I’m not sure how I came to know about Rachel Roberts. It may have been through Cheryl Jazzar or it may have been via an email from Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies. Regardless, I’m glad our paths have crossed. Rachel is currently Mrs. Tulsa International. Her issue platform? Postpartum Mood Disorders. She is passionately dedicated to getting the word out to families about this stigmatized illness. I’m thrilled to have her here today and hope you enjoy getting to know here as I have. Thank you Rachel for all you do.
Tell us about Rachel. What do you like to do when you’re not choreographing or mothering?
I love to hang out with my family, just relaxing in the living room or snuggling in bed watching a movie together. Often we are always on the go and it is nice to have some down time as a family. I also enjoy baking and traveling.
As Mrs. Tulsa, you’ve made your platform Postpartum Depression Awareness.
Share with us your personal experience with PPD. When did you realize things weren’t quite right?
In June of 2006, I gave birth to my baby girl. She was perfect and beautiful! Right away I felt a disconne
ction from her. What should have been the happiest time of my life would turn out to be the most difficult.
My mom stayed with us for about 2 1/2 months. She and my husband began noticing I was not myself. I felt sad, tired and unmotivated. I did not feel like interacting with my daughter or anyone else. We all agreed it must be the baby blues and kind of ignored it.
After almost two months of living with depression, we all agreed it was something more. My family accompanied me to see the doctor, where I was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression.
The most difficult time was the evenings. My mom had ended her stay with us and my husband works nights as a police officer. After I put my daughter to bed I felt so alone. I would cry uncontrollably and have suicidal thoughts. I never had visions of hurting my daughter- I only wanted to hurt myself. This is when I realized my illness was getting more serious.
You mention it took some time to find the right course of treatment. What advice would you offer as a Mom to other moms who are having some difficulty in finding successful treatments?
Don’t give up! Everyone is different and it takes time to find what is right for you. Think outside the box… Treatment can include medication and therapy, but also can consist of rest, joining a support group, joining a MOMS Club, exercising, etc… Enroll in a mommy and me class or go to story time at your local library. For some, a combination of these suggestions is what will work the best.
How did your husband handle your PMD? Was your family supportive?
My husband along with my parents were very supportive. They were the ones who recognized my symptoms and went with me to get help. My husband would also take my daughter to the store or the park to give me a little time to myself. He helped me realize how precious our baby girl is and that feeling the way I was feeling was not my fault.
In building your platform, have you been surprised at the public response? Tell us about one of the more meaningful interactions you’ve had as a result of advocating for PMD awareness.
In general, the public response has been great. What really caught me by surprise is how appreciative local, state and national PPD and Mental Health organizations have been. I have tried to make contact with as many as possible and all of them have been so excited with my willingness to help.
My community has also been very supportive. I was asked to be at a family expo last month and the director graciously allowed me to hand out PPD information. While I was at this event, a grandmother came up to me to get some of the information I was distributing and told me she felt her daughter was suffering from PPD. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to discuss ways to approach the situation and some ideas for treatment. This like that makes me feel like I am doing the right thing and I love the opportunity I have to help others.
Name three things that made you laugh today.
My daughter! A few minutes ago she came in and said her toes looked like mommy’s. She had taken a marker (washable thank goodness!) and “painted” her toenails.
My husband makes me laugh everyday by telling me jokes or trying to fool me.
The third laugh of the day was while I was watching “Friends” reruns. It is my all-time favorite show and I can always count on that group of actors for a great laugh!
Many mothers who struggle with a PMD learn the hard way taking time for ourselves is one of the most important things we can do. What do you do to Mother yourself?
When I first had my daughter, this was one of the hardest things for me to understand. I felt selfish when I took the time I needed for myself. But, after forcing myself to do this, I realized it made me a better mother. I found MOM’s Club which was a wonderful way to meet other moms in my area and talk about what I was going through.
I also enrolled Maddy in a Mom’s Day Out program at our church for one day a week. This allowed me five hours to do whatever I wanted or needed to do, and it gave my daughter the opportunity to socialize with other kids. This year she entered preschool at our church and goes two days a week. She loves it and again it gives me a “mothering” break. Also, don’t forget your husband! Schedule a date night once in a while and whatever happens… try not to cancel it. Your relationship need alone time too.
What do you find the most challenging about parenting? The least?
The most challenging thing for my husband and I is ensuring certain values in our daughter. There is so much outside negative influence that can get in the way of our parenting, but we just have to trust that we are giving our daughter the lessons she needs to stay true to herself and her values.
The least challenging aspect of parenting is being “fun” parents. Going out, doing activities, getting dirty playing outside… These fun times create lasting memories for both the child as well as the parents.
What’s the personal significance of your website quote: “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly.”
This quote continues to remind me that even in the darkest times during our life, there will always be a light. I use this quote to describe my experience with Postpartum Depression. Caterpillars stay in a dark and lonely cocoon, but eventually they become beautiful butterflies who are set free.
Last but not least, if you had a one chance to give an expectant mother (new or experienced) one piece of advice about PMD’s, what would you tell her?
Don’t give up or give in. Having PPD is a difficult illness to deal with, especially while raising a new baby, but it is not the end of the world. Get help when and if you need it. Know that you are not alone and are not to blame. With help, you will be well!