9 things I wish I’d known about postpartum depression

Well, hi there! I know it’s been a little quiet here on the blog. You know how it goes: new projects at work, kids’ schedules, life, craziness, blah, blah, blah. Plus I’ve been a little unmotivated, to be honest. I even started wondering if it was time for me to quit blogging, and though I decided I wouldn’t, I still haven’t had the drive to blog late at night or early in the morning.

But then I got a phone call. I was away on vacation with no internet service. When I landed in Boston, I dreaded checking my email and voicemails, but one message caught my attention: My friend Brenna from Suburban Snapshots, telling me that the Today Show’s website was looking for me.

Huh?

So I checked my email and quickly got in touch with the editor who was trying to find me (shout-out to another awesome friend, Suzanne from Toulouse & Tonic, who told the editor I was on vacation and to please wait until I got back!). The editor wanted me to write a post about PPD, since it was a relevant topic with Hayden Panettiere checking herself into a clinic for PPD treatment. One thing led to another and now…

I have an article on Today.com! It’s called 9 things I wish I’d known about postpartum depression and I hope you’ll go read it.

If you want to show your support, you can comment on the Today Show’s Facebook page and/or Today Parents’ Facebook page. (As you may know, the more people who comment/like, the more people will see the post. And given this topic, the more women who see it, the better.)

Being on Today.com is kind of a big deal for me, professionally. Being paid to write for a major website is awesome resume fodder, and hopefully I will get to write more for Today. But what’s really exciting is that the Today Show is an incredible forum to reach more moms who may be suffering in silence. That’s the whole reason I started Honest Mom: to help moms dealing with depression and anxiety know that they are not alone and they do not need to be ashamed. And that’s why, even if I take a blogging break here and there, I’ll keep writing here on Honest Mom. I’m re-energized now and ready to rock!

I have 40-50 Honest Moms Speak Out essays waiting in the wings, and I’m looking forward to bringing a new one to you each week. So many women want to tell their stories, and now I just need to publish them! I’ll keep blogging about parenting and mental health and bringing you good stuff on Facebook and Twitter — so I hope you’ll keep following along and sharing the posts that you like. The more women we reach, the more we’ll chip away at the ridiculous stigma attached to mental health.

Have a wonderful week!
JD, aka Honest Mom

 

photo credit: “Mother and Son” via photopin (license)

How to go from feeling overwhelmed to feeling accomplished

 

The other day I finally I figured out the source of much of my stress. It’s something so simple that you might roll your eyes at me when I tell you what it is. But it dawned on me while I was loading the dishwasher.

I was staring at the sink, annoyed that I couldn’t fit that one last cup and bowl into the dishwasher. If I could fit those in, and if I could find ten more minutes to get those pots cleaned, and if I could manage to wipe down the sink, I’d be done. Finished. Something would actually be accomplished around here.

But I had run out of time and space. So my task was unfinished. And I felt unaccomplished because I couldn’t check it off my list.

This small thing annoyed me and frustrated me more than it should have. Why? Why was this small, silly thing so bothersome to me?

I leaned against the sink, sucking down my iced coffee, looking at the dishes, and holding my list of to-dos in my other hand.

And then BOOM. It hit me.

My to-do list was sabotaging me. It was making me feel stressed out and like a big failure. And there was an easy fix I could implement right away.

How to go from overwhelmed to accomplished: Using lists the right way

But let me back up. I do have a system and it does (usually) work really well.

Truthfully, I have several to-do lists. I used to have one, huge, loooooong list that was immensely stressful to look at. I kept it on the computer in my iCloud notes so it would sync across my laptop, phone, and iPad. The syncing was nice, but the list was scary and stressful.

So I changed my system. I went back to using my trusty notebook and I broke my to-do list into several master lists: Home, Kids, Work, Blog, Personal. One on each page of the notebook.

On Sunday night of each week (ideally) I make a single, less overwhelming list of to-dos for the week. I’ve found this to be WAY less stressful for me, and keeps me out of my habit of endlessly going over each of the lists, wondering what I’m forgetting. If it’s not on the week’s list of to-dos, I’m not thinking about it. Done and done.

However.

I’ve been doing two major things wrong:

1) I add things to my master lists that are, by nature, things that will never, ever, ever be done. Like doing laundry. Washing dishes. Yard maintenance. House cleaning. Putting away laundry. (And am I the only one who has baskets of clean laundry that sit around the house for weeks on end?)

2) I add things that are enormous projects that will never get done in one sitting. Like sorting through a year’s worth of school papers. Creating my media kit. Culling through and printing all our pictures from our 2013 Disney trip.

So what am I doing about it?

Making more lists, of course.

I have two new master lists: “Ongoing” and “Bigger Projects.”

And I’m being more realistic about what should go on those lists. For example, I wrote a blog post for another website and it took several sittings to finish it. I knew it would. So that post should have gone on the “bigger projects” list, because it wasn’t something I could get done in one day. Instead, it sat on my weekly list for several weeks in a row, stressing me out.

The Ongoing list? It’s got the tasks that need to eventually be attended to but will never be totally done: Laundry. Dishes. Yard work. House cleaning. It’s there just to remind me that those things exist. Maybe most people don’t need that reminder, but I do because my brain works like this.

If I really think I can accomplish a certain task related to one of those two new categories, I put it on my weekly list. Like “trim bush next to front door.” That’s a doable task. “Do yard work” isn’t.

So that’s how I’ve dialed down my stress and created a sense of control in my very out-of-control life.

What do you think? Are you a list maker? Do you like the idea of master lists and a weekly list? Would this kind of system work for you?

Note: This is a revised, previously-published post, so that’s why some comments are from a while ago.  🙂

photo credit: Hammonton Photography via photopin cc

 

This is what a depressed mom looks like.

regular, normal women and moms deal with depression

Does the graphic surprise you? Are you shocked that women and moms with depression can look so normal – like the lady who lives next door or the woman you work with?

Or maybe you’re looking at the faces above and thinking, Wow – I had no idea that women like me are cursed with depression. I thought I was the only one.

Either way, if that’s your reaction, I totally get it.

Because when I confide in someone that I deal with depression, this is the response I often get:

“I had no idea you deal with depression. You seem like you have it all together. You seem so … normal.”

People are always so surprised. Because on the outside, I look like a regular, suburban, 30-something mom. I generally look put together. In a decent mood. You know … normal.

When I’m depressed, I don’t look sad, angry, anxious. Like I feel like I’m falling apart. Like I’m ready to scream at my kids for every little thing they do. Like I’m worrying I will blurt something that will make their little faces crumple in sadness or worse – fear.

I also don’t look dirty, frantic, or bizarre. I don’t act erratic or crazy. I look and act like me. Just maybe a little quieter, a little sadder, a little less of myself.

When I am struggling with depression, I look normal on the outside. Because I AM normal. I just have depression, too.

If there is one thing I want people to understand about depression, it’s this: Depression often – usually – looks “normal.” Because “normal” people struggle with depression.

Some people will bristle at a comparison I am about to make – and honestly, I’m not sure why – but I think my depression isn’t different from many other chronic diseases. I have friends, acquaintances, and relatives who deal with lupus, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s, and other awful diseases that flare up and seemingly go away – just as my depression does.

I am not always depressed, nor do I always have to be on medication. My depression comes and goes. When it’s here, I take meds for it. When it’s gone, I don’t.

And yes, I know that many, many people have constant depression and have to take meds and go to therapy all the time. And you know what? I think their depression isn’t any different from any other disease that needs to be constantly monitored and cared for and medicated so the person who has the disease can feel normal.

(There’s that word again.)

It bothers me that there is such a stigma about depression. I can understand it – anything that messes with our brains is scary – but it still makes me mad that I’m afraid to talk about it much. But I’m writing about it, at least. And I’m glad that I am.

Because if I can help some moms feel less alone, and if I can help some other people understand that regular, everyday people deal with depression – well, that makes me so happy.

If you have a friend or family member who confides in you that they struggle with depression and take medication, just remember: They’re just as normal as your friend with diabetes or your cousin with lupus. And they’re still the person you know and love.

Are you hesitant to tell close friends and relatives about your depression? Is it difficult to explain that having depression doesn’t make you “crazy”?

Note: This is a revised, previously-published post, so that’s why some comments are from a while ago.  🙂

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