Brick by Brick

When I went to Warrior Mom Con, I did not know why I was going.  I only knew that I had to go.  My soul demanded it.

Now that Warrior Mom Con is over, I finally understand why I had to go.

It’s because I’m a brick.

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A brick is made by crushing and grinding raw materials.  Then, the bricks are fired in ovens and cooled.  That is exactly what postpartum depression did to my soul: it crushed and ground me into unrecognizable bits and then set me on fire.

I thought I was broken beyond repair.

I wasn’t.

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I emerged from the fires of postpartum depression stronger than ever. 

A brick is created in the flame, but then, it lasts for centuries, withstanding corrosion and resisting fire.  Just like warrior moms.  We are bricks that can withstand just about anything because we have already walked through hell. 

Except a lone brick is not much on its own.  

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But bricks together?  Oh my goodness, they can create bridges, paths through the forest, rest stops on the mountain, and universities for gathering together and sharing knowledge.  Together, bricks can build entire cities — but only if they are joined together with mortar.

That is why I went to Warrior Mom Con: not just to find my fellow bricks, but to be bonded together so that we can do more with our combined awesomeness.

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I am home now, miles and miles away from the moms I met, but distance is irrelevant.  We are bonded together by the tears we shed and the bread we broke together in Atlanta.   

Brick by brick, mom by mom, we will bond ourselves together.  Together, we will build cathedrals. 

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Episode 22: Warrior Mom Con, Part Two

Warrior Con was amazing. I don’t know adjectives to do it justice.

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This week, I talked at greater length about my experiences in Atlanta.  I know a lot of you would have loved to have been there so I’m doing my best to give you the aerial view of everything that happened.

Although really, if forced to describe the conference in one word, I would tell you: hugs.

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Me and the amazing Kelly Bauer

I felt so radiant during the conference. I went to meet my tribe but I ended up falling in love with mom after mom after mom. There were break out sessions and since I could not be in two places at the same time, I missed Kelly’s talk.  But no worries, I’m going to get her to impart all of her awesomeness in a future episode.

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Me and Katherine Stone

The night before the conference started, I had a dream that a bunch of cranky therapists infiltrated and ruined the conference.  I complained to Katherine and she asked me to write a poem.

Then, during the first morning of the conference, I met Katherine and told her about my dream and she did not run away. Instead, she hugged me. (Then she probably filed for a restraining order.)

warrior-con-4  Me and Alexia, my first interviewee

Seating was random for the Warrior Mom Banquet. I got to sit next to Alexia, the first warrior mom that I ever interviewed for this show. Perfection.

The Tribes We Do Not Choose

I did not choose postpartum depression. Or postpartum anxiety.  Or postpartum OCD. If someone had asked me when I was pregnant, “Hey, do you want a maternal mood disorder?” I would have said, “No, but thank you for asking.” (Mama raised me right.)

But maternal mood disorders do not wait for invitations, and they certainly don’t RSVP and then show up with flowers and wine. They happen when they want, where they want, to whomever they damn please.

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My mental illness gave me a lot of things: insomnia; dark intrusive thoughts; elaborate nightly rituals; obsessive hand washing; fear; paralyzing anxiety; and despair. But it also gave me something that is not listed in the medical literature.

Something good.

Something incredible.

Something so mind-blowing awesome, I did not think it was possible.

My mental illness gave me a tribe of warrior moms.

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I have chosen many tribes during my life: my college in the woods of New Hampshire; law school; and then a big law firm.

I did not choose the warrior mom tribe. It was forced upon me by an illness that made the darkness so dark, I thought my life was over and no one could ever fix me.

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But even though I did not choose it, the tribe of warrior moms is the most important one in my life. Tribes come and tribes go, but I will be a proud and loud member of the Warrior Mom Tribe until I draw my final breath.

Warrior Moms, I love you all so much.

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Episode 21: Warrior Mom Con, Part One

I just returned from Warrior Mom Con in Atlanta. It was incredible. Mind-blowing.

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Here’s a bunny for no particular reason. I just really like bunnies.

Literally. I learned so much and felt so many feelings that now I feel like my brain is a bit broken. Or rather, it overheated from system overload and now needs a little time to cool down.

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This is my brain cooling down. Sort of. Not really.

I learned so much and have so much I want to tell you but first, I am being gentle with myself and giving myself time to process all the new ideas and feelings pinging around in my head.

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Pumpkins are awesome.

In the meantime, I shared some thoughts on this week’s episode. Then, we have a little mic-side podcast party with two awesome mamas, Kristina Dulaney and Amanda Cadran. It was my first live interview, and man, I was super awkward but that’s okay. I’m perfectly imperfect.

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Back From Warrior Mom Con

I am back from Warrior Mom Con.

It was amazing.

I have so much to process.  So much to write.  So much to share.

But right now, my brain is so full, I don’t know where to begin.

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Me, grinning like a fool, my default facial expression all weekend.

I will start with this: 63% of moms who have postpartum depression suffer another depressive episode sometime during the next ten years. 

Whoa.  That’s like saying, “Sixty-three percent of all shark attack victims will be attacked by another shark sometime during the next ten years.”

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Kelly Bauer, Podcast Episode 14, is as awesome in person as you might expect.

I feel like I should be scared by that statistic, but I’m not. I’m INSPIRED.

I’m inspired to keep doing the things that keep me healthy.

Inspired to go outside and get some fresh air today even though it’s raining.

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Alexia Johnstone, Episode 8, oh my goodness I love this lady to bits.

Inspired to dance.

Write.

Paint.

Unapologetically fight for my mental health because I am important and I deserve to feel good and happy and strong. Make big grandiose plans to write books and spread the word about my podcast and run races and visit new places and travel and sew and plant seeds and try to grow a pineapple tree and be merry and try new recipes and bake all the treats and have friends over and family and get a ping pong table and twirl in parking lots if I want to twirl because if that makes me happy it does not matter if I look ridiculous.

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Me and Katherine Stone, Warrior Mom-In-Chief

I can’t do it all at once.

But if I take baby steps, I can do it all.

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Warrior Mom Con, Here I Come!

Oh my goodness, I am so excited. So. Fucking. Excited.

Tomorrow I’m getting on a plane and flying to Atlanta for Warrior Mom Con.  Yes yes yes!

So much to do.  I have to pack.  Snuggle with Pippa and Julian.  Tell Pippa that I’m leaving for three nights.  Deal with the fall out.  Distract her with a present.  Because that’s how I roll.

But I just had to shout it out to the internet: I’m going to Warrior Mom Con!!!!

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Episode 20: Marisa’s Story

This week, Marisa shares her story of what happened when her daughter had postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. This episode is full of great advice for moms who are trying to help their daughter’s beat a maternal mood disorder.

On Thursday, I’m heading to Atlanta for WARRIOR MOM CON!  Follow along on Instagram by checking out #warriormomcon.

By the way, I’ll be bringing this beauty with me on the plane.

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Oh my tote bag makes me so happy. Want one?  Head over to Society6.

If you are interested in sharing your story on a future episode, or just want me to read a few sentences or give you a shout out on the air, shoot me an email or fill out the contact form. I’d love to hear from you!

Bravery

 

 

I tried Soulcycle for the first time a couple of weeks ago. It was incredible – the best workout of my life.

The teacher said something that really resonated with me:

Bravery is not the absence of fear.  It is feeling all the fear about something and doing it anyway.

I wanted to scream “Amen!” but that seemed a bit dramatic so I kept pedaling. But now that I’m alone in a coffee shop with my computer, I can shout it across the internet: AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!

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I always thought of bravery as being the province of the very few: the scientist who swims with sharks; the stuntman who dives off a cliff; the soldier who leads the cavalry charge.

But bravery is not just diving off a cliff or jumping out of a plane. And you know what? If a person has zero fear about jumping out of a plane, then they are not being brave. They are just having fun.

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An everyday person can be as brave as the most bad ass hero. If getting on an elevator scares the crap out of you, but you get on it anyway and ride it all the way to the top of the Empire State Building, then you are brave. If blood tests make you want to run, but you submit to the phlebotomist’s needle, you are brave. Or if going on a blind date makes you jittery, but you suck it up and go, then you are as brave as anyone I know.

Bravery happens everyday. For everyone.

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Especially for moms with maternal mood disorders.

When I had postpartum depression, the idea of calling my doctor scared the shit out of me. Something in my soul felt wrong, but what if she thought I was just lazy or weak and told me to take more vitamins? I made an appointment with my ob/gyn anyway. I was brave.

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I was afraid that my husband would be disappointed in me if I admitted myself to the hospital for psychiatric care. I did it anyway. I was brave.

I was terrified of what the other moms in my mommy and me class would think if they knew I had postpartum depression and needed Zoloft to feel okay. I told them anyway. I was brave.

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The idea of trying my gym’s Zumba class made me want to puke. I tried it anyway. I was brave.

The idea of starting a podcast about postpartum depression paralyzed me with fear. I suppressed the idea for months. But the idea would not leave me alone, so I bought a microphone and started my show. I was brave.lemonadepixel_camp2-17

Now I am petrified that when I finish my memoir and publish it, no one will buy or read it. But you know what? I am going to publish it anyway because fuck fear.

I am brave.

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p.s. I hope you like the totally random camping illustrations but to me, camping = bravery. So there you go.

p.p.s. YOU are brave, too.

 

 

 

Some Things I Know

Or, at least, here are some things I think I know. In no particular order:

  • Babies are awesome but holy shit, they are a lot of work.
  • Feelings must be felt.
  • The world is full of inspiration.
  • Sometimes babies poop on the floor at the dentist’s office.
  • Twice.

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Episode 19: My Crappy Ex-Psychiatrist, Part Deux

It’s all me again this week, wrapping up the Tale of The Crappy Psychiatrist.

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This is what life looks like lately.

I have written about my ex-psychiatrist in my journal. Talked about him at great length with my therapist. Ranted about his arrogance and awfulness to friends and family. I thought I had exhausted the subject and processed all my feelings.

Nope!

There’s something about telling a story into a microphone that helps me understand my experiences even more.

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Pippa took this photo. That’s me at work.

I realized during this episode that I excused my psychiatrist’s deplorable behavior because he was also treating my postpartum depression successfully. Since he prescribed the Zoloft and Remeron that helped me get better, I let him treat me however he saw fit.  Which happened to be rudely, arrogantly and even abusively.

My psychiatrist was a bully and an asshole and there’s nothing, NOTHING, that excuses that.

My new psychiatrist has also been successfully treating my postpartum depression and she is always, always, always caring and respectful.

I’m so glad I started this podcast. I started this show to help other women suffering from maternal mood disorder, but it is also helping me.

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