Archives for December 2011

For Moms with Postpartum Depression: Daily Hope

Daily Hope is a free email service for moms with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. If you’d like to learn more and sign up, click here.



1)   You can be assured that every Monday thru Friday for an entire year you will receive a Daily Hope message.  We won’t miss a day, and it will be sent to your inbox at the same time every day so you don’t find yourself wondering whether one is coming. Yay!!

2)   We now have rolling enrollment, so at whatever point you sign up, you will get all of the Daily Hopes in order, starting with the very first, and will never miss out on any of our carefully crafted personal messages of support and healing.

Just enter your name and email address in the form at the bottom of this page and you’ll be all set!

– Katherine

The Top 20 Writers on Postpartum Depression in 2011

postpartum depression hopeChoosing the top writers on postpartum depression each year is one of the hardest jobs I have.  There are so many courageous mamas out there writing beautiful things.  When I started doing this a few years ago there just weren’t that many of you writing about antenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety.  Now there are so many, sprinkling every corner of the internet with inspiration and understanding for pregnant and new mothers.  It makes this nearly impossible!

In the past, I have chosen ten writers or thereabouts.  But now? How can I choose just ten? So I’ve expanded to 20 this year.  And please know that when I select just these 20, it’s to honor the beauty and honesty of these 20 mothers’ words but also to represent every single one of you who is saying out loud what so many feel they must keep silent.

Here are Postpartum Progress’ top 20 writers on antenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety in 2011, in no particular order:

1. Jill Williams Krause, Babyrabies, Acceptance: Postpartum Anxiety & Me

2. Erin Margolin, Postpartum Hell or Where Are My Pills?

3. Susan, Learned Happiness, Antenatal Depression: Part 1 and Part II

4. Cristi Comes, Motherhood Unadorned,  I’m Not A Bad Mom Because I Take Medication (this post started her awesome “I’m Not A Bad Mom” series)

5. Kimberly Morand, All Work & No Play Makes Mommy Go Something Something, Just What the Psychiatrist Never Ordered and Tales from the Plaid Couch and A Smile That’s Worth 1000 Words

6. Yael Saar, PPD to Joy, The Opportunities in Setbacks, And Rainy Day Letters (this post started her awesome “Rainy Day Letters” series)

7. Lexi, MammyWoo, A Whole Lot of Nakedness & the Odd Truth,

8. Robin Farr, Farewell Stranger: The Circle of PPD

9. Addye, Butterfly Confessions, An Initial Diagnosis

10. Katie Sluiter, Sluiter Nation, I Won’t Be Like Her and Dear Me

11. Lauren Hale, My Postpartum Voice, An Angry Sea

12. Becky Harks, The Stir, Barely Surviving Prepartum Depression (about antenatal depression)

13. Amber Koter-Puline, Beyond Postpartum, On Being Depressed vs. Suffering from Depression

14 Grace, Arms Wide Open, It’s In the Details 

15. Nish Weiseth, The Outdoor Wife, An Unwelcome Visitor 

16. Alena Chandler, Charmingly Chandler, What It Looks Like When PPD Attacks 

17. Miranda Wicker, Not Super Just Mom, Haunted

18. Suzanne Stanard, Pretty Swell, Scared

19. Jaime, James and Jax, I Barely Remember My PPD

20. Casey Mullins, B-Day D-Day

If I left a deserving person off of this list, goodness knows it wasn’t on purpose. It’s just nearly impossible to keep track of you all. So who did we miss?  Link up your favorites here as well, in the comments, so that we can read even more great posts on PPD.

Photo credit: © Maksim Samasiuk – 

An Explanation of Suicidal Thinking In Plain Mama English

An Explanation of Suicidal Thoughts in Plain Mama English

Last week, Katherine received the following question from a Warrior Mom:

What is considered a “suicidal” thought, ideation, or gesture? I remember being asked by my physician if I was having suicidal thoughts, and I honestly didn’t know if I should say yes or no. I wasn’t making plans in my head to kill myself when I was in the deepest of depression, but I was having fleeting weird thoughts about things like “what would it be like to throw myself down the stairs?” and “my family would be so much better off without me here because I cause them so much stress,” etc. There were many days that I know I just kept holding on because my baby needed me and loved me and I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving him. But was this considered being suicidal? I honestly still don’t know. When you look up “suicidal thoughts” on medical websites, there’s no plain mama English description on what this could be; it is focused on the emergent and description of planning and/or acting on these plans to try to kill yourself. I figure other moms out there may be just as clueless as I am and it could be useful to have a plain mama description of this so we know if we should say yes or no to that scary question from our doc.

It is a terrifying place to be when the thought of suicide or harming yourself comes into your head. Moms who suffer from postpartum depression do not always go to this place even though they may be suffering greatly. But those who do are usually dealt an additional level of uncertainty and fear: Does this mean that I am really crazy? Will I be locked up for these thoughts that I am having? Will my baby be taken away? Will anyone even notice if I am no longer here? Usually, for these moms, the thought of harm and/or suicide comes from one of two places: Either the belief that her family will be better off without her or the feeling that she is in so much pain that she can’t go on.

And, there is of course a spectrum with respect to the nature of these thoughts. There are the moms who are in such distress that they have fleeting thoughts of wanting to escape it all. There are the moms who have fleeting thoughts about putting themselves in harm’s way. There are the moms who know that, despite their thoughts, they would never choose to follow through with these actions. There are the moms who wonder if they might follow through if things get bad enough. There are the moms who have a plan about what they would do to hurt themselves. And there are the moms who have already made a commitment to do so.

So, as for the question above:

What, in “plain mama English” is suicidal thinking?

Technically speaking, a mom is having “suicidal thoughts” if and when she begins to think about hurting herself and/or ending her life. These thoughts are, indeed, red flags and a very necessary reason to seek out help.  It is true that not every mom with postpartum depression having these thoughts will act them out, but any time that the thoughts occur, those of us in the field of postpartum depression treatment and mental health will pay attention and note that a mom is really, really suffering. 

In my practice, any time a mom talks about having had thoughts like this, I put my “medication talk” in a whole new category. Medications are a very important part of treatment for moderate to severe cases of postpartum depression and are usually a relatively quick way to reduce symptoms. My lead towards medication in these instances are NOT because I think these moms are “crazy” or “insane” or “unfit” to be moms, but rather because I know from their thoughts that they are suffering greatly, and I simply don’t want them to have to struggle like that.

Clinically, a “suicide assessment” has to be done any time that a mom discloses that she is having thoughts of hurting herself or ending her life. When moms, like the one above, disclose these thoughts and then assure me that they have no intention of following through, I will make a verbal commitment with them that they will let me know if they do begin to think seriously about acting upon these thoughts or if these “thoughts” become “urges” (meaning that they are being drawn by an impulse to act upon their thoughts). And, if they are not already, I will let them know that I think medication treatment is imperative. For moms who have a plan or who fear that they really may put themselves in harms way, hospitalization is a necessary part of her treatment simply in order to get her immediate relief and to protect her.

Examples of Suicidal Thoughts

The Mayo Clinic lists the following as “warning signs” for suicidal thinking:

  • Talking about suicide, including making such statements as “I’m going to kill myself,” “I wish I were dead,” or “I wish I hadn’t been born”
  • Getting the means to commit suicide, such as getting a gun or stockpiling pills
  • Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone
  • Having mood swings, such as being emotionally high one day and deeply discouraged the next
  • Being preoccupied with death, dying, or violence
  • Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Changing normal routine, including eating or sleeping patterns
  • Doing risky or self-destructive things, such as using drugs or driving recklessly
  • Giving away belongings or getting affairs in order
  • Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again
  • Developing personality changes, such as becoming very outgoing after being shy

Any time a mom with postpartum depression is struggling with the above symptoms, it is absolutely important for her to reach out for appropriate support, even if it is hard to do so. In fact, acknowledging suicidal thoughts, answering “yes” to the question “are you having suicidal thoughts,” and being honest with yourself and others is usually the hardest part. But please, please know that you do not need to suffer in this way. Even if you have gotten very used to doing so. You owe it to yourself to live your life without these (even fleeting) thoughts or fears. And your babies and families do need you.

~ Kate Kripke, LCSW

If you’re looking for a specialist in PPD, check out our list of Postpartum Depression Treatment Programs & Specialists.

Now It’s Your Turn …

And now that I told you about asking for what you want (see post below), I am literally going to ask you for what you want here at Postpartum Progress.  Tell us.  Click the link below and take a super breezy easy squeezy lemon peasy quick 5-question anonymous survey giving us your opinion of Postpartum Progress.  You can let us know what topics you’d like to see here more, what new services you wish we provided, what you just cannot stand … anything!  We need your feedback so please chime in!