Postpartum Support International’s 2014 Blog Hop – Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month

May iPSI Blog Hop Badge by Lauren Hales a special month for postpartum mood disorder (PPMD) survivors.  Why?  Because it is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month…..and you can participate in the 2nd annual Postpartum Support International (PSI) blog hop!  The topic of the blog hop is Perinatal Mood Disorders: What Helped Me Recover: Self, Family & Community Resources.

If you are a blogger who has experienced postpartum depression (PPD) or any other postpartum mood disorder (PMD), please consider joining the blog hop to help spread awareness!  All you have to do is go to the two blog hop host blogs, Kathy Morelli’s Birthtouch and Dr. Christi Hibbert’s blog, and read the guidelines.  There, you will see all the other blogs who are participating in this blog hop.

You have all month in which to join the blog hop.  So, PPD survivor mamas, get your creative writing juices flowing!  Let’s get the word out that moms need not feel alone and unaware of where/who to go to for help!

SELF:
Let’s empower PPD mamas so they have the knowledge they need to understand that what they are going through is not their fault and they will be well again as long as they get the right help.  As I mentioned in my book, in past post posts on this blog, my PSI blog hop post last year, and even on my Huffington Post piece titled “Hindsight is 20/20: Taking Personal PPD Experience and Helping Other Moms,” I was not aware of any online or group resources, I suffered–alone and frightened–without anyone to really talk to about what I was going through except for my husband.

FAMILY:
Support can be in the form of practical (and perhaps even emotional support) from the mom’s significant other and other family members.  Click here on the importance of and historical/cultural aspects of mothering the mother.

COMMUNITY:
Community resources can be in the form of local organizations, like PPD support groups in a local hospital or like MotherWoman and others (too many to name, but I do list many under my Support Groups/Local Resources links on my blog).  You can also find a number of excellent online PPD communities for support, like the closed Facebook group #PPDChat Support.

Who Will Catch Me? MotherWoman Perinatal Support Group Webinar: February 6, 2014

Quick post from me today.

I promised Liz Friedman, MotherWoman Program Director, that I would post information about their next webinar this coming Thursday, February 6th, at 3 pm EST.   Click here for details and to register.  If you are a postpartum depression (PPD) survivor and/or are simply interested in knowing how to help make a positive difference in the lives of mothers through a support model that has been proven successful and key to the recovery of moms suffering from PPD, please register today!

The webinar will be led by MotherWoman’s trainers Annette Cycon (Founder) and Liz Friedman, and hosted by Praeclarus Press and The Simkin Center at Bastyr University.

Click here on one of my prior blog posts about MotherWoman and its important mission.  Peer support–the kind of support that entails emotional and social support–is something I completely lacked during my own PPD journey and I am convinced would have made a HUGE difference for me.  I didn’t know where to find such support.  My OB and his staff’s lack of awareness regarding PPD and lack of bedside manner aggravated my condition because I thought I was suffering from some incurable illness.  They provided ZERO comfort.  Their coldness is something I will never forget.  My GP’s complete and utter lack of bedside manner–even though he prescribed the right combination of medicine that ultimately helped cure me–also aggravated my condition and is something I will never forget.  My symptoms occurred so suddenly and so severely that I had no choice but to seek medical help right away.  Even though I had medical help, the fact that NO ONE acknowledged my feelings or even understood them enough to comfort me is a sad reflection of the state of our current maternal mental healthcare system.

Postpartum Support International (PSI) and MotherWoman are two organizations which advocate and train individuals who are committed in their maternal mental health missions.  I urge you to join in the mission today and help ensure NO mothers fall through the cracks!

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

Hudson Perinatal Consortium Conference: Effective Treatment of Conditions Associated with Perinatal Mood Disorders– May 8, 2012

May 8, 2012 – It was a lovely Tuesday at the Chart House Restaurant at Lincoln Harbor, Weehawken, NJ.  Aside from the fact that this is a truly exceptional setting, I had many reasons to be excited about attending my second event with the Hudson Perinatal Consortium.

Jeanne Watson Driscoll and me

First and foremost, I was going to get to see my friend Mariann Moore, Executive Director of the Hudson Perinatal Consortium, whom I hadn’t seen since exactly a year ago, at the last event here at the Charter House.  She is such a warm, caring, and truly lovely individual.  I am so glad I met her at the 2010 Postpartum Support International (PSI) conference in Pittsburgh.

Second,  Jeanne Watson Driscoll PhD, PMHCNS-BC and  Shari I. Lusskin, MD, two very big names in the field of perinatal mood disorders, were speaking in depth about postpartum depression (PPD), postpartum PTSD, postpartum OCD, and postpartum psychosis.  Unlike past sessions of theirs I attended at past PSI conferences, they had a couple hours or so a piece to go over their topics in depth.  Both of them have traveled extensively to share their knowledge of perinatal mood disorders with people all over the world.  I especially LOVE to listen to Dr. Driscoll, because she has a tendency to get all fired up throughout her presentation, and I appreciate her sarcastic humor and directness.  She has her audience cracking up, and I love that about her presentations.

Third, it was a great opportunity to meet conference attendees whose professions entail working with mothers suffering from perinatal mood disorders.  Among those I had the pleasure of meeting was Lisa Madden of MMC Moms.

Fourth, it was a rare opportunity to be away from the office and do something I really enjoy, which is being in the company of such inspiring individuals–all with the scenic backdrop of the Manhattan skyline.

Last, but certainly not least, I was paid the ultimate compliment with Jeanne Watson Driscoll buying a copy of MY book and asking me to sign it, when it was HER book that taught me so much about the biology behind women’s moods. It was her book “Women’s Moods” that helped me understand how and why reproductive hormones  set women apart from men and represent all of the key vulnerable times in a woman’s life.  It helped me understand that women are at the greatest risk of depression and anxiety when they are undergoing dramatic hormonal changes, and it’s during these times in which major biochemical changes occur. Throughout her talk, Dr. Driscoll emphasized the importance of healthcare practitioners to listen carefully to the different puzzle pieces of their patients and to put them together to come up with the appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan that is right for each individual, since each person’s experience is unique.  There can only be an effective diagnosis if a new mom knows to see a doctor early and the doctor suggests a comprehensive examination that takes everything—physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms and external stressors and circumstances—into consideration.

Throughout my book, I reiterate the importance of bedside manner, evaluating the patient as a whole, and educating the patient about the biology behind their illness.  If I had someone like Dr. Driscoll to help me when I was suffering from PPD, I would not have suffered as much as I did.  But then again, if I hadn’t suffered as much as I did, I may not have been as motivated to share my own PPD experience with others through my book and blog!  So, I guess you can say, things happened for a reason!

As I state in my book, for some strange reason, the impact of hormones on women’s mental health is, even now in the twenty-first century, largely ignored. There is simply no excuse for this.  I told Dr. Driscoll that we seriously need to find a way to clone her so patients everywhere can get easy access to therapists like her and we need many more like her that are as passionate about and dedicated to educating people on perinatal mood disorders and realizing the necessity of treating/evaluating patients as a whole , just like we seriously need to clone Liz Friedman and Annette Cycon of MotherWoman for their training and support for mothers and their families!

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.

Motherhood and PPD: Changing Attitudes Takes Open Conversations and Being Supportive

I mentioned in a previous post how Gwyneth Paltrow had “come out of the closet” nearly two years ago regarding her postpartum depression (PPD) experience after the birth of her son Moses.  I am happy to see that she is continuing to talk about her experience, this time in the premiere episode of Lifetime’s The Conversation with Amanda de Cadenet. Check out the Celebrity Baby Scoop article and US Weekly article that I stumbled across, thanks to a Facebook post yesterday from my friend Liz Friedman over at MotherWoman.

What caught my attention was the following quote from Gwyneth:

“We think that it makes us bad mothers or we didn’t do it right, but it’s like, we’re all in this together. I never understand why mothers judge other mothers, like, ‘What do you mean you didn’t breastfeed? What do you mean you didn’t do this?’ It’s like, ‘Can’t we all just be on each other’s side?’ It’s so hard anyway. Can’t we all help each other get through it? There’s a shame attached to it because if you say, ‘I had a baby and I couldn’t connect to the baby,’ it’s like, ‘What is wrong with you?'”

Yes, yes, yes….100% with you on that Gwyneth, as I’m sure many moms would agree as well.  Basically, this is the age-old let’s-judge-other-moms-rather-than-help-each-other thing.  Or let’s-keep-quiet-because-I’m-too-ashamed-to-let-others-know-I’m-not-the-perfect-mom-that-bonds-immediately-and-breastfeeds-instinctively thing.

If we’re so gung ho on breastfeeding, then the goal of breastfeeding advocates should be for every mother who needs help to get it whenever and wherever it’s needed.  Just like my past post on breastfeeding and a section in my book in the chapter on motherhood myths, don’t assume that every mom breastfeeds without any issues.  Don’t make a mom feel bad if she decides not to breastfeed for whatever her reason may be.  One should refrain from judgmental tactics. And don’t assume that every woman has smooth pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum experiences.  Why do these myths, or attitudes, need to exist, anyway?  What purpose does it serve, other than to crush the self esteem of a new mother?  How about helping out a fellow mother instead of judging, criticizing, isolating, gossiping?    Let’s say we do away with these myths and attitudes?  Let’s come up with solutions in the form of peer-led new mom/postpartum groups, like MotherWoman and Santa Barbara Postpartum Education for Parents (SBPEP), all across the country.  In cities, suburbs, and rural areas.

And Gwyneth also speaks for moms like me who suffered from PPD and understand that it’s awareness that will empower and make a difference for mothers.

“That’s why I talk about it, because even the awareness of it started to diminish it…..Because I didn’t feel like I’m dying or I’m crazy — period. It’s like, ‘Oh, this is a thing. This is a real thing and these are the symptoms and I have them all.'”

As I stated in the introduction to my book reading last Thursday, I wrote my book based on what I was so desperate to find when I was suffering from PPD myself—comfort, hope of recovery, and helpful tips and facts to help validate that PPD is a real illness with physical symptoms and needs treatment, just as any other illness like diabetes has physical symptoms and needs treatment.

Knowledge is power.

Knowledge–which in the case of PPD, is gained by talking to others and reading about it on blogs, in books, and in articles on the Internet and in magazines–has a tremendous normalizing effect.

Knowledge is key in keeping fear at bay, since fear typically rules in the presence of the unknown.

Knowledge about PPD–what it is, what the symptoms are, and whether you’re at risk–will make you less likely to panic over what is happening to you, less likely to feel helpless and hopeless, and more likely to know where and whom to seek help from immediately.

Knowledge of what is causing you to feel the way you feel can help minimize these very negative feelings. Never hearing any other mothers say they’ve experienced any of these negative feelings, you may end up thinking, incorrectly, that you are completely alone in what you’re experiencing. Not knowing that PPD is causing these feelings, you won’t know what’s wrong with you and fear, needlessly, that you will never return to your old self again.  I didn’t know what was happening to me, so I feared needlessly that I would never return to my old self again.

Let’s keep the conversation about PPD going.  By keeping an open dialogue about PPD going–be it via written format on blogs, books or magazines or in day-to-day conversations we have with others or on TV and/or radio if you have access/connections to media outlets–we have a much greater chance at combating the stigma behind perinatal mood disorders and any other challenges a new mom faces.  Let’s come up with ways to support mothers and increase public awareness!

My Very First Book Reading/Signing Event – April 26, 2012

In the Massachusetts area?  Or don’t mind a little road trip?

Come join me for the first book reading/signing event for my newly-released book “One Mom’s Journey to Motherhood: Infertility, Childbirth Complications, and Postpartum Depression, Oh My!”  I’m excited….and nervous at the same time!

Here are the details!

Date:    April 26, 2012 (Thursday)

Time:   7:00 PM

Place:   Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College Street #4, South Hadley, MA 01075

I am excited to announce that MotherWoman (located in the Five College area) will be co-hosting the event!  Program Director, Liz Friedman, will start the event off with information about perinatal mood disorders, why social support is so critical to new mothers and their families, and the mission, philosophy and information about MotherWoman’s Mother/Postpartum Support Groups.

Liz will be followed by a number of mothers in the community who would like to share their postpartum (depression) experiences.

The event will conclude with:

  • Book excerpt reading
  • Q&A  for MotherWoman and me
  • Book signing

Hope to see you there!

Happy Mother’s Day 2011

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!  I just wanted to bring to your attention a couple of mother’s day tributes. 

One is MotherWoman’s moving video dedicated to all the moms out there.

The other is Katherine Stone’s 3rd annual Mother’s Day Rally for Moms’ Mental Health.  If you haven’t been over there yet, then please go on over there now and throughout the rest of the day until midnight. I had the honor of participating in her very first rally in 2009, a few months after I first took to blogging.  Each hour on the hour, Katherine is posting a letter written by a mommy blogger or author to new moms out there.  All these wonderful ladies are sharing their insight on motherhood and/or perinatal mental health. What a great way to not only observe Mother’s Day but spread awareness of perinatal mood disorders that occurs in one of out eight new mothers!

Please remember that Mother’s Day is NOT just a Hallmark occasion.  I agree with MSN.com that it should be a month long and mothers should be celebrated in one way or another all month long.  Do something nice for a new mom you know.  Reach out to her. Give her a call and ask her how she is doing and offer her some help.

We Need More PPD Survivors Speaking Up Like This and Trying to Make a Difference

A very, very brief post tonight, as I wanted to share this article by my friend and Program Director of MotherWoman (MA), Liz Friedman who’d recently won for her submission to the TED Women Contest

I’d like to highlight the following excerpt from the article:

It is one of the most incredibly well kept and unfortunately well kept secrets that we have about the postpartum period. We think it is all happy. We think that we will be joyful and supposed to be loving our experience as mothers. It is not the reality. One in eight mothers experiences postpartum depression.

The MotherWoman vision is to have a postpartum support group for every 2,000 mothers across the country. Their goal is to ensure no mother goes without the support they need to get through PPD.  These are truly wonderful goals that are so desperately needed in our society today, due to our lack of a social support model that–with family living farther and farther apart, more and more women with careers and fewer neighbors being available to provide community support — used to be much, much more prevalent in this country.  Not to mention our societal view–or myth, if you will–of the perfect, or super, mother. 

Click here for more about MotherWoman, including its mission, philosophy, and Mother/Postpartum Support Groups.

Please go to my previous post on Social Support and why it makes such a difference for new moms to not only have adequate practical support but emotional support as well in the first  postpartum weeks.

Brava, Liz!  You and MotherWoman are such great inspiration for other PPD survivor mamas!  Thank you for taking your own experience and wanting to make a positive difference for other mothers! 

Postpartum Legislation Passes Massachusetts State House!

It’s been a busy, busy, busy month, and I can’t freakin believe it’s the first day of August already!  With daily stomach pain for the past 2 weeks and plenty of stress from work, I’ve managed to fall behind on Twitter and all but forgot my mom’s 75th birthday.   Uh boy!  =(   Then again, I barely tweet to begin with, relatively speaking.  With a full-time job (that monitors employee activity, like tweets) and having to worry about work/life balance, I’m barely keeping up with housework and with the family, let alone Twitter.  And now I’m going to post a record short blog post.

Speaking of Twitter, I was excited to find out through that very informative medium yesterday, through the following @MotherWoman tweet, that postpartum legislation (House Bill 3987) passed the Massachussets State House!  Now it’s on to the Senate:

“Being on TV is exciting but this is the real fun: Postpartum Legislation passed the MA State House yesterday! Now… http://fb.me/sRnfa4Jl

I’m excited to see progress–albeit slow– in research, awareness, and attitudes toward postpartum depression, in general.   I am particularly excited for the state of Massachusetts because I spent four years of college there.  My home state, New Jersey, has had its PPD law in place since 2006.  It seems that people have come to realize that the only way we are going to make quicker and more substantive progress regarding research funding, requirements for healthcare practitioners and hospitals to be more mindful of the mental wellbeing of new moms, and the need to establish postpartum support services is for policy changes to be implemented on a top-down basis (i.e., at the federal and state levels).  

I did a search for more details on the MotherWoman website and on the Internet, but could not find anything.  As soon as I do, I will be sure to share! 

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer–unless of course you are on the other side of the word, like Australia.  We are in the last stretch and fall is around the corner.  I hate it when the days start to get shorter, don’t you?  Bleh.