Episode 57: Katie’s Paleo Journey and The Six Root Causes of Postpartum Depression

Katie Flores is a wellness coach, advocate for maternal mental health, and host of the newly launched Natural Postpartum Support Podcast. She was first on the show on Episode 43 in May 2017. Check out that episode if you want to hear more about her postpartum adventures. We talked a lot about thyroid issues during that interview.

Since Episode 43, Katie has been on a “Paleo Journey.” For almost the past year, she has been dairy and gluten free. She has made a lot of health changes and is feeling better than ever. For example, she used to get hormonal headaches that lasted her entire period; but during her last visit from dear Aunt Flo, she did not get any headache. She is also sleeping better and her cravings for junk food have decreased.

(Why yes, Katie’s story has definitely inspired me to make some health changes. How’d you guess?)

Katie knew she had to dig deeper into the root causes of her health issues. So the last time we talked, Katie found that postpartum depression was a symptom of issues with her thyroid, but she could not stop thinking: what was the root cause of her thyroid issues?

She did lots of reading and research and identified six root causes of postpartum depression. She has created a root cause assessment test that you can take at KatieEFLores.com/rootcause

The six root causes are:

  1. Traumatic loss
  2. traumatic stress
  3. heavy metals and toxins
  4. electrolyte deficiency
  5. adrenal dysfunction and last but not least 
  6. viral infection

The first two root causes are emotional. Traumatic loss includes things like the death of a loved one, loss of a job, or loss of identity. Katie’s friend Diana Collins lost her best friend to postpartum depression and experienced postpartum depression herself when she became a mom. Her podcast Always With Me dives into postpartum issues. (I have not had a chance to listen, but I will definitely be listening soon!)  

The other root causes are physical. Katie has lots of great tips for detoxifying all the toxins in the liver, which acts as the body’s filter and gets clogged up with all sorts of gunk. Katie tries to eat five foods every day to detoxify her liver: WILD blueberries; spirulina; barley grass juice powder; cilantro; and atlantic dulse. You might not find all these foods at your local grocery store, but Amazon can deliver them right to your door! Katie puts almost all of these ingredients in her morning smoothie.

Coconut water is great for restoring electrolytes and you can add that straight to your smoothie as well.

Also: don’t get overwhelmed! You don’t have to overhaul your life in one day. Maybe just pick up some wild blueberries the next time you are making a grocery run. I want to get back into the morning smoothie groove, but I know the habit will not stick if I try to get all these ingredients into my body at once. Baby steps, folks, baby steps!

Lemon in your water also helps with liver detox and electrolyte deficiency.

Katie has been greatly inspired by Anthony William, a.k.a. The Medical Medium. He is the author of several books, including Thyroid Healing and Life-Changing Foods. (And yes, I have already added these books to my Amazon Wishlist. If only I could download all the books that interest me into my head at once.) Katie has dived into the Medical Medium’s information about depression to sort through postpartum issues.

Katie’s podcast is now available to stream or download on iTunes and Stitcher. Visit her website KatieEFlores.com or follow her on IG @KatieEFlores.

Thanks, Katie for coming back on the show and sharing all the wonderful things you have been learning on your postpartum journey! If you haven’t already, you should definitely check out her show, the Natural Postpartum Support Podcast.

Thoughts on Self Care

I used to be the sort of person that waited until my car was down to at least an 1/8 of a tank before hitting the gas station. This caused all sorts of chaos, necessitating emergency trips to the gas station at the most inconvenient times.

It’s been twenty-three years since I got my driver’s license, and I have finally accepted the truth: it’s easier to fill my car’s tank when it’s only half empty instead of waiting until the fuel light shines its warning.

A couple of weeks ago, as I was topping off my tank at Arco, I realized self care is a lot like fueling my car. I might think it makes sense to push myself until I am running on fumes and then get a massage or pedicure; but in the long run, I feel better if I keep filling up my tank all the time, keeping it as close to full as possible. Then, when there’s a crisis like a sick toddler or husband going out of town for work, I’m as close to full as possible and I don’t have to worry about my self-care warning light.

I don’t drive around with my fuel light on anymore, so why should I let my self-care light get any use either?

A Love Letter to My Hormones

Yesterday I wrote a break up letter to Sugar. That felt soooo good. This morning, when I sat down to journal, I felt compelled to write a letter to my hormones.

Dear Hormones,

I broke up with Sugar yesterday. I have been in love — or rather, something that I thought was love, but really was self-loathing — most of my life. As part of my tormented relationship with Sugar, I hated you. I blamed you every time I felt physically crappy. My Sweet Beautiful Hormones, you were my scapegoat.

I’m sorry.

I want to fall in love with you and honor you for all that you do.

You made my babies! Two beautiful perfect delicious babies who are the best people I know. But instead of thanking you for all your amazing hard work, I just got angry about all the pregnancy nausea and constipation.

I’m done with anger. I don’t like it.

Also, this might sound weird, but I think you need a name. I could call you Hormones, but that creates a distance between you and me, but there should not be any emotional distance between us because you are MINE. You work for me, you make my life possible, you are part of me. So you need a name that honors that.  

But I can’t just name you Helen or Hermione because you are plural, you are many, you are estrogen and progesterone and all sorts of names I am learning but can’t remember yet. I don’t want a name that diminishes your magic. I’ll have to think about this. Okay, I’ll get back to you on the name front and keep calling you Hormones for now until I can think of something worthy.

Because you are worthy. You are part of me, so when I hate you, I hate part of me, and I deserve better. I deserve total and absolute love and adoration.  

Through journaling, I have learned something: writing makes things true. I don’t mean I can write “dogs are green” and suddenly all dogs are green. But I can write “I am beautiful” and once I write that enough, I transform my heart until I truly believe that I am beautiful. (And it’s true! I am beautiful!)

So I am going to write this here and in my journal and I am going to shout it to the world: I love my hormones! I love my hormones! I love my hormones!

I felt a touch of resistance to that idea as I wrote it. A little shudder in my brain. My brain does not like that idea. My brain thinks I’m supposed to hate my hormones. That is what my brain has been taught by the world.

Can I let you in on a little secret? I can rewire my brain. It’s true! I learned all about it in cognitive behavioral therapy after I had postpartum depression. I rewired my brain to be less anxious. I rewired my brain to stop getting flooded with guilt all the time. And since then, I have rewired my brain to be more calm, mindful, loving and patient. So rewiring my brain to love you, my sweet beautiful enchanting Hormones, will be easy.

(I really need to think of a name for you!)

I love you, Hormones, you are utterly magnificent.

I love you, Hormones, for all that you do.

I love you, Hormones, for drawing my attention to some changes I need to make to the way I live my life.

And this love is not limited to words. I am going to prove my love again and again through my actions! I gave up Sugar yesterday for me but also for YOU. Yes, Hormones, I gave up Sugar so that you can work the way you are meant to work. I am reading up on the science, and though I have a lot to learn, I understand this: Sugar fucks with My Hormones. The Sugar I was inhaling was hurting you, my beautiful precious Hormones, so I have banished it from my life.

More changes are coming. I’ll keep you posted.

I am sorry for all the harm I have done to you over the years. I promise things are going to be better from here on out.

Love, adoration, respect and gratitude,

Courtney

Episode 56: Nikki’s Story and the Climb Out of the Darkness

This week, Nikki shares her journey through postpartum depression and anxiety. She is the mother of two little boys and lives in the Atlanta, Georgia area.

Nikki experienced anxiety after the birth of her first child, but she had a history of anxiety. She assume the postpartum anxiety was within the range of normal new mom feelings. It was not until her second child was 10 months old that she realized something had to change.

For Nikki, the anxiety came first and as it worsened, it caused depression. She felt like she couldn’t go anywhere or leave the house. She felt like she was constantly on the verge of something horrific happening. (Oh my goodness, I can relate!) As Nikki got more and more isolated and lonely, the depression worsened.

Nikki 1

Nikki sometimes had panic attacks but her anxiety was mostly in her head. She felt irritable and experienced rage over things that did not matter. She also had insomnia but did not know it at the time.

Nikki did not have time for self-care. She felt like she had to do everything herself. She is so glad she eventually asked for and got help. In January 2017, she called her gynecologist. They wanted to prescribe medication but asked her to see a therapist first. This was scary and Nikki was afraid the authorities were going to take her kids away. (Again, I can totally relate.)

Nikki saw her therapist twice a month and Zoloft quickly helped her stabilize. She had a relapse during the stress of the holidays, went back to therapy and had her medications adjusted. Now she is feeling great.

Through her recovery, Nikki learned she doesn’t have to feel good all the time. I love that idea. Motherhood is beautiful but it’s also tough. We should not have to enjoy every single moment. We are allowed to have crappy days.

Last year, Nikki participated in the Climb Out of the Darkness. It was a very symbolic experience, struggling up the mountain. Her team climbed Stone Mountain and I can tell you from personal experience that hike is no joke.

Nikki 2

This year, Nikki is leading Team Dacula and instead of a hike, they’ll be doing a lovely walk on pavement. The symbolism of a hike is great, but sometimes, we just need a walk to bring people together and honor the struggle to overcome maternal mood disorders. 

As part of her recovery, Nikki’s therapist asked her to make mom friends. Easier said than done! Her local friends were not struggling, so she started Maternal Mental Health Support. This is a group on Facebook that anyone can join (I’m a member!) and they also meet in Atlanta for Mom’s Night Out and playgroups. Bravo, Nikki!

Nikki has learned the importance of self-care. When we become moms, it’s easy to lose track of who we are. Nikki suggests trying to remember what your hobbies were before you had a baby and then adjust your expectations. Nikki loves scrapbooking. Now that she is in the trenches of motherhood with two little boys, she tries to spend a little time being creative everyday, stealing quick moments to make cards. She loves having something visual to show that she accomplished something.

Sharing her story has helped Nikki recover from postpartum anxiety and depression, but she cautions moms to share with safe people. Don’t share your story with a judgmental mom who thinks everything is the baby blues. She doesn’t need to know your journey. At least, not until you are 110% recovered. (And maybe not even then.)

Nikki mentioned the PSI Warmline, a great resource for moms struggling with maternal mood disorders. The number is 1-800-944-4PPD and a person with information about local resources will call you back.

Thank you, Nikki, for sharing your adventures!

To support Nikki’s climb, you can donate right HERE.

To join Team Dacula, head right HERE.

A Farewell to Sugar

For the past five and a half years, I have been either pregnant or on Zoloft. I am in the midst of my second menstrual cycle since taking my last dose of anti-depressants. The PMS is horrifying.

It’s Day 28 of my current cycle, and my period is set to arrive at any time. I have finally emerged from a bout of PMS that made me want to tear off my skin. I was just irritated with everything and felt easily overwhelmed. I lost my patience and struggled to stay present with my children. I even had to sleep in the guest room because just the idea of sharing a bed with my sweet husband made me cringe. I knew that if he so much as breathed (as he is wont to do), I would jump out of my skin.

My adventures with postpartum depression ended so recently, but my hormonal adventures are clearly far from over. I am reading a great book, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause, and it has given me a ton of ideas. I’ll be writing a lot more about premenopause and hormones but for now, I am giving up sugar. The book has confirmed what I always knew: it destroys me.

I decided to compose a letter to Sugar to officially end our relationship. I got this idea from The Creative Penn, an amazing podcast and website for all of you aspiring writers out there.

Here’s the letter I just wrote:

Dear Sugar,

It’s over.

It’s not me. It’s you. It is most definitely you.

You are a temptress. I can’t just have you a little in my life. It’s all or nothing. And so, it’s nothing.

IT’S OVER.

You seduce with me with sweet nothings. You manipulate me by shredding my self-esteem. And then what do you give me? NOTHING BUT AGONY AND REMORSE.

Our relationship has been long, complicated, tortuous and abusive – yes, abusive. You are an addiction. You are a drug. Just one little taste, and I’m lost, slipping down the slope, from a bite of blueberry muffin into the lust of a gallon of ice cream.

It’s over, Sugar, it’s over.

Except I know, from past experience, that it’s not. Or, it’s over, except there is going to be some emotional heart ache in the coming weeks and months. Getting you out of my life is going to be hard work.

It’s going to be worth it.

I am sick of the PMS. Sick of the extra pounds. Sick of blindly eating food that makes me hate myself. Sick of binging until my stomach hurts. You turn me into something that is less than human. You keep me from my authentic self.

I think I am going to be writing you a lot of letters in the coming months.

I am ready to accept responsibility for our relationship. You will keep coming around, knocking at my door, tempting me with cake and ice cream and all manner of confection. I will be tempted, sorely tempted, to steal just a nibble, but I know the nibble is just the gateway to binge after binge after horrifying binge.

Let me be clear: it’s over.

You can knock, shriek, pound, holler, do whatever you want. I am not going to answer the door. I am not giving you an inch back into my life.

I am stronger without you. I am happier without you. And I am so much healthier.

I would say “good luck” and “best wishes,” but we both know that is not true. So let me end this letter with a more appropriate valediction.

Go fuck yourself,

Courtney

Episode 55: Vivianne’s Continued Adventures With Bipolar Disorder

This week, Vivianne is back on the show to tell us more about her postpartum adventures with bipolar spectrum disorder. But first: if you haven’t already, check out episodes 45 and 45.5 to hear the first part of her story in greater detail. (Also, mea culpa. I just realized those show notes never made it online. You know what? That’s life. I’m a mom and I can only do so much. Sometimes show notes slip through the cracks!)

Vivianne’s story started when she was a teenager. She was highly sensitive, quiet, and introverted and had an eating disorder. But she also did well at school, went to college and got married.

In July 2014, after the birth of her daughter, she felt depressed and suicidal. This continued until Fall 2015 when it felt like a switch flipped. Suddenly, after months and months of questioning her decision to have a child, Vivianne was ready for another baby.

Two or three months after her son was born, Vivianne started to feel depressed and suicidal. She also experienced expansive moods. An expansive mood is when a person quickly moves through an entire range of emotions.

In early 2017, Vivianne started a very low dose of Zoloft. This worked until April 2017 when the depression returned. Her doctor increased her dose of Zoloft. Four days after starting 75 mg of Zoloft each day, Vivianne experienced hypomania. Hypomania is “mania light.” Vivianne felt extremely happy, talked quickly, and had lots of plans.

When we last spoke during episode 45, Vivianne’s doctors were still working on her diagnosis. During Summer 2017, the bipolar diagnosis floated to the top. That is her diagnosis to the present day.

Vivianne started taking Lamictal. The therapeutic dose (e.g. effective dose) is between 100-200 mg but Vivianne had to start lower than that and ramp up to the larger dose. During the ramping up period, she had a mixed episode. During the mixed episode, Vivianne experienced both severe depression and agitation and hyper-activity at the same time. This meant she was mopey and slow but getting hit by negative thoughts at a very fast pace. She became obsessed with a suicide plan. Fortunately, she had a prescription for Atavan to treat anxiety. She took a dose and slept for a few hours. After sleeping, she felt better.

The mixed episode showed Vivianne and her family just how high the stakes were. They realized sleep deprivation was a major trigger for her. Vivianne asked her husband to help with her sleep hygiene. It took her husband a little time to realize how important this was.

In Summer 2017, while all this was happening, Vivianne moved from D.C. to Nashville. For many moms, this would aggravate a maternal mood disorder. The move, however, was great for Vivianne. She know has a shorter commute and bigger house, two things that help her mental health.

Since September 2017, Vivianne has been taking 200 mg of Lamictal (aka Lamotrigine). Medication and therapy have helped her enormously. She has developed more insights about herself and can recognize when she is feeling more sensitive. On those days, she takes charge by doing something like taking a nap or going to the gym to burn off excess agitation.

Vivianne has been reading The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide: What You and Your Family Need To Know by David J. Miklowitz. It discusses the different medications used to treat bipolar disorder. For example, lithium is still the gold standard but it works best to prevent mania. Lamictal has worked great for Vivianne. She has not experienced any side effect. Lamictal, however, does not work for everyone.

The Bipolar Disorder Guide has advice beyond medications. For example, it recommends establishing a routine. Persons with bipolar disorder are sensitive to things like sunlight but this is life. Chaos happens. If you have kids like Vivianne, then you are probably living with humans who have their own needs and agendas. Vivianne likes to have routines that are flexible. Meals and bedtime happen at generally the same time.

Vivianne had lots of excellent advice during this episode.

  1. In the beginning, your medication might not be working at its full force. Its important to control all the variables that you can while your medicine gets up to speed.
  2. Keeping a mood journal can help you understand your triggers. You can give it to your psychiatrist so they have all the information possible to treat your illness.
  3. It’s easy to over-identify with your disorder. Don’t become the disorder.
  4. Family-based therapy can be wonderful tool for coming to grips with a bipolar diagnosis.
  5. It’s important to talk to people with your experience but it’s also important to talk about your experience with the people most important to you.
  6. ASK FOR HELP.
  7. Have a hobby.

Vivianne is afraid of going back to the way she used to feel. Her psychiatrist good her that she is strong enough. It’s okay to feel emotions. She just need to be aware when her emotions leave the normal range. 

Another book Vivianne recently started reading is Quiet: The Power of An Introvert in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. When she was a teenager, Vivianne assumed she was an extrovert because she enjoyed the performing arts like acting and dancing. Now she realizes she is an introvert and needs time alone to recharge. Vivianne has learned to embrace her introversion so that she can take care of her well-being rather than worrying about societal expectations. (Vivianne got me so excited about this book that I ordered a copy a few minutes after our interview was done.)

The bipolar disorder diagnosis has helped Vivianne really hone in on who she is and what makes her comfortable in her skin. Looking back at her life and talking to people who knew her as a child, she thinks things for more intense for her when she was about sixteen years old.

Don’t you think Vivianne should have her own podcast? Except I know she is busy so let’s just have her on this show as often as she likes!

Vivianne, it was wonderful having you back on the show. For those of you who listened to the audio, you know there was a bit of an adventure with gardeners in the background. Thank you, Vivianne, for being so gracious during that nonsense. And thank you for being so candid and open about your postpartum adventures.

Back episodes are slowly migrating to Patreon.com/PPDadventures. Support the show for just $2/month and you will have access to all the adventures. Once I have enough supporters for the show, I am going to get some professional transcripts for each interview. I think it’s important to have these stories available in as many ways as possible for moms who are suffering and think they are alone.

Remember: YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

The End of An Era

I have been off Zoloft for about six weeks now and feeling great. Today, I touched base with my psychiatrist. After our usual talk about my life and mental health, the psychiatrist asked if I wanted to schedule a followup appointment or if I was ready to bravely go forward to conquer the world and call her if I ever needed a booster session.

(Those were not her exact words. I’m paraphrasing.)

I said that I was ready to conquer the world!

(Not my exact words either.)

We shook hands, I promised to get her a copy of my book when it’s published, and then I left.

Stepping into the hallway, I felt as if I was having a cinematic moment. Like I was about to fall to my knees and weep with joy. I did it! I did it! I kicked postpartum depression in the ass, did everything I needed to do to protect my mental health, and lived to tell the tale. And now, I am such a mental health boss, I’ve got this.

But instead of getting dramatic and weeping on the floor, I called Nathan to share the exciting news. He said we needed to get a cake to celebrate. Marrying that man was one of the best decisions I ever made. He gets it! He gets just how freaking important this milestone is to me.

We’ll probably just get takeout dinner tonight because we just had cake for my birthday, but still, I like the sentiment.

Folks, my mental health is all on me. I don’t need a psychiatrist to tell me that I’m doing well. I am so excited to be in charge!

Journaling Tip: Use Happy Words

I’ve noticed something: when I write happy words in my journal, my mood improves almost immediately.

Try it! Just open a blank document and type the word “love” a dozen times. It’s hard to feel angry at the world when you are writing that word.

Other words to try: joy; happy; peace; serenity.

But less obvious words do wonders as well. Like try writing “up.” Up up up up – your spirits actually start to go up like a balloon!

There’s no need to be formal in your journal. You can write total nonsense or gibberish and abandon all those elementary school grammar lessons. You don’t need a subject and verb, and you certainly don’t need to CaPITaliZe correctly.

I dare you. Go crazy in your journal. Find a word that inflates your soul and write it as many times as you like.

You can do it like this: Love Love love love Love love love love love 

or you can do it like this:

Love

love 

love 

love love love 

love 

love love love love love !! love ! Love 

There are no rules in a journal. Sometimes it’s fun to record the things happening in your life, but not every entry needs to start “Dear Diary…” Let go of your inhibitions and discover the radiance of words.

 

Episode 53: Sam Kimura’s Story of Traumatic Birth Experience, Postpartum Anxiety and Postpartum Depression

After a long break, I am so excited to be doing interviews again for the podcast. During my interview with Sam Kimura, I kept thinking about how much I missed this work. I am so excited to do more interviews in 2018!

Sam’s story begins with the birth of her daughter in 2013. She had her heart set on a vaginal delivery without any pain meds, but things did not go according to plan. About twenty-two hours into labor, she accepted the pain medications.  Around the twenty-four hour mark, Sam looked and noticed that blood was everywhere. She had placental abruption, a rare and serious pregnancy complication in which the placenta detaches from the womb. The doctors performed an emergency c-section, and Sam was pumped with so many drugs, she does not remember the first days of her daughter’s life.

This was a traumatic birth, but Sam did not feel allowed to experience the trauma of her birth. She had a healthy baby.  She was healthy. She was supposed to feel thankful – right?

But Sam wanted to have a beautiful labor and birth experience. And that’s a huge deal! She is now being mentored by a psychiatrist in London, England who specializes in traumatic births. This is a new area of research. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done, but we know now that women can experience Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a traumatizing birth.

Sam’s traumatic birth set the stage for her subsequent experiences with postpartum depression and anxiety. When she learned she was pregnant with her son, she immediately resolved to avoid another c-section. From there, things went downhill as she set high expectations for getting the beautiful birth she missed having with her daughter. 

Sam developed prenatal depression, but she was never screened for depression during her pregnancy. She assumed she was just the sort of person who does not love pregnancy. When her boss told her that some coworkers were concerned that Sam was not acting life herself, she took this as a personal attack. Looking back, though, Sam’s grateful her fellow nurses were concerned.

The birth of her son was everything Sam hoped it would be. She loved the feeling of having her baby on her chest but also did not experience the relief she had been expecting. All the stress she had felt during pregnancy was still there.

Sam went home. She copes with stress by staying busy. That is exactly what she did. Rather than get the rest she needed, she ran around, feeling she needed to be perfect and have people admire how well she was doing.

Sam knew she was not doing well, but she did not think she had postpartum depression. She did not even think anything was wrong. She just assumed that this was the way all mothers feel after the birth of a second child.

She did not take any time to practice self-care, not even ten minutes to nurture herself. About two or three weeks postpartum, she started having irrational thoughts and would hide the way she was struggling, crying every day for a half hour after her husband left for work. But she still went out every day, saw friends, and filled her days with activities.

At the six week appointment, Sam cried and told her doctor she was not doing well. Her doctor gave her a prescription but did not discuss the medication with her. Sam sees this as a system failure. Doctors just do not have enough time to talk with moms. When she got home, Sam ripped up the prescription and decided there was a better way to feel better.

She started running.

Sam joined a running club. For many moms, this would be great motivation to get out of the house and make new friends. But for Sam, the running turned into a metaphorical running away from her problems. She even experienced intrusive thoughts while running along busy streets, thinking that it might be better to just get hit by a car than continue living the life she now had.

Four or five months postpartum, Sam told her husband that she was struggling and was going to the doctor for medications. Her husband was stunned. He had no idea how badly she felt.

Lack of sleep was a huge issue for Sam. Her son had some bad sleep habits, needing to breastfeed throughout the night. She was sleeping 25-30 minute stretches for a grand total of 2-3 hours of sleep each night. She realized she needed more sleep and that she did not have the capacity to sleep train her son, so she hired a sleep coach. Within a couple of days, her son was sleeping through the night. Sam was still awake and worrying, only getting 2-3 hours of sleep each night.

By this time, Sam was running 10 kilometers every day. She had lost her appetite and was eating the bare minimum to survive. She ran so much, she got a stress fracture. Still, she kept running. Her perfectionist tendencies were a huge part of her postpartum problems.

Sam went to her family doctor and asked for medication. The first two medications made her anxiety and intrusive thoughts worse.  Zoloft was the third medication she tried. By the time she tried it, she was numb, convinced that she was the one person who could not be helped by medication. It took two weeks for the Zoloft to start working. In total, it took about eight or nine weeks of experimenting with prescriptions to find the one that worked for Sam.

Sam had still not seen a psychiatrist.  Her son was about eight months old.  Her family doctor confronted her and Sam admitted she was not feeling safe. Her doctor made lots of calls and found a mobile support team. A psychologist and two nurses came to Sam’s house. At last, Sam was starting to get the professional help she needed to recover.

But it was not quite enough.

Sam did not want to be admitted to the hospital. She had a huge mental block against this. As a nurse, she knew what she had to say — and what she could not say — to avoid a hospital admission. Everything, though — the lack of sleep, poor nutrition, lack of support and secrecy about her struggles from all but a few people — was taking a major toll on Sam. 

In November 2016, when her son was just over a year old, Sam went back to work. This was difficult. They had to switch to a new day care, but her daughter struggles with separation anxiety, so there was a lot more crying during the morning drop off. That created extra stress for Sam. Her twelve hour work shifts were hard on her already abused body. Then Christmas came and the extra stress of the holiday felt like too much.

Sam was tired of living with so much anxiety. There was still a tiny piece inside of her that wanted to live and hoped that something good could come from all that she had suffered. In the beginning of January 2017, Sam decided to be admitted to the hospital.

Sam spent five days in the hospital. The doctors gave her Atavan to settle her worried brain. After over a year of sleeping only 2-3 hours each night, she was finally able to get some much needed sleep.

After she was discharged, Sam joined an out-patient program that takes a multidisciplinary approach to recovery. She had access to psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, nutritionists, occupational therapists… at last, Sam was getting the professional support she needed! As of the time of our interview, she was nearly done with the program and projecting that she would finish in January 2018. She is confident that she now has the tools she needs to keep anxiety from ruling her life.

In March 2017, The Mama Coach approached Sam about joining their team. The Mama Coach is a team of Registered Nurses committed to making motherhood easier. Sam jumped on the opportunity and started working as a Mama Coach in May 2017. She LOVES the work she is now doing,

Sam also runs a free postpartum group on Fridays that meets at a grocery store. How awesome is that?! Good conversation with mamas and then a chance to pick up some milk? Perfection. 

Sam received further training from a webinar series through Postpartum Support International. She highly recommends the program to anyone looking for more training in the arena of maternal mental health.

Sam lives in Calgary, Alberta but thanks to Skype and the Internet, she can work with mamas living anywhere in the world. You can reach her at:

www.themamacoach.ca

FB @samthemamacoach

IG @samthemamacoach

Sam believes that telling her story is the best way she can help other moms, and I couldn’t agree more. If any of you beautiful mamas want to share your story, please email courtney@PPDadventures.com. Interviews are fun and we will make them work for your busy mama schedule.

Thank you, Sam, for sharing your story!

p.s. As I mentioned at the end of the episode, I am moving old episodes to Patreon. For the cost of $2/month (less than a latte!), you can support the show and get access to all the old episodes. With the holidays coming, it will take me a copy of weeks to get all the old episodes uploaded, but the first five are already there. I was going to stay mum about Patreon until everything was moved over, but I figured this keeps me accountable. If you just can’t wait to support the show, you can check it out HERE. Thank you so much!

2018 Resolutions?

Resolutions are not my thing. I used to think they were and went through the whole exercise of choosing resolutions, mostly pertaining to my weight, and then breaking said resolutions before my birthday. (which is January 12th so yeah, not an impressive track record in the least.) I decided to stop torturing myself, skip resolutions and just do the thing I really love: make plans.

For several years, I have created lists of things I want to do. I invested a lot of time on these lists, agonizing over the right style of bullet points, as if that might help me squeeze more productivity out of the next year. I assumed this year would not be any different. I opened a new document on my computer and named it 2018 Goals and Schemes. I started the list and waited for the surge of bliss that usually comes when I’m planning my life.

Nothing.

I closed the document. Walked away for a day. Reopened the document and tried again.

Nothing.

I waited some more, returning to the document a few days later, determined to chart my course through the coming year. The glee did not come. Instead, an idea floated to the surface of my subconscious: maybe I shouldn’t plan my goals for 2018. 

$%&*!?!?!

But the thoughts kept coming: don’t plan 2018. Have faith in your intuition. don’t plan 2018. I’ve been listening to my intuition more and more this past year, so I thought it might be time to take “Plan 2018” off my To Do list. But my brain resisted.

I’ve had a book, Outrageous Openness by Tosha Silver, on my To Read shelf for nearly a year. And I don’t mean my symbolic To Read shelf on Goodreads. I’m talking about an actual shelf in my bedroom. I decided this was a book I needed to read, ordered my copy from Amazon, and was ready to go. I pulled the book down to read at least a half dozen times but every time, I jammed it back on the shelf. The timing didn’t feel right.

Last night, the children were playing sweetly. I was reading a book by the Dalai Lama. Suddenly, it hit me. It was time to read Outrageous Openness. A minute later, the kids were still busy with their farm animals, and I was curled up on the armchair, ready for my introduction to Tosha Silver.

Before I could even get into the proper book, I found my answer in the forward:

I’ve listed my goals every birthday for more than thirty years. I’ve created countless vision boards and recited countless affirmations. And yet … and yet … some goals have eluded me despite my efforts. By reading Outrageous Openness and learning to align with the Divine, I’ve come to know that Divine Order has a bigger plan for me than my limited view. I now trust that what’s mine will always come. I gleefully burned all my vision boards. Were they helpful in the past? Yes, but it’s even more important to turn those desires over to a Wisdom that is far greater than the intellect can possibly imagine. – Dr. Christiane Northrup writing the Forward for Outrageous Openness by Tosha Silver

WOW. It’s like Dr. Northrup knew what was in my heart.

I’m publishing my memoir in early 2018, but what happens after that? I love writing, I love big projects, so it makes sense that I’ll start writing another book. I had that on my 2018 list. But it didn’t feel right. Now I understand.

I have to give up planning my future, week by week, and trust that I’ll figure things out when the time is ripe. Throughout Outrageous Openness, Tosha Silver includes prayers, like this one on page 29:

Today the Divine will show me the way. I’m open to all messages, signs, and omens.  I’ll move as if there’s a Force of Love waiting to aid me in every area of my life, big or small.

I don’t want to set goals for 2018 because then I might close myself off to the things I am meant to do. Maybe I will write a novel. Then again, maybe I’ll do something that isn’t even on my radar yet. I don’t know. I’m excited to see what happens.

I guess I do have a resolution for 2018: to stay open to messages, signs and omens; see what adventures unfold; and become the person I am truly meant to be.