Steve Bannon’s Ignorance on Mental Health

 *** This post may be triggering if you are suffering from postpartum depression (PPD) and are sensitive to negative news events***

Here I am, posting again….wow, it’s now 3x in one month.  I haven’t posted with such frequency in a long time.  Guess you can say the state of this country is heavy on my mind.  I had said in my last post that I wasn’t going to talk politics since this site is dedicated to maternal mental health.  I was planning to stick to that guideline.  But then I hit a snag in my plans, thanks to a post I read about Bannon, the individual that Trump has selected to be his chief strategist.  Bannon made a comment about mental health that triggered me so much it had me flashing back to the trigger that set me off on a 6-year journey to publish a book about my postpartum depression (PPD) experience.  What trigger is that?  Well, if you’ve been following my blog for some time and/or you read my author bio, you would know that Tom Cruise and his There’s no such thing as a chemical imbalance comment triggered me back in 2005.  But the outcome of the trigger was good, as I have my blog and book as the end result. And yes, I do thank TC in my Acknowledgments.

There’s nothing good about this trigger related to Bannon, though.  TC is just an ignorant actor. But Bannon is an ignorant white supremacist who will have a role in the White House and will have far more negative consequences than TC ever had.  Bannon made a statement that the cure for mental illness is to spank your children more.  Excuse me?  What.The.Fuck. (oops, forgot to use $ or other symbol to fill in for the “u” for the very first time…..there’s a first time for everything, as they say).  I’ve truly had it with this whole election.  I’ve had it with all the hatred, misogyny and bigotry.  With the cheeto about to become our President and the alt right using him as a tool to ensure there are at least 4 years of revenge for the 8 years they had to suffer under President Obama, they have populated the leadership team with known racists (Bannon, Sessions, Flynn) and ensuring that racism becomes the new normal.  My passion for matters related to racism stems from my being bullied as a child for my race.  But I’m not going to digress here (even though anti-bullying is my other passion)……

Note: If you’re a Trump follower trolling this blog post and thinking I’m bullying Bannon or Trump, then think again.  Bullying is DIRECT harassment to them personally.  I’m exerting my 1st amendment right voicing my thoughts on my own blog.  Thank you very much.

<directing myself back on track….>

Bannon, just like I’ve been wishing to tell Tom Cruise in person, I wish I could tell YOU in person, if you’ve never been through mental illness yourself, then:
Shut the f*ck up.  
Shut.Your.Ignorant.Mouth.Up.  

And get educated about mental illness and how it REALLY works.  It’s not mind over matter, you dimwit.  Take a few minutes to read a blog post that may help you see the light when it comes to PPD.  There are plenty of articles from health organizations and blog posts on the Internet for you to learn the TRUTH behind mental illness.  But I’m pretty sure you won’t bother to spend a second to read anything because you think you know it all, don’t you.

Here’s where, if I could be granted 3 genie wishes, one of them would be to make all haters/bigots switch places with the ones being hated and the ones who keep insisting that mental illness is mind over matter to switch places with those who are battling a mental illness (e.g., depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, etc.).  You will learn in an instant that the logic you’ve been upholding is COMPLETELY WRONG.  See my past post on this titled “All It Takes Is One Day.”  One day to experience a mental illness yourself, firsthand……THAT’S ALL IT TAKES to snap you to reality and stop living in a world based on assumptions (that only make a$$es out of you).

And speaking of backwards, as women, we should not let ourselves be dragged backwards when it comes to our rights. We must stand up for ourselves and for each other.  We must work harder than ever to support organizations that will help us stay on track when it comes to mental health and women’s rights, especially during the time that women are most vulnerable–i.e., before, during and after childbirth.  Please join me in doing this!

If you’re a mom suffering from PPD right now, please be comforted in knowing that there are plenty of people in this country and around the world who care enough to make it a goal to help moms like you.  Please reach out to me, reach out to others with blogs, Facebook pages….we will help you get through this.

You WILL get through this.  I got through it stronger than ever before, and so can you!

Peace to you.

Join the PSI 2015 MMH Awareness Campaign: Strengthening support networks and services for moms and families worldwide!

As May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, Postpartum Support International is kicking off a campaign to raise awareness of postpartum mood disorders and the importance of supporting new moms and their families.

Click here to view the fundraising goals and perks (books signed by the authors, including my very own “One Mom’s Journey to Motherhood,” videos, baseball caps, stress-relief balls, etc.), as well as ways to help out with this very important campaign.

 

Attention Postpartum Depression Survivors in New York City

Just a quick post from me today to alert moms in New York City of an opportunity to share their postpartum depression (PPD) experiences.

Your stories will enable the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to learn about the needs of women who have experienced PPD.

We can only make progress in the development of services for new mothers if mothers speak up and share their experiences with others.  That’s akin to the social support structure that used to exist years and years ago when families lived close to one another and women in communities supported one another.

With increased services tailored to new mothers, we have a better shot at decreasing the occurrence of PPD and for those who do experience it, to help speed up their recovery and reduce negative outcomes.

So, please, if you are in New York City, please call Quiana Cooper at 212-235-6232 or e-mail her at qcooper@globalstrategygroup.com.

Women that participate in a focus group will receive a thank you of $100.

All responses and information will remain confidential.

Happy 1st Birthday, STIGMAMA!

I am proud of my friend, Dr. Walker Karraa, for so many reasons.  Today, I would like to acknowledge and congratulate her for the success of her amazing blog, STIGMAMATM. Happy 1st birthday, STIGMAMATM!!!

You have grown soooo quickly! In what feels like less than a year to me–because last year went by so fast–you have had over 70 contributors, garnered over 16,000 followers on Facebook, and been recognized as a leading health blog, and the list goes on. You are the fastest growing blog specifically about mothers (of all ages), mental illness, and accompanying stigma.

I have not had a chance to contribute to you as of yet because I spent half of last year studying for two exams. But I am definitely going to join the ranks of the over 70 contributors that have written for you to date.

If you haven’t followed Dr. Walker and STIGMAMATM by now, please do. They are on a mission to help eradicate stigma. Let’s join them on that mission!

If you are a blogger, please join the blog hop to wish StigmamaTM a very happy 1st birthday, and many, many, many more! Create your blog post, click on the button below, and add your information to the blog hook-up page that comes up via InLinkz.  Not a blogger?  That’s okay.  There are many other ways you can help celebrate. You can spread the word about StigmamaTM to your friends.  On Twitter, you can chat with Dr. Karraa and her contributors and other followers by using @Stigmama1 or #StigmamaBirthday. On Facebook, you can leave Dr. Karraa and her contributors a message(s) on the Stigmama Facebook page.

Lovely Book Review Over at Resplendent by Design

A friend of a friend, Bobbi Parish, therapist and author of the blog Resplendent by Design and book “Create Your Own Sacred Text” has written a very lovely book review of my book “One Mom’s Journey to Motherhood.”  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, Bobbi, for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to read my book and write a book review.

One of the many rewards for writing my book–aside from the personal satisfaction of seeing the fruit of your six years of labor result an attractive book with content that can help make a positive difference for others–is making new connections, especially ones who would go out of their way to spread the word about a fellow mom’s book intended to help other moms.  Another reward is knowing that you are contributing in some small measure toward reaching mothers and their families with information that can help empower them to recognize when they are suffering from a perinatal mood disorder, where to go for help, what the treatment options are….not to mention, realize that what they are going through is experienced by more women than they will ever know, they have no need to feel guilty, and they will be well again with the right help.

The best part of Bobbi’s review is the fact that she is recommending my book for patients of obstetricians, midwives and doulas:

In my opinion, this is a book that should be on every Obstetrician, Midwife and Doula’s shelf and in their waiting room. It should also be on a list of resources about Postpartum Disorders handed out to every pregnant woman by their health care professional. It will absolutely help women battle this insidious mental health disorder and thereby enable them to have a healthier, happier postpartum period with the full capacity to care for and bond with their newborn.

Please go over to her blog and read the rest of her book review.

If you are an obstetrician, midwife or doula, please consider following Bobbi’s recommendation of 1) keeping a copy of my book in your waiting room and 2) including my book on a list of resources which I hope you already have (and if not, please consider putting one together now) about perinatal mood disorders handed out to your pregnant patients.

If you have stumbled across my blog and want to read more about my motherhood journey and what I learned from it, please consider buying a copy.  My book is available at Amazon via Kindle and both paperback and hard cover format.

If you know a mom who has found herself as blindsided and scared as I found myself when I was hit hard by postpartum depression, please consider buying her, or recommending she buy, a copy of my book.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Wrecking Ball versus Roar

*** This post was inspired by 2 songs, 2 experiences in the past 2 days (one in-person, one online),
and my dislike for fall.  ***

I HATE THE FALL.

One, since I was a kid, fall meant the end of summer, which meant I had to go back to school.  And I hated school.   The sentiment hasn’t worn out through the years.

Two, I don’t like cold weather and not being able to wear shorts anymore.  Cold weather dries my skin out.  The flu and other cold germs abound during the winter months.

Three, I don’t like short days in which all daylight hours are spent indoors, sitting at a desk at work.  You go to work, it’s dark.  You come home, it’s dark.

Four, I don’t like it when there is nothing green left but the evergreens.  Even the grass turns brown, as all the leaves fall and the trees become forlorn and bare.

Five, I don’t like grey skies.  I love it when the sky is blue and the sun is shining.ISL_autumn_2013

Okay, now don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy all things pumpkin — pumpkin picking (and hay rides and corn mazes too) at nearby farms, pumpkin latte, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins (you get the picture) — and the fall colors of red, yellow and orange are a sight to behold.  See, I even stopped to take this picture this morning.

As it is, I’m already not a happy camper (no, I don’t have SAD, or seasonal affective disorder….I just hate this time of year, in general), so right now I’m trying my best not to succumb to the wrecking ball (cue Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball song, the last song that was playing before arriving back at the house after a day full of running errands) that fall is threatening to be to the  Energizer® Bunny’s “takes a licking and keeps on ticking” mode I’ve adopted over the years, particularly ever since I finished my book.

This is where the accumulation of past experiences — low self esteem, dysfunctional relationships at home, moving so freaking much, racism, bullying, mean girls, gossiping, 24 years working for the same company and dealing with a variety of personalities (some of which were far from pleasant) and changing roles and responsibilities,  difficulties starting a family, childbirth complications, postpartum depression — has molded me into the person I am today.   I have come to realize, as a dear friend recently pointed out, that I am an “empath”  As such, I have recently realized how much I like to support others.  If I can help at least one person each day feel less alone in their experience, then it truly makes me happy.

Each day, with the time that I have commuting and before bedtime, I provide support to teens in a closed Facebook group called Stand for the Silent because I never received any support during my own teen years.  I also try to provide support to mothers in a closed Facebook group called Mama’s Comfort Camp because I didn’t receive much support during my postpartum period (and I certainly didn’t get much support during my postpartum depression experience, which is why I wrote my book and why I blog).  And I also provide support to colleagues at work because I’ve never had a mentor and was never fortunate enough to receive much advice/guidance during my career.  Things for me have always been challenging.  I always had to learn things the hard way (via trial by fire, or trial and error).  I truly hate seeing people struggle while growing up, as a mother, and in the workplace.  And I’ve recently vowed to make a difference for others in these situations.

Sometimes, like in the past few weeks, I feel burned out.  Supporting people everyday and having to deal with crap at work and around me, in general, can get tiring when I don’t get enough support myself.  With a full-time job and a daughter with daily homework (3rd grade and Chinese), that leaves very little time for myself, so keeping order in the house is left to be done on weekends.  Work is non-stop and stressful every single day and it doesn’t help that doing the best you can amounts to NOTHING other than personal satisfaction from knowing that you did your absolute best helping people at work and using the skills and knowledge I’ve acquired over the years.  Each day, I make the best out of a crappy situation.  Unfortunately, certain days are made worse  when nasty experiences  threaten to time travel me back to my younger, more naive days with people treating me with disrespect — yelling at me (yes, this happened to me on Thursday) — despite the fact that all I did was reach out to them for guidance.

It’s not just in a a work setting that people don’t play nice.  Life is one gigantic sandbox with grown adults acting like children.  This is where I remind myself that — no matter how nice you are, there will be those who don’t like you JUST BECAUSE….No reason….JUST BECAUSE.  That’s when you need to have enough sense to keep in mind that IT’S THEM, NOT YOU.  You’re not the one with the issue. They’re the one with some deep-rooted issue.  Nothing you do will make a difference, and you know what?  You shouldn’t have to.  This phenomenon traverses all age groups, races, religions, political parties, etc.  It’s a crying shame.  There seems to be one root cause:  jealousy (and a need to make themselves feel better in their actions/words that cause someone else to feel bad).

Anyway, I just whipped up my own e-card via Some ECards of the sign I would want to flash every. single. time someone does not like me for no reason at all….and behaves in a feline (being mean, gossips, excludes, looks down on) fashion.

ISL_someecard_them_not_you

Well, I’m a little too old for this nonsense.  Life is too short.  I realize all too well (and I’ve said this in my blog and my book) that it’s impossible to be friends with everyone.   But just know that there is no reason TO BE MEAN, TO GOSSIP, TO EXCLUDE, AND TO LOOK DOWN ON OTHERS.  Not unless you’re a troll (or just a superficial, mean person at heart), in which case, say hello to karma.  Because I do believe in it.  Also?  You might want to seek some help, cuz if you find satisfaction by making someone else miserable, then you have some serious underlying issues that need to be checked out by a professional, and I’m not kidding.

The fall may be coming and may be threatening to wreck my mood, but I’m going to keep on going in my Energizer® Bunny way.   I’m going to end this post with a video of Katy Perry’s “Roar.”  This song is a perfect companion to my motto “Hear me roar,” which is a call for others to join me that I say both at the beginning and end of my book.  I especially like the imagery at about 2:07 to 2:15 in Katy’s video.

Here is  my rendition of the lyrics from the song:

Take that, wrecking ball.
You may have threatened to knock me down,
But I’m going to stay standing,
Shaking the ground with the sound of my roar.

I didn’t come this far in my life to be so easily knocked down.
I’ve experienced enough in life to know that
I’m not going to let someone else dictate how I feel.
I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar!

FOR MIRIAM

Has it really been over 2 months since my last blog post?  I did say previously that I’ve been slowly losing momentum over the past year or so.  As most bloggers can appreciate, my tendency is to blog in reaction to something that either upsets me or excites me.  While there’s been a general lack of negative news (including ignorant things uttered by the public and journalists about incidents that only serve to further stigmatize postpartum mood and disorders, or PMADs), there’s also been a dearth of exciting new research, legislative and/or postpartum support services developments over the past couple of months to motivate me to put pen to paper—or fingers to keyboard.  The former is good; the latter not so good.

Well, I’ve taken up the virtual pen to write today’s blog post.  It’s a blog post that will share the same title with numerous others (based on the support the For Miriam FB page has received in the past few days) who are banding together to spread awareness about PMADs.  These blog posts are dedicated to Miriam Carey.

Miriam.  We know she was a mother.  We know she had her one year old child in her car.  We know that that child is now without a mother.  We know from what has been shared by Miriam’s loved ones that she was being treated for postpartum psychosis.  We know that medication was found in her Stamford, CT, home.  We know she was using her vehicle in a way that caused law enforcement to, unfortunately, shoot to kill.  We know (but far from like the fact) that they are trained to do that.  Though, I’m not sure the one who shot her feels too good about what they had to do.  This loss of life is, simply put, tragic….and the reason why my dear friend, Dr. Walker Karraa, decided to corral this blog carnival in Miriam’s name.

Anyhow, without Miriam’s doctor coming forward and confirming the actual diagnosis, let’s just say that we are going to take this opportunity—since misinformation was once again so quick to be released to the public—to educate the public about PMADs.  Postpartum depression (PPD), postpartum psychosis (PPP), and postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder are some of the PMADs that exist.  They are real and they are treatable.  Problem is, all too many mothers suffering such disorders are 1) failing to seek treatment for whatever reason, 2) seeking help but are either not getting the right treatment or are getting the right treatment but not staying on it long enough for it to become effective, and/or 3) not getting enough support during recovery.

A lot of people have this tendency—a tendency that is in serious need of a reality check—to use PPD to generalize the spectrum of PMADs that exist.  It does not help anyone to report in such a fashion as to fan the embers of stigma and myths that PMAD advocates are trying so desperately to put out.  It definitely does NOT help when you have psychologists who are claiming that “postpartum depression has led mothers to kill their children.”  We know we have a lot of work to do if a psychologist is saying things like this on a show watched by over 4 million people.  Talk about taking 1 step forward and 2 gigantic leaps–not steps–backward.  Geez Louise.  Can’t the networks do a better job of finding true subject matter experts from organizations like Postpartum Support International (PSI)?  They should have PSI on their list of subject matter experts under the category of Mental Health (or more aptly Maternal Mental Health).  PSI should be the very FIRST place to consult with in times like this!

I can’t say that absolutely nothing grates me more than major news agencies spreading misinformation, because I do have a couple things that grate me more….but I won’t get into that here.  But I have to say that it angers me enough to want to do something.  Since video/television opportunities are not something I actively seek—and I’m probably the last person anyone would ever call on anyway—the only thing I can do is lend my voice today, on World Mental Health Day 2013.  Today, I join with other bloggers in a For Miriam blog carnival to try to increase the reach of getting our voices out there for the world to see.

PPD is quite a common illness.  It is experienced by one out of eight new mothers.  I am, in fact, a PPD survivor.  Many of the For Miriam bloggers are PMAD survivors.  Many of us took up blogging to try to reach other moms suffering from a PMAD and making sure they don’t suffer as much and feel as alone as we did in our experiences.  We don’t like it that there’s stigma.  We don’t like it that there are unknown numbers of women who fail to seek treatment due to this stigma.  And we definitely don’t like it when we hear about yet another PMAD-related tragedy.

Granted, information is nowadays very accessible when you search on the Internet for information and blogs about PMADs.  However, I still have yet to see posters and pamphlets in all the offices of medical health practitioners (i.e., general practitioners, OB/GYNs) in this country!  Between misleading statements made by mental health care practitioners, like the psychologist interviewed for The Today Show, plus the lack of information proactively being given to the public, we still find ourselves stuck in a similar ignorance- and stigma-filled rut that we were stuck in 12 years ago after the Andrea Yates’ tragedy.   I can’t say how disappointed and frustrated I really am.

The good that’s stemming from this tragedy is the number of advocates speaking up and sharing their subject matter expertise on PMADs, specifically PPP.

With that <clearing throat>….

AHEM, ALL MEDIA OUTLETS!  Please DO NOT continue to focus on publishing news in a rush because you want to be the first to get your article out to the public.  Ask yourselves:  Is your priority to get your headline to trend?  Or is it to serve the public well by disseminating accurate information?  Please, please, please read the For Miriam posts and please, please, please go to the below sites for ACCURATE information about PPP:

Postpartum Support International
Dr. Walker Karraa
Postpartum Stress Center (Karen Kleinman)
Perinatal Pro (Susan  Dowd Stone)

Now, as I end this post, I would like to humbly ask you to consider doing the following, as part of World Mental Health Day 2013….and for Miriam:

First, to join me in prayer for Miriam’s loved ones.

Second, to go and read as many of the other For Miriam blog posts that you can find the time to do, and share them on Facebook and Twitter to help spread the word that we will NOT cease in our quest to banish the ignorance and stigma when it comes to maternal mental health matters.

Third, if we see a mom who is in need of support, reach out to her.  Ask her how she’s doing.  If she had a baby within the past year, tell her about PSI.  She just might benefit from speaking to someone on the PSI warm line or seek local PMAD resources.  Remember that  approximately one in eight new mothers will experience a PMAD.

Our mothers matter.  Our families matter. 

Do it for Miriam.

Do it for yourself.

Do it for all the other moms out there who have suffered, are currently suffering, and may someday find themselves suffering from a PMAD.