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.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Easy Pasadena Outing: The Pet Store!

When I was in the depths of my depression, I knew I had to get out of the house. I did not know what was wrong with me, but I knew I was spending too much time home alone with my baby. But I was too overwhelmed to do laundry, let alone plan an expedition to the park. It was much easier to stay at home.

Let me plan some easy outings for you. I will tell you everything you need to know so you do not have to worry about the logistics. I have been to all of these places and think they are great places for a mom with PPD to go. These are the sorts of outings that will help you build momentum and confidence.

First easy Pasadena outing: the pet store.  Specifically, PetSmart.

Pasadena's PetSmart is in East Pasadena in the shopping center off Foothill Blvd with Best Buy, Old Navy and Nordstrom Rack.  It's website is here. For our purposes, it is almost always open (every day, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.)

Parking is easy and free. There's a big lot, and there is always plenty of parking available right by the PetSmart entrance. (Ok, it might be crowded on Black Friday and Christmas Eve You have my permission to avoid those crowds.)

The doggy day care is at the back of the store and the dogs are lots of fun to watch. I took Pippa there all the time when I was still recovering from PPD. We spent a lot of time sitting on the floor watching the dogs. For a little baby, it's better than the zoo because the animals are right there. I'm not joking. I used to take Baby Pippa to the zoo and I'd be pointing at the zebras and she would be admiring the fence post. But if I took her to PetSmart, she would watch all the animals furiously while buzzing with joy.  In addition to the dogs, Petsmart has fish, hamsters, birds, mice, guinea pigs, turtles and sometimes even a chinchilla. (Chinchillas are so cute. Just Google.) There are also cats, but most of the time, they are in their cages sleeping.

In the back of the store, there is a bathroom AND IT HAS A CHANGING TABLE. And it's always clean! My grocery store does not have a changing table, but PetSmart does. WTF?

This outing is FREE. You don't have to buy anything. Ever. If that makes you feel guilty or a little anxious, I understand. PPD really knows how to press our guilt and anxiety buttons. Take a deep breath. Try to summon up a feeling of calm.  Guess what? Dozens and hundreds of people wander into PetSmart every day to look at the animals and they do not buy anything. The PetSmart employees do not care if you spend money. (They will care if you let your child wreck the display of Martha Stewart dog outfits.)

Breastfeeding: Full disclosure - I stopped breastfeeding when Pippa was four months old, so I have not personally vetted this issue. If you want privacy, and the car does not work, you could try the dressing rooms at Nordstroms Rack and Old Navy.

What to turn this into a bigger outing? Hit the shopping center's Starbucks and get yourself a treat. After you have spent enough time admiring the goldfish, visit Party City. If your baby is old enough, buy her a mylar balloon. It will stay inflated for weeks. Have lunch at Chipotle or Togo's. Or just hit and run PetSmart. There is no wrong way to do this outing.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

PPD Tip: Smile for Ten Seconds

That's it. Ten seconds. That's all I'm asking you to do. Fake a smile for ten seconds.

In Psych 1, I learned about experiments that show the mood-lifting benefits of a smile. Just the act of smiling makes us feel better. I have tried this trick hundreds of times, and it really helps.

Will a ten second smile experiment cure your PPD? No. But, a daily smile can be one of the many tools that helps you defeat the PPD beast.

Give yourself a ten second smile. You deserve it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

PPD Tip: Let In The Light!

The soul needs fresh air and sunshine, but sometimes, getting outside with a baby seems about as easy as launching a lunar expedition. If you can't get outside, take a minute to open the blinds and curtains. I always feel happier when I fill the house with natural light.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

This Week's Gathering: Cancelled

Sorry to do this on short notice, but I will not be able to make it to this week's park gathering. My husband is headed out of town for work, and I realized I would be much happier if I stayed with my parents for extra company and support while he's gone.  They live on the Westside so it's logistically too tough for me to schlep back and forth.

Remember: it's important to take care of yourself! I was going to stay in Pasadena for this meetup, but I realized I was being silly. I would get lonely and bored if I stay here, but at my parents' house, I will get to go out for a mani-pedi (yay) and do some other fun stuff.

Please feel free to email me at any time. No question is too personal. My email is I would love to hear from you.