Archive for the 'Mental Health' Category

Postpartum Depression

After pregnancy, some women start to feel like they’re just not ‘right’. Hormonal changes, healing, and taking care of a newborn while still running a household can all attribute to this feeling. In cases, the extra tiredness and sad emotions will begin to fade. In other the symptoms can deepen and become Postpartum Depression.

The word ‘depression’ brings to mind lethargy, avoidance of others, and someone who is constantly sad. This may be true, but depression can also include anger, hallucinations, and intrusive thoughts. Women with post partum depression often do not seek treatment due to feelings of shame and inadequacy. When a woman does not seek help she may eventually lose control and harm herself and potentially others.

Luckily for those of us who have suffered from postpartum depression there are resources readily available on the internet and through understanding health care practitioners. By recognizing symptoms you or your loved one may be experiencing, you can use these resources to find an ending to the suffering brought on by this serious mental disease.

If you are suffering from PPD, you may not even know it. You might feel sad, tired, or angry, but not know why. While it is possible to beat PPD on your own, it’s not recommended. If you do not choose to use medication, there are alternatives like support groups and therapy.

My own story with PPD began in 2002. I had given birth to my second daughter and just didn’t feel ‘right’. I was sad, tired, and felt at a loss each and every day. I began to believe people were talking about me behind my back. It got so bad that I would avoid looking at people in public and if there were more than two cars in a restaurant parking lot, I would make my husband go elsewhere or through a drive through.

I found some information on postpartum depression and decided to take the first step by admitting I had a problem. I talked with my husband, then to my nurse-midwife. We all decided a plan of low level antidepressants would have the best effect on me. Sadly, it turned out that the drug I was taking did nothing for me, except to cause an apathetic outlook. I eventually gave up the medication in favor of support.

In 2004, my third daughter was born and I began to have symptoms of PPD again. This time though, the severity was much worse. Bordering on Postpartum Psychosis, I came very close to being committed several times, and to be honest, I should have been. While I did not have wishes to harm others, each and everyday suicide was a very prominent thought. I refused to admit to having a problem, luckily my husband had been with me through the entire episode of the last PPD issue and knew that this time, there was something seriously wrong.

I began a regimen of the anti depressant Zoloft, with nearly immediate effects. I also found an online support forum on the Ezboard network devoted to PPD. All people affected by PPD was welcome there. Husbands, the victim herself, and other friends and family members. I was able to keep a journal in hopes of finding a pattern in my actions and symptoms. Eventually, I did. Now I use my journal as a way to update other members and let them know there is hope at the end of the dark tunnel that is Postpartum Depression.

Today I am a (fairly) happy mother of four with a budding freelance writing career. I write for online and print media, and I do not worry so much about having a ‘trigger’ set me back into my old depression. There is an end to the PPD, you just have to hold on to your life tightly. Here is a link for those who need more information on PPD. Postpartum Depression Forums

Posted in Pregnancy, Concerns and Expectations, Mental Health | 5 Comments »

Caregivers of the Elderly

During my time as a Certified Nursing Assistant, I spent most of my time caring for nursing home residents who suffered from Alzheimer’s and other dementias. I have seen so many tired and depressed residents, along with families who seem so lost. Dementias can wreak havoc on a family, especially those who do not have the resources or support that they need. In the midst of the doctor’s appointments, the flurry of care decisions, and arguments, the victim and their families lose touch with one another’s needs.

Caregivers tend to forget about themselves. Depression is a danger while caring for a loved one affected by this disease. Feelings of helplessness, loss, anger, and being inadequate runs rampant in the caregiver community. If you are the caregiver or relative of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s, you don’t have to feel this way. There are a multitude of resources available to you online and through your community.

The internet is a vast reservoir of information concerning health topics. Websites, forums, and newsgroups can help you find your way through this time of coping. In most areas there are community based support groups that advertise though Yahoo Groups or Craigslist. Your local newspaper is also an excellent source of support group information. A newspaper will often have times and phone numbers listed to help you in contacting the groups.

If your loved one is already in a long term care facility, try to strike up friendships with the Nursing Assistants who are providing the personal care. Most people think that nurses are responsible for the day to day care of residents, but that just is not true. Yes, nurses oversee the work of CNAs and give medicines, but nursing assistants provide the basic care for all patients. From bathing to feeding, these are the ones who do it all. Forming a relationship with the nursing assistants will also help ensure that your family member gets the proper care they are entitled to. It will also give you a great insight into the condition of your loved one.

Make sure to talk to the CNAs and nurses each time you visit. Being friendly and not agitated in your manner helps keep down miscommunications. These workers can give you so many tips on how to help your loved one be more comfortable and also help alleviate your grief, if only a small fraction. The staff who cares for your relative becomes attached and cares very much for their patients. It’s hard on a CNAor nurse when their patients pass, so they will try to help you learn to walk down your road ahead with grace and understanding.

Posted in Mental Health, Stress Management | 5 Comments »

Motivational Monday: Albert Einstein

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.”- Albert Einstein

Something that bothers me to the extreme is how attached some people get to items. I can understand sentimental value. A few things in my home have been with me for years, mementos of certain people or times. But, hoarding and attaching signifigance to the smallest thing results in a cluttered home and mind. The constant worry of if something is ’safe’ from your children, partner, or guests is stressful. Packing it carefully away reduces it’s real value.

And what is the real value of a sentimental item?

The memories. Yes, the set of dishes your grandmother used on holidays or other special occasions may mean the world to you. But what satisfaction comes from having it packed away? The memories came from the use of them…and how can memories continue to be forged if you wrap them in newspaper?

Handling and using the things that come from ones you loved is the best way to honor them. Of course, some things might be too fragile for everyday use. If finances permit, check into preservation/restoration services. A quilt can be hung on a wall, plates placed in a hutch, and small things like Granpa’s pipe and pocketwatch could make a lovely shadowbox.

Build your memories, don’t pack them away.

Posted in Daily Living, Mental Health, Stress Management | No Comments »

Motivational Monday: Helen Keller

“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.”

Helen Keller was born into a life of darkness and silence, yet she overcame these limitations to live a life that lit the darkness for others. The smallest effort is great if it is fufilled to the best of your efforts and talent.

Are you a single mother? A single father? Maybe you are just someone who spends each day going through the motions of living. When was the last time you took a moment to note the good things you do each day? Perhaps you read a book to a child, held the door for someone at the market, or even just made that first cup of coffee for your partner.

Each of these selfless tasks are noble. Every person has something of the great and noble in them and it doesn’t take aspiring to moving mountains to show the world. Just opening your heart to the tiny kindness that each of us perform each day is enough.

Posted in Lifestyles, Daily Living, Mental Health, Stress Management | 1 Comment »

One Whole Week… Are You Serrrrrious?

I have divulged to you my plans (or unplans, as the case may be) to stay home for the holidays - and not commit ourselves to hauling ass all over Tennessee, Alabama and Florida, crammed in a car for eight hours with two kids (and two grown ups) who want more than anything just to be home with their own tree and presents and friends and Christmas dinner, just to appease my mom. Everyone else understands - they have all admitted that they would never entertain the idea driving 8hours during the holiday season with kids. Everyone but my mom. She did it with us when we were kids - no matter where we were in the world, she made sure that we picked ourselves up out of our relaxing holiday and loaded every present, package and suitcase into our minivan just so that she could be near her parents for Christmas. It was crazy. And, I have decided that it is not how I am going to spend my holidays with my kids anymore. I say “anymore” because I tried - for the last six years I have felt obligated and was never prepared to face the insurmountable guilt that I knew my mom would hash out. Buckets of guilt would be slung my way - with precise aim.  It’s a gift of hers. Everyone’s gotta be good at something, right?

In her defense, though, these are her only grandkids. They mean the world to her and she means the world to them. But, when I gaiged how excited my son was to stay home, the decision was final. I broke the news to her in, probably, the least sensitive manner I could have mustered. Not intentionally - it just happened that way. I said it very casually and as if it weren’t a big deal - because, once we had made the decision, it wasn’t a big deal. To us. Her reaction was very similar to what I would imagine it would be had I told her that I was secretly a stripper and John was a full time pimp down in the lower east side of Nashville. Appalled. I gave her some time to work it out. After a week, she called and said that she and dad had decided that they, if it was alright with us, wanted to pick the kids up the day after Xmas and take them down to Disney World. I know part of the reason is she wants the kids to be around her family for a holiday - and that Disney World is a guise for that. But, hell, I’ll take it.

And, the she said “We’ll be back on New Year’s Eve”. Wait. That’s a whole week. Hold. On. Just. A. Damn. Minute. I’m torn. Half of me (the half that wants to feel like a cutloose and fancy free 29year old) is jumping for joy and spinning cartwheels out on the sunlit, dewey front lawn. The other half (you know, the mom part that can’t imagine her kids away from her - flying down the highway at warp speed with her half deaf father who can barely see through his five inch long old man eyebrows and her junk food addicted mother [godbless’em]) is flipping out and damn near an anxiety attack about it.

A week. That’s a long, looooong time. John, of course, is already counting the hours of sleeping in that a week without the kids amounts to. I, on the other hand, will probably wake up every morning at 630am wishing that a little boy would climb in my bed and warm his toes on my belly and that I could hear a two year old in her crib singing a morning song to herself.. Being a mother is quite certainly one of the most beautiful forms of torture on this planet.

Posted in Uncategorized, Daily Living, Holidays, Vacation and Travel, Mental Health | No Comments »

What is Happening to Me?

A little known fact about me.  I once helped liberate fourteen animals from a labratory that was affiliated with a major drugstore chain.  It was all very covert and nondestructive.  We saved fourteen animals and gave them good homes.  I hope I don’t go to jail for admitting this online.  It was many, many years ago and I was very young - certainly wasn’t the master mind of the operation.  But I went.

My point in divulging any of this to you is because my identity (if you haven’t noticed from previous blogs) is becoming somewhat illusive to me these days.  I don’t care to be a fist raising activist or someone who is righteously ethical - though that was an outfit I wore for many years.  But, where is the line?  How do we creep into being a reasonable adult with a balanced perspective about their lifestyle without entirely becoming a sell out?  My fear is that I am not becoming “balanced” but lazy. 

I have started taking long walks in the morning.  530am is my target rising time - though it is hard to get out of bed before 6am.  During these long walks alone, I have been thinking.  Thinking about my past.  Thinking about my present.  Obsessively thinking about my future and what kind of person I am turning into.  I have also started to think about who I am not any longer.  Everyone around me seems so pleased to know that I have “loosened up” - I eat fish, I wear leather, I had turkey for Thanksgiving, I drive something very similar to a small SUV (alright, it is a small SUV..), I let my kids watch TV now (only PBS but, still…).  I am far from a perfectionist - seriously.  I never adhered to a “no-TV-vegetarian-econocar-driving” lifestyle because I was a perfectionist about my lifestyle.  Admittedly, I did it out of guilt.  I couldn’t bear having any responsibility for destruction of any kind and, when I had kids, I didn’t want them to be comfortable living an overindulged, destructive lifestyle either.  So, what gives?  What switch got flipped in me?  Am I being lazy or just figuring out how to work within the constraints of the society around me? 

I guess, mostly, I just want to know why I can’t turn it off.  I see all these people, every day, living so simply and easily.  They glide through their day,without even an inkling of a thought for their actions and behaviour.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be like that, I just want to find a middle ground.  Somewhere, there has got to be a middle ground.

Posted in Lifestyles, Daily Living, Mental Health | No Comments »

Autumnal Bliss and Frolicky Tots

Somehow I scored a weekend off of work and was able to have a much needed date day/night with my son.  Saturday we started the day off right with several very impressive estate sales and yard sales.  I know, that seems like something only mommy might enjoy.  But, you’re wrong.  Dead wrong.  My six year old son has turned into quite a rumamge sale junkie - and he is a much better bargainer than I am.  He has the whole sweet, innocent “how much for this teddy bear - it will be my first teddy bear - sniffle, sniffle” that I can’t pull off and usually manages to get everything for next to nothing.

We then spent the afternoon at a birthday party where we painted pumpkins, drank hot chocolate, painted our faces and played in the most gorgeous weather I have seen in Nashville this year.  We ate chocolate cake and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches like there was no tomorrow.

After our happy gallivanting at the park, we headed home - wind chapped cheeks and rosy nosed - to get cleaned up for our fancy dinner date at Margot (one of the best places to eat in town).  We put on our most comfortable clothes - and still managed to look classy as penguins.  We settled into our cozy, candle lit table - ordered sprite and wine (respectively, for him and me) and enjoyed the best meal and the best company ever.

Originally, I had made the reservations for me and John.  Alas, as is usual, we could not acquire (nor afford) a babysitter - so I figured, why not take a date (an equally romantic date) with my son.  I have to tell you - it was one of the best days in my life.

Then on Sunday the whole crew carved pumpkins on our front porch, took long walks collecting leaves, fed geese and ducks in the park, made french toast, played in the backyard and had an all around beautiful day.  If it sounds idylic and magnificent - it’s because it was…

And, I’m happy to report - the ants have settled in (quite nicely, might I add).. We watched them for some time yesterday getting their new home properly set up.  They are fascinating creatures - they collect the dead, bury them, help each other carry heavy loads.. They each have their place and they each have their task.  They rest when it is time and they work (hard!) when it is time.  Something to be admired in any creature.
God, I love autumn and renewal and work and play and feeling purposeful in life.. There is no time like this time of the year.

Posted in Daily Living, Healthy Living, Mental Health | No Comments »

My Britney Spears Moment…

I can honestly say that I, since high school, I haven’t worried much about impressing people.  The parental cliques on the school playground make me nothing more than amused and damned happy that I have better things to do than to gossip about my own friends and complain about my husband.  I am very comfortable with my typical outcast position with these people - I like that they think I am weird and too “different” to get to know.  I like that they stare in disgust at my ten year old puma tennis shoes as if they were covered in elephant dung.  And I adore the ugly, ugly fact that once I bought a car that met their approval and they all wanted to “hang” with me that I took great joy in sincerely showing no interest at all.  My point is that I am far beyond really giving a crap who thinks what about me or my kids, especially from the PTA or PTO or whatever they call themselves these days.  That being said, let me tell you about my most recent Harris Teeter trip.  I may as well have been barefoot, had a cigarette hanging out from between my knocked out teeth and pregnant - because that’s about as classy as I felt.

It was a bad, bad time of the day.  You know, that 430pm time of the day when you just want to crawl under a rock and hide but instead you decide it would be the perfect time to load the kids in the car and go grocery shopping?  I was tired, the kids were tired and I was starting to get that constricted feeling in my throat and that twitchy look on my face.  I decided that, instead of shooting menacing looks to all the women in suits calling their children “dahhhling”, I would bury my face in the newest edition of OK! Magazine while we waited in line.  I had no idea that Anna Nicole’s son died and I was having a quiet moment of reflection while I simultaneously wondered when Katie was going to freak out and murder Tom Cruise in his sleep.  While I am in deep musing over the going ons in Hollywood I hear, “Um, Hi Lisa”..

I look up.  It’s her.  It’s the leader of the cool kids on the playground.  The ex-lawyer, lexus driving Molly Ringwold of Eakin PTO.  And I casually put down my magazine - “Hey, June, just, you know, catching up on Anna Nicole - did you know her SON died”.  note about lisa when she is caught off guard by someone that she knows hates her:  she starts talking about shit she really doesn’t care about.  incessantly.

“Yeah, so I guess it was a car accident”.. and as I am blathering on about it, I notice she is looking at my children with great distaste.  I knew that were covered in dirt - I actually let them play at the playground and only wiped the dirt off their faces, leaving the hands and clothes nicely covered - the HORROR.. Her kids had apparently had several costume changes since school let out because they looked pristine and like they just walked out of a Janie and Jack store.  But, when I looked back at my kids (whom I had been only moderately paying attention to until her sneers prodded me into taking my nose out of OK! Magazine) I saw, to my own malaise, my two year old daughter had apparently swiped a ten foot long beef jerky and was peeling the plastic off with her teeth and devouring it and my son was doing the pee pee dance while singing “should’a gone pee but now I ‘ll have to find a tree to go pee ooooonnn….” with great operetic flare.. I turned back around and she was walking away - “Ummm, ok, well - see you tomorrow!” I beckon - hoping she’ll nod some kind of affirmation that I wasn’t the most disgusting, negligent parent on the face of the Earth.  She just looked over her shoulder, hiked up her Prada bag and said “um, yeah, whatever”. 

To make matters worse, when I got to the car I looked in mirror to give myself a little happy Stuart Smiley affirmation but, found that I couldn’t.  Once I looked in the mirror and saw the really nice piece of basil that was stuck in my teeth from my afternoon snack with Maggie AND my bra strap hanging out from under my tank top (that was, prior to the shot of afternoon heat a mere undershirt), I had to admit that the situation didn’t look good for me and my “image”.  I can honestly say, I was mortified.  I am sure that she will go back and relay this information to all of her PTA pals - but that’s not the part that really bothers me.  The part that really bothers me is that she thinks her world is reality.  I mean, I guess it is her reality.  But it’s not my reality.  Why couldn’t she just leave me alone and let me finish reading my trashy article about whether or not Anna Nicole’s son was on drugs and leave my daughter to her beef jerky?  Why call out my redneck moment like that?  Seriously.  Just get in your SUV and drive lady.  Just get on wit’cha bad botox injected self and let me have a bad afternoon in the privacy of my OK! magazine.

Posted in Daily Living, Mental Health | 1 Comment »

It’s Like Dominos

Something happens with comfort and luxury.  You start becoming self involved and isolated in your experiences as a human being.  Hold on a sec while I explain.

So, I have this new car.  A car that, size wise, makes sense for my family but is counter to my beliefs as a primarily anti-resource exhausting person.  We can fit our kids and our dog in it and travel safely from here to anywhere in the country.  I made an addendum to my ideals just by buying the car and, now, when I hear about the oil crises, global warming and the war I get mad at myself - but not enough to give up my new creature comfort. 

In this car that I drive - despite my stronger, more intelligent inclinations to not drive it - I have XM radio.  XM radio further catapults me into a state of seperation from my normal informed decision making self.  Granted, you can listen to news stations on XM radio, but I have opted for the more entertaining channels that both me and the kids love.  We are entertained but altogether too distracted for my own liking.  My husband made the comment this morning that we should get rid of XM radio because I no longer listen to NPR, which was, prior to XM radio, my staple for news and information and, yes, even entertainment.  Yeah yeah, sure, it’s easy to say that it is not the actual XM radio but my decision to not listen to the news stations or NPR - you’d be right, I guess.  All in all, though, I feel like it is a distraction that I fell for.  My husband made another comment, shortly after the request to pull my mind-numbing-listen-to-old-80’s-songs-all-day-xm-radio, that we have nothing to talk about because of the fact that I am now absorbed in nothing but old pop songs that really weren’t good twenty years ago but that I am, now, completely absorbed with for pure nostalia anyway… Gaw!  How rude.  But, after I got over being completely offended that my husband implied that I have, ideally and intellectually, become a wet noodle - I had to agree. I spend my day driving around in a very comfortable car thinking about nothing more than why Tiffany started to suck in 1986 when she started out so strong only a year earlier.  And, how the Cars could’ve been a great band but in the eighties they really started to sell out and make music for Mtv rather for the greater good of music itself.. I do move on to more intriguing topics like how Micheal Jackson used to be great and how it is so apparent on any of the songs from Thriller - and I wonder, a lot, what went wrong. 

But, I missed Hugo Chavez calling our president the devil.  What else am I missing?????????

Posted in Daily Living, Technology, Mental Health | No Comments »

Terrible Terrible Twoooooooooo

Oh. My. God.

My daughter woke up this morning apparently possessed with satan himself. I don’t know what happened. She has been sick - and I thought that her nasty attitude was a symptom of that. But she is more than well now and the attitude has only gotten worse and way too big for her little, cute, cherubic body. I didn’t experience the terrible twos with my son. Actually, quite the opposite. Two to four was the best of times with him. It was such a foreign concept to me that when she started acting up, I had to wrack my brain to think of what could possibly be going on. Then it hit me: holy shit, I’m going to have to deal with that thing! That terrible two thing!

It all started with a cute little, puckered lipped “no….” then moved to a fully screamed “NO!” about a week or so after that first cutely pouted one. Then she never wanted to get dressed. I tried the give her the “options” route that all the pediatricians swear work. Liars. All of them. Liars. I mean, do these people even have kids!? “Baby, do you want to wear your striped pants or your skirt today?” I say with a casual smile. As she’s grabbing both the striped pants and her skirt out of my hand with a look reminicent of Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction and throwing them with brute force that I could hardly imagine from a wrestler, much less a little blond baby, she screams “No MOMMY, NO! MEAN! NO!” then calmly sits down, pats her round, little belly and smiles “belly!” and then giggles as if nothing just happened. Wha?!? HUH!!? Who stole my baby and replaced her with a schizophrenic mad woman? Everything makes her angry and she refuses, absolutely refuses, any help from anyone. She has had tantrums that involve throwing any small furniture that she can get her hands on at her opposition and then throwing herself on the floor and staring up at the ceiling looking very much like she is contemplating her next thrashing.

Even though I think that most of these “tips” were written by people watching people who have kids and don’t actually have any themselves, it is still a sanity saver. Having options makes you feel, at the very least, like you aren’t insane.

I’m not sure what her next thrashing will be, but you can bet your bottom dollar that we are afraid. We are all very, very afraid.

Tune in next time for part two of Lisa and the Terrible Twos: The Visit to the Lawyer’s Office with Beligerent Toddler in Hand. It’s bound to be a good time.

Posted in Behavior Issues, Child Development, Mental Health | No Comments »

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