The Guilt

When I had postpartum depression I felt so much guilt. All the time. It was like an appendage.

If I went to bed early, I felt guilty about abandoning Nathan.  But if I went to bed at a normal time, I felt guilty that I was being too needy and clingy, not letting him have some downtime.

I felt guilty about making breakfast.  What sort of mother was I?  Leaving Pippa to play on her mat for five minutes unattended so I could prepare a bowl of oatmeal?  MONSTER!!!!

I felt guilty about leaving Pippa alone in her crib to start a load of laundry.  I should have waited until Pippa went to bed at night to do chores.

I felt guilty that I was not leaving the house more often.

I felt guilty about wanting to leave the house.

I felt guilty for feeling guilt.

I felt guilty for not feeling guilty enough.

Sound Bath

I went to a Sound Bath last weekend at The Awareness Center in Pasadena. I got a Groupon for The Awareness Center late last year and I have been experimenting with Kundalini yoga, but the Sound Bath was a new experience.

Damnit I wish I had taken photos.  Oh well! (Thank god for clipart on Etsy.)

When I entered, the room was filled with Tibetan singing bowls. I have a small singing bowl at home that I use when I meditate at night. but these bowls were much more substantial and generally bad ass.

For the first half of the Sound Bath, we did Kundalini yoga, which is not Your Mama’s Gym Yoga. Kundalini yoga is a very spiritual practice, with lots of chanting and deep breathing and movement. There’s always a new move for me to learn. At the Sound Bath, we tapped our chests and then increased the intensity until we were beating them like outraged gorillas. Sounds hokey, but it was exhilarating.

Then it was time for the concert. We lay down on our mats and closed our eyes and the teachers started to strike the gong and different singing bowls. At one point, a teacher placed a  bowl on my chest, right above my heart, so I could feel the vibrations entering my body. It was very energizing and inspiring.

Except for the snoring gentleman directly to my left.

Oy vey, he fell asleep right away. Occasionally, a particularly vigorous gong strike would wake him and the snoring would stop and I’d be able to hear all the chimes and gongs purely. But then the snoring would start back up.

I was able to ignore the snoring for most of the Sound Bath.  Or rather, it was there, and I could hear it, but it did not bother me.

But after a half hour, it got into my head and my entire body tensed and my stress hormones went into crazy mode. I got up and tiptoed across the room and took a new mat so I could enjoy the rest of the bath undisturbed.

I could still hear the snores only now they seemed to echo and ping all around the room.

This did not improve my mood.

I was very annoyed when the Sound Bath was over. Right before I got into my car, I asked a young woman if she had heard snoring. She laughed and said, “Yes, that always happens.”  She seemed unperturbed by the noise nuisance.

This added a new layer to my annoyance. I vowed to never attend another Sound Bath.

But now, a feel days later, I have processed my feelings. I have only just added meditation to my life. I’m at the beginning of that journey and journeys are not perfect. Roads get bumpy, the map might lead us astray and sometimes the gentleman to our left falls asleep and snores during a Sound Bath. That doesn’t mean I have to give up on meditation.

I think I will attend another Sound Bath. And if someone falls asleep and snores, maybe I’ll be able to rise above the snores a little longer than this past time. Who knows? It’s an adventure!

Episode 33: Victoria’s Story

This week, Victoria Smith shares her story of postpartum depression and anxiety.

Victoria has a personal history with depression, so she knew she was at risk for postpartum depression; but one month into her pregnancy, she was blindsided by the news that her parents were divorcing.  The next nine months were so stressful, she even got shingles.

Victoria planned on having an epidural, but because of the position she needed to lie in during labor, it did not work.  So she had an unplanned natural childbirth which was traumatic.

Her son had colic and went on three hour crying jags.

We’re sharing this photo because this moment — the crying red-faced alien — is as much a part the transition to motherhood as all the tranquil moments depicted on commercials.

Victoria’s mission is to help women achieve their goals and to help them live their best life possible. Victoria blogs at Girl Tries Life and her podcast of the same name launches March 1, 2017. She can also be found on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @girltrieslife.

Episode 32: The 2020 Mom Conference

Whew, this was a big episode!  Postpartum Progress announced that Warrior Mom Con 2017 is happening November 3-4 in Denver, Colorado. Woot woot!  I am so excited.  And registration has opened for The Climb Out of the Darkness.  Click HERE to register or donate or just head over to Crowdrise.com.

Earlier this week, I went to the 2020 Mom Conference, Emerging Considerations in Maternal Mental Health: the link to Hormones, Inflammation and Policy in Action.  Speaker slides and handouts are available already right HERE. It was a great day, and I will definitely be going again next year.

Videos from the conference will soon be available on 2020 Mom’s YouTube channel.  I’ll update when I have a link for that.

Ken Ventanilla shared the story of the loss of his wife and their newborn Shane.  I remember hearing about their deaths on the news, and I am so grateful he came to the conference and spoke.

Dr. Samantha Meltzer Brody spoke about the impact of hormonal changes during pregnancy and their effect on postpartum depression. (Spoiler alert: hormones affect PPD!) But on a serious note, it is so encouraging to hear about cutting-edge research that scientists are doing. I can’t repeat back all the scientific names, but I do know that scientists are working hard to fine tune different treatments for postpartum depression.

Dr. Kathleen Kendall Tacket gave a great talk on inflammation and depression. Bottom line: inflammation increases your risk of depression.

Erica Julson, a registered dietician nutritionist, talked more about inflammation and depression, recommending a Mediterranean diet to combat depression.  America’s Test Kitchen has a new cookbook, The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook, that she recommends. I already ordered my copy and will report back on how I like it!

We also heard about federal policy and the Maryland and California Commission Reports. Since the California Reports is being presented in Sacramento at the end of February, I’ll wait until then to report back on their findings.

Episode 29: Chelsea’s Story

In Episode 29, Chelsea shared her story of postpartum depression and anxiety, including intrusive thoughts and suicidal ideation. For professional reasons, Chelsea has decided to remain anonymous

Chelsea took the above photo on September 7, 2016.  That was the first day in almost a year that she really noticed how beautiful things are around her.  She had to park her car and take a photo to remind herself to be mindful and acknowledge beauty.

Shortly after we spoke, Chelsea had a really hard week with anxiety. With the help of her health team, Chelsea decided to be voluntarily admitted to the hospital for five days as she was not feeling safe at home.  At the time of her admission, none of her family knew about her struggles.  Her husband did not even know how bad things were because she felt like she didn’t want to burden him.

This was officially Chelsea’s rock bottom.

But the great news is that after having intense treatment, sleep and a lot of support from her healthcare team, Chelsea feels like things are finally turning around and her admission may have been the best decision she has ever made.

Her entire family is now aware of how much she is struggling.  They are aware that it is part of the illness to isolate and not want to tell people how you are feeling.  And Chelsea’s husband has been the most incredible man on earth and she is really comfortable telling him now when she is struggling.

She is seeing an outpatient program on a weekly basis and recently got off the waitlist for the Eating Disorder program.  Now that her anxiety had reduced, she is eating in a much healthier way.

Chelsea’s husband is attending a peer support group for family members with mental illness as well as going to counseling for himself.  his family is taking the kids for one day on the weekend now so they can focus on building up their marriage.

Chelsea says: “There were SO many good things that came from accepting that I could not do this on my own and I am really excited to see how the next few months improve.”

Chelsea, you are such an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

Climb Out Of The Darkness!

I am so excited to be co-leading Team LA for the 2017 Climb Out of the Darkness, the world’s largest event raising awareness about maternal mood disorders. It is organized by Postpartum Progress, an amazing nonprofit that is dedicated to ending the stigma that haunts this very common illness.

If you live in the L.A. area, we’d love to have you join the team! Head over to Crowdrise or just click HERE to register or donate.

We have not picked the exact location yet, but we will be hiking on Saturday, June 24th. We always hike on or close to the longest day of the year in order to shed the most light on the darkness of maternal mental illness.

It’s an amazing chance to connect with other moms who have traveled through the darkness. EVERYONE is welcome, including people who have never suffered from depression, anxiety or another mood disorder. The more, the merrier!

For the full lowdown, head HERE to find a climb near you or start a climb of your own. You can lead a team or just solo climb. I solo climbed my first year in 2014, and it was a beautiful and meaningful morning that was an important part of my recovery. If you want to lead a climb, don’t be intimidated! A team can be as big or little as you like. Every team makes a difference and helps shed more light on maternal mood disorders.

Adventures With Weaning!

Since my last weaning post, I have been feeling pretty damn good. I went back to 150 mg of Zoloft every morning for three days and quickly felt more like myself. Then I went back to 125 mg of Zoloft with no withdrawal symptoms.

I have been back on 125 mg for a week now and saw my psychiatrist this morning. We discussed the way I have felt and decided to continue gradually tapering me off the Zoloft. I will slowly reduce my dose over the next couple of weeks down to 100 mg.

But, the week before my period, I will go back to 125 mg. Just to give my hormones a little something-something extra. I have to keep reminding myself: this is not a race. No one is grading me or handing out medals.

So right now, I’m still on 125 mg of Zoloft every day. But tomorrow, I’ll just take 100 mg. Then I’ll take 125 for two days, then 100 mg, slow and steady. Woot woot!

Memoir Update

I am getting so close to being finished with my memoir.

SO CLOSE.

My editor gave me some tremendous feedback and I have been working hard the past two weeks to transform my manuscript. Then, I’ll flip my revised version back to my editor for one more round of edits.

Then I’ll make those edits.

And that’s it. Then I self-publish.

Woot woot!