BENEFITING: POSTPARTUM PROGRESS
EVENT DATE: Jun 18, 2016
Angela Norris wrote -
I am not one to open up about personal things, but I do feel this is so important and needs to be told. I wish others would have talked more about it when I was going through it (or even before I went through it) so I didn’t feel so alone. I had pretty much a perfect pregnancy. Really, I loved it! Never had I even thought I would suffer from a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder. It never crossed my mind there even being a possibility of it. However, shortly after Alyssa was born in 2014, I began experiencing extreme anxiety and moderate to severe OCD. Postpartum anxiety symptoms include constant worries and fears. Maybe you can’t sleep or eat. Maybe you are worried all the time that something terrible is going to happen to you or someone you love. Postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder, or postpartum OCD, is a form of postpartum anxiety that has a symptom that is pretty hard to ignore: intrusive thoughts. Intrusive thoughts are scary “what if” thoughts that come into your head. You don’t want to have them, but they keep coming anyway. You might also have compulsions, which means you feel the need to do things like clean, organize, check and recheck, or count. A million thoughts would rush through my head, over and over, every second of the day. To name very few: Is she hungry? Am I feeding her too much? Does she have colic? Am I feeding her too little? Do I have bibs, burp clothes, and bottles ready? How many do I have? Maybe I should check again! I could barely sit down much less sleep. Forget about eating and drinking! There just wasn't time. Never any time.
It started a few days after we were discharged from the hospital (after you take that quiz when they discharge you from the hospital) and lasted several months. Luckily, it was winding down those last few weeks. I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't help having those constant, overpowering thoughts. I did seek help at the hospital where Alyssa was born. In their discharge packet, there was a flyer for a postpartum support group. It wasn’t easy to seek help. What if there was nothing wrong with me? What if this was all my fault? I don’t feel depressed so what if this isn’t PPD and something I would have to be put away for? What if, what if, what if… I met with the counselor there and she walked me through several options. Honestly, it was extremely overwhelming and I ended up only going that one time. The counselor was great, do not get me wrong, but it was just so much to take in and all I kept thinking is I don’t have time for this! I need to get home to Alyssa! Again, never any time.
Eventually, the anxiety and OCD faded away without the need for medications. That is why I am one of the lucky ones. There was a good chance this wouldn’t have cleared up on its own! I wish I knew about this amazing organization back then. I wish I knew about it BEFORE the symptoms appeared, while I was still in a good frame of mind to process what help there was out there if and when I needed it. I wish doctors and hospitals would be more involved with detecting this. As I described above, when you suffer from this, it is hard to know it at the time and hard to seek help. They give you a quiz before you leave the hospital that just isn’t enough. I was only in the moderate range of perinatal mood or anxiety disorders. I couldn’t even imagine if I was on the high end of the scale! There are plenty of women who fall into that extreme end and I want to do something about it. It isn’t our fault. We don’t want it. We need to get the word out there and have this talked about more so that no one else feels alone. We need to know there is time to take care of ourselves. Always make time.
Lara Buck Vazquez wrote -
If you are not familiar with my experience, here's the short version: Back in 2003 I became pregnant with Nick just after a miscarriage, and began to experience crushing anxiety and depression. With help from my OB, our pediatrician, my therapist, and medication, all ended well. But it was hard to find any MOMS who would talk about this, and as yet there were no websites about PPD - it was hard to find anyone out there like me. Once I recovered, I became determined to share my experience so that other moms would know they could get better too. I now volunteer locally for Postpartum Depression Alliance of IL, nationally for Postpartum Progress (as a 'Warrior Mom Ambassador'), and advocate for awareness of postpartum mood disorders.
And how about some numbers, you say? Every year in the United States around 4 million babies are born to 4 million moms, and at least 15% of those moms will suffer from postpartum mood disorders. Every year Postpartum Progress will be more in need than ever for around 600,000 women who find themselves plunged in darkness and who have no idea why, or where to go for help. We exist because we know that without help the long-term health of both mom and baby is negatively impacted. We can prevent that.
Postpartum Progress’ Climb Out of the Darkness™ is the world’s largest event raising awareness of maternal mental illnesses like postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety & OCD, postpartum PTSD, postpartum psychosis, postpartum bipolar disorder, and pregnancy depression and anxiety. Climb Out is held on or near the longest day of the year annually to help shine the MOST light on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. The event features mothers and others across the globe joining together to climb mountains and hike trails to represent their symbolic rise out of the darkness of maternal mental illness and into the light of hope and recovery. Funds raised support the 501c3 organization Postpartum Progress (http://postpartumprogress.org) We can’t wait for Climb Out of the Darkness 2016, to be held Saturday, June 18th at 9:00 am. Mark your calendars!