Big News!!! Announcing the 2015 Postpartum Progress Warrior Mom Conference

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In 2004 came Postpartum Progress the blog.

In 2011 came Postpartum Progress the nonprofit.

In 2013 came Postpartum Progress’ Climb Out of the Darkness, the world’s largest event raising awareness of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

And in 2015 …

Warrior Mom ConferenceANNOUNCING THE FIRST-EVER WARRIOR MOM CONFERENCE, a patient-centered, community-focused conference for survivors of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and those still working toward full recovery. There are several great conferences focused on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders mainly aimed at clinicians and organizations in the maternal mental health field, but this, my dear Warrior Moms, is for us!!! Get ready to get together in Boston next year!

The Postpartum Progress Warrior Mom Conference will be a time for us to do three things together: CELEBRATE recovery, BUILD community, and DEVELOP powerful skills for raising awareness and advocacy to help our fellow Warrior Moms around the world.  We will offer self-care workshops, Q&A sessions with top experts in reproductive psychiatry, keynotes and panel discussions, a live PPDchat with its creator Lauren Hale, and so much more we can’t wait to tell you about! The conference will allow us to gather together to share stories and information in a caring and supportive environment.

Here’s what you need to know now:

  • The conference is July 11-12, 2015 (SAVE THE DATE!!), in beautiful Boston, Massachusetts. We’ll be taking over Boston’s beautiful Back Bay at the St. Botolph’s Club – a historic brownstone on Commonwealth Avenue that is the perfect setting for our powerful yet intimate gathering.
  • Early Bird registration is $125 until June 1, 2014, wherein the registration fee will go up to $150. Registration will be capped at the first 125 tickets sold, so you’ll want to register as soon as possible to avoid missing out on all we have planned for that weekend!
  • We are working with area hotels to provide attendees with great rates on lodging — that information will be forthcoming.

This conference wouldn’t be possible without the work of three very special Warrior Moms: Susan Petcher, A’Driane Nieves and Miranda Wicker. Together with the help of other volunteers they have worked their butts off to make this happen, and I am forever grateful to them for their dedication, leadership and hard work.  They are leading the charge on making this an amazing event, and I cannot WAIT!

Spots to attend this conference are limited, so if you want to be the first to know when registration opens up (soon!), sign up for our email alert by clicking the button below and filling out the super short form. Don’t miss it! We want to see you in Boston!

Be the first to know!

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You Are Not Your Feelings

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“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Stepping into Freedom: Rules of Monastic Practice for Novices

When I was in the midst of my battle with postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, and postpartum OCD, I felt a lot of things. I felt turmoil, anger, sadness, rage, guilt, despair, hopelessness, frustration, numbness … I felt pretty much every negative emotion you can imagine and then some. Sometimes, I felt the lack of emotion, and that was just as bad if not worse. I felt like the world’s worst mother, a horrible wife, and an awful person in general. I felt like I was an utter and complete failure in every single way.

Unfortunately, I know that I am not alone in this. I wish that I were, but I’m not.  I’ve talked to many other women who say “I feel/felt…” and list off so many awful things. Usually, they say they, too, feel like a bad mother. A monster. A failure. A bad wife. Sometimes it’s “I don’t feel anything, what kind of mother doesn’t feel anything?” It is a sad reality that perinatal mood and anxiety disorders distort your perception, and not just of the world around you but of yourself.

The good news is that these feelings are exactly that. They are only a distorted perception. Much like looking in a warped mirror will give an inaccurate and untrue reflection of the physical appearance of whoever is standing in front of the mirror, our feelings while we battle maternal mental illness do not necessarily reflect the truth of who we are or how we are. Listen to me, and listen carefully: Your negative feelings do not define you. You do not have to be what and how you feel.

Let’s take an example from one of my cats. He seems to think he’s part lap dog, part teddy bear, part lion. He regularly sits at the back window and stares out at the wild turkeys that are MUCH larger than he is, plotting ways that he can go outside and try to take one on. The truth of the matter is that those turkeys would probably use him as a plaything. He thinks he’s a mighty hunter but he’s a dainty house-cat who has spent maybe 10 minutes outside in his entire life. He thinks he’s a puppy but he’s a cat.

Just as my delightful cat (and he really is, I absolutely adore him) is not what he feels like, we don’t have to be what we feel either. I’m a good mother. I’m a good wife. I’m certainly not a failure. I am not my feelings. You aren’t either. You do not have to let your feelings define you. I can tell you right now, you’re a WONDERFUL person. You have a beautiful spirit. You’re a fantastic parent. You have so much worth. You are strong and powerful.

Now I know first-hand that when you’re in the thick of things it’s a lot easier to say that than it is to believe it. In case you need help holding on to the truth and keeping track of the fact that you’re awesome and your negative feelings are just a bad mirror, this is a trick that might help. Please note that there’s no guarantee but it has helped some people, so feel free to give it a try and see if it can benefit you. :) (Also note, this is SO not my idea, I borrowed it from other people, like the therapist I used to see).

Put positive affirmations on your bathroom mirror. Every morning and every night, say them out loud, and go read them when you feel low. Things like “I am unique. I am wonderful. I am loved. I am strong. I am a good mother. I am a success.” Use the positive words to remind yourself that you rock. Please note that I am NOT saying “You should just change your thinking and everything will be all better!” Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are not a matter of just having certain thinking patterns; all I’m saying is that sometimes hearing good things about ourselves, having a reminder that we have positive qualities, can help combat those nasty little bad feelings.

No matter what you feel, hold tight to the truth in the words of Thích Nhất Hạnh. Feelings come and go. They may be here now, but they will not always be. You do have to let them define you. You are not the nasty things that perinatal mood and anxiety disorders tell you you are. You are wonderful things. You are lovely, lovable and loved. You are you. And you are a better you than anyone else could come up with.

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Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders News & Research Roundup

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postpartum depression newsThere are so many great posts and news stories about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders out there that it’s high time I did a news roundup.

Warrior Mom Stories

Prenatal Depression Nearly Drove Amanda Lee To Suicide — The Star   A great post on depression during pregnancy, also called antenatal depression or prenatal depression.

Mother’s Little Helper — What the Flicka Betsy Shaw writes about how she has fought against taking medication and tried to handle her depression on her own.

It’s Time to Speak Up: Postpartum Depression In African American Women — Black And Married With Kids Briana Myricks writes about the fact that women in the African American culture are resistant to speak up about PPD.

The $11 A Month That Changed My Life — Eat Pray Read Love Kelli writes about the fear of getting treated for PPD because of her Christian faith.

Not Always A Walk in the Park — Mikal & Josh This mom talks about the trauma of having a baby in the NICU and how it led to postpartum PTSD and anxiety.

Postpartum Depression — The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking Kelly writes about not recognizing she had PPD.

Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder Research

The Best Behavioral Therapy for OCD – NIMH  New research finds a specific type of cognitive behavioral therapy to be very effective for OCD.

Pregnancy Loss Increases the Risk of Postpartum Psychiatric Illness – MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health  Another study confirming the fact that women who experience miscarriage or stillbirth are more likely to have postpartum psychiatric illness after subsequent pregnancies.

Depressed Moms, Depressed Offspring – Los Angeles Times A British study finds that children who are born to moms with depression during pregnancy (antenatal depression) are more likely to experience depression in adolescence. “The findings, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, underscore the importance of treating depression in pregnant women, the authors wrote.”

Postpartum Diagnostic Switches Likely In Depressed Women – MedWire Research indicates that women with a history of major depression who show signs of hypomania after childbirth may actually have switched from depression to bipolar II in the postpartum period.

More

Why Maternal Mental Health Should Be A Priority — PLOS I found myself cheering as I read this piece. I’ve always found it shocking how little maternal mental health has been included, if at all, in conversations about global health and maternal health.

Is It The Baby Blues or Something More? — Psych Central 

Should Severe Premenstrual Symptoms be a Psychiatric Disorder? — NPR This story from NPR (you can scroll past the audio player to read the text version) takes a look at premenstrual dysphoric disorder and women who are affected by it.

 

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Pregnant After Postpartum? There Is Hope.

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pregnancy depression, antenatal depression, prenatal depression“What if it happens again?”

That’s one of the biggest question on the minds of many mothers when they find out they’re pregnant after postpartum depression or other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. They remember the struggle and want to know if they’ll be okay.

Having a perinatal mood disorder after one child doesn’t mean a mother will automatically suffer a relapse after subsequent deliveries. In many cases, suffering the first time allows mothers and their support teams to better prepare for future pregnancies so that they don’t suffer again.

I’m happy to welcome Warrior Mom Alyssa to Postpartum Progress today to talk about being pregnant after postpartum OCD and how she’s preparing for life after her second child is born.

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We had been trying for six months, so this was no surprise. We had wanted to expand our family not long after our first daughter turned two, and we are on track to do just that. Due on May 24th. Ready for go, number two.

If I want to I can focus purely on the joy and excitement that come with that. Another baby! Teeny newborn squeaks and coos. Nursing again! Snuggling and seeing my little girl become a big sister. There’s a lot of joy to be had.

There is also some worry. After my daughter was born, I suffered at the hands of various perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. I had a traumatic birth that left me reeling, and PTSD became my daily life. I was afraid of everything. I had terrible intrusive thoughts. I was on edge 24-7. This caused postpartum anxiety, of course, which also trickled into some postpartum OCD. I spent a few months ignoring the reality and being afraid in silence. Finally, with the help of my intuitive husband, I faced my issues and got into therapy. I was able to manage my issues without the use of medication, and after a good year in therapy, things started to go back to normal.

And then? Things went from normal to amazing. I felt better than I had in years. I realized that I have had anxiety issues for some time, and dealing with my birth helped me manage those issues, too. My life fell into a perfect balance of motherhood, teaching, being a wife and a good friend. I have been truly and purely happy. It’s downright scary. [Read more…]

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