Humbled: Seems I inspired a PSI Fundraiser in TX

Back in August, there was an email to a Postpartum Mental Illness group of which I am a member. This email stood out. It was from a Dad. He sounded desperate. His daughter was struggling with Postpartum Depression. His words echoed with concern and worry.

Despite that I was at Wal-Mart, on my cell phone, and had screaming kids in the backseat, something told me to respond right then and there. My husband was with me and I asked him to drive so I could respond. By now, he was very used to this scenario.

In responding to this Dad, I identified myself as a Postpartum Support International Coordinator and offered to email off group with him. We began to email privately within 24 hours. He opened up completely to me and I referred him to Coordinators in TX but let him know I would remain available for any questions he had as the situation proceeded.We continued to email back and forth for a few months. At one point, I had not heard from him in a few weeks and he popped into my head so I emailed him to see how things were going. This is the way things went between us.

This father was James Stanley.

Turns out he’s on the Diversity Council for Luminant Technologies, a subsidiary of one of the largest Energy Companies in Texas.

So moved by my compassion, James approached Luminant Technologies about a fundraiser for PSI.

It’s in August.

I have been oh so humbled by all of this. I did nothing beyond what I do every day and what I wished someone had done for me. James told me this fundraiser is the least he could do. It’s SO much more though. So very much more.

Each day, I arise with thankfulness in my heart for having made it so far. I wake with a simple goal – to help just one mom or family understand or get help with a Postpartum Mood Disorder. Since I’ve started reaching out, I have never failed. This is a daily goal I never intend to lose.

You can read his story at Postpartum Progress.

I’ll be in Texas for the golf tournament.

The best part? I get to meet James and his wife. And THANK him for his very compassionate heart.

According to the post at Postpartum Progress, here’s how you can help sponsor this event:

Luminant’s Sandow/Three Oaks Diversity Advisory Council 2nd Annual Charity Golf Tournament will be held Saturday, August 7th at the Golf Club Star Ranch in Hutto, TX (near Austin).  The entry fee is $75 per player and $300 per team if you register by July 27th.  The entry fee includes lunch, golf cart, range balls and drink coupons.  Mulligans can also be purchased.  Prizes will be awarded to top finishers, and random drawings will be made for additional winners.  To learn more or to register, click here.  You can also contact Debi Mikulencak at 512-446-8992.

To help Luminant support PSI, your company can help sponsor this event.  There is a wide variety of sponsorship options.  To learn more, click here.

Also, we welcome assistance from PSI supporters who would like to donate a gift certificate or gift card from a national chain for use as auction items or prizes at the golf tournament.

James – Thank YOU, sir, for your dedication and compassionate heart. You have humbled me.

And thank you, God, for putting the two of us together. You have truly blessed this in every way possible.


Just Talkin’ Tuesday 05.18.10: How did you first share your Postpartum Mood Disorder story?

Today is a mash-up of posts.

It’s the APA’s Mental Health Blog Party day and my weekly installment of Just Talkin’ Tuesday. (If you’re interested in reading other entries for today’s Blog Party, the APA is rounding them up here.)

Today, the APA is asking all mental health (and not) bloggers to raise our voices in order to shatter the stigma which surrounds mental illness and disorders. In that spirit, I had to give quite a bit of thought to the topic for today’s Just Talkin’ Tuesday post. It had to be a topic we had not covered recently as well as one that fit the blog party spirit. And wouldn’t ya know it, inspiration strikes right as I am seriously craving some time with my bed. This topic has been meandering about upstairs for a few days but decided to wait until the last second to make a mad dash for the door, er, keyboard. So here I sit, at 1215am EST, words pouring onto my blog. I make no promises as to the length of this ramble. Proceed at your own caution and time restraints.

It started with a simple phrase uttered to me while at psych ward on a suicidal/harm to others hold during my second postpartum experience.

“You don’t have to tell anyone where you were this weekend.”


Why would I want to keep this experience a secret? What reason would I have for not wanting to share my struggle?

My mother raised me to keep the communication lines open no matter how deep the trauma. And my father taught me to always, ALWAYS think before I spoke. So you see, I strive to keep a balance between the two. Sometimes this means holding my tongue or my thoughts for a bit longer than I should and missing out on opportunities to speak up. But then I figure maybe it is for the best I didn’t say anything in the first place.

"Raffles Resort Beach"by fpugirl @flick

More than anything though, I believe strongly in both values. And these values are what caused me to question why on earth the nurse told me I didn’t have to tell anyone about my visit to the psychiatric wing. And what pray tell, would I have told them? That I had won a trip to the Carribean? Been waited on hand and foot? Slept the weekend away on pillows flatter than ironed Martha Stewart Linens? C’mon, people!

From the very beginning of my downfall, I was vocal about my experience. I asked questions. I sought answers. I wanted to talk to other mothers. I needed, desperately, to know that I was not alone in this new pitch black rough and tumble sea.

There was something I clung to as a lifesaver in the midst of my temporary insanity. And I don’t think I have ever properly thanked him for saying it to me right when I needed to hear these words the most.

“You are reacting no differently than anyone else in your shoes would be. Don’t let them tell you any different!”

My father spoke those words to me during a phone call from the hospital. I clung to that phone like a lifeline. My father’s words echo through my mind every so often but back then, when I needed to hear them most, they were a shiny buoy of hope in my dark dark sea. I never let go. Thank you Dad, thank you for knowing just what to say right when I needed to hear it. I am sorry if I have not thanked you before now but THANK YOU. From the very depth of my very healed heart.

If I could be on the phone, by golly, I was on the phone. Talking. Sharing. Being HONEST about where I was and how I had gotten there. And every last person on the other end accepted me, loved me, did not judge me. I know how fortunate I am to have that kind of support. Believe me, I am above and beyond grateful for the support which exists in my world. There are others who exist and fight with no support, no place to turn, alone in their dark sea upon which they are now sailing. Sailing with no compass, no supplies, lost.

There are mothers out there who struggle in the darkness for a very long time. So long, in fact, that Dr. Arlene Huysman coined a term, Progressive Postpartum Depression, an undiagnosed Postpartum Depression which gets darker and darker as time marches forward, dragging the darkness along for the ride. So long that there’s an entire Scientific American article dedicated to the topic and a ton of research on the impact of untreated Maternal Depression if you should care to go looking for it via Google or med journals. Why do they stay quiet? Why do they not seek help? It does not make sense. If your throat is sore, you see the doctor. Heart attack, ER. So why not this? Is it not the same? It should be treated as such.

But it is not.

Many believe you should be able to snap out of a depression. That Happiness is a choice. That somehow, we are choosing to be sad, insane, or conjure up these intrusive thoughts to get out of being a mother. That it’s all a conspiracy. But it’s not. Oh, it is SO not a conspiracy. There’s no dark back room to which we all retreat in the middle of the night and agree on what symptoms to exhibit the next day to escape the humdrum of domesticity. We don’t choose straws to see who gets to be the happy housewife and who gets to curl up in a ball muttering to herself. There are no auditions for this. IT.JUST.HAPPENS. And guess what? We don’t like going through it anymore than you enjoy watching us go through it.

A Postpartum Mood Disorder is sheer hell. First, there’s the myriad of symptoms from anxiety, to depression, to not eating to not sleeping to obsessing, to thinking horrific thoughts about what might happen to baby, what we might do to baby, etc, so on and so forth. And then there’s the guilt. OH the guilt. The guilt of not wanting to have anything to do with our baby. The guilt over not gushing over baby or not snapping back as quickly as celebrities or not coping like the suave women in the Johnson & Johnson commercials. The suave women who invade our homes every day as we sit in front of the TV with a screaming infant as our hair becomes ratty and our bathrobes and slippers wear thin because we haven’t changed our clothes in over a week. And then, there’s the judgment. We are supposed to be happy. Anything less than happiness is unacceptable in most families. Suck it up. Get over it. Yeah, motherhood is hard but I just did it. I didn’t get sad. I didn’t curl up in a ball. I don’t remember.

We are all different.

We are ALL beautiful.

And there is a quiet power in each and every one of our stories. An important power. One we must protect and share so that others will listen, learn, and understand.

"Stormy Sea" by Xeubix @flickr

When I was in the thick of my Postpartum sea with waves crashing all around me, I dreaded sharing my story. I hated having to explain to yet another person what had brought me to my knees. I hated answering questions.  At some point, that changed. At some point, it became liberating to tell others how I had managed to escape and heal. The mode of transportation whether it be natural, pharmaceutical, physical, spiritual – does not matter. All that matters is that you find what works for you, for your personal philosophy and situation. And damn anyone who dares to judge your choices. YOU are in charge of you – don’t ever forget that. It is your path to wellness and not that of anyone else. Take command of your decisions and let no man judge you for them.

When I first shared my postpartum story with power behind my words, it was with Wendy Davis of Postpartum Support International as I applied to be a Coordinator here in the state of Georgia. At the time, there was only one other Coordinator. There are now four of us, a statewide support network, and two support groups in operation according to the PSI Georgia webpage. That’s a lot of growth in just three years. Since then, I’ve operated my own support group (which has stopped meeting due to lack of local interest and support), began blogging to reframe a third pregnancy, and also become the Community Leader for two iVillage message boards dedicated to helping both Postpartum and Pregnant women who are depressed or struggling with mental illness. I’ve also recently started a #PPDChat at Twitter. Turnout there is still small but it has been powerful. I believe in quality vs. quantity when it comes to peer support. Every time I share a piece of my story, I empower another woman, another family. I continue to empower myself through my sharing. I am always healing, a work in progress.

There are power in your words. Share them but share them wisely and carefully.

How did you finally share your Postpartum Story? What made you decide to share your story? Was it with a loved one? With a colleague? A complete stranger? In person? Online? Or have you held it in for years, filled with shame because there was no one to tell who wouldn’t judge you?

Let’s finally get to just talking – and beat the crap out of PMD stigma while we’re at it, ladies and gents!

Video of Capitol Hill Press Conference celebrating enactment of MOTHER’S Act

As my regular readers know, I typically do not post anything beyond my Friday Soother on Fridays.

But this important and I know you will want to watch it.

The video is 33 minutes long but OH SO WORTH IT.

What a wonderful celebration!

Just Talkin’ Tuesday 03.23.10: How did you find your therapist?

Original photo: "Everyday Use Items: a couch" by @foka_kytutr @


You have broken through the fear to make the call for help.

But now what?

Unless you have a therapist tucked away with the burp cloths or shoved in a random diaper bag pocket, chances are you’ll be scrambling to find one after diagnosis with Postpartum Mood Disorder.

There are a lot of questions to be considered when searching for a therapist. Some are financial, some regarding training, and others regarding how experienced the therapist is with your specific diagnosis.

Just as you wouldn’t see an Oncologist for a Pulmonary Embolism, you wouldn’t visit a Substance abuse therapist for a Postpartum Mood Disorder.

But when you are in the throes of Postpartum Mood Disorder, you don’t necessarily have the wherewithal to be going down a checklist of requirements for a Therapist. (That is, unless you get lucky like me and develop Postpartum OCD. Then lists and keeping certain things in a very particular order becomes very very important to you.)

So how can you tell your therapist is going to be a good match or is trained in dealing with Postpartum Mood Disorders?

The first thing you need to know is what degrees to look for when ensuring the therapist you are considering is professionally and properly trained. A therapist will primarily hold a Masters level degree and be either a Licensed Social Worker or Counselor/Therapist depending on your state’s licensing office. A solid counselor should not hesitate to provide evidence of his/her training and current license status if requested. You may also see a Psychologist, who will hold either a Ph.D (research) or a Psy.D (Professional) for therapy.

The second thing to consider is specialized training in Postpartum Mood Disorders. If the therapist is truly focused/familiar with Postpartum Mood Disorder patients, he or she will be aware of Postpartum Support International, Karen Kleiman’s Clinician Training at the Postpartum Stress Center, or Pec Indman’s two day training via Postpartum Support International. If your therapist claims to be intimately involved with treating Postpartum Mood Disorder clients yet has no earthly idea who these people or organizations are, be wary. Ask what specialized training they have completed in the area of Postpartum Mood Disorders (if any) and how long they’ve been treating patients with similar diagnoses to yours.

Third, while your therapist is not meant to be your best friend, you should feel somewhat at ease during the appointment. If you feel uncomfortable or on edge during therapy, you’ll be less likely to disclose as much and therefore hinder your own journey toward wellness. It’s worth the search to find a therapist with philosophies similar to yours.

Do not be afraid to ask what their policy is on admitting to Intrusive thoughts. Many many women worry that if they admit they have thoughts of doing horrible things to their children, the children will be taken away from them. I faced this very same issue and asked my therapist this question before I admitted some pretty dark thoughts to her. Her response was that yes, she was required to report situations which indicated imminent harm to oneself or others but that she understood intrusive thoughts and their involvement in my particular diagnosis. This particular concern goes back to finding out what experience the therapist you are considering has with Postpartum Mood Disorders.

Dr. John Grohol over at PsychCentral has some good advice on how to tell a good therapist from a bad one. I would highly recommend you read it and keep these tips in mind.

Another great link to keep tucked away is “Tips for talking with your doctor” by Karen Kleiman over at the Postpartum Stress Center. She suggests starting with the doctor you feel most at ease with even if it’s your primary care physician. He or she can always refer you to specialists once a consensus is made that further help is indeed needed.

I now hand this post over to you, the reader.

What did you do to find your Postpartum Therapist? Any tips? Suggestions? What to look for? What to avoid?

Let’s get to just talking here!

(Tomorrow we’ll be discussing different types of therapy available for the Postpartum Woman. Stay tuned!)

The reprehensible spammification of Postpartum Mood Disorders

Something is afoot.

Something strange, disturbing, and downright irresponsible.

Sadly, I am not surprised at this recent development given what a hot topic Postpartum Mood Disorders has become of late in relation to recently (passed!) legislation and the courage of more and more mothers speaking out about their own difficult experiences after the birth of a child.

More and more, I have been receiving very odd links in my Google Alerts for several Postpartum Mood Disorder related search terms. These links lead to websites that have absolutely nothing to do with anything maternal, postpartum, baby, family, or any other related topics. And the information included therein is anything but accurate or reliable.

Even worse, I’ve been seeing a lot of new websites crop up with blanket promises of “Curing” postpartum depression for one low price. (One website even includes a friends and family “coupon” which cuts the price in half just for you!)

My stomach has been churning at the very thought of at-risk women and well-meaning family members finding these sites.

Oh yes, ladies and gentleman, I’m talking about the spammification of Postpartum Mood Disorders.

I can tell the difference between a reliable website and an unreliable website.

Women who blog with me, survivors, experts, and others intimately familiar with the topic can tell the difference.

But what about women and families currently being tossed about on the big nasty Postpartum Sea? Can THEY tell the difference or will they fall prey to these deceptive tactics masquerading as effective life preservers in a hopelessly churlish sea?

Spamming is a disgusting and contemptuous act which has been going on for years. Many of our in-boxes sit full of spam. Some of it makes it through from the spam folder into our in-box making it seem even more reliable. And if one of these links were to make it into the in-box of an at-risk woman or a well-meaning but uninformed family member of a woman struggling with a Postpartum Mood Disorder, the results may prove ghastly.

So what are we to do?

How do we get educated and knowledgeable when it comes to dissecting the authority and reliability of a website?

There are a few steps you can take.

First, is the site’s URL address directly related to the topic you’ve researched?

Chances are that if you’ve researched Postpartum Mood Disorders or Depression and end up on a website for air conditioners, furniture, auto repair, or turf builder, you’re not at a reputable website.

Second, let’s say that the website you’re at DOES correlate to the topic you’ve researched and the word postpartum is in the URL address. That’s gotta be good, right? Well, yes, and no.

Does this website link to known organizations specializing in helping women with this issue? (Think Postpartum Support International) What’s their google page rank? Are they HON Code certified? (Think Postpartum Progress) What’s the story behind the person who put the website together? Are they clear about their training? Do they let you know they’re a Mom/peer supporter, a doctor, provide confirmable evidence of education/degrees/certifications? Can you find anything about them elsewhere? Have other bloggers or websites linked to them and endorsed them or mentioned them? Or are they only published at their specific website and other unreliable websites? (I don’t have a high Google Page Rank or an HONcode certification but I am working to improve my page rank and also toward an HONcode certification as well. I also over-research everything I put up here which is why sometimes I’m a little behind on posting about a hot topic. I’d rather get it right than have it up as soon as it happens)

Third – is the website trying to sell you something? Does the website promise a cure? Are they dismissive of an entire approach to treating Postpartum Mood Disorders?

If the website is really trying to get you to buy something without describing in detail what it is, you need to be wary. There is no one size fits all treatment. There is NO overnight cure for Postpartum Mood Disorders. Just as with all women, all pregnancies, and all deliveries, there are many different types of Postpartum Mood Disorders and they are rooted in different issues dependent on the history of the woman, the type of birth she experienced, her thyroid levels, anemia levels, etc. There are SO many different layers to uncover when it comes to a Postpartum Mood Disorder. It is dangerous to buy into a one size fits all approach. Just as labor is a fluid process subject to change at any moment given any circumstances, so is postpartum recovery. We all approach life with our own individualized chemistry and baggage. Matching sets don’t commonly occur out here in the real world.

The practice of Quackery has been around for eons and will unfortunately continue to exist as long as people are willing to grasp at any answers that may save them from their current condition. That being said, there are legitimate complementary treatments and alternative approaches available for treating postpartum mood disorders. Anyone worth their salt in dedication to helping women with Postpartum Mood Disorder will be open to supporting whatever path you choose to take toward wellness regardless of what type of methods you choose. In the same vein, anyone worth their salt will also strongly encourage you to work with medical professionals as you work toward wellness. Anyone worth their salt will also openly share their training, education, and base of knowledge with you as well. There should be no hidden cloak, no Wizard of Oz mumbo jumbo going on during your journey to wellness with a good provider.

Here are a couple additional links that may help you navigate your way through the 102,000 results you’ll get via Google in .20 seconds for Postpartum Mood Disorders:

Tips on Identifying Reliable Health Information on the Internet

What can you do if you fall victim to one of these websites? First, you can file with the FTC. And if you’ve lost money and care to pursue legal action, you are entitled to do so under something called the Lanham Act. You can also contact the Better Business Bureau’s Online department by clicking here. You can also click here for seven tips on how to keep your email address from getting added to the growing number of spam lists out there.

As more and more voices speak up about their experience with Postpartum Depression, more and more Snake Oil salesmen will crop up to take advantage of the growing searches occurring on the Internet for information. It’s sad and blasphemously tragic but such has been the way for ages with many medical conditions.

Bottom line: If in doubt, throw it OUT. That phrase is handy in the restaurant industry and certainly handy here too. If a link promises too much too fast or reeks of a foul distrusting odor, throw it out.

Tread carefully. Think it through. Talk to a professional. Take care of you.

Tomorrow we’ll be sharing tips on how to tell a good doctor/therapist from a bad doctor/therapist.

Have any tips or insights to share on this? Email me at ppdacceptance(@)

Be sure to check back to see if your tips/experiences were included!