22 October 2013

Who knows?

Yesterday, a dear friend of mine turned me on to a news story that was featured by Fox 5 out of Atlanta. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get the video to play (my browser is being a little cantankerous) but the story I was able to read grabbed my attention.

The story Fox did covering Sarah Schwartz's fight with PPD is a familiar one. Breastfeeding. Anxiety. Not recognizing what was going on.

There was one thing that stood out in particular, though:

"Sarah says the irony in her story -- and the reason she wants to share it -- is that she works in mental health. She's been a social worker for 20 years and is the director of a nonprofit called Mental Health America of Georgia.
"And yet I was so sick that despite my knowledge, I still didn't recognize myself as being sick," Schwartz said.  "I thought, 'Could this be postpartum depression, could this be postpartum anxiety?'  And I thought, ‘No, I'm just a monster.  I am just a horrible person.' I understood for the first time in my life, why people commit suicide.""

People often say things like "How can you not know you have PPD?", "You must know what's going on with yourself", and all sorts of other phrases along the same line of thinking. The answer? I don't know.

What I do know is that for many of us, we don't recognize what's going on with us. You have to understand, PPD is literally messing with your brain. Me? My thought processes were different. My whole outlook on life was abnormal. I didn't recognize what was going on. It took me finding myself standing at the top of the stairs in the middle of the night thinking "I could just throw myself down the stairs", and then walking away only to think "I could take some pills and just go to sleep and not be hurting anymore and everyone would be rid of me, everyone would be better off without me anyways" before I realized "WHOA! Something is WAY off here, I need to talk to someone...".

I was good at hiding it; partly so others wouldn't think I was a horrible mother and partly, I suspect, so I wouldn't have to face the pain quite as much. Head buried in the sand, you know? I don't think most of my friends or family knew what I was going through. And most of them weren't that well informed and educated about PPMD anyways. Heaven knows I wasn't.

This difficulty that many women face in recognizing our own illness, recognizing that we need help, is why it's so important for everyone to be educated and informed about the realities of Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders. It doesn't matter how well educated a woman is about the symptoms and risks of PPMD, if she's "In the fog", she may not be able to recognize her own symptoms. There are quite a few things from my PPMD months that I don't really remember. Small wonder I couldn't recognize the symptoms. If the woman in your life is suffering, she may need your help to even be able to ask for help from trained medical professionals.

Thankfully, Sarah and I (along with many other women) found help through Postpartum Progress. Postpartum Progress is a WONDERFUL resource on PPMD, for everyone, regardless of whether you are a parent, parent-to-be, or someone who is a friend or family member of a new or soon-to-be-new parent. Please, educate yourself about the realities of PPMD. Know the symptoms. Know the difference between the Baby Blues, Postpartum Depression, and Postpartum Psychosis. Know about Postpartum OCD and Postpartum Anxiety. Know about Prenatal Depression. Know it all. Knowledge saves lives. Postpartum Progress has some very handy lists of symptoms in "Plain Mama English". Read the blogs of women who have survived PPMD (a list of blogs I follow is conveniently located in a tab at the top of this page). Check out resources like Postparum Support International, who has a list of support groups by geographical location and specialized support coordinators for dads, military families, Spanish speaking families, and Arabic speaking families. Online support can be found through PSI, #PPDChat on Twitter, and many other venues (including blogs and Facebook groups and pages).

Learn. Know. Educate yourself. Educate others. One of the biggest obstacles to me getting help once I realized what was going on was shame and stigma, fear of what others would think of me because of so many false ideas. In my opinion, the best ways to fight those nasty monsters are through education and public discussion.

One last note: I'd like to give a HUGE thank you to Fox 5 for doing such a wonderful story. Far too often when I hear about PPMD in the news it's in a negative manner that may have bad/false information and just spreads the stigma. This story gets it right. I'm dancing on my chair in gratefulness. Thank you, Fox. And thank you Sarah, for being willing to speak up and speak out. Warrior Moms unite!


19 October 2013

Liebster Award? Yes please!

A few weeks ago, I was nominated for a Liebster Award by Jen at Morning Coffee Confessions. I'm tickled pink and very happy that she thought of me. Thanks Jen!!!

It took me a couple of weeks to get to putting up my post (thank you midterms), but I figure better late than never. :)

In case you're wondering what the Liebster Award is, here's some information that I copied from Jen's blog:

What is the Liebster Award?
The Liebster Award is an award for pint size bloggers (bloggers who have under 200 followers) and is a great way to find new blogs to follow and hopefully make new bloggy friends.

The Rules:
1. Link back to the person who nominated you.
2. Answer the 11 questions asked by your nominator.
3. Choose 11 bloggers. each with fewer than 200 followers, and nominate them for the award.
4. Come up with 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
5. Contact your nominees and notify them of your nomination.

The questions Jen asked me:
1. When you looked at yourself in the mirror this morning, what was the first thing you thought?

"Wow, I can't believe it's our anniversary!"
(It's our fifth)

2. What did the last text message you received on your phone say?
"Sure. :)"

3. What's your life motto?
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

4. If you could pick anywhere to live the rest of your life, where would it be?
One of the Garden suites on a Norwegian Cruise Lines cruise ship.

5. What's the best route to your heart?
Be kind to my family, especially my children, and talk in an educated manner about how awful Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders are and how much need there is to fight the stigma and misinformation floating around about PPMD.

6. What do your friends and/or family think about your blog?
They think it's great. My family and friends have been very supportive of my blog.

7. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
What didn't I want to be? It changed hourly. I definitely wanted to be a mom though.

8. Did you have any resolutions this year? What were they?
No. I don't make resolutions anymore. I set goals and give myself permission to not beat myself up if they don't get achieved.

9. Do you have a day job? If so, what do you do?
I'm a full-time college student and a wife and mom.

10. Something that you learned recently?
When you're developing black and white photos in a darkroom, you can't pour Fixer down the drain. It's toxic after it's been used because it contains silver particles.

11. Coffee or tea?
Tricky question. As a Mormon who's observing Word of Wisdom, I should say herbal tea since WoW's guidance is to not drink tea or coffee unless the tea is herbal tea. However, I love me some Pumpkin Spice Latte or Frappucino. Or rather, I did. No, I still love it, I just don't indulge. There we go.

You're welcome.

My nominees:
1. Ashley at Hull: Family of Three.
2. AddyB at Butterfly Confessions.
4. Anna at Anna and Aaron.
5. StoryGirl at Sometimes It's Hard.
6. Cori at In Pink Ink.
7. Lauren at My Postpartum Voice.
8. Stephanie at The Mormon Child Bride.
10. Julia at The Sugary Shrink.
11. Janae at Claire and Janae.

The Questions:
1. What is your best quality?
2. What is your blog about?
3. What is one cause, issue, charity, etc. that you wish more people knew about?
4. What kind of chocolate do you prefer?
5. What is one piece of advice you wish you could go back in time and give your teenage self?
6. Who is your hero?
7. What is your favorite tv show?
8. How many pillows do you sleep with?
9. If you could be any superhero or villain, who would it be?
10. What's your favorite holiday?
11. What's one thing you wish you could tell everyone in the world?

Have fun, bloggers! Please don't feel any pressure to answer this, or to answer it within any particular time frame. But, if/when you do answer, if you let me know, I'll add the link to your response post to this post so other people can read what you have to say. :)