Thursday, July 30, 2015

Guest Post: Jessica, Maternal Mental Health Advocate

In case you haven't noticed, I've been posting a lot about postpartum mental health lately. And in doing so I've made reference to Warrior Moms several times.

Warrior Moms are the moms I met in Boston. And some of them are mamas I connected with virtually in preparation for the conference. They are my sisterhood.

And among these mamas I made friends who truly get it.

Some of them don't (yet) have blogs, and have accepted my invitation to use my space to share their experiences, thoughts and so forth. I'll be opening up my space to many friends in the coming weeks (maybe months!) to discuss a number of topics that are of importance to them.

Please join me in welcoming Jessica.



Here is Jessica's story.

When you go to the dentist to have a tooth pulled, you know that when you leave, your mouth is going to hurt. When you lose someone close to you, you know you are going to be sad. But when you give birth to a child for the first time, you really don't know how you are supposed to feel. 

There's the obvious physical pain from pushing a seven pound watermelon out of something the size of a grapefruit, or from being cut open from a cesarean and someone pushing your guts around. Obvious. 

Then you have crazy hormonal changes that make you weep, shiver and sweat all in the same 1.6 seconds. 

The emotional part is a little trickier. 

How am I supposed to be feeling? 

Is it normal to be THIS emotional? 

Is it normal to feel so anxious when the baby cries? 

If I had a dollar for every time I've asked this question over the past three years I would have so much money!

And when you throw perinatal mood and anxiety disorders into the mix things are even more difficult to understand. 

Before we ever stepped foot outside the hospital I started feeling the beginning of my postpartum anxiety. Little bitty butterflies would flap around in my belly. 

They took my breath away. 

Made me feel sick to my stomach. 

I chalked it up to nerves. 

Going home with this new thing I had no clue what to do with. 

But over the next few days those butterflies turned into these huge vampire bats who would swoosh around inside of me. They refused food. It felt as if they had sucked all the air out of my lungs. 

It was definitely NOT normal. 

So, after going to the doctor, starting medication, feeling better, stopping medication, bats returning and starting medication again, I resigned myself to being a medicated mommy for the next two years. 

I felt great. I felt normal. 

I felt just brave enough to stop my medication. 

That's when the questions arose. I was learning how to feel again off of antidepressants. Something I really hadn't done since my child was born. So it was almost like starting over.

Am I supposed to feel anxious when he's sick? 

Do you ever feel that way or is it just me? 

Like I said - SO MUCH MONEY. (Dollar per question and all that.)

And then, after three months completely med-free, the bats returned. 

Cue Zoloft. 

And I was completely okay with that. 

The bats HAD TO GO.

Now, almost a year later, no more bats. I occasionally have butterflies, especially when my child is sick. I also get very anxious at the possibility of not getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep is a huge trigger for me. 

Do you ever feel that way?

Is it normal? 

I've learned that for me - it is. It's normal. It's just how I feel. It's my normal. 

Jessica is a stay-at-home mom to a three-year-old boy who is ALL boy! She is also an advocate of maternal mental health. After suffering from postpartum anxiety and depression after her son was born she has made it her ambition in life to help as many mothers as she can. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing postpartum difficulties, please consider reaching out for help. You can find support online at Postpartum Progress or Postpartum Support International.

* I will be hosting a number of friends here on Good Girl Gone Redneck and consider them to be my guests. I encourage you to engage with them just as you would with me and let them know you hear them. Any unnecessary or extremely inflammatory comments that do not contribute to the conversation will be removed at my discretion.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I Need To Write.

My last post was almost a week ago.

I need to write.

I'm feeling it but I'm not.

I'm reading a LOT. So that's good.

And I'm excited because I'm headed home soon. My kiddo and I will be flying north up to NY and I cannot wait to see family and friends and also attend the Type-A Parent Bootcamp in NYC. Woot!

I'm looking forward to some learning and absorbing and so forth.

I'll also be at the Affiliate Summit, as well. And look forward to a whole new experience there. Can't wait to learn all the things and take deep breaths and meet all the people and and and...!

So right now I'm looking for ways to pass the day.

I should probably do laundry, but nah. I've done so much already.

I'm mostly packed but I know myself. I know I'll look through my entire suitcase again before bed tonight and that my mind will race until tomorrow morning when the kiddo and I get through security and finally have Starbucks in hand. *wink*

The last time I traveled it was just me and I was only gone for a few days. This time I'll be gone for quite a while and want to pack ALL THE THINGS.

Goodness, anyone else stress over packing like that?

I have some great bags and so I know I'm good to go in that area, but still. GAH!

And so - that's that. I'm just writing to say hi. Because I'm probably considered missing in action and my subscribers, if there are any, are thinking, what happened to her, anyway?

Nothing! I'm here! I promise.

Also? I'm so freaking sore. My legs and thighs and butt. And no - I didn't work out like a fiend. I was on our boat ALL day on Sunday. And whoa, the waves. I hit the seat over and over and seriously, I am sore. Ow.

See this thing behind me in my #lakeselfie below? It's a hot dog.

Yes. A hot dog.

A tube that you ride and it's great and a lot of fun but when you're on it with your child and you're in the back you find that your legs and your butt squeeze that baby hard so you don't fall off into the neverending lake and ow.

But it was fun. And I am quite sure we'll do it again before the summer's through.

Want to join us?

lake, summer, NC, selfie, happiness, family time, sunshine

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

It Happened in Maine.

motherhood, current events, diner owner yells at 21-month-old, parenting, business

It's no surprise that all I keep seeing on FB over the last few days is the woman in Maine who yelled at some 21 month old to stop her from crying. She is the owner of a diner that the child and her parents were eating at, and apparently she has no issues with yelling at a kid to shut up - not in so many words - but as she describes herself in her countless interviews, she says that she SCREAMED and SLAMMED her hands on the counter saying 'This has GOT TO STOP!' ... and she is all pleased w. herself that the child stopped crying. Of course the kid stopped - she probably scared the sh*t out of the child. 

Honestly, I have commented on a few posts and then tried to ignore the story - but her face has been everywhere and I don't say this often but I kind of want to go right up and scream at her (that's being nice) because who the heck yells at another person's child? Short of screaming to save them from danger or in some level of fear? Don't do that. 

If you have an issue with a child. A BABY. Because come on, 21-months? That's a baby, people. You talk to the parents. Her interviews say that they weren't feeding the kid and/or they were ignoring the tantrum. Well, okay, then. Talk to the parents. They're the adults. They're who you have issue with - not-so-child-friendly-diner-owner. And if they don't address it or they don't leave? Kindly ask them to. It is your place of business. You have every right to do so. Sure, you might end up on social media and look like an ass, but you're there anyway, so what's the difference? 

And honestly, as a parent, I can't imagine that the parents just let their kid scream for 45 minutes straight. Because as a parent I know that that would drive ME to drink. I mean, seriously. Unless your baby has colic, in which case you know that the witching HOUR is really multiple hours, and you know that the only thing that works is driving around in the car while stuffing fast food into your hungry face - OR swaddling your child up tight and turning on the hair dryer (for some the vacuum, or the washer/dryer, for us, hair dryer was magical) until she shushes herself to sleep. 

But seriously. This woman makes me so angry. 

I almost didn't post this. I really didn't. But then. 

Just now. This morning. Thank goodness. A friend shared this. 


Thank goodness. 

And here's a tweet that shows the mom's FB post directly TO the business AND the diner owner's response (which she has since removed - but should know that the Internet is forever):

Another shot of her follow-up rant - which is also showing up everywhere - can be seen completely on this Maine.Eater article. And her latest explosion is live on her business FB page:

motherhood, current events, diner owner yells at 21-month-old, parenting, business

I'm sorry - but I'm going to stick with my take on this woman. She's not simply foul-mouthed. I have no care in the world if a person shouts FU*K at the top of their lungs pretty much anywhere. But when you're a business owner and you come out swinging like that? Dude. You're in the wrong.

I'm not saying the customer is always right. I'm just not. Because I've seen my fair share of customers who are a$$hats, and I will say that everyone gets their due. But seriously - to scream at a baby? It's just wrong. And to respond this way all across social media? If you've watched the interview with this woman you probably want to yell loud things at her like I do. Or maybe you don't, you're entitled to disagree with me and I respect that - I won't go flinging curses at you at the top of my online lungs, promise!

And if you know me, well, you know that I don't usually dip my toe into the controversial topics but when one of them shows up in your Facebook feed about 50 or so times in a matter of two days I just felt the need.

Same as that owner said, my space, my rules. Thing is - my space - my rules - but my smart self is going to be respectful just the same.

And I can tell you this much ... next time we're in Maine? There's no way in hell we're stepping foot near Marcy's Diner. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Let's Talk About Privilege.

I'm quite obviously a white woman.

White women have a privilege that women of color do not.

Let's face it. We have many. Not just one. Many.

The news every single day shows us just how many.

But for this post my point is going to focus on postpartum and pregnancy mental health.

And yes, I'm back to talking about the Warrior Mom Conference.

Again.

I know.

I can't help it.

It's THAT important.

Much of this conference covered the importance of reaching and supporting mamas of color who may not know that help is out there.

Women who struggle culturally to admit that help is needed.

Women who must hide what they're feeling and experiencing because people just like them? They see confessions as weakness, failure, lack of so much. They look over and think, what's wrong with her?

But this is not how it should be.

Women of color need to know that we're here to support them. Their fellow Warrior Moms. Regardless of the color of my skin, the texture of my hair, the way that I look, talk, seem. Regardless of all of that? I'm here. For each and every mama who might need me.

How do we reach them? What do we say? How do we express that we're not judging? This was covered throughout the conference and one particular session dove into the importance of recognizing what we have to take into account as we move forward and reach out.

Divya Kumar, Sc.M.,CPD, CLC spoke on expanding outreach to underserved communities. Some of her very relevant and important points follow:

We need to recognize and reach past our own privilege. It's difficult to talk about but we have to.


Kumar requested that we complete an exercise where we took a few moments to write down our own privileges. After doing so we discussed these with our neighbors. I am privileged to be white. I'm not always privileged to be a woman. Among women and men, I'm not. Among other women, I am, in that I have access to the help I need - to the finances I need - to all sorts of things that make up the life that I live. Taking a moment to see that others do not have these things shows me the privileges I DO have.

I'm a straight woman. I have no concerns about walking hand-in-hand with my partner. I have privilege. I'm a Jewish woman. This is a minority religion in the area I live in (and in many areas). I do not go to church. This is something where I lack privilege.

I'm a woman who experiences anxiety. I take medications. This is a mixed bag here. I'm not privileged because people who experience mental illness are often looked at as lacking. However, as stated before, among many I am privileged because I can access the help I need. The medications. The doctors. The support. My culture does not ask me to hide my emotional well-being or lack thereof. I am privileged again.

Our identities and privilege affect our experience with perinatal emotional complications. It effects what treatment options we feel we have, whom we tell, resources we can access, the words we use, etc.

Words are not enough. We need to SHOW people. They need to know someone is going to be there who looks like them. We need to SHOW THEM.

We need to demonstrate every day, all the time, that what we do is for EVERYONE.

As indicated in my initial recap post about the conference, Dr. Lekeisha Sumner spoke of statistics and shared how depression and anxiety are more likely to occur in African American and Latina women. She also spoke of the many ways that culture can both, be something that deters women from getting treatment AND be something that helps block stress from making a tremendous impact.

We need to see the benefits of culture and ethnicity. We need to recognize them. Acknowledge them. And then take very careful steps into the mix. Steps that enable us to help women who feel that they're unable to reach out and ask for help because it's not accepted in their community. Steps that ensure that these women know that they're important and valued, and their culture is, too.

I had the opportunity to meet a new friend and fellow blogger at the conference, as well, and she sums up her experience, her thoughts, her feelings and so much more in a recap that covers the importance of her voice, as a black woman who is experiencing maternal mental illness. I'd love for you to take a few minutes to read her words over at Honestly Mama G.

I've been writing this post since last week. I was drained, exhausted, happy, overwhelmed and more. But this post - it wouldn't flow - I had so much to say, so many thoughts. I wanted to stress the urgency and the importance - without stepping out and flashing my own badge of privilege (goodness, you know how a word looks wrong every time you type it sometimes? That's this word for me, right now!) inappropriately.

But if my privilege helps me get help to people who need it? I'm doing it.

If - because I'm a white woman who knows that where I show up for support and help there will be people who look just like me - if being that woman enables me to speak up and create some noise? I'm doing it.

If it takes my voice to shout loudly, hand-in-hand, arms linked, with the voices of women of all races, religions, cultures, backgrounds - if it takes that to ensure that we're all heard? I'm doing it.

There are so many voices murmuring. So many sounds behind us. Voices questioning. Asking, what can I do? What could I possibly say that would make a difference? Be enough? Help anyone? If you're not asking these questions of yourself because you're TAKING ACTION? Keep at it. If you're not asking yourself these questions because you're afraid of the answers? ASK.

SPEAK UP.

You need to be heard. I need to be heard. We all need to be heard.

Speak up. Speak up with me. I'm doing it.

========

Please - remember that if you or someone you know needs help with maternal mental health related issues - there are many organizations out there to support you.

If you're looking online head to:

Postpartum Progress
Postpartum Support International

And if you're local to me in the Triangle, NC area, please reach out to Postpartum Support and Education, either by email or by calling 919-454-6946 and leaving a message so someone can get back to you.  

Friday, July 17, 2015

This is my Sisterhood.

motherhood, maternal mental health, #warriormomcon, postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, parenting

This. This is what I did this weekend. This is what I absorbed. Learned. Loved. Lived.

It is what I saw in every single smile. What I felt in every pair of knowing eyes. What I held in my heart as I hugged mamas who hold the knowledge of what many have lived, deeply inhaling the support and hearts of 100+ amazing women. And then exhaling. Letting out tears of frustration, exhaustion, emotion and then some.

These are my people. My story is my own. My story is enough. But my story is their story. And every mom's story who has experienced any sort of anxiety or depression during pregnancy or after giving birth. Any mom who felt their mind racing so fast they couldn’t fall asleep in the quietest of spaces. Any mom who has heard their baby cry and wanted to hide in the bathroom - or did. Any mom who worried that their child didn't love them, or didn't know and feel they were loved. They did. They loved you. They do. They know you love them, too.

These moms? YOU? You moms? You're good moms. Each one of you. Each of us. Sometimes it's hard. Sometimes anxiety and a racing heart get in the way of recognizing the truth. Sometimes guilt over just about anything steals the joy we think we should always be feeling. That joy is OURS. We can own it. We're allowed. We should. There is no guilt. We did not do anything wrong. It is not our fault.

Anyone out there who knows a mom who might be struggling? Please share this with them. Don't tag them. You don't need to. They'll know it's for them. Or message them, privately. Let them know that you know. Share the love. The reminder. The support. It's deserved. They deserve it. You do, too.

And please, if anyone sees this and needs help - or needs help finding help - reach out. To your friends, your loved ones, to me - please. Reach out to me. I am here to listen without judgement. To help you find your way. I'm here to remind you you're going to be okay and you're not alone. Not now, not ever. Never alone. We've got you. ‪#‎WarriorMoms‬
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