Who Am I – in Pregnancy, Postpartum & Motherhood? Identity, Full Circle (#PSIBlog Hop 2016)

"Who Am I" in Pregnancy, Postpartum & Motherhood?- Identity, Full Circle. www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #PSIBlog Hop 2016 #ppd #pregnancy #postpartum #motherhood #identity

“Who am I, now that you are here?” It’s the title of a song I wrote about my experience with postpartum depression, after my first son was born. For me, PPD was about so much more than feeling sad or anxious or depressed. It was about who I thought I’d been, who I was now, and who I would become.

Identity is at the core of becoming a mother. It’s an essential part of this experience, from pre-conception until the end, and if there’s one thing I know, it’s that our identity—as individuals, women, and mothers—will ever evolve through our mothering journey.

 

 

Pre-Motherhood Identity
Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a mother. I envisioned my little "Who Am I?" Identity in Pregnancy, Postpartum & Motherhood #PSIBlog Hop 2016; www.DrchristinaHibbert.comfamily (“definitely not six kids,” I’d told my mom. Having been the oldest of 6 , I would never be up for that kind of responsibility. Never say never.). I believed I knew myself well, and I could see the kind of mother I would be. I would play with my children, making memories with smiles, showing them the world, staying home full-time and loving it. They would be my life, I would be theirs, and life would be good. How little I understood of what lay ahead–of how this vision would be tested, of how I would be tested, pushed, pulled and often shoved–pruned, uprooted, and planted again, and again.

 

Before that tiny being is laid in our arms, do we have any idea of what will be?

Loving my baby, but exhausted. This is reality.

Loving my baby, but exhausted. This is reality.

Can we comprehend how much love will flood our heart? Do we sense the tiniest hint of the pain and struggle we will endure—physically, yes, but emotionally, even more so? Are we in any way prepared for the journey for which we are unknowingly enlisting–a journey of self-doubt, self-discovery, and self-transformation like no other?

 

 

Pregnancy Identity

The joy and misery of pregnancy hint at what’s coming, but we don’t realize it, do we? All I knew was my body was changing, my sense of attractiveness lost; I had to pee far too often and slept propped on 5 strategically-placed pillows to avoid acid reflux.

With my first and second pregnancies, I had pains no doctor could explain.

When my first was born, I think I was in shock. You can see a glimpse of it by my mouth as I listen to him cry.

When my first was born, I think I was in shock. You can see a glimpse of it by my mouth as I listen to him cry.

They’d wipe me out for days. Two years later, they could finally tell me what it was–gallstones–and I finally found relief through surgery.

Near the end of my first pregnancy, I couldn’t wait for the baby to finally be out! All we can think of is how uncomfortable, exhausted, and “done” we are. Little do we know what’s just around the bend. A breach delivery should have tipped me off. He came out bottom first, and as I say, “He’s been giving me trouble ever since”—haha! But the trouble was just beginning. And so was the growth.

A growing body and soon-to-be growing family hopefully grow our mind and spirit, too. Pregnancy is the true beginning, the reality, the point of no return when we start to question who we once were, who we are becoming, and who we will be. As our baby grows inside, we hopefully grow internally, too, allowing questions as they naturally arise: “What will this baby be like?” “What will our family be like?” “What will I be like as a mother?” We hope for the best and expect it–at least, the first time. Perhaps in later pregnancies, we still hope for the best, yet we know all too well the challenges we may face once our little one is finally here.

 

 

Postpartum Identity

Identity in Pregnancy, Postpartum & Motherhood: Full Circle #PSIBlog Hop 2016 www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

With baby #2, I thought I was better, and I was. But I still ended up with postpartum depression. (My 2 year old is being a dinosaur here.)

I had four very different childbirth experiences; you’d think they’d yield four very different postpartum experiences. No such luck: postpartum depression every time.

Identity in Pregnancy, Postpartum & Motherhood www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #PSIBlog Hop 2016

Beautiful baby girl was so loved! I only wish the depression and anxiety could have stayed away.

The first time, I penned the words, “Who am I now that you are here?” and put them to music. I’d purposefully dream of my beautiful boy at night, like I used to when I was dating my husband. But I no longer felt like a “me;” instead, I was a perpetual “we.” He was colicky, and I was not sleeping. We moved in with my parents and lived for 3 months on their living room floor because I had no clue what else to do. The first time I left to the store for a pacifier, alone, I felt like I’d broken out of jail.

With my second beautiful boy, I convinced myself I was better. I knew what postpartum depression was. I had my plan and support team. I was ready. My journals betray me, however, with the words “I want to run away. Not forever. Just for a while, so I can feel like me again.”

With the third–a beautiful baby girl–postpartum anxiety was thrown in the mix, just for kicks. And the fourth? That’s a long story. I wrote an entire book about it, but the Cliff Notes version is that after inheriting our two nephews

Just weeks after our family went from three to six kids, I posed us for a Christmas card pic. Can you see the fear in my eyes as I pulled myself together to be the mom everyone needed me to be?

Just weeks after our family went from three to six kids, I posed us for a Christmas card pic. Can you see the fear in my eyes as I pulled myself together to be the mom everyone needed me to be?

when my sister and brother-in law died, giving birth three weeks later, and going from three to six kids, needless to say, this postpartum experience was so much more than depression or anxiety. It was grief and trauma and desperation to help my family heal–to be strong enough to bear it all and to do it well. This postpartum experience was giving it all I had so I could be there for my children ages 11, 10, 8, 6, 4, and 0, even though my world and identity had been ripped to shreds. I was re-building my family, but really, I was re-building myself. “I’ll never fulfill my dream of being an author or speaker. How could I? I have six children! I am not made to handle this like other mothers are.” The things I told myself! Talk about self-doubt; at times, it was more like self-loathing—a sure sign of depression, once more.

Our postpartum experiences are so varied between us, and they also vary within

On vacation, in the midst of PPD, after baby #3. I do love this pic, because I felt happy for a little while.

On vacation, in the midst of PPD, after baby #3. I do love this pic, because I felt happy for a little while.

us. Though the common denominator–a periantal mood or anxiety disorder–is there, the manifestation of that denominator is never exactly the same. As we struggle and overcome and heal and move forward, we change. We grow. We become. And we find it’s the challenges we’ve faced—like PPD—that have made us who we are becoming.

 

 

Mom of Young Children, Teens, Young Adults Identity

Currently, I’m in the midst of all three of these mothering phases. With two in

After visiting my sisters' & other family members' gravesites, at the funeral of OJ's grandfather, we tried to stay enthusiastic about life even in the midst of so much death.

After visiting my sisters’ & other family members’ gravesites, at the funeral of OJ’s grandfather, we tried to stay enthusiastic about life even in the midst of so much death.

college, two in high school, one in middle school, and one in elementary, I feel like I’m just trying to keep up most of the time. The busyness, the activities, the emotional needs, the school projects! So much to do, so little time, and still, so many opportunities for personal growth.

I have faced non-postpartum depression and anxiety. I have overcome new traumas, losses, and grief. I have experienced so many trials and lows, and yet I have experienced so many joys, and so much love. It’s ironic, isn’t it? The very things that break us down ends up being the stimulus for unfathomable new growth.

As our little ones become not-so-little anymore, our identity changes again, especially as they begin to form their own identities as teenagers and young adults. It’s a new version of postpartum–watching them individuate and leave the nest, and it can pull at our heartstrings, especially when we see them flail or fail. It’s a time of wondering, “Who am I as a mother now—especially if they don’t seem to need me like they once did?”

Questioning brings answers, however, and if we are brave enough to face those answers, we will find our role as a mother isn’t so much fading as shifting once again. The opportunity for a new identity–one of the supporter, advisor, and simply lover of our children presents itself, and we begin to see ourselves evolve as our children do the same. In doing so, we just might find a new sense of freedom we haven’t had since our journey began—knowing our children are their own beings, and we are merely here to support and love them.

 

 

Mothering Identity is Ever-evolving

As mothers, our identity is ever-changing and, if we are willing to continually

Later years are an opportunity to develop new parts of our identity--especially our marriage and relationships.

Later years are an opportunity to develop new parts of our identity–especially our marriage and relationships.

examine ourselves, will be every evolving in positive, joyful ways. Our postpartum journey continues as we become grandmothers, as we nurture our own daughters and sons through their pregnancy, postpartum, and parenting journeys, as we share the wisdom we wish we’d known, and provide the support we wish we’d had. The gift of these new postpartum experiences is that we get to watch our grandchildren grow without the responsibility of being the parent, without the self-doubt that too often accompanies our own parenting journeys. We get to re-experience life through young, fresh eyes, and hopefully, find the joy we might have missed the first time around simply because we were too busy trying to figure it all out to stop and notice.

 

 

Full circle Back to “Me.”

And so we’ve come full circle. As we grow through motherhood, purposefully

Biking along the beach in Belize, with OJ. Gorgeous!

Biking along the beach in Belize, with OJ. Gorgeous!

seeking our truest self, pushing, learning, and taking our lessons in stride, we find we come back to the beginning, at the end. That’s what full circle means to me—coming back around to myself, and feeling more “me” than I ever have before.

 

 

What have your mothering identity changes been like? What’s been challenging for you? What lessons have you learned? How have you seen your experiences come “full circle?” Please leave a comment, below, and join the conversation!

 

 

  • If you need immediate help, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
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2016 PSI Blog Hop: Invitation: "Full Circle" www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Join the 4th annual Postpartum Support International Blog Hop! Read the guidelines here, write your “full circle” story, and then link up, below or here. Help raise awareness, support and hope, in honor of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month!

 

 

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Anxiety & Women: Hormones, Sleep & What You Can Do

Anxiety & Women-Hormones, Sleep & What You Can Do; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #anxiety #women #hormones #sleepIt’s 3:30 a.m. I was simply rolling over to fall back asleep, when my brain switched on like a 100-watt light bulb, and now I’m flooded with stress, worries, and thoughts of what I “need to get done” or about “my overwhelming life,” when I thought I’d put those thoughts to bed hours ago. I know I won’t fall back asleep. Still, I try. I try belly-breathing, then progressive muscle relaxation, then letting myself think for a while, to tire me out. Then, I pray. I pray for sleep. I pray that this knot of tension inside me will leave, that the fatigue my body is feeling will overpower the thoughts that hold me hostage. Finally, at 5 a.m., I get up and begin to type. It helps to get these thoughts out of me and maybe do some good for others in the process. Finally, I sneak down to the basement and exercise; I know it’s one of the best things I can do to not only distract my mind, but to provide much-needed energy for the day and hopefully later, the ability to finally rest.

 

This is anxiety, and trust me, it’s miserable. I don’t know why I haven’t written more about it before. That’s one thought that was spinning through my mind while I wasn’t sleeping this morning—Why haven’t I written about anxiety, when it’s the predominant symptom with which I struggle? When it’s one of the most common issues for all women, for all people? (Read “I am the FACE of DEPRESSION (& Anxiety): Overcoming the Stigma”)

 

 

Anxiety & Women

It’s not only my predominant symptom: “Anxiety disorders include phobias, social anxiety, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, PTSD, and separation anxiety disorder, and are considered the most commonly occurring class of mental disorders (CDC 2015)” [2].”

 

Anxiety is the most common mental health issue in women. Yes, more common than depression. Anxiety will affect one in three women throughout their lifetime [2], and often, depression and anxiety go hand-in-hand. Women are also twice as likely as men to develop an anxiety disorder, and symptoms tend to appear earlier in life for women [1].

 

 

What is Anxiety?

So, what, exactly, is anxiety? Clients have described it to me as, “I’m on edge all the time.” “My mind won’t shut off.” “I can’t stop thinking about everything I need to do” or “worrying about everything that could Anxiety & Women: Hormones, Sleep & What you Can Do; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comhappen.” “I can’t relax;” “I’m on edge all the time.” Or, I described it, above, “I can’t sleep even though I’m exhausted: My mind is holding me prisoner.”

 

Anxiety is, first and foremost, a feeling. We need anxiety to warn us of danger or to make us to take action when something needs to get done. If something is wrong and we feel worried, stressed, or afraid, anxiety helps set off the sympathetic nervous system, raising our heart rate and blood pressure and setting off stress hormones, like cortisol, in the brain, preparing us for action, telling us, “You need to do something about this!” When we take action, or when we are able to relieve the stressor or resolve the situation, our mind is supposed to shut off, our parasympathetic nervous system returning our body to a calmer state, heart rate slowing to normal, stress hormones subsiding.

 

What is an “Anxiety Disorder?”

Chronic anxiety, like an anxiety disorder, however, comes from an overactive stress response. Instead of resuming a calmer state once the threat has been overcome, the parasympathetic nervous system doesn’t kick in for those with an anxiety disorder. Instead, the mind stays on, keeping the body on high alert, even when there is no actual present threat. This keeps cortisol coursing through the body, blood pressure high, and heart rate working over time. This, understandably, makes it very difficult to relax, for the brain to shut off, to sleep. In turn, poor sleep and little relaxation contribute to anxiety and depression, among other things, and the cycle continues. It’s exhausting just thinking about it!

 

Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are several forms of anxiety disorder, including: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (intense, pervasive anxiety), Panic Disorder (including panic attacks), Specific Phobias (or extreme fears), Social Phobia (or fear of social situations), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD, consisting of obsessive, stress-filled thoughts and compulsions to alleviate the stress), and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD, with a traumatic trigger, followed by re-experiencing the event, like in nightmares of flashbacks, numbing/avoidance of things associated with the event, and heightened state of arousal).

 

Additionally, as mentioned above, anxiety may co-occur with major depression or other mental illnesses.

 

Anxiety & Hormones

In women, anxiety is also a common component of hormonal shifts, like those in pregnancy, postpartum, with PMS, PMDD, or in perimenopause. In fact, many women experience the most anxiety during the years leading up to menopause; and many of these women have never experienced anxiety before!

 

In pregnancy and postpartum, anxiety is common, as well, with approximately 6% of pregnant and 10% of postpartum women experiencing a perinatal anxiety disorder. Approximately 10% will experience pregnancy or postpartum panic disorder (with associated panic attacks), 3-5% will experience pregnancy or postpartum OCD, and 9% will experience postpartum PTSD, usually following a traumatic childbirth.

 

Unfortunately, thanks to society’s “myths of motherhood,” many believe it’s “normal” for moms to feel anxious or worried, so too many mothers live with unnecessary anxiety that can make life miserable. The truth is constant anxiety is not normal, and it’s important for women to recognize their symptoms so they can seek and receive treatment to overcome the anxiety and to heal.

 

 

Anxiety, Hormones & Sleep

Anxiety is often associated with insomnia or other sleep issues. Again, this is a vicious cycle, as lack of sleep continues the cortisol and adrenaline in the body that only make anxiety worse, and vice Anxiety & Women: Hormones, Sleep & What You Can Do www.DrChristinaHibbert.comversa.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, women are much more likely report sleep issues than men, one reason being the many hormonal shifts women experience premenstrually, in pregnancy and postpartum, and during perimenopause. A few days or a week before a woman’s period starts, she may find she can’t fall asleep or, more commonly, can’t stay asleep, as I described above. As I’ve studied the link between sleep, anxiety, and hormones it’s become clear: women are much more vulnerable to sleep disturbance during times of shifting hormones, and each month those hormones shift twice! First, there’s a drop in Estrogen around day 14, or around ovulation, and then the bigger drop in Estrogen and Progesterone occurs a few days to a week before her period starts. This can make sleep feel impossible for women who are sensitive to these shifts, with terrible sleep one or more weeks every month. (For more on this, read myWomen’s Emotions blog series, parts 1, 2, and 3.)

 

What can You Do for Anxiety?

You don’t have to suffer, living with anxiety. Treatments are available and highly successful.

 

  • The “gold standard” for anxiety treatment is a combination of anti-anxiety medication (including antidepressants, which also reduce anxiety) and psychotherapy. The medication works to correct the overactive brain chemistry while therapy teaches techniques and skills for how to manage daily symptoms. Either one of these treatments on their own will likely be beneficial, as well, research shows. (More on “Antidepressant or Not?” here.)

 

 

  • Learning relaxation skills, like mindfulness, deep breathing, and meditation are also beneficial in treating anxiety. Research shows these self-help techniques allow you to train your brain and body to let go and relax. Additionally, anything that helps relieve tension and stress can help–like massage, naps, quiet time, a hot bath, reading, watching a television program (not a scary one!), or time with friends and family.

 

  • Exercise is another helpful treatmenteither alone or as an addition to these other options. The benefits of exercise are proven and extensive, and for anxiety, exercise can not only work out the tension and give the mind a way to let go; it also helps the body become tired, so you’re more likely to sleep better. Though some who struggle with anxiety find cardiovascular exercise difficult, because it may mimic the feeling of anxiety (heart rate up, shortness of breath), lifting weights, doing yoga or Pilates, or very mild walking have shown incredible benefits in rAnxiety & Women: Hormones, Sleep & What You Can Do www.DrChristinaHibbert.comeducing symptoms of anxiety. (Read more about this, as well as strategies to make exercise work for you, in my new book, “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise!” [See Coupon to save 25%, below!])

 

  • Realize anxiety is not you! Then, FEEL the anxiety. One of the most helpful things I’ve learned over the years is that I am not the anxiety. It is a feeling in my body, not me. Too often, anxiety takes over like it’s running the show—the show being your life! And too often, we let it run the show. We feel like we are the anxiety. We fight feeling it because it’s so uncomfortable and we don’t know how to handle it. Or, at least, we think we don’t. One thing you can try is to sit and FEEL the anxiety. Notice where it is in your body. Breathe as you feel it and recognize it is not you. I find it helpful to imagine the anxiety is slightly in front of me as I lean my body away from it. It reminds me I am in charge of my life; my emotions are not. As we FEEL powerful emotions, like anxiety, they truly lose their power. (Read How to FEEL Powerful Emotions & watch the related 3-Minute Therapy video, here.)

 

  • Treat the sleep issues to treat the anxiety. If your sleep is severely affected by anxiety, it may be better to start by treating the sleep. Temporary sleep aids, including melatonin supplements, can help you finally get some rest, and just getting some sleep can help the anxiety begin to decrease. CBT can also help in treat the thoughts associated with sleep disturbances. Sometimes, there may be another sleep disorder, mental illness, or physical illness in play that’s causing your symptoms, so it’s always best to get a full physical evaluation first and talk to your doctor about what’s right for you. (Read Sleep Better, Cope Better: 6 Insomnia Causes & Cures, here.)

 

  • Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is worth looking into for perimenopausal/ menopausal-related anxiety, and some women benefit from hormone therapies for perinatal anxiety disorders, PMS and PMDD. It can be tricky getting hormone therapies right, however, and many women are sensitive to hormone-based treatments, which may make symptoms worse, at least at first. It is therefore important that you work with a knowledgeable doctor about the best therapies for you. S/he can help monitor your mind and body’s response to hormone treatments as well as your progress. It may take some time to get it right, but when you find a treatment that works, it’s well worth it.

 

  • Avoid/limit caffeine and other stimulants. If it’s your routine to wake up with a heavy dose of caffeine and/or to keep it pumping throughout the day, you may need to tackle that habit first. Caffeine and other stimulants only exacerbate anxiety. If you want the anxiety to diminish, first the caffeine has to vanish.

 

 

 

You can beat Anxiety!

Bottom line: you don’t have to live with constant anxiety. Yes, it will take work. Yes, it will take time. Yes, it will take patience–with yourself, and with others. But anxiety is not a normal part of life—for women, for moms, for men, for dads, for kids, for anyone.

 

If you’re suffering from any form of anxiety, please seek help. Talk to your doctor or mental health provider and ask what treatments might be best for you. And if you’re not finding the right answers, keep searching and asking until you do.

 

Don’t let anxiety get the better of you. Start right now. Breathe. Deeply. In and out. And again–in and out. Then, repeat after me, “This anxiety is not me. If I seek help and let it in, I can, and will overcome this anxiety, one breath, one moment, one step at a time.”

 

 

Do you struggle with anxiety? What is most helpful for you in treating symptoms of anxiety? What lessons have you learned that you can share with others experiencing the same thing? Please leave a comment, below, and let us know.

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New Year, New You! Top 6 Strategies for Personal Growth & Change

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Beyond Resolutions: Discover your New Year’s Vision

What I’ve Learned about Personal Growth from a Decade of New Year’s Themes

 

 

 

[1] Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2016). Anxiety and Women: Facts. 

[2] Hibbert, C. (2016). 8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise. W.W. Norton Publishing: New York, NY.

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For the first time ever, my internationally-sold DVD, Postpartum Couples, is available online for FREE!

 

I’ve seen Postpartum Couples probably a couple hundred times, and yet I still get choked up as I listen to the stories of these three couples–as they honestly share what it was like for them to go through postpartum depression (PPD), anxiety, and psychosis.

 

The men especially get me choked up as they openly express their feelings about their wives and the experience of PPD, getting emotional right off the bat as they describe the challenges and how they overcame them together.

 

Postpartum Couples was actually the first video to explore both the mothers and the father’s experience of postpartum mood/anxiety disorders. It’s also the only video to discuss the impact on the couple’s relationship.

 

I’ve used Postpartum Couples in therapy, support groups, and presentations. I’ve shown it to pregnant and postpartum women, men, and couples; to mental health providers; and to doctors, nurses, and anyone working with postpartum families–to educate, illuminate, and raise awareness of the truth of postpartum depression and the hope of treatment and healing.

 

If you or someone you know might benefit from better understanding:

1) The symptoms,

2) The treatment, and

3) The prevention of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders;

4) The mother’s experience,

5) The father’s experience,

6) and how PPD may impact a couple’s relationship…

and many other important truths about postpartum depression

then, please click on this link, or on the image above or below, for more information and for INSTANT ACCESS to my Postpartum Couples DVD! And don’t forget to share this post!

 

It is my hope that, in making this video available for free online, we can increase awareness, education, and support for families and providers dealing with perinatal mood/anxiety disorders.

 

May all pregnant and postpartum moms, dads, and families feel and know:

You truly are not alone, you are not to blame, and with help, you can (and will) be well! (PSI’s Universal Motto)

 

FREE Postpartum Couples DVD! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #postpartum #depression #anxiety #ppd #motherhood

 

For immediate postpartum support, help, or referrals in your area,

please visit Postpartum Support International.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Tune in to my BRAND NEW Radio Show, 

MOTHERHOOD, on WebTalkRadio.net!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 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!”

 

 

 

 

 

FREE Postpartum Couples DVD! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #postpartum #depression #anxiety #ppd #motherhood

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:

Motherhood 101: 12 Realities & 12 Lessons from a seasoned Psychologist & Mom of 6

Motherhood Radio Show! 

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

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

Postpartum Survival Mode

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

5 Reasons Self-Esteem is a Myth

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)

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 #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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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

 

 

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:

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

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

Postpartum Survival Mode

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

5 Reasons Self-Esteem is a Myth

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)

“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

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

You may manage your subscription options from your profile.

 

 

 

 

 

 "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?

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Join “The Many Faces of Depression” Movement & Stop the Stigma! Submit Your Story/ Photo!

The Many Faces of #Depression: Join the Movement & Stop the #Stigma @ www.DrChristinaHibbert.comLast week, I shared my personal struggles with depression in my post, Overcoming the Stigma of Depression: “I am the FACE of DEPRESSION (& Anxiety).” I have been deeply touched by the outpouring of support from so many who have joined me, stating, “I, too, am the face of depression.”

 

 

Overcoming The Powerful Stigma of Mental Illness & Depression

It’s a wonderful start: getting people talking and asking about depression, and hopefully increasing understanding and support. But there’s much more to be done if we hope to one day overcome the stigma of depression.

 

Even though I’ve received dozens of messages of support from online friends and followers, I’ve only had three real-life friends/family members reach out  to me after reading my article, and two of them are really more like acquaintances than close friends. All of them have also been affected by depression, either themselves or in a close family member. They didn’t do much other than say, “I’m so sorry you’ve been struggling. How are you doing now?” Or, “Is there anything I can do for you?” Or, “I think you’re brave to have written that article. You’ve helped me be brave, too.” It helps to hear my own friends talk about it.

 

But there were only three. While I didn’t write the article to get sympathy or support from my friends and family, I was surprised by how few of them have spoken to me about it. I’m sure I shouldn’t be surprised. That’s why I wrote the article to begin with–because the stigma of depression is so strong, it silences us.

 

I’m sure most of my friends and family don’t judge or criticize me for my depression. It’s just that, unlike with other types of illness (injuries, cancer, surgery), they don’t know how to react. People don’t know what to say, so they say nothing (kind of like how people don’t know how to handle grief). They don’t know what to do, especially if they haven’t experienced depression first hand. So, again, they do nothing and hope I just “get better” so we don’t have to talk about it. They click “like” on the picture of me holding my sign, and I am grateful for that. But they say nothing.

 

This is the power of stigma, my friends.

 

 

“The Many FACEs of DEPRESSION” Movement

I am getting better, day by day, thanks to my ability to overcome the stigma of depression, seek help, and let help in. I’m feeling stronger again, thanks to the support of my husband, children, and a couple of close friends."I am the face of depression & anxiety": Overcoming the #Stigma of #Depression; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

 

But no matter how I’m feeling, I continue to feel the need to make sure this conversation doesn’t die. I need to keep giving depression a face and a voice, to lend it mine, to keep us talking about depression, and anxiety–for my children, for my clients, for my family, friends, and for myself.

 

Thus, I present “The Many FACEs of DEPRESSION” Movement. My hope is that you will join me. My hope is that we can give depression a face and a voice. My hope is that one day things will change and we will no longer feel the need to stay silent. We will no longer feel the need to hold depression as a shameful secret.

 

 

Submit your Story/ Photo & Help Me Stop the Stigma!

I invite anyone who has been touched by depression–either personally or in a loved one–to share your story and/or your photo, to publicly declare, “I, too, am the FACE of DEPRESSION.” After the submission deadline (see rules, below), I will then select 6 stories to publish in full on my website throughout 2015. I will also publish excerpts from other stories, along with as many photos as I receive. Together, we can show the many faces of depression. Together, we can help people face depression, to ask about it, and to understand it.

 

We can stop the stigma of depression. One face. One photo. One story at a time. We can give this illness a voice and, one day, stop the stigma.

 

The Many Faces of #Depression: Join the Movement & Stop the #Stigma @ www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Join “The Many Faces of Depression” Movement! 

Submit Your Story and/or Photo!

Submission Rules & Guidelines

  1. Written submissions:
    1. Posts must focus on the theme “I am the face of depression” and share your personal story.
    2. Length of post: 600-1000 words. Longer posts will not be considered for publication.
    3. Submissions must be received no later than January 10, January 25 2015, midnight PST.
    4. Please focus on: 1) Brief details of your experiences with depression, 2) What depression feels like for you or your loved one (symptoms), and 3) What methods of treatment have been helpful for you? 4) What have you learned from depression, or how have you grown? And what would you like others to know about it? (You can use my post as a model, though keep in mind that mine is much longer than the allotted length above.)
    5. To be considered for a full post, you must include at least one photo of you, holding an “I am the face of depression” sign. To download a sign, click here: “I am the FACE of DEPRESSION” Sign    “I am the FACE of DEPRESSION (& Anxiety)” Sign
    6. If you do not wish to post a photo and do not wish to be considered for a full post, you may submit a short post with no photo.
    7. By entering, you agree to allow your article to be posted on my website, www.DrChristinaHibbert.com, either in full or in part, and you also agree for your photo to be posted in “The Many Faces of Depression” collection on the same website.
    8. Authors of the 6 articles that are selected to be posted in full will be notified by email prior to publication. Others will be notified that they have not been selected and will be given information about the publication dates for excerpts.
    9. Please do not include any profanity or inappropriate material. Such articles will not be considered for publication
    10. Please subscribe, below, and then share the articles and photos as they are posted!
    11. Must be at least 18 years of age to enter.
  2. Photo submissions
    1. All are invited to submit a clear photo of yourself holding an “I am the FACE of DEPRESSION” sign.
    2. You are welcome to download a sign, or to create your own. If you create your own, it must say, “I am the FACE of DEPRESSION” or “I am the FACE of DEPRESSION (& Anxiety)” and include our web address www.DrChristinaHibbert.com in font large enough to read in the picture. To download a sign, click here: “I am the FACE of DEPRESSION” Sign   “I am the FACE of DEPRESSION (& Anxiety)” Sign
    3. Only one photo entry per person, and entries must be received no later than January 10, January 25, 2015 midnight, PST.
    4. Please, no inappropriate attire or materials in the photos. Such will not be considered for publication.
    5. Please subscribe, below, and then share the articles and photos as they are posted!
    6. Must be at least 18 years of age to enter.

 

SUBMISSION DEADLINE for Articles and Photos:

DEADLINE EXTENDED!

Due to the holiday busyness and getting back into the new year, I’ve extended the deadline for submissions! I hope this is helpful to those of you who asked for more time. I know it’s helpful to me! 

January 10, 2015
January 25, 2015!

 

SUBMISSIONS & Questions Should Be EMAILED to:

support@drchristinahibbert.com

 

Thank you for adding your voice to mine! I look forward to seeing what we can do together! 

 

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 Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow
available now on Amazon.com!

 

 

 

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

 

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Postpartum Psychosis + Mental Health Stigma= 40 Years in Prison: It’s time to speak up!

Postpartum Psychosis + Mental Health Stigma= 40 Years in Prison; It's time to speak up! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #ppd #MH #stigma“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.

~William Faulkner

I’ve been working as the expert evaluator on a postpartum case for over five years. Because the case is still active, and because I’m still the expert witness, I’ve had to keep silent about it all this time. But, I can keep silent no longer. Her attorneys and advocates and I all feel the same: we must speak up. Something must be done. (Though I have permission from the client to use her name, at the advice of her attorneys I refrain from doing so, because I don’t want to endanger her case in any way.)

 

2001…

This woman, at 23 years of age, was sentenced to 40 years without parole for child abuse. After evaluating her case these past years, it is clear to me she was suffering from significant postpartum mental illness at the time, including postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder (as a result of a horrific childbirth experience), postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder, postpartum depression, and eventually and most prominently, postpartum psychosis.

The baby recovered from her injuries and was adopted away into another family after this woman’s parental rights were severed. She could never have children again, thanks to the emergency hysterectomy she’d endured while passed out from blood loss during childbirth, and thus, another punishment was inflicted—sentenced to a childless life.

She was never evaluated for postpartum mental illness in her initial trial. In fact, she was hardly evaluated for any mental illness at all; it certainly wasn’t mentioned at her trial, even though the judge stated that clearly she had to be mentally ill to do what she had done. Because it was considered a “child abuse” case, the stigma was strong. She was an “abuser,” and seen as a criminal. The prosecutor threw the book at her. The judges’ hands were tied. Even though he stated his vehement disagreement with the sentence, by law, he had to impose it—four back to back sentences of 10 years, or 40 years total.

 

2014…

Now, after serving thirteen years in the state prison system, and with the help of dedicated advocates, attorneys, and experts who are working pro bono, she was finally given the opportunity to seek “clemency,” or a commutation of her current ten-year sentence. Each sentence would have to receive clemency, so this was really only seeking her release for the last six years of this sentence (with two more 10-year sentences to follow for which clemency would have to be reevaluated).

Last Monday, we finally had the hearing. The room was full of attorneys, advocates, family, friends, and we were there for six hours. I was grilled on my findings, report, and expertise on postpartum mental illness (something I am very confident about). We were also all grilled on multiple small details that seemed insignificant to us, but on which they seemed stuck. I could see their ignorance about mental illness, though I did my best to educate them. I could feel the stigma speaking louder than any of us, shouting even.

In the end, judgment was swift and harsh. Clemency was denied.

 

After…

I left feeling beaten up. Exhausted. Depleted. I drove the two hours back home in silence, going over everything and praying for a way to let it go. In the back of my mind was the sense that this was one of those life-changing days, the kind of day you don’t forget. The kind of day that forces you to change.

It somehow reminded me of my sister’s death; a result of depression and alcoholism, she ultimately died by her Postpartum Psychosis + Mental Health Stigma =40 Years in Prison; It's time to speak up! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #MH #stigma #ppdown hand, an overdose of alcohol and acetaminophen. She was too drunk to know what she was doing. It reminded me of my close friend’s suicide, only five months ago, also a result mental illness—depression and intense anxiety. It reminded me of the great stigma attached to suicide and to the mental illnesses that led them there.

It made me think of my oldest son, away at college on his own for the first time, and the loss I’ve been feeling since he left. It made me think of my five other children at home, especially my daughter, who’s only slightly younger than this woman’s daughter would be now. It made me grateful for parents who raised me with safety and opportunities and education—who didn’t expose me to trauma, but sheltered me from it. It made me want to crawl into my husband’s arms the second I returned home and let him hold me. It reminded me what a blessed gift it is to have freedom and family and love.

 

And, it made my heart break. I kept picturing her, alone in her cell, feeling like this was all her fault. It made me feel guilty I could just drive back home and be with my family. She couldn’t do that. Why should I be able to? She’d been present at the hearing, via teleconference, and we could see her trying to be strong (she couldn’t see us) as the board interrogated her with question after painful question. She was definitely feeling broken at the time, and I could only imagine how broken she was feeling now.

How could this happen again? I kept asking myself. How could any one person be so misunderstood, mistreated her whole life, and flat-out discarded so many times? How does she carry on after all these blows? She’s made of stronger stuff than I; she must be. I don’t think I could survive all she’s been through.

 

It’s not that what she did wasn’t wrong. No one was saying that—least of all the woman herself. She even said she felt she deserved 40 years for a long time, like she was willing to trade her life for her baby’s survival. She had told me many times she was grateful she had been arrested. Fate had intervened and stopped the hurt and pain for her baby; even if it meant she would have to suffer in prison, at least her baby would survive.

No, it’s not that it wasn’t wrong. And it’s not even that she was trying to give an “excuse” for what she did. It’s that we were all trying to help the courts and judges and boards, and whomever is in a position to do something, to understand that there was a reason she did what she did: extreme mental illness. There is a clear, explanatory reason—posptartum psychosis.

 

Postpartum Psychosis

Postpartum psychosis is a potentially life-threatening illness affecting about 1-2 of every 1,000 births, in which a mother becomes detached from rational thinking, in which she experiences hallucinations (hearing or seeing things), delusions (false beliefs), extreme agitation, inability to concentrate, and waxing and waning episodes of feeling like “I wasn’t myself.” Like, “someone else took over,” as many women describe it. Not all mothers with postpartum psychosis harm their babies or themselves, but 11% do, making it essential these women are immediately hospitalized and put on antipsychotic medications to bring them back to reality.

Yes, this is what this woman, this friend of mine (as she has become over the years), was experiencing all those years ago. And to punish someone with, essentially, a life sentence for suffering such trauma at the hands of postpartum psychosis is a tragedy. It is appalling.

 

Today…

I get it if we fail a soul one time. There was little education and understanding back then, and clearly no one understood what was really happening at the time. One time, maybe, though even that is a tragedy and can wreck a life.

But to fail a soul time after time, despite the education and understanding now available, to have a recognized top expert in postpartum mental health standing right in front of you, explaining every detail as clearly as humanly possible and yet to dismiss that expert’s years of work and data and clinical expertise in favor of one’s own opinions; to say, “While I highly respect the good doctor, and even commend her on her excellent report and work,” to state, “I agree 40 years is a very long time,” and then to state, “but…” and recount one’s own preconceived judgments with blatant disregard for all that was said those past 6 hours, and to ultimately “deny” the clemency, is a tragedy. And it fires me up. It fires me to speak up.

 

Right now…

We must not sit idly by as injustices abound around us. We have a voice, and we must use it. Especially those who have experienced mental illness, suicide, pregnancy/postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, psychosis, etc., first- or even second-hand—we must share our stories. We must advocate for those who no longer have a voice. We must love greatly.

And perhaps, some blessed day, this world will open, and understanding will be the norm, and compassion will be our language, and we will hold off judgment so we may instead exercise that great love.

This is my hope, and my prayer, and my life’s work. In honor of this dear woman whom we have failed again, may we speak up now so perhaps next time, we, she, and those like her, will succeed.

 

 

 

Has your life ever been touched by mental illness, suicide, or the stigma that covers these things? If so, I’d love to hear your experiences and insights. If not, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Let’s speak up, everybody! It’s more than time. 

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 Award-Winning memoir, This is How We Grow!
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Postpartum Psychosis + Mental Health Stigma= 40 Years in Prison; It's time to speak up! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #ppd #MH #stigma

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The Facts vs. The TRUTH about Postpartum Depression (+ video)

The Facts vs. The TRUTH about Postpartum Depression; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

 

The fact is that Postpartum Depression (PPD) is real. I know, because I’ve experienced it four times, along with Postpartum Anxiety. That’s another fact: “Postpartum Depression” is often used as a catchall phrase for a whole spectrum of pregnancy and postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, including OCD, PTSD, and even Psychosis.

 

 

PPD: Fact vs. The Truth

As a clinical psychologist and expert on Perinatal Mental Health, I’ve definitely learned about, and seek to share, the facts on Postpartum Depression. I believe everyone should learn about PPD, because chances are either you or someone you know will experience PPD at some point (that’s another fact: as many as 1 in 5 will experience postpartum depression), and knowing the facts can make all the difference. If you want the facts about Postpartum Depression/Anxiety, the following links are a great place to start:

 

Pregnancy & Postpartum Emotional Health

Postpartum Survival Mode

Postpartum Depression Treatment

Beyond Depression: Understanding Postpartum OCD (part 1, plus video)

Postpartum Depression Treatment: For Dads & Partners

 

However, as a mother of six who’s experienced Postpartum Depression/Anxiety four times, and as one who has worked with pregnant and postpartum women for over 16 years, I know that sometimes, the facts don’t reflect the full truth about PPD.

 

 

20 Truths about Postpartum Depression (plus bonus video!)

The truth is Postpartum Depression is a life-altering experience, and if we really want to understand this experience, we must move beyond the facts and start talking about the truth. Here are 20 truths I’ve discovered about PPD. I hope you’ll learn them, share them, and then join the truthful discussion, below.

 

 

1)   It can feel like you’re all alone, but you’re definitely not. Postpartum Depression and Anxiety often feel isolating; it feels like you’re the only one feeling this way. The truth is you’re not alone. Most women will experience some change in their emotional health following childbirth (up to 80%), and one in five will experience a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder. Because of this, PPD has been called the most common complication associated with childbirth.

 

 

2)   PPD is not your fault. There are many risk factors that make Postpartum Mood/Anxiety Disorders out of your control, not least of which include: the extreme changes in hormones (women who are sensitive to hormonal shifts are definitely at higher risk), the insanity that is sleep deprivation (women sensitive to sleep loss are at higher risk), and the coping and adjustment that naturally comes when a new baby is born. The list of risk factors is long, and bottom line: Even if you feel like it’s your “fault,” it’s not.

 

 

 Watch this “3-Minute Therapy” video from my YouTube channel on “The Truth about Postpartum Depression,” then continue reading, below. 

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3)   Postpartum Depression is not a character flaw, and it does not mean you are weak. For many women, however, it feels that way. The more we talk about and educate people on PPD, the more women will see PPD for what it is: an illness that comes, and, with help, will go, just like any other. (Read Postpartum Depression Treatment)

 

 

4)   Postpartum women are far more exhausted than you, or they, realize, and sleep plays a critical role in PPD, and its treatment. You can’t understand how exhausted you can be until after you have a baby. Postpartum depressed or anxious women often also suffer from insomnia; the baby is sleeping through the night, but she is not. Sleep is crucial to mental and emotional well-being, and helping moms treat sleep issues is a crucial part of them becoming well again. (Read: PPD Treatment–Sleep)

 

 

5)   Anxiety is often a huge part of PPD. Some say the anxiety came first; others feel their depression caused the anxiety, while others say it all feels like a jumbled mess of sadness and worry. Either way, anxiety is a common symptom of Postpartum Depression, which is one of several things that makes PPD different from a typical Major Depression. (Read Beyond Depression: Diagnosing Postpartum OCD)

 

 

6)   Anger/irritability is common with Postpartum Depression. Frustration with all the changes that come with being a parent and/or having a newborn, anger about one’s symptoms, or irritability related to sleep loss/hormone shifts are definitely a “normal” part of PPD. (Read Understanding & Overcoming Anger: “I don’t want to be an angry person!”)

 

 

7)  Guilt is a huge component of PPD. Guilt about having the illness, guilt about not being at your best when you wish you could be, guilt about your guilt. Guilt is one of the most common topics I address in therapy with postpartum women (and have had to address with myself, too). (Therapy can be a huge help in becoming free of all the guilt.)

 

 

8)   The choice to breast or bottle-feed (or sometimes the lack of choice) often impacts PPD. Many women want to breastfeed, but struggle with it, and then feel terribly guilty switching to a bottle. Others realize, for their own health and wellness, they need to quit breastfeeding sooner than they’d wished. Too many are wrongly told they cannot breastfeed

Singing & rocking my youngest, Sydney. Though I was able to breastfeed her, I introduced a bottle early on. I knew I needed it to help me survive PPD.

Singing & rocking my youngest, Sydney. Though I was able to breastfeed her, I introduced a bottle early on. I knew I needed it to help me survive PPD.

because they need a medication to help their depression or anxiety, and this leads to intense grief. Yes, breastfeeding (or not) is a hot topic when it comes to PPD.

 

 

9)  Grief is usually a common part of Postpartum Depression. Most people don’t understand this or send the message that you should feel “happy” because of all you’ve gained in having a baby. And you surely have gained many blessings. But you’ve also lost many things: sleep, health, maybe breastfeeding or the ideal of what you thought would be, your figure, a sense of control, all these things listed above—the list goes on. Each loss must be grieved. (Read “How do I grieve?” Grief Work & TEARS)

 

 

10)  PPD makes many women question their identity. “Who am I now?” is a common question. Many mothers feel lost, “not like myself,” or say, “I don’t know who I am anymore.” Rediscovering one’s identity after childbirth is common, and after PPD even more so.

 

 

11)  Self-Esteem/sense of self is often deeply impacted by PPD. If you feel ashamed, guilty, angry, fearful, it can certainly lead to feelings of inadequacy as a mother and as a woman. All of these things can, and often do, make women question their self-worth. I’ve become an “expert” on self-worth because I’ve worked with so many women on this important topic (and personally, too.) Therapy is a great tool to help you learn to feel your true worth. (In the meantime, read this: How to Feel Self-Worth: The Pyramid of Self-Worth)

 

 

12)  Relationship support can make or break you. Poor support or troubled relationships, especially with your husband/partner, are the number one non-biological cause of PPD. You need understanding, especially from those you love most, and when that doesn’t come, it can make postpartum depression/anxiety worse. On the flip side, PPD can be very hard on a relationship, so it’s important to seek help for both of you as needed. (Read more here: Couples & PPD)

 

 

13)  Women with PPD may seem “fine,” but often, it’s an act. Many people think, if a mom is depressed, she’ll obviously look like a mess, but that’s not the case. We want to feel fine. We try so hard to feel–and look–fine. But sometimes, though it seems we are, we’re not, not at all. (See my picture, below.)

 

 

14) Shame and embarrassment are a common part of postpartum depression and anxiety. Many women feel ashamed they aren’t “stronger” or more capable of simply “sucking it up” and “moving on.” Many feel embarrassed by their

Our family christmas photo, 2007, taken just three weeks after I gave birth and inherited my two nephews, going from 3 to 6 kids. I wrote about this in "This is How We Grow." Don't I look "fine?" Look closer. I definitely wasn't.

Our family christmas photo, 2007, taken just three weeks after I gave birth and inherited my two nephews, going from 3 to 6 kids. My hardest postpartum experience by far, yet, don’t I look “fine?” Look closer. I definitely wasn’t. (Read about it in my memoir, “This is How We Grow.”)

symptoms. Unfortunately, the sting of the stigma of mental illness can feel especially sharp when you’ve just had a baby and so desperately want to be at your best.

 

 

15) For many PPD moms, it feels like no one gets it. Others might say they understand or even try to reach out and be supportive, but for many moms it feels like no one really gets PPD. Unless you’ve been there, it’s hard to truly relate, and unless you can truly relate, it’s hard for a PPD woman to want to open up and let you in. So, please, please, if you know a new mom, ask how she is feeling and really mean it. Listen to understand. Often we just need someone to sincerely ask so we can open up and begin healing.

 

 

16) Well-meaning friends/family often say/do the wrong things. When I had postpartum depression with my first son, who was colicky, one friend told me, “I really think babies reflect the temperament and calmness of their parents. That’s why I try to always be peaceful around my baby.” After my third baby was born, when I was officially a psychologist specializing in PPD and experiencing it again myself, a new friend asked, “Is that even real?” Statements like these can make PPD feel even worse and increase a mother’s sense of isolation.

 

 

17)  Having Postpartum Depression in no way makes you a “slacker” or means you’re “lazy,” but many women feel that way. In fact, it’s often the high-achieving women with perfectionistic tendencies who fall prey to PPD. It’s one of the risk factors.

 

 

18)  Because many PPD moms are used to being able to “do it all,” and do it all well, it can be hard for many of us to accept help. We know we need it, but when it comes down to it, it’s hard to let go of the need to do it on our own.

 

 

19) Help is out there, though it can be tough finding the right help. There are more PPD resources than ever. There is fabulous online support, solid educational programs, and providers who are compassionate and knowledgeable about pregnancy and postpartum mental health. The trouble often comes in accessing that help. My best advice? Stick with it. Help is out there, and it’s worth it to find the right kind of help for you. (PSI can help: www.postpartum.net)

 

 

20) Though we may fight it, medication is a good option for many pregnant and/or postpartum women. I wrote all about it here, so if you’re considering it, check this out. I also shared my own experience with choosing to take an antidepressant in my memoir, This is How We Grow: “I’ll admit, I do not want to take it. Must I?…I realize I haven’t really been living for far too long. I’ve been coping, surviving, manage, getting by—but coping is not living. I want to engage, set goals, dream, travel again…This little pill might just be the final ticket that helps me get there.” (p. 218) Sometimes, your brain just needs a little extra support, and medication is the one thing that might make the difference. (And yes, in many cases you can still breastfeed.) (More on medication: “Antidepressant? or Not? 12 Facts on Depression & Medication)

 

 

One final, bonus truth…

21)  There is life after Postpartum Depression.  With the right help, therapist and/or a support group specifically for PPD moms, you’ll find the understanding, information, and tools you need to be well again. Trust me when I say, six kids and eighteen years later, “There is life after PPD. With help, work, and time, you will be even better than better.”

 

If you’re a Postpartum Depression or Anxiety survivor, I’d love to hear from you. Do you agree with any of my “truths?” What are some truths of your own you’d like others to know? Let’s keep this important discussion going in the comments, 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 Award-Winning memoir, This is How We Grow!
Available now on Amazon.com.

 
 
 

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The Facts vs. The TRUTH about Postpartum Depression; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

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Related Articles/Posts:

Pregnancy & Postpartum Emotional Health

The Baby Blues & You

Postpartum Survival Mode

Postpartum Psychosis + Mental Health Stigma=40 Years in Prison? It’s time to speak up!

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

PPD & Motherhood Mental Health: Self-Care & Letting Help In–The 2 Most Important Things

Postpartum Depression Treatment

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

Beyond Depression: Diagnosing Postpartum OCD (part 2) (& video)

Beyond Depression: Postpartum OCD Treatment (part 3) (& video)

Postpartum Depression Treatment: For Dads & Partners

Postpartum Depression Treatment: For Couples

Postpartum Depression Treatment: Complementary Alternative Modalities

Postpartum Depression Treatment: Psychotherapy

Postpartum Depression Treatment: Medication

Postpartum Depression Treatment: Self-Help

Postpartum Depression Treatment: Sleep

Postpartum Depression & Men: The Facts on Paternal Postnatal Depression

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

Mom Mental Health (part 2): How to Get Alone Time (25+ Strategies!)

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

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

5 Reasons Self-Esteem is a Myth

How to Feel Self-Worth: “The Pyramid of Self-Worth”

Thought Management, Part 1: The Relationship between Thoughts, Feelings, the Body, & Behavior

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)

Pregnancy/Postpartum Resources & Help:

Postpartum Support International Website

-Worldwide help and support for new mothers and families, including a bilingual hotline and state/country coordinators to help you find the right treatment provider or support in your area. PSI also provides educational courses on Perinatal Mood/Anxiety Disorders.

Postpartum Progress Blog

-Excellent source of education and support for mothers and families.

Arizona Postpartum Wellness Coalition

-Support for AZ families: Support Warmline, Brochures, & Provider/Family Education.

Postpartum Stress Center

-Education & support for Providers and Families

Postpartum Couples Website

Pregnancy & Postpartum Resources

**This article is not intended to replace proper medical/mental health care. If you think you may be suffering from Postpartum Depression or Anxiety, please contact your medical or mental health provider, or PSI, for referrals/help/support.**

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

PPD & Motherhood Mental Health: Self-Care & Letting Help In--The 2 Most Important Things (PSI Blog Hop 2014); www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #PPD #postpartum #PSIBlog #motherhoodIt wasn’t until I first became a mother–with a beautiful baby boy I dearly loved, yet still struggling through postpartum depression–that I realized how hard it was to practice self-care and let others help me. I thought I could—and should—do it all on my own. It was my downfall, making my depression worse. I didn’t realize how much sleep deprivation messed with my emotions. I didn’t yet understand how asking for and receiving help would be one of the most important components of self-care for me. I didn’t yet know it is one of the most important components of self-care for everyone.

My fourth postpartum depression (PPD) episode was unlike the first three. So much more intense. So much more complex. My sister and brother-in-law had recently died and we had inherited our two nephews only 4 weeks to the day that our fourth baby was born. We had three kids, and then we had six.

But, I had grown over the years as a mother. I had become a clinical psychologist specializing in maternal mental health and perinatal mood disorders. I had founded The Arizona Postpartum Wellness Coalition to help other mothers and families. I had taught courses and given speeches and written articles on PPD and the Baby Blues, and I knew, 100%, how badly I needed to take care of myself and let help in.

Because this fourth postpartum experience was such a complex and challenging time, I immediately set up all my resources. I scheduled counseling sessions—for me and my husband, for our nephews, then 6 and 10, and for our two other sons, then 8 and 11. I let people do laundry for me, take my 4 year-old daughter for play dates, bring in meals, and even help me paint the nursery and prepare my home for my two new sons.

PSI Blog Hop 2014--#PPD & #Motherhood #MentalHealth Recovery: Self-Care & Letting Help In, The 2 Most Important Things; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #postpartum #PSIBlog

My children, first meeting their new little sister. 2007

After a few months though, when grief hit hard, I started to feel like I didn’t want to burden others. I didn’t want them to have to be around me because I felt so negative inside. I didn’t want to complain or whine or be crying all the time. And, if I’m being honest, I really felt like no one could understand what I was going through. How could they? It was so messy and raw and painful on so many levels. I felt weaker than ever before and isolated myself. I got quiet.

As I wrote, in my memoir, This is How We Grow, of that time, “I…know I haven’t invited anyone in. I take responsibility for that. I let myself seem ‘fine’ when I’m in public. I am ‘fine’ when I’m in public. That doesn’t mean I don’t have my hard times at home, or even that ‘fine’ is good enough. I wish others would notice the redness of my eyes, the dark circles around them, my sighing, the energy it takes to smile.” (p. 161)

Since my memoir came out last November, several close friends have said, after reading it, “I feel so badly, I never knew how much you were suffering.”

“I didn’t let people in,” I’ve replied. “There was no way you could have known.”

Luckily, I let my husband in. And I let my psychologist in. And I let my inner psychologist weigh in and remind me of the coping skills I’d already developed. Luckily, I at least did that much, and it was enough to get me out of the darkest days and into other help, like an antidepressant, friends, family, and writing my story.

 

We Mustn’t Get Quiet
But, one week ago yesterday, my dear friend lost her life as a result of mental illness. Her three children have been best friends with my children for ten years. She was their “second mom,” like I have been to her kids. It is an incomprehensible loss for her husband and children. It is a devastating loss for my children, for me, and for our entire community.

She had been trying to work on self-care, though I knew, like so many other mothers, it didn’t come naturally to her. She had been setting up and trying to utilize her support network. Outwardly, she had been doing those things that seemed right and good and helpful. But I can see now, despite all her efforts with self-care, she didn’t know how to do the one most important thing: let all that help in.

 

Self-Care is Crucial
How many other mothers, and children, and fathers, and families have to suffer, or even die, before we get it—that self-care isn’t about excess and dawdling and bon-bons on the couch watching soap operas. Self-care is a necessity. It’s about life, and health, and joy; it’s also about preventing despair, isolation, and death. At its core, self-care is about letting help in.

 

How can we help moms in need?
After a friend of mine heard of our tragic loss last week, she said to me, tears streaming down her face, “There have to be so many others out there who are suffering alone and won’t—or don’t know how—to let people in. What can we do?”

This question has been on my mind all week. What can we do? The following four things are, to me, the most important. If we can do these four things, we can stop the suffering, be there for each other, and keep our mothers safe, healthy, and strong so they can do what they do best—love and nurture their children.

 

1) Learn about and practice self-care. Learn to let help in. We must all learn how to take better care of ourselves. We must talk about, and teach, and encourage letting others help us, too. PSI Blog Hop 2014: PPD & Motherhood Mental Health Recovery--Self-Care & Letting Help In, The 2 Most Important Things; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com“In our darkest times it is easy to feel better off alone and isolate. Our suffering is personal, and no one shares it in the same way, so why even bother? But, I can tell you–we do need others, whether we feel like it or not…Making islands of ourselves only causes more pain.” (This Is How We Grow, p. 153)

This is especially important for pregnant and postpartum mothers, and for mothers going through stressful circumstances or dealing with mental health concerns. But it’s equally as important for all mothers and women—because we are the nurturers of families and communities. It’s also important that we educate our children and teens and young adults about self-care, that we model it for them so they may learn to see self-care as an essential part of a healthy life.

 

2) See others’ needs. It’s hard to see others’ needs if they don’t let you in, but one thing I know for sure is we must use our gut, not just our natural eyes. If you feel something’s not quite right, please say something or do something. Yes, it’s okay to ask a mother if she is struggling. Yes, it’s okay to tell her she seems sad and ask what you can do. We must ask and talk about it, for it sends the message that none of us is alone. It reminds us we have a friend, a hand held out in the dark. I often say, “I’d rather say something and be wrong than not say something and wish I would have.” (Read “3 Messages Every Mom Needs to Hear.”)

 

3) Offer support now. If you have the impression to send a text or post a quote on her Facebook page, do it. If you’re driving by and feel you should stop, please do. You might talk yourself out of it: “She’s busy.” “I don’t want to intrude.” But you’re not intruding, and even if she’s busy, she’ll at least know you care. As I write in This is How We Grow, “How do we connect? We listen. We hear. We respond. We feel. We reach out and ask, ‘How are you?’ and wait for the honest answer. Then, we reach out again. And again. We say, ‘I’m so sorry. My heart is breaking with you.’ We look past our discomfort, or we say it out loud, ‘I don’t know what to say or do. I just want to be here for you.’ We are willing to be in that space of our own discomfort or pain, because we know it’s not about us. It’s about loving the one we love…Strength and healing are in connection.” (p. 287)

 

4) Stick with her for the long haul. Pregnancy and postpartum depression/anxiety, and maternal mental illness, are not over in a week or a month. Neither are most of the great stresses of motherhood. Continue to ask how she’s doing. Check in regularly. Listen with your heart and not just your head. Keep doing it for as long as it takes to help her be well again.

 

Bottom line…

“We need connection to survive. As poet Mark Nepo writes, ‘The question to put to our daily lives, then, is this: In love, in friendship, in seeking to learn and grow, in trying to understand ourselves…When pressed by life, do I bridge or isolate? Do I reconnect the web of life and listen to its wisdom? Or do I make an island of every confusion as I try to solve its pain?'” (This is How We Grow, p. 153)

May we form a great, strong web–a net of connection and support, so when one of our sisters, friends, mothers, tribe falls, we may catch her. One voice. One hug. One love-filled, supportive, mom-to-mom moment at a time. Together, we are strong.

~Written in loving memory of Jody McDaniel.

My family, today. 2014

My family, today. 2014

 

Join the PSI Blog Hop Here

Read this post for guidelines, then link up, below.

(Note: Posts that do not follow the guidelines will be removed by the editors)

If you need immediate help, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

If you are looking for local pregnancy or postpartum support and resources in your area, please call or email us:

Postpartum Support International Warmline (English & Spanish)

1-800-944-4PPD (4773)

support@postpartum.net

PSI Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month Blog Hop

 

Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment, below. What have you found crucial to postpartum and maternal mental health recovery? What suggestions do you have for how we can better help moms in need? Are you willing and ready to join together and form this net of support and love?

#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.

 

 

**This is How We Grow Charity Fundraiser**

All proceeds from sales of This is How We Grow during the month of May 2014 will be donated to The McDaniel Family Fund, in honor of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month and in memory of my dear friend, Jody, who lost her life last week.

Read the fundraiser post here.

 

Join Dr. Hibbert's "This Is How We Grow" Personal Growth Group! FREE. Online. Growth. www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

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PPD & Motherhood Mental Health: Self-Care & Letting Help In--The 2 Most Important Things (PSI Blog Hop 2014); www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #PPD #postpartum #PSIBlog #motherhood

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Related Articles/Posts:

Link Up! PSI Blog Hop 2104 Invitation: Maternal Mental Health Recovery & Coping

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

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

Mom Mental Health: HOW to Get Alone Time (25+ Strategies) (& video)

The 3 Layers of Self-Care

Mother’s Day & “Mommy Fails”: 3 Messages All Moms Need to Hear

Discovering Self-Worth: Why is it So Hard to Love Ourselves?

How to Feel Self-Worth: “The Pyramid of Self-Worth” (& video)

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

“Perfect?” or “Fake?” 8 Truths about Perfectionism, & 8 Truths to Cure It

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Beyond Depression: Postpartum OCD Treatment (Part 3) (& video)

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

The Baby Blues & You

Postpartum Survival Mode

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

5 Reasons Self-Esteem is a Myth

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)

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Link Up! PSI 2014 Blog Hop–Perinatal Mood Disorders: Maternal Mental Health Recovery & Coping

PSI 2014 Blog Hop: Maternal Mental Health Recovery and Coping; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #PPD #postpartum #pregnancyI 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 can definitely vouch for the incredible 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 fabulous annual conferences which educate mental and medical health providers.

Last year, I was privileged to participate in the 1st PSI Blog Hop, and this year, I am thrilled to be part of it again. The Blog Hop will run throughout he entire month of May–Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month–and you can link up below. It’s a great way to share pregnancy/postpartum emotional health stories and resources, provide support and encouragement, and raise awareness of Perinatal Mood/Anxiety Disorders. I hope you’ll consider joining us! (See the invitation below for details and rules.)

 

An Invitation to YOU!

Join us for

Postpartum Support International’s 2014

Second Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month Blog Hop!

2014 Theme:

Perinatal Mood Disorders: What Helped Me Recover: Self, Family & Community Resources

 

PSI Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month Blog Hop


 

In May 2011 Postpartum Support International (PSI), declared May as Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month. An increasing number of states and counties have designated May as a time to bring awareness to maternal mental health. This year, we are launching our second maternal mental health awareness month blog hop.

Our PSI blog hop is inclusive but also respectful of 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 ~~~

Editorial Guidelines:

  • Name: Include your real name, we don’t promote people with online disguises. Anonymity can be arranged.
  • Length: 500 – 1000 words
  • Keep in this year’s theme: Perinatal Mood Disorders: What Helped Me Recover: Self, Family & Community Resources
  • Much appreciated are personal stories about the resources you used to support you in your recovery: your inner strength and resiliency efforts,  family & friends who helped, and community resources you found along your healing path.

Potentially Triggering:

For the purpose of this blog hop and its focus on messages of recovery and hope, we want you to do your best to avoid common triggers in your posts. If you have any questions or concerns about that, please contact us at psioffice@postpartum.net and we can talk about your concerns.

Please do not write about detailed suicidal or homicidal thoughts and feelings.

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

 Please post these notices:

  • If you need immediate help, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  •  If you are looking for local pregnancy or postpartum support and resources in your area, please call or email us:

Postpartum Support International Warmline (English & Spanish)

1-800-944-4PPD (4773)

support@postpartum.net

How to participate:

1. Beginning May 1, 2014 running the whole month of May!

2. Write your blog post and send a link or attachment to psioffice@postpartum.net so we can read it and list it on our site. This will help us keep track of all of the posts, and contact you if we have questions or suggestions.

3. Go to one of the following Blog Hop Blog Hosts:

Birthtouch.com  Link Up Page Here

Dr. Christina Hibbert   http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/ (see Linky, below)

4. Look for their post called:  Link Up: PSI 2014 Blog Hop – Perinatal Mood Disorders: Maternal Mental Health Recovery & Coping

5. Link up your post to that blog post in the Linky provided at the bottom of the post

6. Grab the badge! Please copy the PSI Blog Hop Badge either from the side bar or from this post!

7. Feel free to promote your blog and the blog hop on social media!

Social Media Links:

Link up Here

 

#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!

PSI 2014 Blog Hop: Maternal Mental Health Recovery and Coping; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #PPD #postpartum #pregnancy

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Related Articles/Posts:

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

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

Postpartum Survival Mode

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

5 Reasons Self-Esteem is a Myth

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)

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