11 September 2013

Shout out to a hero, Cristi Comes

I know today is 9/11 and it's expected to talk about the events of that awful day and the people who were lost in those tragic events. But you know what? I want to take today to focus on something positive, talk about someone who is doing great things to help other people.

Picture from Motherhood Unadorned.
One of the lovely things about the internet is that it helps you meet people you might not meet otherwise. Take, for example, Cristi Comes of Motherhood Unadorned. I know Cristi (online) because of both of our involvement in the online PPD community. She's one of my Warrior Mom idols, I really look up to her. She's talented and her passion for advocacy, awareness, education, and support in the PPD community are beyond description. Straight up, she rocks.

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week and Cristi has been hard at work. She's done some fantastic blog posts including a guest post from Leila (who blogs at Life As Leels) and her own blog post about ways we can fight suicide. She's been posting up a storm of links and images, such as the one to the left. She's organized an online Stella and Dot Trunk Show to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide PreventionShe's been tweeting links and... well... tweets... that are relevant, helpful, etc.

Did I mention that Cristi is fantastic and I absolutely adore her?

Cristi is one of those people who truly embodies what it means to care about other people and work to make the world a better place, to fight against the stigma and myths that surround mental illness, suicide, Postpartum Depression, and related topics. She is a shining beacon of light and hope to people who feel worn out by life, who feel like they're alone, who feel like there is no hope.

There are a lot of people out there who don't get it. WAY too many who don't get it, people who actively fight against the idea that mental illness and suicide are serious, people who think that stigma is a joke and that it's okay to mock and deride those who speak up, people who think that suicide is a joking matter (it's not a joke and it's not a game). In fact, I've got another post cooking about an instance of that exact thing happening, an instance in which Cristi speaks up and people are just inane jerks to her, but I wanted to talk about the good first, because good people like Cristi deserve the spotlight more than the jerks of the world.

Thank you, Cristi, for everything that you do. You may never know how much good you accomplish and how much you and your efforts mean to other people, but your contributions can't be measured by any human markers. Keep up the good work, you inspiring person you.

Be sure to check out Cristi's blog, twitter, and the Stella and Dot show through the links posted throughout the blog.

10 September 2013

Unexpected emotions

Recently, I posted about my new journey to be a Gestational Surrogate. I will not be using TriCare; instead, I'll be using private insurance, which I applied for after I matched with my Intended Parents. Recently, I got an email from the insurance agent stating that my application had been passed on to the underwriters for further consideration and that they would be in touch with me. Today, I finally got a call from them and, just as I had suspected, they needed to ask me some more questions about my medical history.

I had expected that they would want to ask me about my thyroid and the PPD I had after Lizzie was born. What I didn't expect was to feel ashamed talking to them about the PPD. I pretty quickly realized that I was giving way more information than they needed and that I felt like I was some sort of freak of nature for what I went through.

It was a little upsetting to realize that I still harbor feelings of shame about my PPD. I talk about my experiences all the time. I'm very open about what I went through. I blog. I tweet. I talk about it on Facebook. I talk about it in person. I try to be an open book about my experiences, partly so that people know they have someone to talk to instead of feeling all alone like I did. A big part of it, though, is that I talk about it so others know that it isn't anything to be ashamed of. And yet, I still sometimes get knocked for a loop by that lingering monster of false guilt. Ugh.

If you're interested in following my journey through surrogacy, head on over to The Womb Fairy, my new blog devoted to the path towards being a very personal and very extended babysitter.

04 September 2013

My mom's thoughts on PPD

In honor of the fact that my mom is celebrating her birthday this week, I thought I'd share a guest post she sent me a little while back. My mom is a wonderful and amazing person; I can't imagine having anyone but her as my mom and I'm so blessed to have such a supportive woman in my life. Please welcome my mother, Sharon O'Neal.

I would like to share some of my thoughts about PPD, in hopes that it'll be helpful.

I experienced some mild baby blues after my second baby's birth. They would happen unexpectedly at the strangest moments, but then pass in a short while. I'm sure my two-year-old daughter wondered why Mommy would tear up while reading about cars, planes, and trains! But, within a few weeks or so, they were gone, and life was wonderful and busy. 

Life happened and time passed, and I didn't think about it very often. Then, when our granddaughter Elizabeth was three months old, we received a call from our son-in-love letting us know that Esther had gone to the hospital to seek help for Postpartum Depression and he was at home with the (breastfeeding) baby. I promised to pack some things and go the next day. I stayed with them, helping with Elizabeth. 

When we got clearance to go visit Esther at the facility, we would go and take turns visiting Esther while the other one waited with Elizabeth in the waiting area. I remember the first time I saw Esther after her admittance. She had the bleakest, most lifeless look in her eyes. The despair in her was almost physically palpable. It broke my heart to think of how much she was and had been suffering. As I think back now, I have tears in my eyes, and I remember thinking, “We will do whatever we need to do to help this daughter and her precious family.” 

The following season was one of the hardest in my life. But, when I see how hard Esther and Eric have fought this disease, and how passionate she has become on behalf of others, I am so thankful that she had the courage to say, “I need help and I deserve help.” And that's the message I now try to pass on to others: no matter what you're dealing with, you are loved, you do deserve help, and there's no reason to feel any shame or guilt for this problem. If there's a family member of a woman with PPMD who needs someone to listen, I'm here for you.

I can't put into words how grateful I am for Mom's love, support, and acceptance during that difficult time, and ever since, extending now to how grateful I am for this post. I love you, Mom!