What if you’re not better?

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Last week was a big week here at Postpartum Progress. It was the site’s 10th anniversary, and therefore the 10th anniversary of Katherine’s start as a powerful advocate for women with postpartum depression and similar mood disorders. In celebrating that anniversary, you may have seen stories from a whole list of women who credit Katherine and her work with saving their lives and getting them to where they are today.

But what if you’re not better? What if you’re still fighting PPD?

Being exposed to a slew of stories from people who did recover and who are better while you’re not can leave you with questions of, “Why me?” Or, “Why not me? Why are they better when I’m not?”

You may feel as though you have done everything you’re supposed to and it hasn’t worked. You might wonder why it’s seemingly easy for some people but not for you. And you might look at all that celebrating and feel like giving up.

What I want you to know is this: You will get better.

What I can’t tell you is when that will happen or what will work or how you will know you’re past the worst of it.

All of us who have struggled and who can now say things like, “You saved my life” walked a long road to get there. We had good days and bad days and a glimmer of light before the darkness enveloped us again. We tried things that didn’t work and then found some that did. For some it may have been relatively easy, while others fought hard and long.

winding path through trees

None of that may be reassuring for you, I know. You might be tired of fighting. You might feel bitter that life has tossed you something that requires so much work and energy and effort to get past. Or you might just not be able to see your own glimmer of light.

You don’t have to just trust that it will eventually be okay. I guess what I want you to know is that it’s okay if you look at the happy stories and want to throw something against your screen. It’s okay to be angry that your story is not among them, at least not yet.

So keep going, dear Warrior Mom. Keep fighting. Ask those of us on the other side for help, and we’ll be waiting here with open arms when you get here and are ready to share your own success story.

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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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The Man Behind the Woman Behind Postpartum Progress

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contributed by Julia Roberts– Agency Owner, Speaker, Advocate, Mother of two kids with ARPKD/CHF, both kidney transplanted, Co-founder of Support for Special Needs

FCpost3I do not know Frank Callis, Katherine Stone’s husband, personally. Like many other people, I’ve seen pictures, read posts about him from Katherine, and seen loving status updates to him and from him. Even though I’ve never met him, I do know what it takes to support your partner when they stumble across a mission to help others.

Full disclosure, I have not suffered from a postpartum disorder. Like Katherine though, I stumbled across a voluntary position in the realm of the non-profit world supporting others and I could not do it without my husband, Julian.

To understand I know this for certain, you’d have to know that nearly 13 years ago my daughter was diagnosed at birth with a rare form of a common life-threatening kidney disease (ARPKD) and three months later her then 3-year-old brother was diagnosed as well. We knew we’d soon face kidney and liver failure in our kids and overnight we went from a family welcoming their second child to a family raising two kids with extreme special needs. Just. Like. That.

We didn’t have anyone to talk to and on the Internet we found only staggering odds against the kids to live “normal” productive, healthy lives. I contacted the PKD Foundation, started a chapter in Atlanta, met people facing what we were and I carved out a way for parents of kids with PKD to connect. It has helped a lot of people and I’m pretty proud of that, but if I’m honest, I did it because I needed to connect.

To do this the past 13 years, my family has had to make sacrifices and my husband specifically has had to adjust how we live as a couple and a family.

In order for Katherine to do what she does Frank has to be patient and kind and loving, that is a given. In practicality he has to do more. Katherine doesn’t get a paycheck from her work at Postpartum Progress and in order to do what she does well, she can’t earn a regular check from a 9-5 corporate job. Katherine was successful at and is still extremely qualified for a corporate gig, so there goes a steady salary the family can depend on. Katherine has thanked Frank on more than one occasion for being supportive of her choice to work for zero profit in the non-profit world, to save lives. I and countless others want to thank Frank, too, for everything he does to support the woman we know as Katherine, an original Warrior Mom.

What does that look like day-to-day behind the scenes? It probably means that over the last 10 years Frank has endured listening to dozens of calls at all hours when Katherine spoke to someone who needed immediate support. It has probably meant he held her as she cried because she takes in story after story and remembers her own pain. It has meant watching her relive their story and heal over time as she has helped others heal. It means that Frank has been open to people knowing their personal story and intimate details about their lives in the name of helping other people not feel alone in the often isolating world of postpartum disorders.

FCpost1I am sure on several occasions Frank has gathered up the kids and all that means, while waiting patiently for Katherine to get one more email of support out to a woman struggling, or while she tried to find the link to an old post to share, finished work on a Daily Hope blast of support to women who have come to depend on that reliable contact. I bet he’s had to change plans, arrive later than expected, juggle work responsibilities to support Katherine in a quest to empower women and families in ways we cannot even imagine.

I know it’s meant Frank telling their story of those early days in their family journey  – on the record  - to help others.

Proof:

http://stories.sharewik.com/videos/2086284

FCpost2Thanks Frank. On this 10 Year Diamond Anniversary of Postpartum Progress we celebrate you, too. Thank you for all you have done over the years to support Katherine graciously and lovingly. Thanks for all of the time you devote to making sure Katherine is realizing this mission that came out of creating your family. Your love and continued reinforcement allows her to impact lives in immeasurable, positive ways…which means YOU impact countless lives in immeasurable ways too, and we’re grateful. We know she couldn’t do it without you and your unwavering support and love.

Thanks, Frank, for being the original Warrior Dad and Husband.

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A Guide to Waiting

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No matter what brings us here, we have waiting in common. We wait for a diagnosis, for a doctor’s appointment, for medication to start working. Eventually, we wait again; new doctors, new medications, new diagnoses. Am I better? Will it come back? Our families wait. Our friends. In fact, there is very little action in this whole mental health and healing business. Getting a name for what is happening, a new medication, a new appointment–the exciting, newsworthy stuff happens so quickly, compared to the time between. I am impatient. I hate waiting. I have no choice.

If we’re lucky, some people who really understand wait with us; this website can help you find some of those people, if you don’t know any, and you’re looking. I have found some pretty amazing women to wait with me, through the toughest times. We will wait with you, whether it is you who suffers, or someone you love. Whether you understand, or don’t understand. We are really good at waiting. We have practice.

Nothing takes away the insidious pain of waiting. It sneaks reminders into my days; one day, the light changes, and a pill can look like a taunting little joke, filled with more doubt than medicine. My toddler’s tears inspire annoyance, or even rage, in me, and the best I can do is wait for feelings of sympathy. I catch myself going through the motions of motherhood, without feeling inspired, and resolve to keep doing that, until I can ride a wave of love through an entire morning.

I have found a way to trick the trickster, and I’ll tell you my secret. It’s a trick I saw once for making a To Do list less overwhelming–I add small things to the list of the things that I am waiting for, tiny events that will definitely happen, soon. When things feel really badly, I get really tiny. I wait for the next time my son makes me smile, and I count that one smile as a victory against depression, even if it lasts for one second and it is followed by tears. That one might not work for you, but my twenty-month-old tiny man has a pair of dimples that have been making his smiles contagious since he started showing them off.

I wait to see proof that my child is thriving, because that is how I know that we are meant to be together, mother and son. If you do the right kind of learning about child development, those signs are there every single day. I remember the first time I held up a blanket in front of my face, and he pulled it away. That meant that he knew I was there, behind that blanket, and that he had the motor skills and motivation to move away the obstacle. He laughed, and I laughed. Every time his block towers get taller, I try to remember: tell yourself that this means he is thriving, learning, growing.

Lately, my husband has been “doing” bedtime. He used to do the bath and the nighttime diaper, and then I would read a story and sing and nurse the boy to sleep. Then, he got bigger and demanded more nursing, more playing, until my patience gave out. I wait for bedtime in a new way, now, because I get to listen to the little conversations he has with his dad. He says “boat!” and his dad makes the noise for the motor, and they both laugh. I wait for bedtime, because the way he waves his hand exactly once and says a staccato “bye!” just kills me. He sounds just like a grown person heading out to run the most mundane errand. At first, I saw this change in the bedtime routine as a sign that I had failed, again, and I wished that my anxiety would stop long enough for indefinite nursing sessions, just once a day. Now, I wait for the overheard laughter and the casual goodnight (preceded by many hugs and kisses) because I see them as signs that he enjoys his father and trusts that I will be there for him, if he needs me. He hates to be without either of us, but he adapts. When a child’s mother is failing, he is afraid. My son is not afraid. Therefore, I do not fail.

I wait for the next success. If all I can feel is despair, I wait for that next success, however small, and I hold on tight. It may be small, but it is my proof that the waiting is worth it.

We do a lot of waiting, and we move slowly, but each step matters. Even in the rain.

We do a lot of waiting, and we move slowly, but each step matters. Even in the rain.

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