Archives for May 2011

10 Dumb Things Not To Do At Your Doctor’s Office

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen recently published the piece "10 Dumb Things You Do At The Doctor's Office" and Karen Kleiman pointed it out on Twitter. Karen said she thought the article was very pertinent to moms with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like postpartum depression, and I heartily agree. In particular, I want you to consider #2, #4, #6, #7, #9 and #10.

Make sure you don't do those things, please. 😉

Jenny’s Light Golf Tournament To Benefit Moms With PPD

Jenny's Light will host its 4th annual Jenny's Light Charity Golf Tournament on Saturday, June 18th in Birmingham, Alabama. Jenny and Graham lived in Birmingham, and this event is important to everyone who loved them.

There is still room for a few more foursomes as well as sponsors. They can always use more auction items and if you have something that you would like to donate,please contact Anna Emblom, event director, via email.Great auction items include: Timeshare lodging, art, wine, sports memorabilia, gift certificates, etc…

Jenny's Light is the presenting sponsor of Postpartum Progress, and their support helps keep us going, so please support them if you can!

For more information pleasecheck out the Event Website.

On Blogging, Popularity Contests & Why I QUIT!

Last night I received an email telling me I'm up for the Circle of Moms Top 25 Mental Wellness Blogs. You'd think that would make me happy, but it didn't really. In fact, I immediately felt sad once I understood what was involved.

I've been blogging for seven years now (Postpartum Progress' 7th anniversary is in July – wahoo!), and to be honest I'm completely over contests in which you get named the best in some area of social media because you were able to get the most people to vote for you. Websites create contests like these for one reason: to drive traffic. They tell you that you're up for some award, and that the way to win is to send everyone you know to their site — not yours — to vote for you. What's more, they want you to send people to their site to vote EVERY DAY. Not just once, but over and over and over. I guess this must increase their traffic enough that they become more attractive to advertisers.

I'm announcing publicly that I'm not going to do that. Just not going to. It's silly. No. More. I quit.

What good does it do for me to drive friends and family and people I hardly know up the wall so that some other website can get a lot of traffic? What are we doing?! Everyone I know who has to beg for votes is uncomfortable the entire time they are doing it. So why do we do it?

While I think the other Top Mental Wellness nominees are very deserving and I support them being recognized 100%, I really wish that organizations would just recognize them for their work PERIOD, without requiring them or me to hustle ourselves for votes. Why not just point out what great work people are doing and leave it at that? And I'm not calling out Circle of Moms for doing this, because they are just doing what EVERYONE else is doing.

While I'm at it, I also refuse to drive everyone crazy trying to get more "clout" at places like Klout. While I appreciate the fact that Klout recognizes I have some influence with my particular audience, I have ZERO plans to spend every day all day tweeting just so that I can increase my clout. That doesn't help me help women with PPD, which is my mission. To get more social media clout, I'd need to tweet nonstop, get as many people as possible to follow me on Twitter regardless of whether they care about postpartum depression or what I write about, get them to talk to me as much as possible, etc. That's not what Twitter is about to me. It's about being able to have authentic conversations and engage with people in a very easy way, and I love it. I want it to stay that way.

Sorry, but I'm not going to stay up all night blogging. I'm not going to take my phone to bed with me so that I can continue tweeting into the night. In fact, my smartphone has never entered my bedroom. Ever. That's where I sleep, not where I try to conquer the world by staying up past what is a healthy bedtime for me so that I can ratchet up higher numbers. Honestly, I cannot let myself be tricked into thinking that if I give up rest, or down time, or time when I'm not social media-ing myself to death I'll somehow become rich and famous. I just want to talk to you, the person reading this right now. I like you and want to know you and am so glad you are here. That's what matters to me.

I love blogging. I love bloggers. I love social media people. I love the internet. I love what we are able to do, that our words can stretch across thousands of miles to make someone else feel understood and supported. I love that we are able to use our voices, and that no one can take that away from us. That's amazing.

I also love when the work I do is recognized based on merit. I'd be lying if I said I didn't. It would be no fun to sit at your computer hour after hour, day after day, and never hear from a single soul that what you are doing is having some impact with at least somebody. I was so proud to become a WebMD Health Hero in 2008, and to be recognized as among the top ten depression sites by Psych Central, and to win the Bloganthropy Award last year, because those things were based on merit. It meant a group of people who knew my work, and knew intimately the arena in which I do that work, felt it was good enough to be recognized in some way. This makes me proud, often gives me an opportunity to talk to new people about the cause of women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and makes me eager to strive towards becoming way way way better at what I do.

I rarely feel good when the work I do is recognized based on the number of votes I am able to gin up. I don't want to have to beg you to "Pick me! Pick me! Have you voted for me yet? Huh?! Have you?!" I don't want to have to outmaneuver fellow women bloggers I respect and care about.

So, I say thank you, truly, to Circle of Moms for recognizing that I am a decent Mental Wellness blogger. I say to my fellow 24 nominees that you are all wonderful, and different, and special in your own right and it doesn't matter whether you are #1 or #25 or #50 because you are helping people and being courageous. I honor you for it and I wish others would honor you for the work alone, and not for which of you has the best get out the vote campaign. You deserve better than that. And finally, I say this: don't vote for me.

You will no longer see me asking for votes for these various contests. I can't do it anymore. It tires me. It's soul sucking. I'm not going to do it. If someone recognizes what we do here for the impact it has on mothers and families, or for innovative ideas, or for the writing, or for positively affecting mental health or reducing stigma, I will share it with you FOR SURE, but as for the rest of it … I quit.

Why Mindfulness Should Matter to Moms

I have had one of those weeks in which each moment of each day has felt like playing catch up. You know the weeks: I find myself exhausted upon waking up, harried through breakfast with my kids, late for preschool drop off, barely on time for my first client session of the day, behind on paperwork, late for pick up, short tempered through dinner and bath time, impatient during book time before bed, too lazy to eat anything other than cereal for dinner, and then exhausted again at bed time. And all that is not including the time that I have tried to occupy keeping the house in some kind of order, paying my bills, folding laundry that has been sitting in the laundry room for days, supporting friends who just had babies, staying connected to my husband, playing with my daughters and, if I am lucky, getting to yoga.

It has been one of those weeks.

Which kind of makes me laugh, to be honest, because there are many, many times that people assume, since I am a specialist in the field of mental health and perinatal mood disorders, that I’ve figured it all out. That I’ve got it down. That I am some how Superwoman.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

You see, we are all human. And we all have to practice being the best that we can be. And we all have these weeks, no matter how much we love our children or our jobs or our friends. And we all survive.

I'm writing on mindfulness today because I was reminded of something incredibly important in my yoga class this weekend (yes, I actually got there!). Whether you consider yourself a yoga practitioner or not, much of the philosophical or spiritual practice that yoga entails is a bulletproof reminder of what’s important in times of stress: Mindfulness. And while these times of stress may seem infinite when struggling with PPD or another perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, they will still be there from time to time when you have recovered.

And so I invite you, just for a moment, to step on to your “mat” – in whatever way that “mat” presents itself to you:

Close your eyes. Yes, if you feel safe enough to close them for just a moment. Notice your breath. Are you breathing quickly? Shallow? Not at all? Slow it down. Bring that breath all the way to the bottom of your belly. Notice for one brief moment the space between your inhale and your exhale.

Then, become aware of your surroundings. What do you hear? What does it feel like to be sitting in your chair? What does it feel like to be you right this second and in all of your complicated glory. What does it feel like to be you without all of the self-judgment but simply just the way that you are? Oh, and don’t forget about your breath.

Now, to what I was reminded of today. My teacher this morning spoke about how what happens on the yoga mat is a perfect reflection of what happens in our lives outside of the yoga studio. Do we rush through postures? Do we forget to breathe? Are we judging ourselves and becoming frustrated when we can’t get into a certain pose or aren’t “good enough” at yoga? Are we comparing ourselves to the others in the room? Are we paying attention to what feels right in our bodies or are we doing what we think our bodies “should” do and therefore putting ourselves at risk for injury? What happens when we exist in these ways in a yoga class? We lose our balance. We fall. We become more frustrated.

Instead, what would happen if we decided to slow down? To breathe. Deeply. To pay attention to what feels right today, not yesterday or tomorrow, but today at this very instant? What would happen if we choose to look inside rather than around the room at others? If we decided to give our bodies and ourselves the benefit of the doubt?

I’ll tell you: We would balance.

You see, it’s a common tendency to speed up when we become stressed or overwhelmed. We try to cram more in so that we can feel more accomplished. We try to push ourselves because we feel like we should, and we become tired and depleted in the doing. When we are stressed most of us speak in ways that are unkind to ourselves, judgmental and very non-empathetic. “I can’t believe you can’t do this,” we say. “You are so lame for being such a failure and for falling behind,” we criticize. “Obviously you will never be able to do it,” we command. And, usually, we forget to breathe. And we lose our balance.

The message is fairly simple and I needed a good dose of reminding myself. The more mindful we are the more grounded we become. When we move and make choices with intention we are rewarded with calm more often than not. Being a mama is hard and we are pushed and moved in more ways than we can all count. Add a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder and we can feel more off balance than ever.

But practicing mindfulness does not have to happen in a yoga studio or on a real life yoga mat. It can happen anywhere. Sometimes it takes practice, but it is most certainly worth the try.

Kate Kripke, LCSW