Connecting With Kids

I was recently interviewed by Connecting With Kids Network, and I thought I’d include a link to the story, Postpartum Disorders. We get the word out however we can!

No Shame On You

I heard from Doddie McClure today (THANKS Doddie for being the very first person to email me about Postpartum Progress!!!!). She told me all about her illness. At 27 years old, she has always been an over achiever — for example, she has 3 college degrees — and never imagined she might be hit with what she calls “this freek of mother nature” known as post partum disorders. When she was about 35 weeks pregnant she slipped into a major depression and had severe insomnia. The night she had her baby she had horrible thoughts that she was the devil and her baby was the antichrist. Nobody could tell her what was wrong, other than to say “it would pass”. She ended up being hospitalized because of severe anxiety and intrusive thoughts, and is now on her way to complete recovery. She said that it has been ” … very scary at times when I think back at where my mind has been. No woman should have to go through this alone.” Amen, Doddie.

I wonder how many sufferers are told “This will pass” or “Just get some rest and you’ll feel better”. Before I suffered PPOCD, I probably thought the same thing about people with depression or schizophrenia or other mental illnesses. “Just tough it out – you’ll be fine,” probably crossed my mind more than once. Of course, I now know it has nothing to do with self will or mental toughness. It’s an illness that controls you, not the other way around. I now feel so much empathy for people suffering mental illness, and I realize the struggle they go through. And I realize that there are many people out in the world who would just write people like us off once they heard we had visions of being the antichrist, or other such horrible thoughts. But we know better. We know we’re valuable, smart, talented people who are good parents and good citizens. It’s important to help minimize the shame of this illness.

The Truth Doesn't Hurt

One of the problems with women getting hit so hard by postpartum depression and other related illnesses is that honest information about such issues is completely glossed over by most everyone who prepares women for childbirth and beyond. In my birth prep class, the nurse from my hospital mentioned the baby blues, maybe a sentence about PPD, and then said, "But none of my patients ever have that problem, and you won’t either." The book What To Expect When You’re Expecting devotes two-and-a-half pages to it (see pgs. 398-400) and includes information like "Probably the only good thing about postpartum depression is that it doesn’t last very long — about 48 hours for most women." Then the authors go on to talk about such remedies as getting help from others, unwinding with a cocktail, going out to dinner, and getting to know other new mothers. Finally, at the very end, there is one single paragraph that mentions seeking counseling if it lasts for more than two weeks accompanied by " … sleeplessness, lack of appetite, a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness …" Two pages, and only one paragraph that begins to get at the truth of this terrible illness. Yet this is the quintessential guide for pregnant women everywhere. I think it’s important to get over the fear of upsetting mothers with uncomfortable information in pregnancy. I wish someone had told me what intrusive thoughts were before my son was born, so I wouldn’t have sat alone in fear that I had lost my mind.

And So It Begins

I talk to so many women these days. Mothers of women suffering from postpartum disorders. Mothers of women who have killed themselves. Women who have survived. Women who are just now suffering. They all say the same thing: We need to do more. Lots of people are trying to do more, each in their own way. I’ve decided to make my contribution with this weblog. In it I will post whatever I can find that might be of help or comfort to you — stories of women who’ve gone through it, articles from newspapers and magazines, bits of inspiration and more. It’s true that you may be able to find those things on other websites, but my goal here is to post things real-time, so you see them immediately, and to keep this journal very clean and clear so it’s highly useful.

Things you should know:
* It will be collaborative, as I would love to add your thoughts.
* It will be all-encompassing, covering postpartum depression, postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder and postpartum psychosis.
* It has only one allegiance — to women who have suffered or will suffer this these terrible illnesses.

There are still women who can’t get treatment because they either don’t have insurance or what they have covers little to no psychiatric care. There are still women killing themselves and/or others. There are still women being undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. This can’t continue to go on. I hope Postpartum Progress helps in some small way.