The Many FACEs of DEPRESSION (& Anxiety): Pregnancy & Postpartum–Caroline’s Story

The Many FACEs of DEPRESSION (& Anxiety): Pregnancy & Postpartum--Caroline's Story; #pregnancy, #postpartum, #ppd, www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

The Many FACEs of DEPRESSION (& Anxiety): Pregnancy & Postpartum--Caroline's Story; #pregnancy, #postpartum, #ppd, www.DrChristinaHibbert.comWomen are particularly vulnerable to depression and anxiety in pregnancy and postpartum. In fact, 15% of pregnant and up to 20% of postpartum women experience depression, while 6% of pregnant and 10% of postpartum women experience anxiety in the form of extreme worry, panic, PTSD or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. And it doesn’t just affect moms. An estimated 14% of dads in the U.S. experience Paternal Postnatal Depression, too!

 

I have had my share of postpartum depression (PPD) and anxiety, and I know it’s a very hard thing to bear. I also know that I’m not alone in my experiences. Millions of other women (and men) have experienced PPD, too, and we must keep talking about it if we want others to know that they are not alone, if we want others to know help is available, and that, if they seek help and let it in, they will be well.

 

Caroline’s story is another example of the many faces of depression and anxiety. Hers is another face to add to this movement, and another voice to help raise awareness, reduce the stigma, and let all who suffer from (and overcome) depression and anxiety know: “You truly are not alone.”

 

Caroline’s Story…

“I am the face of anxiety and depression.

In November 2006, when I had my first child, a son, I had heard of Postnatal depression and was determined never to be struck by it, I was naive then, thinking I could control such a thing as PND.

‘Overall, my experience postpartum with my son was very positive. I made sure I kept busy and built up a good social network through going to mums and bubs sessions at the local library and joining the local breastfeeding support group and going to meetings. However, there were times when anxiety would kick in, I’d feel shaky and thoughts would rush through my head. I’d worry about dropping my precious baby down the stairs or stress about driving in the car with him. I thought about what I could do to help me feel calmer, I bought lavender and used the drops on tissues under my pillow and in my handbag and in an oil burner. I also started listening to guided meditations both before going to sleep and during the day"The Many FACEs of DEPRESSION"- #Pregnancy & #Postpartum Caroline and taking daily exercise – walking and swimming mainly. While these strategies helped, I really felt I needed to work with a counsellor, so I contacted the doctor (Dr Cate Howell) who narrated the mediation CD I was using and formed an ongoing therapeutic relationship with her and saw her as needed over the next three years.

‘When anxiety kicked in BIG time after the birth of my daughter in December 2009, I was so grateful that I already had a great doctor in Cate, I also knew that Cate didn’t reach for her prescription pad straight away as I had never taken medication for my anxiety before. My second episode of post-natal anxiety was much more intense than the first. I was having trouble sleeping (it’s torture when your baby and toddler are asleep and you can’t sleep!), I was pacing, felt shaky, had racing thoughts and couldn’t make simple decisions or complete simple tasks like packing a baby bag, something I had done hundreds of times before. I didn’t trust myself to be a safe driver as I was so shaky and sleep deprived so I gave my car keys to my husband.

‘I went to see Dr Cate as soon as I could and she was the most supportive doctor I could have wished for. Initially I was shocked, because I was much worse than last time. She said I would need to look at going on medication and she referred me to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist did prescribe medication and also referred me to an in-patient mother-baby clinic. This experience was very scary as even though ultimately it was part of my recovery, it took me on a “medication roller coaster,” as I was determined to keep breastfeeding so could only try “breastfeeding friendly” medications first, some of which caused awful side effects. In the end, I gave up breastfeeding to go onto a medication which I have been on for nearly 5 years, except for a one year break.’

 

Depression, Anxiety, & Medication

‘I tried going off my medication at one point, because I figured I was no longer “postnatal,” so couldn’t experience severe anxiety or depression. I was wrong! My psychiatrist knew that I had reduced my medication, but not that I’d gone off it completely. I was fine for a year without medication, then became unwell again in 2013, very shaky, racy thoughts mainly around being not good enough, like a big bully in my brain was how I described it later to my son. I knew I’d need to go on medication again and didn’t want to risk the “medication rollercoaster” of side effects while being home caring for kids, so I checked myself into a private clinic for treatment both medication and group therapy.

 

 

Health & Healing

‘This most recent episode, while upsetting and disruptive, was also amazingly healing, as I was able to recognise the signs of what was happening to me and seek treatment first as an in-patient and then go on to do some courses as an outpatient. Of particular interest and use was an ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy)/mindfulness course. It also helped me to realise that medication is an essential part of my treatment plan.

‘Even though we don’t choose all of what makes up the rich tapestries of our lives, we can embrace all of life with gratitude and love and be open to the lessons that it holds. For example, I carry a lot of grief over the fact that, because of how severe my post-natal anxiety was and the medication I’m on, I probably won’t have a third, fourth, fifth or sixth child. I feel anger and frustration that I can’t raise the big family that I wanted to.

‘At the same time, however, I realise that the family I do have is such a gift! I have a healthy 8 year boy and a 5 year old girl who light up my life each day, and I have my health and a lifelong commitment to and passion for growth and healing.”

~Caroline

 

 

Help the Movement!

Read & Share Stories from ‘The Many FACEs of DEPRESSION” series:

Overcoming the Stigma of Depression & Anxiety: “I am the FACE of DEPRESSION (& Anxiety)”–My Story

Men, Illness, & Mental Health : Pernell’s Story

Motherhood, Postpartum, & Spirituality: Jami’s Story

 

 
 

Dr. Christina Hibbert www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

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Postpartum Support International’s 2015

Third Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month

Blog Hop!

2015 PSI Blog Hop: You are not alone! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

2015 Theme:
You Are Not Alone: Focus on Support Groups and Resources

Read this post for rules, and then link up!

 

 

 
 
 

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Listen to "Motherhood" with Dr. Christina Hibbert! Each week on WebTalkRadio.net & iTunes! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #radio

 

 

 

 

 

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Living a Life of Purpose & Meaning: The Key to true Happiness

Join my Free, Online “This Is How We Grow” Personal Growth Group!

“This is How We Grow:” Understanding the Seasons of Personal Growth

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Motherhood 101: 12 Realities & 12 Lessons from a Seasoned Psychologist & Mom of 6 (PSI Blog Hop 2015)

Motherhood 101: 12 Realities & 12 Lessons from a Seasoned Psychologist & Mom of 6 (#PSIBlog Hop 2015)  www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #motherhood #mothersday #moms #ppd #postpartum #pregnancy #children #family

Motherhood 101: 12 Realities & 12 Lessons from a Seasoned Psychologist & Mom of 6 (#PSIBlog Hop 2015)  www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #motherhood #mothersday #moms #ppd #postpartum #pregnancy #children #familyIt’s that time of year again–May, or as my friends and I call it, “May-hem!” The end of the school year, commitments galore, graduations, the summer-shift approaching, and all month long, what do we celebrate? Motherhood. How fitting! Between mother’s day, Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month (May) & day (May 7th), I’m in the mood to speak a little truth about good old motherhood!

 

I’ve been at it for over 18 years, and with six kids, now ages 7, 11, 14, 16, 18, and 18 1/2, well let’s just say, I know the reality and I’ve learned a few lessons. As a psychologist, I’ve learned some important lessons, too–the first being that we need to talk about the realities of motherhood, and that we need to open ourselves up to the lessons motherhood has to offer.

 

So, hold on tight and grab a notebook! It’s time for “Motherhood 101.”

 

(And be sure to join me for my new radio show, “Motherhood!” Starting May 18th on WebTalkRadio.net! And don’t miss my exclusive offer–FREE Postpartum Couples DVD!

 

 

MOTHERHOOD 101

Reality #1: It’s hard!

No matter what “season of motherhood” you’re in, it’s the hardest work in the world. It’s a 24/7, 365-day job, and a highly demanding one at that. Up early, no sleep, go-go-go all day long, keep going all night too, worrying yourself awake in the

Just weeks after our family went from three to six kids! Talk about motherhood being hard! Some days, I didn't think I could do it. (Read about it in "This is How We Grow.")

Just weeks after our family went from three to six kids! Talk about motherhood being hard! Some days, I didn’t think I could do it. (Read about it in “This is How We Grow.”)

early hours, exhausting yourself, giving your all. But we do it because we love our children, right? As I wrote in a song about motherhood a few years ago, “It’s the hardest work I’ve ever done, but somehow, it’s the easiest to do.”

When I ran a postpartum support group a few years ago, the moms struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety would desperately ask, “It gets easier, doesn’t it?” To which, I’d reply, “Yes… And then, it doesn’t. And then, it does…” We are happy to leave behind the sleepless nights of having an infant only to find our house is destroyed by an energetic toddler. We finally leave behind “the terrible twos” only to find the “threes” might be even more terrible as they develop greater independence. Not to mention the teen years! (I have 4 teenaged sons right now! Aye-yi-yi!). But, it’s all worth it. They grow, and hopefully, so do we.

 

Lesson #1: Recognize that it’s hard.

Even if it looks easy on TV or on a friend’s Facebook page, trust me, it’s not. You’re not alone in this crazy thing called motherhood–it’s hard for all of us, and some times are harder than others. Discover which phases and seasons of mothering are easiest and most rewarding for you and which are not, and then, give yourself a break in the harder times and recognize your strengths and put them to good use in the easier times. Oh, and hang in there! It does get easier. And then it doesn’t…

 

 

 

Reality #2: Hormones, brain chemistry, and life experiences can make it even harder.

Women’s mental health is made up of a unique blend of our hormones, brain chemistry, and life experiences. Monthly hormonal shifts, pregnancy,

Me, during my most recent hormonal quarantine, watching Project Runway and eating chocolate with the door bolted shut! Thank you, hormones!

Me, during my most recent hormonal quarantine, watching Project Runway and eating chocolate with the door bolted shut! Thank you, hormones!

postpartum, and perimenoupause can all significantly affect our coping abilities. Hormones also directly impact the neurotransmitters that make our brain feel well, and life experiences do the same. Trauma and loss change our brain chemistry and, over time, can leave us feeling depressed, anxious, or worse.

 

Lesson #2: Understand all you can about your emotional health and take care of yourself.

Learn about Women’s Emotional Health and what it means for you. Then, take care of your body and brain through good nutrition, sleep, exercise, regular health exams, emotional processing and support, and spiritual self-care.

 

 

 

Reality #3: You won’t love every moment, and you won’t feel happy all the time.

As I wrote in This is How We Grow, “I love every moment of being a mother. I even love the moments I don’t love.” Yes, if there’s one thing we can count on, it’s that we won’t love every moment. But, joy in motherhood is found in the small moments, and joyful moments are everywhere in motherhood, if you’ll open your heart and seek them out.

 

Lesson #3: Look for joy in the moments.

Happiness in motherhood is found in the small moments—in the laugh, the love, the play, the hug. As we seek out these moments we see them more clearly, we’re more present, and we soak them up. As we connect these moments we find that motherhood really is joy-filled, or it can be if we look for the joy in the moments.

 

 

 

Reality #4: During some seasons of motherhood, it may a struggle to feel happy at all.

Pregnancy or postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, and psychosis together affect one in five moms and can make it rough to feel happiness or joy; it can also crush your sense of self-worth. Maternal depression is also common and can last for years if untreated.

 

Lesson #4: It’s not “normal” or “okay” to live with depression, anxiety, or even with no self-worth, and it’s definitely not good for our families either, so SEEK HELP.

With help, you can and will be well, which is not only good for you; it’s good for your children, spouse/partner, and family, too. And if you keep working, you can be even “better than better!” Acknowledge your needs and seek help. Then, let that help in. There are fabulous support groups, counselors, doctors, and resources for pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond. Postpartum Support International is a wonderful resource, with support coordinators in every state and around the world. Your church or faith community, friends, and family are another good place to start for help, support, and referrals.

 

 

 

Reality #5: We can’t do motherhood alone.

We need each other in motherhood more than perhaps any other time. Support is crucial in motherhood—support for us, support for our children, support for our husbands/partners—we cannot survive without it. We may feel like we don’t know where to turn, or like

My family with my friend's family, sending balloons to her in heaven to remember her one year death anniversary. We need each other.

My family with my friend’s family, sending balloons to her in heaven to remember her one year death anniversary. We need each other.

we don’t have anyone to rely upon, but we must prioritize building our support system.

 

Lesson #5: Build your support system.

Make a list of everyone who supports you and what they can do. Include your family, including family, friends, faith/community members/resources, support groups, online support, professional support like counselors, doctors, etc. One person might be great at helping with childcare, while another is the one you can talk to when times are tough. If you feel your support system is lacking, then start building a better one. It takes time, but support is out there if you’re patient and willing to work.

 

 

 

Reality #6: Loss is a big part of motherhood.

Whether struggles with postpartum depression or anxiety, relationship changes and challenges, wayward children, death, job/career loss, or sending them off to preschool, kindergarten, college, or beyond, motherhood carries with it a lot of loss. These losses, if not dealt with, can build up and create more trouble for our emotional and physical health over time.

 

Lesson #6: Recognize your losses, then grieve them.

Here’s how.

 

 

 

Reality #7: Motherhood is not just a “job”; it’s a calling.

I’ve long reminded myself that though I don’t really love the “job” of mothering—the late nights, early mornings,

Motherhood isn't just a "job;" it's a calling. My forever family, April 2015.

Motherhood isn’t just a “job;” it’s a calling. My forever family, April 2015.

cooking, cleaning, diaper-changing, problem-solving constant-ness of it all—I do love being a mother. Motherhood is a high and holy calling: I believe that, 100%, though it doesn’t always feel that way. It’s a forever kind of deal, so it’s important to work it out, to believe in that calling, to find our gratitude for our role as a mother.

 

Lesson #7: Motherhood really isn’t about the “job” at all; it’s about love.

The house, dinner, bathtime—that can all come or go. What matters is how we love.  What matters is how we value our role as a mother. Do we recognize the gift it truly is? Do we remind ourselves in the hardest times how grateful we really are to be called, “Mom?”

 

 

 

Reality #8: Motherhood isn’t about how our kids turn out.

So many moms I know focus on the choices their kids make as a measure of how well they’re doing as moms. I’ve been there before, too, and trust me, it’s not pleasant! The truth is, we have no real control over our children’s lives when they get to a certain point. That’s not the way it works, and really it’s what we’re striving for as we parent them over the year—independence and self-reliance.

 

Lesson #8: The “fruit” of motherhood is how we turn out. It’s about how motherhood changes us. It’s about how motherhood transforms us.

 

 

 

Reality #9: It really does fly by.

As I was dropping my oldest son off at college last fall, I hugged him, got in the car and forced myself to drive away, watching him excitedly return to his dorm in my review mirror. All I could think was, “They were right. It really does fly by. We have them for such a short time and then, they’re gone.” I bawled the entire four hour drive home! When I called my husband, he thought I was crazy, and to be truthful, so did I. But it really hit me—it goes so, so fast.

 

Lesson #9: Pay attention and be grateful now.

Years ago, when I’d have those stressed-out, frustrated, overwhelmed, exhausted mothering days (and there have been plenty!), my older friends who were missing their little ones would say, “Enjoy it while you can; it goes so fast.” I knew they were right, but I couldn’t feel it in those moments when I just wanted to get through the day and crash to sleep. Then one day, I really did get it. I decided I didn’t want to miss those precious years when they were young because I was stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated, or tired. And so, I made a goal to stop and stand still in the chaos. I’d briefly close my eyes and imagine my kids grown and gone and my house quiet and still. Though a luxury in the busy mothering days, I’d let myself feel how a quiet house may feel lonely when it’s permanent. I’d say a little prayer, ask for help to be grateful for this very moment, and take a snapshot of it. Then, I’d breathe deeply, smile or sometimes even chuckle to myself and just say it like it is, “Motherhood is a crazy ride!” And back to business. Truthfully, years later, the chaotic moments are some of the most memorable.

 

 

 

Reality #10: We mothers need to be a little (or a lot) kinder, more compassionate, more forgiving, and more loving toward ourselves.

We’re harder on ourselves than any other group on the planet! It’s such a shame, because I’m convinced no one works or loves harder than mothers.

 

Lesson #10: Practice self-love.

Self-love involves: 1) Self-care—take care of your physical, emotional, mental/intellectual, social and spiritual needs. It’s not selfish Motherhood 101-12 Realities & 12 Lessons from a Seasons Psychologist & Mom of 6 www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #motherhood #ppd #postpartum #ThisIsHowWeGrow #books to practice self-care. In fact, it’s the only real way to be healthy and strong as a mom, and it teaches your kids to do the same. 2) Self-compassion—forgive yourself, accept your weaknesses, be gentle when you make a mistake. 3) Self-kindness—do nice things for yourself. Time alone or with friends, a bath, a nap, a walk, a “girls’ night”—whatever feeds your soul, do that. 4) Let others love you. Let your children’s love in. Let your husband’s/partner’s love in. Let your support system’s love in. Let God’s love in. Open your heart and let it receive love. Then, give and open again and again and again. (more on Self-Love here or in my new book, Who Am I Without You?)

 

 

 

Reality #11: At its core, motherhood is really about love.

That’s what it’s really all about–growing in love. Receiving love. Giving great love. Motherhood is truly all about a beautiful cycle of giving and receiving love.

 

Lesson #11: Love greatly.

When hard times hit, love. When great times are rolling, love. When you’re fearful, worried, overwhelmed, at your limit, love greatly. It is love that overcomes the pain and stress of motherhood. It’s really all about love. Again, love greatly.

 

 

 

Reality #12: Motherhood is a crazy ride.

Trust me, I know! In fact, if you google, “My Kids are Driving Me Crazy,” my blog posts come up on page 1, so it’s really no secret. But oh how exhilarating! It’s the up, and down, and spinning around, upside-down ride of your life! And it doesn’t end there. Motherhood is forever. So, learn your lessons, buckle up, and hold tight!

 

Lesson #12: Enjoy it while it’s here.

Don’t take motherhood for granted. Don’t wish away your moments or your days. Identify your challenges. Seek help. Let help in. Choose to grow through motherhood. Then, sit back, buckle up, take a deep breath, and enjoy the ride. It’s the greatest ride of your life!

 

 

What are some of your motherhood “realities” and “lessons?”

Leave a comment, below, and join the conversation!

 

 

 

 

An Invitation to YOU!

Join us for

Postpartum Support International’s 2015

Third Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month

Blog Hop!

2015 PSI Blog Hop: You are not alone! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

2015 Theme:
You Are Not Alone: Focus on Support Groups and Resources

 

Read this post for rules, and then link up there or below!
And be sure to check out the other incredible posts linked up, below!

 

 

 

Link Up Here!

 

 

 

 

Check out my NEW, Exciting, Exclusive Offer:

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Click here for information and Instant Access!

 

 

 

 

Tune in to my BRAND NEW Radio Show,

MOTHERHOOD!

Starting May 18th on WebTalkRadio.net!

Oh, and be sure to tell your friends, and your mom!

 

 

 

 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow
available now on Amazon.com!

 

 

 

"Who Am I Without You?" 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #book #selfesteem #breakup #divorce

Available now at TargetAmazonBarnes & NobleNew Harbinger, or your local bookseller!

 “Who Am I Without You is the light at the end of the tunnel!”

“So much more than a breakup book, this is a guide to self-worth for anyone, all in a neat little 52-lesson package!”

 

 

Dr. Christina Hibbert www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

You may manage your subscription options from your profile.

 

 

 

Motherhood 101: 12 Realities & 12 Lessons from a Seasoned Psychologist & Mom of 6 (#PSIBlog Hop 2015)  www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #motherhood #mothersday #moms #ppd #postpartum #pregnancy #children #family

 

 

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16 Things I’d Like My Postpartum Self to Know, 16 Years & 6 Kids Later (PSI Blog Hop 2013)

Motherhood Mental Health: Self-Care & Letting Help In–the 2 Most Important Things (PSI Blog Hop 2014)

Moving Beyond Shame: The Ultimate Power of Support & Time (PSI Blog Hop) 

Beyond Depression: Understanding Pregnancy/Postpartum OCD (Part 1)

Pregnancy & Postpartum Emotional Health

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Postpartum Depression Treatment: For Dads & Partners

Postpartum Depression Treatment: For Couples

Postpartum Depression Treatment: Sleep

Postpartum Depression & Men: The Facts on Paternal Postnatal Depression

Mom Mental Health (& Happiness): The Importance of Alone Time

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Pregnancy & Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders: Are Women of Advanced Maternal Age at Higher Risk?

In Praise of Fathers: 10 Research-Based Ways Dads Impact Kids for the Better

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Achieving Balance–Why You’ve Got it Wrong, & How to Get it Right

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How to Cope with and Treat Perinatal Loss & Grief (Part 2)

Link Up! PSI Blog Hop 2015–You Are Not Alone: Focus on Support Groups & Resources

2015 PSI Blog Hop: You are not alone! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

2015 PSI Blog Hop: You are not alone! www.DrChristinaHibbert.comIt’s that time of year again! Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month begins on May 1, and in honor of this important month, Postpartum Support International is sponsoring it’s third annual blog hop!

I have been a member of/volunteer with Postpartum Support International (PSI) since 1999. Over the years, I’ve served as a warmline volunteer, an AZ state support coordinator, and even as the PR Chair on the PSI Board of Directors. I continue to serve as a PSI Trainer (heading to Ohio next week!) and a frequent speaker at their incredible annual conferences.

I can vouch for the amazing work this fine organization does: from their toll-free, bilingual support line, to their many resources for pregnant/postpartum moms, dads, and families, to their online webinars, to their fabulous conferences which educate medical and mental health providers, families, and support people.

That’s one thing PSI has excelled at over the years: helping thousands of mothers, fathers, and families PSI Blog Hop 2015: You are Not Alone! www.DrChristinaHibbert.comrecognize they truly are not alone and connecting them with the resources they so desperately need. The past two years, I’ve been privileged to participate as a host and write articles for the 2013 and the 2014 PSI Blog Hops, and this year, I am thrilled to be part of it again!

The Blog Hop begins on Friday, May 1, and will run throughout the month of May–Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month. Please review the guidelines, below, and then, write and submit your post for review, link up (below, starting May 1), and that’s it!

It’s a great way to share pregnancy/postpartum emotional health stories and resources, to provide support and encouragement, and raise awareness of Perinatal Mood/Anxiety Disorders. I hope you’ll join us, and spread the word! (See the invitation below for details and rules.)

An Invitation to YOU!

Join us for

Postpartum Support International’s 2015

Second Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month

Blog Hop!

2015 PSI Blog Hop: You are not alone! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

2015 Theme:
You Are Not Alone: Focus on Support Groups and Resources

 

In May 2011 Postpartum Support International (PSI) declared May as Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month. An increasing number of states, counties, provinces, and countries have designated May as a time to bring awareness to maternal mental health. The maternal mental health awareness month blog hop is one of the many awareness events — please write to us if you have any questions, and send your entry.

Our PSI blog hop is meant to be inclusive and is also meant to promote emotional safety and comfort and hope for all contributors and readers. To that end, we welcome your participation but also please keep in mind some editorial guidelines meant to promote comfort and safety.

 

This year we have also designated May 7 as International Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day. We want to be active on social media that day. #IMMHAD2015 #YouAreNotAlone.

 

 

Editorial Guidelines:

  • Name: Include your real name, we don’t promote people with online disguises. Anonymity can be arranged if you write in a pen name – Contact us to discuss.
  • Length: 500 – 1000 words
  • Keeping in this year’s theme: You Are Not Alone: Focus on Support Groups and Resources

Potential Emotional Triggers:
For the purpose of this blog hop and its focus on messages of support, we want you to do your best to avoid psychological triggers in your posts. Please do not write about detailed suicidal or homicidal thoughts, feelings, or plans. If you have any questions or concerns about that, please don’t hesitate to contact us at psioffice@postpartum.net.

Inclusive: Editors will not tolerate any negativity directed towards individuals or groups

Commercial Interests: Please refrain from self-promotion of your website or sale items

 

Beginning May 1, 2015

  1. Write your blog post and send a link or attachment to psioffice@postpartum.net. This will help us keep track of all of the posts, and contact you if we have questions or suggestions.
  2. Go to the Blog Hop Host:

Dr. Christina Hibbert (link up below!)

  1.  Look for their post called: Link Up: PSI 2015 Blog Hop – You Are Not Alone: Focus on Support Groups and Resources (this post!)
  2. Link up your post to that blog post in the Linky provided at the bottom of the post.
  3. Grab the PSI logo code provided, below.
  4. Feel free to promote your blog and the blog hop on social media!
  5. Please post these notices:
    • If you need immediate help, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
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#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow
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"Who Am I Without You?" 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #book #selfesteem #breakup #divorce

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2015 PSI Blog Hop: You are not alone! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com
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Related Posts/Articles:

Motherhood 101: 12 Realities & 12 Lessons from a Seasoned Psychologist & Mom of 6 (PSI Blog Hop 2015)

Motherhood Mental Health: Self-Care & Letting Help In–the 2 Most Important Things (PSI Blog Hop 2014)

16 Things I’d Like My Postpartum Self to Know, 16 Years & 6 Kids Later (PSI Blog Hop 2013)

Moving Beyond Shame: The Ultimate Power of Support & Time (PSI Blog Hop) 

Beyond Depression: Understanding Pregnancy/Postpartum OCD (Part 1)

Pregnancy & Postpartum Emotional Health

Postpartum Depression Treatment

Postpartum Depression Treatment: For Dads & Partners

Postpartum Depression Treatment: For Couples

Postpartum Depression Treatment: Sleep

Postpartum Depression & Men: The Facts on Paternal Postnatal Depression

Mom Mental Health (& Happiness): The Importance of Alone Time

The Baby Blues & You

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Pregnancy & Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders: Are Women of Advanced Maternal Age at Higher Risk?

In Praise of Fathers: 10 Research-Based Ways Dads Impact Kids for the Better

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Womens’ Emotions & Hormones– Series

Achieving Balance–Why You’ve Got it Wrong, & How to Get it Right

Pregnancy & Postpartum Loss, Grief, & Family Healing (Part 1)

How to Cope with and Treat Perinatal Loss & Grief (Part 2)

Becoming the Butterfly: The Power of Personal Transformation

Becoming the Butterfly-The Power of Personal Transformation; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Becoming the Butterfly-The Power of Personal Transformation; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comI’ve been thinking a lot lately about the power of personal transformation. It started with Easter, which, no matter your faith or belief system, is really a holiday about our potential for transformation. I know and love that we have the potential for incredible transformation.

 

Throughout my life, I have been transformed. Often, transformation has come through hardships. Despite my attempts to ignore, push away, or run away from these “growing opportunities,” I’ve eventually learned to take a deep breath, submit, and let myself grow and transform. Sometimes, transformation has come by choice—inviting an opportunity to learn, improve, grow. No matter the means, the outcome is the same: I know the power of personal transformation; I have experienced it time and again.

 

That’s the beauty of life—we’re not meant to stay the same. It’s obvious as we watch our children learn and grow, so why can it feel so hard to believe that we, as adults, must continue to grow, too? Why can it feel so impossible to believe we can not only grow, but we can be transformed?

 

Becoming the Butterfly

I think of the caterpillar, crawling about her business, content to roam the earth on her belly, until one day, she feels the call—the call to start building something, the call to transform. Does she know what she is building or what she is destined to become? Or does she simply listen to the whispers and follow her heart until she is tightly wrapped in her chrysalis? Does she realize, as she lets herself be wrapped and canstockphoto4610098molded that she is sprouting wings to fly? Does she see her own beauty, as she finally breaks free? Do we?

 

Yes, I have been transformed, and I believe it is a divine call for each of us—to allow this transformation to take place. To courageously step up and say, “I’m ready to become who and what I am meant to be.” It’s not about becoming rich or famous or popular. No. It’s about becoming more and more authentic, loving, whole, and complete. It’s about living with meaning and purpose and fulfilling your unique life’s purpose. “I believe in being complete…Living authentically—listening to the whispers and doing what’s right, being true to who I really am—helps me appreciate the good and the bad, for I see them as opportunities to grow. The more I grow, the more perfected I become: she who has ‘attained her purpose;’ feeling ‘so good nothing of the kind could be better;’ ‘complete.’” This is How We Grow, p. 271.

 

Personal Transformation

I remember so many days—when I was overwhelmed by the reality of raising six children, when I was sleep-deprived from nursing a baby all night and nursing five other kids, and myself, through loss and growth all day—I remember how I thought I was experiencing my final transformation. We are transformed when we leave home, we are transformed when we marry, and we are most definitely transformed when we become a parent. But now I was a mother, six times over! “I’m needed here full-time,” I reminded myself. “This is the most important work I can do, and I am determined to succeed.” And it was, and I believe I have succeeded. But, mistakenly, I believed that meant I wasn’t needed anywhere else, that there wasn’t any other important work for me to do in my life. I thought I’d never fulfill my dreams—of becoming a writer, an author, a speaker, a songwriter.

 

Fast forward, and here I am. I was transformed into a confident mother of six, and then into an author, a few times over, and a speaker, and a songwriter. As the time has been right, new transformations have taken place. That’s the great thing about personal transformation—it never ends, if we allow it to continue to unfold. Unlike the butterfly, we can rebuild and reenter our cocoons of transformation and become beautiful new creatures, over and over.

 

It requires faith, and listening to those whispers. And it requires the desire to transform. Lately, I’ve been seeking to understand what my new dream should be; I’ve been praying and listening. And the most unusual opportunity came along in an unassuming email—the opportunity to host a parenting radio show. At first, I didn’t know that it was right for me. I had no desire or dream to be on the radio. But, I’ve come to see that this was the answer to my prayers—my new transformation, my new opportunity to grow, and my new opportunity to help many others grow and transform, too.

 

 

As I wrote in This is How We Grow, quoting and commenting on Marianne Williamson, “And what is the light we see, when our minds are reconciled to Truth? We see not only that we are one with others, but also that all of us carry seeds of the divine.’ I love helping others find their divine, for that is how I find mine.” (p. 395) I welcome this newest transformation, and I hope you will join me in the months to come as we seek to transform and grow, together.

 

 

The Steps of Personal Transformation

How do you find your divine? How can you give yourself over to the power of personal transformation? How can you become the butterfly you are destined to be? I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I do have a few—at least, this is a good place to start:

  • Recognize what and where you already are. If we want to become something new, we first need to know who and what we already are. Take time to search within and see the truth of who you are, and the truth of who you desire to be. Be honest with yourself about your current weaknesses, and strengths, and what might be blocking you from getting where you want to be.

 

  • Discover your life’s vision. Envision who you want to be, and what you desire to become. Let go Becoming the Butterfly-The Powerf of Personal Transformation www.DrChristinaHibbert.comof the tethers holding you down—the expectations, words of others, false beliefs, and especially fears. Let go and dream. (Read “Discovering Your Life’s Vision” and “Overcoming Fear”)

 

  • Build and enter your chrysalis. Butterflies don’t just magically pop out of caterpillars. It takes work to build the cocoon of transformation, and time to enter and remain until the butterfly is ready to emerge. Take your time setting goals, understanding the process of change, and working on the change you desire. Work on your talents. Practice. Seek new learning opportunities, and share what you have to offer in small doses. Let yourself be in the “season” of life you’re in. Give yourself space to prepare.

 

  • Don’t overstay your welcome in the chrysalis. We’re not meant to stay in the cocoon of transformation forever. Have faith. Believe in yourself. If you lack self-confidence, then work on it. Believe you are the butterfly as you prepare to emerge. (Read “The Pyramid of Self-Worth” and my new book, Who Am I Without You? –it’s all about transformation and self-confidence!)

 

  • Emerge and be the butterfly. Believe in your beauty. Believe in your wings. Emerge, and let yourself fly.

 

What is your experience with personal transformation? Do you believe we each have “the divine” within? How can we allow ourselves to be transformed? Please leave a comment, below!

 

 

 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s IPPY Award-winning Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow!
Available now at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

 

 

"Who Am I Without You?" 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #book #selfesteem #breakup #divorce

Available now at TargetAmazonBarnes & NobleNew Harbinger, or your local bookseller!

 “Who Am I Without You is the light at the end of the tunnel!”

“So much more than a breakup book, this is a guide to self-worth for anyone, all in a neat little 52-lesson package!”

 

 

Dr. Christina Hibbert www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

You may manage your subscription options from your profile.

 

 

 

Becoming the Butterfly-The Power of Personal Transformation; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com
Don’t miss a thing! 

SUBSCRIBE, above, “like” my Facebook pages (Dr. Christina HibbertThis Is How We Grow), and follow me on Twitter,Pinterest, & Instagram!

Related Posts/Articles:

Grief & Loss: Dealing with Death Anniversaries, Birthdays & Holidays

Grief & Loss-Dealing with Death Days, Birthdays, Holidays & Anniversaries; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Grief & Loss-Dealing with Death Days, Birthdays, Holidays & Anniversaries; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comBirthdays and death anniversary days have been on my mind. Monday was my sister, Shannon’s, birthday. She would have been thirty-nine. Thirty-nine! It’s hard to imagine. She’s forever frozen in my memory at thirty-one.

My youngest sister, Miki, who died twenty-two years ago, is forever frozen as a little girl, barely eight, even though this summer, she would have been turning thirty. I think of her as I remember Shannon. I can still see her blond curls bouncing as she laughed and played in the grassy yard.

And, in less than two weeks, it will have been one year since my dear friend, Jody, died. Another new death day is almost here; it’s been looming over my family, and hers, for almost one year.

 

 

Dealing with Death Anniversaries, Birthdays, & Holidays

Birthdays, death days, holidays, and anniversaries—they can be hard to handle. Most of us don’t know what to expect when they start creeping up. Will it be a day of remembering our loved one fondly? Will it be a day of remembering the pain of their loss? Can any holiday ever feel the same again?

I’ve experienced many birth, death, anniversaries, and holidays over the years, and I understand how tough it can be to know what to do–how to handle it, how to make it through. I’ve learned a few things that have helped me, and I hope they might be helpful to you.

 (Watch my 3-Minute Therapy video, “Grief & Loss: Dealing with Death Anniversaries, Birthdays, & Holidays,” and subscribe to my YouTube channel, here.)

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1) The first year’s birth/death/anniversary/holidays are usually the hardest.

Because we don’t know what to expect, they can seem overwhelming as they approach for the first time. We may want to feel a certain way but find we feel completely different when the day’s finally arrived. We may place heavy expectations for that day and find our expectations aren’t met. We may be feeling like, “Who am I now that my loved one is gone, and how do I handle this anniversary?” Or, we may expect to feel deep grief or sorrow and be surprised to feel “fine,” which can sometimes lead to unwanted (and unnecessary) feelings of guilt.

My little sister, McLean (or Miki-7) and me (18) at Disneyworld for her "Make-a-Wish" vacation. Such a fun family trip, only months before she died of cancer.

My little sister, McLean (or Miki-7) and me (18) at Disneyworld for her “Make-a-Wish” vacation. Such a fun family trip, only months before she died of cancer.

The first year after Miki died, I felt thoughtful, peaceful, and yes, sad at the thought of missing her growing up years; but it was a nice day spent with friends at college, remembering her incredible, short life. The first year after Shannon died felt more like a finish line I’d been hoping to get through. I felt like I wanted to be alone, like I wanted to remember her fondly, but I still had too much pain and grief and even anger over her death and how it changed my life, to experience that day as I’d hoped. It felt more like a success just to make it through.

Christmas without Shannon and Rob, my brother-in-law, was tough, and that first year, I put tremendous pressure on myself to “make it perfect.” As I write in This is How We Grow, “I realize the pressure to make Christmas perfect is unreasonable and self-inflicted. I don’t even believe in perfection, but it’s been such a hard year that I want the gift I give to be a peaceful Christmas for our family” (loc. 1341, Kindle). Others may feel the opposite—wanting to completely check out, to not even celebrate at all.

Yes, the first year is almost always the hardest.

 

 

2) Time helps, but there’s no set time limit for grief.

Many people are told they should grieve for “x” amount of months or weeks, but that’s not how grief works. There is no time limit, and the intensity and duration of grief (and how hard it might or might not be to get through anniversary days) really depends on many other factors—like how the person died and what your relationship was like before they died.

Those whose loved ones died in unexpected, sudden or traumatic ways may experience longer or more complicated grief, including trauma and anger. Suicide can be especially difficult. And those who had an estranged or uncertain relationship with the deceased may also struggle more over time.

Grief & Loss: Dealing w/ Death Anniversaries, Birthdays, & Holidays; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #sisters #siblings #grief #death

This is how I remember Shannon–right behind me, playing, laughing, being my best friend. Being my sister.

Monday, on Shannon’s birthday, was the first year I felt free to celebrate and remember her with joy. The first few years, I remember feeling angry that some of her friends or other family members were “celebrating” her birthday. I felt like her death had left me with such a burden to sort through that I couldn’t celebrate her. Because of how she died—a stupid, drunken mistake, an overdose, but by her own hand—it made it even harder. I didn’t want to celebrate her. Instead, I tried to ignore her birthday and I geared up to remember her on her death day.

This year, almost eight years later, I felt the opposite. On her death day in October, I spoke at a This is How We Grow book club, sharing our story. It honored her and was fun for me. No remorse. No pain. Just a simple, normal day. But on her birthday, on Monday, I finally felt ready to celebrate—to celebrate the gift of having had her as my sister and to celebrate the blessing of now raising her children, our children. I gave myself and my family gifts in honor of Shannon. I went and had a massage, because that’s what I would have done with her and because she was a massage therapist, and that’s how she took care of me. I thought of her and missed her and loved her. I had a lovely, quiet lunch, almost like taking her to lunch, remembering her goodness and her loving heart. And I took my family—our family—out to play on the golf course as the sun set and to get ice cream in honor of her birthday, so we could remember our sister, mother, and aunt.

 

 

3) It’s okay to let it be “just a day.”

I recall hearing someone on a TV show talking about the second anniversary of the death of her husband and how she had realized “it was really just another day, and that’s okay.” It took the pressure off for her. This person chose to remember her loved one on his birthday, when she could feel joyful and nostalgic, rather than to remember his painful death. Of course, this was after she had spent significant time working through her grief, which is very important to do. Yet, as we work through our grief, it can be healing to let go of the power of “that day” and realize it’s really just another day. This has helped me tremendously over the years to do the same for my sisters’ death days, as the time was right.

 

 

4) It’s also okay to remember; in fact, remembering is good.

OJ & me on our wedding day, with Shannon & Rob, just before their wedding. Shannon was so beautiful that night; I’ll never forget it. We loved having them there with us as our lives began.

Remember the good times. Remember their strengths. Remember what you loved most about them. Often, on the birth or death day of my sister or brother-in-law, we have a family dinner and remember them. My two sons who were my nephews share stories of their “first parents,” and my other four sons and daughters share memories of their crazy aunt and uncle. My husband and I share funny times from college and our early-married years with them. It’s good to remember. It’s also good for kids to know they can remember and to feel safe doing so.

It’s also good to remember others’ loved ones. The year I published my memoir, This is How We Grow, a friend who had been helping me with edits showed up at my door on “Shannon day,” as I call her death day, with homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. “I read in your book how she used to bake these for you and I just wanted to let you know, I remember.” It still brings tears to my eyes.

Send a note, an email or text, stop by and give a hug, or drop off some flowers just to show you haven’t forgotten. When my little sister Miki died, one of her best friends showed up every year on her birthday with flowers for my mom. From the time she was 8 until she left for college, this friend remembered. And we have never forgotten it.

 

 

5) Let yourself feel about and experience birthdays, death days, holidays, or anniversaries however you feel is best.

The kids and I, sending balloons to Shannon, on the 5th anniversary of her death.

The kids and I, sending balloons to Shannon, on the 5th anniversary of her death.

There is no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to these days. Sometimes, it’s healthier to cry and mourn. Sometimes, it’s healthier to laugh and celebrate. Sometimes, it’s healthier to just let it be another day, and sometimes, it’s healthier to look ahead and plan the day.

I’ve spent such days going for a hike, writing in my journal, sleeping in and napping later, speaking about my loved one at a book club or other event, playing with my kids and remembering as we send balloons up to heaven, reading in a hammock, calling and talking with my family or friends about them, sharing my feelings with my husband, or sobbing in a bath. Each of these has felt right for that day and for that time of my progression through grief.

 

 

6) Honor their memory, & honor yourself for carrying on.

As the years progress, it becomes less about what “I have lost” and more about who they were, what they taught me, and what I can leave behind in honor of them. I can carry on. I can learn from their lives. I can grow. Then, I can share that growth with others.

I’ve attempted to do so in This is How We Grow. It honors my sister and brother-in-law, and father-in-law, and all whom I lost during that time of my life. I wouldn’t be doing what I do now—writing and teaching—without my sister, and brother-in-law, and all whom I’ve lost. I am grateful beyond words for this gift they’ve given me. I try to honor them by never taking it for granted.

My dear friend, Jody. "Second mom" to my kids, as I've been "second mom" to hers. I'll never forget her.

My dear friend, Jody. “Second mom” to my kids, as I’ve been “second mom” to hers. I’ll never forget her.

In less than two weeks, my family will spend an afternoon with my friend, Jody’s, husband and three children, eat a home-cooked meal, share memories, and send balloons to remember her. It will feel comforting to be with them, remembering together. Then, on the actual death day, they will spend it together alone, and I will be speaking to a women’s group about women’s mental health and how to take care of themselves, in honor of my friend who struggled to do the same. It’s another way to remember—to use her memory to fuel my passion to help others. To learn from her lessons and then teach, so others might be prevented from the same fate.

That’s one of the best ways we can honor our loved ones who have passed on—to learn from them and then to share what we have learned; to let their legacy be one of hope, of peace, of compassion, and great love.

 

 

What are your thoughts and feelings about death, birth, anniversary, and holidays? How do you cope with them? What have you learned? Share with us by leaving a comment, below.

Dr. Christina Hibbert www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

You may manage your subscription options from your profile.

 

 

"This is How We Grow"--IPPY award-winning memoir by Dr. Christina Hibbert #motherhood #loss #selfworth #personalgrowth
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s IPPY Award-winning, #1 Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow!
Available now at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

 

 

 

"Who Am I Without You?" 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #book #selfesteem #breakup #divorce

Available now at TargetAmazonBarnes & NobleNew Harbinger, or your local bookseller!

 “Who Am I Without You is the light at the end of the tunnel!”

“So much more than a breakup book, this is a guide to self-worth for anyone–all in a neat little 52-lesson package!”

 

Grief & Loss-Dealing with Death Days, Birthdays, Holidays & Anniversaries; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com
Don’t miss a thing! 

SUBSCRIBE, above, “like” my Facebook pages (Dr. Christina HibbertThis Is How We Grow), and follow me on Twitter,Pinterest, & Instagram!

 

 

 

Related Posts/Articles:

In Memory of my Sister, on the 5th Anniversary of her Death

Breaking the Silence about Suicide, Grief, & Family Survivors

Dealing with Grief

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Siblings & Grief: 10 Things Everyone Should Know

Children & Grief: What You Should Know

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The Do’s & Don’ts of Helping Others Through Grief

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“The Many Faces of Depression”: Motherhood, Postpartum, & Spirituality–Jami’s Story

"The Many FACEs of DEPRESSION": Motherhood, Postpartum, & Spirituality--Jami's Story; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

"The Many FACEs of DEPRESSION": Motherhood, Postpartum, & Spirituality--Jami's Story; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

I am pleased to continue my “Many FACEs of DEPRESSION” campaign this month with Jami’s story.

Jami is a counselor,  speaker, and mother of seven! Her story shows how depression can hit not only during hard times, but also how it may come unbidden when we most want to feel happy and well.

Jami shows us, once again, that depression can come to anyone, any time, and that it does not in any way reflect weakness on the part of the sufferer. Jami has worked very hard to overcome her depression. She shares specific strategies that have helped her, including focusing on spirituality, and how depression has impacted her spiritual connection and beliefs. Jami seeks to keep smiling, despite depression; again, as I always say, “You can’t always tell by looking.”

That’s why I’m doing this series, each month for this entire year–to keep this topic open for discussion; to keep reminding us that we’re not alone and that depression does not mean we are weak; to educate and help people understand depression more fully so we can stop the stigma that holds so many captive. I am grateful to Jami for lending her face and voice to help break down the walls, and stigma, of depression!

 

Jami’s Story

“Depression…Maybe it’s that feeling of being a caged tiger that intermittently erupts and threatens to consume you. Maybe it’s the negative, nagging thoughts of running away, disappearing, and hibernating that are nipping at your heels. Maybe it’s the subtle simmering of certain words that would usually never occur, words like death, sleeping pills, and funerals.

 

‘Maybe it’s the shroud of numbness as you sit amongst utter chaos, yet you feel nothing. Maybe it’s the veil of mental fog and utter disconnect from those you see around you but the stark realization that even in a room full of people, you feel no one. Who knows. But somehow, you’re left stumbling in slow motion through the deep dark dismal abyss of depression.

 

Depression can happen any time, to anyone…

‘Here I find myself venturing my way through the murky waters of depression once again. Painfully, depression is no stranger to me. It hit me as I battled my way out of an abusive marriage with a three month old. It choked me as I faced months of handling a screaming colicky baby. It kidnapped me while I attempted to celebrate the surprising birth of our long awaited baby girl. It swarmed me following a life threatening experience of our infant son. And now it nearly consumes me as I send my son off to college and cradle the little bundle in my arms that we hadn’t anticipated.

 

‘It has robbed me of clarity, celebration, and contentment. Some would say I should be tougher mentally or question why I, as a counselor and speaker, can’t help myself. The stark truth…Depression can happen at any time, to anyone. And that includes me.

 

Depression in Marriage, Motherhood, & Postpartum…

‘The first time I experienced depression, people could understand my struggle a bit, After all, I was leaving"The Many Faces of Depression": Motherhood, Postpartum, & Spirituality--Jami's Story www.DrChristinaHibbert.com an abusive marriage with a tiny baby, and the whole situation seemed dark and horrible. Then, about seven years later I was mothering an extremely colicky baby who had horrible reflux issues. After just a few moments in his presence most people could understand why I might be struggling. His constant crying would get anyone down!

 

‘But then two years later, we were overjoyed to be surprised by the addition of a baby girl after having three boys and being told she was expected to be a boy. Despite my pure excitement, I could feel the depression overcoming me. And no one understood! By everyone else’s measure, I should be ecstatic. And as much as I wanted to feel that, I could feel only the dark cloud of depression overtaking me. I remember vividly sitting in my living room, thinking about my funeral, and what it would be like to have others walk into my home once I was gone. I felt convinced my kids would be better off with me dead. (Read more about postpartum depression here.)

 

‘Those were long and scary days. The depression felt as though it lasted forever. Even with counseling and medication, I didn’t feel much relief. Depression hit again six years later, two months after we had our sixth child and he experienced a life-threatening incident. The fear of picking him up and having him feel near death will never leave me. I felt anxious and dreadful. I constantly relived the events and felt certain I should be able to keep anything from harming him. I lost sleep and grew into a depression with anxiety looming. Now, here I sit following the surprise addition of our seventh child (sixth son) who arrived just five short weeks after sending our oldest son off to college. Who knows if the launching of a child or hormones after the addition of another bears greater weight on the depression I feel over whelming me. The fact remains. I am once again where I have desperately tried to never be again.

 

What helps…Self-Care & Spirituality

‘As hard as the struggle is proving to be, I am at least trying to stay afloat and have found some of these things helpful.

Supplements/Essential Oils–I am taking quality supplements that are supporting my overall health and supposed to be a good tool for combatting depression. Even though they are not inexpensive, I find that I feel worse if I miss just one or two doses. I am also using some mood supporting oils. I apply them topically and diffuse them as well. I can really feel a difference and can tell when I am not using them consistently.

Sleep—I make a point to nap a little each afternoon. Sometimes that is my motivation to get through a difficult morning! I also find that it is like building a small energy reserve to finish the day. And at night, I diffuse essential oils that help support better sleep. (Read, “6 Insomnia Causes & Cures” here.)

Diet–I make sure to eat and drink well. I really hate drinking water, but adding lemon oil to my water is another method of gently flushing my system and fighting depression.

Exercise—Okay, maybe I fail here just a little, but with the busy schedule of a family with seven kiddos…I feel like I am constantly running! (Read about Exercise and Mental Health Benefits here.)

Counseling—Obviously, as a counselor I believe in the value of counseling. Even then it can be hard to take that step to trust someone and go. It really is valuable to have a place that you can leave your “junk” and return to life. (Read more about postpartum depression psychotherapy treatment here.)

Grace—More than anything, I am really trying to give myself grace for this race. My house is not as clean as I would choose. The laundry is often overtaking me. I’ve had a kid or two go to school with bedhead, and I have even gone three days with the same hair do…but THAT’S OK!

Spiritual Connection—Depression makes me feel disconnected from everyone, and honestly, that includes God. But during this time, I remind myself of the things I know to be true. He is always there. He’s got His eye on me, and He will never let me go. Thankfully, He’s a big God and He can even handle my anger and extreme emotions. (Read about The Mind-Body-Spirit Connection here.)

 

This has been my journey through depression…

‘Yes, I am a face of depression. It may come as a surprise to many, as I walked out most days feeling as though I had to choose the shallow smile and suffer in silence. How refreshing it would be to remove the stigma and be able to talk about it and get the support we so desperately need!”

~Learn more about Jami on her website, jamikirkbride.com!

 

 

 

Read and share the stories from 

“The Many FACEs of DEPRESSION” series:

Overcoming the Stigma of Depression: “I am the FACE of DEPRESSION (& Anxiety)”–My Story

Men, Illness, & Mental Health–Pernell’s Story

more coming soon!

 

Did Jami’s story touch you in some way? Could you relate, or did you learn something? What would you like Jami to know? Please leave a comment, below, and show Jami your gratitude and support!

 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s bestselling, award-winning memoir, This is How We Grow!
Available now at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

 

 

 

"Who Am I Without You?" 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #book #selfesteem #breakup #divorce

NEW! Dr. Hibbert’s latest book, “Who Am I Without You,” is available now at TargetAmazonBarnes & NobleNew Harbinger, or your local bookseller!

 
 
 

Dr. Christina Hibbert www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

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 "The Many FACEs of DEPRESSION": Motherhood, Postpartum, & Spirituality--Jami's Story; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

 

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Related Posts/Articles:

10 Benefits of Practicing Gratitude

Living a Life of Purpose & Meaning: The Key to true Happiness

Join my Free, Online “This Is How We Grow” Personal Growth Group!

“This is How We Grow:” Understanding the Seasons of Personal Growth

10 Ways I Choose to Grow Each Day 

Personal Growth & Self-Actualization: What Will Your Choice Be?

Parenting Success: It’s More about the Parent than the Child

Learning Self-Love: 5 Tricks for Treating Yourself More Kindly

 

Family, Friends, & Support: 10 Crucial Ways to Love & Be There for Each Other

Friends, Family, & support- 10 Ways to Be there for Each other; www.DrChristina Hibbert.com

Friends, Family, & support- 10 Ways to Be there for Each other; www.DrChristina Hibbert.com“In order to give love, we must receive love; as we receive love, we learn to love ourselves; and as we love ourselves, we have so much more love to give.”

~This is How We Grow

 

The past months have served as a stark reminder of a truth I’ve long known but needed to know again: We need each other. We truly cannot do it alone. What is “it,” you may ask? Life. From loss to depression, to holidays to successes, to serving to needing to be served, I’ve been faced with this truth once more these past months–that we belong to one another, and that alone, we fail, we suffer, we fall.

 

Family, Friends, & Support: We Need Each Other

I don’t want any of us to fall. I want each of us to feel loved, supported, and uplifted. I want each of us to know we are not alone. I want each of us to reach out for help when we need it, and especially to let help in. I want us to remember that, as human beings, we are one. We are connected. We are not separate, and we certainly cannot do life alone.

 

 

10 Crucial Ways to Be there for Each Other

How? How do we ensure we are completing the cycle of giving and receiving love? How do we ensure we’re actually there for each other, that we’re doing what we must to support one another? Here are 10 things we can do, which I believe are crucial to “being there.” Pick at least one; then, make sure you do it today.

 

1) Be there for one another through the hard times. It seems like a no-brainer, but I’ve learned that many of us struggle to be there when times get tough for our loved ones. We don’t know what to do, or to say, so we do and say nothing. We mustn’t do this. A few months ago, I shared my struggles with depression. It even prompted my “Many Faces of Depression” series, because I was so tired of no one saying or doing anything. Even after I posted my story, only a couple of close friends said anything to me about it, but oh what a difference their support has made to me. Then, the past few weeks, I’ve been first caring for a sick family, and then down with strep myself while also launching my new book, Who Am I Without You and completing the manuscript for my third book, all within a couple of days of each other! Add to that three snow days in a row, and it was literally the “perfect storm.” I could not have done it without the help of my husband and kids. Yes, I had to bribe my kids to watch each other so I could finish my book while I was sick and they were all home (at 3:30 in the morning!), but they did it. They were truly there for me. And so was a friend who saw my need in a Facebook post and brought me dinner that night. We need to just be there. We need to say, “I don’t know what to say, but I’m here.” We need to show up when times are tough and support each other through. It doesn’t take any special kind of skills. It simply takes great love. (Read “The Do’s & Don’ts of Helping Others Through Grief)

 

2) Cheer each other on through the good times. It’s not just about being there when times are tough, though that’s definitely important. It’s also about being there when things are going well, through the successes–it’s about cheering one another on. I know some of us struggle with this. Whether it’s jealousy or discomfort with others’ successes, or whether somehow their successes Friends, Family, & support- 10 Ways to Be there for Each other-www.DrChristinaHibbert.commake us feel “less than,” some of us do struggle to cheer others on. We must get over this and be there for one another. There is plenty of success to go around! I threw a book launch party a week and one-half ago, here in my hometown. It was simple and short, because I had a book launch, another book due, and I was sick all in the same three days! But I wanted to celebrate, and I wanted my friends to celebrate with me. I was pleasantly surprised how many of my friends came down to support me. Even though most of them are happily married, and my newest book is a “breakup” book (though it’s really a self-esteem book for anyone!), they came down, hugged me, bought a book, had me sign it, and smiled and laughed and had a great time (my daughters, too!)! Even my launch partners have done this online, with encouraging social media posts, emails, and even a blog tour (See articles from “JulieHanks.com,” “30SecondMom.com,” and “DrSarahAllen.com!”) Were there some close friends who haven’t shown me that kind of love and support? Unfortunately, yes. But was I feeling loved? Yes. Absolutely. Even the “good” times can be stressful. We still need to be there for each other.

 

3) Learn from Each Other. Watching and emulating those we respect and admire is one of the greatest ways to be there for each other. Just after my “Who Am I Without You” book launch and 3rd book deadline (8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise, with Norton, coming early 2016!), I was needed out of town as an expert witness in a trial. Like I said, it’s been a “full” couple of weeks! I’d been working on this case for over two years, and was as prepared as I could be, but this was my first time actually testifying as an expert witness in a full trial. I had no clue what I was supposed to do. So, I let myself be a blank slate, and the attorneys in the case were patient, spent hours with me, and taught me all about how to do my new “job.” I also had more experienced colleagues give me some pointers, and overall, I felt so supported and ready for whatever came my way. We have so many opportunities to learn from each other each day. All we have to do is open up and receive the knowledge, the wisdom, the gift of being shown “how.”

 

4) Teach one another. I love to teach, probably because I learn the most when I teach others. But I couldn’t do what I do–as a psychologist, author, blogger, speaker, and especially as a mother–without the willingness of others to open up, to ask for help, to listen, and to receive it. In return, I learn so much from those in my life, too–my clients, friends, family, my husband, and yes, especially my kids. We each have something important to teach. We each have talents and gifts, and we must share them with the world! The world, and each of us in it, will be so much better off if we do.

 

5) Build others up. Years ago, in high school, I started to wonder why we don’t just tell each other

My friends, Elisa & Cheryl from 30SecondMom, at my launch party in Chicago!

My friends, Elisa & Cheryl from 30SecondMom, at my launch party in Chicago!

the good things we think about one another. I made a commitment then and there to do whatever I could to make sure I shared the kind, loving things I think about others, so they will know. I’ve strived to share compliments with others whenever I think them, ever since. We mustn’t hide the good stuff we see in others. As one of my favorite quotes says, “We cannot see ourselves. We need a mirror to see ourselves. You are my mirror and I am yours.” ~Debbie Ford. Be that mirror.  Tell others the good you see in them. You never know what a difference you can make.

 

6) Accept the good others see in us. When someone gives you a compliment, do you say, “Thank you?” or do you push it away? Too many times we push the good off, saying, “Oh, no. I’m not really like that.” But we must let the good in. If others are opening up enough to share the good they see in us, then we must be open enough to receive it. Let the good stuff in. We need that good from others; it helps us grow.

 

7) Show compassion. When others mess up, we can choose to show compassion. When their hurt is hurting us, we can choose to show compassion. Compassion is healing for the soul–both for their soul and especially for ours. The next time someone is screaming out in pain, take a deep breath, put your own fears and needs aside, and show some compassion.

 

8) Forgive. My kids forgive me all the time, because I ask for it. When I mess up as a mom, I do my best to acknowledge my wrongs and tell the kids I am sorry. And I do my best to forgive others, too. Forgiveness is cleansing, powerful, loving, and yes, forgiveness heals. Not just the one we forgive. Forgiveness heals us.

 

9) Be kind. Do kind gestures for others. Offer a smile, a hug, a listening ear. Pick up their kids for Friends, Family, & support- 10 Ways to Love & Be there for Each other; www.DrChristina Hibbert.comthem, drive them somewhere, or help them into the house with their groceries. And no, kindness does not mean you become “weak.” Sometimes, kindness is doing the hard thing–correcting a child, pushing someone to reach their potential, or setting boundaries with unhealthy relationships. The kind thing is the loving thing, and the loving thing may not always feel easy or even good. I always tell my kids, “You don’t have to be nice to be kind.” No matter what, choose kindness.

 

10) Remember: We truly are one. When we hurt another soul, we hurt ourselves. When we love one another, when we forgive and let go of anger, hurt, or pain; when we teach and learn from each other and show kindness and compassion, then we thrive. We truly cannot do “it” alone, my friends. We need each other. Love is what makes this crazy, beautiful world–and each of us in it–go ’round.

 

 

What are your thoughts on “being there” for each other? Share them by leaving a comment, below!

 

 

"Who Am I Without You?" 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #book #selfesteem #breakup #divorce

Available now at TargetAmazonBarnes & NobleNew Harbinger, or your local bookseller!

 “Who Am I Without You is the light at the end of the tunnel!”

“So much more than a breakup book, this is a guide to self-worth for anyone, all in a neat little 52-lesson package!”

 

Dr. Christina Hibbert www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

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#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s IPPY Award-winning Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow!
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Friends, Family, & support- 10 Ways to Be there for Each other; www.DrChristina Hibbert.com
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“Motherhood. Mental Illness. Out Loud.”–Happy Birthday, STIGMAMA!

Stigmama-Motherhood. Mental Illness. Out Loud; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Stigmama-Motherhood. Mental Illness. Out Loud; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comI wasn’t planning on posting today. Yesterday, my second book, Who Am I Without You (with New Harbinger Publications), came out–successfully, thank goodness! And today my third book manuscript, on “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise” (with Norton Publishing) is due! I should also mention that I have strep, I’ve barely slept, oh, and today’s a snow day, so I have five kids bored at home as well!

 

But, this is motherhood. This is the insanity and the wonder, the misery and the bliss. And despite all that’s happening in my mama world, I had to take a minute to share my congratulations to a fabulous blog that is all about this reality of motherhood–Stigmama!

 

 

Stigmama: “Motherhood. Mental Illness. Out Loud.”

Stigmama was founded by my friend and colleague, Dr. Walker Karraa (whose new book, Transformed by Postpartum Depression, recently came out and is getting excellent reviews!). What Walker has been able to do in one year with this site is incredible and inspiring. Thousands of Facebook likes, over 70 contributors, and real articles about motherhood, mental illness, overcoming stigma, and making change! It’s a place you can go to think, and speak, out loud about all that’s not quite right in the world–to seek answers to make things better.

 

 

Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness: My Passion, too

Motherhood mental illness, and especially overcoming stigma, are topics I am passionate about as

I'm wearing my "Super Gal: Defender of all Things Good!" shirt today--to motivate me in my duties as mom and author! This reminds me of Walker Karraa and Stigmata--Super and defending all that's good.

I’m wearing my “Super Gal: Defender of all Things Good!” shirt today–to motivate me in my duties as mom and author! This reminds me of Walker Karraa and Stigmama–Super and defending all that’s good.

well. I am two posts into my year-long “Many FACEs of DEPRESSION” campaign, with the goal of showing that people who struggle with depression are normal, healthy, even highly successful individuals and that the more we talk about depression, the more we make it real. The more we seek to understand and be there for one another–the greater our chances of overcoming depression.

 

I’ve also spoken out about the stigma of suicide for surviving family members and how, the suicide of a loved one is like a scarlet A on one’s chest, a secret we’re meant to keep, yet everyone knows. It’s a secret we mustn’t carry. It is only in talking about suicide–about prevention, education, help, support, and hope for those who are considering suicide and for those who love them–that we can stop the stigma and begin to heal.

 

In my new book, Who Am I Without You, I look at self-esteem and self-worth after a breakup or divorce. Though breakups are common, affecting over 50% of marriages, unfortunately, the stigma of divorce is common, too. Many of my clients are women, and men, who desperately wanted to keep their families together, but because of circumstances beyond their control–i.e. spouses who cheat, lie, abuse, or leave–they’re now facing the isolation that can too often come after a breakup or divorce. This deeply affects one’s self-esteem, and I am relieved to hear that those who are reading Who Am I Without You are already beginning to heal, knowing they are not alone, and that someone understands. In fact, anyone going through a life loss can benefit from this book, since it’s a step by step guide to reclaiming your worth and flourishing in life again. It is the antidote to stigma!

 

Finally, a few months ago, I wrote about my experiences with the woman charged to 40 years in prison, without parole, after she injured her baby due to postpartum psychosis. I am still deeply affected by that experience and still working to help her be free. But what really disturbs me is just how easily other people can dismiss her and let her spend her whole life in prison! Those who suffer from mental illness are so easily cast aside. Everyone seems to turn their eyes away instead of taking that courageous deeper look to see the truth.

 

And the truth is this: Stigma is real. Stigma is like a hungry wolf, preying on the weak and afflicted, pushing them further away from their families, friends, and from the treatment they so desperately need. We must band together if we have any chance of erasing stigma, and Stigmama is doing precisely that.

 

 

Congratulations, Stigmama! Keep up the Incredible Work!

Congratulations, Dr. Karraa and Stigmama! The work you are doing is making a difference. The voice you provide others means something. It means we are truly never alone. It means we can, and must, speak up about stigma and mental illness. It means that Mamas everywhere are ready to join the cause–to stop the stigma of maternal mental illness so we can finally start living!
 
 

Join the “Happy Birthday Stigmama Blog Hop, here!

 

 

What do you want to say “out loud?” Leave a comment below and speak your mind–on motherhood, stigma, mental illness, and a better world!

 
 
"Who Am I Without You?" 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #book #selfesteem #breakup #divorce

Available now at TargetAmazonBarnes & NobleNew Harbinger, or your local bookseller!

 “Who Am I Without You is the light at the end of the tunnel!”

“So much more than a breakup book, this is a guide to self-worth for anyone, all in a neat little 52-lesson package!”

 

Dr. Christina Hibbert www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

You may manage your subscription options from your profile.

 

 

 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s IPPY Award-winning Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow!
Available now at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

 

 

 

 Stigmama-Motherhood. Mental Illness. Out Loud; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com
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Self-Esteem & Self-Worth: “Who Am I?” (Hint–You’re More Than You Think) Preview my NEW Book “Who Am I Without You”!

#SELFESTEEM & #SELFWORTH: "Who Am I?" Hint--you're more than you think! (Preview my new book, #WhoAmIWithoutYou!) www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

#SELFESTEEM & #SELFWORTH: "Who Am I?" Hint--you're more than you think! (Preview my new book, #WhoAmIWithoutYou!) www.DrChristinaHibbert.com
 
It’s time! My brand new book, Who Am I Without You, is being officially released this week! In honor of the book release, I’d love to share with you a preview of another one of my favorite chapters in this post. Hope it gives you a good feel for all you can learn about self-esteem, self-worth, and overcoming life’s toughest trials with a strong sense of who you truly are. (If you missed it, here’s a preview of Chapter 1.)
 
 
 
 
 

Chapter 22: Ask, “Who Am I?”

Hint—You’re More Than You Think.

“What a liberation to realize that the ‘voice in my head’ is not who I am. ‘

Who am I then?’ The one who sees that.”

~Eckhart Tolle

“Who Am I?” How would you answer this huge question?

I’ve asked clients and friends (and myself) many times, and I’ve heard all kinds of answers—“I’m a single mom,” “I’m an optimist,” “I’m a doctor,” “I’m an eternal soul,” “I’m trying to figure that out.” It’s how we introduce ourselves to people—“My name is so and so and I work as a such and such and I like doing this and that.” For many, it’s easy to answer: “I’m a short, blond, artist;” “I’m a mom, a nurse, and I have a passion for scrapbooking.” For others, it’s not so easy: “It’s something I ask myself all the time;” “I’m not sure who I am yet, but I am learning.”

The way I see it, there are two ways to answer the question, “Who am I?”: 1) with our head and heart, or 2) with our soul. The head and heart tell us some facts about who we are, but it’s the soul that answers the question, “Yes, but who are you, really?”

 

You are not how you look, how you feel, or what you think.

Short or tall, fair or dark, thin or not-so-thin—these describe your body. But are you your body? No. It’s part of you, but it’s definitely only part of the story.Preview my new book, #WhoAmIWithoutYou in this post, "Who Am I?" Hint--You're more than you think! www.DrchristinaHibbert.com

How about your feelings? They can certainly be powerful; at times, it can seem like they are you. Yet, emotions arise from all kinds of things—the weather, hormones, sleep or lack thereof, challenges, blessings. We’ve already discussed how emotions may come or go like the weather (chapter seven). You are so much more than your emotions.

Then, what about your thoughts? Our thoughts heavily influence how we feel, what we do, and even what we believe, it’s true. Many people get so caught up in their thoughts they actually believe they are those thoughts. Nope. We are not our thoughts. The fact that we can talk about our thoughts proves there’s more to us than what we think.

 

You are not your roles.

“I am darn-tough/” target=”_blank”>a mother.” “I am a teacher.” “I am a partner.” We tend to focus heavily on our roles. This can be especially tough after a breakup when suddenly, “I’m a wife,” or “I’m a girlfriend” no longer applies. Roles are helpful in categorizing our lives. They help us understand our responsibilities and fulfill them. Roles give us a certain simplicity to life, but roles change, don’t they? As you are going through life transition, you’re surely feeling that. You are not your roles.

 

You are not what you do.

Many of us get caught up in what we do—or don’t do. We take on the identity of a “successful business woman” or “a runner” or “an animal lover.” For instance, I am a psychologist. It is heavily ingrained in the way I think and act in the world. I have a strong curiosity to comprehend how we humans work, and I have a natural ability to understand and have compassion for others. These things make me good at what I do, but do they define who I am? No. They’re just part of how I express myself in this world.

 

Who are you—in your soul?

So, if none of these things we think with our head or feel with our heart gives us the full picture, then I ask again, “Who are you, really?”

This is a question that can only be answered with the soul—with that deeper part of you, that timeless, ingrained knowing that you are more than meets the eye. As we work to discover your sense of self-worth, you will feel that bigger, eternal part of yourself, and you will know that your potential is endless and your ability to love is immense. You will come to know the real you—not the you everyone sees or hears or thinks they know, but the you that was created for a great purpose. You will begin to see yourself as God sees you, and that is true self-worth.

 

Integrating the mind, heart, and soul of who you are.

As we move into how to build unwavering self-esteem, it can help to see who you think and feel you are, because the more you see of yourself and how you are in the world, the more you can integrate it with who you really are, deep in your soul.

That’s what we’re working toward here—to hear what you’re saying in your head and feeling in your heart, and then bring them in line with what you experience in your soul. Are these three areas saying the same thing about who you are? Do you like what you are hearing?

 

Bottom line…

  • “Who am I?” is a huge question, and we tend to answer it with our head or our heart.
  • We are not our roles, our feelings, our thoughts, or behaviors. However, these things can help us understand ourselves better when integrated with the truth from our soul.

 

Tool: Ask, “Who am I?”

  • Head: Grab your journal or a paper and pen and sit in a quiet space. Create your “who am I” list. Write out all the titles and roles and qualities your head tells you that you are. Don’t judge, just list.

The Many FACEs of DEPRESSION: Men, Illness, & Mental Health–Pernell’s Story

The Many FACEs of #DEPRESSION: #Men, Illness, & #MentalHealth, Pernell's Story; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com, #2 in a 12 part series

The Many FACEs of #DEPRESSION: #Men, Illness, & #MentalHealth, Pernell's Story; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com, #2 in a 12 part seriesI can’t tell you how thrilled I am to begin my “Many FACEs of DEPRESSION” blog series. After reviewing dozens of submissions, I’ve selected 12 individuals to share their stories of depression, hope, and healing.

 

The faces that accompany these posts are those of regular men and women of all walks and races, demonstrating that depression doesn’t play favorites–it can strike any of us, and there are many ways to treat it, recover, and heal. These stories show the many experiences of depression, the various ways it comes about, and how it affects daily life, work, family, and relationships.

 

My hope is that, through these stories, we will be able to 1) expose the many faces of depression–the people who suffer and how they overcome, so that 2) others may better understand depression, and 3) we may raise awareness of depression to 4) overcome the stigma. That we may learn to 4) ask about depression, and especially, that we may 5) begin to talk about it.

 

Men, Illness, & Mental Health: Story 2–Pernell

I started this series with my own story, a few months ago, and today, I am honored to share Pernell’s story.

 

I’ve known Pernell and his family through church and socially for the past 10 years. Pernell is a successful attorney with a beautiful wife (my kids’ amazing piano teacher) and family of four daughters, two sons, three sons-in-law, and 5 grandchildren. He is a warm, intelligent leader, and someone people admire in our community.
 
When I received Pernell’s blog post submission I was surprised, to say the least. I remember when he went through the medical experiences he describes below, and I knew it had been very hard on him and his family. But I had no idea Pernell had ever suffered from depression. From the outside, you could never tell; this is one reason I wanted to do this series–because, as I said in my story, “You can’t always tell by looking.”
 
I hope, through reading Pernell’s words, you will feel the love he has for his family, for life, and for others suffering from mental health concerns. Yes, men get depression. Yes, it can often be triggered by health issues. And yes, it can happen to those who are successful and seem to “have it all.” Read on, and you’ll see what I mean. Then, join me again next month for story 3 as we FACE DEPRESSION, together.
 

 

Pernell’s Story

“15 years ago my brother was diagnosed with a rare liver disorder.  Within 3 years he needed a transplant.  His best chance of survival was to receive a liver from a living donor.  I volunteered and was a match. In April 2006 I donated 60% of my liver to him.  A week after leaving the hospital I was re-admitted due to a bile duct leak.  Try as they might, the doctors could not locate the leak.  I became so ill the doctors were about to operate again.  I had to fast for 3 days because of all the tests.  My hair began to fall out.  Finally, the doctors located the leak, inserted a stent and I began to recover.  However, during that week I remember sitting on a gurney waiting for an MRI.  I was left alone, and all of the sudden began to feel intense anxiety.  I remember thinking, ‘this is silly, just calm down!’  But, I couldn’t.  It was probably only a few minutes, but I was so relieved when someone finally came to get me.

 

“After discharge, I returned home to recover.  I was anxious to return to work and felt that six weeks was long enough. I did not take into account, however, the complications.   At that time, I was in a dispute with my partners over some issues.  I prepared a memo outlining the changes I wanted to see or I would leave.  During a meeting I shared the memo with the junior partners in hopes that they would support my position. They were not supportive. Disappointed, I simply returned to the daily grind of work when a few days after the meeting, I received a memo from the firm’s most senior partner attacking me for insubordination and calling an emergency meeting.  Immediately I knew that one of the junior partners  had relayed my memo to the senior partners.  I was shocked and horrified when I opened that memo and in my weakened physical and emotional condition from the transplant was simply not prepared for a battle.

 

“I went home and tried to sleep, but couldn’t.  I felt enormous pain in my abdomen and thought it was another complication.  My wife drove me to the Mayo clinic the next day, but they found nothing wrong.  Slowly, the pains subsided, and I went back to work.  From that day, however, something was not right.  I could not sleep or concentrate.  Even the most menial of tasks were beyond my capacity.  I would cry The Many FACEs of #DEPRESSION--#Men, Illness, & #MentalHealth, Pernell's Story; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com (2nd in a 12 part series)over anything.  I could barely talk to my clients. I came home one day for lunch and could barely whisper to my wife, ‘I’m in trouble, I need help.’  She  called a psychologist. He agreed to see me and it was apparent I had anxiety and depression.  Initially, it was a great relief to be able to put a label on what I was feeling.  But that did not make the feelings go away.  The anxiety was so intense, that my heart would beat twice as fast as normal.  My teeth would chatter together.  My saliva glands and tear ducts were on overload.  I could not sleep more than 3 hours a night, and when I did, I did not dream. I also was depressed. I could see no point to life.  I remember seeing people walk their dogs and thinking, ‘what a completely worthless thing to do.’  Life had lost all meaning to me.  I thought that I would gladly go through the pain of the transplant again just to stop the emotional pain I was feeling.  I kept asking God why this would happen to me.  I had done what I thought was a good thing by helping my brother and could not understand why I was being punished.

 

“The hardest part was actually believing I would ever get better. I did not believe it.  I felt I had been permanently damaged.   That my brain chemistry had been forever altered. But, I kept seeing the psychologist.  I walked every day with my wife.  I would go to work and tell myself that if I could just make it until noon, I could go home and see my wife and everything would be O.K.  I would then go back to work and tell myself the same thing to get to the end of the day.   Through it all I continued to work, but for six months I was deeply depressed.  I resolved to find something to laugh about each day.  It’s weird being depressed and laughing, but that is what I did.  Slowly, the depression began to fade, but not the anxiety.  I have lived with that in some measure for the past 8 years.  It was almost cyclical.  I would be fine for a couple of weeks and then have a really bad week.  I left my former law firm about a year after all of the problems began and founded a very successful law firm.  Even so, every Sunday night the anxiety would hit me the hardest as I thought about having to go to work the next day.  At this point, the anxiety is all but gone.  I am not depressed.  I have an amazing wife and family, and other blessings too numerous to count.

 

“However, I know first hand the ugliness of mental illness.  Compared to the pain of being a liver donor, mental illness wins hands down.  I have learned there are many who suffer and need help.  While I  have no professional credentials, I have learned how to offer encouragement, empathy and  compassion to those who suffer.  I also learned that there is always hope.  Even though I could not see it at the depths of my despair,  I was able to persevere long enough to get my head above water long enough to see the edge of the pool and at least know that somehow I could get there.  Thankfully, with a lot of help I was able to get there and recover.”

 

~Pernell McGuire
Flagstaff, AZ

 
 

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"I am the face of depression & anxiety": Overcoming the Stigma of Depression, Dr. Christina Hibbert; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

 
 

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