Thursday, April 16, 2015

PPD Tip: Join the MOMS Club

If you have postpartum depression, you might feel alone and isolated. Making new friends with babies close in age to your baby can really help on this front. Of course, that is easier said than done. When I had postpartum depression, so many people told me, again and again, that I had to make new mom friends.  It was overwhelming. It felt like another unmanageable task on an already daunting To Do List. I could not even handle the laundry. Now I was supposed to get dressed, leave the house, and make some new best friends?

Friendship is not something you can force. Just because you join a Mommy and Me class does not guarantee you are about to meet your New Best Friends. You might have to visit a lot of playgrounds, and go to a lot of classes, before you feel comfortable around other new moms. That's okay.

Once I was being treated for postpartum depression, I realized that I really did need some local mom friends who could relate to the motherhood issues I was handling at any time. I tried a lot of different things, but in the end, one of the best resources was the Pasadena MOMS Club.

There are MOMS Clubs all over the country.  Chances are, you live near one.

The MOMS Club of Pasadena is wonderful. It hosts lots of group activities, including a monthly Mom's Night Out. Members are assigned to play groups, and I met a lot of good friends that way.

This is not the only way to make friends, but if you have postpartum depression and live in Pasadena, I think the MOMS Club is a great place to start.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Hi! I'm Pregnant!

Sorry for the lack of posts and gatherings, but it's all for a good cause: I'm pregnant! And oh my god, I feel as if I've been hit by a truck.

My psychiatrist changed my medications at the very start of the pregnancy. Goodbye, Zoloft; hello, Buspiron. I'm now taking Buspiron, 15 mg, three times a day (it has a short half life.) When I first cut the Zoloft, I had some rough days - lots of uncontrollable crying and feeling like I had been thrown into a dark pit of misery. I felt about as crappy as I felt in July 2013, the day before I admitted myself to the hospital for PPD. That was discouraging, to say the least.

But I cried myself out, and wrote a bunch of pitiful entries in my journal, and now I am feeling much better.  The Buspiron seems to have kicked in and is doing good things for my serotonin. But I am still seeing my psychologist tomorrow. He treated my PPD, and I have not had an appointment with him since March 2014. It feels like a good time to touch base. I think I have some lingering PPD ghosts that need to be addressed. 

Physically, I'm feeling like shit on a stick. Last Wednesday, I had to go to the ER at 4 a.m. because I could not stop puking. The nurses took good care of me. They hooked me to an IV, gave me anti-nausea meds, and rehydrated me. I was discharged after a few hours and spent the rest of the day in bed, feeling like death. Thank goodness my dad was able to spend the day with Pippa. 

My ob/gyn hooked me up with a relatively new medication that is helping the morning sickness. I can still only eat bland foods, but at least I'm not puking five or six times a day.  (I'm not being coy about this new medication's name. It starts with a D but that's all I can remember and I'm too tired to get up and check now.)

Now I am mainly dealing with first trimester fatigue. I feel like I'm getting the flu and also like my muscles are disintegrating. It's frustrating and scary. For me, first trimester fatigue feels a lot like depression. When I was depressed, I just wanted to stay at home, lie around, and do nothing. Now that I have first trimester fatigue, I just want to stay at home, lie around and do nothing. I've done very little work on my book. I haven't painted in weeks. And just the thought of going to the gym makes me want to curl up in the fetal position and cry.

When I had PPD, and felt like doing nothing, I had to do something. No matter how lazy and exhausted I felt, I had to exercise. I had to take walks. I had to paint and draw and knit and work on my book and throw impromptu dance parties with Pippa. The more I did, the more energy I had.

Now I'm exhausted because I'm growing a brand new soul. Important amazing stuff is happening in my uterus. Right now I'm fine-tuning the four chambers of baby's heart. Is it any wonder that I want to nap all afternoon and then go to bed before 8?

But I keep second guessing myself.  I worry that I should be fighting against the depression and dragging my ass out of the house to go on adventures. I have to remind myself every day that I am not depressed - I'm pregnant. The things I'm feeling are normal pregnancy symptoms, not depression red flags.

Anyway, I have gatherings planned but I'm giving myself a little time to nap and cruise in the slow lane. Need to make sure this baby gets ten little fingers and ten little toes. When my energy is back, there will be more activities.

Friday, March 27, 2015

PPD Tip: The Art of Listmaking

I learned this trick from Postpartum Depression for Dummies by Shoshanna Bennet. That book was my bible during my recovery. I highly recommend it. In fact, I think there should be a copy of it in the waiting room of every ob/gyn and pediatrician.

The book taught me so much and helped me kick PPD in the ass. I had a lot of anxiety and Dr. Bennett's tips for making lists helped me manage that anxiety.

First, make a Master To Do List. Put everything that is nagging you on this list. Are you already stressing about holiday presents? Put it on the list. Worried about choosing a high school for your newborn? On the list.

Then put the Master To Do List in an accessible but out-of-the-way place. I kept mine in a drawer in a nook near the master bath. Accessible but I had to open the drawer to see the list. Also, I made this list with a pen and paper. Easy.

Every night, before bed, I made my Daily To Do List for the next day. I put 3-5 items on this list. For the first several months of my recovery, I always had "take a shower" on the list.

I never put something massive, like "clean the house," on the list. I put small bite size tasks on the list instead, like "go through the mail pile and toss junk mail." Was I going to clean the entire house in a single day? Fuck no! But could I maybe sort through a stack of junk mail while Pippa did tummy time? Sure.

I didn't always accomplish all the items on my daily list. When that happened, I proudly crossed off the item anyway.

Two or three times a week, I checked my Master To Do List. Gradually I crossed things off that list. Sometimes I added to it. The list calmed me because I knew that once I put a task on the list, it would eventually get done. I was not going to forget to buy Christmas presents damnit because it was on the list! (True story.)

As I recovered, I forgot about the Master To Do List. I checked it less frequently and then one day, I dug it out of the drawer and realized I didn't need it anymore.

Same thing for the daily lists. One day, I realized I didn't need the lists anymore to feel like I was in control of my life.

Now I keep lists intermittently when I feel like I'm juggling a lot of balls and don't want to drop something important. I also have some To Do lists saved on my computer but they are fun lists, like "craft projects to try" and "projects to make the house pretty."

Lists really helped me manage my anxiety. If your PPD is stirring up a ton of anxiety, I recommend you give this strategy a try. Remember to include something fun on your Master List, like "pedicure" or "brunch with best friend."

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tomorrow: Join Us For Tea in Old Town

Different venue, slightly later time tomorrow: 10:30 a.m. at Bird Pick Tea & Herb in Old Town Pasadena. Come join us for tea and conversation!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

PPD Tip: Talk About PPD

My recovery from PPD started when I saw my doctor, admitted myself to the hospital, and started taking medication. A lot of things were essential to my recovery: my psychiatrist and psychologist; the support of my loved ones; getting out of the house; exercise; writing; and taking care of myself.

But you know what was the most essential part of my recovery? Talking. The meds and exercise helped my neurotransmitters; but talking healed my soul.

We have to talk about PPD. A lot. Talking helps us air our shit and realize our shit is not as awful as we thought. Silence suggests we have something to hide. Silence suggests we did something wrong. We did nothing wrong and we have nothing to hide - so talk about it. Talk about PPD with your friends, your hairdresser, and the mom standing next to you at the swing set. Every time you talk about PPD, you are giving your soul a great big bear hug!

Don't know how to start? Call or email your best friend. Tell her this crazy blogger says you will feel better if you talk about PPD. Ask if you can give it a go for a few minutes. Then start talking!

We women need to talk. It's cathartic. After a bad breakup, or even just a disappointing first date, didn't you used to talk and talk and analyze and talk about it over brunch with your best friend? Well this is so much more important! Trust me. If your best friend listened to you whine about unrequited love, she will want to listen to anything you are willing to say about PPD. Your best friend is desperate to help! Let her help you in at least this way. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

PPD Tip: Sign Up For Red Tricyle

If you are recovering from postpartum depression, you need to get out of the house. Going to Target or the grocery store is a good start, but your brain and soul need more. They need to go to different fun places. New parks, museums, gardens... but PPD will make this seem daunting and scary and like too damn much.

When I was recovering from PPD, I knew I had to get out the house and show my baby the world... but where?  This seemed like an impossible Final Jeopardy question.

I signed up for a few mommy newsletters/blogs. They gave me lots of ideas for baby-friendly outings. They told me when to go, and how to make the trip a success.

My favorite is Red Tricycle. (It's at Sign up for their LA edition newsletter - it has tons of great ideas for Pasadena moms. In those early days of my recovery, the Red Tricycle emails made me feel excited. The PPD was doing its damnedest to drag me back into the darkness, but Red Tricycle made me think things like "Oh wow, a music class with Pippa!" or "We must try that restaurant near the airport!" or "What a beautiful park!" 

If you do one thing this week, sign up for your local edition of Red Tricycle. (I am not being paid to say this. The folks at Red Tricycle do not even know I exist.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Climb Out Of the Darkness - Team Pasadena!

I am so excited to tell you about Climb Out of the Darkness. This event is held on or near the longest day of the year. Women around the world climb, hike or walk to signify climbing out of the darkness of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and into the light. Climb Out is now the world’s largest event raising awareness of maternal mental illness.

Last year, I hiked alone to celebrate my climb out of the hell of postpartum depression. I blogged about here. This year, I am organizing Team Pasadena. Hooray!

Come hike with me! Anyone can register to join the hike - you don't have to fundraise. (Although any fundraising is most welcome.) Go here and then click the register button to join the hike. The hike is the morning of Saturday, June 20, 2015. I am in the process of auditioning a few local hikes because I want something that is beautiful, shady, and toddler/baby friendly. I haven't picked the time yet, but it will be about 9 a.m. - civilized enough on a Saturday morning, but early enough to beat the Pasadena heat.

If you can't hike that day, but want to support the cause, you can donate to my campaign. Click here and then click the donate button. Even a five dollar donation will make me sing and dance.