In the Silence


There are thoughts in the silence.

They are there, drifting through the quiet waters, hidden beneath the fog which drifts just above the cool water and is held gently by the warm air millimeters above the mostly unbroken surface of the dihydrogen monoxide.

They float just beneath the surface, waiting until you have your back turned to pop through like hungry fish in search of sluggish insects upon which to feed. If we are fortunate, we catch some of these thoughts and pull them out of the water to share with others, much like a fisherman. We, writers, are fishers of words, always on the hunt for new ideas and words to share with the world. We revel in every capture and regale ourselves with dreams of the big ideas lurking even deeper beneath the surface.

But, just as any good fisherman would tell you, it is difficult to fish amidst distractions.

No fisherman wants to cast his pole in the middle of a crowd. No, they tend to seek out the quiet and peaceful spots. Places where the fish are likely to gather and not be scared away by plenty of noise and activity. Sure, you can fish in the midst of a throng but you’re not likely to catch anything. And if you begin to catch a lot at a particular spot – word getting out that the fishing is good there, the spot is ruined so you move on to another spot.

I’ve been quiet on the blog over the past few months. A handful of people know why, and I plan to blog about it once the situation has completely resolved. In non-identifying terms, of course.

A large part of why I have been quiet lately has been due to the situation which has plagued us for the past few months – since May, actually. As I said, you can fish in the midst of a crowd but you’re not likely to catch anything. Writing is the same way for me – I can’t write well when there’s a constant hubbub of noise and interruptions – interruptions and situations which lead to doctor visits for medication for anxiety. It is difficult to hold any sort of idea in my head when I am not functioning at the most basic level.

I am okay. We are all okay. In the end, that’s all that really matters. We are slowly re-adjusting to our new peace and quiet, embracing the sunlight and happiness flooding back into our lives. We have our new fishing spot and it is more amazing with each new day.

Coping with tragedy while struggling with mental illness


Last night, all bleary eyed, I read a Breaking News Update from Huffington Post about Japan. A 7.9 earthquake had struck. I prayed and stumbled to bed.

I awoke to news of an even higher richter scale quake splashed all over the Internet. It was on my Facebook Page, at Twitter, and everywhere else. There was no escaping the tragedy which had occurred overnight. I felt my own anxieties ramping up a bit and then I worried for my #PPDChat Mamas.

If you need support, please don’t hesitate to find me on Twitter – I’m @unxpctdblessing. You can also email me at mypostpartumvoice (@) gmail (dot) com. If you feel yourself really adrift in anxiety and stress, do not hesitate to call your healthcare provider or therapist.

News and current events can strike fear and confusion in the heart of even the most normal of people. For those of us struggling with mental illness, those feelings are magnified. I stopped watching the news when I realized it was causing my anxiety to increase 100 fold or more.

Increased anxiety is not good for anyone, let alone someone with an anxiety or depression disorder.

While it is important to stay informed, it’s also important to take care of one’s self in the face of the ever increasing instant news society in which we live. One of the biggest things you can do for yourself is to turn off the evening or morning news. When was the last time you heard good news there any way? Read online. Sure, you may see some headlines that might trigger you but you don’t have to click on them. Go elsewhere. Or visit Happy News.

Your friends may post links to triggering news stories at Facebook or on Twitter. Again, ignore them. You can hide the post on Facebook. Twitter moves so fast that any news post may be lost before you even have a chance to click. If you struggle with the urge to click on news stories, then you may want to go find an online game to play – Tetris specifically has been proven to be helpful for those who struggle with PTSD. It distracts the brain and forces it to focus on solving a puzzle.

The APA also has a great page on how to manage during a disaster. While you may not have been directly affected, some of us have very vivid imaginations and have seen video of what happened in Japan. Sometimes this can affect someone almost as much as having been there, especially if they are already struggling with a mental illness. Go read the APA sheet. I strongly urge you to seek help if today has been overwhelming for you. Don’t suffer alone.

 

 

 

Every little thing


I am beyond thrilled to introduce to you the very first regular contributor to My Postpartum Voice. Miranda and I met via Twitter and #PPDChat. She blogs regularly over at Not Super Just Mom in addition to hanging out on Twitter, teaching, being a Mom and a wife. I hope y’all will enjoy reading Miranda’s voice as much as I have. Welcome aboard, Miranda!

I spent the first year of my diagnosis alone and hurting, partly because I was too stubborn to reach out and partly because I didn’t know there were so many people to whom I could reach out. My only two sources of support were my mom and my husband, and neither had much experience in dealing with postpartum. (By “much experience” I mean “none experience.”)

And then I found Twitter. And Twitter brought me people like Lauren. And Lauren has given me the opportunity to help her help you.

Wow.

So here I am, nearly two years out. And the cool thing about this is that PPD/A isn’t a war I’ve lost. If anything, I’d say I’ve pretty well conquered my main demon—anxiety. I have WAY more good days than bad lately. I find myself rolling through toddler tantrums like a seasoned professional, despite the fact that he’s not two yet and the fun hasn’t really even begun (or so I hear).

But the relative goodness of my life right now doesn’t mean that I’m scott-free and that I never have to worry about anxiety. There are setbacks. I still fight battles. And those battles still frustrate me. And if I’m not careful, that frustration leads to nastiness and anger and guilt and ::insert your negative emotions here::.

As I write this, we’re on our first full day of a long-weekend getaway with friends. No internet. No cell phones. No noise. It’s quiet here. Peaceful. Relaxing. Or at least it should be.

We are WAY outside our normal routine, y’all. Way.

And that’s when things get hairy for me.

Joshua fought me on his nap yesterday. We spent the morning traveling, practically throwing Joshua in the car the minute he woke up. We arrived and he explored our cabin and then it was time for a nap. Dan and his friend were gone to the grocery store to get supplies. My friend was upstairs tending to her toddler. And Joshua and I were downstairs in our bedroom with me quickly spiraling into a case of Mama Fail because he wouldn’t settle down and take a nap, despite the fact that we both knew he needed to sleep.

He cried. I put a pillow over my head. He cried harder. I felt my throat clench up. I got up and patted his butt in the pack-n-play. He settled. My throat unclenched. I turned to go back to the bed. He cried again. My spine stiffened and my mind started racing. SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP! Wash. Rinse. Repeat. For nearly 45 minutes. And there was no one here to help me through it. There was just me and Joshua, figuring this out like we’ve done time and time again.

I can’t stand to let Joshua cry. It’s one of my triggers. Colic and reflux made sure that he spent the early months of his life screaming his little baby lungs out. And the early months of his life were, by far, my worst. When he screams, I go into fight or flight mode just like I did two years ago. I get irrational. And cranky. And angry. And hurt.

Why can’t I fix this!? What is wrong with me!? Why does he hate me!? WHY ME??

Do you see what’s wrong with those questions? 

The questions are completely irrational, folks.

I can’t fix anything about this situation unless I never leave my house again or never break our usual, customary routine.

Nothing is wrong with me. I am not broken.

My son does NOT hate me. He’s too little to even know what hate is. And if I have it my way, he won’t know what hate is. It’s certainly not something I plan to teach him.

There is nothing I’ve done or not done to deserve this. Nothing. This is punishment for any wrongdoing in this or any other life I may have lived.

It’s times like this that I have to remind myself that I am a mother. A mother with postpartum anxiety and depression, yes, but a mother. I am not postpartum depression and anxiety first and a mother second.

Yesterday afternoon, I got a sippy of milk and brought Joshua to bed with me. I got him settled down and he eventually flipped over onto his stomach, head on my shoulder, and I sang to him the song I always sing to him when he’s crying.

“Don’t worry…about a thing. ‘Cause every little thing, is gonna be alright.”

And it was.

We napped together, Mama and son, curled up on the same pillow, for two hours. And when we woke up and he smiled, my soul smiled back.

It is.

I know that I have what it takes to cope with setbacks in my progress. I know that setbacks are going to happen. I never expected to just wake up one morning and POOF! no more postpartum. That’s unrealistic. But I also know that everything? Is pretty alright most of the time. And “most of the time” gives me the strength I need for the times when things aren’t okay.

It will be.

This may have been the past two years of my life. This may be my now from time to time. But postpartum is not my forever. It’s not yours either.

Every little thing is going to be alright.

Miranda is a wife, mother, teacher, daughter, friend, and NOT a super mom. At best, and worst, she’s average. But with a cape and tiara? She could probably save the world. She blogs about life as a mom and wife and PPD/A survivor at the blog Not Super…Just Mom.

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Postpartum Anxiety Delays Puberty in Offspring


In another study with mice, researchers have discovered that a low level of Prolactin in early pregnancy translates to a delay in puberty. The results were revealed yesterday at The Endocrine Society’s 91st Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

The most interesting aspect of this research was the discovery that regardless of environment (ie, raised by an anxious mouse or non-anxious mouse), the offspring of the “anxious” mice still experienced a delay of puberty when raised by a controlled non-anxious mother.

Here’s a snippet of the press release:

Women have an increased rate of anxiety during pregnancy and for 2 years after giving birth, said the study’s lead author, Caroline Larsen, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.

“Postpartum anxiety disorders are poorly understood and difficult to treat,” Larsen said. “There is growing evidence that untreated anxiety disorder during pregnancy may contribute to premature birth and also can have major and lasting adverse effects on the infant’s development and behavior.”

Prolactin is a hormone that may protect against anxiety. Recently Larsen and her co-workers found that mice with induced low levels of prolactin in early pregnancy displayed substantial anxiety after they gave birth. Because the researchers also noted that daughters of the anxious mothers had delayed onset of puberty, they conducted the current study to learn what causes this late physical transition to sexual maturation.

Daughters of female mice made anxious by low prolactin were raised either by their birth mother or by a mouse who was not anxious (control mother). Another group consisted of daughters of nonanxious mice, and these mice were raised by either a control mother or an anxious mother. There were at least six mice in each of the four groups. The researchers determined onset of puberty by examining when the vagina opened and noting the time of first estrus (equivalent to the first menstrual cycle in humans).

“Remarkably, puberty was still delayed even if the daughters of anxious mothers were raised by nonanxious mice,” Larsen said. “And delayed puberty also occurred in daughters born to nonanxious mothers who were raised by anxious mothers.”

This result demonstrates that hormonal changes in early pregnancy, as well as changes in maternal behavior caused by these hormone changes, can alter brain development in the offspring and delay puberty, she explained. Larsen believes that their work, with further study, may translate to people.

“Finding the hormonal mechanisms that trigger the timing of puberty in mice may help identify potential targets for the prevention and treatment of delayed or early puberty in humans,” she said.

Late puberty in humans is linked to shortened height and psychological problems that can persist into adulthood.