Call for Voices of #PPDChat

Hey, y’all!

I did something way out of my comfort zone a couple of weeks ago. I went to NYC and auditioned for the Listen To Your Mother show there. I carefully re-worked a piece from the blog, made sure it was under 5 minutes, printed out copies, and then went to NYC with J to audition. I won’t lie and say it was easy. My voice shook the entire time with emotion (it’s a powerful piece) and I was in awe that I was in NYC auditioning, something I never thought I’d ever do.

Why did I go?

Because a few months ago, J bought me a magnet I saw at the local art museum. It looks like this:

Life begins

It’s so true. Life DOES begin at the end of your comfort zone. Reading things out loud, particularly things I’ve written, is WAY the heck out of my comfort zone. I don’t even read what I write here out loud before I hit publish. The voice in my head reads it for me.

I didn’t make the cut for the show, and I’m okay with that because what’s important is that I still stepped out of my comfort zone.

Now, I want to challenge you to do the same here.

I challenge you to write a piece, maybe 2-4 minutes or so in length about your postpartum experience. Any aspect of it – your choice. No censor either, just raw, honest, and beautiful true stories. Then here’s the even bigger challenge – I want you to record yourself reading it. Video or audio. Whatever you’re comfortable with the most – totally up to you. You can either identify yourself or not, again, up to you. But what is required is the title of the piece at the beginning.

Email it to me at mypostpartumvoice(@)gmail(dot)com. Call for pieces is open until May 7th. I will then get everything gathered together to post at some point on Mother’s Day Weekend. This is a new thing for me and again, is me stepping outside my comfort zone because I’ve never done video before. I’ll be reading the piece I prepped for LTYM on video. (EEEK). They’ll be uploaded to my YouTube channel for the blog (yes, I have one but I haven’t used it… I’m changing that this year) and tagged with Voices of #PPDChat. (If you’re not comfortable appearing on video and would prefer to just submit Audio, that’s fine – that will probably just be hosted here at the blog).

Are you in? You know you’re in. Ready? Set. WRITE.RECORD.SUBMIT.

Let’s bust stigma together.


#PPDChat Topic: Tripping through hell – Finding joy in the dark

Just Talking Tuesday: On PPD, Work, & Motherhood

This week’s #PPDChat focused on PPD, work, & Motherhood.

Turns out it was quite the hot topic as both chats were very lively.

Guilt was a primary theme. Seems that nasty Guilt monster has infused himself into every aspect of Postpartum Depression. I hate that little bastard. I know you do too.

Guilt for leaving your children behind. Guilt for not wanting to be a stay at home mom. Guilt for not trusting others to care for your child so you could work.

And jealous guilt when your significant other did the lions share of the childcare because you were at work.

Like I said, I hate that little bastard.

One of the biggest issues I saw come up was that if, as an American, you may use up your Maternity Leave before baby even gets here. Then you’re forced to go back to work. Or, as was pointed out by another chatter, What if you’re the only one who can perform your job and it’s required you be there? Yup. No Maternity leave. FMLA? GREAT in theory. But crappy in execution because honestly – who can really afford to take 12 weeks off without pay? And if the company you work for has less than 50 employees? Screwed because they’re not beholden to FMLA.

One mom made an excellent point to consider when decided whether or not to disclose your diagnosis to your boss. She suggests you disclose ASAP so that all your appointments, etc, are covered by ADA. I would strongly recommend this avenue of protection. Especially if you are concerned about losing your job over required therapy appointments.

Don’t even get me started about Pumping Breastmilk at work. Oy. That needs to be a chat unto itself!

Some folks made it late to last night’s chat so I’m blogging the same topic today in order to give those who were unable to make the chat a forum in which to share, ask, and offer advice to other working moms also struggling with Postpartum Depression.

I hope several of you will comment. I am not a working mom. I worked before the kids and am looking to rejoin the work force (slowly) as I am finally in a space where I can handle the added responsibilities. I’m both excited and nervous. There is one thing I do know though, when I do return to work, it will absolutely have something to do with helping Postpartum families. Anything else would just suck. I am so not interested in going back to mediocrity and frustration. THIS is what I am meant to do with my life.

So… let’s get to Just Talkin!

Need to vent about work? Have a story to share? Did you share your diagnosis? Yes? No? Why? Why not? How did the Guilt monster attack you? Have any advice for working moms struggling with PPD? Share it all right here!


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Just Talking Tuesday 11.23.10: Husbands, Wives & Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders, Oh My

"Argue" by jk+too @flickr

“I wish my husband understood that I’m not just trying to get out of Motherhood.”

“How can I admit to struggling when he seems so happy? I’d hate to rain on his parade.”

“He doesn’t believe in mental illness. Neither does his family. So I fake it.”

“I can’t take medication. He won’t let me.”

“My wife won’t admit she is struggling. What can I do?”

“Everything I do is wrong. I’m scared I’ll lose my wife and my child.”

“She’s awesome with the baby. Me? I suck. I’m failing at fatherhood.”

“I’m the Dad. I have to be the rock. I can’t be depressed.”

“I drink/do drugs to hide/numb just how bad I’m feeling from her.”

Every single one of these statements are real things parents who have reached out to me have expressed. These statements are extremely telling. What do they tell, you ask? They tell just how much communication has broken down within the relationship. The breakdown may have occurred before baby. Or it may be a new thing. Until now, everything within their relationship may have been picture perfect. They were the perfect couple. Never had to work hard at their relationship. They may have been “THAT” couple. But now that everything is dashed to hell, smashed to pieces by an innocent new life, their relationship struggles to stay afloat. Everything they thought they knew about each other is also up in the air. They wait with bated breath for it all to crash back down, hopefully back into the right place.

We did just that six years ago.

Things are still falling back into place.

We met at work. Yes, we were like Pam & Jim. We met the weekend after Thanksgiving in 2000 after our Supervisors relocated us to adjoining cubicles. Our first date? A flirtatious invite to a non-existent steak dinner as I bragged to him about my evening. I dashed like a mad woman to the grocery store to turn this imaginary meal into a reality. We’ve been inseparable ever since. In 2002, we got married.

In 2003, we got pregnant.

In 2004, we officially became parents and I went off the deep end.

Suddenly he couldn’t do anything right. I knew everything, he knew nothing. I snapped at him because, well, I could. He got frustrated. We stopped talking. If he did talk or get upset about something, it was automatically my fault. My self-esteem took a nose-dive. I did not think I was verbally abusive, irritable, angry, or crazy. Turns out I was. This continued well into my second pregnancy.

Then our second daughter was born. She spent time in the NICU. I was hospitalized 56 days postpartum after a near-psychotic break. Think we weren’t communicating before? Now we really weren’t on the same page. He had been medicating with marijuana along with the same anti-depressant I ended up on after my hospitalization. We yelled. We screamed, we fought, I cried, I begged him to tell me he wasn’t okay about all of this – that he was hurting too. He lied and said he was fine because that’s what he thought he was supposed to do – he was the man. The rock. He was supposed to be okay.

Turns out he wasn’t okay after all.

After the birth of our third child, I was involved in a car accident at just 3 months postpartum. I went to jail. Why? Because my husband had been spending money on marijuana instead of on important things like vehicle registration and car insurance. Again, failure to communicate.

He’ll be 3 years into recovery this coming March. So will I. Wait – did you say  – I did. I’m no longer a co-dependent. I’m no longer enabling his habit. Believe me, you didn’t want to be in this house the day after my accident. It was not pretty.

Our fallout from PMAD’s and Paternal Postnatal Depression took nearly four years to explode. It’s taken close to seven years to claw our way back to where we are now – a place very closely resembling normal and healthy. Even here though we have our issues. I suspect we always will. To assume perfection is to ignore the flaws in front of you. Flaws are not always a bad thing. Sometimes they are just what we need to learn and move forward.

We have mistakes in our past. We have learned from them. Moved on. Trusting in God and His enduring support as we grow to trust in Him for everything. Our journey has been full of hell. But it’s also been obviously filled with grace and tenacity. On our part and on God’s part.

There are times within the past almost seven years at which I could have walked away and no one would have faulted me. I chose to stay and fight. Certainly not the easiest path but definitely the right path – especially as I sit here in the glow of a Christmas tree, a fireplace, and my husband beside me.

For us, our brush with Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders ripped the band-aids off situations we may not have otherwise faced head-on. We were thrust headlong into trauma, grief, mental illness, and forced to decide how to move forward. I am thankful we clung to each other and made the decision to move forward together. I know many other couples who are not as fortunate for whatever reason. Each situation, each person, each Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder is different. Therefore, the results will be assuredly different as well.

What challenges have you faced as part of your PMAD? Has your husband axed certain avenues of treatment? Has that affected your recovery? Your marriage? Did your PMAD ultimately lead to divorce? Or is your marriage stronger as a result of coming through the fiery storm that is a PMAD?

Let’s get to just talking about Husbands, Wives, and Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. Oh My.

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Is PPD a series of mini-episodes or thoughts vs. something major: A reader makes an important point

Yesterday, I posted this piece regarding a DM I received at Twitter. Tonight I received this response which includes some excellent points. I wanted it to have more than just an afternoon meandering about. So here it is- in all it’s bloggy goodness. Thanks for commenting!

I so much appreciate your honesty here, Lauren. And, of course, am always so glad to know that you are out there sharing your important journey with other moms who are struggling or who have struggled.

I am going to make a point that, please know, comes with a huge amount of respect. It is more of an observation and a request to look at this question with another perspective than anything else.

The title to this post is “Is PPD a series of mini-episodes or thoughts vs. something major?”- I imagine that the woman who wrote this might be wondering if she could possibly have PPD- because for her, this is characterized by a series of on again off again thoughts or feelings that come and go and come back again, You know the situation I am sure: mom feels awful and confused by her thoughts and then for a day or two feels better. So she doesn’t reach out And then, again, WHAM, she feels awful again.. for a few days, and so she thinks she will seek out help. But then, ahhh.. a few days of feeling much better so, again, she holds back. And on and on. This mom thinks she must not have PPD because hers is not a knock-down -lights out situation. And so it takes her months and months to get the help that she actually needs.
I see this over and over in my psychotherapy practice when moms come in, finally and exhausted, at about 8 months postpartum when they have been feeling this way for a longer time than they needed to.

I appreciate your last few paragraphs about how everyone’s experience is unique, and so I think this is what I am trying to highlight in my comments. PPMDs come in all shapes and sizes and on a spectrum from mild to severe.
Your last paragraph is a set of questions to moms out there and it reads “is your PPMD JUST a series of thoughts?”

I would ask that we all make sure that we acknowledge that no PPMD is a “just” anything… No matter what someone’s challenge is, it can be pretty darn ugly for them.

with respect and admiration,
Kate Kripke, LCSW

Dear Kate,

Thank you so very much for commenting and bringing to light such invaluable points regarding Postpartum Mood Disorders. They are indeed unique to each woman. It is true that just because a woman hasn’t been knocked flat off her feet she can’t struggle with a PMD. Just as clothes, PMD’s really do come in all shapes and sizes and they come in every season too – no mom deserves to have her experience with Postpartum Mood Disorders dismissed as you’re completely right – no one deserves to have their experience termed as “just” something. The word “just” is dismissive for me.

I chose to blog about this question because it legitimately intrigues me. The writer was asking a question about PMD’s in a way I had never considered them before. Honestly, I think it was the word “just” that drew me in to the question at hand. No mother should ever have to decide if her experience is “just” this or “just” that. It IS what it IS and that is what she will heal from as the days go on and the sun continues to rise on the new days ahead for her. No mother should ever have to worry about someone pointing the finger at her and telling her that it’s “just” a series of thoughts or “just” a series of episodes. And even if it is thoughts or episodes for her – they should ALWAYS be considered and handled as if they were a serious knock-down case of PMD’s. Each and every mother deserves our support regardless of where she may be on the “spectrum.” In fact, regardless of where she is on the spectrum, our compassion for her should remain in the same place. High.

Thank you again for your comment and for taking the time to point out some very invaluable information.


Lauren Hale

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