Cristi Comes

Cristi is a warrior mom, wife and writer at http://www.motherhoodunadorned.com. She blogs about mental health, suicide prevention, self care and style. She's a survivor of postpartum depression and anxiety, and fighter of mental illness.

Cristi Comes: Happy Mother’s Day

Cristi Comes: Happy Mother's Day | 8th Annual Mother's Day Rally for Mental Health -postpartumprogress.com

postpartum depression, mother's day rally, maternal mental healthDear New Mom,

“Happy Mother’s Day!

Today, it probably feels like you’re treading water, or even drowning. Motherhood is not what you expected. Inside you feel like Mother’s Day is absolutely not the holiday for you. It’s a day to celebrate the “happy” moms. The ones who know what they’re doing. The moms who feel that spark of joy in the presence of their children.

And you just don’t feel it.

In fact, you may feel the exact opposite. Fear, anger, sadness and loneliness all wrapped up into one, even when surround by those you love.

They don’t see what’s going on inside of you. How could they understand?! No one understands. No one else could feel this much pain and anguish during this time of new life and wonder. No one else walks in your shoes.

Why should YOU be celebrated today?

Even the phrase “Happy Mother’s Day” can induce guilt. Did you feel it when you read that first line? Did it make you want to stop reading this post?

Seeing those happy mom photos on social media … the loving phrases, the cheerful comments. They do not have the affect that is intended. You do not feel happy, loved or cheerful.

I’m here to tell you that you’re going to be OK.

Give yourself permission to get off social media today. Do not read those words or let them trigger you. There are a lot of us who have walked your path. I promise, you are not alone. I know that you are NOT a bad mom. I know that Mother’s Day IS for YOU.

You’re battling a demon that I once went through after the birth of my second child. She’s now six and things are so very different. There was a time I did not think that possible, when I was drowning in darkness.

But there is truly light through your tunnel, even if you cannot believe it today. I won’t say “light at the end of the tunnel” because motherhood is always a process, a journey, but I am certain that you will find light on your path.

Let my words wash over you. Try to open your heart and listen.

I see you and I understand.

I know that you are the perfect mom for your child, the exact person she will want to snuggle late at night after a nightmare. The person who he will long for when you’re away.

Take a deep breathe and know that someday hopefully soon you will find your way.

~Cristi

 

The Annual Mother’s Day Rally for Moms’ Mental Health is presented by Postpartum Progress, a national nonprofit that raises awareness & provides peer support for women who have postpartum depression and all other mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth. To see some of the ways we provide moms support, visit http://postpartumprogress.org/community/.

Support for Military Moms with Postpartum Mood Disorders

On this Veteran’s Day, the Postpartum Progress community would like to send out a giant thank you to all of our brave and dedicated military men and women, as well as a special note of thanks to the families who continue to make sacrifices on the home front.

Support for Military Moms
Source: Defense Logistics Agency.

Military moms, including veterans, those on active duty, and the spouses of service men, can be at greater risk for postpartum mood disorders. So today, as we offer our thanks and support, please take this opportunity to think of the military moms in your life. Do you know a pregnant or new mom who has been in combat? Do you know a mom who’s spouse is currently on deployment? Does she seem to be struggling?

Are you a military mom yourself? Are you struggling?

It is vital to watch out for the symptoms of postpartum depression or other mental illness. Here are the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety in easy to understand language. Take a moment today to familiarize yourself and bookmark this page in honor of our veterans who need support.

If you recognize the signs in a loved one, it’s so important to reach out to them, and help them find professional support.

If you are struggling yourself, I know from experience that opening up about these feelings is very scary. You may be feeling like a failure as a mom. A few years ago, I know I felt that way, but please believe me, it’s not true. Reaching out is the first step to true healing.

With your military training, postpartum depression may also leave you feeling weak. Why can’t you just use your skills to pull yourself up and push through?! Because postpartum depression doesn’t work that way. It’s a genuine illness that needs medical treatment, just like if you were wounded in combat. A doctor must help you to heal. But please know, you are absolutely not alone in this battle and if you reach out you can win the fight.

Please keep this list handy if you or a loved one needs help and support.

Resources for Military Moms and Families

Military OneSource: Confidential Help Call: 800-342-9647

Veterans Crisis Line: Free Confidential 24/7 Support for Veterans and their friends and family. Call: 800-273-8255 and Press 1, or Text 838255. Online chat is also available.

PSI Support for Military Families

Are you familiar with other mental health resources for military moms? Please post them in the comments. 

Also, please don’t forget about our own Postpartum Progress Private Forum, a free peer-to-peer online forum for women with perinatal and postpartum mood disorders. Connecting online with others who “get it” has been a huge part of my own healing process, so I highly recommend it. Here’s how to join:

1. Go to this link: https://smartpatients.com/postpartumprogress
2. Underneath the Warrior Mom logo on the left hand side of your screen, input your email address and click “Request An Invitation.”
3. You’ll then receive an email from Smart Patients inviting you to join Smart Patients. Be sure to check your spam file if you don’t see it in your inbox. 
4. Click the link in the email and choose a name and password.
5. You will then be automatically added to the Postpartum community on Smart Patients. From that point on, clicking this link –https://smartpatients.com/postpartumprogress — will take you to the community

Thank you again to our Veterans and military service people. We support you today and every day.

Postpartum Progress Impact Report 2014

Postpartum Progress Mission 2014

If you’re like me, Postpartum Progress has impacted your life in more ways than one. After having my daughter in 2010, I discovered this powerful community of Warrior Moms at a time when I needed it most. I not only found invaluable information, but also felt the kindness, care and dedication of so many during my own journey through treatment and recovery. I hope you have too, because truly we are none of us alone.

There are many volunteers who work behind the scenes of this passionate organization, and I wanted to take a moment to thank each and every one of you. Your time and talents make the recently released 2014 Postpartum Progress Impact Report possible. Our many programs and campaigns are coordinated by those who strongly believe in our mission, those who offer their time and talents to make these programs a success.

Postpartum Progress IS making an impact in many communities. Below are just a few highlights, but I encourage you to check out the complete report here.

Postpartum Progress 2014 ReachMaternal Mental Health Awareness

Increasing awareness has always been a primary mission. To that end, Postpartum Progress develops and provides materials at not cost to help moms identify PPD and related illnesses, reduce stigma, and encourage mothers to seek professional help. In 2014, 4,250 of our new discreet, pocket-sized “Hugs Cards” were distributed to local peer advocates across the country to share information on where moms can access the free resources and support we provide. Our new Tools page, offers free downloads of our most popular patient resources, including a new 2014 infographic about the negative downstream consequences of untreated PPD.

PostpartumProgress.com and Other Media Reach

Individuals from more than 200 countries visited PostpartumProgress.com in 2014 at a rate of 1.6 million pageviews, with most traffic coming from the US, UK, Canada, Australia, India, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, Philippines and Singapore. We continue to reach growing numbers of women and families via our social media channels.

Our reach into other media included a feature on BuzzFeed “Can You Tell a Mom has Postpartum Depression Just by Looking at Her,” which garnered more than 275,000 pageviews in the US alone, and was translated into Spanish and French for global audiences. We were proud to be featured on the national Healthy Mother, Healthy Babies Coalition blog in May during Maternal Mental Health Month, as well as in a full page story in Woman’s World magazine, a supermarket weekly with 1.6 million readers. Also in 2014, we were honored with the Iris Award at the Mom 2.0 Summit in the category of Industry Influence – Philanthropic Work, given for excellence and quality in parent blogging and social media.

Climb Out of the Darkness

Our 2nd Annual Climb Out of the Darkness saw tremendous growth and excitement from 200 participants to 2013 to more than 1,500 last year. Awareness is a major objective of the Climb, and we were thrilled to see the event covered by CNN, The New York Times‘ Motherlode blog, and numerous local newspaper and television news outlets. “It is abundantly clear that Warrior Moms needed an event to call their own, where they could turn their shame upside down and let the world know how important it is to recognize their illnesses,” said Postpartum Progress Executive Director Katherine Stone. Be sure to join us for our 3rd Annual Climb Out of the Darkness on June 20, 2015.

Peer Support & Community

Peer support and community is a vital part of the Postpartum Progress mission. We are truly stronger together. Our Smart Patients private support forum for moms currently struggling with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders grew from 230 members in 2013 to 1,600, many of whom have no access to support groups where they live. And in 2014 we announced we’d be hosting the first patient-centered conference on maternal mental illness, the Warrior Mom Conference, to be held in Boston in July 2015. If you are unable to attend, please join our fellow Homestead Warriors.

Research

Postpartum Progress is interested in collaborating with organizations to not only measure the impact of our own work but to help identify new and better ways to support moms. In 2014, we conducted our first audience impact survey, which revealed that users of Postpartum Progress’ resources are influenced to both seek professional help and speak out about their illnesses with others. For more information about this survey and our first foray into research collaboration, please visit the 2104 Impact Report.

Looking Ahead in 2015

There are many great things to come this year and beyond for Postpartum Progress. “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for supporting our efforts. We couldn’t do any of this without you,” said Katherine Stone.

I couldn’t agree more. It’s the amazing individuals who volunteer their time and those who raise funds that make these programs possible. I for one am profoundly grateful to all of you.

For more information, read the full 2014 Postpartum Progress Impact Report.

Warrior Mom

 

Finding Hope Out of the Darkness

I have a feeling you’ve probably heard, but…The Climb Out of the Darkness, the world’s largest (and most fun!) event raising awareness of postpartum depression, anxiety, psychosis and pregnancy depression is coming this June to benefit Postpartum Progress Inc., the registered 501c3 nonprofit organization founded by the amazing Katherine Stone. (Yes, Katherine you are amazing! Am I right ladies?!)

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LEARN MORE: If on the off chance you haven’t heard about the climb, you can find a handy Overview HERE.

REGISTRATION: Would you like to participate? Register HERE by June 2, 2014.

MAP OF CLIMBS: Want to see  a map of the currently planned climbs all over the world? Yes I said WORLD. There are currently 86 scheduled climbs in 5 countries (Switzerland, Canada, US, UK, Australia). Map available HERE. If you don’t see one near you, you can still coordinate your very own climb in your hometown. Let us know!

I personally just love the visual and feelings “climb out of the darkness” evokes. It so perfectly describes us warrior moms fighting our way out of the darkness of postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar and psychosis and finding our own light and strength on the other side.

Thinking about this upcoming Climb Out of the Darkness, I wanted to share my thoughts. I have a lot of experience doing charity events, and while charity climbs and walks  are just that — events to raise funds and awareness — I know they can be so much more to us on our healing journeys. They have been for me.

While in the throws of my own postpartum mental health crisis in 2010, a dear lifelong friend of mine took her own life. It threw me for an even bigger loop, but it was then that I began blogging about mental health and suicide prevention as part of my healing process. Its also the time that I found Postpartum Progress and joined Katherine’s community of Warrior Moms. Its why I’m on PP’s Warrior Mom Leadership Team, and why I regularly donate to Postpartum Progress, Inc., and its why I also actively volunteer, walk and raise funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Both of these non-profits speak directly to my personal passions and my own experiences with mental illness. And they both do incredible work. I visibly see each making a difference in so many lives, especially mine.

Doing a climb or a walk for any organization you hold dear can be a life-changing experience. Its where we build community with others who understand. At a Climb Out of the Darkness you will be with others who have been there. They just get it. You may even connect with a mother who has never shared her story, but on the journey of your climb she may finally have the strength to share her story with you. How powerful is that? And I’m willing to bet you will make lifelong friends too.

Back in 2010 when I lost my friend, another woman Jenni also lost her dear friend Kristi to postpartum depression. We had never met, but somehow through the miracle of social media met via Twitter. Several months later she flew cross country to visit her in-laws in Seattle and we got together for lunch. Three-hours later and we were friends for life.

When in 2013 I decided to do the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in Washington DC, I encouraged Jenni to join me. This is a BIG 17 mile walk literally overnight from dusk till dawn, so not an easy task. But she agreed to do it and we both went. Participating in that event changed my life. I walked with Jenni and several other women I met for the first time in DC. We walked an entire night together pushing ourselves physically and sharing ourselves emotionally. It might sound corny, but it seriously was like a giant hug of love and support.

I don’t think its an accident that both Postpartum Progress and the AFSP use the profound phrase “out of the darkness” to describe their mental health events. It feels like kismet to me.

I’m actually doing The Overnight again this year, this time in Seattle, and once again Jenni is flying cross country to join me. Our friendship, support and healing journey continues.

I think yours can too if you participate in the Postpartum Progress Climb Out of the Darkness this June.

I hope you can join us!

Note: Most Climb events will be held on Saturday, June 21st. A handful will be held Sunday the 22nd or the weekend prior to or following June 21st. Check the Climb map to get specific details on each event.