Friday, October 17, 2014

Recommended Reading: The How of Happiness

Shortly after I was diagnosed with postpartum depression, my sister recommended the book The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want, by Sonja Lyobmirsky. I resented the recommendation. I didn't need some general book about happiness. I needed medicine! A psychiatrist! And a psychologist! Some silly book my sister liked was not going to save me from my postpartum depression demons.

It's true, I did need medicine (Zoloft and mirtazipane). And I did need a psychiatrist and a cognitive behavioral psychologist. I also needed to spend four days in the hospital. Those things were essential to my recovery.

But I needed more. When I was first diagnosed with postpartum depression, I thought I just needed to take my pills and get enough sleep. WRONG. I had to get back into the world and do the things I love.

My sister kept pestering me, so finally, I grudgingly borrowed the book and started reading.

IT WAS SO INSPIRING. This book is written for every person and does NOT offer a cure to depression. If you have postpartum depression, you should still seek a doctor's help; but this book greatly supplemented my treatment.

In the first part, the book describes the science of happiness. It's very interesting, but don't worry, it's not too long.

Then there's a test that you can easily take while your baby naps or does tummy time. The test identifies the activities/values that will most effectively increase your happiness.

The second half of the book is devoted to explaining the different activities/values that can increase your happiness. BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO READ THE ENTIRE SECOND HALF. You just read the two or three sections that correspond with your happiness style.
e According to the test, projects and goals increase my happiness. So true! But when I had postpartum depression, I forgot how much I enjoy working on and completing a few projects. I headed to a yarn store asap and started knitting a blanket for my newborn niece Beatrice.

The book also told me that learning increases my happiness. So true! Yet sadly, I had lost this part of myself to the postpartum depression darkness. I brought learning back into my life. First easily, with little museum outings. Then I took an online drawing class and  went to a CPR class. I downloaded an app on to my phone to practice Spanish.

Finally, my test results recommended that I engage in physical activity. Oh boy, I had become a SLUG, but I eased myself back into exercise with daily walks. Now I go to the gym and do Zumba every week and Zumba makes my heart sing joyously. When I had PPD, I had no energy and just the thought of exercise exhausts me. Now I know that exercise does not deplete my energy - it increase it! I do everything possible to include physical activity in my life because it makes me so happy.

What sort of things will increase your happiness? I don't know, but I do know that The How of Happiness will help you answer that question for yourself. If you haven't already, please see a doctor for help with postpartum depression. And then read The How of Happiness!

Five Easy Outings In Pasadena With A Baby

Before my postpartum depression was diagnosed, I almost never left the house. I took the baby on walks, never straying more than four blocks from the front door. The rest of the day, I drifted from room to room of the house, wanting to go someplace exciting, but not knowing how other moms did it - and made it look so easy! Just a trip to the grocery store seemed like a lunar expedition.

Once my PPD was diagnosed, and my energy returned, I was excited to take Pippa on outings. But where? I was still intimidated by the logistics of feeding and changing a baby in public.

Yet I knew, just knew, in the marrow of my bones, that I had to get out of the house and take Pippa on adventures. Almost every day, I forced myself to take Pippa somewhere, and the more we went out, the more energy I had, and the braver I got. We started going to more exciting places, like the zoo and beach, and these outings gave me even more energy. The energy spilled over into other areas of my life. Long story short, getting out of the house was ESSENTIAL to my recovery from postpartum depression.

If you are spending most of you time at home, alone with your baby, get out of the house! But it is okay to start with easy outings. Don't go to Disneyland on a rainy day. Go to Target when it is sunny. Here are five easy outings for Pasadena moms with postpartum depression (or for any Pasadena mom!):

1. Santa Anita Mall: I know, I know, this is a list for Pasadena moms, and the first place is in Arcadia. But this is a very easy mall to visit. There is a big family changing room by the food court, and the bathroom on the first floor of Nordstroms has a lovely changing area and quiet spot for feeding baby. Walk around the mall. Let your baby watch the children frolicking at the indoor play area by JC Penny's. There's another play area in the outside promenade (near the Banana Republic) and there's also a little "pond" nearby with lots of turtles. When Pippa was five months old, and I was just rejoining the world, and still very shaky from my PPD darkness, I went to the Santa Anita Mall at least three times a week.

2. Petsmart on Foothill: This is still one of Pippa's favorite outings! There is doggy day care at the back of the store, and there are huge glass windows so you can watch the dogs. There are always at least twenty dogs there and they are very entertaining. When Pippa was very wee and small, we would sit and watch the dogs for at least 30 minutes. Then, you can show your baby the fish, reptiles, birds, rodents and sometimes there's even a chinchilla. At the back of the store, there's a restroom with a clean changing table! Such an easy outing, and if you want to stay out longer, you can swing by the Starbucks, Old Navy, and hallelujah, Nordstroms Rack.

3. Target: There's a changing table in the bathroom, and you can wander the aisles and let baby look at the world.

4. Mommy and Me at Huntington Hospital: Mingle with other moms! And it's only $10 so if you have to leave early, eh, you've forfeited two fancy frapucinnos. And since it's mommy and me, everyone is understanding and helpful if your baby cries or spits up everywhere.

5. Amy's Playground in South Pasadena: I love indoor playgrounds! There are a lot of great indoor playgrounds in Pasadena, but I know that this one is free for babies nine months and younger. (Mommy is always free, yay.) They keep this place immaculate and yes, there are changing tables. And there is easy parking behind the playground. Go before 2:30 p.m. to avoid the after school crowds.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Let's Get This Party Started!

Hi! This blog is for moms with postpartum depression, specifically moms who live in Pasadena, California and the greater Los Angeles area. This group originally started on Meetup, but I thought I needed to do something else to reach more moms in need of support.

This group is a community of moms who have or had postpartum depression. It is a way for moms with PPD in the Pasadena area to meet each other. To spend time together. To talk about the issues we face. The battles we have fought.

Postpartum depression is a very lonely, isolating illness. When I had it, I though I was the Worst Mother In the History of the World. No other mom had every felt as shitty as I did. No other mom had ever been such a failure.

But I was not alone! Postpartum depression is very, very common. One out of seven moms get it! But most of us do not get the help we need.

I want every community to have a group like this, where moms can get together at parks and coffee shops and share their experiences with PPD. I would eventually like to start a nonprofit... but right now, that seems a bit overwhelming. 

So I am starting here. With this blog, which will hopefully become the blog for a nonprofit. And I'm starting in Pasadena, and hopefully in ten years, there will be gatherings for everyone in the greater Los Angeles area. (And California! And the United States! And heck, the world!)

I am not a psychiatrist. I am not a psychologist or therapist of any sort. I am just a mom who had postpartum depression who wants to spend time with other moms who have or had postpartum depression.