A Word (or more) About the Importance of Sharing Our Stories


This week’s #PPDChat went off the charts with a lively discussion during both moderated hours when we pushed the question of blogging the tough stuff without seeming ungrateful for the good stuff that happens along with it.

Suggested by Jamie over at James & Jax, the topic exploded with several people chiming in. The primary concern about bloggers was not the opinion of strangers but rather that of people they know in real life. The concern regarding the random visitor from the web was visited too with the reminder that these folks only see a “slice” of our lives at our blogs, framed as we choose to frame it. The same goes for in-real-life friends, really, as we are writing for ourselves in addition to our regular readers.

Blogging through mental health and parenting can be such a messy place. So many of us have so many different approaches and we all know how much everyone LOVES to dish advice about how we’re supposed to deal with both.

So doesn’t blogging about these struggles open us up for criticism?

Absolutely.

But dealing with that criticism is also an important aspect of choosing to blog. It’s okay to not share your full story. I haven’t shared my full story here at the blog. There are bits and There is Beauty and Strengthpieces I hold close to me because as I stated in chat, these pieces involve other people so I don’t feel they are fully my story.

There are others who choose not to share because they feel their story is not “enough” for sharing. It’s okay to feel that way. The importance and beauty in our stories is that we choose when to share them, how to share them, and most importantly, how much to share of them. No one can force us to share more than we are ready to share. You are no less of a person, a blogger, a mother, an advocate, or a woman simply because you have not shared your story. Your lived experience is more than enough and if you’re led to share it, great. If not, that’s okay too.

It’s not about if your story is enough, it’s about who you might reach – who is living your exact story right this moment.#ppdchat

— Lauren(@unxpctdblessing) May 7, 2013

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The beauty of us all comes from our nuanced differences. Those of us who speak openly and freely encourage others to share our stories. We also let those who are more guarded know they are not alone in their battles, even if we never hear from them. Those of us who choose to be more guarded let others wanting to be just as guarded know it is also okay to be guarded. There is a camaraderie to be felt in every aspect of your choices. And that camaraderie is a phenomenally beautiful thing.

Wrapping this up, I invite you to this blog on Sunday for a few video stories from mothers who have been through the thick of it, myself included. I’m nervous as all get out about being on recorded video (GASP), but given that this is My Postpartum VOICE, I want to leave my comfort zone and use my actual voice. Give a face to the stories here.

I also invite you to check out Katherine Stone’s Postpartum Progress on Sunday. She’s hosting a bevy of writers for her 5th Annual Mother’s Day Rally for Mom’s Mental Health. I’m honoured to be participating again. My post goes up at 1am! Early! Katherine does great things for Moms and families with Postpartum Mood Disorders. Don’t forget to check out all the posts. I can’t wait to read them all!

Don’t forget about the PSI Blog Hop for Maternal Mental Health Awareness as well! This month is chock-full of stories. Some of them might be just like yours.

Above all, remember, that there is beauty and strength in your story, even if you can’t see it right now.

 

#PPDChat Topic 05.06.13: When Parenting Struggles Hit the Blog


ppdchat-05-06-13

We all have them – the rough parenting days where nothing seems to go right. We woke up to screaming, grumpy, unhappy infants, we can’t make the coffee fast enough, things that can go wrong ARE going wrong and OMG I JUST NEED TO HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON BECAUSE….

Those days.

The days that we would LOVE to blog about (and some of us have) but some of us are not quite sure how to phrase things to ensure that it doesn’t seem that we’re ungrateful for our little ones although they’re driving us off the cliffs of insanity at the moment.

How do we balance the fine art of discharging our frustrations about the difficult stuff and still seeming to be grateful for the amazing little creatures with whom we have been blessed?

That’s what today’s topic focuses on – the challenges of discussing the parenting struggles -honestly- without seeming to be ungrateful for the joy that goes along with these struggles.

Join us at 1pm ET and 830pm ET on Twitter. Follow using the hashtag #PPDChat. Look forward to seeing you there!

A Heartfelt Thank You as I Celebrate Six Years of Blogging


Six YearsSix years.

Wow.

Six.

For six years, I’ve been blogging about Postpartum Mood Disorders. I started with my own journey, in an effort to refocus facing pregnancy after two harrowing experiences with Postpartum Mood Disorders myself.

Then I moved on to Sharing the Journey, adding more voices to my own, acknowledging that there is power in the details of ALL our journeys. Through this interview series approach to my blog, I interviewed not only Moms, but experts and authors as well.

Three years ago today, I started #PPDChat and have since met some of the most awesome people to ever grace the Interwebz with their presence.

Being in the belly of hell during my darkest times with Postpartum Depression, OCD, and PTSD sucked. I was alone.

But I’m not alone any longer.

I want to thank Katherine Stone for supporting me as I first got started…for being a powerful and motivating voice which kept me going.

I want to thank Karen Kleiman for her words of wisdom in her book, “What Am I Thinking: Having a Baby After Postpartum Depression” which advises women to re-frame their pregnancies after Postpartum Depression. Her words are the ones which planted the idea of starting a blog to share my journey with others – to make it a real life example of what it’s like to navigate pregnancy after Postpartum Depression.

I want to thank Amber Koter Puline and Ivy Shih Leung for being there with me too as we all navigated this Postpartum Mood Disorder blog thing. Thanks for having my back and for your willingness to listen whenever we had issues. I love you both as if you were sisters. Seriously.

Most of all, I want to thank Wendy Davis of Postpartum Support International. Wendy has encouraged me in my journey of advocacy and helped me think through some very tough questions I had in the early days. She’s been the voice of reason, and never hesitated to talk with me when I needed advice or support. Meeting you in 2010, Wendy, was awesome.

I’d like to thank my Mother too – for her never-ending support through the hell that was my Postpartum Depression journey – for always being just a phone call away and for listening even when she didn’t want to and for letting me just pour my heart out. I can never thank you enough for being there for me when I needed someone to just listen. A huge thanks to my Father for telling me that while hospitalized that what I was experiencing was a completely normal reaction to everything I had been through. More than he’ll ever know, I clung tenaciously to that sentiment as I healed.

I know I’ve forgotten some people but if I thanked every single person, we’d be here forever.

A HUGE thank you to the #PPDChat community as well – without you, women and families wouldn’t have a 24/7 network of support to access on Twitter. Each one of you, yes, you too, are amazing. We exist in every corner of the world, it seems, and someone is always around. Even if you’ve moved on from the depths of hell or are now battling a different diagnoses, you don’t hesitate to refer someone to us. For that, I love you. You are part of this beautiful breathing thing  – this hands across the world cradling new mothers and families as they fight back and fight to see the light in their worlds once again.

I am truly blessed and grateful for the past six years, for all the good, and for all the hard. For if it were not for the hard, I would not be grateful for all the good.

Finally, thank you, dear readers, for reading and interacting for six years, for hanging tough with me when I didn’t have much to say, and for understanding why I needed to pull back. Thank you for welcoming me as I work my way back toward finding My Postpartum Voice once again. It has not gone unnoticed and I am blessed to have some of the best readers on the Internet -all of you so full of love, depth, honesty, support, and best of all – hope. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

 

When Spam Happens


Spam.

It’s not just a delicious canned meat (yes, I said delicious. YUM!). No, if you’ve been on the Internet for any amount of time, you’re familiar with the other meaning of Spam. Unwanted contact from marketers for anything from a request for a link share or the darker side of spam, such as the seedy overseas national with a ton of money to send you if you’ll just please share all of your personal information with someone you have never met. (Don’t do that, by the way – just don’t.)

I have seen an increase in what I consider to be “spam” hitting my inbox lately, particularly associated with this blog. Usually I delete and move on but occasionally, I respond with a polite no and even more rarely, I respond as I chose to do yesterday.

Until yesterday, the emails which annoyed me most were of this nature:

“Hi! I’m Patricia and I’m a hard-working mom of a wonderful kid who is blah blah blah blah and blah blah blah…was reading your blog…blah blah..noticed you had a broken link… blah blah…while you’re fixing your broken link, would you mind adding my link as well? I put a lot of love and hard work into….”

Wait just a damn second.

I’m all for bloggers working together and letting each other know when a link isn’t working. I am. That’s awesome. That’s called friendship. But…when you’re tossing it in there to add your link and I don’t even know you?

SPAM.

I checked the link out, (I know, I know, don’t click the links!) glad I decided to do so. The link, while presenting decent information, had NO sourcing for said information, no credit for any of the pics used on the page, nothing. Total hot mess. You would think after one email it would be over, right? (I deleted it, didn’t respond). But no. I received at least two more emails from this person, the third one practically demanding I respond because I hadn’t responded yet.

I received another email like this from what appeared to be a different address but I am pretty sure it was the same person. That, or there’s a disturbing new trend in the spam world of “Hey! I’m trying to be friendly and help you but oh, by the way….”

No. Just no.

Fix the link if it’s broken (it was, through no fault of my own – the website I’d linked to had changed the page URL), and move on. Delete, delete, delete.

Then there are the fabulous people who email things like this:

“HEY! We’re having this awesome contest and if you’re one of the first 25 people to blog about our recommended topic, you’ll get on our front page with a link and a bio! Oh, and by blogging about said topic in 200 or more words, you’ll earn a chance at a grand prize of 1k or other smaller prizes! DO IT!”

How about no? And how about I send you an email that reads a LOT like this:

Hi, Rex.

Thank you for your terribly considerate email about your upcoming contest at your website. Really.

There’s nothing I would love more than to write an absolutely meaningless post about a cheap Mother’s Day present that’s 200+ words long because I’m a “Mom” blogger and covet a chance at entrance into a contest for 1k and other smaller prizes.

My blog has depth. It conveys hope and inspiration to mothers who have been through hell. The last thing I want to do is toss them a bone with a post that means absolutely nothing to me (and therefore will mean nothing to them). It’s not what I do and if you were at ALL familiar with my blog, you’d know that.

Here’s the thing, Rex.

I’m a writer.

Not “just” a blogger.

My writing isn’t free.

Want a post on my blog?

It’ll cost you $2.00/word. At 200 words minimum, you’re looking at least $400.00. Sure, a chance at 1k would more than cover my fee, but it’s not a guaranteed 1k, now is it?

And let’s not forget the chance at being featured on your home page if I’m one of the first 25 respondents. Exposure. YAY. I get that on my own. Probably not at the level you’re offering, but hey, I’ll take it because it means something.

I’m not a numbers girl. Never have been, never will be. I’m an “engagement value” type of gal unwilling to sell out space on my blog for some sort of cheap chance at money and exposure. If I wanted a cheap shot at money, I’d play the lottery. Less work is involved.

This is the problem with the world today, Rex. People think bloggers will work for free, for scraps from the table. Newsflash. We don’t. Some of us may, but the more savvy of us refuse to sit on the floor waiting for someone to toss us scraps like “exposure” and “a chance at a prize.”

All the best with your contest. I won’t be entering.

I have better things to do at my blog, like save lives and bash stigma in the head.

 PS. This response is a minimum of 350 words. To whom should I send the bill for $700?

I tweeted about this situation yesterday. The above email is how I decided to handle it. I wrote it, held it for a bit, then sent it off. Why? It’s a waste of energy some will say. But for each non-response they get, they don’t get the idea that bloggers are no longer willing to work for a “chance” at a prize. Maybe some are willing to do that – I’m not. All I want is for companies to simply respect what bloggers do and to genuinely check out the websites to which they pitch their ideas and campaigns. If it fit with the mission and general goals of my blog, I may have considered it. But this? Fits of laughter then anger.

The take-away from this post?

  • Recognize Spam as Spam.
  • Delete it if it’s inconsequential.
  • Respond if you feel it’s the proper thing to do.
  • But above all, laugh at the idiocy of it all, and then move on.

Spam is the underbelly of the Interwebz. Occasionally it deserves a post or two about the dangers of it or the ridiculousness of it all, but mostly, it deserves to stay in the dark corners of the Interwebz, barricaded away from the rest of all the good out there.

When a Blog Goes Silent


I’ve been quiet this summer, save for a few posts here and there.

As I’ve blogged before, there has been a lot of change flowing through my life lately.

I’m still running #PPDChat but increasingly quiet on Facebook and Twitter as well. I haven’t had a video chat in what feels like weeks. Between visits with my kids, falling in love, and re-defining myself (again), there’s been a lot of time spent in my head and focusing on what’s really important to me these days – actually LIVING life.

In the dust though, I’ve been ignoring this place, this blog which kept me sane during my pregnancy with my third child and has allowed so many women to feel supported and less alone as they too navigate the trails of Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders.

I’m silent here because I’m not sure what to say in this space right now. I know that working with women through the Postpartum period is something I want to continue doing. But right now, I’m not sure how to fill this space, how to speak about Postpartum Mood Disorders when my experience and understanding of my experience has literally been redefined over a lot of internal re-evaluation over this past year.

Sure, I can discuss the latest news, issues, etc, but that’s what Katherine Stone over at Postpartum Progress is best at and I certainly don’t want to duplicate her work. What I do here is my thing – it’s filled with heart, compassion, understanding, and my goal is to put forth the feeling of the comfort of reading a letter from a girlfriend who GETS WHERE YOU ARE and can assure you that there’s a light at the end of your tunnel. I freeze when I don’t feel as if I am writing with all of my heart. I freeze if I am not giving things my all. I know what it’s like to not get support and don’t want to give you anything but my very best. Because when you’re hurting and lost in the vortex of a Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorder, you deserve NOTHING BUT THE BEST COMPASSION I CAN GIVE YOU.

Right now, as I let the dust settle (again), in my life, I hope you’ll be patient and understanding. Know you can find me on Twitter. Or if you aren’t on Twitter, go follow my FB  page and drop me a message there. Or email me. It may take me longer to get back to you via email though, so please be patient.

My words are somewhere out there, my passion is still burning deep inside me. It just needs a vacation as the scaffolding and remodeling continues within.

Here’s to looking forward to a grand re-opening and here’s to hoping that it’s right around the corner.