PPD, Anxiety, & PTSD as the World Falls Apart

PPD, Anxiety, & PTSD as the World Falls Apart

I couldn’t leave the house yesterday.

That’s really hard to admit. I’m a Warrior Mom® Ambassador. I run the Facebook group for our Warrior Mom® Conference attendees. I lead a support group. I help coach women through pregnancies after a PMAD. I am the strong one, the one you count on, the one with the resources and the answers and the shoulder to cry on.

I’m also a black woman, mother to a black son, daughter to a black father, sister, friend, cousin, aunt. I grew up hearing stories of my father registering people to vote across the South. They were stories of terror in broad daylight and nights spent driving with no headlights on. I grew up on the narrative that my parents, and their parents, and everyone who made me possible had paid a debt so that I could be free, so that I could be safe in this country.

Last year I was followed and harassed by a police officer here in my home town. I was pregnant with my second child at the time and had just made it to what I considered my new normal after battling postpartum depression and anxiety. I didn’t know then that I also had PTSD. All I knew was that I was vomiting, sobbing, and shaking in a parking lot and praising the lord that I was alive.

My daughter is eight months old. I’ve been so lucky to not experience any major relapses in my postpartum depression or anxiety and to have my PTSD under control. I see a therapist every week. I take my medication every day. I practice self-care and I reach out for help when I need it.

I have so many privileges: financial, educational, heterosexual, light skin, in a relationship with a white partner. And still. I’ve spent the last two nights unable to sleep. First because I couldn’t get the voice a four year old girl trying to comfort her mother out of my head. Then last night it really felt like the world was falling apart.

As I write this we still don’t have details on the sniper(s) in Dallas. I know that one is dead and the others are in custody. The officers who killed Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are both on paid administrative leave. They haven’t been arrested. I have no reason to believe there will be any arrests, convictions, or any type of punishment at all for the deaths of those men. Or for the murders of scores of boys and girls, men and women of color before them. Or for me if an officer decides to take my tone of voice, my reaching for my license, my skin color as a threat.

When I say #BlackLivesMatter, it is in desperation and defiance. I say it because I see no evidence that it is believed to be true in this country. I say it because after everything my father went through, after everything his father, and his, and his went through so that I could live free I still don’t feel safe.

I know that I am more fragile than I seem from the outside. We all know that you can’t see postpartum depression or anxiety. You can’t see PTSD. When the panic attacks came at the thought of leaving the house and taking my son to camp, I had a choice to make. I chose to be honest with my partner about how I was feeling. I chose to reach out to my therapist and let her know I was not okay. I chose to keep my kids home with me, where I feel safe. We watched Disney movies and played with the baby, and dumped way too much bubble bath into the tub. I jumped at every sound and shook when sirens passed my house. I touched base with my relatives and made sure that I knew they were all safe. I tried my best not to get sucked into debates online.

This morning I left the house. I drove my son to camp. When I got home I fell apart. Then I put myself back together and sat down to start work.

I want to be the strong one. The one with the answers, and the resources and the shoulder to cry on. I want to be an ambassador, and a moderator, and a coach. I want to be the strong black woman that I am expected to be.

But I’m not. I’m scared. I’m scared that I will never feel free. I’m scared that someone I love will be the next hashtag. I’m scared that I will be the next hashtag. I’m scared that I will forever be shouting #BlackLivesMatter into the world and it will never, ever be true.

 

Why I Decided to Go Public with PPD, a News Anchor’s Story

[Editors Note: Today we are honored to have a guest post from KTUU news anchor Ariane Aramburo. After giving birth to her first child, she experienced postpartum depression. She then chose to run a series on postpartum mood and anxiety disorders when she returned to work at the news station. In choosing to share her story, she has proven to be a Warrior Mom resource to Alaskan moms—and us all. -Jenna]

Why I Decided to Go Public with PPD, a News Anchor's Story, by Ariane Aramburo -postpartumprogress.com

I have always been an outgoing person and always wanted kids, so when I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I was over the moon excited. From the very beginning I had a smooth pregnancy and birthing experience. To me, it was picture perfect.

It’s something to go from around the clock care to caring for yourself and a new baby. It was as if everything hit me at once on the day I was discharged from the hospital. I was sitting at home in my recliner looking at my beautiful newborn baby girl in her car seat, and all I could feel was profound sadness.

I gave myself time to see if it was the so called “baby blues,” but it was actually my husband who recognized that it was something more. I was suffering from Postpartum Depression.

He encouraged me to talk to friends in two hour intervals, attend mommy groups, and seek professional help. As time went on and I implemented all of these into place, I slowly started to walk myself out of feeling overwhelmed and sad all the time. The more moms I talked to, the more I realized how many suffer in silence.

As a Morning Anchor, I knew immediately when I returned to work that shining the light on a dark issue such as Postpartum Depression would be a task I wanted to take on. I put the call out for moms to share their stories and the floodgates opened. I chose four moms to share their struggle with PPD and more including myself and together we opened Pandora’s box for women to know they’re not alone.

I had so much content that we worked it into a four-part series and provided resources to women across the state of Alaska. The series may have ended, but the discussion is just beginning. I hope by sharing my personal story, that it will help moms know, no matter who you are or what you do, we all have our struggles and it’s okay to reach out and ask for help.

In the words of one of the moms I interviewed, Denise, who suffered from Postpartum Psychosis, “Self-care is not selfish and no one should tell you otherwise!”

You can watch Ariane’s story and the stories of the other four moms here or on KTUU’s website.

Part One: Ariane’s Story

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Part Two: You Are Not Alone

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Part Three: Suffering and Overcoming Postpartum Psychosis

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Part Four: Postpartum Resources in Alaska

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All Mothers Deserve Our Support

All Mothers Deserve Our Support -postpartumprogress.com

Tyra Banks welcomed her first child, a son, into the world last week. She announced his birth initially via her Instagram; simply a pictures of a newborn hat and a statement saying that the little miracle baby resembles both of his parents. She, then, mentioned the “angel” of a woman who carried this beloved child for the couple.

By the time the story was picked up by different news affiliates on Facebook, people were hissing. Rash judgement clogged the internet. How dare Tyra be so selfish and so frivolous with her money to chose to use a surrogate instead of just adopting a perfectly good baby that needed a loving home. People, other women and mothers even, discounted her ability to call herself a real mother.

There seems to be some sort of disconnect and confusion here that seems to need clearing up.

What does a mother look like?

Imagine your life like a flow chart; the top is the question, “Am I a Mother?” and at the bottom are the words “Yes” and “No”.

In the middle are questions that draw arrows to the two outcomes.

Are you a woman?
Are you a person who used to be a man but now identifies as a woman?
Are you a person who used to be a woman but now identifies as a man?
Are you a person who used to identify yourself with one gender but now feels it is fluid?

If you select yes to any of those questions:

Did you carry and give birth to a child?
Did you adopt your child?
Did you donate your eggs to be carried inside of another woman and then receive your child when they were born?
Did you purchase eggs to be carried inside of another woman and then receive your child when they were born?

If the answer to ANY OF THESE QUESTIONS is “Yes,” then you GET TO CALL YOURSELF A MOTHER.

Tyra Banks is a mother. She worked hard to become a mother. She endured years of infertility and Lord knows what that can do to a woman’s soul.

I’m sure at some point on her fertility journey Tyra doubted whether or not she was even supposed to be a mother. Whether she was being punished for something and that was why she was denied this one thing she was “supposed” to do as a woman.

Now, she has been given this gift. She has been given a child that, though she may not have been able to carry in her womb, is her own flesh and blood. Being biologically related to your child is not a requisite for being a mother and surely Tyra, like other mothers, think about the options of adopting versus surrogacy. However, to be frank, it’s none of your damn business.

If I see a woman walking down the street with her children, I am not going to pass judgement on how I think those children came to be.

A mother looks like a woman with a child.

Every woman is entitled to be a mother—some chose not to and that is fine—but it is imprinted in us biologically to extend our genetic line throughout time.

When Jimmy Fallon used a surrogate for both of his daughters, I don’t recall such a backlash of judgement on his part. He was open with his story; he explained how he and his wife had suffered through five years of infertility before deciding to turn to other avenues. No one called him a cosmetic, vain parent. No one chastised his ability to call himself a true father.

People, and more importantly women and other mothers, need to form a protective circle around these dear souls who have had such a wretched time with something that comes so easily to most of us. Instead of extending pointed fingers of accusation, we should be extending hands and arms of encouragement.

“We see what pain you have gone through, warrior. We see what you have endured. Claim your prize the best way you can. Get your baby.”

Most of us become mothers, mentally and emotionally, as soon as we decide we want a child. For some, perhaps most, the turnaround time is quick. However, for those who suffer with infertility are forced to walk a much longer journey. They are mothers with no babies and they need just as much support and love as any other mother we elevate.

#meditateonthis Success Shows Moms with PPD Will Fight the Good Fight

#meditateonthis We reached over 2 million people with stigma-fighting, truth-telling tweets about postpartum depression, medication, and treatment -postpartumprogress.com

Last night at 6:00 PM, we put out a call to our Warrior Moms and followers. We planned to take to Twitter to discuss the dismissive, stigmatizing, misinformed comments on postpartum depression by New York Times best-selling author Marianne Williamson.

Within minutes, hundreds of moms took to Twitter to share truthful information, statistics, hope, help, and their stories with the hashtag #meditateonthis. By 8:30 we were trending on Twitter.

#meditateonthis was trending by 8:30 PM EST -postpartumprogress.com

For those of us working at Postpartum Progress, last night was a whirlwind of awe. We watched our Warrior Mom Army do what they do. They stood tall and strong and told their truths for the Internet to see. They talked about their medications. They talked about what they did to avoid medication. They told how they used meditation, prayer, yoga, and nutrition to supplement their medication. They shared how their lives were changed by therapy. They admitted to the demons in their head, their scariest times, their hospitalizations. All to destigmatize postpartum mood and anxiety disorders.

To say, together, Postpartum Depression IS Real. But it hasn’t beaten me. And you, mama still fighting? You are not alone.

Here are some great tweets from the night.

The tweeting continued late into the night, and when I began writing this post at 9:30 this morning, the numbers spoke for themselves.

#meditateonthis reached 1,529,958 -postpartumprogress.com

Updated to add: These are the numbers as of 3:32 PM on 1/28/16.

We reached over 2 million people with stigma-fighting, truth-telling tweets about postpartum depression, medication, and treatment. -postpartumprogress.com

Yes, you’re reading that properly. 796 people on twitter sent out 6,526 tweets about postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. The messages were delivered to 27,764,462 timelines with a total reach of 2,005,250 people. With absolutely no notice ahead of time, Postpartum Progress’ Warrior Mom community and those that support maternal mental health banded together and reached over TWO million people with stigma-breaking, truth-telling tweets.

You did great work last night, Warrior Moms. Take some time to feel proud of yourselves for the work you did in promoting maternal mental health in a positive light. Thank those in your life who may not suffer from PPD or other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders but took time to retweet and share your messages last night.

Additionally, moms are writing their stories today. We’ll be updating the post with their personal blog responses: