2016: The Year In Review

Oh 2016, what an extraordinary year you were!

Julian grew up so much, from a newborn to a toddler.  I did it again, despite having PPD with Pippa, and I’m so proud of myself. 

In January, when I was three months postpartum, I felt the PPD beast waking up. I took action asap and contacted my psychiatrist. She increased my Zoloft dose from 100 to 150 mg and put me back on Remeron. I felt better overnight.  Over the year, I have watched and monitored and kicked the PPD in the ass.

I revived the mom-to-mom peer support group for PPD and other maternal mood disorders and found it a home at The Family Room.

I started my podcast!  And published 26 episodes! I got way out of my comfort zone and interviewed moms and discovered that podcasting is actually in my comfort zone.

I signed up for the Warrior Mom Conference and went and loved it and made new connections and started friendships and learned so much and got inspired and energized.

I hired an editor and got back incredible feedback on my memoir.

I outlined a novel which will be fun to write in 2017. 

I started therapy again and unlocked so much potential inside me and sifted through heaps of rubbish.

I tried Kundalini yoga.

I got back into Zumba with a vengeance.

I made a tote bag and sold nine of them and made some money for the first time in my entire life based on a product that I created.

I became a better mom.

I had lots of great mommy dates with Pippa, including two trips to Disneyland.

I bonded with Julian and now he is such a mama’s boy and we have so much fun together.

Nathan and I went on tons of dates.

I painted painted painted and even posted a half dozen paintings for sale on Saatchi Art.  I did not sell any paintings and THAT IS FINE.  I feel totally great that I took the risk and put myself out there.

I wore my Fitbit all the time and walked 10,000 steps nearly every day.  I embraced the power and joy of MOVEMENT.

I became a Warrior Mom Ambassador for Postpartum Progress.

What an awesome year it has been!

My 2017 Intentions

Very broadly speaking, these are the things I intend to do in 2017:

  • Podcast: Publish at least 30 more episodes, including at least 25 interviews with regular moms sharing their adventures with maternal mental health.
  • Memoir: I am going to finish revising and self-publish it and do my damnest to get it into as many hands as possible.
  • Youtube: Create some videos related to postpartum depression and post them online to supplement the podcast. I’m aiming for six but will be happy with two or three.
  • Blog: I love blogging so I’m going to blog 3x each week.
  • Next Warrior Mom Conference: Whenever the dates are announced, I will block them out on my calendar. And the moment tickets go on sale, I will snap mine up!
  • Climb Out Of the Darkness: I am going to be a co-leader for Team L.A. I’m going to promote the shit out of it and want 100 moms to join me in celebrating our climbs out of the darkness of maternal mental illness.  I also want to raise $5000 for Postpartum Progress.
  • Postpartum Progress Community: Postpartum Progress provides peer support for moms who have or had maternal mental illness. I am very proud to now be a Warrior Mom Ambassador for Postpartum Progress. I am going to be very active in the Facebook groups and provide support for moms who need it.
  • Postpartum Depression Journal/Workbook: I have ideas for this, stay tuned.
  • Email List: I am going to grow my list and send out a newsletter twice a month with bonus materials like journaling prompts and book excerpts.
  • Society 6: I created and sold a tote bag in 2016 and I’m going to create even more tote bags and other products in 2017.
  • Painting: When I paint, I am a better happier person. I slacked and got lazy and let my paints sit idle this month. This year, I’m going to paint every day. EVERY DAY. Even if for only five minutes. I’m also going to open at Etsy shop and do my best to sell some of my works.
  • Dance: Aw man, I love Zumba and I am going to keep doing it as long as my body lets me. But you know what I also want to do? Tap! So I’m getting myself some big girl tap shoes for my birthday and doing all the Youtube videos I can find. And also, I’m finally going to learn the Thriller dance and check out different dance styles on youtube.
  • Girls Nights: I had a few nights out with friends in 2016 and I want even more this year. There will be roller skating. Oh yes, there will be roller skating.
  • Fun: I had lots of fun in 2016 and I’m going to keep on having fun this year. I think it’s important to stay intentional about having fun because it’s so easy to get swept away by laundry and dirty dishes and what the eff is that shit under the fridge, but that’s not the important stuff. But fun? That’s important.
  • Nature: I live in the city but my soul needs nature just as much as my body needs water and food and air. So I am going to make a point of getting outside and seeking out trees and grass and dirt and rocks and ocean waves and big stunning expanses of sky.
  • Book Fair: I’m going to keep doing this for Pippa’s preschool but I intend to use the help of volunteers more. People want to help, so I will share the load.
  • Friendships and Family: I intend to make time for this because all of the other stuff is meaningless if I don’t stay connected with the people I love.
  • Nathan: We were really good at having date nights in 2016 and I we will do that again in 2017. But in 2016, we got a bit lazy about the things we do at night after the kids go to bed. We used to play board games and video games in addition to watching t.v. and I intend to get us back into that practice.
  • Pippa: My girl needs mommy dates, so we will keep having them. She loves the art museum, so I see that in our future.
  • Julian: Oh he is just full of kisses and joy, and I intend to soak it all up and spend lots of mornings at the playground with my little boy.
  • Our Family of Four: This year, we will take at least one little trip somewhere out of town, just the four of us. I want to visit the mountains this summer.
  • Mind/Body/Spirit: Depression fragments and divides the mind, body and spirit. I intend to continue healing from postpartum depression and integrate these parts of myself into a unified whole. I will explore different ways to do this, like Kundalini yoga and Soulcycle. My therapist and I are working on this together. I think it will be a major theme for 2017.
  • Fiction Writing: I love my memoir but I have wanted to write fiction all my life. And so I will. I outlined a novel last month and I will write it as soon as I’m done revising my memoir.
  • Women of Hamelin: The novel I outlined is a romantic comedy but I also am working on a big epic fantasy novel. This year, I’m going to do things to prepare myself for that project. There’s a guy in Pasadena who teaches archery and wilderness survival classes.  I am going to take some of those classes.
  • Decluttering: I did a lot of decluttering during the second half of 2016 and will continue on this adventure. It has been good for my soul, so freaking good. I waste a lot of time dealing with inventory management so I’m determined to reduce our inventory.
  • Poetry: I journal every day and lately, my journaling has leaned more towards the poetic than prose. I will continue exploring this and publish some poems here. And I’m going to submit some poems to magazines because hey, why not?
  • Learning: I love love love to learn and it’s something I naturally do. But I want to make sure I keep learning and in that spirit, I will visit five new museums in 2017. (New includes museums I have not visited in over a decade.)
  • Crafting: Last but not least (it’s all important!), I will craft. I love crafting and it always relaxes me. So I will craft with my kids and I will craft after they go to bed. For years, I have been fascinated by paper mache so 2017 is the year I will finally suck it up and mix together some glue and paper and make a deer head for the wall.

Whew, I need a nap. And if you read all of this, you deserve a cookie.

Intentionality

I’ve been thinking about intentionality ever since I listened to this episode of the Elise Gets Crafty podcast.  During 2016, I tuned in to my intuition, but suddenly I could not get the word “intentional” out of my head.  How could I listen to my intuition and also be intentional at the same time?  Should I even try to be intentional?

On Tuesday, I sat down to write and my thoughts turned to 2016. It was morning, and I was at my favorite coffee shop across the street from my therapist’s office. In an hour, we’d be meeting for the last time of the year. Seemed like a good time to reflect.

So I wrote and wrote and wrote about 2016 and listed all the things I had done.  Then my thoughts turned to 2017, so I started to write about all the things I want to do in the coming year.  I had a lot of ideas and as I wrote, a plan emerged.  Then I started to plot out the year.

That’s when I realized I was being intentional.I have not lived a very intentional life. Or rather, I have not been as intentional as I want to be. Maybe it seemed too risky?

For years, almost my entire life, I have wanted to be a writer. So what did I do? I majored in history and went to law school and just kept vaguely thinking that I wanted to be a writer while working at one firm and then another and using up all my energy to write letters to opposing counsel and go to court and do all sorts of stuff that shredded my soul.  All the while, I dreamed of writing and dabbled with it, but I never got intentional. I never made a plan for how and when I was going to make the transition from lawyer to writer.

Well, now I am being intentional and it does not feel risky – it feels life affirming. In 2017, I intend to finish revising my memoir about postpartum depression and publish it. And then, I’m going to write a novel and do my best to publish it before the end of the year.

I have a lot more intentions for 2017, but methinks this post is getting a bit long. Check back tomorrow for my 2017 Intentions!

A New Adventure!

Today I begin a new adventure: weaning myself off Zoloft.

I first started taking Zoloft in July 2013 when I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. I had to quit cold turkey in early March 2015 when I got pregnant with my son Julian. I started taking Zoloft again a few days after he was born.

My psychiatrist and I have talked about this decision a lot and we both agree that now is the right time. So I’m doing this slooooow and steady. It’s not a race!

My usual dose has been 150 mg each day. Today I took 125 mg. Tomorrow and the next day, I’ll take 150 mg. Then 125 mg again and two more days of 150 mg.

I hesitated to write about this here, but I want to be open since there is so much shame surrounding mental illness and medications. Talking and sharing is good, and I don’t see why this should be any different.

That said, I’m not a doctor! And my psychiatrist is not your psychiatrist! Everyone is different – different medical histories, different body chemistry, different hormones, different life events, different everything. What works for me is not necessarily what will work for you. I want to be open about this next adventure, but please please please remember to consult with your doctor before you start trying to wean yourself off an SSRI.

Fun With Swaddling

They say hindsight is 20/20, and that is definitely as I look back at my descent into postpartum depression. When I had PPD, I had no idea what was happening to me.  Looking back, I can see all sorts of red flag behaviors.

For example, when we were in the maternity ward, swaddling made me feel like a terrible mother.  Whenever the nurses tended to Pippa, they always returned her in an expert swaddle.  Then Nathan and I would change her diaper and we could never swaddle her half as well as the nurses.

I felt so awkward and embarrassed whenever a nurse came for Pippa and witnessed our half-assed attempts at swaddling.  Just a few weeks earlier, Nathan and I had watched a video that made swaddling look so simple; but now that we had an actual baby, we were clearly too stupid to master this advanced science.

I berated myself for being so inept.  What the hell had I been doing the last nine months?  I should have been swaddling and reswaddling anything that resembled a baby: teddy bears; sacks of flour; vanilla milkshakes; my purse; my sister’s miniature dachshund Rowan; the neighborhood cats.  I should have swaddled until I could swaddle with my eyes closed during an earthquake.  I should have studied with a Swaddling Master, even if that meant traveling to a distant mountain village, where a blind elder would make me tend a flock of sheep and weave a swaddling blanket of my own.

The nurses swaddled Pippa again and again, and I watched them again and again, but I could not understand what they were doing.  Fold here, wrap there, tuck here, activate the nuclear button here… this science was too much for my feeble brain and clumsy fingers.

I did not know it at the time, but every time I twisted the swaddling blanket the wrong way, I was slipping a little further down the slippery slope of postpartum depression.