You Are Never Alone

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Lesley after having her second daughter

When I first became depressed and anxious after my oldest daughter was born four years ago, I kept it bottled up inside – but its devastating effects on me were all too visible anyway. I wasn’t eating, couldn’t sleep, was mute and crying at the smallest instigation – and I thought I was all alone. Forever.

The first time I felt not alone, despite having been surrounded by family since my daughter was born, was a few weeks in when my husband said, “I think you need to see someone.” I nodded silently with tears streaming down my cheeks as I rocked in our glider while feeding Rebecca, one of the many tasks I apathetically completed during that time. I suddenly felt like perhaps he understood that something going on inside my brain was not right, and felt it start to shift the slightest bit.

Finding my therapist was the next step out of the lonely dark. During our first phone conversation, she made a point to let me know that nothing I had said to her was something she hadn’t heard before. That immediately had an impact – I wasn’t the first person to not be flooded with love for their baby? I wasn’t the first person to not want to take care of their baby? I wasn’t the first person to cry at and feel paralyzed by every parenting decision I had to make? Yet another small mental shift occurred.

After she diagnosed me and while I waited for my medicine to kick in, I found Postpartum Progress. The patient forum. The blog. The symptom list that sounded exactly like what I was experiencing. And while still alone in my apartment, I knew I wasn’t alone anymore. These moms were putting words to the exact feelings in my heart and thoughts in my head, and even more importantly? They were better. They were Warrior Moms, and now I was one too, fighting the battle against my own maternal mental health. That was the biggest shift of all. Until now.

This past weekend, I met more than 100 of these moms in Boston at the Warrior Mom Conference. I hugged them in real life. I talked with women who had the same symptoms I did, some who suffered more devastating setbacks than me, and some who recovered more quickly than I am. Each conversation that we had, at a table during a meal or just in the hallway in passing was loaded with love, light and understanding. There was so much healing going on in the St. Botolph Club that there was no room for judgement – not that any of us is in the position to judge another anyway.

Women nodded with each other as they divulged memories and cried. Tissue boxes were passed up and down rows of seats and emptied quickly. Hugs were handed out freely. The ripple effects of cathartic panel discussions, a group therapy session and small support groups could be felt constantly – and amid the sniffles and blowing of – ahem – Warrior Snot (to be trademarked soon), laughter also prevailed. Smiles were present almost constantly, as personal burdens were shed and women emerged lighter, happier and more whole. The power of this support was undeniable.

The closed Facebook group for Warrior Mom Conference attendees has been a special place since it was created. Attendees chimed in to share excitement, sign up for different parts of the Conference, transfer tickets as needed and more for months. As a virtual pre-conference icebreaker, many of us created introduction videos telling our stories, allowing us to put voices to each others’ profile pictures. And in the days leading up to the event, the group was a buzzing hive of activity where we shared anxiety, excitement, memes and fashion tips. I wasn’t sure what would happen to the Facebook group after the Conference, but – it has only gotten busier. The healing that began last weekend is continuing as we speak, through the power of support.

None of us are alone – a fact we knew as soon as we found Postpartum Progress, and we know beyond a shadow of a doubt now. So despite how lonely any person suffering may feel, know that there is an entire family of Warrior Moms armed with love, light and understanding, just waiting to welcome you – to help you through this tunnel and out the other side – and to support you the entire way. As a Warrior Mom, let me make it abundantly clear – you are NEVER alone.

Lesley & family

*****

Lesley NeadelLesley Neadel is a blogger and freelance writer living in Hoboken, NJ. A mother of Rebecca, 4 ½, and Lila, 10 months, her mission is to give women the most real sense of what pregnancy and motherhood are like – the good, the bad, and the downright nasty. She has written about her struggle with postpartum depression and anxiety, how she’s changed since meeting her husband, her adventures in attempting to breastfeed and how she feels about her babies growing up (HOORAY!). Her raw, honest and often humorous writing has been featured on Yahoo! Parenting, GoodHousekeeping.com, Redbook.com, and MommyPlayZone.com. She blogs at www.RealLifeRealLaughter.com.

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Calling All Homestead Warriors – A Giveaway!

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Helloooooo, lovely ladies!

We haven’t forgotten you! Hopefully, by now, some of you who signed up for postcard love from the Warrior Mom Conference have received notes of hope, tinged with a bit of Boston magic, from our attendees. I want you to know that all the attendees were so thrilled to have the postcards to send to you and several attendees offered to fill out multiple cards. The love for all of us, there or not, was overflowing.

While we were together in Boston, there was a lot of discussion about those who couldn’t join us. You were there, Homestead Warriors. We felt you. Your presence was felt in everything we did this past weekend at the first ever patient centered maternal mental health conference.

And now, it’s YOUR TURN, Homestead Warriors.

Today, we’re announcing a giveaway just for you. That’s right – if you were unable to join us in Boston and live in the US or Canada, you are eligible.

All you have to do is comment below with what you’re going to do just for you today. That’s right – just give us a peek into your self-care and BOOM. You’re entered.

Winners will be announced on July 24th at 12:00N ET.

Oh, what are you entering to win, you ask?

These lovely prizes:

HSW Giveaway 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HSW Giveaway 2

 

 

 

 

HSW Giveaway 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, without any further ado, let us know what you’re doing in the self-care realm!

Winners will be notified by email so make sure you leave us that information.

Good luck, dear Homestead Warriors!

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Warrior Mom Conference Re-cap

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This past weekend, over 100 Warrior Moms from around the world gathered in Boston for the first ever patient-centered conference on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. To call it a success would be a massive understatement. We didn’t want it to end.

Postpartum Progress’ #WarriorMomCon was ground-breaking and centered on connection, education, support, and healing. Women who had once struggled with being able to simply get out of bed came together with fiery, sparkly, joyous passion. We were united in our intense desire to collectively raise our voices. Being there this weekend was our way of telling the world that perinatal mental health issues are REAL and we want to do our part to raise awareness in our communities.

Warrior Moms gather at the Lenox Hotel before the start of the conference

An informal gathering on Friday evening was the start of all the excitement, as Warrior Moms began arriving in Boston. We introduced ourselves, hugged, and the conversations started flowing. You could feel the buzz of fierce energy in the air.

Katherine Stone opens #WarriorMomCon

Katherine Stone opens #WarriorMomCon

On Saturday morning, the conference got underway. Founder and Warrior-Mom-In-Chief, Katherine Stone, kicked us off with an inspiring keynote emphasizing how Postpartum Progress exists because of the dedication and drive of her tribe, Warrior Moms all over the world. She stressed that she may have founded Postpartum Progress, but it wouldn’t be the powerhouse life-changing non-profit organization that it is today without our commitment to the mission of increasing maternal mental illness awareness and providing peer support.

The first panel entitled Educate & Empower: Panel and Moderated Discussion on Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders was filled with eye-opening information on just how many women are affected each year by postpartum depression and anxiety disorders, and how the term “postpartum” isn’t even completely accurate given that 60% of these conditions occur during the “antepartum” period – or during pregnancy.

from left to right: Dr. Ruta Nonacs, Mara Acel-Green, Peggy Kaufman, and Dr. Lekeisha Sumner

Take-aways during the first session:

  • Dr. Ruta Nonacs, Psychiatrist, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School: “PPD is preventable if we can identify the women who are at the greatest risk.”
  • Mara Acel-Green, Founder, Strong Roots Counseling: “Postpartum Depression can happen even when a child is adopted. PPD occurs in approximately 20-25% of adoptive moms.”
  • Dr. Lekeisha Sumner, Clinical Psychologist quoted Maya Angelou: “As soon as the healing takes place, go out and heal.”
  • Peggy Kaufman, Director of The Center for Early Relationship Support at Jewish Family & Children’s Service: “Say the word JOY. It’s very powerful.”

We broke for lunch into small groups, and then met back up for an afternoon full of inspiring knowledge sharing.

Kate Kripke, LCSW presents

Kate Kripke, LCSW presents

 

During her “Thriving After PMAD” session, Kate Kripke, LCSW, Founder, Postpartum Wellness Center of Boulder shared tips and exercises for thriving after a postpartum mood disorder. My favorite quote from Kate’s beautiful session: “Give yourself permission to love yourself.”

 

 

 

Divya Kumar presents on privilege

Divya Kumar presents on privilege

Our final speaker of the day was Divya Kumar, Sc.M., CLC, PPD, Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center. Divya’s presentation focused on teaching us how to reach underserved moms and families in our local communities and how privilege can limit our perspectives and advocacy. My biggest lesson learned: “Don’t make assumptions. Be conscious of privilege.”

We finished up the day with Self-Care workshops where we learned the importance of self-care and how there are endless options for taking time to pamper yourself. Adult coloring books, knitting/crocheting, massage, yoga/pilates/meditation, walking, talking with friends – online via Twitter chats and other social media or in-person, and the list goes on.

Warrior Mom self-care: adult coloring!

Warrior Mom self-care: adult coloring!

The evening ended on a high note: the Warrior Mom Celebration Dinner. It was spectacular.

Instagram photo by @jzb2

Instagram photo by @jzb2

Day 2 started with a panel discussion around “Raising Awareness Online” moderated by Katherine Stone and featuring Jill Krause of Baby Rabies, Morgan Shanahan of the818.com, both leading professional bloggers who have written openly and honestly about their experiences with postpartum mood disorders. They were joined by Jennifer Labit, the founder of Cotton Babies, the official sponsor of the Warrior Mom Conference. It was an empowering and engaging session on how to amplify your impact online.

from left to right: Morgan Shanahan, Jill Krause, Jenn Labit, Katherine Stone

The conference wrapped up with a final session presented by MotherWoman’s passionate Founder Annette Cycon and Program Director, Liz Friedman. After sharing their own experiences with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, Annette and Liz led the group in a guided meditation followed by their support group guidelines. We then broke into small sharing circles where were were able to share our own stories and experience peer-to-peer support and healing.

Instagram photo by @danielle.nelson

Instagram photo by @danielle.nelson

Seven years ago I experienced postpartum psychosis after my first child was born, and five years ago I suffered from antenatal psychosis during my second pregnancy. Those were some of the most isolating and terrifying times of my life. I found Postpartum Progress after I had begun my recovery journey, and I am eternally grateful the blog existed when I stumbled across it. If I wouldn’t have had maternal mental illness, I may never have found Katherine Stone & Postpartum Progress, and might not have met this incredible community. My Warrior Mom friendships are the gift of light born out of my darkest moments and I will treasure them always.

One in seven women will experience a postpartum mental illness {postpartum/antepartum depression, anxiety, ocd, psychosis}. Chances are, if you haven’t gone through it yourself, someone close to you has or will in the future. Postpartum Progress is here to help, every step of the way. Share this video and it’s message. We can conquer postpartum mental health disorders together. We are warrior moms.

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Warrior Mom Conference – Need your Questions

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We wget answersant to hear from our warrior mom community as we begin our first ever Warrior Mom Conference.  The first morning of the conference is filled with an amazing panel of speakers.  We will have a moderated question and answer session.  Follow along with us on social media as we live tweet the question and answer session.  We want to hear from you.  Our speakers that are part of the Educate & Empower panel are Dr. Ruta Nonacs, Mara Acel-Green, Dr. Lekeisha Sumner, and Peggy Kaufman.

Here are a few questions to get you thinking.  What do you wish you had known about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders? How can we help moms access treatment more easily?  What obstacles have you faced with regards to finding the right treatment?  How can we increase our reach to underserved communities?  What type of community supports should be in place? If you have encountered obstacles in finding community support, what were they?  Submit your comments to the Facebook page.

 

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