27 January 2012

I have a dream!

I would *love* to be in charge of a foundation that worked to plant and manage clinics and hospitals around the country that specialized in working with and treating women dealing with PostPartum Mood Disorders and their families. Can you imagine how helpful it would be to have hospitals that ONLY dealt with PPMD? Hospitals where women with PPMD could be admitted inpatient and be surrounded by other women dealing with the same issues, where the therapy and classes and sessions were focused on the issues specific to PPMD instead of being the only woman in a group where the sessions are focusing on substance abuse and dual diagnosis? And to have these hospitals be covered by all insurance coverage and readily available, with services also available to those who don't have insurance and can't afford to pay out of pocket? Partial inpatient programs geared towards PPMD, therapy and groups, clinics with the staff all being trained in dealing with PPMD? This foundation would also mount aggressive public education programs. Billboards, informative brochures and books, advertisements on tv and radio, resources beyond a sheet of paper listing confusing and ominous symptoms that would be placed in OB and midwives offices, pediatricians offices, Planned Parenthood, Pregnancy Resource Centers... push for legislation that places more protections for women who have PPD, etc...

Can you imagine how much good a foundation like this could do? Can you imagine how helpful it would be to have hospitals that ONLY accepted patients dealing with PPMD, to have OB/GYN clinics that had both doctors and midwives who, along with all of their staff, specialized in and had experience with PPMD? Pregnant women with a history of PPMD could go there for their pre-natal care and know that their health provider REALLY knew what to look for. Women could go there for their regular womanly doctor visits and know that they had a doctor/nurse/midwife to talk to who would actually LISTEN to them and know what to do to help them and wouldn't just blow them off and judge them.

When I was inpatient with PPD after Lizzie was born, both times I was in a ward where I was the only one dealing with PPMD. Everyone else was there with at least a substance abuse issue, many with a dual diagnosis of SA and BPD, etc. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that but just as they needed specific programs to help them, I needed specific types of treatment to help me and sitting through 12-step programs and group therapy that centered around "Why are you addicted?" wasn't all that helpful. I felt like there was nobody there who understood what I was going through or where I was coming from. I already felt like a failure and an anomaly for being the only woman I knew who couldn't just be happy about having a baby, and it certainly didn't help to be the odd man out in the hospital. I got help from the hospital and learned from the sessions but it would have made SUCH a big difference if I had been surrounded by other women dealing with the same thing I was, if I had been under the care of staff who specialized in PPMD and had received extensive training in it.

And think of the programs that could be offered on a wide scale for families and friends of those dealing with PPMD. PPMD affects everyone who is close to the patient, what if there were group sessions that were ONLY for husbands whose wife had a diagnosis of PPD or PPP or PPOCD or PPA? What if there were sessions for the kids who maybe don't understand why Mommy is so sad or angry or whatever all the time? What if there were group sessions for couples? Sessions for parents of those dealing with a PPMD? Training seminars for clergy to teach them the realities of PPMD and how to help your congregation members with something other than "Oh, you need to pray more", and if those seminars also trained the clergy how to go back and teach their churches the realities and how to best be supportive of their fellow members who are dealing with these issues?

How incredible would it be to start seeing ad campaigns all over the country aimed at dispelling the myths and combatting the stigma that surrounds PPMD? Television and radio commercials, billboards, magazine ads... and a special group that works on nothing but legislation proposals to present to both State and Federal lawmakers on protections for women dealing with PPMD and expanding the requirements for doctors to talk to their patients about PPMD? I would love to see doctors be required to start talking and educating about PPMD early on and continue throughout pregnancy, so that women start thinking early on about the fact that it's real, it's a risk, it could happen to them, and no, there really isn't anything wrong with admitting they need help. And to require them to provide reading material (brochures, pamphlets, whatever) to educate family members so they know what to look for. These pamphlets would be more along the lines of Katherine Stone's The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression & Anxiety in Plain Mama English. Easily readable and understandable, rather than being a daunting and confusing list of clinical terms that leave you terrified and thinking "OMG!". And to see this material be required to be made visibly and readily available in OB/GYN offices AND Pediatricians offices? Wow!

I can't forget that it would be the cherry on top of the cake to have many more Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Counselors, Therapists, etc. around the country who are specially trained in dealing with PPMD. There's nothing quite like going to a therapist and realizing that you know more about the problem and solutions than they do. And of course, all of these hospitals, doctors offices, clinics, etc. would work to be covered through ALL insurance plans and would be able to help those who don't have insurance and don't have the means to pay out of pocket.

This is my dream. Some day, maybe it will come true.


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