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Archive for the ‘ppd’ Category

It took one day for Postpartum Depression to hit me.

It took 10 deeply miserable, lonely, scary months for me to ask for the professional help I needed.

It took almost another three years to feel like myself again. To feel like I could be an alive and present partner, mom, daughter, sister and friend. To feel like I am a person and not just a facade trying to make it through each day.

I hid. I was embarrassed. I was scared. I was lonely. I didn’t talk about it with people who I know love me.  I downplayed it when I did talk about it. I put all my acting skills to poor use in hiding myself. I know why; in addition to the fear and shame, most days, getting through the day took all the energy I had.

I have loved my daughter deeply through all of this.  She is my heart’s delight.  During those 10 long undiagnosed months, while I didn’t take much care of myself, I put everything I had into caring for her.  I only asked for help when I realized I could not take care of her anymore if I didn’t start taking care of myself.

I have worried about the impact of my PPD on my girl.  I have clung to the belief I have in play as a way to bond with, nurture and mother her.  I believe that my ability to play, even when my heart and soul was not playful, has helped us through these early years. I wish things had been different. I feel sad about all that I missed out on as a mom and we missed out on as a family because of my PPD.

In my road to recovery, there has been one constant source of support, helpful information and inspiration — Katherine Stone and Postpartum Progress. Katherine is an amazing advocate for women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. She writes openly and honestly about her own experiences and has built a powerhouse of support for women and their families. Postpartum Progress gives accessible information, real stories of suffering and coping, connections to resources and a community that understands and supports each other.

Today is an opportunity for me to give something back. In addition to telling my story here, I’ve made a donation to Postpartum Progress to help in the support of developing a compelling national awareness campaign for postpartum depression, as well as new and improved patient education materials (the kind new moms won’t throw away!), and new uses of technology to reach suffering moms no matter where they are.  Postpartum Progress reached me when I needed more help than I was finding on my own.

If you or someone you love has or is currently suffering from PPD, please check out Postpartum Progress. If you are in a position to make a donation, you can learn more about Strong Start Day and make a donation here.

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Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a mixed bag for me…in the years after my Mom died and before LP was born, I thought I had every emotional response possible from despised “hallmark holiday” to day of loving memories.  In LP’s first year, I was so immersed in PPD that I felt like I could hardly breathe, all I wanted for Mother’s Day was to be left alone and not be a mother for awhile.

Today is one of the good days and I can enjoy my family and my memories. LP (with some help from ImprovDad) made me a book as a gift titled “The Mama Held the Flower Panda” with this picture on the cover:

It pretty much doesn’t get better than that.

So today I celebrate all the gifts of being my mother’s daughter while I miss her active presence in our lives.  I’m thinking of the other wonderful mothers in my life — my Nana (pictured with my Mom at the top), Great-Aunt Thelma and Erna — all who live on in my memories and actions.  Also to all my current mothering compatriots and inspirations especially Shirl, Trinella & Diane for being my three 2nd moms after my mom died. My teenage years would have been so much harder without you.  And my daily life as a mom is better because of sharing the journey with my fellow moms in my sister Lynne, my sister-in-law Helen, my life-long friends Trina & Wendy and my mom-in-law, Marjorie.  And  our lives are made sweeter and better all the time by the love & support that we get from LP’s special aunties — Tara, Mandy  & Sandy. AND although it might seem strange, life as a mom is better for all the sharing with my mama friends on Facebook.  Happy Mom’s Day to all of you!

If you or a mom you love is suffering from PPD or related post-partum disorders, Postpartum Progress is having an amazing Mother’s Day Rally for Mental Health.  This blog has been a source of comfort and healing for me…not just today but every day I needed to know I was not alone.

Thanks for sharing the journey of playful parenting with me here on improv-a-mama…I wish you joyful days with your little people.

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I keep trying to write this post and failing.  My words tangle and snarl up. My thoughts that seem so clear at 3 am arrive on the screen without a sense of cohesion.  So I’m trying a 30-Minute attempt it and accept that it may take more than one post for me to dig out the meaning AND connect it to the practice of improv.

We all have habits of mind. There are many ways these are useful; we develop these habits for good reasons.  But life changes, we change and sometimes old habits of mind aren’t useful anymore.  Many spiritual practices and therapy modalities have techniques for noticing and letting go (or changing) habits of mind.

These days I find I am particularly challenged by  my own habits of mind that are not useful anymore. And it is hard to let them go.

After LP’s birth, I suffered from postpartum depression. One of the places I experience the lingering effects is in my habits of mind.  I used to be a much more hopeful, optimistic person and I miss that way of being. I have the distinct experience of having my generally positive view of the world enhanced over the years by the practice of  improv. And then I have the distinct experience of my generally positive view of the world being absorbed by all of the dark, sad and lonely feelings of ppd.

One reason that I say that the practice of improvisation builds optimism is that creating together opens us up to alternate stories.   When we create together in the moment, we have a give and take of ideas and actions. The story that I start to tell in my head, leaping forward into the future, is not the story that gets told because my partner has different ideas.  Together we find a story path which is different than the story we would tell either of us alone. The world and specifically any given moment becomes filled with possibilities.

When I get drawn back down in my negative habits of mind, I am not in the present. I am spinning in the sadness of the past. I am wrapped up in grief for the things that didn’t happen and the experiences I missed out on because I was depressed. My world becomes quite narrow and I lose sight of those possible other stories.

An example:

LP has been getting more easily frustrated recently and cries out, “I can’t do it. It’s too hard.”  This shakes me.  I believe this is all part of her normal development; she’s three and struggling to be more independent while simultaneously longing for dependence. Yet I have fears about how my ppd has affected her and those particular words are triggering for me. All those months when that is what I felt day after day — “I can’t do this. It’s too hard.” Every day for 10 months before I found a treatment that helped me and even then it took almost 2 years to feel like myself again.

To help me not go spinning off into my own sadness when this occurs, I made a plan.  When she says it, I am prepared to sit by her side and say “I know you can do this” and “Why don’t you give it another try?” and “You feel like it’s hard. It’s good to try hard things.” and “I’m going to stay right here with you while you try again” or “I’ll be in the other room when you’ve done it” (depends on the circumstance). I need these prepared responses because otherwise I get caught up in over-thinking (and over-feeling) the moment, ascribing meaning to it that it may or may not have…I cannot know for sure.  And we need to get through the day.

That’s my time cut-off too….so more to come in part two.

This post is part of the Moms 30 Minute Blog Challenge; a really wonderful idea (that keeps me writing at least once a week!) from Jamie over at SteadyMom.

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