Lauren Hale

Lauren Hale tells it like it is about Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders over at My Postpartum Voice. She is also the founder of #PPDChat, an online Twitter & FB Community dedicated to supporting moms on their journey by harnessing the power of the Internet. You can find her on Twitter @unxpctdblessing.

Support for Mothers with Postpartum Depression in Nigeria

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Last week on Twitter, a tweet flew by me:

A Posptartum Depression Awareness Program for Expectant New Mothers in Nigeria? My curiosity was piqued. I tweeted Kachi and asked for more information.

We had quite the flurry of emails.

Onyedikachi Ekwerike is a First-Class graduate of Psychology from Lagos State University and is currently pursuing a postgraduate degree there in the same field.

Support for Mothers with Postpartum Depression in Nigeria

What made him interested in Postpartum Depression?

“I became hugely interested in postpartum depression after a relative suffered it. She couldn’t name what she was going through and her doctors couldn’t help too. I was however able to detect the problem quickly and helped her get help.”

Kachi said that after he helped his relative, it got him thinking that she couldn’t be the only one experiencing this issue in Nigeria, and he has decided to do something about it.

At the event he held, 150 women attended. They were all screened using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. 40 of these women scored above 10 on the scale, putting the rate of positive returns at 26%. Of those 40, 10 of the women admitted to experiencing suicidal thoughts, according to Kachi. The women who tested positive were referred to clinical psychologists for further help.

“There are plans in place to continue this programme as the feedbacks we’ve received so far has been very encouraging. My goal is to take the training Nationwide as less than 1% of Nigerian women know about these problem.  “

Support for Mothers with Postpartum Depression in Nigeria

I asked Kachi if he had experienced any cultural push back to discussing the issue of postpartum depression. (Mental health is very stigmatized in African countries. A recent NY Times article cast some light on just how stigmatized.) He said no, but offered this:

“However among the women many still believe that the problem is spiritual! So they will rather go to pastors than to Clinical Psychologists to get help.

Another challenge is the field of Psychology is in its infant years here. Not many people know psychologists, and there is so much stigma attached to visiting the psychiatric hospital so they will seldom visit one!! Which is something this awareness programme also aims to address.”

The biggest challenges he faces right now aside from raising awareness? Building a network of knowledgeable professionals and cost. Sound familiar?

I am very happy to have connected with Kachi. He’s doing great things and I strongly believe only has even greater things ahead of him. Keep up the great work!


Images used with permission.

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shadow-401178_640It’s difficult, this life filled with flashbacks and sidebars with a brain dead set on defying you at every turn. Frustratingly so. A life which seems to ebb and flow between complicated and blissfully simple when we think back to the before but get stuck wondering if there ever was truly a before.

Before what?

As I sit here, contemplating all that I have been through with my mental health this morning, I realize there have been challenges all along. Some were smaller than others, but they were there, pebbles along my path to the mountain I would eventually run smack dab into.

What does this all mean? Does it need to mean anything?

Life is a journey, I’ve come to realize, and it can either be on a smooth highway or a bumpy back road. The scenery is better on the back roads. So much richer. Particularly this time of year when fall captures the trees and dresses them up for one last ball.

This has been a particularly tough week for some reason. Sleep has eluded me for the better part of the week, I’m healing from a nasty cold, and I am fighting some dental stuff. In the midst of all of this, I forgot to take my medication yesterday.

I am trying to be kind to myself. To listen to my body and do what it needs me to do without guilt but that’s not quite working because the guilt is rapidly rising and I’m unable to find my life boat.

So here I sit, sipping coffee, arbitrarily typing, hoping that as my neurons fire into the keyboard something will finally spark and start my engine.

Deep down, though, I know today is just a tough day at the end of a rough week at the end of a tumultuous month with more unknown in front of us. I also know that this too, will pass. That I’m stronger than all of this.

Know what? You’re stronger than all of your stuff too. You are. Do what you need to do for you today and then do just a little bit more. And tomorrow? Well, deal with it tomorrow. Baby steps. We’ll all get there eventually. Together. Because we? Are warriors.

{photo credit: Pixabay}

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The Dignity of Each Recovery Path

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This guest post had me giddy from the very first sentence. I too, have always related to Perkins-Gilman’s story, “The Yellow Wallpaper”, even before I became a mother. After experiencing my own maternal mental health challenges, I discovered that Gilman’s authorship of this story and her determination to speak up about the deficiencies in her own treatment, actually caused her physician to change his mind about how women who fought “hysteria”, as it was called back in her day, should be treated. You see? Gilman is a Warrior Mama, just like all of us.

I love the message of this guest post and I know you will too. Go forth and read!

flourish-31609_1280wall-745023_640There’s a story called “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It was written over a hundred years ago about a woman suffering from exhaustion. She was locked in a room, all by herself, and she quite obviously started to go mad.

I guess I’ve always related to the narrator of that story because I’ve suffered from mood disorders for most of my life, most notably after the birth of my daughter.

When I got pregnant with my first daughter, I decided to go off of the medications that I had been on for years. I was lucky because while I was pregnant I was also working full time and was quite busy. I had a lot of distractions, and I had a lot to keep my mind occupied. I was able to function with therapy but no medications.

And then one day I gave birth.  It was beautiful and life changing and miraculous and breath taking.  It was the full of human experience distilled and brought to light in a single moment.

I was a mom.

I was different.

The world was different. 

We brought home that little bundle and we loved her with every ounce of our beings. After enduring years of infertility, I finally had my little girl. My family could ride off into the sunset of our happily ever after.

Except that’s not how it went. At all.

I spent half the time with her in her bouncy seat facing away from me because I didn’t want her to see her mother sobbing. I stopped talking to most people because conversations just left me feeling empty — like I was skeleton talking to a real person. I couldn’t leave our house. The sunlight was too much. Too much of a contrast between what was in my head and what was out there in the world.

We sat inside of our house with all of the curtains closed for months. I gave her every ounce of my being. It took everything I had to sing to her and rock her and read to her and cuddle her. But that was all of me. That was all I had. When she would sleep, I would retreat into nothingness. I had no hope. I had no belief that a future existed. All I had was panic and despair.

Finally one day through sobs and dizzying thoughts, I realized this wasn’t working. I contacted my therapist and asked for an opinion about medication. Within seconds he responded that he thought it was a good idea, and a day later I had a prescription to fill.

Life didn’t instantly get better. I went on a new medication and it made me near manic. It was scary. But then I found one that worked, and with the support of my husband and a daily habit of journaling and very close contact with a therapist, I climbed my way out.

I share this story out of a desire to spread hope, but I also share it to inspire acceptance — acceptance of every woman’s right to choose her own path to recovery.

As I started the piece with, centuries went by where treatments for mood disorders were forced on women by men who couldn’t have understood women’s issues less. We were locked away and our brains were drilled into and we were burned at the stakes.

Now, however, we live in an era where there are actual, legitimate treatments.  They won’t cure depression, and there’s no one right drug or combination for every woman, but they are out there, and they can make a difference.

My concern is that while we live in a time with more effective options, I’m not sure we live in a time that is more kind or is more accepting of the different circumstances of women. Nearly daily, I read an article or hear a speaker who will say the medications are okay in some circumstances.  Or medications are okay short term.  Or medications are not necessary because I did xyz and it worked incredibly well.

Whenever I find myself listening to those stories, I find myself cheering for the authors, genuinely grateful that they have been able to find their cure, but I also find my heart breaking for those women out there who are still suffering. Women who have been offered medications, who might desperately want to try them, but who might feel the sting of the stigma.

There are millions of women in this world and many of us will suffer from a mood disorder at some point. We are all complex, full, vibrant, unique human beings. Our suffering might appear the same, but it can be caused by so many factors. My hope is that we are able to come together and erase the stigma that surrounds antidepressants. That we no longer label them as the purview of the weak.  That we no longer see them only as a last ditch effort to be tried when our lives are on the brink of destruction.

So take your meds. Or exercise. Or do yoga. Or stand on your head in the middle of a field of daisies if it will help you. Learn your body. Learn your mind. Make up your mind. And let’s lead ourselves into a future where every choice will be respected, even those that come from a prescription pad.

{pic source (flourish): Pixabay}


Amanda Knapp is a stay at home mom and a writer who has been published on Psych Central, Mothering, and her own blog, Indisposable Mama.


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Guest Post: Depression Lies

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This post, submitted by a woman who wishes to remain anonymous, is a powerful one. Within her words, she lays bare her soul and expresses a journey many of us know all too well.

The theme of her story?

Depression lies.

And lie it does, fiercely. To us, to those around us, to everyone. It makes us believe things about ourselves, about those we love, about our worlds that simply aren’t true. It is a battle to escape from these lies and make it to the other side. This mother did just that – she fought through to the other side – for herself, and for her family.

If you are fragile, I would suggest you refrain from reading this as there are some descriptions you may find troubling. Instead of reading this, as is my habit, I’m providing a video for you to escape into. Today’s video? Guys wear bras for a week. Enjoy!


I don’t recall the exact date, as those days – all of those days – are a blur. I look back on my Facebook posts and blog entries, photographs and videos, and I’m amazed at how wonderful a liar I was. I looked happy, healthy, full of life, and completely, madly in love with my baby girl. You wouldn’t have known that I so badly wanted to die.

I’ve held off publicly admitting it for so long because I am, to this day, horrifically ashamed of that time in my life. I have no desire to have my daughter read this someday. I don’t want her to know what I thought during the first years of her life. Maybe this is why I’m writing this anonymously.

I’ve said it before and it is worth repeating: depression lies. Especially postpartum depression.

I was *so* sure I wasn’t going to be in that statistic. I had such a great pregnancy. And then? Then it all started to fall apart.

It was a gradual descent into madness for me. At the beginning, I was just a tired mom, as all of us are. Very little sleep. A colicky baby. Loneliness. I lasted a little over a month back at work. See, my employer does FMLA, but at the cost of all of your vacation and sick time. That means that when I got back to work, once she started getting ill from being in daycare, I couldn’t go home. And D couldn’t take off work either.  So we were screwed. I quit my beloved job.

That’s when things started to go downhill. For the next six months, all through the long cold winter here, I started to slip from depression into something called postpartum psychosis. I had severe intrusive thoughts that started out as only an occasional occurrence…then weekly, then daily, then hourly, then every other thought.  Of horrific things being done to my daughter. Think of the sickest things you can imagine involving an infant, then try to make it worse, then imagine having those kind of thoughts and images pop into your head every other minute.

And that wasn’t it.  I started to see things out of the corner of my eye. Not the normal, “What’s that?  Oh, it’s just a leaf.”  No, large, animal like beings just out of the corner of my eye were stalking me, and when I turned, nothing was there.  At all.

I was absolutely losing my mind.

Then there was the whole part of me failing as a mom and woman. All my life, my comfort in my German hips and thighs lay in the knowledge that at least I was built for birth.

I had an unnecessary c-section. Didn’t feel a wink of a contraction. To some of you, that sounds like a win. Not for me. Not in my mind for myself. That was my birthright and I let it be robbed from me. Then, for whatever reason and despite all effort, I couldn’t feed my child with milk. For over 2 weeks I tried to nurse her and had formula not been invented, she would have starved to death. Another part of my female anatomy failed me. I failed me.

I wasn’t a natural mother. I didn’t even love her. I wanted nothing more than to drop everything and disappear and that this whole thing was a horrible mistake. Then I dwelled on having those awful thoughts and came to the conclusion that I was a horrible awful person that shouldn’t live. I was a horrible mother. I was a horrible wife. They’d be better off without me. For months and months I lived like that, trying to summon up the courage to do what was right for my family and just kill myself. I even had two different options planned out.

Then I did something so “me”… I googled what suicide of a parent does to a child.

It ain’t pretty and I certainly wouldn’t be doing her any favors. What then?

Just leave. Just up… and leave. Disappear. Let her grow up. Let him find a new, much better woman to raise that little squalling baby and she’d be so much better off. He would be too, without a blubbering waste of human space he called a wife.

All during this time, I spoke with my husband every day. My mom every day. Had play dates weekly with 3 amazing human beings. And I hid it. Because if they knew, they’d be so disappointed. They wouldn’t trust me with their children. They’d alienate me.  They’d know the truth and hate me for it.

Depression lies so so much.

Then the day came when it all came crashing down. I was alone on a Thursday with my screaming 1 year old and I realized I was going to hurt her. I called my husband. No answer. I drove around aimlessly, just to resist the urge to hurt her. I drove to his work.  Called him. No answer. Drove home, shaking. Then I finally called my mom and confessed it all to her. She finally got a hold of my husband and he came straight home. After a lot of heated debate, they decided not to commit me.

Instead I went to therapy and then finally, gratefully, I went on medications.

To this day, I don’t think people realize how bad I got, how close I got to truly doing unthinkable things, to ruining the person who is now the love of my life. My husband didn’t know. I know people find that hard to believe, but he was lost in his own exhaustion and confusion of having a hormonal wife.

So why am I writing this?

It’s been 3 years since my meltdown. I still take some mild anti-depressants, but: I’m alive. I made it through. I wish it didn’t take so long for me to realize I needed help. I wish I didn’t take 16 months to fall in love with my daughter. I wish my loved ones could see through my lies to the absolute blackened misery I drowning in.

But I can’t go back and change it. It happened. It happened to me.

And maybe reading this, seeing a bit of your struggle in mine, maybe this will be the push to get you to get help. Depression lies. Depression is telling you you’re a bad mother, a bad human being. Whispering destructive thoughts, pushing you to do horrid things. It’s depression. Not you. NOT YOU.

You can get better. Reach up through the darkness to the pinpoint of light and just say: I need help.

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