Showing posts with label awareness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label awareness. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My Climb. Please join me?


climblogoFB
Perhaps like many of you, the arrival of my first son in 2007 was anything but the joyous experience I anticipated during my pregnancy.  I was one of the 15% of new or pregnant moms who experience postpartum depression, anxiety, psychosis or other related mood disorders.  One day in despair, looking for answers and support, I stumbled upon a blog.  In addition to an effective treatment plan, finding Postpartum Progress (www.postpartumprogress.com) and the resources there helped me to heal.
Postpartum Progress was there for me when I needed it, and I want to help them reach even more pregnant and new moms. I am proud to be participating in the first worldwide event to raise awareness of postpartum depression and all other mental illnesses related to childbirth, called Climb out of the Darkness.  On June 21st, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, PPD survivors all over the world are organizing to climb or hike a local mountain or park to symbolize our collective rise out of the darkness and stigma of these diseases as well as to raise funds to help support Postpartum Progress, Inc., a non-profit organization in the U.S. founded to help sustain the blog and create new programs that support moms around the world.
As of today, there are more than 80 different Climbs that will take place in the US, Mexico, Canada, Europe and New Zealand, including mine in Georgia.  The funds raised from this event will be specifically used for two purposes: Postpartum Progress, Inc. (a 501(c)3 public charity, federal tax ID 27-3100405) is creating new PPD educational materials to be used by obstetricians, pediatricians and others, as well as new materials to help educate the media on the public health impact of postpartum depression and related illnesses on mothers and children.
Supporting my Climb is quick and easy.  You can donate online at my Crowdrise fundraising site at http://www.crowdrise.com/postpartumprogress/fundraiser/atlantamom.  
If you aren't able to offer a financial donation, there are still ways you can help...
~Promote the event by sharing the link to my Climb page with others whom you think might be interested.  
~Share the Postpartum Progress and Beyond Postpartum blog links with women/men of child-bearing age.  Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders don't discriminate and I'm certain that whether you realize it or not, someone right now might actually be suffering and this information could save lives.
~Offer prayers for the fundraiser, the increased awareness, and the effective treatment for those who are/will suffer a PMAD.  I'd also appreciate specific prayers for the Climbers on the day of the event, June 21st.
~Write a little note or email to someone you know who is surviving or has recovered from PPD or a related disorder.  Let them know how proud you are of them and remind them how much they mean to you, their family, and the world.  Words of support, even years after recovery, really are a salve to the grief and guilt the most PPD Survivors experience long after their children are past infancy.
~Join me in Atlanta on the Climb day as L2 and I take a little hike up Stone Mountain in support of this effort and as a reminder of my personal journey out of postpartum depression and anxiety. (see more info below)

ATLANTA FRIENDS...PLEASE JOIN ME!!!
RSVP to atlantamom930@gmail.com so we can plan to meet in the parking lot that morning. 

*Postpartum Progress has put together a great list of FAQs: http://www.postpartumprogress.com/climb-out-of-the-darkness-faq

Please help me to help new mothers all over the world heal quickly from what is actually the most common complication of childbirth.

Peace,

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Presentation on Maternal Mental Health makes HUGE impact at the Georgia Capitol

Thanks to everyone who has promoted and supported Maternal Mental Health Week in Georgia, which isn't over yet!

This photo was taken after the presentation to the Health and Human Services Committee by Sarah Schwartz, Executive Director of Mental Health America of GA and PPD Survivor. MHA's Project Healthy Moms is one of the only state-wide resources for maternal mental health in Georgia.  

At the presentation, many survivors and supporters wore green sashes to show our commitment to the cause of maternal mental health. Our presence said "I am a survivor. I stand for awareness, education, and support of mothers. Maternal Mental Health is important to EVERYONE in this state and in the world."  I am proud to have been there in person to put a face to Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders.



Sarah's presentation and the energy generated by the folks in the room was already powerful, but even more so for me was the number of Health and Human Services Committee members (who are Representatives in the Georgia House for various districts) who came up to us afterwards to offer support, business cards, and offers to help promote awareness.  One Representative even said, "I teared up during your presentation...it was so moving.  I had Postpartum OCD."

With your help, we can continue to raise aware and grow these efforts towards education, prevention, and treatment of PMADs for every single woman in the state of Georgia and beyond.

~Special thanks to all who made this week possible...Governor Nathan Deal, Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Rep. Sharon Cooper, Marian Kelly (who donated the fabric and sewed our sashes), the staff at MHA, the volunteers who came to put a face to the illness and those who treat it, and all of you for spreading the word!!!

Monday, January 28, 2013

JOIN MHA OF GEORGIA IN COMMEMORATING MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK, FEBRUARY 3-9, 2013!


   
Due to the efforts of Mental Health America of Georgia's Project Healthy Moms initiative and  the Georgia Coalition on Maternal Mental Health, Governor Nathan Deal has declared February 3-9, 2013 as Georgia's official "Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week". During this week, we ask healthcare professionals and compassionate individuals who care about Georgia's mothers to ask the question: what can we do better in Georgia to provide for the mental health of our mothers? The awareness week will serve as a means to kick off the efforts of the Coalition, and advocate for the future mental health of Georgia's mothers. 

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week Activities: 
  • Join us at the Georgia Capitol on February 6, 2013 at 3:00pm to advocate for making maternal mental health a priority in our state! 
  • For everything you want to know about maternal mental health and more, join us at Northside Hospital's cafeteria (1000 Johnson Ferry Road, Atlanta, GA 30342) on February 7, 2013, 11:00am-2:00pm where we'll be promoting Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week. 
  • Project Healthy Moms is launching the Warmline, a peer-support and resource linkage service for mothers throughout the state of Georgia, in Spanish! 
  • E-toolkits with information about screening and resources for maternal mental illness are going out to county health departments and home visiting programs throughout Georgia.
  • Project Healthy Moms is finalizing our partnership with the March of Dimes NICU program, which will help inform new mothers, whose babies are in the NICU, about mental health resources in Georgia.  
  • An article about maternal mental health, written by the Program Manager of Project Healthy Moms at MHA of Georgia, will be published in the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies February newsletter. 
For more information on Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, click here to visit our website, or contact Liz at liz@mhageorgia.org

Monday, January 14, 2013

Best under duress?


My kids were out of school for three weeks over the holidays.  During that time, we traveled, there was illness, my childcare was extremely limited, though my workload was about average, and my usual self-care rituals were cut back dramatically.  Yet, when I went in to my neuromuscular therapist (he does cranio-sacral, massage, and chiropractic work on me for both my physical well-being- back and neck issues, and mental health- cranio-sacral is effective in improving brain function), he mentioned that my shoulder muscles, which are a direct barometer of my stress level, were the least tense he'd ever experienced.  I couldn't believe it.  I mean, I'd had my kids without any childcare at all for 10 straight days at that point!

Last Sunday, my husband went on a business trip on Sunday morning.  By late Monday he called me complaining of illness, by very late Tuesday he arrived home just in time to fall in bed (alone), and by 9:30am on Wednesday a flu test had confirmed he had influenza.

Now, if there's anything that triggers us it's germs.  I wouldn't say were are phobic, per se (well, maybe M is...), but we definitely seem to be more concerned than the average bear about illness.  We make wellness and immunity a priority, giving our kids high quality vitamins and supplements, and do our best to limit their exposure to really germ-laden places (i.e. no Chuck-E-Cheese, Gymboree, or Monkey Joes for us in the Winter).  And, since we've had our second child, we've decided not to travel by air as a family in the flu season either.  We wash our hands a ton and overall just try to be careful about our exposure.  It doesn't limit our activities too much, as we continue to enjoy the things we really like to do, like going indoor rock-climbing, going out to eat occasionally, and spending time with friends.

In any case, you could say that the past five or six weeks has been stressful.  I've been parenting mostly on my own since Jan. 2nd.  Work has really geared up for me, with a new parenting group starting, a transition in staffing in the area I supervise, and an official launch of the website I've been working with a team on for several years about to take place.  Also?  I've had some difficult stuff go on in my personal life with a couple of different friends that has left me a little sensitive and hurt.  But, the weird thing is that I feel great.  The boys and I are into a routine.  Thankfully, while our babysitters were both really ill before Christmas, we've been able to have adequate childcare so far in 2013.  We had a terrific weather weekend in Atlanta and I spent tons of time outdoors, playing in the sandbox, on the trampoline, and teaching L1 how to play kickball.

I guess what I am saying is that it seems that when I feel and do my best is directly correlated to having a lot going on and to being in what would typically be labeled as fairly intense situations.  Trust me, I'm not wishing for bad things or stress to descend upon me permanently, I mean everyone has their breaking point.  However, I am wondering if I tend to be a person who thrives with that extra bit of adrenaline.  It does make a bit of logical sense to me, seeing as to how my entire childhood could have been labeled as "under duress".  I don't remember a single day lacking an intense feeling of stress, much of which was not irrational or everyday stress, but rather stress related to my safety and to the well-being of others.  Perhaps my body's defense mechanism was to modify itself to function optimally under those conditions?  It does seem that in adulthood I have chosen much healthier situations and that I am able to relax and certainly have not felt as if I am under constant duress for a very long time.  But, perhaps, deep in the vault within my brain, that super-girl lies in wait to conquer all and flood me with productivity and positivity when things get tough.  In any case, I am grateful.

How about you?  Do you find that you do well under intense, occasional stress or does everyday life tend to be when you are at your best?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Strong Start Day at Postpartum Progress: October 5


This Friday is Postpartum Progress' 2nd Annual Strong Start Day. This is the one time each year when we go all out to raise funds for Postpartum Progress, funds which pay for all of the operating expenses throughout the year as well as new projects to increase awareness of postpartum depression, the most common complication of childbirth.  

The big, hairy, audacious goal for 2013 is to be able to pay for the creation, printing and distribution of printed materials to OB offices that are based off of the materials we've already created online at PostpartumProgress.com. Since not every mom with PPD knows about blogs or is on Twitter, it's important that we extend our reach offline as well.


I'm hoping you will be willing to lend a hand if you feel called to -- even if just for a second -- to support Postpartum Progress (the nonprofit) on Friday and spread the word about Strong Start Day. A tweet, a Facebook share, a G+, a post of your own, whatever you can offer to share the info, because every dollar we get helps. Truly.  And of course, if you feel so compelled and are financially able, please donate.  Every dollar counts.  For real.

Here's a post Katherine wrote about the event this week on the Postpartum Progress blog if you'd like to learn a little more: Help Us Reach Even More Moms With Postpartum Depression.

And in case you weren't following back then, here are links to the posts I wrote about Strong Start Day in 2011:


DonateNow

Friday, September 28, 2012

Georgia's Project Healthy Mom's Offers Trainings on Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders



Project Healthy Moms is an important initiative of Mental Health America of Georgia that strives to increase awareness, identification, treatment, and support of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) in Georgia, while also reducing the stigma associated with them. Project Healthy Moms is getting the word out about our screening & identification trainings for healthcare providers, and we hope you may be interested.

Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) are the #1 complication of childbirth in the US, affecting approximately 10-15% of childbearing women. Project Healthy Moms’ PMAD Screening and Identification Trainings are aimed at healthcare providers (e.g. physicians, nurses, social workers) who come in contact with childbearing women. Through this program, healthcare providers who are involved in maternal and child health are trained to recognize symptoms of the various PMADs and consequences of untreated PMADs. During the training, providers learn how to screen mothers for PMADs and are also educated about treatment options and referral methods. The goal of the training is to ensure that healthcare providers are able to correctly and routinely identify and refer women who may be suffering from PMADs in their practices.


To schedule a training, please contact Liz Smulian at liz@mhageorgia.org or at 678-904-1968.


Monday, August 13, 2012

When what you are good at isn't always what you want

I have a friend that I met in the underwear department of Sears.  If that's not funny enough, add to it the fact that we met while in Jr. High...the week before we started High School (yep, I'm so old that they used to call it Jr. High when I was in 7th & 8th grade).  We were both back-to-school shopping with our mothers and there was an obnoxious customer in the line in front of us.  Clearly being about the same age, we made eye contact and bonded over the extended wait-time to buy cotton panties that we'd later "show off" in the whopping 7 minutes we had to get ready for the swimming quarter of Phys-Ed.

Anyway, S and I never knew we'd see each other again when we silently laughed it up about the lady at the checkout counter.  Then, just a few short days later we wound up changing next to each other in a High School locker room.  We faked our periods to get out of swimming together, ate lunch together at least two of our four high school years, and eventually became college roommates.  We were bridesmaids in each others weddings and spent the early days of our first pregnancies together (even though by that point we hundreds of miles apart).  Lamenting morning sickness, childbirth complications, husbands who work too much, sibling issues, everything and anything.  We managed to stay really close during the first twenty or so years of our friendship.  And then with five kids and nearly that many states between us, time and space got the better of us.  We've lost touch...not completely...never completely, as far as I'm concerned.  But enough that milestones in each others lives, small and sometimes even big, aren't necessarily shared anymore.

Last weekend I happened to be browsing Facebook and saw that S's father had been tagged in photos of her only sister's wedding ceremony.  I didn't even know she was engaged.  I nearly wept when I saw photos of S and her three children smiling at the camera and realized it had been not only nearly a year since I had seen them in person, it had been almost as long since we'd even spoken on the phone.

There are lots of excuses.  Work.  Family.  Kids.  Money.  Time.  You know...it's hard to keep up with even your best friends when you don't see each other very often.

So what do underwear, friendship and Facebook have to do with a postpartum blog?

I have recently discovered that my Call is more than just supporting women (and occasionally men) through perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.  Whether by the nature of time and growth, or just by my own ability to now be open to discerning in more detail, I have realized that God has gifted me in a broader way.

There is an analogy I often make out of what I discovered when we were house-hunting shortly after we married.  Looking at a lot of houses before choosing which we would finally buy taught us what we wanted by seeing up close and personal what we did not want.  Likewise, I am learning what I am good at and what people reach out to me for based upon what they don't immediately or directly share with me.

You see, the calls and emails I get are from people who are in pain, who are grieving, anxious, sad or just need plain old support of one kind or another.  Rarely does someone call me giddy with great news.  Engagement announcements, pregnancies, weddings, or everyday joys are found out by email or even more often via social media.

Why?  Because "I do" sad, painful, and needy really well.  God has blessed me with the ability help others and be well connected to resources for people who are in physical or emotional pain.  Who have relationship troubles, who are depressed, who are grieving.  And because of that, anyone who I've ever supported in that way automatically thinks of those emotions and situations when they think of me.  I'm not associated with "happy" for many people.

Those of you who know me, know that in my personal life, I actually do lots of happy.  I adore Disney World.  I have a cutting, sarcastic humor that I have to temper in order to align my faith and beliefs with my behaviors.  I enjoy me a glass of wine (or two) often.  I sing in the car and shower (very, very, badly), laugh, act goofy, and love nothing more than a great time with friends.

But, what I'm really good at, what I'm called to do in this life, is to be a partner, a supporter, an advocate.  And with that comes the responsibility to accept and live out the Call.  There are consequences to everything.  The result of this particular call is that I'm not gonna be the one who most people call first when they have something to celebrate.  And, while I'd be lying if I said I wasn't sad about that, I fully accept it and pray that in the midst of living out that call God will sprinkle in a little joy here and there so that I might share in not only the successes and sweet moments of my own life, but those of others, as well.

Peace,

Monday, July 2, 2012

On Taking a Break

Any mom knows that "taking a vacation" when it involves young children should rather be labeled "travel" because it is anything but relaxing, in general.  Packing up loads of things into the minivan (or figuring out how not to travel with loads of things if you are going by air) is a challenge in and of itself. Follow that by lodging in an un-babyproofed hotel room or condo, access to all sorts of hazards like pools, oceans, mountains, fishing poles, and steep steps, just to name a few and even a potato chip fest can result in weight loss when a mom chases her kids around a beach for a week.

Even still, a change of pace and scenery can be nourishing for the mind and soul.  Last week, we headed to South Carolina as a family.  While there were moments of relaxation and lots of enjoyable times, it wasn't the kind of vacation where you sit and read a book for hours.  That season of my life is behind me, and perhaps ahead of me when my boys are older.  For now, though, this trip was an opportunity to focus on my family and nothing else.  Not work, not blogging, not house-cleaning, not bills.  Not friendships, not volunteer work, not to-do lists, not shopping.

Taking a break, even if it's not in the form of massages, naps and long, quiet walks, is important.  If you haven't taken a break from it all, from the work, from the laptop, from the household, then I encourage you to do so.  You just might find that in the midst of a new place and space you find solace, peace and a bit more of the self that you forgot for a while.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Childhood Trauma and the Adult Worldview, Part One

I have a confession to make.  Well, I guess most of what I do on here could be a "confession" of sorts- I tend to be kind of an open book, no?  Yet, most of that sharing has to do with motherhood and I rarely talk about my adult to adult relationships.  Often, its because I want to respect the privacy of my extended family and friends.  Other times its because somehow I have become so accustomed to sharing struggles in pregnancy, postpartum, and parenting that I don't hesitate to discuss the good, bad and ugly in that arena and so I focus in my zone.

As a child of a home filled with addiction and abuse, an "only child" for all intents and purposes, and one whose responsibilities (as is typical of children of mentally ill parents and/or alcoholics) far exceeded what was age appropriate, I learned a lot of techniques.  Technique may be a positive spin on what they really were- coping strategies, enabling methods, and efforts to hide the truth in order to protect my mother (and I guess myself, in some ways).  At five and six I should remember ballet and gymnastics practice and trips to Disney, and if I had been raised in a more ideal situation I bet I would, because those things were a part of my life at that time.

However, those are not the memories that stand out.  The ones that do are the scary trips to the basement of my apartment building to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer.  You see, the only way the laundry got done was if I did it myself.  It would be night, and the building that we lived in wasn't exactly the classiest or safest of places.  It wasn't the inner city, it was suburbia, but it housed people who had bad habits, were transient or were "young and stupid".  There was one other girl around my age in a neighboring building.  Her name was Doreen and she was the sole caregiver for her mom, who was wheelchair bound and was able only to afford that particular inexpensive community.  She was nice enough.  Wasn't someone I would have made friends with outside that place, but was my connection to "normalcy" because at least someone else a little like me lived there.

Anyway, those nights when I had run out of school clothes I would rush down the two flights of stairs with quarters in hand for the pay machines.  Once I got the to long hall in the basement, I would pretend to be a ballerina, leaping down the hall- telling myself that I was just getting exercise, just pretending to be a famous ballet dancer.  I would move swiftly and keep a constant eye out for danger.  Real or perceived, danger was around the corner in that spooky basement and I wasn't going to fall victim to it if I could help it.

Those days were also filled with caring for and cooking dinner for my elderly grandparents, which had become routine after several incidents of my grandmother, suffering from Alzheimer's and/or dementia, having burned food into the pan and creating a fire hazard, endangering herself and my even older and handicapped grandfather.  In the latter days of their lives, I had to put something together so that Grandpa wouldn't be eating yellow cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as Grandma's brain deteriorated to the point where she remembered only directions for baking boxed cakes as she had 2-3 times per week for decades.

There was is so much more...many more stories.  Some I remember vividly and others I push deep into the recesses of my brain under lock and key, knowing that going down that mental path will uncover way more than I am ready to deal with.

That's all history, of course.  Living in the present, focusing on the future!  Sure, those are effective ways to enjoy the life we are currently living, doing our best to allow our past only to shape, not to determine, our present.

Yet, we'd all be kidding ourselves to some extent if we didn't acknowledge, address, and then do our best to work through the habits, perceptions and fears that are outcomes of past trauma.  As I consider my relationships, the ones that go beyond being a mom to my boys, I realize that the way I interact with my friends and loved ones and the role I take on in the relationship is very much related to how I trained myself to get through the days, weeks and years of instability, exposure to inappropriate things and dangers that my formative years possessed.

Each of our pasts and the way we deal with them is unique.  Yet, the one commonality is that trauma has long term consequences.  It shapes our personalities, even re-wires our brains, to think, perceive and act in certain ways.

As I reflect on more than 35 years of life and have nearly two decades of adult relationships under my belt, I am beginning to recognize patterns.  "Mother Hen", I'm finding, isn't just a role that was isolated to High School and College when I was the caregiver for friends under the influence of dangerous drugs, living out dangerous promiscuity or making poor choices of friends.  It's a role I continue to live-out.  It shapes who becomes friends with me and how we interact.  It shapes how my friends and loved ones think about me and can both bring us closer and push us apart when the mothering seems more judgmental and bossy than caring and concerned.  Loud noises causing anxiety, a need for time and space to myself, perfectionism, over-analyzing...the list goes on and on.

Being aware of these habits, doing my best to use them for good and not let them push others who I want to be close to away, and stretching myself by experiencing anxiety triggers and realizing I can deal with them are my current strategies to move past the past.

How about you?  Do you find that childhood or past trauma shapes your view of the world and current relationships?  Do you choose awareness of that or prefer to move forward quickly in order to bury the past?  If you are choosing to address how your past has impacted you, how are you doing that?

In Part Two of this series I will be talking about how my past created a sense of blame and guilt around everything and how I am striving to overcome this.  Please stay tuned for Childhood Trauma and Adult Worldview, Part Two, next week


p.s. While we are on the topic of genetics and childhood trauma, stay tuned because next up in the Warrior Mom Book Club is The Ghost in the House, followed by The TurnAround Mom by Carey Sipp, who is featured here at shareWIK:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

With Eyes Wide Open

Making the decision to have a another child after surviving a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder is beyond difficult.  Thankfully, I had the opportunity to make that decision, though many moms are thrown into the deep end while still treading water during recovery because of a surprise pregnancy.  Or, a mom who had decided not to have any more biological children after recovering might become unexpectedly pregnant.  In any case, having the opportunity to take that next step intentionally, rather than starting out in a state of shock, was a blessing.

Still, there are a lot of emotions involved in not only the decision making around "yes or no", but also the details of the how, the when, and the who when it comes to the next time.  For me, everything about the second time was different.  From how I told my husband to with whom and when I shared with loved ones the news that I was expecting, nothing about #2 (aside from the nausea) looked or felt the same as with L1.

With L1, we had thought we were infertile, so the fact that I was pregnant in and of itself was a shock.  Not so much with L2...we were pretty much "trying" and it happened fairly quickly.  No shock when you pee on the stick already expecting to see "pregnant".

With L1, I had no idea what pregnancy felt like.  Sure, I knew what it looked like.  Most of my friends had had children before me and I had even been present and living with my sister for her pregnancy, birth and the first two years of my niece's life.  I knew what to expect when someone else was expecting.  Doctors appointments, cravings, swelling, ultrasounds, names, etc...I had that covered with L1.  Bedding, baby showers, birth plans, childbirth preparation...I did all the research.  Yet, from week 39 on, pregnancy and motherhood looked nothing like what I had expected in reality.  Everything I thought I knew went out the window and all the feelings I had anticipated having were absent.

Eventually, things panned out, as a result of time, treatment, personal growth, support and helping others. I adjusted to life, grieved and moved past the guilt and trauma around childbirth and breastfeeding.  I found my groove as a mama and bonded with my son in spite of PPD and the time it robbed us of.

But, recovery from the unexpected is a much different thing than making a choice to do something that could resemble, if not become a repeat, of one of the most challenging times of your life.  Choosing to take a chance with your well-being is a bit different than playing poker.  Money is just money and while financial issues can certainly be stressful, playing the odds with your health is a whole different ballgame.

Having a child after PPD might be labeled as a lot of things...
Scary.
Stupid.
Reckless.
Selfless.
Brave.
Bold.
Confident.
Naive.
Selfish.
Faithful.

I've heard it called all those and more.  I personally experienced reactions of people that were as broad as that list.  Maybe it depends on the people?  Both the parents and the loved ones, in terms of how the situation is evaluated.  Or, maybe it is all those things?  Or, maybe, just maybe, we don't need to label it at all.  Maybe having another child after PPD is just like having a child before PPD.  New territory.  A different experience.  A life-giving and receiving process.

To be honest, I'm really not sure and it doesn't matter too much to me.  What matters is that having another child after PPD means you go in with eyes wide open.  Knowing what things might look like.  Having seen some very dark days and certainly not wanting to relive them.  There are no guarantees in life.  There's no one recipe for getting PPD, just like there's no one magic treatment for "curing" it.

The only thing that you can be assured of is that no matter what decision you make, you are not alone.  Others have been there and are willing to walk with you.  Whatever choice you make, thanks to this incredible network of PPD Survivors and those who love them, you will have a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, a palm to high-five, an ear to listen, and arms to carry you.

I went in with my eyes wide open.  I wasn't trying to change the past, but I was aiming to alter the future.  To create a new experience.  I made the choice to have L2, not as a re-do, but simply as a do.  A proactive choice.  I went into it with all the knowledge and experience behind me, all the hope and faith ahead of me, and a million miles of love and support around me.

(above photo taken in April, 2011 by my dear friend, Elizabeth, at Libbie Wicket.)

As I approach the one year anniversary of this second postpartum experience, I thank you.  Whomever and wherever you are.  Whether I know you in real life, virtually or not at all.  If you are my best friend or just a reader who has never commented or contacted me.  It doesn't matter.  Just by reading you have impacted my journey and made it better.

With gratitude,

Thursday, April 12, 2012

the journey is not yet over...

Lent ended last week with Holy Week and Easter.  The busiest and yet most penitential of church seasons.  This year, instead of giving up meat or wine or other tangible items as an act of sacrifice, I decided to take myself outside of my typical M.O.

Constant judgment of situations, and most of all myself, is my traditional daily practice.  Being a lifelong perfectionist, that judgment is typically followed by disappointment, guilt or an effort to improve things.

Trying to make one's life perfect is always futile.  No one person is without faults and weaknesses.  And no one's life is without challenges and trials.  Focusing on the negatives, the sub-par areas of our lives, is like a tone-deaf adult taking music lessons in an effort to become an opera singer.  Obviously, pointless and silly, right?

Yet, each and every day, most of us spend our time focused on our imperfect parenting, our dish-filled sink or our irritable spouse.  We resent the challenges life has uncovered and waste hours of our time ruminating on how things might be different or feeling sorry for ourselves or guilty for our circumstances. We see only the stretch marks and pimples when we look in the mirror and gloss over the bright blue eyes, the shiny hair or the strong hands that actually make up our physical appearance and are admired by others.

Trying to change our situations by wasting mental energy lamenting them is inefficient.  It points our minds towards pessimism, zaps us of our passion for our lives and for improving them.  We spend so much energy looking backwards or to the future, that we fail to even see, let alone allow ourselves to enjoy, the present.

This Lent my focus has been on acceptance.  Instead of trying to constantly evaluate or change my reality, I chose to embrace it.  To allow it.  To accept my role, my life circumstances, and the people in my life as is.

It's amazing how freeing these 40 days of practicing non-judgment have been.  I grew in my faith and I believe also overall as a person.  I had to give up something much more challenging for me than candy or steak.  Living honestly in my own space with myself and others and being present and in the moment taught me much about a true peace that really does live outside of something that can be achieved through conscious effort to change.

I realize that just like absolute perfection can't be attained, neither can full acceptance.  This journey is far from over.  But the baby steps I have made toward peace and acceptance have been fruitful enough that I look forward to walking in this space, focusing on embracing my life, my very good life, just as it is.


~For those mamas who are currently suffering from PPD, please know that this message is not directed to you.  You do not deserve to be suffering as you are and certainly should not be encouraged just to accept it.  I pray that you will have within you the hope and determination to help you seek support to recover quickly- PPD is 100% treatable!

This post is reflective in nature.  Four and a half years after suffering and then recovering from severe PPD and PPA, I realized a part of me was still struggling to accept motherhood and the people in my life, including myself, as they are.  While I believe this might have been a small component of my depression after becoming a mother for the first time, I also whole-heartedly believe that the lifestyle transition was just one small piece of the PPD puzzle.  Thankfully, treatment allowed me to overcome the physiological factors, but the last bit of work was up to me.  Motherhood is sacrificial, isolating, and can be extraordinarily shocking to the system.  For me, finding my sweet spot within a role that requires so much time and effort, and is in many ways so defining, was a very slow process.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lifegate Counseling sponsors MAMABEAR 5K and 1 mile fun run!

I am thrilled that LifeGate Counseling Center, one of the few such organizations in Atlanta to consistently show interest in learning more about, raise awareness for and effectively treat women with mood and anxiety disorders, is hosting this event in May.  I hope you'll plan to participate or support the event in some way.



The MamaBear 5K and Kids 1 mile fun run.  This race is for the whole family, not just women...they are simply celebrating moms!  The North Face will be giving away prizes and have games for the kids.  The race t-shirts are really nice as well.  Please help spread the word about this cool event by communicating regularly and enthusiastically to all your social networks and at work, home and school.


Date

Start: Saturday, May 26, 2012 @ 9:00 AM

Address

Peachtree Presbyterian Church
3434 Roswell Road Atlanta, GA

Fees

$25 if received by May 22, 2012 | $30 late registration and $10 for 1 Mile | After May 22nd $15

Registration Closing Date

Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 8:00 PM PST