I normally stink at transitions. Just over two years ago, I was laid off. When I went to the outplacement session, one of the facilitators there said that we stay too long in a job that no longer suits us. This is so true for me. My husband jokes that I get an itch at two to three years.
As someone who’s a lifelong learner, I struggle with finding the ability to incorporate both my right and left brain. I love to create, and I love spreadsheets and schedules. I know what my true calling is. I am a storyteller – a cuentista, a cantadora, a seanachie.
I parted ways with my current job. It was not the exit I had planned. I miss my former team. They are amazing people who I adore and respect. They challenged me and helped me to grow both as a person and as a leader.
I am taking this time to recharge and reset. I am focusing on what feeds my soul: reading, writing, listening to podcasts, dancing and singing. I am trying to be deliberate and intentional about my next opportunity. I am relishing this time to focus on my family. The more I feed my soul, the more I can be present with them.
I have chosen a year of the word for the past six years. This year I again chose a word of the year along with three anchor words. I was blessed to win a calligraphy of my word of the year from Lucrecer Braxton https://lucrecerbraxton.com/2017/12/08/how-to-choose-your-word-of-the-year/. Her writing and her artistry is amazing.
This year I chose the word Authentic. The definition of the word authentic is “of undisputed origin; genuine.” I am using this word to determine my next steps professionally. I am a storyteller. That is my true passion and calling. I am figuring out how to incorporate that into my life. My anchor words are Intention, Power and Magic. I want to remain true to myself. I also want to be intentional about how I spend my time and energy. I want to stand in my power and speak my truth. I want to use my magic of storytelling and creativity. I am choosing to surround myself with music, exercise, books and podcasts that fill my soul, my family and friends, visual pieces that remind me of my priorities, and writing and journaling. Have you chosen a word of the year? How has it changed you this year?
I sat at work in a fog. I found it hard to focus. I sent my sweet girls with my parents for a long weekend. As I watched them drive away, I cried. I cried with relief that they are in good hands. I cried because I will miss them dearly. I cried because I hate that they practice the lockdown drills.
I own a gun, and so does my husband. My gun is in a locked cabinet, and my husbands gun case is locked. The ammunition is not together with the guns. I support common sense legislation. I support background checks. I support a nationwide gun registry. I am fine with extra checks because I have a diagnosed mental illness. No one needs to collect guns. Only use the ones you need for hunting. Get rid of the rest of them. There is no reason for a semi automatic gun. There is no reason for a bump stock to convert a gun into an automatic weapon. What purpose does owning a weapon like that do? You would not hunt any animals with those weapons. They are meant to destroy and kill as many as possible. Take away my guns. I am okay with that. I haven’t hunted in years. If that is what it takes to stop the epidemic of gun violence in the US, I will do it.
I am heartbroken and enraged at the frustration and outrage from our teenagers. Of course they’re upset. They have every right to be. We have the power to fix this. Thank you to the amazing teachers and parents who are holding space for our teens. I see your brave. We can fix this. Are you with me?
Posted in parenting
Why is maternal mental health so important to me? I have been in that hell of shame. I could not tell anyone how I was feeling. The stigma and fear of getting my children taken away paralyzed me into not reaching out for help.
Warrior Mom sisterhood is unlike no other. It is the validation of “me too” and a hug that says so much without saying a word. I spent a whirlwind weekend over two years ago with some amazing members of my tribe. It took me some time to completely my process my experience. My head churned with all the possibilities. My roommate was the lovely Anne-Marie. We have chatted a ton online, mostly via Twitter and Facebook groups, but we didn’t have each other’s phone numbers. It was a match made in heaven for ladies who love to chat about music, writing, books, children and life.
I got to meet some of my dearest friends from the Internet – Lauren, Andrea, and Lindsay. I immediately started crying when I saw Lauren. She needed to remind me to breathe. Lauren has been an amazing friend and one of those truly integral people in my healing journey. To actually meet her in person after texting, messaging and talking on the phone for years was so surreal.
I met Lindsay next, and it was like she’s always been a part of my circle. She cracked me up. I love getting the chance to share glances and jokes that only the two of you really get. I loved the chance to let loose and toss back some cocktails.
Andrea is just a dear. I share a special connection with Andrea. At my most emotional during the conference, I sat down on the floor with her and just sobbed. Her hug was magical. I felt so much love and so much support.
I want to remind my fellow mamas that the sisterhood always remains. It does not need a formal place or space to reside. Through shared experience, you become sisters. This requires us to listen to each other’s stories and honor the different perspectives. As a cis white woman, I found a therapist who looks like me whose office is 15 minutes away. I am so privileged that I was able to access that type of care so quickly. Representation was never a concern for me, and neither was cultural competence. Our sisterhood needs to continue to focus on making support accessible for all mamas, honoring unique cultural needs and experiences. Our stories are different, and our experiences are different. We can honor those emotions that fellow mamas feel with a “Me too”.
As I continue to use my voice as an advocate for moms who are struggling with PPD, I keep returning to the same questions that my family asked me. How could we have helped? What could we have said that would help you get help sooner? Thank you to my mom and my sister for inspiring this post. Here are the things that would have helped me through PPD:
- “You will get better.” Repeat this often to the loved one that is struggling. She will need lots of affirmation and reassurance that she will recover from this. Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders are temporary, and she will recover with time. When your loved one is in the depths of depression or in the grip of anxiety, she is in survival mode. She cannot imagine that she will make it through another day. She needs the support and hope from her family members.
- “You are a great mom.” Depression tells a struggling mom the lie that she is a horrible mom. She feels like she is the only one who is struggling with motherhood. All the other mothers around her seem to enjoy their babies and have it all together. She feels like she is the only one with ambivalent or negative feelings about motherhood. Also tell your loved one specific examples of how her actions demonstrate that she is a great mom. Depression causes distorted thinking. A crucial part of recovery is learning to combat the negative self-talk with positive affirmations.
- “I am here for you.” A struggling mom will isolate herself from friends and family. It is important to visit her and just let her know that you are there. Sometimes all she needs is someone to sit with her and hold her hand and hug her. A loved one’s mere presence can bring comfort to a struggling mom. Face to face is best. If you are unable to visit her, send her a handwritten card. Send her a text. Write an e-mail. Pick up the phone.
- “You are not alone.” Loneliness coupled with the tendency to isolate makes a struggling mom vulnerable. The support of her family and close friends aids in the recovery process. She will not expect you to fully understand her struggle. If you have not struggled with a postpartum mood or anxiety disorder, you would not be able truly understand the experience. What she needs the most is empathy and kindness.
- “I am thinking of you.” I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping the lines of communication open with your struggling loved one. You do not have to say much. It is your presence and your encouragement that means the most. This simple phrase lets your struggling loved one that she is not forgotten and that she matters.
- “I love you.” Unconditional love and support is what a struggling mom needs throughout her entire journey of recovery. Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders do a number on your loved one’s psyche. She may feel that she is not lovable. When you tell her you that your love her, you are giving her validation that she is loved, loving and lovable.
At the beginning of April 2017 our sweet Skeeter was officially discharged as a graduate of the Urology Clinic. It has been six years since a visibly anxious mom had the first visit at this clinic. I teared up leaving the clinic. Our nurse practitioner Heidi has been with us every step of the way.
Skeeter’s kidneys are almost the exact same size now. She always had one that was slightly smaller which was the same kidney that registered the high level of bladder reflux. When she was initially diagnosed, she had to undergo an X-ray procedure called fluoroscopy which allows them to visualize her bladder and kidneys. I had to nurse her, and then she had to have a wet diaper so they could see how the liquid came out.
I have never been more grateful to work for a healthcare company. I had colleagues who were certified radiology technicians. I showed them the exams, and I also had them explain how much radiation she received. They were able to reassure me that the scan just got only the necessary anatomy.
When I got to our local Children’s Hospital, Heidi allayed so many of my fears. Skeeter only had the one fluoroscopy exam. After that it was all kidney ultrasounds. Heidi took the time to explain everything in layman’s terms. Skeeter adored her, and she still tells me how Heidi says we shouldn’t hold it if we have to pee.
Naturally all things pee and poop were discussed often during these visits to the urology clinic. Initially Skeeter was seen every six months, then a year. At our last visit it had been two years. I know that I can still reach out to Heidi and our team at the clinic if I have any other questions down the road. I am so grateful for all the care and reassurance they provided. Skeeter’s condition and her hospitalization was the tipping point that catapulted my descent into postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression. It felt like my recovery had come full circle.
Exercise for me is not just about building muscle, increasing my endurance, lifting heavier weights, jumping higher and running faster. Exercise decreases my anxiety, and it helps me burn off the rage that resurfaces from time to time. Women are socialized to be “nice” which led me to suppress a lot of my strong emotions as a girl. I struggled with my temper throughout puberty. I figured out ways to channel my emotions: basketball and acting. This approach served me well throughout high school and college.
Flash forward to motherhood. The hormonal shift combined with sleep deprivation, PPOCD, PPD, and PPA made me an emotional wreck. My emotions came at me in waves, and they threatened to consume me. Once I finally got diagnosed, I focused on my emotional and my mental health. It took me nearly a year into my recovery before I started to focus on my physical health. Exercise is now a key component as part of my self-care routine. It improves my mood. It enables me to sharpen my focus and get out of my head. I find my best ideas when I’m exercising.