Postpartum Depression and Turning Corners

Postpartum Depression and Turning Corners

Every year, I try my best to write about my personal struggle with postpartum depression.  It was such a huge part in the turning of chapters in my life, and I feel obligated to share with other mommas who may be experiencing, or could experience, the same hell I lived in for several months of my life.  PPD is left largely undiscussed.  No one really talks about the post-natal depression because it still widely viewed as “taboo” or a “non-issue”.  Hell, the “baby blues” are barely mentioned.  That fact has left me gobsmacked ever since Gabe’s arrival six years ago.  In fact, the longer I think about, the more ludicrous it’s absence in every-day talk seems to me.

Even knowing my family’s history of varied mental illnesses and depression, my OB/GYN at the time didn’t even warn me of the possibility that I might develop the problem.  I was very young — twenty at the time — and might have heard of PPD in passing, but never at length, and never from the one person who could have filled me in.  I don’t blame him in particular — I blame society, mostly.  A society that is in no way, shape, or form idyllic has these contorted views of what the “ideal” mother should be.  I’m telling you right now — the society that runs the world today should have no say in what an “ideal” mother is.  Plain and simple.

But backing off blame, I’m here to urge anyone who might have this problem or knows someone who might have this problem to seek help — NOW.  Asking for help is not embarrassing.  It does not make you a bad mother.  It does not take away from your parenting abilities.  IGNORING the problem, however, will absolutely emphasize the problem not only for the mother, but also for the people that surround her — including her child(ren).

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I have found that opening up a bit about my own conflict with PPD has helped a few women seek help and counsel regarding their own struggles.  It is still somewhat difficult for me to come forward with my own story, but it is something I am more than willing to do to spare anyone of the terror that went on inside of my own head.  So, here goes:

My Gabe was born on August 20th, 2009.  As luck would have it, my heart truly began beating on that day.  I, however, wouldn’t have that feeling of pride and warmth for several months after the fact.  All my life I’ve been told of these miraculous stories of “adoration at first sight” upon a mother holding her baby for the very first time.  That this feeling of pure bliss just soaks down into very fiber of their being without question and without exception.  A love that, as I’ve said before, is nearly nauseating.  I didn’t have those feelings.  In fact, I was very nearly numb to everything — except terror and the unknown.  The unknown of what I was experiencing; the surprising terror of being petrified — of an infant.  I couldn’t wrap my head around it and I was certain no one else would be able to, either.  So I kept quiet.  I kept quiet for nearly a year.

I’ll go to grave believing that a plethora of factors contributed to my depression; family mental illness, being overweight and in an unhappy relationship, working three jobs from sun-up to sun-down… I believe all these things contributed to my issues.  Add to that a rash of unstable post-natal hormones?  I was just waiting for someone to put me in a padded cell.  My attitude towards everyone, not just myself, was deplorable.  I couldn’t not cry — any and everything made me bawl.  I was living with my parents at the time and refused to be left alone with my own child — I was out of control on a downward spiral.  I needed help and I knew it.  But, due to my fear and hardheadedness, I decided to wait.  I waited almost too long.

For months, I would climb into my grandpa’s old leather chair when my parents would settle down for the night.  So every night from 10:30 to 4:30 the next morning, I would sit there, in my “safe place” — forcing myself to stay awake.  I feared that if I slept, I would hurt Gabe.  He slept soundly every night in my arms — never suspecting; trusting me fully.  He didn’t know that the person he trusted the most had no faith whatsoever in herself.  One day after a long night, I couldn’t tell if I was awake or dreaming.  Awful thoughts and fears poured into my mind as though someone had removed the top portion of my head only to fill it with fright.  Horrified and feeling monstrous, I finally sought help.  Adding to the fear of losing my mind, was the new thought that I could feasibly lose my child.  That the possibility of having my son taken from me could lie in whomever I sought counsel.  Sitting in the counselor’s office didn’t help any — waiting alone, wondering what would be said… what would be thought.  Finally, after what seemed like hours, my name was called.  I was led to another smaller office where I waited once more.  I considered running — I considered calling the appointment off under the guise of a “reschedule”.  What little common sense I felt I had at the time finally took course and I stayed, anxious and alone.  And then someone with the kindest eyes came in.  She held my hand.  She listened.  She let me express every fear I had, no matter how silly or unreal.  I talked until I was out of words and cried until my face was sore.  And after all was said and done, she hugged me the tightest hug I’d ever been given.  She assured me that I was not crazy and that everything would be fine; no one was going to take Gabe and no one wanted to.  To this day, I have not experienced the kind of relief that I did in that room.

We continued to meet for quite some time.  I was prescribed a strong antidepressant that gradually became less and less.  The last day of that prescription, I enrolled in a local college — I had been given two new reasons to live my life fully.  I finally had my little boy, even though I was never physically absent… and I’d been given my life back ten-fold.  It became my wish from that point to today to educate and spread the word regarding postpartum depression in its every form.  I hope you will do the same if you took anything away from this post.

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Postpartum depression is real and horrifying.  But there is help and hope.  For more information on PPD, follow this link.  If you or anyone you know is suffering from or could suffer from this problem, please seek help and encouragement.

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Pocket Protein Kidz — and a Promo Code!

Pocket Protein Kidz — and a Promo Code!

Recently, I was contacted by Pocket Protein to help launch their new campaign: Pocket Protein Kidz — a convenient, great tasting protein drink.  An added plus for our family?  It is also gluten and lactose free.

You may or may not know that our oldest, Gabe, has Sensory Processing Disorder.  We have decided to go a natural-route to help put at bay the “side-effects” of SPD, and one of the more obvious natural remedies is to cancel out gluten products from his diet.  We have seen significant changes in his behavior, and even his speech, so we are pretty pumped to keep him on the diet.  There are food choices available that any five year old loves (gluten-free chicken nuggets, for example), but sometimes the prices can be substantially more expensive or the products are just hard to find.  GF products are relatively hard to find around this area, so I’m beyond excited to have this opportunity to dish on a snack food that is not only healthy, but also gluten-free!

We received our “for adults” test product  last night and I was so pumpedDSC_0210 to try it out.  Gabe was, too, because it’s not often I let him snack before dinner.  He loved it — and begged me for another!  The taste is great — not overly protein-y tasting (it has 15g of protein!) and the pouch design is ideal for Gabe’s lunchbox or even just a snack on the go.  Bonus points: it’s only 60 calories.  Hear that, moms?  60 calories!

Pocket Protein Kidz has 7g of protein and only 15 calories!  Perfect for post-sporting event and after school snacks.  Additionally, Pocket Protein Kidz is never sweetened with artificial sweeteners.  Instead, it is made with real apple juice and all-natural sweeteners: stevia and erythritol.pack-fruit

The makers at Pocket Protein are so excited to launch this new, healthy product that they have given me a special promo code for a 15% discount*!  Just click on the following ling and use promo code MOMMA while placing your order!

What are you waiting for?  Give your kids an added boost in school and a pep in their step on the soccer field.  Plus, with the cool packaging and great taste, you’ll be the coolest mom around!  Remember — Pocket Protein is not only healthy and protein packed, but it’s also gluten, lactose, and nut free!  Finally, a snack that all kiddos (and their mommas!) can agree on.

*THANKSGIVING SPECIAL: RECEIVE 20% OFF USING PROMO CODE, MOMMA.

**Plus, buy six, donate six; all pre-orders help a needy child and you will be entered to win a $500 Visa giftcard.  Click here.

-Sarah

On Progress and SPD

On Progress and SPD

Oh, progress.  What a stress relieving thing it is.  As you know, we’ve been struggling to figure out what is wrong with my oldest, Gabe.  We have been mind-boggled for years, actually.  But time after time Gabe has been cast aside as if nothing is wrong and he’s just an uber knucklehead and I have been chucked away as that mother without parenting skills.  While that last bit may hold partial validity, I’m also sure (and have always been sure) that something just isn’t quite right.  That Gabe is so smart and so bright — but is still so off and so behind on things I’m really shocked at.  My little backwards boy.  Even when he was tee-tiny he excelled at things beyond his level and behind on things that should be right at his fingertips.  Almost like his little mind had a serious case of the Benjamin Button’s — but in comprehension, not age.  Obviously.  I’ve known for a long time that something was not right.  But I’ve constantly been put off as one of “those moms.” You know the kind.  They want their kid(s) doped up and tout d’suite, please, because they cannot be bothered.  No.  That’s not me.  Gabe’s a little boy, and wild though he may be I’ll not zombiefy him for the sake of a little peace and quiet.  There are too many risks involved and I’m not big on medicine anyway.  But until recently, we were left to our own devices.  Left to shuffle through the mounds of “could be” disorders and to figure out where we went wrong.  Left to translate what my four year old has been trying so desperately to communicate, and screaming inside what I wish he would understand.

I’ll admit, after being told a hundred times over that, “You’re the problem,” you really start to wonder if that is the case.  I don’t mean to make this about me so let me do a little closet cleaning; I’m not saint and hardly a good momma.  I’ve done my fair share of yelling and screaming, spanking and cussin’.  I’ve muttered under my breath and daydreamed about getting in a cold beer to let some of the aggravation off.  I’ve wished the day would just end already and I’ve dreaded the drives home knowing that I wasn’t doing the right thing.  Knowing that all the sand raising wasn’t right.  Knowing that following my gut was what I should have been doing and wasn’t.  Knowing that my actions, and the lack thereof, were positively vile.  As much as I love that child, I’ve been equally a terrible mother and a virtual no-show on support because I didn’t understand.. or because I was being told that I wasn’t doing right.  I couldn’t physically or mentally understand the child I carried and gave birth to.  I loved him, and love him still, with every heartbeat that pumped within me.  Yet, I couldn’t muster enough patience with him to see past my own shortcomings to help him fix his.  It was too easy to label him “disobedient and unruly.”  Just as everyone else had done.  Great momma, right?  Hardly.

It took a teacher complaining about her possible loss of career (a crock, by the way) and pretty much hating on my kid that made me call bullshit and seek more help.  Thank God I stumbled on the right path with the right people.  And thank God my faith and patience are being restored.  I almost gave up on my kid.  And I hate myself for that.

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My boy is thought to have SPD; a sensory disorder that can mimic ADHD, Asperger’s, and some signs of Dyslexia.  It not only mimics those disorders but can also coincide with them.  With help from a speech pathologist and occupational therapist he can learn how to deal with his issue and how to advance in spite of it.  We too can be taught how to help him grow and live to his greatest potential.  I will not allow myself to be that crippling mother that tells her challenged child to sit back and just “get by.”  Gabe will be expected to thrive and push — just how any challenge should be handled.  With dedication and commitment.  I will continue to be the same grumpy momma bear because (with some exceptions) because I know that he absolutely can.  Of all my short-comings, I’ve never once truly doubted his abilities.  He is bright and imaginative and I really believe that with a little extra effort he’ll soar.  And really, won’t that little extra effort make the pay-off so much more rewarding?  I think so.

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If he is willing to play a little hardball then Evan and I will be his hard-nosed but deep down rooting for him coaches.  He has an amazing support team made up of great friends and family who are already offering support and shoulders without question.  This little “disorder” might be exactly what the dr. ordered for this little family!

And so our journey begins.  Keep us in thought, y’all.  There are a lot of changes to make!

You Want Fries With That? Tough Shit.

You Want Fries With That? Tough Shit.

Leave it to NYC to pull some shit.

I understand that obesity is on the rise.  Has been for YEARS.  And admittedly, being a mother, I don’t want my kid stuffing his face with empty calories.  With that being said, I have to say that the banning of large sugary drinks in NYC is ridiculous.  I, myself, am a big fan of Diet Coke.  Even I can admit it’s not good for me.  I’ve been known to drink two or three a day.  Although diet sodas are free from caloric value, they are not free of harmful chemicals.  Furthermore, for me, the more diet sodas I drink, the hungrier I get.  So, in essence, diet beverages are not without caloric damage, whether it be first hand or second.  So, NYC.  If you’re gonna go all Big Brother on your population and ban large sugar-loaded sodas from vendors, theatres, etc… why not make a full sweep and ban chemical-endowed diet beverages?  Better yet, how about you ban anything that could pose a threat to human health?  You can’t.  Because you’d be banning everything.

I very seldom ever get on a kick about anything I hear about via the media, because it’s all a load of bullshit.  But this one hit a nerve.  I’ve lost eighty pounds since last June.  You know how?  By my own choice.  There are still days I eat things I shouldn’t.  But I make conscious effort to behave and live a healthier lifestyle.  NO ONE stood over me and banned food or controlled my eating habits.  And to be frank, had someone done that, I’d probably weigh 500 pounds.  Why?  Because no one likes to be nagged.  And New York, congratulations, you’ve become the nagging bitch in the marriage that is to you & the people of the city and state.  If someone chooses to have three or four large Cokes a day and a few thousand pounds of grease, then that’s on them.  You can’t ban scissors because some asshole MIGHT cut their finger off, right?  Right.  So, if someone is weak-minded enough to gorge themselves, then let them.

Things like this city-wide ban are reasons why assholes sue fast food chains because they can’t fit in a booth or because they spill hot coffee on themselves.  We are enabling them to behave like co-dependent, money-grubbing… dumbasses.  AND WE’RE LETTING IT HAPPEN.  Because we don’t want to hear about it.  Tell you what.  My obesity was no one else’s business.  I lost weight because I wanted to be able to see my child graduate. And get married.  And have children of his own.  I lost weight because I got tired of not being able to breathe… and because I couldn’t fit in a booth at McDonald’s (the last place I needed to be).  I did something about it because I decided to.

America has always had this knack for over-stepping.  Granted, we gained our freedom by over-stepping.  But things of this nature?  No good.  Teaching our children to be active, and teaching them how to live healthy lifestyles without beating themselves up? Thatis what the state needs to focus on.  None of this passive-aggressive, bullshit banning.  And this doesn’t really fall on the state’s plate.  NEWS FLASH.  Obesity in general?  That’s an issue of self-control.  And I can say that because here a year ago I weighed 235 pounds.  I was 235 pounds of chocolate and carbs and beer… I gorged until I could gorge no more.  I took control of it.  I hate to harp on about myself… I’m not patting myself on the back.  But I’m a good example of what self-control wasn’t and what it is.  I like to eat.  But I love my son, and my health, more.  And to be honest, the idea that Gabe would watch me his whole life being out of shape and quite large?  I was terrified he would end up the same way.

So, New York and anyone else nagging the shit out of everybody else, here’s a head’s up:  The individual, not the group, not the state, not the country, the individual makes up his or her mind to do anything.  Whether it be eating healthier, getting active… anything.  And this even goes beyond health… this is life as a whole.  It is the individual mindset that motivates, or not.  I have grown tired of all the time hearing how the state is going to put their foot down and yadda, yadda, yadda.  A little tough love never hurt anybody.  Let someone end up with Type 2 diabetes.  I don’t want anyone to be sick!  Are you kidding?  But if that’s what it is going to take to get their mind right, then heck yeah.  I let my thyroid go down the toilet.  Guess what?  That was my bad.  What was I going to do, sue the doctor who told me?  No.  I got my mind right.  It can be done… it’s just got to be done the right way.

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Little Survivors

Little Survivors

I really ought to be typing up a psychology study guide.  Instead, I’m sitting here… thinking about other things.  I was listening to 100.3 coming in to work this morning… they’re doing the St. Jude Hospital radiothon.  I don’t normally listen to that… it’s so sad, and I just can’t stand thinking about little ones being so sick.  But today I listened.  I heard several stories from several families about their brave little ones.  I cannot imagine being that child… being told that you’ve got cancer or leukemia… and I can’t imagine being those parents that bear all that weight.  I’m simply not strong enough to deal with it… and I am so thankful that my little one is well.  I usually hate radiothons.  Not because I don’t care about the cause, but because it’s hard for me to face that reality.  But now, as a momma, it’s a reality that I hope to God I will never have to face… or that my little Gabe will ever have to face.

St. Jude’s is such a worthy cause.  Those children are a worthy cause.  The research, the funding…. all of it is worthy.  I am so glad that people have somewhere to turn when their lives crash down around them.  I was listening again a little while ago… one of the speakers said they hoped one day that they could close their doors… but today is not that day.  I, too, hope that one day they can close their doors and never admit another patient.  With proper funding and support, that dream can become a reality.  Until then, there’s no where else like it.

“When St. Jude opened its doors in 1962, the survival rate for lymphoblastic leukemia was 4%.  Thanks to research & treatment protocols developed at St Jude, the survival rate for the disease is at 94%.”

That’s amazing.  So here’s to a good year and a fresh start for so many kids & their families.  Here’s to the little one’s who lost their life, and to the families who watched them fade.  Here’s to the little survivors and the fighters…. we’re one step closer to finding a cure.