Postpartum Pain – by Stacy M.

Thank you, Stacy, for once again sharing your gift of poetry on my blog.

Just eight months old
Lost and confused
Mommy had to go

As tears flowed
From tired eyes
I drove

Clenched the wheel
Held on tight
The most important
Ride of my life

Surrendered all my
Postpartum pain
I told them all
To please go on
Without me

I just couldn’t
Breathe
Or eat
Or see
Anything
In front of me
I felt like
Disappearing

I wasn’t sure
If I could go on
I was drifting
So far
And sinking
So fast

Fearing
Everything
And everyone
Blindsided
By the panic
And the pain
I thought for sure
The old me
Was gone
Long gone and
For good

All the fear
Abruptly
Turned my world
Pitch black

I wasn’t sure
If I could
Ever find
My way back
Or my old self
I was desperate
For help

Postpartum pain
Makes you lose
Your way
And your grip
Makes reality
Start to slip

It can rob you
Of your dreams
It’s deceiving
Gets you believing
That nobody
Not even yourself
Or your new baby
Or this life
Needs you

In all the darkness
That surrounded me
I was a tiny shadow
Of myself
Not even

Did anyone see
I was not okay
Did I really hide it
All too well
Who was in denial more
Me or my community
Why do we pretend
It will never make
Any sense

Just those few years ago
I stood at the edge
Ready to give up
The fight
Of a life I worked
So hard for
I had a home
With a husband
And children I adore
In a moment
I could have lost it all

My knees were buckling
In a flash I suddenly
Could not understand
What it was I was living for

Prisoner of my own mind
Paranoid of the judgment
Overwhelmed
Run down
Unsteady from
The incision that
Still felt so raw
Stitches barely
Holding me together
The healing felt like
Forever

Postpartum pain
Postpartum pain

Oh how thankful
Of where we are now
My little girl sleeping on me
All snugly and sound
As I still pick up all the pieces
Of that horrific transition

Postpartum pain
Postpartum pain

Will make you never the same

A Reminder to New Moms: Get Outside As Much As You Can

If you’re a new mom and seeing this blog post, then I’m glad, cuz this post was written with you in mind!

There is a reason–actually, reasons–why people say you need to get outside as much as you can after you’ve recovered from childbirth.

Sunlight is good for you.
Click here for a post about the benefits of sunlight.

PLUS

Fresh air and exercise are good for you.  Being cooped up is NOT good for you.  
Refer to my past post “3 Pieces of Basic Advice for the New Mom.”
Exercise can be as simple as walking around your neighborhood (or in a mall in bad weather) to get that circulation going…and of course, brisk walking is better and once you feel up to it, jogging  is great for burning some of the pregnancy weight off.  Being cooped up paves the way to increased feelings of isolation, which feeds depression, negative thoughts and even a bit of agoraphobia–all of which happened to me when I got hit at 6 weeks postpartum with PPD.  I’m not saying that being cooped up for long periods of time will definitely lead to depression, negative thoughts and agoraphobia, but nothing good comes out of seclusion after you’ve had a baby. We are social beings that need a certain amount of interaction with others.  Just being around people, but not necessarily interacting to a great degree with any particular person(s), has its benefits.  Social support is a whole other matter that I’ve blogged about a lot in the past.

Of course, all this stuff is purely common sense, but with the whirlwind that makes up the first postpartum weeks, a first-time mother that doesn’t have a baby expert (doula or relative) helping out will need these reminders that self care is just as important as baby care.  If you’re anything like the overwhelmed and exhausted wreck that I was after I left the hospital 7 days after I gave birth and experienced childbirth complications, the basic necessity of getting outside will fall by the wayside all too easily.

By doing this for you, you are also doing this for the baby.

A healthy mom means a healthy baby.

 

 

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.

MotherWoman and The Raise for Women Challenge at Huffington Post

Just a very brief post today to let you know that I am both honored to be posting for the first time on Huffington Post and excited to have the opportunity to help spread awareness about MotherWoman and the wonderful work that they do and their participation in The Raise for Women Challenge running from April 24, 2003 – June 6, 2003.  The Huffington Post, Skoll Foundation and Half the Sky Movement have teamed up to launch this fundraiser to help get the word about 112 female-focused not-for-profit organizations.  The 3 organizations that raise the most money will earn cash prizes, and many other prizes will be given out as well.

For all my blog followers, please check out the other MotherWoman blog entries written by others who have been touched by the amazing work that they do, as well as my post titled Hindsight is 20/20: Taking Personal PPD Experiencing and Helping Other Moms when you get a moment, and please show me support over there by leaving me a comment.  I would so appreciate it!  🙂

THANK YOU!!!
xoxo

Guest Post over at Mama’s Comfort Camp: Happy First Birthday!

MCCBadg_member
My friend Yael Saar is a mama on a mission to remove guilt and shame from parenting in order to make room for joy and love. She is the Founder and Keeper of the Mama’s Comfort Camp, a Facebook community that functions as a safe haven and refueling station for hundreds of moms from around the world. This community is free and open to moms of kids of any age, and we share our laughter, tears, and triumphs, all the while normalizing motherhood struggles and bridging the gap between expectations and reality in a uniquely nurturing environment.
I’m so happy to be one of the Campers, and I would love for you to join us.
Please check out my guest post written to celebrate the first birthday of the wonderful community that Yael and her Den Mothers have created.

This Mother’s Day – Let’s Focus on What Really Matters

THIS MOTHER’S DAY – LET’S FOCUS ON WHAT REALLY MATTERS

What’s all this recent fuss?
This fuss with yet another ploy
By media to add fuel to the fire
Of moms who breast-feed versus bottle-feed
Of moms who attachment parent, the seemingly new trend,
And of moms like me who are like, what is attachment parenting (or AP) anyway?

Why the lingo?
Why the mompetition?
Why not community?
Why not support for each other?
Why don’t we honor mothers the way other cultures do?

Well, let me tell you why.
Our society is one in which the primary goal is success,
And who’s best at this or that.
Who’s best at motherhood.
Who’s best at their career.
Who breast-feeds the longest.
Who returns to their pre-baby body the quickest.

Our culture is more bent on pitting mother against mother
Than finding ways for them to support each other.
Through the years, our culture has lost its way.
Just think….
Why is good childcare hard to find?
Why is info on PPD so hard to find?
Why are support services for new moms so hard to find?
What are medical professionals who know how to recognize
And treat PPD correctly so hard to find?

Who gives a rat’s tush….
If someone breast-feeds for a few days versus three years?
If someone bottle-feeds because they choose to do so?
If someone bottle feeds because they and/or their baby had to have a….
Life-saving procedure
Or was sick
And had difficulty breastfeeding
And had very little support?
If someone does “AP” or doesn’t even know what the heck that term means
Does it really matter?
And why someone have to even come up with it in the first place?

Haven’t parents been parenting for thousands of years?
Babies have turned out just fine,
And in some ways, even better than they are today!
Were there electronic gadgets and fancy terms for childcare decades ago?
My peers and I grew up without all that
And I would like to think we turned out just fine!

If we want our babies to grow up fine
We feed, hold, kiss, hug, and interact (read/sing/play) with them.
We do the best we can given our personal situation.
Doesn’t matter how expensive our toys are
Or how fancy the name of the trend du jour is,
Or whether we end up bottle-feeding for whatever the reason may be.
Bonding will happen.
Babies will thrive.

Don’t give in to our society’s myopic ploy.
A ploy with a focus on situations that encourage moms to compete with each other.
A society with mothers feeling alone,
Mothers feeling stressed out,
And mothers feeling like they’re not mom enough.
A society that provides very little in the way of
New mom support services,
Comprehensive maternal health (mental/medical) care services,
And awareness campaigns to bust the stigma surrounding perinatal mental health!
And you wonder why the number of moms with PPD are one in eight!
We are bringing it upon ourselves!

What can we do to change things, you ask?
Let’s end the mompetition.
Let’s have moms be supportive of each other.
Let’s create support services to help new mothers and their families.
Let’s have a society that honors its mothers
Not just on Mother’s Day but always!

For all the moms out there, remember self care.
Without it, you cannot care for your babies.
They need you.
As long as you’re doing what YOU feel is right for you and your baby…
And given YOUR situation…
Then filter out all the media tactics and mompetitive attitudes…
Take a deep breath and repeat after me:
“I AM MOM ENOUGH, AND I WON’T FORGET IT.”

For all those who have a mom (or two) you care about
And will be celebrating Mother’s Day with her today,
Please remember (especially if this is a new mom) that the greatest gift
You can give her is emotional and practical support.
Don’t provide advice unless she asks you for it.
Do provide a shoulder to cry on if she’s having a rough day.
Do provide help so she can get the rest she needs
And/or time to do something just for herself,
And last but not least,
Remind her that SHE IS MOM ENOUGH AND SHE SHOULD NOT FORGET IT.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

A wish from one mother to another!

xx

Please Support MotherWoman’s Moms are Worth a Million Mission

Here we are, in the month of May already.  Spring….and Mother’s Day both come to mind.  I know, some of you out there think Hallmark when you hear “Mother’s Day.”  But I have to say it should be way more than that…

Tonight’s post is about….you guessed it…MOTHERS.  Not hard to guess, considering my blog is devoted to maternal mental health.  🙂  Mothers have the toughest, yet most rewarding job…. a job that in this society often gets taken for granted…and is an unpaid one at that.  After all, isn’t being a mother an instinctive, no-brainer kind of thing? <shaking head vigorously>

My post from last night mentioned motherhood myths and societal attitudes that don’t help, but rather make motherhood all the more challenging.  The end result is that the new mother often finds herself isolated both in terms of perception and in reality when it comes to having adequate social support.  The motherhood myths, societal attitudes, and social support are things I actually tackle in depth in my book….and I might add, with great relish.  Because I really LOVE to combat false notions that are detrimental to mothers!

Today’s post is about MotherWoman’s latest mission….and what better time to announce as Mother’s Day approaches!  I can’t agree more with the following, which lies at the very heart of that mission:

When you support a mother, you uplift her family.
When you uplift a family, you strengthen their community.
When you strengthen a community, you change the world.

The theme is the same as what I’ve said before and I’ll be happy to say again:

A healthy and happy mother means a healthy and happy family.

Isn’t that the truth?  Yeah, you know it!!!

MotherWoman’s latest mission, which I think is absolutely critical, is to raise $10,000 for scholarships by July 2nd to enable 25 community leaders and professionals working for nonprofits to take a 3-day MotherWoman Support Group Facilitator Training to learn how to provide peer-led support to moms.  This year, the training is taking place in Massachusetts, New Jersey (in June…I plan to be there), Washington, and Guatemala.  There have been requests for training in other locations, which is a wonderfully encouraging thing to hear, because we so desperately need more support groups for mothers out there!!!!  Coincidentally, I was just saying this in my post last night!

Please take a few minutes to watch this video and hear about the impact this project has had on four mothers and how they are now giving back to other mothers by leading MotherWoman Support Groups in their communities.

 

Please consider helping to support the project by donating and/or spreading the word about this mission to others on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, via email, or even in person!

Click here to donate and see some of the neat perks to donating.  Any amount would be appreciated! 

Also, if you are interested in applying for a scholarship yourself, contact Liz@motherwoman.org.

Successful First Book Event – April 26, 2012

I made the following comment yesterday on Facebook in response to a friend who’s been supportive with respect to the endoscopy I was scheduled to have today, which incidentally went well and I’m now just waiting for the biopsy results (I hate that word…can’t they come up with another word other than “biopsy”):

The first time for anything is always a bit anxiety-provoking.

Makes sense, right?  At least for me it does.  There are a number of people that are exceptions to this…or at least they maintain the appearance of not being easily phased by things…. like first time book events, for instance.  Ahem, and I think I can name a few people I know who fall in that category….I won’t mention them here, but you know who you are!  And you are constant sources of inspiration to the fraidy-cat that I am.

Well, never having done a book event before, I was nervous as heck in the days leading up to it.  It would have been in the weeks leading up to it as well if I hadn’t been as busy with work and other matters (including concern for my mother who had had spinal surgery a few weeks ago and just went home today from the extended-care facility she’s been staying at for the past 4 weeks).  I only started preparing for the book event last Sunday.  I thought it was just a matter of picking an excerpt and reading it out loud until I felt comfortable.  But it went a little beyond that.  Thankfully, I received some helpful direction from a friend of a friend who is a fellow author.  He very quickly responded to my Facebook message last Sunday morning, giving me a quick run-down on what he did for his first book event.  He indicated, to my dismay, that he had started preparing for his first reading THREE weeks in advance of the event date…and here I was preparing 4 days in advance.   Trying to keep me from panicking, he indicated that it could be done in less than 3 weeks. But there is quite a bit of difference between 3 weeks and 4 days…GULP!

Anyway, I’d hate to think what would have happened had I NOT received his helpful tips.  From the time I received his tips last Sunday morning, I immediately went to work taking the excerpts I had picked and whittling it down to 3000 or so words.  Enough for a 15-minute read, which is just the right amount of time before people’s eyes started to glaze over. As soon as I got my excerpts ironed out, I put together a brief Intro to the reading.  On each of the four days preceding my book event, which was this past Thursday, I practiced reading the Intro and excerpts out loud ten and three times a day, respectively.  I even staked out a room at work to practice my Intro five times for 30 minutes during lunch!   By Thursday, I could speak to my Intro just referencing it occasionally, and I grew comfortable with the reading of my excerpts.  My worst fear was blanking out like a deer in headlights from the nervousness which I knew without a doubt would confront me as I got up in front of the individuals who came to the book event.

Fortunately, that didn’t happen.  My last speech class (thank you Nicole of NWK Consultants!), had paid off immensely.  But that doesn’t mean I won’t continue to try to combat my fear of public speaking.  I will be attending more public speaking classes, and I’m even contemplating joining the local Toastmasters by me.

I would like to acknowledge that my very first book event, which took place at the Odyssey Bookshop in S. Hadley, Massachusetts on Thursday, April 26, 2012, would not have been as successful as it was had it not been for my friends Liz Friedman and Annette Cycon of MotherWoman.  They rounded up a great group of ladies who took the opportunity to also share their stories as well.  Nearly everyone shared, including Andrea, author of the blog Postpartum and Pigtails, who wrote this very nice post about the event!  And in this group, I found out there are at least 3 ladies also interested in writing/publishing their memoirs.  That truly thrilled me to hear!  And you can be sure I will help them any way I can!

Now, all I need is to continue with book events locally, following the same format as this past book event.  If I can continue to encourage women to speak up about their experiences in a group and inspire people to publish their stories, I would’ve succeeded in my mission, which if you’ve read my book, you’ll know with my call both at the beginning and at the very end of my book:

I am a PPD survivor. Hear me roar. Will you join me?

What You Don’t Know WILL Hurt You…Be In the Know about PPD

There are more people out there who don’t know about postpartum depression (PPD) than do.  And that’s a scary thing.  This means that all too many women will continue to be hit from left field with PPD.  All too many women hear the words “postpartum depression” and think “Gee, what are the chances I will have PPD?”  Take it from me, you would not want to be caught unprepared by a surprise visit by PPD.  Don’t assume you will NOT be one of the 15% who falls prey to PPD.   It’s better to be safe than sorry, right?  Absolutely!

Regardless of whether depression runs in your family, it will be worthwhile to arm yourself with the knowledge of what PPD is, and to prepare for the possibility that you may experience it.  Put aside your thoughts of “I would never let that happen to me.”  That’s what I did whenever I saw the words PPD while I was pregnant. 

Don’t be like me.  I believed I wouldn’t let PPD happen to me.  So, when it did, I didn’t know what was happening to me.  The symptoms caught me totally off-guard.  And believe me, being ignorant and unprepared for it causes unnecessary fear, anxiety, guilt and inability to appreciate the baby to which you just gave birth.  Empower yourself with the knowledge of PPD so you won’t be like me, the following of which describes my experience:

  • caught off-guard and clueless
  • not knowing what’s wrong with you
  • thinking you’re going nuts
  • thinking this is the way you’re going to be for the rest of your life
  • thinking you’ll never be your old self again
  • feeling hopeless
  • feeling like you’re the only one who’s ever felt this way
  • feeling regret that you can’t enjoy your baby the way you’d dreamed you would
  • not knowing how to get help so you can get well again

Had I known about PPD before my daughter was born, I would not have been so scared as to why I had insomnia and couldn’t sleep even though I was exhausted beyond words and even during the times my daughter slept.  My fear would not have escalated to full-blown anxiety attacks.  I would’ve recognized other symptoms like loss of appetite (I lost so much weight so fast that within a couple of weeks I weighed less than I did before I got pregnant!).  As soon as I started to have insomnia instead of merely taking the Ambien prescribed to me by my OB/GYN, I would’ve immediately known to question it as a sign of PPD and gotten the right treatment then, instead of having to go through the hell that I went through not knowing what was wrong with me.

From seeing the happy moms around you to those on the television and in magazines, you look forward to your future with your baby with joyful anticipation, thinking that with happy thoughts, there will only be happy days ahead.  And just because you never hear anyone you know talk about having PPD doesn’t mean no one you know has ever suffered from it.  A friend, relative, colleague or neighbor may one day suffer, or at this moment could be suffering, from PPD and you may never even know it because she doesn’t know what is wrong with her and is ashamed to let anyone know that she needs support and rest, and/or is feeling anxious and unable to enjoy her baby as she’d dreamed she would.  

It should be the responsibility of OB/GYNs to educate their patients who are depending on them for their perinatal (before, during and after birth) care.  Providing the warnings would help prepare the new parents in the event they may experience postpartum blues and/or PPD, thereby preventing a slew of negative feelings ranging from fear and anger in reaction to being blindsided to bewilderment, isolation, shame, guilt, anxiety, panic, confusion, etc.   Knowledge of what is causing them to feel the way they feel—something that is completely foreign to most who’ve never previously experienced any psychiatric history—can help minimize these very negative feelings.  Never hearing any other mothers say they’ve experienced any of these negative feelings, many of these women may end up thinking, incorrectly, that they are completely alone in what they’re experiencing.  Not knowing that PPD is causing these feelings, they don’t know what’s wrong with them and fear, needlessly, that they will never return to their old selves again. 

The problem is you cannot rely on doctors to recognize and treat PPD, because many of them still do not know how to.  Or could it be that doctors are afraid they will only be causing unnecessary worry about an illness that only strikes one out of eight moms?   Well, it is wrong and irresponsible to keep women in the dark about PPD.  Information is not a danger to patients.  Information about the reality of motherhood must be made available if we want to help other mothers, not sabotage them, and reduce those PPD rates once and for all!  It’s keeping the truth from patients that will do way more harm than good.  I’ve always believed in the saying “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.”  In many cases, it happens to be true.  But it couldn’t be further from the truth when it concerns a person’s health and well-being.  Ignorance is not bliss and in fact can be quite detrimental, particularly when it comes to PPD. Not knowing what is happening to you can be very stressful indeed.  There’s nothing worse than not knowing, being in the dark. 

During childbirth/childcare prep classes, the instructor may (or may not) mention the words “postpartum depression” and how some women develop it.  They may (or may not) give you a handout about PPD, but you choose subconsciously to ignore it because you think that it couldn’t possibly happen to you.  I was amazed about how little is mentioned about PPD at the hospital where I delivered my baby.  They have a pretty good educational program for expectant parents in terms of Prepared Childbirth (including Lamaze and prenatal nutrition), Infant Care (including Car Seat Safety), Sibling Classes, and Breastfeeding.  I took the Prepared Childbirth, Infant Care and Breastfeeding classes.  Aside from the great breastfeeding support program, there is no new mother support program as far as I’m aware.  However, even if I had known there was a number to contact for other new mother issues, I don’t think I would’ve picked up the phone and called.  I thought my experiences were unique to me and others would not understand what I was going through. 

Avoiding the topic–like throwing out literature about it during childbirth or childcare prep classes–doesn’t automatically mean you will not get PPD.  It’s only natural for you to not want to hear about anything that could go wrong during the postpartum period.  You may have enough pregnancy-related concerns as it is, with things like nausea, difficulty sleeping, getting everything ready for the baby’s arrival, spotting, cramping, bloating, preeclampsia, etc.  I mean, who wants to look forward to their baby’s birth with anything other than positive thoughts?  And who wants to think about something you’re convinced won’t happen to you?  It’s natural to deal with concerns as they arise, rather than worry about something that more than likely would not happen anyway.

 But remember, a cross-that-bridge-when-you-get-to-it mentality won’t help you if, once you cross that bridge, PPD hits you like a ton of bricks—suddenly and quite mercilessly

My Blog is Devoted to Maternal Mental Wellness and Yet….

Here’s my predicament.  My blog is devoted entirely to maternal mental wellness, specifically, perinatal mood disorders and yet the number of votes I’ve garnered in the past several days will make me wind up out of contention for this category of a voting contest created by Circle of Moms.  Irony of it all is, if by June 15th, I’m not in the Top 25 of this contest, I will not be included in their Round Up, and I won’t gain exposure to more moms out there who may find the info on my site helpful.  Man, oh, man! 

I’ve been telling myself these past few days that I don’t care about this contest because it’s just a (ahem, popularity) contest.  And I’ve never been one for participating in such contests.  All my life I’ve just wanted to survive my angst.  Being popular couldn’t be further from my thoughts–or aspirations, even. 

Like Katherine Stone said the other day over on her Postpartum Progress, the most widely-read blog in this (ahem) category, I’m NOT going to beg for votes.   But then again, her blog is THE MOST widely-read blog in this category.  She doesn’t need votes, she’s already got tons of people all over the world following her.  Me, on the other hand….not so much.  I’m trying to use social media, but I can only do so much without jeopardizing my job.  I can’t tweet during work hours, even though I have the technology to do so.  I’m not so good at developing and sustaining an ongoing rapport, though I’m honestly trying, with other women I know online from blogging and tweeting.  I can hardly keep up with my friends after work hours and during weekends, when I’ve already got so much else to do and not neglect my husband and daughter. 

For me, it’s all or none.  When I’m on Twitter, I like to see everyone’s tweets, but even with a limited number I follow (< 200), I can’t keep up with the tweets any longer.  Just like on Facebook, I keep my number of friends down so I can manage to keep up with everyone’s daily posts.  Yep, I read ’em all. 

So, as you can see, my impact is limited because my resources/time is limited.  I’ve got to find a way to ramp things up….and it’s not going to help with my not being included in this Top 25.  All I can say is this.  I’ve been blogging for the past couple of years to help others survive their angst.  Whether it’s a girl who’s struggling with puberty and high school–one of the most angst-ridden times of any girl’s life–or a new mom who’s struggling with a perinatal mood disorder….there is, after all, a correlation between the two (per my past posts).  I know that I have helped a number of women.  That in itself is enough for me because that is, after all, the objective of this blog and why I do what I do.

It wouldn’t hurt, though, to widen my audience by way of inclusion of such categories created by such forums as Circle of Moms.  Therein lies my predicament.

Ughhhh.

House Bill 2235 (Maternal Mental Health Patient/Provider Education Bill) Passes and Moves to Senate

Another state is moving toward progress when it comes to an increase in public awareness of perinatal mood disorders.  House Bill 2235 was approved by the House on April 28th and now passes to the Senate!

The Maternal Mental Health Patient and Provider Education Program is intended to identify and address maternal mental health disorders and to prevent the associated long-term negative impact on women and their families.  How would this program accomplish this? 

  • Ensuring health care providers (physicians, nurse midwives and other licensed health care professionals):
    • are  trained to screen, identify, assess and treat perinatal mood disorders, as well as make appropriate referrals, and
    • provide patients and their family members such information materials about maternal mental health disorders.
  • Educating the public about maternal mental health disorders.
  • Ensuring hospitals and other health care facilities serving pregnant and postpartum patients (including  postnatal and post-pregnancy loss patients) provide patients and their family members information materials about maternal mental health disorders.

It is truly encouraging to see the positive developments occurring at the state level across the country, and I hope that this trend will steadily continue until all states have legislation in place that will ensure the public awareness that is needed to do away with the stigma and ensure all mothers experiencing perinatal mood disorders get the help they need!  

The well-being of the mother helps to ensure the well-being of her child(ren) and the overall well-being of the family!

I’ve Been There, You Haven’t, So….

I’m not sure what possesses people to criticize others, especially if they don’t know the full story.   Speaking of stories, let me share a little story with you about a couple I know that just had a baby a few weeks ago. 

The new mom is on maternity leave for 3 months.  The dad took two weeks off to help the new mom.   This is to be expected, in my opinion, and should hands down be something management in a company should allow.  But then, he announces that, going forward, he would be working from home once a week, even after she goes back to work.   Nice!  Wish I could’ve arranged for either me or my husband to be able to work from home once a week like that after my maternity leave ended!  I’m thinking this is great for them….and at the same time hoping that all three of them are okay–mom, dad and baby.  Cuz you just never know.   Having been in a position where I nearly wasn’t able to return to work, having a tremendously difficult time with my postpartum depression (which no one but a handful of people at work knew about), I have learned that you can’t assume everything is fine and dandy or peachy keen for the brand new parents and the baby.  You don’t know if the mom is suffering from a postpartum mood disorder.  You don’t know if they have adequate help. You don’t know if they are having a difficult time transitioning to parenthood. You don’t know if there were childbirth complications.  You don’t know if there are health issues with the new mom and/or the new baby.  You just don’t know, do you?  Unless, if course, you find out what is truly going on, directly from the new mom and dad. 

Well, as soon as he announced that he would be working from home once a week going forward, the negative comments started.  Granted, I left out a minor detail earlier in that these two individuals happen to work at the same company.  Well, regardless of whether these people work for the same manager, different manager, same company or different company, if they were able to secure an arrangement–whether it be short-term leave, long-term leave, flextime, working from home once a week– with their management and HR, then what’s the deal with all the complaining?  First of all, who would complain and why would they complain?  Let’s see…..the ones who were complaining don’t 1) know the extenuating circumstances of the new parents, and 2) have never been parents themselves.    Two VERY GOOD reasons not to pass any judgement, if you ask me.  In response to the criticisms I overheard, I pointed out that there may be issues that we don’t know about…after all, I had issues no one knew about and I nearly couldn’t return to work due to my postpartum depression.   In the face of such a narrow-minded perspective of these individuals, I felt compelled to say something, and so I did.  It didn’t end there.  The response I got was “It doesn’t matter.  They could’ve worked something out that didn’t involve his having to work from home once a week.”   Well, again, we don’t know what their situation is, do we?   So I responded “Well, they may not have any relatives that can help, and hiring help isn’t cheap.  What else would you propose?”  That was the end of that conversation. 

People with no experience at being parents should be the last ones to make any negative comments, criticize, or pass judgment about parents, especially brand new parents.  Just like people who’ve never been depressed before should be the last ones to make any negative comments, criticize, or pass judgment about those who’ve experienced it firsthand.

How hard would it be, I wonder, if people were to open up their minds and try to imagine themselves in the other person’s shoes.  It’s called empathy, and I do it regularly.  What about you?   Is it too much to ask for a greater capacity to understand, and to rein back the impulse to shoot someone else down verbally?  Seems to me that all too many people–from my own experiences throughout life–are more willing to do the latter.  Why is that?   Forget about overhauling the healthcare system.  We need to overhaul people’s attitudes.  As I’ve mentioned before, it all starts with parenting and leading and teaching our kids by example.  Teachers also play a role.  Speaking of teachers, all schools should be required to teach empathy in one way or another, through the activities kids are involved in.  I’m proud to say that our school system does, and very happy that our daughter will derive that benefit!

Depression and Teen Suicides….It WILL Get Better

I’m on a real roll right now with 3 blog posts in < 1 week!    Well, what has spurred me to post today is an article titled “Experts fear copycat suicides after bullying cases” by Geoff Mulvihilli (AP) that I came across today concerning the recent teen suicides….6 since Tyler Clementi’s suicide on September 22, 2010.  I am digressing from postpartum depression in that I am blogging about teen suicides, though suicides do occur in cases of postpartum mood disorders (PMDs) as well.   I did blog about teen suicide once before, and in that post, I wrote about what makes girls more prone to depression once they hit puberty.

The circumstances that led to Tyler’s suicide were disturbing, despicable and disgraceful.  The lives of those involved will never be the same, ever.  The good that will come out of Tyler’s story is the realization that something must be done to put an end to bullying that has always occurred among our youth but its effect has become all the more deadly thanks to the Internet and other social media tools, whether it be live video streams (as in Tyler’s case), chat rooms, texting, or Twitter.  President Obama and celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres have made public appeals.  The Trevor Project’s “It Gets Better” campaign has been very active in the past couple of months in reaching out to teens and providing them with resources and hope.   States that hadn’t previously had anti-bullying laws have since either put them into place or are in the process of putting them in place.  There are now only 5 states with no anti-bullying laws.  Click here for state-specific legislative details. 

Click here for a Photo Essay of the victims of bullying just from this past year.  If these pictures don’t make you want to try to help stop bullying, I don’t know what will.  Having been a victim of bullying, you bet I will do whatever I can to help spread awareness and join any campaigns against bullying.  From the time my daughter reaches first grade until she graduates from high school, I will be involved in anti-bullying matters at her school.  And if there isn’t any anti-bullying policy in place in her school when she’s there–or at the very least counselors adequately trained to recognize signs of depression and know what to do when there is bullying going on–I sure as heck will do what I can to make sure one is put in place.

Per the article, Laura McGinnis, spokeswoman for The Trevor Project, said that her group’s crisis hotline has seen a 75% increase in calls and an increase in requests from schools and community leaders for “survival kits” since Tyler’s death.  I’d like to highlight what Ms. McGinnis said with respect to–and this applies to all individuals who are troubled and in need of someone to talk to–crisis intervention:

“It’s important for people who are feeling suicidal to know where to turn to for help, whether it’s a hot line, a friend or a hospital.  There are people out there who can help you, who are willing to listen.”

Says Ann Haas, director of prevention programs at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

“If youth are struggling with depression, the impact of bullying can be quite different than if they’re otherwise emotionally healthy.”

And this, folks, is the one very big distinguishing factor between how different teens handle situations like bullying, teenage angst and/or a dysfunctional family.  When I saw a Facebook comment a few weeks ago from one of my “friends” who happens to be in high school how he could never, ever feel down enough to hurt or kill himself despite all that he had to put up with in high school, so what’s up with the new trend of teens killing themselves instead of dealing with their problems, I had to speak up.  I basically said that one who has never suffered from depression will never understand what it’s like to be depressed–to feel so alone, worthless, and desperate enough to want to end it all.   Just like this article says, it’s not just one factor (i.e., bullying) that may lead an individual to thoughts of suicide.   There is a whole lot more to it.  Personality (i.e., self esteem), the way a person was brought up to deal with issues, and support system among family/friends (or lack thereof) all have a lot to do with it.  People need to open their eyes to see when someone in their lives isn’t himself or herself, could use someone to talk to and provide a shoulder to lean on, and needs a hotline/warmline and/or professional help.

I am going to now draw a parallel with PPD here.  Moms who have never had a PMD will never understand what it’s like to have a PMD.  That’s a fair statement to make, but it shouldn’t keep people from becoming educated.  From opening their eyes.  From forgetting the dumb stigma that’s associated with depression, especially depression occurring after childbirth.  From forgetting the even dumber motherhood myths.  From recognizing when something is not right with a new mom and helping her to seek professional help.   From recognizing when a call to 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is needed.

What we all need to do is to become educated on symptoms of depression in the people in our lives and know what to do to help.   Everyone deserves help and support.  With the right help and support, any situation that’s troubling an individual can and WILL pass.  As the Trevor Project motto goes “It Gets Better”…..it really does.

Here are some important Suicide Prevention Resources:

Join the Self Care Challenge!

For practical self care tips comprised of really quick (10-15 min) and simple strategies that will hopefully inspire you to lead a healthier lifestyle, visit the Living the Self Care blog starting today, October 6th, through October 26th.  You can sign up for daily reminders to check in for the trip/strategy of the day by subscribing to the Living the Self Care Challenge blog.  Please share your experience and thoughts about the tips/strategies with Drs. Diane Sanford and Anne Dunnewold by leaving a comment on their blog and/or Facebook page and/or tweeting them using #SelfCareChal or @RealMomExperts.

As a Self Care Challenge Champion, I encourage you to share these strategies with friends and family members, and via your own blogs, Facebook and Twitter. 

My last blog post was coincidentally about self care and the importance of new moms taking care of themselves.   Self care is important, in general.  It shouldn’t just be a focus during certain times of your life, as in during pregnancy and postpartum.  It should be programmed into your daily routine.  It should be your way of life.  Exercise, getting enough rest, eating nutritiously, meditation/yoga, pursuing interests that are fulfilling and make you happy (e.g., hobbies, reading, writing, blogging, volunteering, outdoor activities) are but some self care examples.  A happy, healthy person will be less susceptible to physical and mental health issues.   And that’s a fact.