Happy 10th PostPartum Progress! Getting Rid of The Postpartum Depression Stigma

Shortly after I had Ethan, I realized that I wasn’t happy about it. That I was sad and lonely and was wondering if maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a mom. I was feeling the worst I’ve ever felt during what should have been the happiest time of my life. We struggled with infertility for six years before we finally conceived Ethan. I couldn’t understand why I was so sad when I should have been walking on clouds – I didn’t know I had postpartum depression.

I first admitted to having dealt with postpartum depression shortly after I started my blog. At that time, I was still embarrassed and ashamed to admit it. There’s an ugly stigma attached to all mental illnesses, and I didn’t want to be a part of it. It wasn’t until after I started talking about depression and postpartum depression that I realized that I could help end the stigma.

So I headed over to Band Back Together to share my story, and a poem I had written about how I felt when dealing with depression. And people left comments. I knew that I had to keep talking about it.

Last year, while writing for Moonfrye.com, I wrote a piece called Talking About Postpartum Depression. I wanted women to know that there is help for postpartum depression. That they aren’t alone.

If you are dealing with postpartum depression, you are not alone. PostPartum Progress offers support, education, help, and hope to those dealing with PPD.

By that time I knew all about Postpartum Progress and was helping spread the word about it because I wished that I had someplace to go back when I was in that dark time of my life.

Postpartum Progress, founded by Katherine Stone, offers new moms information, community and hope with postpartum depression and other mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth (like postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, depression during pregnancy, post-adoption depression, postpartum PTSD, depression after miscarriage or perinatal loss and postpartum psychosis). Katherine also founded the nonprofit organization Postpartum Progress® that raises awareness, fights stigma and provides peer support to women with maternal mental illness.

During those dark hours, I wish I would have found this safe haven. To know that I wasn’t alone and that what I was feeling didn’t make me a monster would have been a godsend.

Right after I had written that piece for Moonfrye, Katherine Stone had included it on Postpartum Progress in a post titled Postpartum Depression Stories: Maybe I Really Didn’t Want to Be A Mom. I cried when I saw it. Because I knew that there were other moms who would read it and feel better knowing they weren’t alone.

If you are dealing with postpartum depression, you are not alone. PostPartum Progress offers support, education, help, and hope to those dealing with PPD.

 

Even reading what she wrote about my piece – that a risk factor for postpartum depression is infertility – was news to me. It’s so important that we share our stories and help spread the word to other moms.

This year is the 10 year anniversary of PostPartum Progress. Katherine has been helping moms who feel like their worlds are spinning out of control for ten years. If you are currently experiencing, or know someone else who is experiencing postpartum depression, I urge you to visit PostPartum Progress. Even if you aren’t sure if what you are feeling is postpartum depression, go there now. There’s a whole page dedicated to explaining the symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety.

You do not have to deal with this alone, and I hope that you will take my hand and let me take you somewhere that will start your journey to wellness. You can start by doing these few things:

Like Postpartum Progress on Facebook and follow Katherine Stone on Twitter. You’ll also find Postpartum Progress on Pinterest: Postpartum Depression Hope.

Head over and read personal stories from fellow WARRIOR MOMS, moms who are in the same boat that you are. You can also join the Warrior Mom Community Private Forum for support.

Happy Anniversary Postpartum Progress! You are giving women such an amazing gift everyday. Here’s to another ten years!

Crawling Out Of Darkness: What Depression Feels Like

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I’m an open book. I have blogged about our struggles with infertility and my depression several times before because I KNOW that it helps people that are experiencing it themselves.

Over the summer, I stopped blogging pretty much all together for two months. I said it was because the kids were out of school and I didn’t have time. But that was only part of the reason. I didn’t fully realize it then, but I realize it now…as I crawl out of the darkness that is depression.  During the last few months, I experienced a major bout of depression.

And it all started with thinking these words: I used to be so much more.

Earlier this year, life was going good. I started working out regularly and eating healthy. I was proud of my new body, and I felt great about myself. I felt like this whole motherhood thing was becoming manageable and I wasn’t a stressed out tyrant all day, everyday. I was living and feeling happiness and joy.

The depression started seeping in and taking over at the beginning of June. I know when it happened because I can look back and see it. As I mentioned, I was working out a lot and treating myself kindly…taking care of myself. The kids and I went to my parent’s house at the river for the weekend and had a great time. But when we came back, I lost all of my energy. It was like a slow leak out of an old tire. I know that sounds weird, but slowly, my energy seeped from me. As did my hope and optimism.

What Depression Feels Like

I was always tired, always grouchy, I stopped working out. I started asking myself if this is all life is about. I didn’t want to do anything but just be alone….not easy to do with three small kids. I had no patience, no tolerance, and to be honest, I was not really feeling much of anything. And not caring.

I only recognized this at the beginning of August. A full two months after it started. When you begin coming out of the depression you recognize the signs. Hell, you know the signs before you fall into despair but don’t “feel” them coming on. At least I don’t. And if I did, I probably wouldn’t have the energy to do anything about it, even if there were signs on fire blinking Caution! Danger Ahead!

And while in a bout of depression, I definitely don’t realize that that’s what is going on until I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But crawling out of the hole doesn’t happen overnight. It’s like a reawakening.

Do you want to know what depression feels like? It feels like nothing. Hopelessness. Joyless. So tired. Melancholy. A weight on your heart even though you have so much to be grateful for and happy about.

Knowing that you should be grateful and happy, but not being able to do it.

I’m in a Facebook group with some amazing women and friends. We talk about EVERYTHING. I told the group that I realized I was coming out of a depression, and that I was feeling uncomfortable and guilty about it. One of my sweetest friends responded “feeling guilty is still the depression talking”. It was eye opening for me.

That’s also when my friend Katie over at Sluiter Nation, who also battles depression, mentioned she felt that she was maybe going into a depression…at the same time I realized that I was actually coming out of mine.

So Katie and I talked about it, and thought it would be interesting to share both ends of the pendulum; Katie is talking about falling into a depression and I’m sharing what it feels like to come out of a depression. Talking about this still taboo subject not only makes us both feel better about it, but also helps us keep in perspective that sharing our words is power. It’s power for us, and it’s power for you.

Do you know what depression feels like? If you have a story to share – whether you battle depression yourself or love someone who does – we hope that you’ll link up and share your story with us. We want to be able to share everybody’s takes on depression. Because we know that if we’ve experienced the pain of depression, so has someone else. Join us. Share your story and the power of your words. It doesn’t have to be a new post…feel free to link up an old one that you think describes your feelings.

If you know what depression feels like – in any way, shape, or form, know you are not alone.

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Where I’ve Been This Week 2012: Week 7

Okay I know, I know…it’s only Monday and I usually do this mid-week. But I have a few great posts that went live today and I wanted to share them with you!

Everyday Family

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I’m sharing tips for how to get your morning routine to flow more smoothly. It’s really not as hard as it seems!

Moonfrye

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Over at Moonfrye, I’m talking about postpartum depression because somebody has to! It’s still such a taboo topic and I think it’s important to share words about it. If you’ve experienced PPD, please leave a comment on my post there for others to read. Your experience will help a new mom feeling what you did.

I also shared a snapshot of Mia and her love of reading. Did you know you can share your snapshots as well? Head over to check out how to share your snapshots on Moonfrye.

Modern Day Moms

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If you waste a lot of food because your freezer is out of control like mine was, you will want to head over and read my 10 organizing tips for your freezer.

What have you been up to this week? Feel free to share by leaving a comment.

If I Could Turn Back Time, Here’s What I Would Tell 18 Year Old Me

My lovely friend Jamie over at chosen chaos is hosting a link-up (see the cute button?) similar to the series that she hosted on her blog called the 18 series. I was lucky enough to write a guest post letter to my 18 year old self at her place back in September…you can read all about what I would say to myself if I could turn back time.

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But there’s more to that letter to myself…more to explain. I shared a guest post over at the Blogger Body Calendar blog back in April 2011, I think. I wanted to post it here because I think it’s important to share our experiences with each other, what we’ve learned from the past. Let me preface this post by saying I don’t regret anything that’s happened in my life, but I do know that there are certain things that I will never let happen again.

Here is the post, with a few minor changes.

I never considered myself a victim of abuse; I never even considered myself abused. Back then – when I thought about abuse – I thought about blood, broken bones, scars, and trips to the emergency rooms. None of those things had happened to me.

Sure my ex-husband occasionally said horrible things that I still can’t repeat. Sure he broke me down emotionally, making me actually believe that I could never amount to anything. And sure, okay, sometimes he shoved or pushed me, or grabbed me so hard by the arms that there would be fingerprint bruises left as a reminder of just how bad I had screwed up.

But this happened 20 years ago…long before the internet. I mention this because before the internet, information wasn’t as easy to come by (or to spread for that matter). If you missed Oprah the day that a woman was talking about domestic violence, and you didn’t set your VCR to tape it, you were out of luck. None of my friends or family were in abusive marriages or relationships (that I knew of at the time). These things weren’t spoken about openly. Of course friends knew that my relationship was rocky, that my ex treated me a lot worse than I deserved to be treated, and that he drank too much. But abuse? No, that word was never spoken.

The signs were all there when we started dating: he was controlling, jealous, practiced “do as I say, not as I do” in all areas of our lives, drank too much, and flew into rages. But I was sure that it would all change when we got married, that things would get better. Because love conquers all. My immature emotions and experiences wouldn’t let me see the reality of the situation, and as I said, information to the contrary wasn’t readily available.

And of course I told myself that maybe sometimes I did deserve whatever my ex was saying or doing to me. Here’s a dirty little secret I kept to myself for a very long time (even after our divorce): Sometimes I would taunt him, push him with my words in hopes that he would hit me. Because then at least I would have a reason to leave him. Nobody would expect me to stay in a relationship where I was being abused, would they?

I did end up leaving after 8 years of being together and 3 years of marriage; I had to for my sanity’s sake. I was literally falling apart (panic attacks, insomnia, fear, depression) and I couldn’t live that way any longer.

Now, after all of these years, and after being in a healthy, loving relationship for over 12 years, I can look back and see what a horrible situation I was in. That I was a victim of abuse. That him just pushing me occasionally was physical abuse.  And I am so proud of myself for getting out of that situation. For finding courage and self confidence to pick myself up and move on to find positivity in my life. To find a man who helped re-build my self esteem and self respect.

But you know what? When a friend asked me to write this post, and when she asked about my abuse, if my ex-husband ever physically abused me, my response was: ” I always downplay it. He pushed, shoved, let bruises on my arms, but didn’t really “abuse” me. Ha ha. I know it’s abuse, but I still have a hard time admitting it.”

I openly share my story with anybody that asks or is willing to listen. Why is there a stigma for me still? Why am I still so ashamed to admit that I endured abuse? Because it wasn’t physical so therefore it was less in someway?

I wanted to write this piece to share with other women who are currently in abusive relationships that YOU CAN GET OUT. YOU DO DESERVE BETTER. YOU WILL SURVIVE WITHOUT HIM. It will be the hardest thing you ever do, but it will also be the most fulfilling thing that you ever do. Seek help…through family, friends, your church, a trusted co-worker, wherever, but seek help. Because you really do deserve it.

It Makes Me Mad…

Do you know what makes me mad? What really gets under my skin? Grates on my nerves? Makes me want to pull my hair out? That I can’t put together a simple poem.

I know poems don’t always have to rhyme, but in my head they always do…it’s like frickin’ Dr. Seuss lives in there or something.

I don’t remember from college writing classes all of the rules that make a poem a poem. And that makes me mad, too. For Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop, which I participate in every Thursday, the prompt that drew me in this week was to write a poem about the last thing that made me mad. Well, the last thing that made me mad was that I couldn’t write a damn poem!

Since I don’t have a poem about not being able to write a poem, I’ll tell you about the thing that made me mad before that. The aches and pains that come when you are having a particularly rough bout of depression. My neck and head are killing me, and I swear, if I could rip them off right now I would do it in a heartbeat. Nothing is helping. Not Aleve, not massage, not heat, not even wine! Nothing…other than muscle relaxers that are not prescribed to me that I may or may not have taken a few times over the last couple of weeks.

So, here is my attempt at a poem about pain. I don’t even know if it technically qualifies as a poem, so humor me here people!

It slams into me with force and anger.
It won’t go.
It makes me beg and plead,
but shows no mercy.
I cry. I pray for it to go.
It still won’t go.
It knows that I would do anything for a small reprieve,
for a few minutes alone.

I try to seduce it; to tease it,
with things that will make it want more.
It sleeps for a bit, then wakes.
It smiles and laughs,
and slams into me again.
And so it goes…

Mama's Losin' It
I wrote this post for Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop in response to Prompt #2: Write a poem about the last thing that made you mad.