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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 →

Aug 18 2011

Postpartum Anxiety–This is What Mine Looked Like

By at 9:46 am

Tamara recently left her beloved buckeye-state and relocated to Pittsburgh with her husband and infant son. While at home, she’s decided to give writing, attachment parenting, and photography a try. And when she saw our post about depression, she decided to share her story.

The birth of my son brought about some of the craziest emotions I’ve ever had in my entire life. Happy ones, sad ones, normal ones, and desperate ones. After a pretty uneventful first two trimesters–being put on bed rest in my third trimester really took a toll on me emotionally. Then after he was born, we struggled with breastfeeding. At his two month visit when we found out that he hadn’t gained weight, my husband and I were broken to the core. The entire day is a blur, all I remember is the pediatrician shaking her head at the weight and then–as if I am a ghost in the room–I watch myself sobbing uncontrollably, tears falling on my tiny boy who is screaming at the breast. That visit threw me down a hole of self blame. This precious gift that I worked so hard to bring into this world was hungry.

At the time nothing was as it should be. We closed on our home-sale the day my water broke and we were packing up our belongings on no more than two hours of sleep each night. I was struggling with pain from some postpartum complications and my body was weak and still recovering from bed rest. And to top it all off, I hadn’t finished writing our thank you notes yet.

We were living amongst boxes.
We were worrying about money.
We were moving to a city where we had no friends or family.
My baby was hungry.
It was too much.

Looking back–all that was probably too much for almost anyone.

I cried, a lot. Every day I cried. I cried because I couldn’t pump enough milk. I cried because my baby wouldn’t latch. I cried because we were leaving a home we loved. I cried because I felt I had no business being a mother.

Other people saw us struggling. We asked for more help than we ever have in our entire lives in that three month time span. It was like my husband and I were shells of ourselves just going through the motions of our hectic life. Everything we knew was being changed, all at once. Everything. Our friends, where we lived, our jobs, our marriage, our finances. And we were responsible for this new little person who didn’t happen to arrive with an instruction booklet. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 17 2011

Postpartum Depression Statistics

By at 2:20 pm

Every year, thousands of new moms battle with a serious case of depression. Bringing a baby home is no easy task, and getting used taking care of a being that seems to suck everything out of you, takes some getting used to. (And that would be a major understatement.)

Our friends over at the New Moms Connect program at Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles just sent over some pretty startling statistics about postpartum depression.

1) Every year, 800,000-1 million American women are affected by perinatal mood and anxiety disorders

2) This statistic cuts across income, race, ethnicity, income, age and sexual orientation.

3) Low income women, however, are disproportionately affected.

4) In the Los Angeles Mother Baby study, low-income or ethnic minority women in Los Angeles had rates of depressive symptoms closer to 40-50%.

If you or somebody you know is looking for some help, send them to the New Moms Connect website or call them at 323.761.8800 x1028. They’ll help connect you with somebody in your community.

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