All About Postpartum Psychosis and Resources for Help

I didn’t know any-thing about postpartum psychosis until I saw the movie Tully (not giving away any spoilers!) and did a little research. Man, was I surprised– sometimes, I feel a bit ignorant when it comes to women’s health and the dozens of postpartum issues I have once failed to acknowledge. A lot of people may be blindsided or even unaware of what postpartum psychosis is and that’s why this post is so important to read and share with ANY and ALL of your soon-to-be-mama friends.

I need every women out there, pregnant or not, to read this post and absorb what this condition is about– because frankly, it’s downright frightening how dangerous postpartum psychosis can be, and there needs to be talked about.

 

 

 

 

What is postpartum psychosis?

 

 

All About Postpartum Psychosis and Resources for Help

 

 

 

there is a dramatic difference between the baby blues and postpartum depression. you can read about them here.

 

 

 

What are the symptoms of postpartum psychosis?

 

All About Postpartum Psychosis and Resources for Help

 

 

 

in one of my recent posts, i talk about postpartum anxiety and how to cope. you can read about that here.

 

 

 

 

Did you know that women with bipolar disorder are more prone to postpartum psychosis?

 

 

All About Postpartum Psychosis and Resources for Help

 

 

 

Prevention for postpartum psychosis.

For women with known bipolar disorder, taking medication during pregnancy as well as immediately after, greatly reduces the risk of postpartum psychosis.

And while there is no data to guide women whether or not medication should be taken, it’s best for doctors to monitor women that have a bipolar disorder. It’s especially important to be monitored postpartum and for a trusted person to know about your condition.

 

 

How postpartum psychosis is treated.

In many cases, hospital admission is necessary where the proper medication can be distributed.

Family support can be available through therapists and family counselors.

 

Resources.

this is an amazing resource guide. there is a list of doctors for the United States, Canada, and Australia.

 

this is where you can find statistics on postpartum psychosis.

 

this is where you can find information on postpartum psychosis.

 

You are not alone.

While this may feel like an extremely lonely and scary time for you, I want to reassure you that you are not alone.

Struggling with a postpartum issue is one of the most daunting things that I have been through…I want you to know that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel.

If you or someone you love may believe to have postpartum psychosis, PLEASE seek out the appropriate help– there are people out there that will help you, and there are people out there that NEED you! <3

 

Help is there for you.

 

 

 

Have you seen the movie Tully? If you have, what do you think of it? I want to hear your thoughts on it and if you believe that it was a good portrayal of motherhood/mental health.

Why Self-Care is Important for Every Mom

It can be something as small as making sure you drink enough water and take your daily medication, to going to your yearly dental exam.

Not sure where to start?

Trust me, mama, I now all about not making enough time for myself. It’s tough when you’re a busy mom! I have two toddlers to chase after…I can barely go to the bathroom alone!

Since I became a mom, I strongly believe now that self-care is important for every mom.

I’m an example of why self-care is important for every mom.

I’ll use myself as a good example of why every mom needs some self-care in her life.

After I became a mom, I stopped taking care of myself. I would feel guilty if I did ANYTHING just for ME. Yes, true! I would consume all of my time and energy into my newborn baby boy…and when I would practice self-care, well, the guilt would be so unbearable that I wouldn’t do anything else for myself months and months later.

This was a CRAZY thought in my head, but– I believed that doing things for MYSELF made me a bad mom.

After my second son was born, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. I would literally be running on E, yet I would STILL be giving my family every last bit of my energy and happiness. That was the ultimate recipe for disaster, and it made me a very moody mama!

I started taking care of myself and I was slowly brought back to life….I began to make MYSELF a priority again!

 

Self-care can be easy.

I will tell you that self-care is easier than you may have imagined, mama.

Are you stuck and need some self-care inspiration? Or, maybe you need that extra nudge to start doing something for yourself.

 

I put together a list of some really great ideas for self-care.

It’s totally free!

Start taking care of yourself and find out why self-care is important for every mom.

After you tried my ideas, please let me know what you think!

 

Amanda’s Postpartum Depression and Anxiety Story

Amanda’s story

{previously featured on Legally Mommy}

 

 

 


 

I never wanted to be a Mother.

I never fantasized about baby names, or nursery décor. I didn’t swoon over infants. In fact, I was terrified of them (and still am).

I had grown up, an only child, in an alcoholic and abusive home. To this day, I remember virtually nothing about my childhood: it’s been completely erased in my mind. I grew up quickly, with an insatiable (and unrealistic) desire to succeed. I was a perfectionist in every sense of the word.

The law school days

When I was accepted into law school in 2011, my boyfriend (now fiancée) and I decided that I would move 3 and a half hours away to another province to attend school while he’d stay here in the house we had bought the year before. I was excited to begin a new adventure. I knew I would miss him, but I (mistakenly) thought I was strong enough to get through the year on my own.

Once I moved and began school, I experienced the crushing loneliness and abandonment I had experienced in childhood all over again. I was alone, and I had no one. I was miserable, and quickly fell into a depression. I had always been prone to anxiety and depression, so this came easy to me – and without much warning. I began to fantasize about what I presumed would be my ‘happily ever after.’ For the first time in my life, I wanted to be a Mother. It was foreign and new, but I adopted the idea with my usual fervour. I wanted someone to need me, and to never leave my side. I thought having a baby was the answer. After my first year of school ended and I moved back home, we started entertaining the idea of starting a family. The timing was horrible, but my desire consumed me. I thought I was ready.

Weeeeeee’re pregnant?!

Fast forward to October 10, 2012, a day I’ll never forget.

As soon as I saw “YES +” glaring back at me on the pregnancy test, my stomach instantly sunk. It was not at all how I expected to feel, but in that moment I had absolutely no control over my emotions.

We had wanted this. In a sense, we had planned this – I just didn’t plan on it happening so quickly.

I instantly began to feel anxious. I dismissed it as normal pregnancy nerves. In hindsight, I should have talked to someone about it right away. We also found out that my maternal serum screening numbers had come back a bit high, and we’d have to have a “level 2” or higher risk ultrasound done. We were lucky to see our baby girl at 10 weeks and again at 12 and 20 weeks. At our 20 week ultrasound, they noticed some spots on her heart: a ‘soft marker’ for Down Syndrome. They said it was likely nothing, but they offered us an amniocentesis just in case. We opted not to. They sent us home, and told us that these ‘bright spots’ were fairly common. My fiancée spent the rest of my pregnancy with “99.6%” written on his arm in permanent marker: the chance our baby would be born without Down Syndrome.

The odds were definitely in our favor, but I was still terrified. Not only because of these markers – but also because I didn’t feel one bit ready for motherhood. No amount of reading, nursery prep or prenatal classes changed that. I never once had that ‘peaceful’ feeling. I was terrified for 100% of my pregnancy. As I mentioned, I had always been an anxious person, but pregnancy (and – as I’d later learn – Motherhood) amplified that anxiety past the point where I could handle it on my own.

Absolute denial

As my due date approached, I was in complete denial. And when I went into labour five days past my due date, I tried to convince myself that the painful contractions I was feeling were just braxton hicks contractions. I was SO not ready.

My labour was fast. When I reluctantly arrived at the hospital, I was promptly admitted when they discovered I was 7 centimeters dilated. There was no time for an epidural. Labour was the easy part, even completely un-medicated. Our daughter was born four hours later, perfectly healthy. I felt numb. I was exhausted, but I couldn’t sleep. My mind was racing a million miles a minute.

Life after baby

Things got even worse when we left the hospital. My daughter developed a particularly awful case of acid reflux, and she was nursing around the clock. When she wasn’t nursing, she was crying constantly from the pain. She barely slept. When she did, I tossed and turned in bed beside her – anxiously anticipating her next cry and my next session of breastfeeding torture. I spent more nights than I wanted to hunched over her on the couch, trying to get her to latch until the sun came up. I barely ate that first month. Or slept. I just cried and cried. And that sums up the first month of her life.

The sadness and anxiety just wouldn’t go away. I was terrified to be alone with her. I refused to go out in public because I was constantly fearful that I would be judged for being a terrible mother. I felt zero connection to my beautiful daughter. I became resentful of my partner, and it almost broke us. I made plans to run away. I knew I couldn’t go far, but I just wanted to disappear and start over again. I tried to explain how I was feeling to my best friend – anyone who would listen. But no one could understand what it was I was going through. I searched high and low for support, and googled “Postpartum Depression” more times than I can count, only to be left in the dark. I felt like I was living someone else’s life. It was like a bad dream that never ended. I came across this list and instantly recognized myself in all the symptoms of postpartum depression.

Reaching out for help

Finally, a lifesaving Public Health nurse told me to head to the hospital and see the on-call Psychiatrist. I waited there for hours in the family waiting room, crying as I watched infomercials about sick babies as part of a fundraiser for a local children’s hospital. It was one of the first times I was away from my daughter, and I panicked knowing that she was low on pumped milk and would soon need to be nursed again.

When the Psychiatrist finally emerged, she told me I had three options: to be admitted, to take medication, or to do nothing.  She admitted that she had zero knowledge of how the drugs she was prescribing me were secreted into breastmilk, and told me I would have to discontinue breastfeeding immediately. She prescribed me Zoloft, a sleeping pill and Ativan. I debated and cried and cried some more. I hated breastfeeding with a fiery passion, but it felt like the only thing I was doing right – even though my daughter still cried in pain most of the time. But she was growing and it was because of me. I immediately stopped breastfeeding. I felt numb. Like a failure. Relieved. All at the same time. To this day, I still well up breastfeeding posts and photos. I feel like the world’s biggest failure. I even tried (unsuccessfully) to re-establish my supply when my daughter was six months old, because the guilt was all-consuming and exhausting.

Over time, after taking the Zoloft and talking with a therapist weekly, I was able to function a bit better. I was still paralyzed with anxiety, though, at times. I didn’t like leaving the house. I didn’t like when my daughter cried in public. I constantly felt –  and still do, sometimes – that I was her babysitter, and I was waiting for her real Mom to come pick her up. I sometimes forgot that I was even a Mother. I didn’t feel like one at all. I kept wondering: “when will things feel normal again? When will I get my old life back?” And I couldn’t, for the life of me, accept that this was my new normal. Every piece of my life was unrecognizable. I was a mess, and I hated every minute of it. Still, to this day, I can’t stand it when people ask: “Can’t you just not remember life before her?” Because all I CAN remember is life before her. It’s life AFTER her that’s a blur.

I have a long way to go, but I’m slowly getting there. And my beautiful daughter, who I love more than anyone else in the world, is turning 2 today. She’s the reason I will continue to fight for support for women like me experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety.

 

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Why Raising Toddlers {close in age} Is Really, Really Exhausting AF

Hi. *yawns*. O, I’m sorry. I’m just rubbing my tired eyeballs as I try to chug my second cup of coffee before icicles form on top of my “World’s Best Mom” mug. I’m also trying to prevent one child from grabbing a knife from the kitchen counter while screaming at the other one to not jump off the sofa.

Contrary to what that mug says, I’ve been feeling less than anyone’s ‘best mom’ these days. Perhaps I’m too hard on myself but lately, I feel like my kids are getting the short end of the stick. They’re both going through some rough ‘phases’ right now and it’s hell. Why? Because raising toddlers is really, really exhausting.

No, I’m not just really tired, I’m exhausted. I’m emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted.

The moment when I peed on that stick and those two faint lines appeared, I knew how hard it was going to be having kids just 18 months apart. It was like all of the worse things flashed before my eyes: double dirty-diapers, double melt-downs, double teething, double the fights, double the chaos.

In the beginning– it was hard. Now? It’s harder. You may think that I have my hands full and you are absolutely correct. 

Motherhood was golden when my second son was just an infant– he slept 95% of the time and wasn’t mobile. Sure, I had to factor in the multiple feedings per day and my first son going through the whole ‘big brother transition’, but looking back, THAT was the easy part. Phew. I was so naive back then.

I now have a 2.5 and 1 year old and I’m drowning. I’m not being dramatic, by any means, because I really, really am drowning– let’s just say that the {proverbial shit hit the fan} once my youngest turned 1. Game. Over.

If you’re curious as to why, I listed some of the reasons below. (And if you have two kids really close in age, then you feel me on this sista.)

 


 

They are beginning to fight with each-other.

I thought that I had a few more years before I would be refereeing my boys–my oldest will put my other son in a  headlock and pin him down. I’m breaking up fights more than I get to sit down.  O, and it’s not only physical they fight over ANYTHING… who has the better toy, who has the better sippy cup (they’re BOTH BLUE), who has the better food (YOU BOTH HAVE STRAWBERRIES). I feel like my day is 98% telling them to leave each other alone.

One of them is ALWAYS grumpy AF.

The only time my boys are content at the exact same time is when they’re eating or sleeping.

One of them is ALWAYS awake.

 THEY NEVER SLEEP AT THE SAME TIME. It would NEVER, EVER happen if both of them napped at the exact, same sweet time. Never. That would mean, falling asleep and waking up at the exact, same sweet time. And night-time is a gamble since our oldest sleeps IN our bed and frequently tosses and turns.

There’s always a phase.

One of them is ALWAYS going through some sort of ‘phase’ that makes life hard AF– because, like I said earlier, one of them is always grumpy.

Going out of the house feels like a freaking marathon.

If I could stay in my house 24/7 (without the risk of my boys or MYSELF going completely insane) I would. The whole process of going out is soooo daunting that if I’m planning on being out with my two boys, it better be worth it.

Grocery shopping is Hell.

If I had a to describe what Hell would be like, it would be grocery shopping with two toddlers. I can’t say much more about it except… I loathe it with every fiber in me.

They feed off of each-other.

Ugh. Yes. Whenever one of them has an uber melt-down moment, it’s a guarantee that the other one will! My youngest is notorious for being a ‘sympathy crier’ so if my oldest is in time-out and crying, my youngest immediately reacts. The worse is probably when we’re in the car and THEY BOTH start going off.

 

So there are a few {of the many} reasons why raising toddlers is exhausting! Can you relate? Don’t forget mama, we’re in this crazy and hectic mom-life together. x.

I Am 1 in 5: The Truth Behind Postpartum Depression And Anxiety {Cara’s story}

Cara’s Story

{previously featured on A Purpose Driven Mom}

 

 

I was sitting in my therapist office one day and we were talking about guilt and shame and why I always feel like if something goes wrong, it’s automatically my fault.

“Well, that’s the depression talking”, she said so calmly.

Wow.

We had talked earlier on in our sessions about my anxiety and it was very clear that I was struggling with Postpartum Anxiety (PPA) but we had never talked specifically about Postpartum Depression (PPD).

To me PPD felt so much more real, so scary, and it honestly just made me feel so much more broken.

I felt like I could ‘deal’ with having PPA, I mean isn’t everyone just a stressed out mom? But PPD was so foreign to me. I felt fearful that people would think I was a bad mom, that I couldn’t take care of my kids, that there was something wrong with me. I mean I didn’t feel depressed. I wasn’t under the covers crying and unable to get out of bed (which was my previous experience with my depression when I was in high school) and I felt like I was getting better.

But there it was, clear as day and right out of my therapists mouth. I was a woman who had Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.

Did you know that 1 in 5 women suffer from either PPA or PPD? And so many moms out there just suffer in silence. They are afraid, just like I was and sometimes still am.

“What will people think of me?”

“Am I really crazy?”

“Why can’t I just get it together?”

For me, my anxiety isn’t always panic attacks or heavy breathing like they show so often on  TV but more of a mental tug and what we refer to in my home as my ‘spiral’.

It starts with the smallest trigger, mostly connected to me feeling like I’ve made a mistake or am inadequate in some way and it turns into spiraling thoughts that I struggle to shut down. Something as simple as getting the wrong thing at the grocery store can become catastrophic.

“Ugh, I don’t have time to go back out”

“I always do this”

“I am so forgetful”

“See this is what happens because you never pay attention”

“Why are you so stupid?”

“Ugh, why are you thinking like this again?”

“See, now no one wants to talk to you because you’re crazy and ruined dinner.”

This spiral is followed by some tears on my part, my family looking confused because they don’t know what to say to me, and me feeling even more guilty because I ‘ruined it again’.

It wasn’t until this pattern had happened for a few months in a row, and a LOT more crying on the middle of my kitchen floor that I realized I needed help. I told my husband I had to do something, I was tired of feeling so tired, and life was just exhausting me. As a life coach, I felt like an even bigger fraud because I felt even less together than I ever had been, and I knew that it was going to have bigger repercussions for my family if I didn’t get help.

So one day, I bravely walked into a therapist office and just said it “I think something is wrong with me”… followed by those ever flowing tears.

After a few sessions, she had diagnosed my PPA (and later my PPD) and we had come up with some coping techniques that have helped me get through my days better. I share them openly with my husband, though honestly I sometimes worry that I am TOO vulnerable with him, and they help him help me with my anxiety when it gets really bad.

In the 5 months since I realized that I needed help, I am proud to say that many of the techniques (from counting, to breathing, to reframing, and more) have really helped me when I am in a spiral. And while I would love to say that my spirals are gone, at least I can say that when I am in the moment, I can self identify what’s happening and bring myself out of it much quicker.

So many of us are afraid to speak our truths because we don’t want to be judged. We don’t want to admit that something is wrong with us. We love our kids and want to be seen as a ‘good mom’. But in keeping our struggles silent, we not only harm ourselves but our family and other women who are suffering in silence.

In that vain, I’ve had a few amazing women be willing to speak out on their struggles and share their personal experiences with PPA/PPD. Because the things is, it affects everyone so differently, which is why it’s also hard to identify right away. We might just think we’re stressed or hormonal or just having a bad day. But mama, if you feel off, if you’re struggle lasts a bit, if you know something just doesn’t feel right, can I encourage you to go and talk to someone, be it another mom, your doctor, or a family member? Because you don’t have to feel stuck, you don’t have to feel alone, and you don’t have to feel lost. Because YOU are not alone!

 

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