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.

Warrior Mom Wall Announcement

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pencil-432613_640We all have stories to tell.

Stories filled with victories, with curve balls, and stories filled with heart.

We want your stories on our Warrior Wall at Postpartum Progress’ first Warrior Mom Conference, the first EVER patient-centered maternal mental health conference.

How do you participate, you wonder?

Easy:

Grab some paper. One page only, no larger than 8.5×11 inches.

Write a note of inspiration or a few lines of your story. Draw. Whatever will fit on your chosen paper that you’re inspired to share with us.

Then slap a stamp on that bad boy and mail it to the following address before May 31:

Lauren Hale

P.O. Box 20791

Lehigh Valley, PA 18002-0791

What will happen to it once it’s received?

We’ll be snapping pictures of the postcards and sharing them on the Postpartum Progress Instagram account as they come in*, then all of these lovely Warrior Cards will be organized into a piece of art to be displayed in Boston at the Warrior Mom Conference.

We cannot wait to see what you have to share with us!

 

*Sending in a postcard implies an agreement to allow Postpartum Progress to share and disseminate your submission as we see fit in association with the promotion of the project for which it was submitted as well as for the Warrior Mom Conference, for which the project is a component.

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Sprinkles of Self-Care

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tea cup David MaoI push self-care a lot in the #PPDChat world. Why? Because it was one of the biggest things that helped me and also because as mothers, we often forget to mother the most important person in our lives -ourselves.

This week’s #PPDChat focused on self-care, angling toward finding the positive, even in the dark.

There is a misconception held by many that self-care has to be something massive and complicated. Wanna know the truth?

Self-care is actually pretty simple. If done right, you can sprinkle it throughout your daily life.

Here are three ways you can incorporate some sprinkles of self-care into your life, starting today:

#listof3List three things for which you are grateful every morning, before your feet hit the floor. Tweet it, keep a journal by your bed, do it in your head. Although I would recommend keeping a physical copy of it so you can look back at it. Then, in the evening, before you go to sleep, list three things which made you happy, smile, or laugh. The purpose? To refocus your energy toward a positive end instead of a frustrated or negative energy. Keeping a physical copy gives you something to read through on the tough days.

Five Senses: Get a pen and a piece of paper. Yep, no computer or digital for this one. Write a list of all five senses, leaving five spaces under each. Then, in each of those spaces under your senses, list five of your favourite things. Keep at least one of those five things in your home at all times. Boom. Emergency self-care kit you can sprinkle throughout your day or grab to take into your blanket fort on the REALLY tough days.

10 minutes/day rule: Dedicate a minimum of 10 minutes to yourself and only to yourself every day. If you can manage more, great. But 10 minutes is a realistic short period of time that will make a difference. Plan to do something for yourself during these 10 minutes – make it as elaborate or as simple as you want. Make a nice cup of tea. Sit outside and drink it. Go to a coffee shop and get your favourite drink and go to the park. Go for a 10 minute power walk. Whatever fills your pitcher – do it for 10 minutes every day. You’re worth it.

Will these make a difference overnight? Probably not. But after time, you’ll realize they are making a difference and these things will be part of your daily routine.

We can’t fill the pitcher of those around us if our own is woefully empty. Go forth and fill yours.

What will you do for yourself today?

 

photo source: Unsplash

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Announcing Homestead Warriors

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Homestead Warrior GraphicPostpartum Progress’ first Warrior Mom Conference happens in less than 100 days. The first ever patient centered conference on maternal mental illness will take place in Boston, where 125 women will gather together and go through a ton of Kleenex.

Tickets sold out quickly so if you weren’t able to get a ticket or couldn’t attend for other reasons, we have exciting news for you!

We are THRILLED to announce an at-home conference for those who are unable to join us in Boston. We’re calling it the Homestead Warriors program.

We’ll be asking you to join in and participate with those at the conference on multiple levels because we want all of you to be part of this amazing event. We are all in this together, according to the Homestead Warrior mission statement:

As Warrior Moms, we all journey from pain to power. We are held, we are strong, and we matter. No mom is ever left behind.

While this is all about a journey, it does not need to be a physical one, as many of us know.

Here are some ways you will be able to participate in the Homestead Warrior program:

Postcards of Hope: Sign up to receive some love in the mail from a Warrior Mom! Blank postcards will be available at Conference Registration for attendees to fill out with messages of hope. We will mail these to women who have signed up to receive them after the conference.

Warrior Wall: Those of you at home can send in postcards with stories, art, messages of hope, etc, to be gathered into a piece of art to be displayed at the conference. You may not be there physically, but your spirit will be there for all to see. Your postcards may also be displayed via our nonprofit’s Instagram account!

Photo Collage: Send in your photo! Homestead Warriors will be asked to email in photos of themselves and families to be collected into a giant shield-shaped graphic for display at the conference and the Postpartum Progress website.

SWAG: We’ll be setting aside to-be-announced swag items for giveaways during conference week.

Q&A Session: Our 3 hour panel, Educate and Empower, (topics to cover symptoms, treatments, research, and cultural competency) will include a Q&A with questions submitted by the Homestead Warriors. With limited time, we’ll be holding on to the unused questions for future blog posts, crediting our Homestead Warrior Moms. This panel will be recorded and uploaded to YouTube July 12th. A few questioners will be selected to record their questions for the presentation.

You’ll want to stay tuned to our official conference FB page for details and to sign up for events as they are announced!

 
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The Truth About Postpartum Psychosis

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emergency-stop-buttonThese are the kind of posts we don’t like to write. But they are also the posts we must write because these situations carry the most potential for stigma and misunderstanding as they relate to the Perinatal Mood & Anxiety realm.

A recent situation in Cincinnati is the reason for this post. I won’t link for safety reasons, and if you are fragile, I would recommend you NOT Google for the story. (If, however, you do, and you need someone to talk to about it during the day, find me on Twitter here: @unxpctdblessing. I will be happy to chat with you.)

Media sensationalism along with misunderstanding by society at large can turn a singular incident into a large scale stigma fest. THIS is why we write posts like this. To educate and prevent misunderstandings in the future. It is a delicate balance to write these posts without triggering our audience, hence the emergency stop picture. While I have tried to keep this post as non-triggering as possible, again, if you are fragile, you may want to skip this post.

When a mother with Postpartum Psychosis follows through with behavior which is limited to a very small percentage of mothers who do experience psychosis, it is splashed across the front pages and often combined with the term “postpartum depression” or “baby blues,” leading readers to believe a depressed mother is capable of this act.

Let’s get a few things straight here.

Postpartum Psychosis only occurs in 1-2 of every 1000 births, or .1% of births.

Of those .1%, only 4% may commit infanticide, and 5% may commit suicide.

Postpartum Psychosis is NOT Postpartum Depression.

Postpartum Psychosis is defined by hallucinations, delusions, rapid mood swings, decreased sleep, and increased paranoia.

Postpartum Depression is defined by increased sadness, irritability, increased sleep, feelings of guilt, and loss of interest in usual things. It also carries the risk of thoughts of harming your child or yourself, but mothers with Postpartum Depression are highly unlikely to follow through.

Baby Blues is experienced by up to 80% of all new mothers and is NOT a disorder found on the Perinatal Mood & Anxiety spectrum.

It’s important to note here that I know more than a few mothers who have successfully fought back against psychosis and won. They (and their children) are still with us. Psychosis also does not always equal the death of a mother or a child. It is, however, the one disorder on the spectrum which carries the highest risk for loss of life.

I want to add that Postpartum OCD is the other disorder on the spectrum closest to the signs and symptoms of Postpartum Psychosis. How do you tell the two apart? OCD moms are typically disgusted by the thoughts which flit through their heads while moms with Psychosis believe the thoughts they are experiencing, no matter how delusional, are real and rational. They are driven to follow through with them, while moms with OCD fight against them and do everything to make them go away. Am I saying moms with Psychosis WANT to follow through with their delusions? No. I’m saying that because of the nature of the disorder, they are unable to fight back without help.

From the Postpartum Support International Website:

It is also important to know that many survivors of postpartum psychosis never had delusions containing violent commands. Delusions take many forms, and not all of them are destructive. Most women who experience postpartum psychosis do not harm themselves or anyone else. However, there is always the risk of danger because psychosis includes delusional thinking and irrational judgment, and this is why women with this illness must be treated and carefully monitored by a trained healthcare professional.

So what should you do if you or a mother you know and love shows signs and symptoms of Postpartum Psychosis?

She should immediately be seen by a physician. She should not be left by herself, or alone with her infant at any time. It is possible she may need to be hospitalized for a short (or longer) time until she begins to respond to any prescription medications to balance her psychosis. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world and mothers often fall through the cracks. Compliance with medications outside of the hospital setting (which is the alleged case in Cincinnati), is something no one can monitor. What we can do, however, is continue to educate the population at large about the signs and symptoms, encourage them to not leave the mother alone, and encourage compliance with any treatments set forth by a medical professional.

Healing from a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder is not a solo journey, nor is it an easy journey. We need a village to wrap their arms around us as we learn how to walk again. Be a part of that village. Please.

Here are some resources to get you started:

Signs & Symptoms of Postpartum Psychosis

Suicide Hotlines

Know that above all, you are not alone and you will get through this.

 

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