10 August 2012

From PostPartum Depression to the Olympics

Right now, the world is all buzz over the London 2012 Olympics, or the "Games of the XXX Olympiad". I myself have been happily absorbed in watching some of the sports and following various teams/athletes/stories that interest me, and not so happily absorbed in trying to avoid spoilers of results and medals since NBC insists on holding their footage until Primetime. I've watched with delight as athletes have soared to new heights and won hard fought medals, broken records, made history, and achieved their goals. I've watched with sadness as athletes have made unfortunate mistakes and bobbles that cost them the gold or knocked them off the podium. I've gasped when athletes have injured themselves. I've gotten teary eyed over inspiring stories of personal courage and fortitude and of overcoming what seemed like insurmountable obstacles to even be present at the Olympics. I've beamed with delight and gotten the warm fuzzies over incredible displays of sportsmanship and brotherhood reaching across the lines of nationality.

One of the athletes that I've been the happiest to follow and cheered the most enthusiastically for is Lashinda Demus. Lashinda Demus is part of Team USA and competed in the Womens 400m Hurdles, making it all the way to the Finals and receiving a silver medal. What is it that sets Lashinda Demus apart for me? She's a PostPartum Depression survivor.

I picked up on this fact when Katherine Stone of the widely read PPD blog Postpartum Progress posted about Lashinda in "A Warrior Mom In the Olympics and More PPD News You Can Use". I was immediately captivated and went off to read about Lashinda. It turns out that she gave birth to twin boys in 2007 and struggled afterwards with PPD, fighting a tough battle and making it out of the darkness with the help and support of her family.

I can't tell you how happy it made me to find articles on the web about her and her struggles, or the fact that a PPD Survivor is IN the Olympics. To me, it is first and foremost an encouragement to see the media mentioning her struggles and not making it out to be some nasty thing that happened because she did something wrong or any of the other stigmas that are so often attached to women with PostPartum Mood Disorders. On top of that, what a great example of strength and courage!

As I deal with the fact that I've had to start Zoloft at 35 weeks pregnant and will be on it for a while, and fight the fear that the Zoloft might not be enough, Lashinda Demus is like a beacon of hope. Her story serves as a reminder to me, and hopefully to many others, that no matter how dark the days get, no matter how badly we want to give up, all is not lost. Yes, things might not be the greatest right now but they can and will get better, if we just hang in there. Lashinda went from PPD to the Olympics and won a medal!

For those of us struggling with pregnancy related depression (whether it's before or after giving birth), we can do it too. We might not get a physical medal and recognition on the world stage but our victories, our winning our own individual races, are just as important and matter just as much as any athlete who's receiving a medal in London this summer.

Lashinda, thank you for the example you've set for us all, and thank you for your courage in being open about your PPD. You, your family, and your story are an inspiration. I don't know if you'll ever know how much it means that a PPD Survivor is participating in the Olympics (and medaled!) but it means a lot. Thank you thank you thank you!

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