Katherine Stone

is the founder & editor of Postpartum Progress. She was named one of the ten most influential mom bloggers of 2011, a WebMD Health Hero and one of the top 25 parent bloggers using social media for social good. She also writes the Fierce Blog, and a parenting column for Disney's Babble.com.

Big News!!! Announcing the 2015 Postpartum Progress Warrior Mom Conference

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In 2004 came Postpartum Progress the blog.

In 2011 came Postpartum Progress the nonprofit.

In 2013 came Postpartum Progress’ Climb Out of the Darkness, the world’s largest event raising awareness of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

And in 2015 …

Warrior Mom ConferenceANNOUNCING THE FIRST-EVER WARRIOR MOM CONFERENCE, a patient-centered, community-focused conference for survivors of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and those still working toward full recovery. There are several great conferences focused on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders mainly aimed at clinicians and organizations in the maternal mental health field, but this, my dear Warrior Moms, is for us!!! Get ready to get together in Boston next year!

The Postpartum Progress Warrior Mom Conference will be a time for us to do three things together: CELEBRATE recovery, BUILD community, and DEVELOP powerful skills for raising awareness and advocacy to help our fellow Warrior Moms around the world.  We will offer self-care workshops, Q&A sessions with top experts in reproductive psychiatry, keynotes and panel discussions, a live PPDchat with its creator Lauren Hale, and so much more we can’t wait to tell you about! The conference will allow us to gather together to share stories and information in a caring and supportive environment.

Here’s what you need to know now:

  • The conference is July 11-12, 2015 (SAVE THE DATE!!), in beautiful Boston, Massachusetts. We’ll be taking over Boston’s beautiful Back Bay at the St. Botolph’s Club – a historic brownstone on Commonwealth Avenue that is the perfect setting for our powerful yet intimate gathering.
  • Early Bird registration is $125 until June 1, 2014, wherein the registration fee will go up to $150. Registration will be capped at the first 125 tickets sold, so you’ll want to register as soon as possible to avoid missing out on all we have planned for that weekend!
  • We are working with area hotels to provide attendees with great rates on lodging — that information will be forthcoming.

This conference wouldn’t be possible without the work of three very special Warrior Moms: Susan Petcher, A’Driane Nieves and Miranda Wicker. Together with the help of other volunteers they have worked their butts off to make this happen, and I am forever grateful to them for their dedication, leadership and hard work.  They are leading the charge on making this an amazing event, and I cannot WAIT!

Spots to attend this conference are limited, so if you want to be the first to know when registration opens up (soon!), sign up for our email alert by clicking the button below and filling out the super short form. Don’t miss it! We want to see you in Boston!

Be the first to know!

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Join Climb Out of the Darkness 2014 – World’s Largest Event for Moms with PPD & More

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Climb Out of the Darkness 2014Well friends. It’s that time of the year. I’m so excited! Registration is now open to the public for Climb Out of the Darkness™ 2014.

New here? Wondering what Climb Out of the Darkness is? It’s the world’s largest event raising awareness of postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and OCD, postpartum psychosis and pregnancy depression and anxiety. The event was created by and benefits Postpartum Progress Inc., a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization that raises awareness and supports pregnant and new moms with maternal mental illness.

Women around the world participate in this grassroots event by going on a hike, climb or walk outside on the longest day of the year (June 21st) to shine a light on PPD and related illnesses. The event is open to anyone and everyone who supports our cause. Anyone can participate, as long as they register, and registration is free.

There isn’t a single Climb, but many being held throughout the world. To participate in Climb Out of the Darkness™, you have several options:

  1. You can join a group Climb. Group Climbs are open to all. To see the current list of Climbs and join one in your area, check out our Climb map here. Then register here, and be sure to click “Join A Team” and select the city location for your Climb during registration from the drop down list. We already have 85 teams in 34 states and 5 countries, so check them out!
  2. You can choose to do an individual Climb. This means you plan to go on a Climb by yourself, or just privately with your own family or friends, and prefer not to join a larger group of women you don’t know.  Just pick the spot where you plan to Climb and then register by clicking “Fundraise as an individual” in the registration process.
  3. You can start and lead a group Climb. If you’d like to be a Climb leader in your area and allow others to join, go for it!  Group Climbs are groups of approximately 10 or more. As a Climb leader – we like to call them Sherpas! – your responsibilities will include recruiting participants to your Climb and encouraging fundraising and team spirit. Just indicate when you register that you’re click Create a Climb, and then name your team based on the state and city of your Climb (for example, Georgia – Atlanta, Alaska – Anchorage or Texas – Austin). We’re happy to email you a team leader guide if you just send us an email to postpartumprogress [at] gmail [dot] com. Team Climbs can be created anytime between now and May 15, 2014. Just please make sure to look at the map first and check if there’s a Climb already in your area before you create one. 

Registration for Climb Out of the Darkness 2014 is being hosted by Crowdrise. So go here NOW!!, and register by clicking the blue button. Be a part of something BIG!!!! We can’t wait to Climb with you.

For more info:  Climb Out of the Darkness FAQ

To sponsor: Climb Out of the Darkness Local & National Sponsorship Info

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What Postpartum Depression Recovery DOES NOT Look Like

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postpartum depression recoveryI’m going to give you a little tough love today because I care about you and there are some very important things I want you to know. So I’m going to give them to you straight. Here is what full postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression recovery DOES NOT look like:

> Your recovery does not look like the other mom’s treatment plan. You are not her. She is not you. Your plan is the only one that matters.

> Your recovery does not look like a race. It is not about who’s the fastest and the best at getting better. It’s not helpful to hurry. There are no ribbons for who gets there first. In fact, racing too fast can sometimes send you right back to the starting line. Be patient and gentle with yourself.

> Your recovery does not look like doing this all by yourself to prove how smart, or strong, or accomplished or how good of a mom you are. Postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, postpartum PTSD and postpartum psychosis are real illnesses. REAL. They require professional treatment. Trying to prove something is a waste of your energy that is better focused on taking care of yourself so that you can get well. You don’t have to prove anything. (And P.S. Don’t worry. We already knew you were awesome.)

> Your recovery does not look like a refusal to accept that you might have a mental illness. It sucks. I know it. I promise you I know it. The first time a doctor told me I had a mental illness (“postpartum OCD”) I was like, “No way. No how. Not happening.” Except it was, in fact, happening. I had to get past that to be open to getting the help I needed. Also, a maternal mental illness is not a prison sentence. It’s not an indication that you’ve done something wrong, or that you shouldn’t be a mom, or that you can’t handle being a mom, or that you are a bad mom, or that you are weak, or defective, or failing, or all those terrible, horrible bad adjectives we use to describe ourselves in the midst of it. It’s an indication that you have an illness and that you probably have some risk factors that led to that illness, and that it’s important to find out what the illness is and what those risk factors were and then address them. I’ve probably said this ten thousand times but postpartum depression is temporary and treatable with professional help.

> Your recovery does not look like you hanging on until you’ve gotten way too sick because you didn’t want anyone to think you needed help. Everyone needs help. EVERYONE. We know asking for help sucks. But we need you to do it anyway.

> Your recovery does not look like a medal ceremony where you’re standing atop the podium because you made it through without ever taking any medication. Not everyone needs medication, for sure. For many, therapy works just fine. And I don’t mean therapy like going once or twice, but going as often as your therapist says you need to — therapy is a treatment at this moment and not a nice-to-have.  You’re not better or stronger for not taking medication if it’s called for in your particular situation, or for not going to therapy. I’ve seen way too many women get so much sicker than they ever needed to be, and take longer to recover, because they refused a treatment plan.

> Your recovery does not look like you doing all the crafty things that moms say they do on Pinterest or Facebook. Don’t waste your time trying to keep up with other moms, many of whom aren’t doing all of that stuff anyway. You do not have to have the world’s best first birthday party for your baby. You do not have to have a perfectly clean home where you make sure everyone is perfectly fulfilled and perfectly dressed and perfectly fed. Your baby does not need to be reading by age one. Or speaking multiple languages. Your baby just needs you and not all that other stuff. And if and when you are able to take breaks — BREAKS ARE IMPORTANT! — your baby is absolutely fine being with another caregiver who loves him or her, or takes good quality care of him or her. Very fine.

> Your recovery does not look like having the perfect family and the perfect partner and the best support system in the world. Because maybe you don’t. Maybe your family doesn’t understand, or your spouse is not being helpful. I hate that for you. If I had a magic wand I’d make sure every mom with maternal mental illness had the most amazing and understanding and comforting support team around her. It’s what each and every one of you truly deserves. Except I don’t have a magic wand and some of you aren’t getting the help you deserve. It’s unfair and I’m so sorry that’s happening to you. At the same time, I want you to know you can still get better even when you aren’t in the perfect situation. It makes it much easier to have that support, for sure, but if you don’t have that kind of support please don’t think all is lost.

> Your recovery does not look like quitting your treatment plan the first week you feel better. Do yourself a favor and don’t do that.

> Your recovery does not look like smooth sailing the whole way through. You will have good days and bad. You will go along fine for a while and then have a setback and be shocked and worried about it. Setbacks are common. They are not a sign that you will never get better. They are just setbacks. You will get past them.

> Your recovery does not look like being quiet if your treatment plan isn’t working or your healthcare provider isn’t helping you. You are the MOST IMPORTANT PART of your recovery plan. How you are feeling. How you are following the plan. What symptoms you are still having and which ones you aren’t. Which side effects, if any, you can deal with and which ones you can’t. Speak up. Share as much as you can. This helps your healthcare pro see how things are going and what changes might need to be made to your plan. If a doctor just gives you a prescription and doesn’t set up appointments to keep following up with you, insist on follow up or find a different doctor who is interested (as they should be!) in making sure you are getting better.  You never know who might be the most helpful to you during this time. It could be your OB, or your pediatrician, or your primary care provider, or a therapist, or a social worker, or a community clinic, a nurse, or the other moms in a postpartum depression support group who can direct you to more experienced help. So speak up.

I get so many questions about recovery. How long does postpartum depression recovery take? When will I get better? Why am I not getting better? Why is she already better and I’m not? Do I have to follow this treatment plan? When can I quit this treatment plan? There are so many different answers to those questions depending on who you are as a unique individual. There is not a single correct answer. So your recovery does not look like anyone else’s. It looks like yours.

What matters to me is your individual health. That you give yourself the time and space to get better. Your postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression recovery looks like your plan, based on your specific set of symptoms and risk factors, in your timeframe and on your path. We’re behind you. You’re not alone.

~ Katherine

 

For more on this, you might like this story with 70 unique and individual and wonderful moms, all sharing the thing that helped them recognize they were getting better from postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, and more.

 

Photo credit: © graletta – Fotolia.com

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My Baby Got Better, But Mommy Did Not

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Becky S.Today I’m happy to welcome Warrior Mom Becky Schroeder, who describes the lasting impact her daughter’s colic had on her mental health.

“She doesn’t like to be passed around.” These words sounded muffled to me as I lay in my hospital bed recovering from the very hard birth of my daughter. I was sleep deprived, drugged, and still in shock from the amount of pain I felt during my first childbirth experience. Out of all the words uttered over those first days in the hospital, these words stuck with me, maybe because I sensed something even more overwhelming than childbirth was about to rear it’s ugly head.

By our daughter’s second week of life, my husband and I were blindsided by the realization that our precious, beautiful daughter who we so anxiously wanted to welcome in the world, wanted nothing to do with the world we brought her into. We found out much later that our daughter had colic, but for many more weeks we struggled to understand why our baby wouldn’t stop crying. Each week her crying became louder, lasted longer, and sent us into a very confusing and heartbreaking oblivion. She needed constant movement and holding, our bodies becoming sore and tired from squeezing her tight and not letting go for hours at a time. The exercise ball I bounced on in hopes of inducing labor became a permanent fixture in her nursery as we found the higher we bounced on it, the more her little body relaxed.

From the first day I realized I didn’t have an “easy” baby, I began to have thoughts that I never, ever wanted to have. I wanted my old life back, I didn’t want this crying baby anymore, and I regretted what we had done by getting pregnant. It pains me to think my mind was capable of such thoughts, but that is what postpartum depression does. It hijacks the real you and turns you into someone you never want to be. Hopelessness comes quickly knocking at the door and won’t leave until you answer.

As her colic worsened and peaked around six or seven weeks, I started to fear I was losing my mind. I knew there was something wrong when after hours of soothing her and finally getting her to sleep, I lay in bed wired and wide awake. I feared what tomorrow would hold. Would it be worse, would she ever get easier? The insomnia lasted months and left me so weak mentally and physically that there were days when I felt I didn’t have the strength to hold my own child.

As my anxiety and depression worsened each day, I decided to make an appointment with our pediatrician to get to the bottom of my daughter’s crying. I convinced myself that when my daughter got better, then so could her mommy, and we could move on and live the life I had dreamed about during my pregnancy. When my daughter was nine weeks old, the doctor confirmed that she did indeed have colic and that there was nothing we could do but wait it out and soothe her as best we could.

I left the doctor that day feeling relief. We knew our baby was healthy, that the crying would eventually end, and that we were doing everything right. I tried to stay positive, but my insomnia had become severe, and my negative thoughts didn’t go away. In the weeks that followed, my daughter became more content and easier to manage as the doctor had promised, but my anxiety and depression were worsening. Our baby got better, but mommy did not.

The day I realized I was sick was a day filled with complete disappointment. It wasn’t my daughter making me feel this way, it was something else. Something much more powerful and relentless. I cried in my mother’s arms telling her over and over, “I didn’t want this to happen to me.” I knew I was at risk for postpartum depression, but I never believed for a minute it would happen to me. I wanted to be a mother and I knew I would be a good one, but everything I wanted in those first months of my daughter’s life were taken from me. The constant pit in my stomach, the loss of appetite, the near panic attacks, the negative thoughts, the completely sleepless nights, the crying … I wasn’t me and I knew that what I was dealing with was outside of my control and I needed professional help.

I’m recovering now and everyday I’m beginning to see small glimmers of hope – in my baby’s smile, her infectious giggle, in the way my husband looks at her like he’s never looked at anything else. My daughter is my everything and she is the reason I will keep fighting. I won’t give up. Soon these dark days will be behind me and I will basque in the sunshine of motherhood like I always knew I could.

Becky is a mom to one baby girl and her beloved pit bull. She recently started a blog to connect and support other new moms. You can find her at sunnyimperfections.blogspot.com or on Twitter @choslashmom.

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