Sunday, February 5, 2012

baby steps

If studies show that postpartum depression not only affects at least 1 in 8 women but is also the most common complication of childbirth, then I wonder all the time where are these women & how do we get them to talk openly about it?! It took me just about 3 years since I was diagnosed with a postpartum mood disorder to finally find SOMEONE who has been there. Three years!

 These last few weeks I have been emailing with Amy, a State Coordinator for Postpartum Support International . In case you don’t already know, PSI is dedicated to helping women suffering from perinatal mood & anxiety disorders, including postpartum depression. They also work to educate family, friends & health care providers so that moms and moms-to-be can get the support they need & recover. 

Amy informed me the other day that there are close to 10,000 births per year in my area. What does this mean? It means that there are close to 1,200 women suffering with postpartum depression each year in my area alone! Where are all these women & where are the support groups?? 

If there are that many women around me who are going through this, it is unacceptable that it took me 3 years of researching, 3 years of suffering & 3 years of feeling like no one else in the world gets it. Amy is the FIRST person who I have met that has been though something like this. I am so thankful that I have finally found her because although our postpartum mood disorders are different, we understand each other & what it’s like going through this awful disorder.

Amy had been through a really rough time after the birth of her first son 10 years ago & was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis. When she was diagnosed, she had hallucinations & ended up in a hospital for 11 days. Not only did she get through this & come out stronger than ever in the end but she went on to have another child without any complications! 

Her story is so inspirational to me because when postpartum anxiety/postpartum ocd struck me I had MAJOR fears that I was going to go “crazy.” I had the fears that I could never go through this hell again & that I could not have anymore children…ever. To meet someone who has been through probably the most terrifying thing she will ever go through & go on to have more children knowing that it could have happened again, is just so inspiring to me & finally gives me the hope that I too, will be able to have more children!

The other day, Amy & I had a chance to attend a Community-based perinatal support model training that was put on by MotherWoman. This organization supports and empowers mothers to create positive personal & social change for ourselves, our families, our communities & the world. 

This session directly addressed the gap between screening for postpartum depression & services for mothers. I learned throughout the training that there are not nearly enough doctors trained or even educated on ppd & many of them will admit this. I also learned that screening for postpartum depression is happening more now, but I know from my own experience that I was never once screened. This training also made me more aware of how few & far between support groups are. There definitely is not enough ppd support groups. 

The total # of groups in my area is, ready for this? ONE! This one support group only accepts moms up to six months postpartum. Six months! By the time I even found out about this group I was way beyond 6 months postpartum & I was not able to attend. Some women don't even notice their postpartum depression symptoms until much later in the first year of giving birth. Many women (like myself) will hide their ppd for a long time, even years. 

When women in this position are finally ready to talk about what they are struggling with as well as reach out for support, why is it that some of us are being told by that desperately needed support system that it’s too late for us & we are not even being offered any other resources?? SOO disappointing! 

Not only is there just one support group close to my home but I didn’t fit the “criteria” so I was turned away without any advice as to where I should go. This blows my mind and I know a change needs to be made.

Amy lives about a half hour away from me & she was also unable to find any support groups when she needed it most. Both of us know how common this is & how it is so VERY much needed. It has inspired us to take the steps (even if they are baby steps) toward working on getting a support group in our area. We would love for it to be open to women whether they had a baby 2 weeks ago or 2 years ago. I know this won't happen overnight & it will take hard work & dedication but I know we will get there, little by little.

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