January 27, 2012

Julia Burzon introduces her new blog, "Dear Diane"

Julia Burzon was kind enough to stop by and let me know about her new blog, which covers a wealth of topics in relation to motherhood...mental health, religion, psychology and more. Julia's a stay-at-home mom of two and has been dealing with postpartum depression and anxiety for several years. She shares her experiences as well as resources that can help others in the same situation.

She also provides a listing of doctors (psychiatrists, pediatricians, etc.) that she recommends highly who are located in the Baltimore/Annapolis/DC metro area. You can find the list by clicking here.

Definitely a blog worth checking out!

December 19, 2011

Daily Hope for new moms struggling with PPD

Katherine Stone, of Postpartum Progress, will soon be providing Daily Hope. Daily Hope is an inspirational e-message that Katherine sends out daily to her subscribers. The messages are not only inspirational and thought-provoking, they're beautiful as well and contain photographic images by British photographer Xanthe Berkeley.

Starting on January 10, subscribers can receive daily hope for only $5 per month and all proceeds go to the non-profit Postpartum Progress.

Daily Hope is an easy way for moms who are suffering from postpartum depression to receive encouragement and support on a daily basis, to help them feel like they're not alone. And the proceeds benefit a very worthy cause. Katherine Stone has been a super strong PPD advocate for many years, and has done amazing work to increase awareness throughout the country. You can find her website here.

October 14, 2011

'Warrior Moms' are speaking out

There's a wonderful place online for moms to share their stories of dealing with postpartum depression. It's on the Postpartum Progress website, created by Katherine Stone, in a section called "Warrior Moms." I love that. We are truly warrior moms for having survived something as insidious and destructive as postpartum depression. And we've come out through the other side even stronger than we thought possible.

I'd encourage all new moms to visit this site and read these other moms' powerful stories. I was especially touched by Victoria's story. After having suffered PPD twice, she faced a third pregnancy with much courage and the strength of solid resources and support.

It's not easy to share such personal stories, especially when it comes to a condition that carries a social stigma such as postpartum depression. Not many new moms want to admit that their entrance into motherhood wasn't picture perfect or exactly what they'd expected. I'm proud of these "Warrior Moms" who have spoken out about their experiences in order to help spread awareness. It's only when we create and promote conversations about PPD that we'll finally be able to eradicate it through awareness and prevention.

July 8, 2011

Resources for Arizona Moms

I want to share a wonderful listing of resources provided in the state of Arizona for moms suffering from postpartum depression. It can be found on the Arizona Midwives website by clicking here. Not only are there amazing organizations and support groups listed, there are contact names and website links that provide a tremendous amount of help in this realm. Even more helpful by making searching easy, the resources are listed by geographical area.

When I was suffering from postpartum depression back in 1996, not only was I completely unaware of what was wrong with me, I had no idea there were resources out there that could help. It's nice to know how far women's health advocacy efforts have come over the past 15 years, and how many wonderful groups and individuals there are who are ready to support new moms who in the past would have suffered in silence.

If you have questions about any of the resources listed here, or need different kind of help, please feel free to comment below.

February 25, 2011

Placentophagy....are you kidding me??

I've written several posts here on placentophagy, or eating one's placenta, and I'm always amazed at the various resulting comments. OK, I know that there are people out there who strongly believe in the placenta's hormonal restorative qualities and all that, but come on....would you really want to eat a part of your body?

I was just reading an article on a moms' website about a new mom who ate her placenta because "it didn't seem right to merely throw it away."

I just don't get this placentophagy thing at all. So some assert that eating your placenta can help stave off postpartum depression. Personally, I think that resorting to eating a placenta would make me depressed. Yeah, I get that if you've experienced PPD before, you'd do just about anything to avoid having to endure it again. However, there are plenty of options out there other than eating a chunk of human body tissue. Options such as counseling, anti-depressants, support group therapy, yoga, exercise, acupuncture, and many more. No matter that Tom Cruise aparently prefers his placenta medium-rare, I would never even remotely begin to consider such an option.

September 29, 2010

Moms with postpartum depression apparently have reduced brain activity - one more thing to worry about

I came across a recent article on psychcentral.com about a recently published study linking postpartum depression to diminished brain activity. The study, published in this month's edition of American Journal of Psychiatry, was done by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and was partly funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD).

Basically what the study says is that women suffering from postpartum depression may have reduced brain activity in certain regions of their brains that are involved in emotional processing. So, depressed moms are not as in tune with others' emotions, nor are they as responsive to emotional cues as they should be. When her baby cries, a mom with PPD may not react or respond as she would if she weren't depressed.

I don't know why this would be a surprise to anyone, and I'm not really sure the point of the study. The author of the article asserts that the study will benefit future treatment of PPD, but I'm not so sure about that. For one thing, only 30 mothers participated in the study - 14 who were determined to be "depressed," and 16 who were "healthy." This doesn't seem like a large enough population sample.

Another thing that bothers me about this study is that the focus seemed to be on the mom-baby attachment, and when you get into this sticky area, you run the risk of blaming moms for a lack of attachment. And you wonder what the real goal is. Treatment shouldn't be focused on improving the level of attachment a mom has for her baby. The goal of treatment should be getting the mom healthy and free from PPD. Mom-baby bonding is but one of many aspects that will improve as she recovers and breaks free from PPD.

We need to focus more on avoiding PPD to begin with instead of treating just one of the issues connected with the disorder.

August 17, 2010

Actress Sadie Frost Opens Up About Her Postpartum Depression in New Memoir

Sadie Frost's memoir, "Crazy Days," will hit stores next month, so sneak peeks of the book are starting to hit the wires. The memoir delves into Frost's experience with postpartum depression over several years during her marriage to actor Jude Law.

Sadly, Frost experienced PPD twice, following the births of her second and third children. Not only did she suffer a breakdown and at one point had to stay in a psychiatric ward, her disorder was apparently the cause for the unraveling of her marriage. One night she actually slashed her arm with a pair of scissors. Her description of how emotionally detached and empty she felt while cutting herself is creepy, but sadly familiar to many women who have suffered from PPD.

The Daily Mail recently came out with a lengthy article that includes an excerpt from Frost's memoir, and I believe that much of her story will ring true with any woman who has suffered from a postpartum mood disorder.

The article closes with these pearls of wisdom from Frost: "I've realised, as a woman and a mother, that depression is not something we like to admit to. The stigma remains: as a mother you are supposed to cope and not admit defeat. What saved me was being able to ask for help and to accept it. It was the best thing to do because as soon as I did, recovery was swift.

To come through and out the other end, into the light, you have to experience pain. Yes, there are moments of loneliness but I now have a routine and rhythm to my life that I didn't have before.

Every morning I wake with my four children. We have at least seven cups of tea during the day and at night we have cups of cocoa and cuddles. Glamorous it ain't, but it's real life, and I'm happy."

The good news is that Frost survived her ordeal and it sounds like she's the better for it, with four children and, now, a healthy and happy life.

August 3, 2010

Arizona Postpartum Wellness Coalition Makes Big Strides in Improving the Postpartum Experience for Arizona's Families

One of my favorite non-profit organizations dedicated to postpartum wellness is the Arizona Postpartum Wellness Coalition (APWC). The APWC is comprised of a group of amazing volunteers around the state of Arizona who focus primarily on providing education opportunities on perinatal mood disorders as well as much-needed community resources. APWC volunteers put on workshops, facilitate postpartum depression support groups, and provide a toll-free warmline.

The APWC was recently awarded a significant grant from Jenny's Light that will enable the organization to provide free educational presentations on postpartum mood disorders (in English and in Spanish) throughout Arizona, in addition to covering the cost for thousands of new brochures. This is endeavor is called "Operation Education," and the APWC is currently looking for volunteers as well as locations in Arizona to host the educational presentations.

The APWC also has a need for volunteer or low-cost web design help. If there are any web designers out there who have been touched in some way by postpartum depression and would like to volunteer their services for this truly worthwhile organization, please contact chibbert@postpartumcouples.com.

July 8, 2010

Perfectionist moms at greater risk for postpartum depression

An article came out yesterday on LiveScience.com reporting on a recent study that suggests perfectionism can put a new mom at risk for postpartum depression. I don't necessarily find this surprising. When I was a new mom, naturally I wanted everything to be perfect, and I totally bought into the Hallmark image of a glowing postpartum where I appeared blissful with my precious new bundles of joy while my pregnancy weight miraculously melted away.

Of course, things were far from perfect after my first pregnancy and I had absolutely no sense of control over anything that was happening. I had one baby barely hanging on in NICU, premature by three months and weighing only two pounds, and had to bury his twin brother a few days after their birth. On top of everything, only four months into my postpartum, I was stunned to find myself pregnant again.

So this article cites the study and states that: The link between perfectionism and postpartum depression was strongest amongst those who try to deal with perfectionism by appearing as if they don't have a problem.

I'm certain that I buried my depression while I was pregnant the second time around because I was terrified that the pregnancy would end up like the first. And I imagine I was still in shock from the horrible way my first pregnancy had turned out. I don't know that I was necessarily trying to deal with my perfectionism by appearing as if I wasn't suffering -- I think I was merely trying to survive an unbearable situation.

In any case, I think it's easy for new moms to fall into the perfectionism trap. Because it is definitely a trap. I've never known a mom who had it all together right after giving birth. Maybe there are some perfect moms out there, but I have yet to meet one. (Thank goodness, or that would seriously be reason to get depressed....) ;)

I think this study is interesting, although not rocket science. It would probably be worthy of being included in the "what to expect" handouts that OB's give out to prepare first-time moms. To check out the article, you can click here.

July 5, 2010

Breastfeeding Mom Thrown Into Jail Over a Restraining Order

I blogged about this earlier on my other blog, and I think it's relevant here as well.

Amy Shroff, a young mom in Denver, Colorado, went to her local police station because she's terrified of her ex-husband, who was following her in his truck at the time. She ran into the station with her restraining order in her hands and let a police officer know that her ex was in violation of the order because he continues to contact her. The police officer mistakenly believed that the ex was the one who filed the restraining order against her (?!?), so he throws her into jail for the night. How crazy is that?

Never mind that she's in jail for no good reason, separated from her baby and unable to breastfeed. The police officer, Frank Spellman, apparently didn't care, even when she pleaded with him to let her go home to feed her baby. The baby ended up being fed formula and became ill as a result.

In the end, the City of Denver now has to pay Shroff $175,000 for her wrongful arrest. Which, in my opinion, is way too little.

So when you have this kind of situation, where you're a victim of domestic violence, afraid of your baby's father and dealing with a crazy system where you can actually get arrested when all you want is protection, ... how do you avoid depression? Her postpartum cannot have been a cake walk with the issues and abuse she has faced from her ex. It makes me depressed simply reading this woman's story as it's spread across the wires the past few days.

You can read one version of her story by clicking here.

Ever since I started my Order of Protection Survivor blog, I'm hearing about new moms who are dealing with issues of abuse that can only serve to exacerbate postpartum-related stress. I honestly don't know how these women get through such devastating issues while juggling the demands of a newborn.

June 28, 2010

Susan Dowd Stone on EmpowHER: screening for postpartum mood disorders is a good thing!

On the EmpowHER web site, award-winning therapist and nationally renowned postpartum depression expert Susan Dowd Stone recently wrote an article about the concept of mandated screening for postpartum mood disorders. You can click here to find the article.

In the article, Stone addresses the misconceptions that have been floating around, (mainly due to a backlash of reactions to the MOTHERS ACT legislation), on screening that is offered to new moms. There have been plenty of rumors that women will be forced to be screened for postpartum depression and other postpartum mood disorders, however that is simply not the case.

What I don't understand about all of this is why some women are turning this into a big issue. What are they afraid of? Screening is a great thing, and any health care facilities that offer screening for postpartum mood disorders should be applauded. Women are certainly not going to be forced into screening if they're not interested.

If there had been screening back in 1996, when I went through my own postpartum depression hell, then maybe I wouldn't have experienced PPD in the first place. Any preventative measure like postpartum mood disorder screening can only be helpful to a lot of women and their families.

If you're interested in finding more of Susan Dowd Stone's work, you can visit her web site at: http://www.perinatalpro.com.

June 24, 2010

Moving on and having hope

Before I get started with this latest PPD post, I'd just like to thank everyone who has offered support during the past few nightmarish months of breaking free from my ex-husband, Neil Zucconi. Our 10-month marriage (which was definitely 10 months too long) taught me many things, and one of the biggest things I've learned is how many truly amazing friends I have. I didn't know what a crucial support system Facebook could be, and I'm so grateful for everyone's constant and supportive comments, phone calls, hugs, and prayers.

Okay, so ... I'm moving on. :)

I'm totally back to the topic of postpartum depression after my little hiatus...

And, what I'm posting about today seems very fitting. I'd like to bring attention to a blog post on Katherine Stone's Postpartum Progress blog, not only because it's extremely well written and touching, but also because it's written by her husband -- a man who truly "gets" what PPD is all about and has been right there in the thick of it, supporting his wife through all of the ins and outs of PPD over the years as she evolved from a woman who suffered from the disorder to one who advocates for others. He was right there alongside Katherine and all of the other strong women who spoke out and worked hard to ensure that the MOTHERS ACT was passed. And what a tremendous victory that was.

As I try to move forward and get my life back, it really helps to read such a wonderful post by a husband who is reaching out to encourage women who are suffering from PPD that there is hope.

That message of hope is good for all of us.

June 21, 2010

Today I dismissed the Order of Protection against Neil Zucconi

Well, my nightmare is over. I went to court today and dismissed the Order of Protection that I had filed on March 19, 2010, against Neil Zucconi because I was able to obtain what I feel is even better and much longer lasting protection for myself and my family than the Order of Protection provides. (You can find a lot more about this on my other blog, http://orderofprotectionsurvivor.blogspot.com) I dismissed the order in exchange for a stipulated addendum that is now attached to our decree of dissolution of marriage (divorce decree). This stipulated addendum contains provisions that include the fact that Neil Zucconi "shall not come into the State of Arizona for a period of one (1) year, ... and shall have no contact whatsoever with (me) by any means." So, no contact with me -- ever.

More on the legal saga can be found here on this public Maricopa County Superior Court web site.

I feel pretty good about this. It's "forever," whereas an Order of Protection is valid for only one year, at the end of which time, I would have had to go back to court to continue to have it upheld. One drawback to giving up my Order of Protection is the fact that it came with police enforceable protection. I don't have that now that the Order of Protection has been dismissed, however the stipulated addendum of the divorce decree is a fully enforceable order of the court....and if it is ever violated, I can easily go to court to get another Order of Protection.

While I was in court earlier today to take care of the Order of Protection dismissal, I listened to another woman who was there to obtain an Order of Protection of her own. Her story was so sad, as she recounted for the judge the physical abuse that she and her nine-year-old son had experienced at the hand of her boyfriend. And there were other women besides her who were waiting to see the judge to have their Orders of Protection filed as well. This must go on every hour of every day in every court across the country. It's crazy. Thank goodness we have legal protection in place for domestic violence victims such as the young woman who's testimony I heard, but how horrible that women have to resort to it.

This has definitely been an eye-opening and very jolting experience to go through, and if any of my blog readers would like to reach me or to know more about my story, feel free to leave a comment below.

June 12, 2010

How do you deal with the trauma of an order of protection?

Yes, I'm still taking a brief break from my PPD posts here and posting on my current ordeal instead....

But, before I delve more into my stuff, it just occurred to me that it must be an absolute nightmare to be a new mom AND to deal with the devastation of a traumatic divorce. I can't imagine juggling the demands of a newborn while coping with the fear, shock and craziness that comes with divorce. And what if you have to deal with filing a restraining order against your spouse or significant other at the same time? I can't even begin to imagine.

It's difficult enough wading through the court system while trying to find people who can help advocate for you. I've been extremely fortunate to have found an incredible local resource that I never knew existed until I was forced to call upon the police one horrible night this past February. That incident triggered a phone call with the Victim Services Program at my local police department where I discovered amazing advocates (both paid and volunteer staff) who are incredibly knowledgeable and supportive.

These dedicated Victim Services advocates are amazing and heroic in their efforts on behalf of women who are suffering, and who need legal guidance as well as police assistance. I will forever be grateful to Betsy, one of the advocates there who not only held my hand throughout the traumatic Order of Protection filing process, but she also successfully tracked down my ex-husband, Neil Zucconi, in California to have him served with the Order of Protection.

But even with that tremendous support, I have often felt very alone throughout this time. Not because I don't have amazing, caring friends and family supporting me, but because I really don't know others who have gone through this. I never imagined this would happen to me. I never even imagined that I'd ever have to call 911. This wasn't supposed to be part of my life.

But then again, whoever expects this stuff to happen. Things like postpartum depression, cancer, losing your job, death of a loved one, domestic violence, ... you name it. Something devastating can seep insidiously into your life with little or no warning, and there you are. I guess it's all about how you cope....

You can find a lot more about this part of my life on my other blog, http://orderofprotectionsurvivor.blogspot.com.

May 25, 2010

Fighting the Devastating Impact of Mental Anguish

I'm still deep in this post divorce abyss. Yes, I know I'm still off-topic here on my PPD blog, but I don't want to not post anything at all while I'm in this horrible place. I have a feeling I'll be here for a while. And I really need to have a voice during this time. But honestly, PPD is not the foremost topic on my mind right now. Right now, it's all about survival and getting through this in one piece.

I do feel that a lot of what I'm experiencing mentally and emotionally correlates to many of the repercussions I experienced fourteen years ago when I suffered so terribly from postpartum depression. I can't sleep -- I'm fighting all kinds of swirling emotions -- but most of all I'm just so sad.

I can't believe my marriage to Neil Zucconi ended up the way it did. And I can't believe that I had to call the local police on February 5 to have him removed from my home. Until the police officers who showed up that awful night advised me to file an Order of Protection, I had absolutely no idea what one was or how to file for one. This whole ordeal has been quite an education. And one I didn't think I'd ever have to learn.

Hopefully soon I'll have the peace of mind to get back to my PPD posting and advocacy work. But for now, please bear with me as I come back up for air. And if anyone reading this has anything they'd like to share on this topic, please feel free.

May 3, 2010

Dealing with Divorce and a Restraining Order

Unfortunately I haven't posted here in a while due to personal reasons. Although not related to postpartum depression, my present situation is just as devastating on a mental and emotional level, and I'm guessing there are plenty of women who can relate, so I'll share what's going on with me right now....

I just recently divorced and it has been extremely traumatic. My marriage to Neil Zucconi was quite brief; after about 10 months I filed for divorce. And shortly after that, on March 19, 2010, I filed an Order of Protection (restraining order) with the Superior Court in Phoenix, and he was subsequently served on April 30. One challenging aspect of this has been the fact that Neil is in law enforcement, as an air marshal with TSA. The amount of mental anguish and emotional stress and general fear that I've been dealing with in filing this restraining order has overwhelmed me. (You can find a lot more about this on my other blog, http://orderofprotectionsurvivor.blogspot.com.)

I'm in the process of reaching out to others who are dealing with or who have dealt with filing a restraining order against a spouse or significant other. I'm also looking for divorce support groups and other resources that might help as I head towards recovery. I know it's going to be a long haul. I think that to some extent, I'm still in shock about what has happened. I didn't see this coming at all. It actually reminds me a lot of the many months back in 1996 when I was on the road to recovery from postpartum depression. Once again, I'm dealing with feelings of shock, helplessness, fear, anger, sadness, and of course, a big blow to my self esteem.

This is definitely not easy.

January 27, 2010

Mt. Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly publishes Postpartum Depression: A Silent Epidemic

Another postpartum health advocate, blogger and professional writer, Ivy Shih Leung, teamed up with me to produce a PPD article that has just been published in the latest edition of the Mt. Holyoke College Alumnae Quarterly magazine.

We're very proud of this piece since much sweat and tears went into unearthing the many emotions that we still harbor even after all of the years that have gone by since our experiences with PPD.

My own experience with PPD so greatly shaped my foray into motherhood and still lingers with me to this day, propelling me towards advocacy and education with the hope that I can help other women avoid this life-changing disorder.

To check out the online version of our article, you can click here. I am grateful to the editorial board of the Quarterly for giving us the amount of attention and space that this issue so deserves.

December 17, 2009

Check out Dr. Shoshana Bennett's PPD Video Series on EmpowHer

I have another video to share of a remarkable woman who has made tremendous strides in spreading awareness of PPD while treating and helping women who have it. Dr. Shoshana Bennett is the past president of Postpartum Support International as well as founder of Postpartum Assistance for Mothers. Also a renowned author and speaker in the realm of postpartum depression, Shoshana has devoted much of her adult life to educating new moms on the symptoms of PPD and how to be empowered to overcome them. In fact, she is a survivor of two life-threatening, undiagnosed instances of postpartum depression herself, which makes her a total expert in my book, even with her amazing credentials.

To view a video series of Shoshana discussing various aspects of PPD in short clips, click here. You can also see her work on her wonderful and informative web site.

November 23, 2009

NAMCs Circle of Caring PPD Support Groups

I came upon the National Association of Mothers' Centers (NAMC) while on Facebook and want to help spread word of the fantastic work they do in the postpartum depression realm. One of the association's main missions is to educate moms and their families about PPD while reaching out to them with support. Based in New York, NAMC collaborates with the Postpartum Resource Center of NY to provide peer-led support groups to help empower women who are experiencing PPD.

The women who lead these support groups are trained as facilitators and volunteer their time to help other women. These "Circle of Caring" groups are in two locations in New York state at this time, however NAMC hopes to expand this service to other cities around the U.S. I believe that groups like these are incredibly important and are so very needed by women who are suffering from the symptoms of PPD and need to feel that they're not alone.

To learn more about the NAMC's program or to provide support, you can contact Lisa Kaplan-Miller at lisak@motherscenter.org or (516) 939-6667, x106.

Besides their postpartum depression outreach, NAMC provides other excellent resources for moms through their 30+ centers that are located throughout the U.S. The association works at both the grassroots and national level and is definitely worth checking out.

October 30, 2009

My friend Michelle shares her PPD story in an awesome video interview

There's a great video interview of a friend of mine, Michelle, who has been an extraordinary PPD advocate here in Arizona. Please check out her story by clicking here. This interview took place in Tucson over a year ago while Michelle and I, along with other women's health advocates, were attending a women's mental health symposium at the University of Arizona. This interview was just posted on EmpowHer and is part of an excellent series of PPD videos spotlighting several women's stories.

September 1, 2009

PPD support on Twitter!

For all of you tweeters out there, Twitter Moms has a PPD support group going that's pretty interesting. It doesn't seem super active, but there are about 30 great moms in the group who are hitting some important PPD topics.

While there, you can listen to a podcast by Dr. Heather, who calls herself the "babyshrink." You can also enter a discussion forum and contribute to topics such as "When did you realize it was PPD?" There is venting going on as well as sharing. But, most importantly, moms can easily connect to other moms who are dealing with a postpartum mood disorder by simply clicking on their photo.

August 18, 2009

Nurse Practitioner Schools names top 50 PPD blogs, including this one!

The Nurse Practitioner Schools web site has a listing of the top 50 postpartum depression support blogs, sites and online communities that are out there on the web. It's a very comprehensive listing, including not only this blog, but also some really stellar blogs by women who have become women's health advocates after experiencing their own bout of PPD.

Of course, some of my absolute favorites are on the list, such as Dr. Shoshana Bennett's Postpartum Depression Recovery blog, Susan Dowd Stone's PerinatalPro blog and my friend Ivy's PPD blog.

It's well worth it to check out the list in its entirety. It's organized by type, so whether you're looking for a PPD blog written by a mom or one written by a professional or a blog that's geared solely for dads, you can find whatever you need here. There are some truly amazing stories of hope within these sites, as well as fantastic resources.

July 23, 2009

Check out "The Healthy Woman" in local bookstores now

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office on Women's Health has put together a very helpful book that empowers women to have easy access to basic information on just about every health category. The Healthy Woman; A Complete Guide for All Ages can be found in bookstores around the country, including Barnes & Noble and Borders, as well as directly from the U.S. Government Bookstore.

Not to pat my own back, but I was a contributor to the book within the Mental Health chapter. I was asked to share my PPD story, which I did gladly and with the hope that it might reach other moms out there who are searching for information.

The book also includes a tremendous list of resources, from non-profit health organizations to providers. You can even find treatment options for various conditions and where to find the help you need when something is wrong. But the most powerful sections in the book are the personal stories, where women share their health experiences. A California woman wrote of her experience suffering from numbness in her hand and "heaviness" in her chest, and being diagnosed with acid reflux. It turned out that what she really had was premature heart disease and, shockingly, within just hours of her correct diagnosis she underwent open-heart surgery. I loved her following quote, which of course would apply to any health condition that a woman is dealing with: "We must make ourselves our number one cause and, as with me, be given another chance at life."

June 9, 2009

Watch Shoshana Bennett's PPD videos on EmpowHer

This is a must-see ... Dr. Shoshana Bennett, past president of Postpartum Support International and a past president of California's state organization Postpartum Health Alliance, speaks out on PPD in a video series on EmpowHer.  

One of the videos that I believe is a powerful topic to explore is whether or not PPD can go away by itself.  One study that Dr. Shosh quotes showed that 25% of women who had PPD were still deeply depressed one year out.  

I'm wondering if this statistic might be low.  Or if there are a lot more women (besides the 25% who are deeply depressed), who are just ever so slightly or even mildly depressed and remain so for a long, long time.  And then become a lot more depressed over time until chronic depression sets in.

All I know is that I've known plenty of mothers who are obviously depressed, even many years after their kids are born.  They might overeat or chain smoke or drink a little too much from time to time, or do other things to take the edge off.  But deep down they're depressed.  And their depression could have very well started as PPD and then left untreated to fester over time.  I wonder how many women who end up being prescribed anti-depressants in their mid-life, when their kids are well into elementary school and beyond, are actually suffering from PPD.....

May 17, 2009

How do you reach a non-believer?

I was on a mom's web site last night and was astounded when I read a post from a woman who says she doesn't believe that postpartum depression exists.  And yet she has been suffering from various ailments for the past 3 months, including weight gain, major lethargy, headaches that don't seem to go away, sadness and frustration.  Oh, and did I mention she has a 3-month-old baby?  If she doesn't believe in PPD, then just what does she attribute all those yucky symptoms to??  She also mentioned that the women who say they have PPD are just wimps who need to get a grip and focus on their baby instead of themselves.  Nice.

So how do you reach women who don't believe in PPD??  I did post a comment in her conversation thread....how could I not?  I tried to let her know just how real PPD is, and barraged her with links to web sites such as PSI's, Susan Dowd Stone, and other PPD resources.  I also mentioned that mental disorders like PPD can be more insidious than your average disease because they are invisible.  But try to tell someone with Autism that it's not real just because you can't see it.  I hope she checked out at least one of the resources I listed.  I hope she gets help.  It's tragic to think of someone suffering from PPD when it's so easily treatable.

April 15, 2009

MUST READ: A dad shares his story of losing his daughter to PPD

Susan Dowd Stone recently posted the following incredibly touching story on EmpowHer.  It's from a dad, Joseph S. Raso, who lost his daughter to postpartum depression.  He asked Susan to post or share his story wherever she felt it could help others.  I'm helping to share it as well.....

The Best Meal of My Life

I experienced the best meal of my life the other day. That’s saying a lot from a man who is just shy of 60, and has spent his entire life in the restaurant business. Since my 6th birthday, when my parents opened up La Bella’s, a little mom and pop Italian restaurant, I have had the opportunity to travel and enjoy delicious meals prepared by some the world’s finest chefs.

Even after my wife left, and I was faced the prospect of raising two energetic children on peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and Hamburger Helper, I never lost my appetite for fine dining.

In the early 90’s I met my current wife Mary, a beautiful single mom of two. Her parents had passed, so I asked her eldest teenage daughter, Crystal, for permission to take her mom to dinner. It’s funny - looking back now, I can’t tell you what Mary was wearing, but the restaurant was a perfect combination of cozy atmosphere and scrumptious food.

As 2000 rolled around, our kids now grown, Mary and I discovered cruise ships. We realized, if we carefully picked our departure dates, we could cruise for about $200.00 a day with the all important, MEALS INCLUDED!

On a cruise ship, nothing surpasses the experience of a savory dinner of two hours, your meal prepared by top chefs, while enjoying an unhurried conversation with your spouse. A brochure on one of our cruises informed us that, for an extra $25.00, we could have the “Ultimate Dining Experience”. We could not believe our meals could get any tastier but we gave it a try. Words cannot explain the evening. The service was impeccable and the food was to die for. Gazing at Mary across the table with the moon rising behind her made my diner all the more unforgettable.

We have been on about ten cruises now and I never thought we could top those culinary delights, until the other day, when I experienced the best meal of my life.

Crystal, the oldest of our four children, was always the more serious. She was the one to whom we entrusted our most important papers and house keys when we left town. Crystal gave birth to Hannah in 2003 and baby Max in 2007. When Max was born, things just seemed to bother Crystal more. She seemed to worry about everything. We tried to reassure her, but that was Crystal, the worrier.

On Feb 25, 2008, we got together with her and her husband, Chris, for lunch. Everything seemed fine. On Feb 27, 2008 at 11:45 AM, Mary received a call from the police concerning a family emergency at Crystal’s house. As we raced the few blocks to her house, I feared the worse. Did baby Max, not yet four months old, die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome? I begged: God please let Max be OK!

As we rounded the corner and their house came into view, there were police cars in the streets and driveway. A detective who was polite, but uninformative, stopped Mary and I from entering the house. As I turned back to the street, I noticed Chris holding baby Max. Knowing that Hannah was in school, I asked him what was going on. With a dazed look in his eyes he told us that Crystal had shot and killed herself.

She had seemed unusually worried the past few days, always fussing about Max, unable to get a good night’s sleep. Attempting to breast feed as long as possible, she was concerned that her milk was drying up. We didn’t notice the symptoms of what we later learned was, Postpartum Depression. We just thought that was Crystal, always worrying.

Over a year has now passed. We have all pulled together and gotten into the routine of helping Chris raise Hannah, his precocious first grade daughter, and Max, a handsome boy of sixteen months. I have volunteered to give Max his 06:00 AM feeding five days a week. This occupied my time and kept my mind off of Crystal. Mary would come over at 07:15 and get Hannah ready for school. In the morning commotion, Chris would wolf down some cereal, and if the kids were up, give them a kiss, and out the door he’d go, grateful for us being there.

It is amazing how we live assumptive lives. Every day, we assume our family will always be there. It’s not that we have taken them for granted it is just that no one ever expects to outlive their own child. I now appreciate the little things in life more. I love Max’s happy giggle every morning as I sing to him while changing his diaper. The joy experienced viewing Hannah’s beautiful sleepy face, when she rolls out of bed is unexplainable.

Mary and I took all four grand kids to a matinee the other day. After the movie, we stopped at Target to get them a snack. “We want the Kids $2.00 Hot Dog & Soda Special,” they yelled. Mary and I sat at a table across from them. As we ate, we enjoyed the view of our grandkids just being kids. I savored every second of hearing them laugh and watching them play as I finished my salad and hot dog. It was the best meal of my life.

Joseph and his family ask that you support The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act.  To do so, please go to www.perinatalpro.com

March 13, 2009

Kudos to organizations behind the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS ACT!!!

More on the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS ACT......

I think it's interesting to know who the sponsors of the bill are.  I'd like to send many kudos to these wonderful organizations who "get it" and see the need for postpartum depression legislation.  The leaders of these organizations are doing what they can to help bring moms with PPD out of the darkness of their depression and isolation, to make sure they receive the care and support they need so their needless suffering can end.

Here they are:

Postpartum Support International
Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses
American Psychological Association
American Psychiatric Association
Children’s Defense Fund
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
March of Dimes
Mental Health America
American College of Nurse Midwives
National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Suicide Prevention Action Network USA
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs
National Partnership for Women & Families
OWL- The Voice of Midlife and Older Women
National Women’s Law Center

March 12, 2009

Support the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act by signing online petition - it's EASY!

I've written about the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act quite a bit on this blog, and I've recently heard that an online petition is being circulated now to garner support for this wonderful bill that will have such a positive impact on new moms and in the realm of perinatal mood disorders in general. I want to spread awareness of this online petition and encourage anyone reading this to sign it. It's so easy. I just signed up to have a letter sent via email to my local legislator.

You'll want to scroll down to the bottom of the page where it says "take action now" and enter your zip code.  It couldn't be easier!

February 6, 2009

Meet Ivy Shih Leung - PPD Writer Extraordinaire!

I've had the pleasure to get to know Ivy Shih Leung, a new writer on the scene who is tackling PPD in a big way. Ivy's wrapping up a book that she started writing shortly after suffering from PPD following the birth of her precious daughter.  And she just started a new blog where you can learn more on PPD statistics while reading her touching prose.  Here's an excerpt from her latest post:

"Fueled by the passion to help other women, angered by public remarks like 'There is no such thing as a chemical imbalance,' and determined to help stamp out the ignorance about PPD, I set out 5 months after my daughter was born and 2 months into my recovery to start writing my book and get the message out that those remarks couldn’t be further from the truth.  Determined to learn more about this misunderstood, under-diagnosed and undertreated illness, I joined Postpartum Support International (PSI) in 2006 and attended annual conferences to network with and pick up the latest information from subject matter experts.  I also attended two PSI fundraisers in my old hometown of N. Caldwell, NJ, which was hosted by Sylvia Lasalandra, author of 'A Daughter’s Touch' and attended by Senator Robert Menendez, Governor Jon Corzine, former NJ First Lady Mary Jo Codey (PPD survivor), Senator Richard Codey, and Dr. Manny Alvarez of Fox News, among many others.  I plan to participate in the Sounds of Silence second annual run/walk fundraising event on May 9th on Long Island.

Having PPD at a time when mothers are “supposed to feel nothing but absolute bliss”-one of the “motherhood myths” I touch on in my book-is so embarrassing and difficult to talk about, that most women will not tell their stories to people they know, let alone to the world. There’s this fear of being judged, criticized and labeled as crazy and, worse yet, unfit mothers.

Well, I am not afraid to tell my story, especially if it means helping other mothers. I want to make a positive impact by empowering women with knowledge about an illness that is more prevalent than people think. One out of eight mothers (that’s a rate of 20%) suffer from PPD.  And I’m not talking about the baby blues, either.  Approximately 80% of mothers experience what is referred to as baby blues-the tendency to be teary/emotional due to the huge hormonal changes that occur with childbirth-within the first couple of weeks postpartum and resolves on its own."

Please check out Ivy's blog for the rest of her story, as well as additional info on PPD.

January 15, 2009

Susan Dowd Stone shares hopeful thoughts on the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS ACT

Susan Dowd Stone submitted the following article to EmpowHer yesterday and I want to help spread this info around because it's so crucial that this much-needed legislation gets passed. Please read below and click here to find out more about Susan and the tremendous work she is doing.

Attention advocates of America’s mothers and the thousands of courageous women who are experiencing or who have survived a pregnancy or postpartum depression – you have not been forgotten. For among the significant challenges facing the 111th Congress, the issue of untreated maternal depression remains a top priority. One new Congressional focus is the rebuilding of national infrastructure. One might make the analogy that this should include enhancing the healthy infrastructure of our families by ending the preventable plague of maternal mood disorders which continues to ravage over 800,000 women – and their infants and families – every year. The long-term consequences of untreated maternal depression range from chronic illness, child learning disabilities, family stress and economic loss - to death.  

Congressman Bobby L. Rush has reintroduced The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act to the 111th Congress. During the 110th Congress, the legislation had over 130 bi-partisan cosponsors and passed the United States House of Representatives on October 15th, 2007 by a vote of 382-3. I was so very proud to be sitting in the Congressional Gallery on that triumphant day as a unified Congress validated the suffering of millions of American women and families by promising more support to help end this public health crisis. Congressman Rush never forgot the Chicago constituent – Melanie Blocker Stokes – who lost her life to this illness and whose tragic death inspired his decades long devotion to end maternal suffering.  

In the U.S. Senate, Sen. Robert Menendez has been similarly steadfast in his devotion and promotion of The MOTHERS Act. Initially based on New Jersey’s groundbreaking law inspired by PPD Survivor and former New Jersey First Lady Mary Jo Codey and spearheaded to passage by her husband N.J. State Senate President Richard Codey, the passage of this legislation has resulted in increased availability of services, public awareness campaigns and state-wide hot lines responsive to the crisis. While repeated attempts by Sen. Menendez and other senate leaders to pass the bill last fall narrowly missed, one pivotal result was that the national spotlight again became fixed on this incomprehensible Congressional stalemate. 

The resulting new waves of national attention and support for this bill and its clear, purposeful mission have further galvanized public support and public outcry for its passage. The research, education, public awareness campaigns and grants for treatment and supportive services requested in The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act will help to end the untold agony that too often goes unrecognized, undiagnosed and untreated. 

The countless women who walk through my practice door feeling shamed and marginalized for the medical illness they are trying to fight alone must know that these common disorders can afflict anyone - that these illness are treatable - that they did nothing to cause it - that they will be well again! That they are NOT ALONE!  

As president-elect Barack Obama - one of the bill’s initial lead sponsors – takes the nation’s helm this week, we anticipate a timely convergence of forces which will lend impetus to the bill’s passage this year.  

In addition to our legislative leaders, many thanks to all of you who have given voice and time and energy to turn this tide on the ignorance and suffering that has plagued American mothers and their families for decades – your moment is coming. With your renewed support and advocacy, we will pass The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act in 2009!  

SUMMARY OF THE LEGISLATION Section 1: Short title of the bill- The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act.  
TITLE I- Research  
• Encourages HHS to coordinate and continue research to expand the understanding of the causes of, and find treatments for, postpartum conditions. Also, encourages a National Public Awareness Campaign, to be administered by HHS, to increase awareness and knowledge of postpartum depression and psychosis.  
• Sense of Congress that the Director of the NIH may conduct a nationally representative longitudinal study of the relative mental health consequences for women of resolving a pregnancy (intended or unintended) in various ways, including carrying the pregnancy to term and parenting the child, carrying the pregnancy to term and placing the child for adoption, miscarriage, and having an abortion. This study may assess the incidence, timing, magnitude, and duration of the immediate and long-term mental health consequences (positive and negative) of these pregnancy outcomes. 
TITLE II- Delivery of Services 
• Encourages HHS to make grants available for projects for the establishment, operation, and coordination of systems for the delivery of essential services to individuals with postpartum depression. (Entities): Makes grants available to public or nonprofit private entity, which may include a State or local government, a public-private partnership, a recipient of a grant under the Healthy Start program, a public or nonprofit private hospital, community-based organization, hospice, ambulatory care facility, community health center, migrant health center, public housing primary care center, or homeless health center, or any other appropriate public or nonprofit private entity. o (Activities): Eligible activities include delivering or enhancing outpatient, inpatient and home-based health and support services, including case management and comprehensive treatment services for individuals with or at risk for postpartum conditions. Activities may also include providing education about postpartum conditions to new mothers and their families, including symptoms, methods of coping with the illness, and treatment resources, in order to promote earlier diagnosis and treatment.  
TITLE III- General Provisions 
• (Funding): Authorizes $3,000,000 for fiscal year 2008; and such sums as may be necessary for fiscal years 2009 and 2010.  
• (HHS Report): Requires the Secretary of HHS to conduct a study on the benefits of screening for postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis.  
• (Limitation): The Secretary may not utilize amounts made available under this Act to carry out activities or programs that are duplicative of activities or programs that are currently being carried out through the Dept of HHS.  

SUPPORTERS: Postpartum Support International Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses American Psychological Association American Psychiatric Association Children’s Defense Fund American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists March of Dimes Mental Health America American College of Nurse Midwives National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance Suicide Prevention Action Network USA National Alliance on Mental Illness Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs National Partnership for Women & Families OWL- The Voice of Midlife and Older Women National Women’s Law Center