Katherine Stone

is the founder of Postpartum Progress. She has been named a WebMD Health Hero, one of the fiercest women in America by More magazine, and one of the top 20 Social Media Moms by Working Mother magazine. She is a survivor of postpartum OCD.

Woman Saved in Green Bay

All over the news Tuesday, including CNN, was the daring rescue by Wisconsin State Patrol Trooper Les Boldt of a woman suffering post partum depression and believed to be suicidal. To see the story, click on this link: Green Bay Press-Gazette. The video, if you can watch it, is extremely dramatic, and makes you realize just how close a fellow sufferer came to hurting herself or even losing her life. It would seem good communication among family members, healthcare practitioners and law enforcement may have been the key to saving her life – which is why it is always important to make sure everyone who needs to be involved in the care of someone suffering from a postpartum disorder is informed. Better to talk about it and save a life, than to ignore it out of fear or shame.

Connecting With Kids

I was recently interviewed by Connecting With Kids Network, and I thought I’d include a link to the story, Postpartum Disorders. We get the word out however we can!

No Shame On You

I heard from Doddie McClure today (THANKS Doddie for being the very first person to email me about Postpartum Progress!!!!). She told me all about her illness. At 27 years old, she has always been an over achiever — for example, she has 3 college degrees — and never imagined she might be hit with what she calls “this freek of mother nature” known as post partum disorders. When she was about 35 weeks pregnant she slipped into a major depression and had severe insomnia. The night she had her baby she had horrible thoughts that she was the devil and her baby was the antichrist. Nobody could tell her what was wrong, other than to say “it would pass”. She ended up being hospitalized because of severe anxiety and intrusive thoughts, and is now on her way to complete recovery. She said that it has been ” … very scary at times when I think back at where my mind has been. No woman should have to go through this alone.” Amen, Doddie.

I wonder how many sufferers are told “This will pass” or “Just get some rest and you’ll feel better”. Before I suffered PPOCD, I probably thought the same thing about people with depression or schizophrenia or other mental illnesses. “Just tough it out – you’ll be fine,” probably crossed my mind more than once. Of course, I now know it has nothing to do with self will or mental toughness. It’s an illness that controls you, not the other way around. I now feel so much empathy for people suffering mental illness, and I realize the struggle they go through. And I realize that there are many people out in the world who would just write people like us off once they heard we had visions of being the antichrist, or other such horrible thoughts. But we know better. We know we’re valuable, smart, talented people who are good parents and good citizens. It’s important to help minimize the shame of this illness.

The Truth Doesn't Hurt

One of the problems with women getting hit so hard by postpartum depression and other related illnesses is that honest information about such issues is completely glossed over by most everyone who prepares women for childbirth and beyond. In my birth prep class, the nurse from my hospital mentioned the baby blues, maybe a sentence about PPD, and then said, "But none of my patients ever have that problem, and you won’t either." The book What To Expect When You’re Expecting devotes two-and-a-half pages to it (see pgs. 398-400) and includes information like "Probably the only good thing about postpartum depression is that it doesn’t last very long — about 48 hours for most women." Then the authors go on to talk about such remedies as getting help from others, unwinding with a cocktail, going out to dinner, and getting to know other new mothers. Finally, at the very end, there is one single paragraph that mentions seeking counseling if it lasts for more than two weeks accompanied by " … sleeplessness, lack of appetite, a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness …" Two pages, and only one paragraph that begins to get at the truth of this terrible illness. Yet this is the quintessential guide for pregnant women everywhere. I think it’s important to get over the fear of upsetting mothers with uncomfortable information in pregnancy. I wish someone had told me what intrusive thoughts were before my son was born, so I wouldn’t have sat alone in fear that I had lost my mind.