Episode 14: Kelly Bauer’s Story

I made a bag. It makes me ridiculously happy and I’m taking it everywhere.

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Want one of your very own? Get it right HERE. If you get one, please send me photos of your bag out and about in the world!

Kelly Bauer shared her story on this week’s episode. Kelly is a mother, wife, writer and storyteller.

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On her blog, Motherhood Misfit, Kelly discusses motherhood, her journey through Postpartum Anxiety/OCD and her experience with grief, after losing her unborn daughter, Clara, to Spina Bifida, 22 weeks into pregnancy. Find her on Facebook or pretending to know how Twitter works @kbauerwrites.

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I should warn you: don’t visit Kelly’s blog unless you have plenty of time to spare! She writes so beautifully and honestly about all she has experienced. You will want to read her entire blog in one sitting. And then you might do it again a few weeks later. (Not that I’m talking from personal experience.)

Thank you, Kelly, for sharing your story and helping spread awareness about maternal mood disorders!

I made a bag!

I love tote bags.  For at least two years, I have wanted a bag that says something about postpartum depression. But I could not find anything that spoke to me.  (Not surprising. There were very few options.)

tote bag

Then I had a vision of this bag and I knew it had to be mine. So I made the design. Created an account on Society 6. Uploaded my artwork and BAM, I am now the proud owner of this awesome tote bag.

Want one? Get it right HERE.

I am so happy with this bag. It’s BIG and very well made. It is the mother-bleeping Rolls Royce of tote bags.

I have a bunch more ideas so stay tuned for more designs…

Journaling Prompts

Journaling was a huge part of my recovery from postpartum depression.  Now I do it every day, and I consider it a crucial part of my daily self-care.  If I’m writing in my journal, I’m at my best.  If I start to slack on journaling, I get cranky and overwhelmed. 

I used to journal by hand in cheap notebooks.  Now I mostly journal on my laptop because then I can easily print and hand the pages over to my therapist.  Plus, when I am using paper and pen, my hand cannot keep up with my brain!

There’s no right way to journal, but I highly recommend The Artist’s Way and Writing Down the Bones if you want some deeper advice.

I thought it would be fun to create some creative writing prompts for moms who are struggling with postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD and any other maternal mood disorder.  But any mom can use these prompts!  Motherhood is tough for all of us, regardless of whether we get the added bonus of a mental illness.  We all need to work hard to feel fulfilled, and I think journaling can be a big part of emotional wellness for just about anyone.

To get started, I have some prompts about … (insert dramatic drum roll)… COLOR!

  1. What is your favorite color?
  2. Pick three words to describe your favorite color.  (Just do whatever pops into your head, no need to agonize over this.)
  3. When did it become your favorite color?
  4. Why is it your favorite color?
  5. Do you prefer a particular shade of your favorite color?
  6. How well is your favorite color represented in your wardrobe?  What about your home?
  7. What was your favorite color when you were a kid?
  8. What is your favorite color combination?
  9. What is your least favorite color?
  10. Do you associate any sounds with different colors?

Remember: there is no right way to answer these questions! You can answer all of them, focus on one, or jump around from question to question.  Maybe you will write about color for the next month.  Maybe you will think “Courtney is an idiot, I don’t want to have anything to do with her stupid prompts.”  It’s all good.

Here are some of my answers to the prompts above if you are feeling stuck but really want to have a go at journaling.

  1. Green!
  2. Vibrant, happy, alive
  3. I’m not exactly certain when green became my favorite color, but I definitely knew it was my favorite color by the time I was in college.  I think.  Shit, I don’t know!
  4. Green is my favorite because it just is.  This is kind of a lame question.  Can anyone really answer it?  This is just something I know and understand in my gut, in my essence.  When I see green, my soul sings.  Ah, I guess I have answered my question…
  5. My favorite shade of green is apple/emerald – I refuse to choose between the two.  I am not a big fan of forest green, which is the shade you see on cars, so I will probably never have a green car.  That’s okay, I love having a red car.  [now if I was writing on my own, I would probably get sidetracked and talk about how important my red car is, how it was this big psychological achievement when I finally deviated from grey and white and got the red car I had wanted for year.]
  6. Green is usually well represented in my wardrobe but not lately.  For the past three years, I’ve been wearing maternity clothes or clothes that I can get cheaply as I lose pregnancy weight.  So lots of whites and blacks.  I miss having lots of cheerful green options in my closet.  This needs to change and soon.  An emerald green dress – that would be HEAVEN.  I would feel so lovely.

and so on!  I hope if you are interested in journaling that you will at least give it a try.  Creative writing is such a rewarding hobby.    

Episode 13: Samantha’s Story

 

This week, I interviewed Samantha Konikoff.  Samantha lives in Bellingham, Washington with her husband Isaac, their seven year old son, Evan, three year old Emma and dog Bella. She is a Warrior Mom Ambassador and has led two Climb Out of The Darkness hikes.

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Samantha and her gorgeous family – that red hair!!!

Samantha has written for the Postpartum Progress blog – this post is a letter for struggling moms; and this post talks about breastfeeding issues.  Samantha wants to share her story so that other women know they are not alone.

In the photo below, Samantha is holding her son Evan after taking him home from the hospital.  Her mom took the picture because she thought it was a sweet moment.  Samantha, though, was miserable and if you look closely, you can see a tear on her cheek.

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Thank you, Samantha, for sharing your story!

Episode 12: Kaleena’s Story of Postpartum Depression, Anxiety and Psychosis

Kaleena Smith experienced severe postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety after the birth of both of her daughters.

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She experienced the beginnings of postpartum psychosis after the birth of her second daughter.
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With help from supportive famly and amazing doctors, she was able to get well and is now planning to try for her third and final child to complete her family.

In the photos above, Kaleena is in the throes of postpartum depression and anxiety. In the photos below, she is radiant and happy, having made a full recovery after both births.

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Thank you, Kaleena, for sharing your story!

Episode 11: How Do I Know If I Have Postpartum Depression?

Did you know there is another podcast devoted to increasing awareness about maternal mental illness? The Mom and Mind podcast is a weekly show that is crushing the stigma of maternal mental illness by sharing real stories from real moms. It is available on iTunes, Soundcloud, YouTube and Stitcher – check it out!

Two new books about postpartum depression have also been recently published.  First, there’s The Warrior Within Me: My Postpartum Story by Tabitha Grassmid.  I’m reading it right now and loving it.  Her story is different from my PPD adventures, but it is resonating very deeply with me.

Then, there’s A Dark Secret that shares the stories of women who suffered from a maternal mental illness. It is available now on Kindle and the paperback edition will be out in a few weeks. I’m waiting for the paperback because I’m old school that way – translation: if I read an e-book, my kids lose their shit and want to take my Kindle away from me; but if I read a book-book, they leave me alone. One of the moms has already agreed to be interviewed once I get a chance to read her story. Ooh, should we have a podcast book club?

The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is a tool that doctors use for assessing whether a patient has postpartum depression. I have a lot of issues with the test. If you “fail” the test, then you probably do have postpartum depression. But if you “pass” the test, you can still very easily be suffering from severe depression. I took the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale several times during wellness visits with Pippa’s pediatrician and even though I was sinking deeper and deeper into darkness, I always “passed” with flying colors.

This is my advice: if you feel like something is wrong, get help.  If you feel like things are difficult, get help. If you don’t feel like yourself, get help. If your doctor gives you the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, and you pass, then go see another doctor and another until you get the help you need. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is very imperfect and does not identify all cases of postpartum mood disorder.

Episode 10: Laura’s Story

Laura is the thirty-one year old mum to one scrumptious little six month old Mabel Lavender.  I mean, seriously, look at this gorgeous baby. Don’t you just want to give her all the kisses?

Breakfast time! #peanutbutter #peanutbutterontoast #babyledweaning #raspberries #messybaby #mabel #baby #love #instababy #babiesofinstagram

Laura lives in Brighton, England. She has wanted to be a mum for as long as she can remember, so being hit with postnatal depression when her little bundle of pink joy was just two months old was pretty devastating.

Mabel thought my friend's dog Oran was the funniest thing ever! So cute to see the love between these two! #dogbestfriend #dog #oran #baby #babymabel #babiesofinstagram #momsofinstagram #dogsofinstagram #bestfriend #instababy #momblog #momblogger #momswithcameras ##mumlife #mumblog #mumblogger #lovelybaby #thelittlemoments

Laura is writing a blog in the hopes that she can give a little bit of reassurance to other women who are going through something similar and share things that help her to feel a bit better on the really dark days.
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Laura’s partner Matt, Laura and Baby Mabel Lavender

I love everything Laura shares, but this post should be required reading for anyone with postpartum depression. In it, Laura offers some practical, realistic tips for moms struggling with maternal mental illness.

Laura also has a lovely and uplifting Instagram feed.

loved talking to Laura. Should I have her back for another interview in six months to see how she’s doing? Absolutely! (I hope she says “yes!”)