March 26, 2008

Why are we fighting against each other over a bill that will save lives??

I continue to be amazed at the backlash that has generated in response to the much-needed, ground-breaking Mother's Act that is currently before the US Senate. Apparently just a handful of women are behind this backlash, however they're raising quite a stink. And they appear not to have actually read the bill. Rather, they obviously have their own agenda regarding SSRI's and thus have twisted the actual intent of the bill to fuel their agenda.

So let's back up...... It has taken 7 years for this piece of legislation to get to where it is today. Here is a synopsis of what the bill is really about, taken from the Postpartum Support International web site:

"H.R. 20 prioritizes research and treatment of postpartum depression and psychosis by expanding and intensifying research through the National Institutes of Health and the National Institutes of Mental Health on the causes, diagnoses and treatments of postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis.
H.R. 20 also encourages the National Institutes of Health to work in partnership with local communities to coordinate and broadcast heightened public service awareness about postpartum depression and its symptoms. H.R. 20 further provides grants to groups that have a track record of working with women who suffer from postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis."

A comment on the bill by U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush: "Because of the failure of our nation's health system to effectively address the medical ramifications of postpartum depression and psychosis, I will continue to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to join me, Melanie's mom and millions of concerned families throughout the country to ensure enactment of this legislation," Chairman Rush said.

If the group of women who are attempting to sabotage this bill were to actually read it, they'd find that it's not about "pushing pills." It's not "big pharma" taking over and making sure that every new mom is diagnosed with PPD so they can be prescribed SSRI's. That's a bunch of crap.

It's about spreading awareness of PPD, to the public as well as to the medical community. It's about education -- every new mom who leaves the hospital will be armed with information about PPD. It's about actually helping new moms who are suffering from a postpartum mood disorder and who are now left either misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. It's also about educating the medical community on how to look for signs of postpartum depression in their patients and to make sure they get the help they need, whether that's talk therapy, an anti-depressant, a support group, a postpartum doula, etc.

I nearly lost my life to postpartum depression after the birth of my third baby and I know firsthand what it's like to be misdiagnosed and left untreated. The doctor who failed to diagnose my PPD literally threw up his hands in front of me and told me to "go home and be a mother to my babies." I wouldn't wish this kind of mistreatment for any other woman, and yet it's happening to new moms out there EVERY SINGLE DAY. It's about time a bill like this gets passed so that we can not only increase awareness of this insidious, and yet easily treatable disorder, but also save lives. Anyone who is speaking out against this bill because of an issue with anti-depressants/pharma clearly doesn't understand its purpose.

I believe that we can all agree that when something works to bring a PPD/PPP sufferer back from the abyss, we should all be grateful, whether that "something" is yoga, a support group, a loving mother-in-law, a helpful neighbor who cooks dinners, a postpartum doula, acupuncture, prayer, music therapy, a supportive husband, a help-line counselor, meditation, a sugar pill, an SSRI, massage therapy, chanting, whatever.... For me personally, a combination of talk therapy, prozac and yoga saved my life. For some others, this would not work. All brains are different, with very different chemistry make-ups.

Regardless, I believe it's time we stop casting judgments. We should pull together as women who care about other women, to bring an end to the needless suffering of those with perinatal mood disorders. Let's focus on the positive and stop bickering about a bill that will do a lot of good.


Katharine said...

Thank you - I was glad to read this, especially just now. I was discussing psychotropic drug therapy with a fellow mental health consumer today, and this just felt refreshing!

I like what you said here: "I believe that we can all agree that when something works to bring a PPD/PPP sufferer back from the abyss, we should all be grateful,"

Exactly. Emotions and passions can run so high about all sides of all angles of mental health stuff... At the end of the day, I don't know what all the answers are, or even what all the right questions are! But I do know that compassion and openness are essential - and that includes in relation to humility about the answers... what works for each person can be so different, and no solution is perfect, but let's not stall/trap ourselves by panicking over the uncertainties.

Here's what we know: people suffer from mental ailments. Those ailments are real. There are a number of tools that can help people with said ailments. People deserve and need education and access to treatment options. There is stigma. Stigma causes problems. You're not alone. We can do this. Etc.

Hopefully, that quick bit of something made sense. Thanks again for speaking up!!! :-D

Kristin said...

Thanks so much for your wonderful comment, Katharine! I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. And, yes, it totally made sense and is very, very true. I think the sad thing about this issue is that some have veered off the path and forgotten the humanity part of it. Like you said, we all deserve and need access to the tools that are out there to help us survive this horrendous, often debilitating disorder.


Alwen said...

Well said. Thanks for this. My PPD last year left me suicidal but I was fortunate enough to already have a counselor and a support group and access to medication as well. I doubt I would be here without that safety net. I did have several doctors early on refuse to give me any medication. I had hardly slept in 5 days and was told to drink tea and take a warm bath. Fortunately I had other places to turn. I ache for women who don't.

Adria Sha said...

Excellent post & I agree.

Katharine said...

I'm about to blog this Action Alert from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) concerning the Mother's Act (I came across it via Alicia Sparks at Mental Health Notes), but I thought of you and thought I'd quickly send the link your way first :-)

proudgrits11 said...

I found you on Arizona Moms and had to pop over. I just hosted a play date today at my home and just last night, thinking about today, reminded myself how all of us mother differently. Yes, I have strong opinions on birth, breastfeeding, discipline, etc. but what good does it do me to go around telling other women to do it "may way?" I am committed to supporting women in their choices and helping them do what's best for them and their children, in their own situation. It's easy to judge and argue--it's hard to keep one's mouth shut and try to hear the person out to discern how to best support them. I'm trying--and I'm glad you are, too! :)

Becoming Me said...


I am glad to have found your blog. I am a PPD survivor and am just now beginning to blog about my experiences. Thank you for raising awareness.

Anonymous said...

I am a mother of 3 dear children and I had postpartum depression with all 3 of them. Actually, my husband and I adopted our little boy (#2) from South Korea and I suffered from post adoption depression after he came home.

For me, some of the depression is from hormonal shifts and some of it is brought about by sleep deprivation that a new little person brings into the family.

This past experience almost 4 months ago was by far the worst case of PPD that I had. Almost immediately after my daughter was born, I knew something wasn't right. Even with my past postpartum depressions, I still ended up in a cold and unhelpful hospital where the workers knew next to nothing about PPD or how to help me. They treated me horribly and I watched helplessly as they treated other patients there with anger, institutional mentality and coldness. Nobody deserves to be treated poorly and especially someone who just had a baby and is scared, tired and emotional. What I needed was someone to "mother the mother" and nobody could help me with that.

My new mission in life is to become a women's health advocate and to make certain that nobody ever suffers needlessly from postpartum depression. Most women need love, understanding, sleep and the correct forms of antidepressants to get through this nightmare.

I applaud you for raising awareness with this site and wish you nothing but the best.

With eduation, compassion and people in the medical area that are trying hard to listen, we can beat this disease and make sure not one more woman has to suffer.

Thank you again,
East Lansing, Michigan