29 January 2013

You know you're a mom when...

Today, I'm participating in my first blog link-up, courtesy of Andrea over at Good Girl Gone Redneck (Heeeeey girl!!!).

Motherhood is hard. Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
We all have those AHA! moments throughout when we're saying, holy cow, we really ARE a mom. Or whoa, did I just SAY that to my kid? I'm turning into my own mom!
Whether it's the stereotypical "Because I said so!" response to our little ones (and who among us has NEVER EVER used that? - Really? Surely you jest!) or the random, "Please stop chasing the dog," Motherhood has us saying and doing the strangest things.
Will you join me today and share some of yours?

Oh man. Heh. I positively chortled when I read that.

You know you're a mom when...

  • You don't think twice about saying things like
    • Get your foot out of your sister's mouth. 
    • Don't shut your sister in the fridge. 
    • Get out of the litter box! 
    • Don't color on your brother/sister.
    • Let your sister out of the box.
    • I'm very sorry you bit your tongue but I'm not going to kiss it and make it better.
    • No, I draw the line at including "thank you for sister pooping in the tub" in bedtime prayers.
    • Diapers don't go in the litterbox.
    • Stop trying to chew on the cat's tail.
    • Nail polish doesn't belong in your hair.
    • Don't put the kitty's head in your mouth!!!
  • Conversations like this are perfectly normal in your household.
"Get off the dog. She is not a horse."  "No Mommy, she's not a horse, she's a zebra!".
  • You find yourself swaying as though to soothe a baby, despite no baby being within eyesight.
  • You can recite the entirety of Llama Llama Red Pajama by heart.
  • You're a pro at hiding your laughter during bedtime prayers that include elements such as "Bless shark, and bless shark's dinner" and  "In name of Cheetos Christ, Amen".
  • You agree with the saying "Silence is golden, unless you have a toddler, in which case it's terrifying".
  • You can push a stroller while carrying two kids and a diaper bag AND holding a third kid's hand... all at the same time.
  • You laugh at the Terrible Two's because you know the Terrifying Three's are SO MUCH WORSE.
There's so much more. The conversations I have with my kids...


27 January 2013

Calming Manatee: My new discovery

I've made a new discovery in the world of the internet: Calming Manatee. Calming Manatee is a tumblr blog with pictures/memes of manatees saying happy, calming, affirming, and sometimes funny, things. I may or may not have pinned quite a few to the Postpartum Depression Hope pinterest board and I wanted to share a few of my favorites here, because they are oh so applicable to everyone reading this blog.

I should stop now before I end up just posting every single one. Seriously, go check out the blog. It's amazing. And so true.


18 January 2013

"Too smart" for medication?

Have you ever read or heard something and gone "(S)he said WHAT?"? I have. Sometimes I end up laughing at the statement that caused me to have that reaction, sometimes it makes me sad, and sometimes it makes me angry. Whichever the case may be, I usually have something like this look on my face (that's my youngest baby, by the way, isn't he absolutely freaking adorableness incarnate? He melts me).

On today's installment of the "This so-called disease" series, let's talk about one of those moments that was captured in print. Prepare yourself, it's a doozy.

"You are too young, too smart not to reply on this type of medication".

I'm pretty sure they meant to say "You are too young, too smart, to rely on this type of medication", and I'm going to respond as if that's what they said.

If I'm being totally honest, I have to admit that it's really really REALLY hard for me not to stoop to insulting this person for the fact that they totally flubbed their comments. Why is it hard not to go to that level?

Because this comment flat out hurts. It HURTS. A lot. It hurts me personally. Why? On earth does it hurt me personally? It wasn't directed at me, the commenter was addressing the person who posted the status. It's not like the commenter called me stupid or anything so why get riled up about it? Why take it personally?

Because they DID call me stupid. They did insult me personally. Not only did they insult me, they insulted every other person who has chosen to take antidepressants. It sucks, it hurts, and it makes me angry.

Whether they realize it or not, what this statement says is that people who choose to take antidepressants are not smart. It says that it's a stupid choice. It says that taking " this type of medication" is not a wise decision.

Why is it stupid? Why is it smarter to not take medication? For some people, prayer isn't enough, yoga doesn't do the trick, diet change doesn't change the state of their/our mental and emotional health, and changing how they/we think doesn't change the fact that they/we have Postpartum Depression, Postpartum OCD, etc. Those things work for some people and that's fantastic, it really is. I am truly and genuinely happy for those who can navigate the treacherous waters of PPMD without medication as their compass. Therapies that don't involve medication are perfectly legitimate and work very well for some people. That doesn't mean that those of us who need to take medication are choosing a treatment plan that is any less valid.

After my first kiddo was born, I went several months without medication. I spent that time praying that I would feel better and that God would "fix whatever is wrong with me". I tried to just make up my mind to be happy. I struggled. I fought. I tried to make it without medication, without talking to doctors, without saying "I need help". I tried to do it the "smart" way. You know what that got me? A trip to the ER followed by two separate inpatient stays at a psychiatric hospital because I let it go so long that I became a danger to myself and wound up at the top of the stiars thinking about throwing myself down them and then went and pondered over-dosing on pain medication.

Is it smart to suffer just so you can say you're not taking medication? Is it smart to risk ending up dead by your own hand in the name of no taking antidepressants? Does it somehow make you a better person to choose to go the drug-free route when you NEED medication, all so you can say you're making the "smart" choice? Does it make you a better mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister, whatever, to suffer in the name of refusing medication because it's stupid?


Let me say that again, in case there's any doubt. NO. A thousand times NO. Not just NO, but a big, gigantic, humongous HELL NO. And yes, that is me shouting over the internet.

If you can treat and manage your depression without the use of medication, awesome. I've had friends who were able to go that route, and did very well with it. But for me, that didn't help. It didn't make me a better anything (other than better at sitting in a rocking chair like a zombie, better at snapping at my husband, better at avoiding the stairs thanks to intrusive thoughts, better at coming up with excuses to stay home, etc., and none of those are things I would really consider "betters" to brag about). It only made me more miserable for longer.

Whatever route you take in treating your illness, don't feel like it's stupid. If it works for you, if it helps you, that's what matters. You have to do what is best for you, your baby, your family. Don't believe this kind of crap. Don't let yourself feel inferior for choosing medication, or for choosing a non-medication route. What is important is that you're taking care of yourself. As long as you're not hurting yourself or someone else in the process, don't worry about the "how" as much as focusing on the "what" of getting better.

I'm not stupid. You're not stupid. We rock. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. <3 p="p">Photobucket

14 January 2013

I would not take any of these drugs

Welcome to the second post in my series This So-Called Disease. In the first installment, I talked about the person who left this comment on someone else's status about Zoloft vs. Celexa.

In that first post in the series, I touched on how the use of the phrase "this so-called disease" and others like it trivialize and make light of mental health in general and Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders specifically. I'm still seething about that...

In this post, I'm going to examine the first sentence of this comment and try to express how it makes me feel as a survivor of Postpartum Depression, Postpartum OCD, and Postpartum Anxiety.
"Pardon me, but I would not take any of these drugs."
When I think of how I would respond to someone saying that, I'm torn between "That's nice. Good thing I'm not you" and something slightly less snarky. In my experience, people who say things like this usually respond to a smartaleck response with something along the lines of getting offended and huffing about "Well I'm only trying to help" or "You don't have to be so rude". Alright. First off, it's rude of YOU to come in here and tell me "I wouldn't take that" and act like you know every facet of my situation and medical history, and the factors my doctor and I are looking at. And that's without even starting to look at how incredibly rude it is to make light of someone's illness and basically blow them off. So don't go firing the first shot and then be upset when the person you've just gone after on a very sensitive topic shoots back.

If I were a better person, my first instinct would probably be to respond with something more along the lines of "Thank you for your input but my doctor and I have decided that this is the best course of action for me. Here are some facts and statistics about Postpartum Depression and mental health. Let me educate you.". But by golly, it gets so frustrating to constantly and continuously hear people who have never been in your shoes tell you that they know better than you what you're going through and how you should handle it.

When someone tells you something like "Pardon me, but I would not take any of these drugs", it's very easy to feel like you're being told that you're making the wrong decision and doing the wrong thing. Considering that when I was fighting this nasty battle, one of the worst parts was my brain telling me that I was doing everything wrong and I was a colossal screw-up, I sure as heck didn't need other people (who didn't really know what they were talking about) telling me what I was doing wrong or what I should do better/differently. I was already beating myself to a pulp,; I didn't need any outside help taking a hammer to me or even handing the hammer to me.

On top of that, you're not me. If you've never been in my shoes, you can't know what you would or wouldn't do if you were me. You can THINK you know, but you don't. Not really. Until you're inside my head and my heart, feeling what I feel, thinking my thoughts, seeing things the way I do through my lens of PPMD (and everyone's lens is a little different, no two people have the exact same filter), you don't know, so stop trying to tell me what YOU would do and try supporting me,

If you really feel that your concerns about whatever treatment I'm considering are that big that you really have to say something, do some research first and then come to me privately and say "Hey, so I have some concerns. Here's what they are, here's why I feel this way, and here's what I found when I looked into it. I'm not trying to tell you what to do. I just want what's best for you and I want you to know that no matter what, I love and support you and I'm always here for you.". Do you see the difference?

It's been my experience that people don't usually like to be told that they're wrong, even about small things. When it comes to something as important and sensitive as how they're considering or choosing to treat an illness, it's even more so.

I don't know many people who go into decisions about things like mental health treatment and antidepressants lightly. I know the person this comment was directed towards certainly isn't. I definitely didn't; not when I was hospitalized the first time, not when I decided to take Zoloft starting at 38 weeks when I was pregnant the second time, and not when I decided to start Zoloft at 35 weeks this last time instead of waiting until 38 weeks. None of these decisions were made lightly. They were all made with a great deal of research and talking to my husband, my medical professionals, and friends who had dealt with similar situations. In my opinion, it is the height of arrogance to set yourself up as an authority on the decisions a person is making about this type of thing when you are anything but, and to tell them loftily "Well that's not what I would do". Not only do you set yourself up to potentially lose a friend and make yourself look like a complete jackass in the process, you can potentially do a lot of damage to the person you're giving this "advice" to.

You wouldn't take these drugs? That's nice. You're not me. You don't know what I'm dealing with. And you're not my doctor. So until you can be supportive instead of being a jerk, just take this particular piece of advice and shove it. I won't tell you exactly where to shove it, I'm sure you can figure that out for yourself.

12 January 2013

This so-called disease

Recently(ish), someone told me that there was not really a need for further mental health awareness efforts, that all the information is out there, and it is the responsibility of everyone to do the research that leads them to this information and get the help they need. I disagreed quite vehemently, and still do, because awareness isn't just about putting information out there for those suffering from... say... Postpartum Depression, it's also about fighting the myths and stigmas that are out there, about trying to help people who perpetuate fallacies like "It's all in your head" or "you can pray it away" realize how wrong that line of thinking is and how much harm such attitudes can do.

The other day, while I was sitting on Facebook, I happened to look over at my ticker and see that a friend of mine had commented about Zoloft and breastfeeding. I went to look at the status and shared a little bit about my personal experiences. All was fine and dandy until someone posted this little gem.

Immediately, my mind flashed back to the conversation a few months ago in which I was told that there's enough awareness already, and thought "Yeah right!". I'm happy to report that this person was pretty swiftly told (very nicely) to stuff it. I, of course, promptly thought of my blog (as I always do when I see or hear someone say something incredibly ignorant, asinine, offensive, and generally just straight up wrong about mental health and especially Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders) and decided that this would be good material for a post.

The more I looked at this comment, though, the more frustrated I got, and the more thoughts I had running through my head. I finally decided that I might be better off using it as the foundation for a series and focus each post on one particular element. My first series, yay!

What I want to address in this post is the use of the phrase "this so-call disease". (typo is left because that's how it was typed in the original comment). Anytime someone uses this phrase (or one like it) it gives a tone of "It's not a REAL disease, it's all just in your head." which, of course, is not true. Diagnoses don't get put in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition) just because someone decided to throw a bad thought process in there.

Mental health illnesses such as Postpartum Depression, Postpartum Psychosis, Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and so many others exist. They aren't made up. They are truly illnesses just as much as cancer and diabetes are. They aren't pretend illnesses that the pharmaceutical industry decided to invent so that they could sell even more drugs and make more money (yes, I have been told this before, and I rolled my eyes as hard as I hope you are now). Mental illnesses aren't something that can be prayed away. Changing how you think doesn't make it go away. Ignoring it doesn't make it disappear. Believe me, I tried. Many other people have tried. Usually, the only thing that ignoring it accomplishes (in my personal experience) is to exacerbate the symptoms.

Phrases such as "so-called disease" are born of ignorance and a lack of education. Unfortunately, not only does this type of nonsense spread the ignorance of the individual with verbal diarrhea, it adds to the harmful stigmas that make it harder for people to reach out for help. I can not tell you how much damage it does to hear things like "this so-called disease". Of course it's bad news if you're already struggling, but even if you're not it builds a flawed and cracked foundation that could crumble to pieces if the wrong burden is added.

If you think of a mental illness as a "so-called disease", do yourself and everyone out there (especially those struggling with a mental illness) a favor and drop it from your vocabulary. Don't even THINK the phrase again. Adjust your thinking and accept that just because you can't necessarily see outward physical symptoms doesn't mean someone isn't struggling from a legitimate illness. Would you call cancer, diabetes, influenza, polio, tetanus, HIV, etc. a "so-called disease"? Then don't insult and put down mental illnesses and those suffering from them (or those who have survived) by insinuating (or outright saying) that it's not a real illness. It's real. I've lived it. I came frighteningly close to not living through it. Don't sit there and try to tell me I imagined it.