Navigating Your Perinatal Mood or Anxiety Disorder

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8363033986_503c7a47f3As a mom with bipolar disorder who blogs openly about my experiences surviving a postpartum mood disorder, people often ask my opinion on ways to deal with and manage their diagnosis. I am not a medical professional, so I hesitate to even answer these emails. But my heart tells me I need to address their questions.

Having been in the same shoes not long ago, I remember the desperate desire to connect with others who had gone through something similar. Back then, people weren’t talking as openly about mental illness, the stigma was thick and heavy, and I felt as though I was harboring a shameful secret. It wasn’t until I found Postpartum Progress that I truly felt I had found a group of women who understood.

So I get it when other moms, and sometimes dads, write to me about their story, asking for advice on what to do after receiving a diagnosis. They’re looking for the same connection I found. The same searching that led me to join this community.

Here are my suggestions: [Read more...]

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It’s Harmful to Pretend to be Supermom

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I remember all the feelings from when I had my first baby almost six years ago. Joy, utter disbelief at how we created something so freaking amazing, relief, exuberance, nervousness, exhaustion. But none was more harmful than the feeling of being invincible.

This feeling of invincibility is actually a symptom of postpartum psychosis, but I didn’t know it at the time.

I was now in charge of a new, helpless little baby. It was as if my ego grew tenfold in the moments he was extracted from my belly and the only person who could do things right for this tiny person my husband and I had brought into this world was me. Because I was his mama, of course.

He liked how I swaddled him best, how I rocked him just right, how I fed and burped him. I was trying to breastfeed exclusively which, looking back now was a mistake given how lack of quality sleep is a trigger for mania in my case, but I was putting the baby first, not my mental health. I never gave myself a break because I thought if I did, I’d be failing as a mom.

What I know now, after experiencing postpartum psychosis when my son was four weeks old, after recovering and going on to have a second baby, is that pretending to be supermom is harmful. It’s probably one of our worst habits as moms – pretending everything is fine when it’s not. This type of facade hurts everyone in the family, especially the mom. [Read more...]

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A Whole Lotta Warrior Moms Say Thank You, Katherine, for 10 AMAZING Years

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Katherine ComputerI dove headfirst into blogging about Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders because of Karen Kleiman.

But I grew into an online advocate because of Katherine Stone. She embraced me as I fumbled through the early days of running a blog, a website for struggling women, and my third pregnancy after two terrifying episodes of Postpartum OCD (which, incidentally, is what Katherine also struggled with during her experience with a PMAD).

If I had a question about something online, I turned to Katherine. She always got back to me and sometimes prodded me to do more and be more involved. More importantly, she always treated me as if I were equal to her, this amazing woman who had no fear about discussing the nitty gritty about PMAD’s online.

Postpartum Support International dragged me onto FB but where I flourished was on Twitter. I noticed, back in the early days of Twitter, that people were having these “parties” for certain products. I thought to myself, why can’t we do that for PPD? I floated the idea by Katherine and a couple other bloggers (Amber and Ivy). They were absolutely on board and Katherine whole-heartedly supported the beginning of #PPDChat.

#PPDChat is now the go-to hashtag for PMAD support on FB. There’s a closed FB group with over 350 members. I may have started it, but it wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the experience, support, and genuine caring flowing from Katherine in my early online days.

She inspires more than simple advocacy (although few of us would dare call it simple – it is EXHAUSTING but worthy), she saves lives, she kicks stigma in the ass repeatedly, and genuinely cares about the people who reach out to her.

I don’t think she has any idea how many lives she has changed. How many advocates now exist because of her decision to live her life out loud. To stand up, shouting until she is heard, when the world expects us to sit down and be quiet. The passion in her heart far exceeds capacity and overflows abundantly to those around her.

To her family, a sincere and heartfelt thank you as well for sharing the woman of your lives with us. For without your support, all of us would not be the women we are today. I would be remiss to not acknowledge your important role in Katherine’s work.

Be proud – your wife, your mother, your daughter – she saves lives.

Below are several blog posts, written by women who celebrate how Katherine has affected their lives. To read them, you will need a box of Kleenex. These are women from all walks of life, women who found themselves covered in the dark mud of a PMAD but were yanked out of it by Katherine or found Katherine after they found their way out and now reach down behind them along with Katherine to rescue others who find themselves trapped in the mud hole of a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder. (Because let’s face it, no one wants to go muddin’ in a PMAD!)

Katherine, you’re changing the world with every breath you take, every stroke of the keyboard, every post, every outreach, every encounter, every awkward step outside of your comfort zone. You are loved, your work has wrapped the world over and made it a brighter place. We are always climbing out of the darkness with you and we will never stop.

Keep on keepin’ on, lady.

You’re not alone, and neither are we.

 

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Jenny @ Tranquilamama: My Lifeline Through PPD & PPA

Robin @ Farewell Stranger: Postpartum Progress: 10 Years of Magic

Jennifer @ Bipolar Mom Life: The Relief In Finding Postpartum Progress

Danielle @ Velveteen Mama: My Postpartum Progress

Charity @ Giggles & Grimaces: Hope In A Computer

Jenny @ Jenny Kavensky’s Blog: It Takes a Village

Erin @ Erin Margolin: Happy Tenth Anniversary, Postpartum Progress

Morra Aarons-Mele @ Women & Work: In Celebration of Katherine Stone and 10 years of Postpartum Progress

Tina Duepner @ The Duepners: Cheers to 10 Years

Esther @ Journey Through PPD: Happy 10th Anniversary To Postpartum Progress

Ravion Lee @ Vain Mommy: Postpartum Progress Turns 10: The Woman Behind The Change

Kristina @ Sew Curly: Postpartum Progress Is 10

Rita Arens @ Surrender Dorothy: In Celebration of Katherine Stone

Katie Sluiter @ Sluiter Nation: I Am Not Alone and Neither are You

Cristi Comes @ Motherhood Unadorned: Postpartum Progress: Kicking Ass for 10 Years!

Tabatha @ Tabulous: A Love Letter To The Woman Who Saved My Life

Susan @ Learned Happiness: First and Last: Happy Anniversary, Postpartum Progress!

Deborah Forhan Rimmler via My Postpartum Voice: Guest Post – On Meeting An Angel

Beth @ Beth Bone: Thank You Just Doesn’t Seem Enough

Andrea @ Good Girl Gone Redneck: Happy 10th Anniversary, Postpartum Progress

Julia Roberts (not THAT one, the other one!) via Postpartum Progress: The Man Behind the Woman Behind Postpartum Progress

Jess @ Just Jess In the ATX (note – this was not written for the anniversary specifically but was shared to the FB page for the blogathon to show the impact Katherine had on Jess’ life and recovery, therefore, it’s shared here): Picture Perfect 

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Grab Your Big Girl Panties and Ass-Kickin’ Boots

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Boot heels all in a rowGreetings Warrior Moms and all my fellow Climbers,

Katherine and more than 100 amazing Climb Out of the Darkness leaders have been working furiously behind the scenes to get ready for 2014’s Climb out of the Darkness.  Many people are asking what we plan to do with the funds we raise and what we did with the money we raised last year.  Great questions.  And they are easy enough to answer with a list of specific projects that I’ll set out in a minute.  But here’s the thing.  What we, and by we I mean all of us volunteers, supporters and lovers of Postpartum Progress, need to get our head around is this—what we are setting out to do is much bigger than this list of projects.  We are raising money so we can put on our big girl panties and our ass-kickin’ boots to become an even bigger force for awareness and support for moms with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

This, my friends, is no small feat.  And while keeping the proverbial lights on at the blog and creating great new educational tools for moms and their health care providers are really important and critical projects, they aren’t enough. They aren’t enough to end the suffering of women who struggle with maternal mental illness without knowing they have a treatable disease.  They aren’t enough to ensure that there will be comprehensive and quality medical care for all these women.  They aren’t enough to halt the generations of women who suffered in silence or who were shunned for their illness.  They aren’t enough to stop the damage being done to the families caught in this cycle.

I am going to stand on a mountain top on June 21st and scream ENOUGH!! —Enough. With. The. Darkness.

Yes, my big girl panties are on. And, for the record, they have gotten just a wee bit bigger during motherhood.  But so has my ass-kickin’ strength, thanks in large part to overcoming my postpartum OCD.  And we are going to do our very best here at Postpartum Progress to create a world-class non-profit that has the staff to maintain our existing programs and to grow our delivery capabilities so we can double the awareness of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders around the world in the next five years.  And to do this, we need to free up Katherine’s time to focus on leadership and strategy, like going after grants with foundations and corporate sponsorships so we can create even more powerful programs reaching even more women.  With a powerful organization behind us with significant funds to invest, we can start to launch a major global awareness campaign.  And we know we can succeed because we are powered by you — Warrior Moms. Our strength and unique knowledge comes from the fact that we serve a motivated community of survivors who engage with us in a variety of ways to help our community heal.  And we know how to connect with families struggling with maternal mental illness with inspirational, hip, and evidence-based information.

Back to the question at hand.  We can say to potential donors that a $10 donation, for example, will keep the lights on for our blog for a day. For $50, donors can help us educate and support more than 20,000 moms for just one week of the year.  Last year, Climb Out of the Darkness raised $42,000 last year and with that money we:

  • Developed and will soon distribute an important infographic that shows the downstream effects on mothers, families and societies from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders
  • Updated our non-profit website (the .org) and thus tripled its traffic, reaching even more women with the message that perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are temporary and treatable
  • Launched a private forum for women struggling with maternal mental illness that now supports more than 340 moms across the country
  • Continued to run and grow the most widely read blog in the world on maternal mental illness, with 1.1 million pageviews last year
  • And we still had enough funding leftover to continue our project to develop educational materials for moms and their healthcare providers.

This year our goal for Climb Out of the Darkness is to raise $100,000, and as of today — the first day of Maternal Mental Health Awareness month — we have already met nearly 30% of that goal thanks to the tireless survivors and current sufferers of these illnesses who believe in us and are standing up and speaking out on our behalf. But let’s also say that even $100k isn’t going to allow us to accomplish our biggest objectives. It takes $3 million dollars to launch a real, multi-pronged, effective public awareness campaign to forever change the course of women suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. We’re excited about all we have the opportunity to accomplish, but we’ll never be able to do it without you. If you feel Postpartum Progress made a significant impact on your recovery, or even helped save your life, we need you. Stand proud with us as we tell our friends, families and neighbors that we have big goals. Join us in the Climb. And, in the meantime, you can tell everyone you know that Postpartum Progress will be launching some pretty amazing stuff in the next 24 months, including updating and expanding our blog including a Spanish language version, creating a video PSA, and starting the development of a mobile app that supports moms through PPD and related illnesses.

Join me in kickin’ ass and thinkin’ big!

Love,

Deborah Rimmler, Board of Directors, Postpartum Progress

 

photo credit: © Kevin Largent – Fotolia.com

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