#PPDChat Topic 12.09.13: Redefining Happy – The Road Back After PPD


ppdchat-12-09-13

A funny thing happens when you Google “define happy.” You get a return of millions of results. There’s a prominent definition at the top of the results which is standard if you Google “define (variable word).”

It looks like this: Define Happy Google SearchThing is, those are all words.

They don’t capture the journey one must MAKE to arrive at “carefree, radiant, joyous, beatific, contented, etc…” do they?

No.

Words make a difference every single time. We use words to convey our feelings, our emotions, our journeys but we so often forget to dig deeper than the words leaping off the page (or screen) at us. We forget that behind the word “joy” there is a sour grape, lurking down the rabbit hole of the “o” in the middle of the word. Or we ignore the uncompleted circle in the “c” of carefree.

We use words to define ourselves to others in bios, in résumés, and on various other forms. Choose your words carefully for they reflect the journey of your life…of you.

Our words falter when we trip down the rabbit hole that is a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder or other Mental Health disorders. So we dust off our thesaurus and desperately search for happy. But it’s not where we will find our happy. We will find our happy in the battles we fight as we journey back to ourselves.

Join me tonight at 830pm ET tonight on Twitter as we discuss the challenge in finding ourselves again…the challenge of redefining our happy…it’s a helluva battle but it’s one worth fighting every time. See you there!

The Art of Social Media


Earlier today, something happened in my mentions on Twitter that made me go over to Facebook and rant for a few paragraphs. The more I think about it as the day passes, the more I feel it deserves more attention than just a small tirade on my personal Facebook account. It’s a lesson in how Social Media works and not just a rant against one particular person even though it started out as such.

Social Media is a bold new world. Okay, maybe not so much any longer, in fact, some of us are old hat at the methods and etiquette of the Social Media realm. But, for those of us who are old hat, it’s important to remember that there are people still discovering Social Media and adjusting to the lay of the land.

These new residents may not understand how to go about getting noticed and in the process of trying to get someone’s attention may very well break a well-known rule of etiquette. Is it our responsibility, as old-hat, to completely ignore them, or should we take the time to explain to them the proper way of getting things done?

Most of the time, I ignore them unless I have reason not to do so – such as they have made an effort to actually engage in conversation with me. You know, the first word in SOCIAL media. SOCIAL. So many forget this word but it is a crucial word to remember.

According to Dictionary.com, social is defined as follows:

so·cial

[soh-shuhl]

adjective

1.pertaining to, devoted to, or characterized by friendly companionship or relations: a social club.
2. seeking or enjoying the companionship of others; friendly; sociable; gregarious.
3. of, pertaining to, connected with, or suited to polite or fashionable society: a social event.
4. living or disposed to live in companionship with others or in a community, rather than in isolation: People are social beings.
5.of or pertaining to human society, especially as a body divided into classes according to status: social rank.
Nowhere in there does it say that social requires you to yell at or insinuate yourself into the good graces of someone. Although sadly, that does seem to be the case for many these days. I am of the stock which believes upward and onward should happen organically when it is earned by genuine methods, not by skirting the “rules” set forth.

Books, lots of them, of the paper and electronic variety, have been written about the proper etiquette of Social Media. Some of them are right, some of them are just out to make a quick buck. For me, the bottom line to Social Media is to be social yet balance it just enough with the message I am here to provide which is that no one is alone in the battle against Postpartum Mood Disorders.

The very reason I am on the Internet REQUIRES me to be sociable. Why?

Because if I am at all fake, at all not real, and don’t exhibit compassion, honesty, integrity, and knowledge about my message, I have failed. No one will trust me, no one will seek out my help, and I will fail.

I don’t like to fail. (Who does?)

So. I tweet. A lot. About everything. About football. Bacon, hockey, beer, F1 racing, books, sometimes politics and faith, love, life, laughter, and everything in between. There’s a line, sure, because for everyone, there’s a line. Although for some… anyway, I digress. But I am REAL on Twitter and on FB because it’s part of my desired online identity. The more open I am, the more likely it is that I will reach that mom or dad or family member who is struggling and doesn’t know where to turn. My identity, my “truth” factor is far more important to me than any numbers or analytic algorithm.

I have worked very hard to get to where I am in the Twittersphere. Some of it has come from deep heartache and needing Twitter to get through. But the bulk of it has come through developing #ppdchat and being honest about Postpartum Depression.

So when someone who has not put in their time and is not social with me sends me a tweet asking me to share something they wrote, like they did this morning, I get annoyed.

Why? Because I will share if I want to, not because you asked me to do so. I’m also more likely to share if you’ve taken the time to be social and engaging with me as opposed to only tweeting me to ask me to share your stuff when you’re obviously not taking the time or energy to build up your own following. Say hi. Talk to me about more than your business or your blog. Be a real and transparent person. Own your words and your presence.

I didn’t just suddenly “get” over 4k followers on Twitter. No. I EARNED them. I didn’t pay for them. I EARNED them by being social and taking the time to get to know people. I don’t believe in Team Followback or any “get followers quick” scam. Sure, I don’t have daily conversations with every single one of my followers, but I am also not just plugging my blog, my chat, or a product. I am ME and I encourage others to boldly be themselves.

To take blatant advantage of my hard work for some free publicity for your work without being social and engaging first is downright disrespectful of what I’ve worked to do with my image and my brand. I am actually quite picky about what I share on Twitter because of the nature of my targeted audience – moms and families struggling with postpartum mood disorders. Even if your post applies to either, unless I know you and trust that you are only putting forth the best of the best, I don’t just retweet anything out there. To do so would be disingenuous to my followers and ruin the integrity of my identity. I am fiercely protective of my integrity.

I am also fiercely protective of #ppdchat. No one truly “owns” a hashtag, but when you start one, you hope for the best. I am thankful no spam has occurred with this hashtag and people have used it for the original intended purpose. The community springing forth from this hashtag is gorgeous, strong, and wonderful. I hope it continues to be such for a long time coming. I do not take kindly to folks abusing this hashtag.

As I pointed out earlier, Social Media is SOCIAL, it’s not someone standing in a mall handing out stacks of pamphlets to someone saying, “Here. I made this now go give it to someone else.” Social Media is hanging out at a coffee shop with friends, having meaningful conversations and then deciding to share certain aspects of those conversations and ideas born in those conversations.

Social Media is NOT one person with a megaphone. Because if it was, I’d want to smash the megaphone and not have a damn thing to do with Social Media.

Treat Social Media as you would a get together with a close friend and you’re already way ahead of the pack. Treat Social Media as if you’re a street vendor trying to get as many sales as possible and we’ll happily ignore you as we sip lattes and change the world one tweet (and follower) at a time.

(Although this is totally an afterthought and not at ALL a sales pitch, if you want great Social Media Advice? Go follow @ChrisBrogan. He knows what he’s talking about and his latest book, The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise?, is absolutely wonderful. And this is a perfect example of how Social Media works, people. Chris didn’t ask me to share, doesn’t know I’m sharing, I just happen to respect his work, he’s engaging, and BAM. Organic share. Brilliant.)

Thoughts on beginning a #PPDMD Twitter Chat


For nearly a year and a half now, I have successfully run #PPDChat on Twitter. This chat is specifically for moms, families, and their loved ones as they navigate the issues faced while dealing with Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders. During the past few months, a new idea popped into my head as I actively joined in with #hcsm and #mhsm chats on Twitter.

Why not host a #PPDMD Chat? The thought process here, or logic, is to get providers from all walks of practice comfortable with discussing Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders in a setting with other physicians. Everyone from OB’s to Pediatricians to General Practitioners to Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Therapists, etc. Anyone and everyone who is a professional in contact with or has the potential to be in contact with a Postpartum family. If providers are more comfortable in discussing Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders online, perhaps they would be more comfortable in bringing it up with their patients. More adept at recognizing signs and symptoms most professional information doesn’t cover. More inclined to grow referral networks within their communities. Access to others on Social Media in the same field with the same issues is a powerful thing, one which #hcsm, #mhsm, and even #ppdchat have exemplified as of late.

Interested?

Please take a second to vote in the poll below.

Comments? I welcome those too. Let me know your thoughts. What you think #PPDMD should offer. How it could best help Physicians and those in a position to professionally care for mothers and families struggling with Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders.

Let’s get this discussion going. We’ve waited long enough. It’s time to do something.

 

All alone in a digital world


The following post is not meant to make anyone feel guilty or wonder if they should have leaned on me for support over the past few months. Everything I’ve done to support others has been of my own volition and if I needed to step back, please know I did so. It’s because of what i do that I’m writing to you today.

It’s been a helluva summer over here in my world.

I’ve not talked publicly about the details and will not do so now but I am now divorced. So when I say it’s been a helluva summer, I mean it. Over the course of this past summer, I’ve had a lot of emotional upheaval come my way. There have been things in addition to my divorce, which, I also will not divulge the details of, but these things have shaken me to my very core. I’ve gone to bed in tears. I’ve screamed. I’ve cried. I’ve wailed. I’ve wondered why I have to wake up. If I wanted to wake up. And yet… here I am.

In Nashville, I arose at 530a CT, made my bed, got dressed, drove to a nearby park and hiked 1.5-3 mi, showered, ate breakfast, made coffee, then onto the job hunt. I didn’t find a job. So at the beginning of July, I moved back home with my parents. Which, hello, humbling.

I lost my drive. My routine. I’ve been job hunting but I’ve also felt frozen. Frustrated. Scared. Rejected. Dejected. Alone.

Me? Alone?

But you’re a well-known blogger. The founder of #ppdchat. Giving. Compassionate. Funny. Awesome. One of the best friends I could ever imagine. Always there when people need you.

Surely you have people.

I have people. But I type to them on the computer. On my phone. They’re electricity, phantoms at best. In person?

I have my parents. People with whom I have been close with from a distance for the better part of the past 11 years. And let’s face it – you really don’t want to sit down and share everything with your parents.

Here, in person? I have no friends. I’ve lost touch with them all and really, at this point, don’t want to reconnect. I haven’t had an in-person best friend (other than my former husband) in nearly 11 years.

Then.

Trey Pennington.

Well known. Over 100k followers on Twitter. Committed suicide.

Alone.

Trey’s death scared the shit out of me.

Why?

Because there have been thoughts. A lot of thoughts.

Oh look. That tree is sturdy. I bet it’d destroy me and my car if I hit it going 70mph. Or… A steep hill… a ravine…. And trees. Surely I wouldn’t survive that.

But the one that scared me into really reaching out to someone?

Standing in front of my bedroom’s second story window wondering if I had what it took to fling myself out of it – at what angle would I have to do this in order to hit the cement wall? How long after I hit the ground would I survive for? Would I feel anything? Surely that pain had to be better than living in constant anxiety and frustration.

As I reached out to push the screen, I recoiled and rushed downstairs. Too close. Too.FUCKING.CLOSE.

A friend had reached out and told me if I ever felt Not OK, to text. So I did. We talked. He searched for some local agencies and found one for me. Today was my second therapy appointment. It rocked me. Hard. I drove for nearly an hour just to be okay enough to come home.

I’ve been wanting to write this post for almost a month now. I’ve been lying to myself. To you. To people who love me. I’m not okay. On my good days, I’m okay. But most days? Most days I’m a shell wrapped around shattered porcelain supports threatening to break any second. I rock, I pace, I can’t get my leg or my hands to stay still. I’ve been telling myself I’m okay, that I can do this, that I’m strong, that I have to make it through this because there’s no other choice but through. I can’t get out of this. It is my life. But – I’m alone in my life right now and I’m not so okay with that even though really, I have to be. There I go again.

Why now? Why today?

Because over the past week or so, I’ve had a couple of friends who have been in the same place come to me for support. I’ve watched myself type things to them I should be heeding but haven’t been. Words I need to live by but haven’t been.

It’s so very easy in this day and age to isolate ourselves. To live in an ivory tower connected to the world only with Wi-Fi. There are walls we put up, a lack of contact, a lack of true connection even if we try to impress upon others how much we care, they are, ultimately, still alone in their private hell. Our words are not three dimensional. They’re not hugs. They’re not “real” no matter how real they may seem or feel to those sending them. You can’t hug an email, a tweet, or a comment on a status update. Well, you can.  But it’s awkward. And you’re still alone in the dark. It hurts, y’all. Like hell.

Trey’s death especially hit home because again, here was someone who was not only connected online but in person and yet he felt so profoundly alone and lost that the only way out he could locate was death.What’s really scary is that from initial suicidal thought to completion, time lapse is typically only 10 minutes. 10 MINUTES, people! Which, in the Social Media Realm seems like forever but in the real world? It’s only 10 minutes. That’s not a lot of time to do anything. No amount of Klout in the world is powerful enough to prevent someone from going through with suicide if they’re truly determined.

I don’t want that to be my way out. I don’t want to be a statistic. I can’t let myself be a statistic. I’m fighting as hard as I can but it’s exhausting. Some days, I may be quiet. I may not be able to handle supporting you. I need you to be okay with that. I need to be okay with that. I need to be okay with not being okay right now and admitting that I’m tired. It’s a work in progress and I suspect will be such for quite some time to come.

I’m not posting this for pity. I’m not posting this for attention. I’m posting this because the more honest we all are about how we feel and the more truthful we are with facing the hard, the easier it is for us to make strides in healing the hard. The easier it becomes for the NEXT person to talk about the hard, especially when that hard is suicide or a mental health issue.

I’m refusing, once again, to remain silent. I hope my refusal to stay silent about this will help someone somewhere.

Know I’m on my way to my new okay. I don’t have a plan right now and I am seeking help. In the meantime though, and especially right after I post this, I’m going to need some time to myself because wow has this been hard to write. I imagine deciding to hit Publish will be even harder. Because once I hit that button there’s no more hiding this from anyone.  And also? I’m supposed to be strong. I’m supposed to be the support. Once I hit publish, that flips. Being on the opposite side of the equation is a bit scary… it’s territory I’ve not been in for quite some time. At least not publicly. Or ever, really, because I didn’t go through my PPD in real-time through my blog or on Twitter. Maybe I’ll just close my eyes and click. Like Pin the Tail on the Donkey except this is Bare your heart and soul to the entire fucking Internet and never take it back. It’s a pebble which, once dropped, will create uncontainable ripples.

Also? Make those connections. Online and off. Lean on them. BE HONEST when you’re not okay. Lying about your well-being only hurts yourself. I am SO sorry for not being honest but it’s hard to be honest with others when you’re not even capable of being honest with yourself. Now that I’m somewhat heading toward self-honesty, I will do my best to be honest with you too. I pray you’ll forgive my dishonesty and understand my struggles. I know most of you will. But I do worry some of you will worry unnecessarily about me as well or even wonder if you’ve done anything to add to my issues. Rest assured you have not, I promise.

I love all of you to pieces and hope you’ll continue to support me as I go through this new and not so stable time in my life. I know you’re going to want to help but a lot of this involves things I need to work through on my own. Just knowing you’re out there to support me as I’m moving forward will be more than enough.

I’m working to find my happy again. I promise.

To be Anonymous or Not…


Tonight I participated in the #hcsm chat over at Twitter. I love this chat. It’s full of passionate healthcare providers and patient advocates discussing the role of Social Media in Healthcare. It’s moderated via the account @HealthSocMed and lately by the wonderful @danamlewis.

The topic tonight debated the existence of anonymous doctors as well as patients within the Social Media world. Is an anonymous source authentic? Credible? In choosing to be anonymous, do we have to work harder to earn credibility? What is the motive for remaining anonymous? Can opening up about your condition as a patient hurt you when you seek employment? Why would a patient choose to not be anonymous?

As a patient who has chosen to be authentic in my presence online, I am here to tell you I do not regret the decision at all. My audacity in revealing my identity from the beginning has emboldened other mothers and families. It’s provided an honest insight into my journey, given a face to Postpartum Mood Disorders. If I had chosen to remain anonymous, the results may have been the same but if, down the road, would everything I worked for be instantly discredited if it were discovered I had used a pseudonym? What if I had done so but had been honest about my reasons for doing so from the start? What then?

Sure, I risk a LOT by using my real identity. I risk future employers reading about my experience in a psych ward. I risk judgment. I risk labeling. I risk my identity. But it’s all worth it when my authentic boldness saves lives. When a mom knows I am REAL and have been through the hell she is experiencing. When a dad knows I understand where his wife is and can offer invaluable insight into her journey. When a sister seeks me out on Twitter because she’s at her wit’s end.

Authenticity is the biggest stigma-buster in the world.

Can you be authentic and anonymous?

YES.

Some of the most authentic journeys shared here at My Postpartum Voice were submitted by those who wished to remain anonymous. Anonymity lends an empowering shield when it comes to mental health patients. It allows us to speak up with such detail and courage we may otherwise shun if we were forced to stand on a stage with a spotlight trained upon us, knowing our words will be broadcast to thousands upon thousands, forever memorialized on the Internet.

My refusal to be anonymous has saved lives. My compassion, respect, and understanding of those who wish to remain anonymous has also saved lives.

Anonymity can be a good thing. Authenticity can be achieved within the realm of anonymity. Credibility – possibly, but you have to work for it as well as be prepared for future fall out if you’re not honest about your desire to be anonymous from the start.

When it comes down to it, we can only decide for ourselves how comfortable we are with letting our stories out of the bag. We can only decide if WE choose to be anonymous or fling our true identity into the ring.

I’m in the heart of the ring. I love it here and wouldn’t leave for the world.

What about you? Are you anonymous in sharing your story? Or have you also thrown yourself into the ring of authenticity?