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I’m sorry, is The Mother’s Act trying to help women? My bad…

22 May

Once upon a time, everything was wrong. I knew it. I couldn’t bring myself to where I needed to be. So I lived with it, we worked around it, we did what we could, the people in my life, me. But when there’s a fuzz in your brain you can never quite shake, you can’t see through it. You can feel the wrong vibrating through your life, but you can’t quite settle it.

Even if you talk to a doctor, even when I sat down and said, please, I want to die, I can’t hold it in, they saw nothing. The next time I’d be fine, and bouncy and wonderful and life was grand and they saw nothing. So I carried on, with the wrong still buzzing, believing I was doing what I could do.

But then pregnancy, and pregnancy again, and there was a slight snap that let loose the dogs of crazy, and I slipped slowly into the vibration, becoming consumed, becoming someone I wasn’t, someone who I can’t recognize today.

They didn’t see it. They didn’t watch for it, they didn’t ask. My urine was more compelling than my mental state, even after the first time, even after being through it, after asking for help. Nothing. No one. They watched me crying, sobbing in a fetal position 3 hours after birth and did nothing. I should have been happy, shouldn’t I?

More and more foolishness comes out on the Mother’s Act. More lies, more blatant bullshit (prozac in a baby’s eyes? Really? People BELIEVE this crap!?!?) more obstacles to providing women with nurses and doctors who pay attention to their emotional state, who stop and ask them if they’re ok, who take a moment to look them in the eyes and tell them it’s ok to admit if maybe it’s not all puppies and rainbows.

Honesty. Caring. Compassion. Research to prevent post partum mood disorders.

I read a story like this one, where a mother kills her son. And I read how the family felt “she did not express the typical love of a mother for her child.” And how nothing had been done before that. How the mother said she killed him because “she did not want him to grow up with no one caring about him, the same way that she had grown up where nobody had cared about her.” She then walked the streets of her city.

If she never reacted properly to her son, why would no one ever see, or be told, or help? How long? From birth? Could this have been stopped, years before? This mother, who now waits to be tried, who wants now to die, who felt this was the only way, could she have been helped by something as simple as a doctor noticing, at some time, what was going on?

As a Canadian who has suffered a bad case of PPD, I’ve been watching the Mother’s Act hopefully, and wondering if we can implement something similar in Canada. Something that would extend a hand when it’s needed, not forcing or demanding, but merely being a support when it’s so desperately needed. Education for doctors and nurses to recognize the signs.

I’ve also been watching the backlash, the ridiculous claim from out of nowhere that this is basically an excuse for “big pharma” (I’m so tired of that term) to drug everyone into insensibility, make oodles of money, and giggle maniacally in their lairs. Because it’s hard to believe that anyone, even a senator who is paid to represent the constituents, or a mother who lost her daughter, might only want things to change for mothers. Because nothing can ever happen on a broad scale without some sort of conspiracy attached.

It’s disgusting, and infuriating, especially when coming from other mothers. I didn’t take anything when I was suffering-I went through therapy, and was eventually diagnosed, nearly 2 years later, as bipolar. Which I should have been diagnosed as years before. I elected to start treatment with medication, and did my research on each until we found one that corrected the imbalance in my brain, and allowed me to function, NOT exceed, but merely FUNCTION at the same level as everyone else.

I CHOSE my path. I still see a doctor, sometimes more, sometimes less. I take my medication because for me, talk therapy isn’t the only answer. But I refused anti-depressants twice, and was merely told that they were available, if I needed or wanted them. As with many women I know, I didn’t want them.

But some women might. And women should have the choice, since free will, after all, is a bitch.

There are lives to be saved here, women’s lives, children. By simple screening, questions, a kind word, someone paying attention. And yet we constantly see blowhards screaming their agenda, which is not so much about women but about their misguided attempts to protect. We see people who have never ever even given BIRTH, who decide, based on their vast experience, that this bill must be evil evil evil.

We have hundreds, maybe thousands of women, every day, suffering in silence, suffering in from of medical staff as I did, who get no help at all.

We are a compassionate people, aren’t we?

****

So I went to read the bill again. Looking for the “feed me Risperdal” clause.

Yeah…no….

(1) Basic research concerning the etiology and causes of the conditions.

  

(2) Epidemiological studies to address the frequency and natural history of the conditions and the differences among racial and ethnic groups with respect to the conditions.

 Again, research, especially about incidence, good. 

(3) The development of improved screening and diagnostic techniques.

  

(4) Clinical research for the development and evaluation of new treatments.

  

(5) Information and education programs for health care professionals and the public, which may include a coordinated national campaign to increase the awareness and knowledge of postpartum conditions. Activities under such a national campaign may– 

Gee, educating the public? Kirstie, are you listening?

 (B) focus on–

(i) raising awareness about screening;

     (ii) educating new mothers and their families about postpartum conditions to promote earlier diagnosis and treatment; and

    You mean, let people know what it might feel like so they can educate themselves? NO!

     

    (iii) ensuring that such education includes complete information concerning postpartum conditions, including its symptoms, methods of coping with the illness, and treatment resources.

    And education means providing ALL options and alternatives to the woman, so SHE can make a decision like a big girl wearing big girl pants? How progressive!

      

     

Frankly, I don’t see it. While I take medication, and it has literally saved my life, I don’t like pills either. I hate taking them. I’ve declined many medications because I don’t want it in my body. I would never support something that mandated medication. And this doesn’t. Unless there’s some super special secret page that only Amy whatshedrinking can see with all her friends. This is about education, and providing women with the tools they MIGHT need to help them get a handle on things.

Maybe I am insane, but I fail to see how this infringes on freedom, goes against the constitution, or any of the many things it’s been accused of doing.

It’s trying to help. People who have been there are trying to help. What’s really in it for those trying to prevent that help? Dollars for Scientology perhaps, more money for “natural” remedies that might also poison you? Is this just another way for some women to convince you that you aren’t a real woman if you haven’t “toughed it out” if you suffered true post partum, and not just baby blues?

I’m not proud. I deeply desired to give away my daughter at birth. To harm her and end my life. Many things too painful to write down. I recovered with therapy, with the help of a very aware lactation consultant who called at the right time. What I felt wasn’t natural or normal, and it took me a year to connect to her, despite fighting for therapy and assistance.

Now imagine the woman without an advocate.

That’s who you’re destroying here.

Fire in the Belly, at 4

9 Mar


Originally uploaded by thordora

Lately I find myself reaching for babies a lot, my fingers twitching greedily for the soft, chubby legs, the tiny buttons on the tiny sweaters, the wispy hair (OH! the wisps) I don’t really want one-hell, I didn’t want mine when I had them, and hurried their babyhood’s alone with a wink, and nudge and the hope that lack of sleep would cause amnesia.

It must have worked since I can’t remember Rosalyn’s first word. I do recall that she walked for the very first time on her first birthday however. I don’t remember much else though, and thinking on it is like wading through mist. Ok, actually, I remember her exersaucer and how she took it as a personal challenge to get it across a room. She was always so determined to get moving.

In flipping through pictures of her, I noticed that her face, particularly her mouth, is dirty with something in nearly all. Cheese, crackers, peanut butter-always a greasy smear and crumbs down the front, too busy, much much too busy, white rabbit watch checking and running busy.

Then lately, now, I think of her, and the constant strains of “my haaands are durty!!!” and the running for the bathroom, the recent fastidiousness that has risen within her-the clean face I hadn’t seen since birth. I stopped and thought about that snack filled face, and nearly dropped what I held.

She’s a little girl now. My baby, my second born, my brave wonder woman birth, my angry little baby, so serious and sad for months in photos, still with the lost in thought head. She is not a baby. I can carry her down the stairs to her bed, her tiny arms twisted around my neck, her breathing warm in my ear, and I realize she never liked this as a baby, was never comfortable. She wants to do things, communicates her thoughts, tells me she misses her sister when she’s gone. (Yeah, I usually have to pick my jaw up at that one)

Man, where did she go? My baby, will she always be my baby? I know I treat the two of the differently, but how can’t I? They ARE so different! Where Vivian seems to run the rails on the straight and narrow, Rosalyn just…floats by, like she’s on water, plucking lilies from the shore. She’s got that purple crayon, and she’s drawing the road herself.

She really is a fabulous little creature. Not my baby, the baby is gone, and yeah, good riddance and all that jazz.

Four years ago, I was such a mess, and I was angry and depressed and scared, and almost unwilling and unable to love my baby, my daughter.

Four years later, I can’t imagine my heart not full with the sight of her.

Happy Birthday Ros. Sing me a song.

A Thank You Letter for Broken Mirrors

28 Aug

For today, Friday, I bring you Heidi’s guest post. Yet again I cannot remember how I stumbled on to her-but now I’m drawn to her-her simple light, glowing in the wilds of the interwebs, full of Buffy and Molly and passion. It’s invigorating and inspiring.

Heidi blogs, mostly, at Daisybones, but around other places as well.

I started drafting a post a month or two ago, and called it My Brand of Crazy. I was seeing a lot of mental distress happening in my blogiverse haunts, and as if in tiny shards of mirror I saw familiar glimpses everywhere. Perhaps the collective consciousness of women writers is brewing something. (If that’s the case I hope it’s a steaming cauldron brimming with radical change for those of us stuck in oppressively repeating patterns.) 

We are all living depressions or anxieties that are all distinctly our own but tie us to one another. My first draft still waits unfinished, most likely because writing from down in that darkness is rarely successful for me. My shattered sleep was killing my focus and perspective, and now that the night rhythms in my family are gentler, I’m able to write from a coherent place. I’ve been meaning to piece those mirror moments together, to compose a fragmented Thank You to the writers whose candid work inspires me and shows me a little many-forked path out of isolation.  

Thordora, wisely taking some meditative steps away while inviting others to share here, presents me with a perfect reason to finish the writing. Her crisis is wrenching me, but for the first time I feel like I’m seeing huge changes that will be healing for her. I see it as Shiva energy- she walks inward toward death and finds a frighteningly intense life instead. Pain but change. Reading her world through my experience, I have to imagine my moods cycling steeper and harder and darker and that vision brings me awe. You are still here, we still have you: Awe. 

I don’t mean in my mirror metaphors to compare the whole of my mind with the whole of another. It isn’t helpful to create a hierarchy of illness. But I’m aware, acutely so, that I’m lucky among my writer-heroines- what I would give to be lay sleep on them like a restorative veil and to find that it’s enough to lift them out. I’ve teetered on the edge of needing medication again, and it’s a good feeling to be able to see a choice there. Many of us- a younger me- had no luxury to wonder if they needed the pills.   

When Teresa bravely wrote at Soul Gardening about her diagnosis and symptoms, I cried hard for her because I knew, deeply. Hers is the first description that matched my anxious “flashes” exactly. Her visions weren’t quite the same as some mothers with PPD who feel urges or imagine hurting their children, but they are so close and are also terrifying. Like me, she would imagine strange, violent accidents. I remember holding my daughter, stroking her hair. I’d envision her older, with longer hair, and I’d be getting her haircut- then a flash like a horror film still with scissors in her soft spot and I’d clench all over to force the image out. I’ve had these flashes since I was a child. Compulsive, fast, little movies. They came more often post-partum but I had seen them before and could manage them. When I think of Teresa having these scary flashes out of nowhere, baby in arms, I want to hold them both tight and promise them it’s OK. I think things are improving for her now, and I send her loving thoughts. 

I’m crawling out of my recent moderate-crazy, finding the ups more gentle and frequent and the downs less steep. I’m crediting the mirror people with a lot of that. It’s more than a reflection metaphor. It’s light, bouncing invisible. Little wavelengths binding us in a web we keep making. It strengthens and build me and lifts me out and up to read words so like those I was afraid to write at Schmutzie’s Milkmoney or Not Here I Come or Sweetney. This tears down barriers that keep us from seeing ourselves as part of a collective. The nature of depression/anxiety is isolating and somehow we are defying that by writing through it.

Guest Post 2: Star Gazing

25 Aug

Summer brings us today’s post, an in the moment glimpse of what so many of us can relate to in those first months after a new baby.

Summer blogs at A Shot in the Dark. She’s private but talk nice and she’ll open the door for you.

 

The flower is called a “star gazer”.  This is what he told me, my husband that is, as he brought it in from the farmers market and presented it to me.  This is where my over analytical PPD brain jumps in and starts its ride on the merry-go-round of lies. 
That is a pointed comment meant to explain to me how lost to him I am, gazing at the stars instead of talking to him.  Gazing at the stars instead of listening to our two year old sing twinkle twinkle or remembering to give her a bath more than once a week or brush her teeth ever.  Gazing away while our 4 month old lies screaming in her bed because I thought she was tired when she was hungry. 

Gazing when I should be showering, dressing, cleaning, cooking, creating, really doing anything except this God awful gazing that is all I can seem to do.  Still just gazing when I promised to pay that credit card bill that somehow I forgot about and am now paying a late fee and a higher interest rate.  Gazing myself into a being a failure of a parent, spouse, friend, human being of any merit.  I should simply not be allowed to fuck this family up to this point all because I’m a useless star gazer.  I should not exist.  I should end this now. 

  
This is the point at which I either win the fight or I lose.  Today it was a draw.  I was able to acknowledge that I am not in this alone as much as my head tells me I should be.  I made hot chocolate for my 2 year old and poured all the love I have into it.  I started over with my 4 month old and let my tears flow with hers instead of wallowing in it alone.  Baby steps. 

So though I did not get out of pajamas today, still haven’t bathed my kids or myself but I can at least walk out of the lies long enough to admit this simple truth: My husband brought me flowers today because he loves me, star gazers, aren’t they beautiful?

Guest Post One: To Be a Self

24 Aug

I originally found Marcy via the Tag Surfer if I’m not mistaken-finally finding someone else tagging their posts PPD. While on the outside we don’t have much in common-(she’s a talented musician, seamstress, worshipper, wife and mother, I barely fitting any of those categories :) ) we share one thing-a quest, a thirst to be as we were, to be people who can just act and react as the majority of the world does.

Marcy has gifted us the following entry.

 

 

I dreamed once, many years ago, that I was a mental patient. At the time I’d never had that experience.

I was trying to escape the ward — I wanted to go “back to Africa,” which I think represented a quest, some kind of self-searching thing, freedom of development and discovery or something like that. (I’d been in Africa one summer, and it was an important experience in my life.) I was running but it was like running in a pool — too slow, not enough momentum, even kicking off from walls didn’t help. The doors slid shut just before I reached them, and the chasing orderlies got me.

I went limp, sobbing but quietly, I think. They dragged / carried me back to the tv room where other patients were limply munching popcorn and watching some program. The orderlies explained to the other patients that I was upset about the color of the Jell-O. In other words, explained my upset as trivial, meaningless, over-dramatic, ridiculous, hyper-sensitive.

A year and a half ago I became a mental patient. They only let me stay for two days, and the intake interviewer was hostile, but otherwise my experience in the hospital was good. I was one of two patients there for postpartum depression and anxiety. My baby had been born just a week and a half before, home just a week.

I have had forms of depression and anxiety as far back as maybe third grade or further. I still functioned fairly well in a lot of ways. At some of the worst times I’ve sought help, from pastors (pretty ineffective in my case) and finally a professional therapist (probably would never have gone if the referral hadn’t come from a pastor’s assistant I respect and who respects me).

The Africa dream illustrates how I go through these cycles, where there is something I feel is really important to me, but I am hindered in pursuing and reaching it, and at some point I rather suddenly give up, resigned but hopeless. My fear in going into therapy was that I would be (again, still) made to conform to society’s expectations, take care of other people’s needs and not encroach myself on them, and continue to function at a high level. Nothing on the inside of me — nothing important to me — would matter, unless it needed to be changed or destroyed for the sake of better functioning — in other words, for the sake of others.

A few months ago, I was in the garage late at night, yelling at God, feeling just about every basic negative emotion intensely and simultaneously.

I had weaned off the PPD drugs a few months before, and my depressive and anxious symptoms started becoming problematic again — really hindering my functioning, particularly as a mother and wife and friend. I’d tentatively discussed returning to therapy, but it didn’t seem possible financially or absolutely necessary. I tried to manage, but reached low enough that I had to push again to get what I needed.

I couldn’t get a local therapy appointment that day, so I went to my family doctor and at least got back on Zoloft, half the dose I’d been on, and got some Ativan to deal with the long waiting for the Zoloft to start working. I was excited. I had a therapy interview lined up for the following week, I had drugs to take, it would all be fine again.

But after I took the first Ativan that evening, I didn’t feel any positive effect. My reaction escalated until the garage incident, which led to a nurse line call (could it be a reaction against the Ativan? Maybe, but call your doctor), then to the doctor call (No, it can’t be that. If it continues this bad, go to the ER), then to the ER, and finally to sleep at 3 am.

I think the next day I wondered what that was all about.

Another cycle — another tentative push growing more and more intense and desperate but also more fearful of what I might destroy by pushing — and another relapse into apparently normal life.

I was thinking about the garage incident the other night, and about how bewildered I can get trying to separate truth from falsehood, me from my issues, meaningful and important thoughts and ones that can safely be dismissed, and so on. It is terrifying sometimes — to others it doubtless seems so much abstract over thinking, but it doesn’t feel like that to me — to me it feels like figuring all this out is a matter of life or death.

The essence of my mental health struggle is trying to learn what it means to be a self — what I am allowed to be and do, what is healthy, who the essential me is, what I actually want and whether I want it enough to pursue it through opposition, whether anything I think is important really is or if I am really just trivial and ridiculous — how to love me — but without destroying anyone else, or even encroaching too far on anyone else’s needs — and, on the flip side, to learn to love others well without destroying myself.

And in the midst of all that, to stop warring against reality — the reality that I am this hurt despite no one (or very few people) actively trying to harm me, the reality that I can’t completely avoid hurting others or being hurt, the reality that I have all these thoughts and feelings and get so confused and scared and angry and depressed, and so on and so on. Learning that radical acceptance doesn’t mean condoning or excusing what has happened, just accepting that it has.

And, above all, to understand what God is really all about, and what he thinks about all this therapy and self-exploration and all that, what he requires of me, what he offers me, what he allows me, and even what he might be saying to me.

Marcy blogs about her adorable daughter and life at Becoming Three.

More than the sum of her womb.

28 Jul

You know what I’m sick of.

I’m sick of this shit.

Bitch, where’s your kids? Here’s Britney Spears hard at work on a plan to get custody of her kids back

. Her plan so far involves some pool lounging and flirting with anonymous dudes.

But we know Britney. We can see the gears sparking and grinding in her head. It smells like beef jerky. That’s how you know Britney’s plotting something.

 

Yes, Britney surrendered custody of her children to their father. Yes, she’s had various problems in the last little while. We know.

What drives me nuts each time I open my feed reader are posts that basically stand back and point a “HOLY SHIT DUDES! HORRIBLE MOTHER AHEAD!!!!!” finger at her, which numerous male stars walk out on their children, likely every day. And it’s everywhere-how dare someone with a working womb and vagina give up her kids, maybe to get better, or maybe because, like men all over the world, she can’t handle having them all the time.

This constant assumption of the sainted perfect mother who can’t be separated from her kids-this drives post partum depression, this drives women who work 60 hour work weeks and yet still make the cookies for playschool. It drives women not being able to make the reasonable decisions regarding their children because only bad monster mommies leave their kids. Only evil mommies dare act like men. How on earth could the womb that bore them walk away so easily?

To which I ask, how on each can the ejaculator who created them walk away so easily?

It’s so pervasive, so easy to think “Geez, what a cooze, leaving her kids and going sunbathing.” It’s so easy to judge, so easy to believe she’s a bad mother for leaving instead of a good mother for removing herself in order to get better for them. I could be wrong. She could be a brainless idiot who created a mental illness to rid herself of two children she didn’t want.

Somehow I doubt it.

It’s easy though isn’t it, to point at a woman in a way that we wouldn’t dream of pointing at a man-how many have children in or out of relationships, and all they’ve done is throw money at them? I’m sure you’re all counting right now.

What I expel from my uterus does not make me sacred, or special, or holier. It makes me a mother, as it makes the father a father. He is not blessed with special properties-hell, if he takes custody, he’s some sort of sacrificial cow, gazed at adoringly as a perfect piece of man. The woman-not so lucky, as she is selfish enough to not want her pwecious bebes. 

I don’t want my daughters to grow up in this world-in a world where every tabloid sings the lusty sins, perceived or real, of 15 year old girls, where your gender casts you out in specific ways, where the “good kid” doesn’t always win. I want a world with real freedom for women, not viral campaigns against something written on shitty underwear at K-Mart or pissing matches on the internet.

I want us ALL to have the freedom to walk away if need be. Just like our men do.

third time the charm?

29 Apr

Kristin left the following comment on my “I cannot handle being a mother anymore” post

Hi Ladies I haven’t been here in a while now, I have been going through some prety hard times lately. In october i found out that i was pregnant with my third baby!!! It was NOT planned and needless to say i was not happy at all!! Abortion was not an option either. I hadve just turned 40 and the thought of starting all over with another baby realy freaks me out actually i hate the thought of it i found myself very angry all the time there were even times where i wished i would just miscarrie then it would be ok but that never happened and now i am almost 8 months and i am soo scared of what is going to happen once the baby is born.

I already have 2 girls 5 and 3 and this one is a boy which i have to admit i was upset about i never wanted to have boys so when i was told that it was a boy i became even more depressed. My husband is ecstatic about having a third but i am just miseable. Has anyone out there had a siimilar experience? If so i would to know how you dealt with it and did your opinion change once you saw your baby? I am so depressed all the time that i feel sick to my stomach and i am not sleeping well at all i really could use some advice. everybody keeps telling me that all this will cahnge once the baby is born that i will just be soo happy and wonder how i could of ever not wanted him.

But im afraid that once hes born i will be even more depressed and that i will just be miserable and hate my life and that it will eventually effect my pretty perfect marriage i just cant feel good about it not to mention thta i am not looking forward to the c section again so please anyone please help with some advice and encouragment i really could use some thanks for listening.

I’m sure she would appreciate any help or advice we could offer.

My two cents Kristin? You need some alone time, and a good therapist to hash this stuff out with. I felt the same way when pregnant with Rosalyn, and spent most of the first year having trouble connecting with her (I hardly remember her as a baby) Some of this is because of my illness, and some because I really didn’t want her, as much as it pains me to say.

You are not the only woman to feel this, so please do not feel ashamed.

Petition for the Mother’s Act.

23 Apr

Dear Bloggers and PPD Awareness Advocates:
 
I’ve been asked to post the following link on my site. It is an online petition to support passage of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act. A companion bill passed in the House of Representatives last fall to a nearly unanimous bipartisan vote! Democratic Senators Obama and Clinton both support this legislation along with Republican Senators including Olympia Snowe of Maine. Please help us gain our target goal of 100,000 signatures for this petition.

As a mother who has suffered PPD, and who has had depression and instability throughout a pregnancy, which turned into a life threatening situation for my and my child and who ended up being diagnosed Bipolar, this bill means a lot to me, even as a Canadian. I took no pills during my mostly alone recovery, and never wanted any. All I ever wanted was what this bill wants to give-funding to help educate medical providers and put the funds in place for resources to help. The thought of any friends of mine in the US suffering alone with PPD saddens me.
 
After just one week, we have generated 10,000 and the petition will remain active throughout May, during which time it will be marked up for review. This bill calls for research to help determine the etiology and best treatments for perinatal mood disorders which will affect 800,000 women next year… and this figure does NOT include women whose babies are stillborn, miscarriage or other vulnerabilities such as adoptive parents, single parents.. stakeholders for this legislation are anyone who has ever been a mother or a child!!

URGENT REQUEST


We Need Your Help Now!
We Must Speak Out in Full Support of
Postpartum Depression (PPD) Legislation NOW.

Click here to Connect and be Counted!
You may have heard the complaints on the internet lately; asking readers to block passage of legislation to help new mothers and their families cope with postpartum depression. The House and Senate both have legislation – H.R. 20 and S. 1375 – that some mistakenly believe is a conspiracy to push new mothers to take medication.

Tell that to the more than 800,000 women who will develop a diagnosable postpartum mood disorder this year! This does not include the 7.5% of women who will develop major depression during pregnancy.

How disappointing! Those who are speaking out against the Melanie Blocker-Stokes Postpartum Depression Research and Care Act obviously know little to nothing about this legislation. Some are even saying that Melanie Blocker-Stokes, who took her own life after suffering this illness, was simply just sad.
This could not be farther from the truth! Ask her mother, Carol Blocker, who has dedicated her life to the passage of this protective legislation named in honor of her daughter.

This legislation does NOT recommend drugs, require drugs, or endorse drugs.

What it does is:
Encourage the Department of Health and Human Services to expand the research into the causes of postpartum conditions and find treatments.
Establish a national public awareness campaign to increase awareness and knowledge of PPD and psychosis.
Make grants available for programs that develop and offer essential services to women with PPD.
Even if you have already done so, please take the time to let your representatives in Washington know that you support this vital legislation. Help counter the misinformation they are currently receiving!

Click here to Connect and Be Counted!

One Person Can Make a Difference.

Stop Toying with Mothers-SUPPORT the Mother’s Act

29 Feb

Now, I’m not even American, and this is making me hot. As in PISSED OFF.

Some of you might remember the Mother’s Act-back in October there was a blog about day for support. Many of us who have suffered under PPD or PPP supported it.

One day I visit a favorite site of mine. (Well it WAS a favorite. This got it removed from my feeds I was so bloody pissed off) There’s a rambling article about how the Mother’s Act is nothing more than a way to push drugs.

I blinked. I went back to read the bill again. The only reference I could find was under “Findings:

Postpartum depression is a treatable disorder if promptly diagnosed by a trained provider and attended to with a personalized regimen of care including social support, therapy, medication, and when necessary hospitalization.

That’s it. That’s the terrifying “big brother”-oh noes! Someone wants to help women!

Seeing someone equate talking to women about PPD before hand to convincing her she had it really REALLY pissed me off. Reading these stories of women on these crazy mixes of drugs for what seem to be other psychiatric conditions that were incorrectly treated-that’s the fucking POINT of this bill. To HELP.

What in the FUCK is wrong with mothers (and fathers) today. EVERYTHING has some sort of agenda-things aren’t “natural” enough for them. You know what’s natural? Mother’s killing their children because they can’t parent them effectively. Natural is leaving a baby out to die of exposure. Natural is mother’s beating their children from frustration, or working them all hours of the day.

NATURAL IS NOT BETTER. Belladonna is natural. Want some?

I am irate with these people. Talk to me about militant stances on breastfeeding, baby wearing, co sleeping-I will absolutely support you. Start screwing with the first REAL movement towards doing something about postpartum depression, and my claws come out. The absolute IGNORANCE of these people astounds me. The selective tunnel vision amuses me. The odds that any of them have ACTUALLY read the bill…well, that just makes me giggle.

But it makes me want to cry as well.

Even the fucking Wikipedia page has been contaminated by this stupidity.

The most important thing I can remind you of are the women who killed their children because of PPD/PPP. The women who didn’t make it. The lives destroyed, lost forever, the women abandoned. The women we currently can’t help, regardless of what’s wrong. The children who were innocent in all of this.

Andrea Yates

Mine Ener

Dr. Debora Green

Dena Schlosser

Dr. Suzanne Killinger Johnson (This was at my usual subway stop. My mind went wild wondering “Was it here? Here?”)

Leatrice Brewer

Gilberta Estrada

and many more. There are so many of us. So many chances to get it right, to help, to prevent such horror that we close our eyes and refuse to read. To hear people, to see people trying to fight against something meant to do good sickens me. Is only they’d spend the same energy fighting the men and women who torture their children, fighting the system that leaves the poor hungry and without mental or physical health care.

If only they cared enough to truly make a difference, instead of making sound bites.

If only.

“does bipolar go away?”

23 Feb

No. No, it doesn’t.

I don’t think that there ever was a time I didn’t have this disease in my brain. I think it was minimized, something I could control to some degree, something I could compensate for. But my extreme sensitivity as a child? My varying moods, my shyness-all things that could be normal in a child, but which seem, in hindsight, to be indicators, potentials.

Being molested by a neighbour, watching my mother slowly die over a number of years, only letting go when told there was no point anymore, trying to hold on to the splinters we called family-I can’t help but think these things, and puberty, forced the hand and took me from merely strange, to a little crazy.

I had a nasty habit of hitting things when angry. Things like thick wooden fences and concrete walls. I’d turn on friends in an instant, for no reason even I could discern. I’d shut myself off, blocking the world out for days.

I found lovely delicious drugs which liked me back.

I think most of my adolescence was spent in denial. Denying anything was wrong to any of the shrinks who saw me-pushing away anyone who might have wanted to help me.

What’s surprising is that Mogo was willing to be with the mess I was, and staying through all the late night accusations and needy MEMEME that involves so much of bipolar for me. Nothing was ever enough. I needed to be shown, I needed his love to be proved. As if staying with someone who’d sit in a bathtub running cold water when she was freaked out wasn’t proof enough.

Babies came. PPD came. My mind left.

There’s an awful sense of doom when you’re diagnosed and you realize that this is it. After years of not knowing what it was, years of Mogo saying “I think you might be manic-depressive” and me snapping “Fuck off-I’m not crazy”, years of pretending everything was ok and maintaining a life that was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain, you suddenly think it will be ok. You have a reason.

But then you realize that that reason is a life sentence. You will never escape your disease. It IS you. It’s part of you, it’s formed you and in some ways, you’re at it’s mercy. You’ll take drugs for the rest of your life, and you’ll hope like hell they don’t stop working. You’re thankful that there are drugs that make you mostly normal.

Bipolar doesn’t go away. There’s no magic switch to turn on and off. There’s no secret formula to fix your brain. It just is. Cancer you can cure. You can get a new heart. Your brain? All you can do is drink a magic potion, and hope it works.

Do I wish there was a magic switch? Hells yes. I worry daily that the drugs won’t work-now that I’m on Lithium, and it works, and I can see the chaos I spawned and what the ultimate ending I was headed for I worry. Because my BPD, untreated, is a death sentence. If I was still untreated, it’s more than likely I would be dead by now. I could feel it building. It’s why the periodic feelings of “hey, swallow those pills/cut yourself” scare me so completely. Because they are still there, and I fear them. I fear that voice, and I fear, more than many things, returning to that state of living.

You don’t realize how bad those voices, those thoughts are, until they’re not there. Every day, for years, I thought of dying. Of taking my own life. Those thoughts became friends-bad friends, but friends nonetheless. They were always there.

Now, living without them is such clear bliss that I would have trouble going back to living with them in my head everyday.

I wish it would go away. I wish I didn’t have to take 4 pink pills every night. I wish I didn’t have to worry about my children, how I’m affecting them, if they’ve inherited it. I wish I didn’t have to worry about my husband, who has spent far too many days wondering where his wife went, and if she was going to survive. I wish I could say I’ll never be hospitalized ever again.

I wish, I wish….but at the end of the day, it’s not going away. So we pick ourselves up, and soldier on, hoping we stay strong, yet preparing daily for the worst.

I’m sorry Britney Spears.

4 Jan

Who isn’t there honey? What caused that aching void that eats you up at night, that fills your body with toxicity, which keeps your hands shaking and your mouth turned up slightly in a nervous grin? What monster moves you, jerks your body from side to side, makes you late, makes you sick, makes you so unreal you nearly cease to exist?

Today, in more places than I could count, on freaking BBC News you were there, on a stretcher, in your glory. I can’t watch, I won’t watch, but despite myself I read. I read about a hammer being used to tear down a door, small children held as pawns, a woman surrounded by people incapable, or perhaps unwilling to help. I can imagine you there, huddled between the toilet and the wall, shaking, wailing silently into yourself, your money no protection or solace, maybe just the cold clink of a whisky sour in your hand, diluted only by tears. Maybe you stare into the distance, giggling through tears about ending it all, about the fantastic movie it will make some day, about how your sons will have money, in their trust, for years when you aren’t there.

Maybe you stare at your wrists and will it to be so.

They laugh when we call it bipolar, or post partum. How could we know? We only see what we see, what they let us see, what we want to see. But some of us know, oh how sorrowfully we know, the full depths of despair, that which cannot be quenched with things or placating voices, that place that calls to you late at night, the place which spurns even the fruit of your loins, and beckons, like a siren calling you home.

I ache for you Britney. I ache for what you’ve become-for what has happened, for what people have done to you. I can see some of me in you-two children too close, an itch that cannot be satisfied, a need to be recognized. A want for love and security and all those things Hallmark has told us were simple and true and available at any time. You want the dream, and dammit, you were supposed to have it. So what happened? Why did your brain, and body betray you so?

We’ll blame your mother now you know. Not your father, oh no. Just your mother. She who raised you, who raised two daughters who seem to not know any better. We’ll hitch up our pants and feel superior, clearing our throats we’ll say “Not my daughter, nope.” and gloat silently, unaware of what awaits us in 10 years or so.

It’s so easy to be right when we aren’t there yet. It’s so easy to forget that children are people, not merely stretches of light from their parents arms, but people, cacti that will do as they wish, especially with an entourage and millions of dollars. All the mothering in the world can’t fix the worldly overwhelming you endured.

You’ll make some people feel better about themselves, having someone to laugh at, to point at, to consider worse than them. You’ll be the worst case scenario, but they won’t write a book on how to survive you. You’ll be laughed at, mocked, judged, and eventually forgotten until you manage to slice through your delicate wrists, or you perform a comeback tour at 50. We’ve destroyed you, yet we will completely, and utterly forget you. Pop WILL eat itself.

I’m sorry Britney. Mother to Mother, crazy to crazy, I’m more sorry than you’ll ever know.

“mentally ill lighter sentences”

8 Nov

Aaghuhg.

Everytime something bad happens, be it this, or this, my first thought isn’t “throw away the key” like many other people. It isn’t “some people are just garbage”.

It’s “some people are broken, and need help”. Mercy. Compassion. Even when it comes down to sex offenders, I believe that there is a mental defect causing the issue, not any deep seeded issue in their moral fibre.

There should not be a “lighter” sentence for the mentally ill. There should be an entirely different resolution altogether. If a mother kills her babies while under the grips of Post Partum Psychosis, a disorder that no doctor looked for or asked about, or one that they thought “went away”, is it really all her fault? If a man is hearing voices that urge him to kill, to maim, and he follows their orders because the reality he inhabits involves voices, is it really his fault? Should the punishment for having something wrong with your brain really be jail?

It’s not about having a lighter sentence. It’s not about avoiding punishment. It’s about doing the right thing. It’s about preventing these things from happening ever again. It’s about fixing people, making them whole people instead of the shells their illnesses have made them in to. It’s about having the compassion and dignity to see them for what they are-not criminals, but sick people who have been driven by their illnesses, and left out by society, by a world which refuses to believe that anything invisible is real.

I fight daily with my own demons. The first few weeks after Rosalyn was born, I seriously considered killing her a couple of times. I was aware enough to know that these thoughts were wrong. But with less family support, a little less sleep…I know what could have happened. It keeps me up at night sometimes. I am one of the lucky ones-I got help-I recovered from my PPD, and I sought treatment for what turned out to be bipolar disorder. I got lucky.

Many, MANY individuals have no help. They have no idea how to get help, or may not realize anything is wrong, so stuck in their own reality they are. Our culture relies on sick people to get their own help, which is fine if you break your leg. But a psychotic break doesn’t usually leave you with the will and sense to know something is terrifyingly wrong.

When the mentally ill do anything, when they kill, when they harm, the full wrath of society comes down on them, multiplying the guilt and shame. Imagine having to live with the faces of your dead children forever, and the knowledge that you did this. I have only the guilt of wanting my daughter dead. I cannot imagine living daily with the other. It’s a punishment beyond belief.

There is no lighter sentence when you’re mentally ill. You’re castigated from your community, spit on, considered less than nothing. Because you’re brain is broken. You’re considered a criminal for something you may be unable to control, for something no one took the time to notice.

It’s time we all started to recognize the difference between criminal and sick.

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Rain Rain Go Away

31 Oct

April writes:

Does it go away? How can you tell? I have ppd. first time blogging but who can answer this but someone who knows. I am getting treatment and I am getting better. Anxiety is gone and I sleep now. I just want me back completely. I fear it will come back and I think that is holding me back from moving on. I feel consumed by this. There is no support groups where I live.

April, we’ve been there. Many of the women who interact on this site have sat where you sit, wondered the same things. You are not alone.

But it struck me, your fear of never moving past the depression, your want for you back.

I suffer from Bipolar, which was aggravated by pregnancy, and exploded out of me during the post partum period, nearly manifesting itself in psychosis. I tried to convince my husband to give her up for adoption. I thought about walking into the woods behind our house, sometimes with her, sometimes without her. I fixated on ending my life, sometimes fantasized about ending hers.

It was one of the worst periods of my life. The loathing I felt for myself was incomparable. Here I was with a beautiful life-two lovely daughters, a caring and loving husband, a good job, a house, a comfortable middle class existence. And yet I wanted to kill my weeks old daughter, and off myself as well. It didn’t make sense. I should have been happy! Hell, the world was telling me I should be happy.

And April, that just compounded it even more. I wasn’t the uber mother society tells us to be-you know the one-she who has a great job, cooks great meals, is great looking and above all loves her children more than life itself. I just wasn’t her. My sense of self dwindled and dwindled to almost nothing. I felt like I was beginning to not exist.

So why not kill myself?

Eventually I started to get treatment-convinced by my inlaws who my husband had called to our home a province away in a panic. Convinced by my family that what I was feeling was just not normal. Convinced by a lactation consultant who listened dumbfounded on the phone as I sobbed and sobbed when she asked a simple question about breastfeeding.

I got better. Sorta. I’m still sick, but it’s not PPD. Thankfully, that ended once I stopped beating myself up about everything, and got into therapy.

My first and best advice is this: Focus on now. I was able to get through that first hellish year (I don’t even like babies, which didn’t help) by focusing on the small things-the wonder in her eyes as she saw snow, her first steps, her interactions with her sister. I focused on each day, and didn’t look past it. Frankly, I don’t remember too much of her in that first year. I was focused on making things better for me.

It worked. Perhaps it’s a sacrifice some won’t make, but I had to make it. I don’t remember the first time she sat up, or when she rolled over. But I remember the relief I felt as she smushed icing in her ears on her first birthday.

Then April, focus on you. Do something, anything just for you, be it learning to knit, taking dance lessons or hogging the Chunky Monkey. You need space to heal, and space to find your new voice. Being a mother, becoming a mother is hard work. There’s no switch you turn on and frankly, some of us just suck at figuring it out. You need some quiet to find your footing. How can you be there for someone else if you can barely be there for you?

Lastly, admit that it does suck. Babies suck! You spend so much time gratifying this little thing which rarely does anything back for the longest time. You have to carry it everywhere, feed it, clean it-it’s hard work with few rewards for awhile! So admit it-it’s boring drudgery. No one says you have to enjoy it. I personally love toddlers-2-3years is just awesome. Younger than that, I can’t deal with it. I’m honest enough with myself to know my limitations. Sometimes I mourn the baby years I missed. But I refuse to feel guilty about it anymore.

PPD does go away. It does get better. With time. Give yourself some.

Blog for the MOTHER’S ACT!

24 Oct

I may not live in the USA, but I have suffered PPD, and have dealt with the BPD that resulted from it, or was at least made worse by it.

No one should have to live what I lived, or any of the ways many other women have. I remember in particular a woman jumping in front of the train at our local subway station with her baby shortly after he was born. She and her husband were both doctors, and her family was very concerned. And yet still, she and her son are dead from an affliction that can be helped if more healthcare providers would sit up and pay attention before and after birth. No one seems to pay attention to the mother’s mental state-at least, no one paid any attention to mine.

We no longer have a village around us to support us and help us get through the rought patches. Many women are isolated and alone when they give birth. And yet we wonder why they become depressed and in some cases, psychotic.

So today is the day to call your senators, email them, harrass them into supporting the Mother’s Act. Enough mother’s are gone, along with their children.

Info is here.

Get writing!

The children of my heart

13 Jun

Last night I finally got around to watching “Children of Men

This movie is loosely based (emphasis on the loose) on the P.D. James book of the same name. I think my view of the movie is biased by the fact that I LOVE the book. It’s just not the same, not by a long shot. I’m not saying it wasn’t a good movie-it just wasn’t the book.

If you haven’t read it, or watched it, the premise is that in 2009, people just stop being able to have babies. For no apparent reason. Then suddenly a pregnant woman, Kia is found, and the main character, Theo, has to protect her.

While I was unimpressed by the movie, I found myself incredibly moved by the scene where Kia has her daughter. She births in a cold, dirty room on a single mattress, with no real help, or knowledge of what to so.

As they are escaping a building later on, and everyone stops the minute the see or hear her little girl, the true sense of miracle comes through. And I cried.

I cried for women who do not see their children, their births as miracles. I cried for a world which has forgotten how beautiful birth is. I cried for a world when children are tossed aside, devalued, left to wither.  I cried for my loss, my inability to love my births and babies, my utter failure at that part of womanhood.

Then the newborn infant screams started. I began to feel like I would burst. The tears fell fast and my anxiety grew-that SOUND! I cannot bear it. Despite the miracle, I wanted to staunch the flow, cover the hole from whence those cries came. I couldn’t bear it-I can’t bear it. I twisted my hands over themselves, and quietly sobbed, my heart aching and my fingers twitching to turn off the sound, if not the movie.

Then it ended, and my heart recovered.

Inside my chest live the children I could not bear, the babies I cannot hear. The places I will never be, the mother I never was. I physically react to the miracle that is life, try to dissolve the fear by focusing on something else, anything else. But the interaction between one person’s miracle, and a clear reminder of one of the worst periods of my life hit me harder than I thought it might, left me quiet and sad.

My heart is bruised by the days I try to forget, days whose sirens are infants, small babies guilty of nothing but arrival. My miracle it seems, is moving, pulling to the side to let them pass.

Texas

1 Jun

New post up at GNMParents today from me about what happened in Texas a few days past.

How quickly the news moves on. But my anger still hasn’t. Anger at her, anger at a world that makes this far too possible, anger at a world that isolates mothers, especially mother’s of other colors and faiths, mother’s who aren’t well off, mothers who aren’t…us.

It’s here.

I’m pissed off, and sad. So fucking sad…

Please tell me this isn’t what I think it is.

30 May

Kids hanging in a closet with their mother. One is found alive. The mother is young, kids not spaced the far apart. The father is not in the picture.

The mother is described as depressed. Her home is dilapidated, peeling, run down, a trailer park.

Please tell me someone noticed, someone tried.

Please tell me that this isn’t the fault of a medical system that doesn’t believe mental health is to be worried about. Please tell me that somewhere, a nurse, a doctor, a sister, a husband, tried to help, tried to fix this.

Please tell me that someone cared.

What will it take to stop mother’s killing their daughters? What will it take for everyone to stop believing that depression, post partum depression, mental illness of any kind is something you can rationally control? What will it take for people to see it for the sickness is really is?

Hold the image of a baby, a toddler, a preschooler and a child hanged with their own clothing in your heads. Perhaps only then will someone realize that Gilberta Estrada, Andrea Yates, Dee Etta Perez and many MANY others needed our help. Hold the image of 8 month old Evelyn in your eyes, alone without a mother.

Please tell me it’s not what I think it is.

“loser unhappy weepy mom”

24 May

oh hon….

You aren’t a loser. You’re not a bad person.

The first few weeks after birth are not always perfect. Actually, they aren’t perfect at all. They’re full of snot, milk, spooge, poop, scabs, lochia…so many smells and textures you’ve never seen before. They’re full of crying, little sleep, anger, sadness, joy, awe.

The first few weeks after having a baby is like taking your entire adolescence and bottling it up into a month or so. Then shaking it and adding responsibility and your nose.

Anyone who isn’t a little unsteady and unhappy is lying.

Maybe you’re like me, and you weren’t expecting or wanting any children. Maybe you were surprised by what your body did, the growing belly, the expanding breasts. Maybe you were saddened by capitulating to drugs, to their wishes. Maybe you’re sad because you don’t want the baby.

Maybe you’re sick, as I was.

I felt for a long time that it was my fault, that my rejection of my second born was something I caused. I still feel it sometimes, the guilt, the horror I felt at the sight of her. I see my blank stare in her blank stare those first few weeks. I’ve always felt responsible. She wasn’t a happy baby. I wasn’t a happy mother. But it wasn’t my fault.

PPD is a sickness-post partum depression is not your fault, it’s no one’s fault. If anything, it’s the fault of our medical system that it doesn’t do more to root it out, to prevent it, just to understand it. You aren’t a bad mother. You are NOT a loser. So many of us feel this way, after the birth, and long after. PPD doesn’t just go away. You deal with this for years-mother’s aren’t supposed to not want their children, to feel sad because of them.

We’re supposed to be joyous, and happy.

Happy took a long time for me. I don’t like babies. I see infants and I feel a tightening in a my chest, an awareness of all I lost by being unable to enjoy that first year, that year that I lost to my fucking disease. I barely remember my second born as an infant-I was too sick. But I’m past blaming myself. I’m not a terrible mother. I’m just a mother with a sickness that will never end. I’m a mother who couldn’t have fixed it.

My bipolar diagnosis was almost a gift horse-it made me understand that this isn’t my fault. That the weepy, unhappy me originated in bad chemistry, not in a bad person. I’m not a bad person. I’m just a mother with a brain that doesn’t always work as it should. Or it works too well. I’m not sure which yet.

I’m not a loser because of it. And neither are you. Talk to your doctor, your mother, your spouse, someone. Talk.

Not here, not now.

11 Apr

I can’t stand the sound of new babies.

Someone in the office just brought in their new baby. I don’t know who, and I don’t want to know.

The sound of a squalling infant makes my stomach churn, and brings tears to my eyes. It makes me uncomfortable, it makes me mean and upset.

It makes me hurt.

I hear the other women cooing and awwing and I hear the eggs dropping and the overall fertility rate of the office going up. But I can’t join them. The sound of a recently born child makes me want to run away, makes me want to throw up and curl into a ball, crying.

It reminds me oh too much of a time when everything seemed so ruined. It brings to mind days when I couldn’t bear to be near my child, when I knew, I KNEW I could give her away and not mind at all. The days when I bore hate in my heart.

He cries again and I feel my body trying to escape. I feel my breast recoil, my arms twist upon themselves. My body tells me I am not a woman. I cannot possibly feel this way and be a woman.

I know that’s not the case. I know that I love my daughter now, despite the hell that was the beginning of her life. I know that I got through it, and it wasn’t my fault.

But I can’t help the tears that squalling baby brings to my eyes. And I can’t help the feeling that in some way, I am defective. I’m in between. My husband felt more connected to my daughter than I did for the longest time. I felt hate, and then I felt nothing. Not love, just obligation. This crying infant brings into focus that numbing obligation once again, my resentment, my anger, my fear.

This crying infant reminds me of a time when walking into the woods and dying seemed like the only option in front of me.

Take your babies from me. I cannot face them.

Dear Rosalyn

8 Mar

2 years ago today, I was sitting, uncomfortable, bitchy and waiting for you to finally make your way out of my body, and into the world.

I estimated the 11th. The doctor, the 2nd. Neither of us were right.

I had trouble coming to terms with you, I had trouble coming to terms with me. Did I want another child? Would it be a daughter? Would I love it? Would I be a good mother to two children, when I was barely adjusted to one? Could I handle a toddler and a newborn?

Would I lose my mind?

I almost did. You almost did me in my girl, and you know what? Now you melt my heart in different ways, happier ways.

This morning, after your sister managed to open the baby gate, the two of you ran to my bedroom, filled the room with your joyous crowing. Despite my sleepiness, I smiled. You father gathered you to him, and as you were leaving Rosalyn, you came to kiss me and said “Bye Mommy”. I’ve waited so long for these words from you, for simple leave taking, and gentle kisses. My heart slips a bit in my chest each time, even when the kisses are denied.

So I cannot believe it’s been two years, I cannot fathom where 2 years have gone, and yet, they stretch behind me as representatives of what I’ve been through, where I’ve been, who I am. You have created your mother Rosalyn, carved me out of sadness and fear, and molded me into a woman who can stand up and honestly say “I am a mother.”

Mother’s are not born-they are created, they are mixed out of fear and longing, out of pain and heartbending love, they are shaped by nights spent rocking by the light of the television, by calls frantic to the doctor, by choices made. Mothers become in the afterglow of their children, and I sit glowing so strongly because of you.

I love you Rosalyn. I love you as the sun sets everyday, I love you as you scream your little frustrated head off at me, I love you when you cuddle in my arms, head under my chin, thumb in mouth. I love your pouts and your black devil eyes. I love the way your knees knock like mine. I love your bravery and resilience in the face of who I am sometimes.

You cling to me, in my mind it’s as a baby monkey clings to it’s mother, and somedays, I mind. Yet other times, I see into the future, and see the girl who won’t let me near, who won’t share her world with me, and I’m sad. I let you cling, since it will end all to soon.

Your time of magic is now. Your next few years will be years of wonder and change and growth and I await them. I await nights under stars, days running through grass in the hot sun, travels down the muddy path behind our home.

I await you further Rosalyn.

Happy Birthday.

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