Episode 67: Emily Richter’s Story

This week, Emily Richter shares her story on the show. Emily was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder as a child. Medication helped her cope and seemed to bring her symptoms under control. In high school, she decided to wean off the medications and felt well for many years.

Both pregnancy and childbirth went well for Emily. In hindsight, she realizes she should have been talking about mental health issues with her doctor from the beginning of her pregnancy, but her OCD and anxiety disorders were not at the front of her mind.
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After she gave birth, it took Emily a few months to admit she had a postpartum mood disorder. She assumed at first that her feelings were just due to the normal new parent experience of exhaustion and around-the-clock feedings. When her anxiety interfered with her ability to care for her son, she realized something was wrong.

When Emily’s baby cried, she would collapse to the floor herself, crying, She did not think she could be a mother. She felt more resentment than love towards her son. Emily went online and took some self-diagnostic quizzes which confirmed her growing suspicion that she had a postpartum mood disorder but she still waited a few weeks to call and make an appointment with her doctor. Emily finally realized she was not bonding with her baby, and that motivated her to make an appointment.

For Emily, OCD was experienced as anxious thoughts. She had obsessive thoughts about breastfeeding. Her heart would start racing if the baby made a noise and then Emily would be unable to sleep.

Her scariest thoughts happened at night. She had fears of hurting and losing her baby. Emily had a history of inappropriate thoughts but having a baby kicked it to a new level.

After several months of suffering, Emily saw her primary care doctor. She cried. She explained that she thought she had postpartum depression. Emily and her doctor decided she would start taking medication, Paxil, which was exactly what Emily needed.

At first, Emily’s progress was slow. But a few weeks after starting medication, Emily realized she could finally say she loved her son.

After she was on medication for awhile, Emily started seeing a therapist. She is working with the therapist now so that she is prepared if and when she has a second child.

Right now, her son is two years old. (He turned two in March.) Around the time of his first birthday, she felt like herself again and weaned off Paxil. She is still doing therapy.

During her interview, Emily talked a lot about breastfeeding issues. Listen to the episode now on iTunes, Google Play and Podomatic for the full discussion.

In June 2018, Emily is leading Team Hershey for the Climb Out of the Darkness. For many mamas, including Emily, leading or participating in a Climb is a very cathartic experience. Check out Team Hershey to join Emily’s Team, or learn more about the Climb Out of the Darkness in general to find a Team near you.  Head over HERE if you want to donate to Emily’s Climb.

Emily blogs about her experiences at The OCD Mama. You can also follow her OCD Mama page on Facebook.

Thanks, Emily, for coming on the show! I loved talking to you and I’m thrilled to share your story with the Adventures with Postpartum Depression community.

What Will My Daughter Think?

Here’s the thing about hosting a podcast and publishing a book about my experiences with postpartum depression: my story is out in the world and I can’t call it back. Someday, my children will know my entire story. Not just the PG parts but the Rated R “suicidal/thinking about throwing my baby” parts.

What will Pippa think when she knows the full story?

(I don’t worry so much about Julian’s reaction to my story since he did not live it. Pippa, though, was there for the entire adventure.)

Nathan read my memoir before I published it. I gave him absolute veto power. He did not exercise that power, but he was concerned that I decided to share — multiple times and in graphic detail — about the dark thoughts I had about throwing Pippa. He reminded me that Pippa is going to read my book someday and it might be difficult for her to know I had these thoughts. I understand his concerns.

But I was not going to edit the scary, ugly bits out of my story.

Pippa might experience postpartum depression someday. I want her to know it’s okay and that no matter how dark her darkness gets, she will find the light and recover. At least, that’s my rationalization for including every part of my story.

But you want to know the real reason I included all of the darkest details of my postpartum story in my memoir? Because my intuition told me to, and my intuition really knows her stuff. My intuition told me to write the book, and the experience of writing my memoir was so important to my recovery that I want to help other moms write their postpartum memoirs. My intuition then told me to start a podcast, and the podcast is so rewarding, I want to inspire other people to start their own shows. And when it came time for revising my memoir, my intuition told me to keep all the dark bits, and so that’s what I did.

I know, in my gut-heart-soul, that Pippa will understand that my dark thoughts are not a reflection on my love for her. She might have some complicated, messy feelings about this someday, but you know what I have learned? Complicated, messy feelings are beautiful. When the time comes for Pippa to read my book and process the gory details, we’ll process her feelings together. It’ll be another adventure!

Episode 66: On Stomach Bugs, Food and Spiritual Journeys

First and foremost, head RIGHT HERE for your free copy of my memoir, Adventures with Postpartum Depression! You can also buy the ebook right now on Amazon. (and for some annoying reason, I can’t get the image to center, but ah, breathe out, release my drive to be perfect, and hey, I’m letting this go!)

Money is beautiful, and actual sales do help the Amazon search algorithms. (Also, I like to use the word “algorithm” whenever possible because it makes me sound smart.) Whether you buy or not, reviews are incredibly helpful and help people find the book.

I talked a lot about food during this episode. The book that I mentioned is Geneen Roth’s Women Food and GodWomen Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything“>. For anyone who is ready for a new approach to weight, I highly recommend it.

I also mentioned the Alison Show. I love Alison. She is such an incredible inspiration. Her podcast, Awesome with Alison, is my absolute favorite podcast. Whenever a new episode drops, I listen right away. Head over to TheAlisonShow.com to learn more.

Finally, whew, Playing Monopoly With God, the one-woman show about postpartum psychosis, will be in New York from May 17-20, 2018. There’s a live broadcast that you can watch anywhere with an internet connection – but you have to register in advance! – on Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. Head over to Playing Monopoly with God to learn more.

Thank you for listening and I hope you have a lovely week.

Episode 65: Rachel’s Story

This week, Rachel Duff shares her postpartum story. Rachel is a twenty-two year old single mother to five kids, two earthside: Rosalee who is two years old and Sebastian who is nine months old, and three angels: Anne-Marie (would be three years old) and Emery and Emmett (who would be 10 months old).

After a traumatic emergency c-section with her first delivery, Rachel became obsessed with birth and more specifically natural birth, VBACs and home birth. When she became pregnant with Sebastian, she was determined to have a VBAC and despite many challenges (Oklahoma is not VBAC friendly) was successful.

During her interview, Rachel opened up about a lot of important issues, including:

  • Two miscarriages
  • Issues with breastfeeding
  • An emergency c-section
  • Money issues
  • Relationship issues with her ex-fiancé, and
  • Self-harming.

As part of her struggles with postpartum anxiety, Rachel started cutting herself. This was something she did in high school but she had not cut herself for three and a half years. After the birth of her second child, she relapsed and started cutting herself again. Terrified that she would lose her children, she hid the cutting from everyone. She only cut herself at work. As time went on, the cuts got deeper and deeper. The last time she cut herself, she was bleeding through her jeans. This served as a wake-up call and she gave her blade to her ex and stopped harming herself.

Rachel, it is so incredibly brave of you to share this part of your story. Thank you. I know you are helping someone who desperately needs to hear your story.

Rachel is passionate about many things, including her family, her new springerdoodle Charlie, birth, The Office, Grey’s Anatomy and science. She hopes to one day either go to school for nursing or become a doula/midwife assistant. But until then, she enjoys working third shift as a laboratory tech.

You can follow Rachel on Instagram at @rachduffokc or you can follow her puppy (yeah, she’s that person) at @not_so_sorry_charlie.

I published my book!

The e-book version of my memoir Adventures with Postpartum Depression is now available on Amazon and I’d be tickled pink if you buy a copy:

 

That’s an affiliate link there. It does not increase the price of the book for the buyer, but I get a few cents back from Amazon’s cut. And hey, I wrote the book, shouldn’t I get the money?

Though seriously, I am so grateful to live in an era when it is so easy to be a self-published author and share your truths and stories with the world. In the coming weeks, I intend to post a lot here to explain the writing process. I will also have lots of journaling prompts for readers who feel inspired to start writing their postpartum stories.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me on this journey! I always feel as if I am fully recovered from PPD but now that my book is out in the world, I feel even better.

Episode 64: Laurie’s Story

Laurie Syphard is the mother of two little girls, ages seven and a half and two and a half. She experienced postpartum depression after the birth of her first daughter.

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Laurie had an amazing pregnancy with no symptoms of a postpartum mood disorder. She had, however, experienced some anxiety during her late teens and early twenties. This put her at risk for a maternal mood disorder, but no one ever connected the dots and discussed the possibility with her.

Her mood disorder started with a scheduled c-section (her daughter was breach). Laurie was blind sided by the onset of extreme anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. She often wanted to sleep to escape her symptoms but had trouble sleeping because of her anxiety.

She talked with a therapist she had seen before she gave birth, but the therapist was less than helpful. (If you already listened to the episode, then you know I am doing my best to be polite here! Because seriously %#$@!!!)

Talking was not enough to get Laurie out of the physical and hormonal experience of extreme anxiety. She started taking medications but it took several months for her to start feeling better.

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A big part of Laurie’s postpartum adventure was adjusting to her new life as a stay-at-home mom after being a successful professional for many years.

Laurie’s obsessions concerned tasks and routines. For example, with breastfeeding, she focused on the logistics of cleaning pump parts and obsessing over when the baby would need to feed again. She also obsessed over the packing the diaper bag, like how many outfits she would need in case of a poopy blowout. She wanted to get out of the house but it was difficult with all the logistics she felt the need to control.

Laurie sensed something was wrong, that her experiences ran deeper than the baby blues, but she did not know what was happening to her. She found some articles online at Postpartum Progress that helped her understand that anxiety and OCD can be part of postpartum depression. One of my favorite blog posts from Postpartum Progress is The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression & Anxiety (in Plain Mama English).

Laurie did not experience a mood disorder after the birth of her second child. She took medication throughout her second pregnancy and while breastfeeding. She was supported by a new therapist and a new obstetrician. She did not suffer from any anxiety or OCD. (Hooray!)

Laurie and another warrior mom, Samantha Dowd, started a support group for postpartum moms at a local hospital. If you are in the Maryland area, check out the postpartum group at Sinai Hospital.  

Laurie and I talked about how advocacy work has helped us heal from our postpartum adventures. Laurie is considering participating in the advocacy days in D.C. this May. Learn more about that from 2020 Mom right here.  

Last but not least, Laurie enjoyed reading Brooke Shields’s memoir Down Came the Rain. I recommend the book as well.   

Thanks for coming on the show, Laurie, and so bravely sharing your story!

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