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Aug 13 2014

Don’t Feel Bad About Not Missing Your Kids

By at 12:13 pm

School-bus

OK, so maybe I’m not such a good mother.

I didn’t cry or sadly wave goodbye as my kids boarded the bus to camp.

I can’t even truthfully say I missed them all that much. It was four weeks until Visiting Day and four weeks later they’d be home.  Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 7 2014

Electroconvulsive Therapy Saved My Life & Helped Me Be Myself Again

By at 2:58 pm

Risa-hospital

After months of worsening depression and intense psychotherapy, it was an email I sent to my psychiatrist that was the last straw. I simply told her, once again, how lonely I felt and how much pain I was in. She called and told me it was time to go to the hospital–I had suffered enough.

Just a few hours later I was in the Psych ER being evaluated and then admitted.

Terrified and emotionally exhausted, I was shown to my room. I don’t remember how I slept that night but when I woke and met with my treatment team, I was immediately brought to tears. My doctor was calm and cool while he presented my options. The first was to try a different class of medication, pretty much the only medication I had not yet tried. One issue: I would first need to get off of my current medications and there were dietary issues, such as certain cheeses and chocolate that cannot be consumed. I looked at my doctor with a straight face and told him there was no way I could cut out chocolate. Luckily, he smiled and offered me a second option. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 7 2014

The Trauma of First-Time Parenthood

By at 10:02 am

Tamara-newborn-nap

When we brought our newborn daughter home, she nursed around the clock with a ferocious latch. It felt as if I was putting my nipple into a stapler and then having the milk sucked out by an expensive Dyson.

If I were a first-time mama, I would have been convinced I had no milk and faulty nipples. I would have probably also convinced myself that my baby was tongue tied, lip-tied, or whatever bad-latch karma was going around the internet at the time. But what I now know to be true, after successfully nursing her two older brothers, is that I always have nipple sensitivity in the first few weeks and my daughter was gaining more than enough weight, despite a small mouth and slightly shallow latch.

As expected, after two weeks it all went away. She still nurses around the clock, but it is normal–even biological–for her to want to be nourished by me, held by me, and comforted by me. She won’t always want to be this close to me. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 2 2014

I Cried on the Last Day of Preschool, But Not For the Reasons You Think

By at 4:26 pm

Crying-Preschool

Our son’s last day of Jewish preschool has come and gone, and there are still times I cry, but not for the reasons you may think.

I wasn’t one of those moms posting on Facebook about my son’s first day at preschool and my overflowing tears and anxieties. We took a picture of him outside with his backpack–which was posted on Facebook–and drove on, knowing he was going to have a great time. This mom wasn’t sad or worried, not one bit.

Deciding to send our son to preschool was fueled by a couple of factors: our son’s need for more activity and my history with Postpartum Depression (PPD). We were expecting our second child in the fall, and a difficult pregnancy kept my son home with little opportunity for active play, which he desperately needed. I also felt it was important to prepare for the possibility I may experience PPD again; being proactive was important to me. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 30 2014

If Becoming a Mom Means Losing My Old Identity, I’m OK With That

By at 3:42 pm

woman-driving

I am Iliana’s mom. That is my identity, according to all of her friends.

Am I OK with that? Hell, yeah!

I have heard many times that you lose your identity after having a child, as no one calls you by your given name. You are just “someone’s mom.” But I don’t understand the issue with that. I know who I am and I am not worried that I will lose that knowledge just because a bunch of 4-year-olds call me something else. If anything, it makes me blush. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 10 2014

How To Survive the Seder When You’re Depressed

By at 10:08 am

dinner

As a woman, I try to be everything to everyone. As a wife and mother, that becomes magnified times 100. With Passover creeping up a bit too fast for me, I have to become superwoman. At least, that is what it feels like. While my husband, daughter, and I will only be home for a few days of Passover, I still need to clean. Additionally, our kitchen is being renovated during the week of Passover (good timing!), so there is that added stress. We will be with our family for the seders, but I have the pressure of watching my moods and being sparkly–like my daughter–while I am with them.

We are all dealing with a lot this week. The cleaning, cooking, and readying our bodies for (intestinal) destruction is in full swing right now, and the stress level is palpable. The truth is I am not that concerned with my cleaning (more so because of the pending kitchen destruction). I am concerned about interpersonal issues. I want to be “present” during the seders with my family.

This is easier said than done right now, due to being depressed. The road has lengthened and this stubborn depression walks on. I thought I would be feeling better by now, but I simply don’t. So, like many others, I am stressed about this holiday. I know I share this with many people but my stress is compounded by illness. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 7 2014

It’s Time to Fight the Stigma of Mental Illness

By at 12:52 pm

therapy1

As a social worker, I have always been about combating the stigma of mental illness. As a human being, I have been passionate about it. As someone with an actual diagnosis of depression, it is always on my mind.

Why is there still a stigma?

I do not want my daughter to grow up whispering the word, “depression;” I want there to be open conversations where people can talk about illness–any illness–and not feel isolated as a result. When someone talks about controlling his or her diabetes, that is more accepted than someone talking about depression. It scares people. But why? Obviously society and environment has created this. Why is it that I have to pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars to my psychiatrist because my health insurance has a deductible and then will only cover 80% (which is actually a good deal!)? When will this stop? The more it is talked about, the more mainstream the conversation will become. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 19 2014

Managing Motherhood & Depression Means Asking For Help

By at 9:56 am

sleeping-child

It was a day I will never forget. Last week, I was at work when I received a call from my daughter’s preschool. I was told that she is fine but she is saying she is very tired and is lying on the couch sucking her fingers (her go-to when nervous or tired). I said I would be right over. Since I work next door to the JCC where she attends, it makes it convenient.

I went over and sat to talk with her asking if anything hurt. She said “no.” I asked her if she wanted to go to dance class and she said “no.” Now I knew something was up, as she loves her dance class and dressing in her leotard and tutu. I asked if she wanted to go home and she said “yes.”

Once we were home and settled I felt and kissed her forehead but she felt cool. We had lunch and she ate heartily. We started watching the movie “Cars” and I turned to her and asked her if she was not only tired but was she missing mommy. I knew the response before she said it. She said “yes, I missed you.” Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 30 2014

Motherhood & Depression: What it Means for Me and My Daughter

By at 1:50 pm

mother and daughter in snow winter

1. Me

Depression and motherhood do not mix. Before I was married I was aware that my offspring could possibly carry the same genetic predisposition that I have for depression. I don’t mean the “blues” or feeling sad for a couple of days; what I do mean is months of feeling hopeless, helpless, sleeping in excess, and feeling completely alone.

Unfortunately for me, I produce a low amount of serotonin which is needed to maintain a cheery outlook, and to just feel balanced. Add some generalized anxiety to this and you’ve got what has been my life for the past 20 years. I have learned great skills in dealing with it and know when I need to re-group. I also have very supportive family and wonderful friends. I am actually lucky as I have only dealt with a few instances of clinical depression and have come out the other side each time. What works for me is talking and medication. There it is…no stigma.

2. My Daughter

My daughter is one of the happiest people I know. I constantly watch her in amazement. I see her easy-going demeanor and I wonder, where the hell did you come from? My husband is not exactly laid back and I bring the depressive/anxious traits into the mix, so how did we end up with this happy, sparkly child? It baffles me on a daily basis. She is not overly dramatic when something does not go her way and accepts things in a positive way. She is by no means perfect, but I can’t imagine her ever being sad for a long period of time. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 19 2013

Depressed… With Children

By at 12:24 pm

spilling juiceI’ve had issues with anxiety and depression all my life. According to my mother, I was the only newborn in the maternity word who refused to eat and just screamed her head off, instead. The pattern continued when she brought me home, as I never slept for more than an hour’s stretch at a time and suffered from what the doctors kept insisting was colic long past the period when colic should have been merely a horrible memory. As she remembers it, I basically didn’t eat or sleep for the first two years of my life. (“Don’t force her,” one doctor advised. “She’ll eat when she’s hungry.” My mother tried that. I didn’t eat for 48 hours. Then I asked for a slice of bread. Then I didn’t eat again for 48 more hours. She gave up.)

And things didn’t get any better once she tried taking me to nursery school. I didn’t eat or sleep there, either. I did scream, though. My mother eventually ended up pulling me out and staying home. Because, as she explained, “It’s one thing when you drop a child off at school, they scream for 20 minutes, then stop. It’s another thing when you drop a child off at school, they scream, and, when you come back eight hours later, they are still screaming.”

So, I was a high-strung little girl. To put it mildly. Read the rest of this entry →

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