medications cloud their ability to see the benefits and, even worse, imagine things that don’t even exist in the language of the bill—i.e., forced screening and drugging of expectant mothers. 

I am shocked that you would consider this fair and accurate reporting. This is but another example of another opportunity to educate the public about PPD completely wasted with attention-getting headlines and a biased focus that serve to prevent progress that’s so desperately needed with respect to public awareness of PPD.  If you think this article is helping mothers out there, you are dreadfully mistaken. 

– – – – – – –

By writing an article about this bill, Time should have done so with all sides equally represented.  There ARE MANY supporters of this bill that are PPD survivors and friends and family members that saw what these women had to suffer through, and totally support this legislation.  Such a one-sided view, as this article was written in, only shows there might be some kind of bias on the part of the editor and/or author.  Makes you kind of think there is a hidden agenda….

It’s a shame that words of hate and anger on the part of the bill opponents–so much louder and attention-getting because they are so much more frightening (not in a good way, mind you)–can easily distort the truth.  In the long run, all this does is work against the very people this bill is trying to help…MOTHERS.


14 thoughts on “Time Article Off the Mark….But What Else Is New?

  1. I actually am very knowledgeable on the topic of benzo and hypnotic (of which Ambien is one) effects, knowing a lot more about them than most “healthcare experts” having worked with a number of withdrawal consultants and benzo victims. Ambien works exactly like a short acting benzo on the brain. That is a statement of fact. You can go to benzo.org.uk, or google Heather Ashton or try visiting Beyond Meds. Google Ambien and benzos for that matter. Any doctor should be able to confirm that and of course that’s exactly my point — a lot of them don’t even realize this essential point. A lot of people don’t realize how benzos exacerbate insomnia and panic attacks either but they do. Over time they are absolutely crippling despite the heavenly relief they provide in their first days of use.

    • Sara,
      Do you have actual research that supports what you’re saying about Ambien? That site, and Healther Ashton’s comments about Heath Ledger and benzos really has nothing to do w/Ambien.

      • On the first page of the benzo.org.uk site there is a link to Heather Ashon’s manual on Benzodiazepines. In the first chapter she discusses how benzos work and lists all the drugs that work with the same mechanisms. Hypnotics are on this list and Ambien is there. I personally have helped individuals get off Ambien and also seen how it affects people over time. I find the effects of benzos and hypnotics to be among the most debilitating of all psych drugs and the most insidious because they are among the most pleasurable in the early stages. I hope this helps and I hope you pursue further research on psych med effects over time. There is a lot to learn. And frankly I think we need legislation, awareness and research about psych drug effects. Our whole health care system is at risk because of the ignorance surrounding effects and withdrawal.

  2. to Sara: I’m not sure what my dangerous connections to the pharmaceutical industry are. I realize it’s a strategy of people who are anti-psychiatry to say that anyone on the other side is obviously a front group or being paid. Perhaps you’ve fallen into believing that.

    I have no advertising on my blog. I’m not paid to recommend books or events or anything else on my blog. In fact, I make ZERO money of ANY kind from my blog. I make ZERO money of ANY kind from ANY of my work related to postpartum depression, with one exception which I’ve listed below. I have never worked for a pharmaceutical company, despite the claims of “investigative journalists”. You are welcome to check with any of my employers. I’ve never been in a single meeting, written a single memo, or done one single minute’s worth of work for a pharmaceutical company when I worked for any one of ALL my employers.

    The single exception: Last year I was paid around $5000 by Mental Health America to do a set of speeches about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders — MHA was able to pay for it via a grant from Pfizer. (Can’t remember the exact number but I was happy to share it with Amy Philo as it’s not anything I’m hiding.) That is my one and ONLY “connection” to the pharmaceutical industry, and truth be told I never met anyone from Pfizer or even spoke to them. They had nothing to do with me. In fact, I can’t think of a single time when I’ve ever met ANY pharmaceutical rep. Period.

    I appreciate the fact that you are against medication. Many people are. Some very justified. I have no problem with that, and I’m very thankful that there are a wide variety of treatments available. I’m glad for therapy, I’m glad for omega-3s. I hope more research is done into other treatments that don’t involve medication and are highly effective. You and I are on the same page when it comes to the fact that women deserve informed consent and they deserve to know all the risks. I would hope, though, that you wouldn’t make false claims about someone you don’t even know. I wouldn’t make any claims about you as I respect you as an individual and someone with the right to disagree with me completely.

  3. Ivy, Just what do you make of Amy Philo’s story? Why are you so against it being out there? For that matter what do you make of Melanie Blocker Stoke’s story? I really cannot comprehend how you think “treatment” for PPD which most commonly is antidepressants supplemented by antipsychotics is really benefiting people. Have you seen the videos about Paxil and Effexor babies? This is what is in store for mothers who are treated after their first baby and go on to try and have more. Mothers often need help but they don’t need to be screened and second guessed about whether they are “sick” or not and they especially do NOT need help from mental health professionals who are pushing toxic and addictive (because yes they are addictive) drugs. I hope you watch Amy Philo’s video that’s on YouTube. She nearly became another Melanie Blocker-Stokes and nearly took her baby with her. It would be one thing if doctors knew what they were doing when they prescribe this stuff but they obviously don’t, rushing to increase the doses as the adverse reactions get worse and worse (exactly what happened to Melanie!). Pharmaceutical companies are not making any effort whatsoever to educate professionals or the public about what adverse reactions look like and how they are different from a normal mood problem. It’s terrifying and not what new, young mothers need. I applaud Time Magazine for calling attention to this side of the story. And let us know whether you are finished with your treatment yet. And how it went when you tried to get off. I think the most outspoken supporters of the bill are all still taking their antidepressants and probably do not understand withdrawal and exactly what agony it is going to entail nor the health consequences of staying on the drugs indefinitely.

    • And to think I was upset because the original article made a bad mistake about my story, which has gone out to millions of people. From what Catherine Elton told me they had to cut down significantly on the space for the article. This after I spent weeks researching all the breastfeeding literature and talking to experts and giving her the information. So publishing how many babies have died as a result of these drugs didn’t quite make it in but at least someone is telling the truth about Melanie Stokes, and the risks of drugs. Maybe next you can go complain to the FDA about their incredibly biased black box suicide warning, or perhaps you could write to Pfizer and ask them to take the side effects off the labels so as not to scare people away from treatment.

      • Amy,
        I appreciate your feedback. I do not ever intend to argue against what you went through or your position on all this. We do what we are inspired to do as a result of our experiences. Because of your really horrific experience, you want to educate mothers about the risks of medication taken during pregnancy. I can appreciate that. Because of my experiences, I believe the bill will help mothers. I’ll leave the anti-pharma campaigns to you….that is, after all, your passion. But I have my own mission, and I would think you would respect that, just as I respect yours.

    • Sara,
      I appreciate your perspective. However, did I ever say any anti-Amy comments in my letter to the editor? No. Did I make any pro-pharma comments? No. You are putting words in my mouth, and I really do not appreciate it at all. I am sorry for what happened to Amy. Had that happened to me, I probably would be on the opposition as well. However, it didn’t. My whole point behind my comments was that the article should have presented both sides. Where there is a con, there should be a pro (in this case in the form of a person(s) with names, since Amy’s name was mentioned). I wholeheartedly believe that this bill will help make a positive difference for women who at some point may suffer a perinatal mood disorder. They need to be educated, not in the dark, caught off-guard and frightened by what is going on with them. I also believe that the bill will provide for not only an increase in awareness for the public but also among healthcare providers. The bill will also provide for research and support services. This bill is NOT mandating screening or forced medication. I don’t think you’d find anywhere on my blog that I go all-out in support of antidepressant usage for all women with a perinatal mood disorder. Everyone’s situation is different, and the treatment protocol SHOULD BE CAREFULLY determined by the healthcare professional assessing the patient. Sure, I indicate that Paxil (with Xanax for a week or so until the Paxil kicked in and my horrific panic attacks subsided) helped me get to the point that I was no longer debilitated, helpless and suffering miserably within 4 weeks time (and I was even able to return to work and function practically at the level at which I had left my job before my maternity leave began). I cannot even imagine what would’ve happened to me had I not sought medical help AND been given the Paxil to take. I could’ve taken my own life because I didn’t know what was wrong with me and I thought I would be like that for the rest of my life. I seriously could NOT function. For crying out loud, I couldn’t even sleep. I had dreadfully bad insomnia that even Ambien wasn’t effective after a while. I would shake and suffer from cold, I couldn’t even find a way to warm me up. I couldn’t even move. I was so scared I couldn’t even cry. I couldn’t take care of my baby. If my symptoms weren’t so severe, I would’ve sought alternative treatment/therapy at that point. Screening by my OB/GYN when I first experienced insomnia, instead of merely prescribing Ambien to help me sleep, would’ve made a world of a difference had my symptoms been given a name and were explained to me. I may not have gone down that painful road paved with panic attacks. BTW, this all happened early part of ’05. I was off the meds long ago. It did take a few months for me to wean, but I sincerely believe it was a very small price to pay and certainly better than the alternative! See my top post section on news about screening.

      • Ambien? For how long were you on the Ambien? Do you realize how intensely addictive Ambien is and how quickly the rebound sets in leading to every worsening insomnia and panic attacks? This can start happening within a few days. Ivy, I’m sorry, but I really think you are in over your head with the likes of Katherine Stone whose medication dependency and pharma links I wonder if you even recognize. I am so glad you were able to get off Paxil with no ill effects to yourself. You are one lucky woman. Many, many others have not been so lucky including my own daughter. You are offering a lot of helpful advice to mothers to help with their issues but “education and awareness” when it’s not even clear that what you were suffering from was PPD but rather benzo dependency and rebound (since Ambien acts exactly like a benzo on the brain), Spend as much time educating yourself about the medications as you do about the disorder and you might come up with a little different point of view. Paxil, in particular, is an incredibly dangerous drug. Its hardly even used anymore yet at one time it was the treatment of choice for “PPD.” The evidence about the medications is a lot more sound than the evidence about the disorder and how to tell whether someone has it or not. Taking medication is not a “free choice” when the evidence and information about how it affects the body and mind are being concealed by manufacturers and professionals are being fooled about adverse effects and have no idea how to recognize them or treat them.

        • Sara,
          What’s your source of info that supports your claim (that Ambien “rebound sets in leading to every worsening insomnia and panic attacks. This can start happening within a few days.”)? Are you a healthcare expert, that you have the ability to diagnose what I had without seeing me, running tests and consulting with me to come to the conclusion that what I had wasn’t PPD at all, but a case of Ambien rebound “since Ambien acts exactly like a benzo on the brain?” No need to worry about me. I’ll let myself be the judge of who I choose to be in the company of, which happens to be a very large and supportive group of women who have, just like me, survived PPD and now share the same goal of wanting to help educate and support other mothers. I’m glad to be in the company of, and have the support and sisterhood of these women. Katherine has been an inspiration to me, and your comments are not going to change that. There are many out there who will agree that she has been nothing but an icon in the blogging scene re: perinatal mood disorders. She is a true inspiration.

          • I rest my case, Ivy, and won’t push this any further. I’m glad you have shown some interest. The resources are out there to find should you want to investigate it further.

            From MedicineNet.com

            BRAND NAME: Ambien, Zolpimist

            DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Zolpidem belongs to a class of drugs called sedatives or hypnotics. Zolpidem is closely related to a family of sedatives called benzodiazepines. These drugs cause sedation, muscle relaxation, act as anti-convulsants (anti-seizure), and reduce anxiety. Zolpidem has selectivity in that it has little of the muscle relaxant and anti-seizure effects and more of the sedative effect. Therefore, it is used as a medication for sleep. The oral spray form of zolpidem, Zolpimist, has more rapid absorption than the tablet form because it is absorbed through the lining of the mouth.

            PRESCRIBED FOR: Zolpidem is used to treat insomnia. It has been shown to put patients to sleep more rapidly and keep them asleep longer. Sleeping medications generally are not prescribed for more than 10 days and are usually taken intermittently as needed to avoid problems with addiction or habituation, loss of effectiveness, and rebound phenomena.

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