Maternal Mental Health Awareness: Newsletter Edition

Let’s Talk About Maternal Mental Health

Did you know that one out seven families are impacted by Pregnant and Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders? Simmer on that. Do you know SEVEN families? Then you know someone that has been affected. But, how come no one is talking? Woman are made to feel inadequate if they admit the mental suffering. They tell us we are less of a mother. They tell us that it’s just hormones. They tell us to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. But the truth is. We can’t do this alone. We need help. We are suffering. We are crying out for help. [Call the Postpartum Support Internation Warmline for help and local referrals: 1-800-944-4PPD]

Brave Mothers Share Their Stories

{Click on the image to read the story}

I Wasn’t Built For Motherhood by Sara Green

I Felt Broken: I Needed Help by Brandee Foster on RealityMoms

Taking Antidepressants Doesn’t Make Me a Bad Mother by Jen Simon

Postpartum Depression: We’re Still Just “Sucking It Up” by Sarah Bregel

My Traumatic Birth Experience Left Me Scared, Scarred, and Struggling with PTSD by Sara Farrell Baker

9 Things I Wish I’d Known About Postpartum Depression by Honest Mom

Trust me, I know exactly how it feels, I know exactly how it feels to cry in the shower so no one can hear you. I know what it’s like to wait for everyone to be asleep so you can fall apart, for everything to hurt so bad you just want it to end. I know exactly how it feels.” – unknown

 

 

 

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The Broken Friend

I’m in this suffocating bubble known as depression and anxiety. The bubble increases with room to live. During that time, I throw myself into conversations, interactions, and fellowship. I’m eager to get up and go. Then the bubble shrivels up, taking the life force out of me. When I can’t function or breathe, I forget the people standing by on the outside. I desire life but can’t fully grasp it. My home becomes a prison masked as a haven.

It isn’t intentional. I hate that I didn’t return the phone calls or text. I’m sorry that I bailed on our plans, even though I was looking forward to it and truthfully, needed it. I stay awake at night, upset at my actions and tell myself that in the morning I will apologize and do better. But, tomorrow comes, and I’m in a cocoon of the warmth ignited by my depression. Nothing is appealing outside of this heat. I’m falsely embracing the security of my depression. It is easier to give in and be alone. It takes mental stamina to fight for the willpower and energy to invest and socialize. I’m losing this battle because I’m too tired to fight.
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That lost battle is the edge of dying friendship. A bystander who is tired of being neglected and rejected. It’s easy for that person to raise their hands in defeat. They’re sick of the games and broken promises. It isn’t worth it. They can walk away. And, I know it will happen. I can sense when I’ve reached the point of too many broken promises.  Their distance is a stab in my heart full of remorse and shamefulness. It’s not their job to stick around. There is no obligation in our friendship to make you stay. My depression is not an excuse. It is a part of who I am, and you are allowed not to accept it.

When a friend walks away, proclaiming hurt by my actions, it creates a breath of air that inflates empathy into the bubble. It is not my goal to hurt the people that choice to be apart of my life. But, depression makes me a selfish person. This brutal moment of honesty awakens the nerve endings on my body. I am being reminded to look and truly appreciate the ones that love me. My depression can make me a jerk. But, it doesn’t give me a pass to jerk others around.

Motherhood Broke Me

I remember the exact moment that I decided I wanted to become a mom. My then boyfriend – now husband, and I were laying in bed. I rolled over to my side, taking away the comforter from my mouth so that I could talk to him.

“I want to try to have a baby.” I spat out. My eyes waited for his response. I blamed my desire to start a family because he was older than me. I figured if I had the notion of wanting to be a mom at twenty then he must surely have the desire at twenty-four. Our three year anniversary was approaching. We’d been living together for over two years. I didn’t question my decision on starting a family at a young age because being a parent with him felt natural. But, at that moment, I didn’t see the darkness that was waiting.

He agreed. And we started trying right away. It was our little secret. We weren’t going to tell our family that we were actively trying to get pregnant before marriage. They were still adjusting to the fact that I was living with him. Plus, I read online that it took months for couples to get pregnant.
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Two months later, I was pregnant. Pregnancy was spectacular. I glowed. I rocked the belly. I never had morning sickness. My family was happy and supportive. And, I became a wife. My husband and I didn’t argue over nursery themes, baby gadgets, or names. That year was magical. Everything pointed towards bliss.

Birth. It was hard. It was unpleasant. It was exhausting. It was rewarding. My son was here. I had no idea that when I held his body against my breast, smelling his scent, months to come, I would regret being his mom.

At first, I wouldn’t sleep. I was afraid that if I did while my son was asleep, that he would never wake up. I would miss his struggle to breathe, and his death would be on my hands. My exhaustion brought paranoia. He couldn’t wear anything without washing it. I was confident that a toxic residue would eat at his flesh. The fear of his death morphed into my mortality. Was this bruise an indication that I had HIV? The pain in my calves, as I walked up and down the stairs, was a clot breaking and making its way into my lungs.
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Daytime would blind the fear of death. It was a low simmer of fear that haunted my thoughts. I masked the paranoia with playdates, adventures, and get-togethers. As the sun set and friends returned home, loneliness crept in. I would lay awake, in total darkness, staring at the ceiling. I didn’t want to be a mom anymore. My mind was tired. I was a pathetic mother. I was weak.  I was drowning, and it felt easier to succumb to the water.

My hidden fate was unraveling in front of others. My mask was breaking. My anger was growing. His neediness became annoying. His cries elevated my desire to run. My end was near. My husband heard the screams that vibrated throughout the house. I laid in a fetal position, on the raspy carpet in front of our bed. The screams escaped with no fight. Motherhood broke me.

I wish I could write about what happened those days after my breakdown. I remember feeling lethargic as if I was underwater fighting against the current to breathe. Days later, I was sitting on the couch of a psychiatrist.  My husband sat right beside me.  His weight shifted my body to the left. I grabbed his hand. The psychiatrist was a small framed woman. Her desk was a shrine of paperwork for the people she fought to help. I exhaled.

She asked, “How are you?”

My eyes closed. My chest vibrated against the labored breathing. My husband’s hand tighten around mine.

“I can’t do this anymore,” broke through my lips.

I needed the support of my husband but was ashamed to share my thoughts. My head dropped in defeat. My shoulders rolled forward with the tears that fell from my eyes. I didn’t know that being his mom would bring sadness. I didn’t know that being his mom would alter my whole being. I didn’t know that being his mom would suffocate me. I didn’t know that being his mom would bring fear. I didn’t know that being his mom would make me an outcast. I didn’t know that being his mom would destroy my happiness.

I answered her questions with anguished sobs. I was too tired to decipher my thoughts.  But, she had the code. It was Postpartum Depression. Her petite body twisted towards her desk, placing the paperwork she had in her hands, onto it. Her chair scraped against the carpet as she stood up. She sat to my right and put her small hand on my shoulder. It radiated energy. She calmly explained Postpartum Depression while rubbing my shoulder. Every movement of her hand uncovered the truth. The truth that I wasn’t a failure. The truth that I wasn’t an embarrassment. The truth that I wasn’t alone. The truth that I could fall and there would be a safety net.

World Book Day

In honor of World Book Day, I’m going to share some amazing books available now!

 

  1. Help and Hope While You’re Healing: A woman’s guide toward wellness while recovering from injury, surgery, or illness by Christine Carter

If you face an upcoming surgery, suffer from chronic illness, or are down for the count with a sudden injury, let Christine walk alongside you. Use this working guide to lead you through transforming exercises offering a new perspective on your recovery–one filled with gratitude, a little bit of fun, and hope through the healing!

2) ORDER OF SEVEN by Beth Teliho

Equal parts suspenseful and sexy, philosophical and adventurous, Order of Seven delivers a story that will leave you questioning everything you thought you knew about the hands that carry fate.  Click the image above to order your copy now!

3) Science of Parenthood: Thoroughly Unscientific Explanations for Utterly Baffling Parenting Situations by Norine Dworkin-McDaniel and Jessica Zielger

Based on Norine Dworkin-McDaniel and Jessica Ziegler’s popular illustrated humor blog, Science of Parenthood: Thoroughly Unscientific Explanations for Utterly Baffling Parenting Situations takes the duo’s mix of high-brow science and low-brow humor to a whole new level.

4) Dear Stephanie by Mandi Castle

Dear Stephanie is a sinfully addictive walk through a world of beauty, affluence, and incidental love that effortlessly moves the reader between laughter, tears, heartache, and hope with the turn of every “Paige.”

5) My Lame Life: Queen of the Misfits by Jen Mann

New York Times bestselling author Jen Mann has written a hilarious and heartwarming story for fans of Meg Cabot and Rainbow Rowell.

My name is Plum Parrish, I’m fourteen, and I’m pretty sure I’m invisible. Not like super power invisible, more like loser invisible. There’s a big difference. I live with my dad who doesn’t realize that a job transfer to Kansas is not a promotion; my s’mother who thinks journaling, cheesy inspo slogans, and mani-pedis can solve my problems; and my twin brother Pax who is so perfect I’m convinced we share absolutely no DNA.

6) Kindness Wins by Galit Breen

If kindness wins, accountability rules. The need for this mantra is never clearer than when scrolling through posts and comments left online. Approximately four out of ten kids (forty-two percent) have experienced cyberbullying.

7) Secrets of the Suburbs by Alisa Schindler

Secrets of the Suburbs is the story of Lindsey, a 42 year-old suburban mom who seems to have it all – doctor husband, two great kids, satisfying part-time work; all the spin classes, shopping and lunches she can fit into her busy schedule.

8) Hard to Die (Nowhere Series Book 1) by Andra Watkins

No one knows what happened to Theodosia Burr, the fiery daughter Aaron Burr serenades in Hamilton: An American Musical. When she disappeared she fell into an in-between called Nowhere. For her soul to rest, she has one assignment: Help someone navigate a life-changing crossroad or be forgotten forever.

 

Did a book catch your eye, maybe all of them? Click on the book to read them now!

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

Heroism Through The Heat of Hatred.

 The Zookeeper’s Wife, by Diane Ackerman.

             
This story is an unusual tale of history surrounding World War II and the internal suffering one woman took has she risked her families life and hers to save the ones who were told to no longer exists.

Diane Ackerman turns Antonia Zabinski’s true admissions of the life her family and she took against Nazism. In The Zookeeper’s Wife, the reader is transported back to an era of hatred and suffering. However, it’s secretly filled with love, honor, and heroisms.
Ackerman captured the soul of the hatred Nazi’s held by translating through words that are compelling and spell-bounding.
Antonia Zabinski’s life has a zookeeper’s wife was of luxury filled with comforts of freedom. But when her town was bombed, her zoo in shambles and her husband sent off to war, Antonia did the only thing that she could do. Survive. And to help others survive.

Self Care in Chaos

Every little mess in the house is bothering me.

It’s maddening. I’m pissed that I’m getting pissed about something as trivial as scattered toys, shoes, book bags, and blankets. But, I look at the mess and I have a visceral reaction.

I cannot escape the chaos for one second. I sweep the floors and turn around and see dust gathering on the TV stand. I walk into the bathroom, to wipe of the toothpaste that’s dried on the counter and notice the residue in the tub. I’m tired of cleaning.

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This isn’t a new emotional roller coaster. I’ve been on this ride many times. And now, I’d like to get off.

So, I’m going to bitch about it. I’m going to put it into perspective. And I’m going to change the ride. I will have a breakdown and cry. Because that’s how I purge my emotions. And after that, I’m going to find my happiness by doing things that I enjoy.

Sure, the chaos will still be there but my energy will be clear. At least, I hope.

The Unmastered Parent

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Today. Honestly, I don’t like you. And I know that I should be appreciative but you’re kind of like that annoying hum of a fly that I can’t capture to quiet. Yeah, I’m well aware that you could be a wasp that stings me in the ass but the noise is maddening. I’m trying to find the precious moment of holding my daughter as she sleeps her first sickness away in my arms. But, all I feel is the heat trying to escape. There’s no point to dress or shower. She’s having a hard time holding things down. The boys aren’t fighting. That should bring much relief. But it’s not. They’re sick. Today, I’m not strong enough for you. I’m trying to put aside my own pain but each step becomes harder and weighed down with exhaustion as the time ticks. This is a juggling act that I still haven’t mastered. So, Today, I’m trying to understand the purpose of you. But, right now, I’m going to flip you off.