In May 2011 Postpartum Support International (PSI) declared May as Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month. An increasing number of states and counties have designated May as a time to bring awareness to maternal mental health.
This year PSI is launching the first maternal mental health awareness month blog hop. The theme of the 2013 blog hop is Maternal Mental Health – Recovery and Coping Skills
The PSI blog hop is meant to be inclusive and is also meant to promote emotional safety and comfort and hope for all contributors and readers. To that end, PSI welcomes your participation but also please keep in mind the following editorial guidelines meant to promote comfort and safety:
- Name: Include your real name, we don’t promote people with online disguises
- Length: 500 – 1000 words
- Keeping in this year’s theme, much appreciated are personal stories about recovery from pregnancy and postpartum mental health challenges and coping skills used to maintain that recovery.
Potential Emotional Triggers:
For the purpose of this blog hop and its focus on messages of recovery and hope, PSI wants you to do your best to avoid psychological triggers in your posts. Please do not write about detailed suicidal or homicidal thoughts, feelings, or plans. If you have any questions or concerns about that, please don’t hesitate to contact PSI at email@example.com.
Editors will not tolerate any negativity directed towards individuals or groups
Please refrain from self-promotion of your website or sale items
Please post these notices:
• If you need immediate help, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
• If you are looking for pregnancy or postpartum support and local resources, please call or email us:
Call PSI Warmline (English & Spanish) 1-800-944-4PPD (4773)
How to participate:
Beginning May 1, 2013
- Write your blog post and send a link or attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org. This will help us keep track of all of the posts, and contact you if we have questions or suggestions.
- Go to the following two Blog Hop Hosts:
- Look for their post called: PSI 2013 Blog Hop – Maternal Mental Health Recovery & Coping. Posts and information will be available on the three Blog Hubs.
- Link up your post to that blog post in the Linky provided at the bottom of the post
- Grab the PSI logo code provided in their side bar
- Feel free to promote your blog and the blog hop on social media!
Twitter: #PSIBLOG is the hashtag we are using to promote this event
This is a great way to increase awareness of Maternal Mental Health. Hoping for lots of participation. For more information see the link below: http://postpartum.net/Join-Us/Maternal-Mental-Health-Awareness-Month-Blog-Hop.aspx
It most cases of postpartum psychosis, there are symptoms of a spiritual nature. Why do symptoms that are not tangible or material present themselves when experiencing postpartum psychosis or psychosis, in general?
I wish I had a concrete, definite answer to this question. Instead, I will share my personal experience and opinion relating to the spiritual side of postpartum psychosis.
I believe that each of us are created and designed with a mind, body and spirit. I also believe that we are all on a spiritual journey. Each of us is at a different point in that journey based on our own personal experiences and beliefs. When I was suddenly struck with postpartum psychosis, I had a strong faith and belief in God. I believe, in my case, that my strong faith and belief as well as the faith of my family and friends, was a big factor in enabling me and my baby to survive the illness.
When my son was eight weeks old and the sudden fear entered my life, I did not even know postpartum psychosis existed. I was sure it was an evil being or force trying to kill me and take my baby. I had never experienced such intense fear previously so I did not understand why I had such fear or where the fear was coming from. As a result I turned to my inner spiritual strength to fight the evil force that I was certain was going to kill me and take my baby.
In my opinion when someone experiences such intense fear, the “fight or flight” response occurs. For me, I felt I could protect my son and I by shouting a bible verse over and over again. I felt I had no other resources to draw on as I was terrified and exhausted from lack of sleep. I began to distrust everyone, even those closest to me. Why? I did not know so I felt I could not ask for help.
It was not until a second hospitalization and a second opinion from another doctor (the first doctor I saw when hospitalized at eight weeks told me I had postpartum depression) that I learned of postpartum psychosis. Once I learned the symptoms of the illness, I could better understand the illness and what had happened to me.
Thankfully, receiving the diagnosis of postpartum psychosis, enabled me to come to the realization that what I experienced was an illness. However, at that time, I never had the opportunity to discuss or come to an understanding of the spiritual symptoms of my illness. It would take several more hospitalizations before I had the opportunity to address the spiritual side of my illness. It was almost three years after I was struck with postpartum psychosis before I had a professional discuss with me some of the aspects of how my personal spiritual journey impacted my illness. It is unfortunate that it took so long for it to be addressed.
It has been a long process and journey but I am finally in a place of peace and comfort with the illness and all I have been through. It has been critical for me to get spiritual support from others, who share my beliefs, in order to understand my journey. One of the resources that helped me better understand the spiritual journey of my illness was the book Further Along the Road Less Traveled by the well-known psychiatrist Scott Peck. I highly recommend the book to anyone that wants to gain insight into the role of spirituality in mental health.
In my opinion, anyone experiencing mental health issues or health issues, in general, should receive treatment not only physically and mentally but also spiritually. Once I began receiving treatment in all three areas, I was able to move further along in my journey of recovery and wellness.
Spirituality is personal and uniquely affects each of us. I welcome the thoughts and opinion of others. Better understanding comes through discussion and communication.
Here are a few links to resources related to this topic.
Mental health and malpractice is a tough topic to address. My personal experience in pursuing a malpractice and negligence case was stifled in its tracks when the attorneys I consulted told me that malpractice in mental health is very difficult to prove.
As a result of the often insufficient treatment I received and the unjustified forcible hospitalization that occurred in 2003, I felt I had a strong case. I even attempted to pursue charges against the sheriff officer that forcibly handcuffed me, refused to loosen the handcuffs, which as a result injured and cut my wrist leaving a permanent scar. I was even sexually assaulted by an unidentified individual while in the facility that I was forcibly hospitalized.
But to no avail, the investigation was dropped because the person, who I believed was a mental health worker at the facility, could not be identified. As for the sheriff officer, who injured my wrist, although I reported the incident, strangely enough, once I was able to pursue obtaining the records for the incident, there were no records reflecting the situation and what little information was available to me was insufficient.
I know I am not alone when it comes to negligence in the mental health process and system. But those being treated for mental illness, especially those that are hospitalized, have rights. In my experience, many of those individuals do not have either the capacity or the knowledge to know what their rights are. It seems every state may vary on what those rights may be but there are definitely patient rights that apply in psychiatric hospitalizations.
When I was hospitalized and not over medicated, I was often able to share with other patients that they have rights and point out to them exactly what they are. This was often easy because, the rights were usually posted on a wall or location in the patient area. On one occasion (the unjustified forcible hospitalization), the facility did not have the rights posted and I demanded that they post them, which they ultimately did.
It often seems that patients, who are dealing with mental health issues, are not treated as a partner in their care. I understand this may not always be possible but that is why it is especially important to have a patient advocate, in those cases. Not only are the patients often not treated as a partner, they are usually not adequately educated about their treatment plan and or the illness that they are facing. In may own case, I was often treated as a prisoner and incapable of understanding my situation.
It is not surprising to me that when I was doing the research for this blog, the information available was very limited. But I am listing below, links to some of what I found. I am interested in hearing what others’ experiences have been in the area of mental health and malpractice. I would be especially interesting to know of anyone that has had success in pursuing a mental health malpractice case.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. Here are the links of resources and additional information:
I recently had the privilege of meeting Jennifer Silliman and Maureen Fura, producers for an upcoming film on perinatal and postpartum depression, mood disorders and psychosis. The film is titled Dark Side of the Full Moon. The film will be the first film to take an intimate look inside the unseen world of pregnancy and postpartum depression, anxiety and psychosis. Piecing together the collective story through gripping, first hand accounts from the women who have suffered in silence.
Pregnancy and postpartum depression and anxiety is the number one complication of childbirth. This silent killer of mothers and families horrifies it’s bystanders and holds the ugly space of a dangerous mother at a distance. The film delves into the unseen world of mothers, giving a face and voice to the countless women who have suffered in silence.
I am honored to have had the opportunity to share some of my personal story of overcoming postpartum psychosis with Jennifer and Maureen. My hope is that by sharing my story, other mothers, who hear my story, will not feel alone and will be given hope that they too can overcome postpartum psychosis with proper care and treatment.
This important film is a grassroots effort and you can be a part of making the film happen! Postpartum Support International holds an annual conference. It’s a place where professionals, volunteers, and families come together to learn more about maternal mental health. There are many people attending this conference that the producers must interview for the film. Having them all in one place is a great way to keep costs to a minimum but they will still incur travel costs.
The plan is to complete the documentary by January 2015 and have it ready for distribution to film festivals nationwide. There is still so much ignorance and misinformation about maternal mental health. So many mothers are left to suffer in silence and it should not be that way. This film will make a difference bringing light to the often dark and difficult topic of maternal mental health.
If you wish to learn more about the film, please visit the film’s website at www.darksideofthefullmoon.com
To learn more about contributing and helping to make this film happen, please visit the following link: www.darksideofthefullmoon.com/Darksideofthefullmoon/Contribute.html
You can contribute to the film directly at www.indiegogo.com/projects/dark-side-of-the-full-moon-project-phase-one
I know it has been a few weeks since I last posted but my life has been hectic. It is a good hectic but sometimes when I get so busy, I can not even think about writing. Do any of you fellow bloggers/writers have the same experience? When life gets so busy and your “to do list” grows, it is hard to get everything done. It is during the busy times, that I find setting priorities becomes ever so important. Writing is one of those priorities for me but it moves down on the list when the opportunity to spend time with family and friends surfaces, especially when the ability to spend time with them is limited.
Once I get back in my normal routine, my regular writing will resume and move up on the “to do list.” In the meantime, I thank you for your patience. My goal is to post a blog once a week. I normally am consistent but the past few weeks, I have not been. I apologize to my followers and readers. My health is good but my time schedule has not been good. By the end of March, I hope to be back on track with my writing and blogs.
After all, when you live in a beautiful place, like I do (see photo above), it is hard not to stay positive. I am certain that as the spring season approaches, time will soon allow for my creative side to resurface.
Thank you for reading my posts. You can read my previous blogs and articles at www.jennifermoyer.com/blog
As a virtual volunteer for Postpartum Support International, I am excited to announce that Postpartum Support International (PSI) and NAMI Minnesota will be co-sponsoring the 26th annual PSI conference with the hosting group, Pregnancy and Postpartum Support Minnesota.
Postpartum Support International is dedicated to helping women suffering from perinatal (related to childbearing) mood and anxiety disorders, including postpartum depression, the most common complication of childbirth. The organization works to educate family, friends and healthcare providers so that moms and moms-to-be can get the support they need and recover.
Registration is now open for the conference. The conference theme is Innovation and Advocacy to Support Mental Health of Pregnant and Postpartum Families. The conference is being held June 19th through June 22nd, 2013 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The main conference will be held June 21st and June 22nd. There is an optional 2 day pre-conference certificate training on Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. The trainers for the pre-conference training will be Pec Indman, EdD, MFT, Birdie Meyer, RN, MA and Michelle M. Wiersgalla, MD.
The annual Postpartum Support International conference provides an opportunity to meet, learn together, and share ideas with others who are concerned about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs). This professional event is a unique training and networking opportunity. The purpose of the conference is to bring together and inform medical and mental health providers, childbirth professionals, support and resource providers, caregivers, policy-makers, researchers, volunteers, families, and educators who want to improve their understanding of PMADs and improve their ability to serve childbearing families.
The main conference will include several keynote speakers such as Cheryl Beck, DNSc, CNM, FAAN; Penny Simkin, PT; Sharon Storton, MA, CHT, LMFT; Martha Farrell Erickson, PhD, Laura Miller, MD, Kathryn Hall-Trujillo, MPH.
The Conference breakout sessions include topics on Childbirth, Childbirth Professionals and Maternal Mental Health; Psychological and Developmental Aspects; Culturally-Informed Projects; Integrating Medical and Mental Health Care as well as sessions on Social Support Network Development.
The keynote speaker at the Friday night banquet (attendance is available with ticket purchase) will be Mary Jo Codey, former First Lady of New Jersey and Perinatal Mental Health Advocate.
In addition, there will be a panel on The Next Chapter: Building from Our Own Stories. I am honored to be participating in this panel along with Ashley Ashbacher LSW, CD(DONA); Michele Davidson, PhD, CNM, CFN, RN, CPS; Mikki Morrissette and Trisha Falvey.
I have attended several past PSI annual conferences, all of which have been excellent. I am confident that this year’s PSI conference will be excellent as well. I am looking forward to meeting many others, who are coming together to help achieve PSI’s mission of promoting awareness, prevention and treatment of mental health issues related to childbearing in every country worldwide.
For those interested, I have included links below for additional information.
I hope to see some of you there.
For more information about the sponsoring organizations, visit Postpartum Support International www.postpartum.net, NAMI Minnesota www.namihelps.org, and the PSI affiliate Pregnancy and Postpartum Support Minnesota www.pregnancypostpartumsupportmn.com.
I, personally, have always suspected that I had a biological trigger in the onset of postpartum psychosis. In fact, the doctor, who correctly diagnosed me with postpartum psychosis, suspected that the fact that I had suffered from spinal meningitis when I was a child, may have been a risk factor for me. That was many years ago but now there is current research that indicates the immune system impacts the onset of postpartum psychosis.
Recent findings published by researchers at Erasmus MC indicate that women, who suffer postpartum psychosis within four weeks of childbirth have a disturbed immune system. The study discovered that during the psychosis the women had an increased number of innate immune cells in their blood although there was no logical explanation for this. When women become pregnant, their immune systems become less active to prevent the unborn child from being rejected. The body has to restore the immune system after childbirth.
According to Veerle Bergink, psychiatrist and researcher: “Healthy postpartum women were found to have other cells activated than women suffering from postpartum psychosis. We had previously shown that an autoimmune thyroid disease is common among women suffering from postpartum psychosis. Altered immune cells appear to play a role in the onset of postpartum psychosis”. The immune cells in the blood hinder the functioning of the brain and may result in a psychosis.
Even back in 2008, the World Health Organization reported that research evidence has shown that risk factors for postpartum (puerperal) psychosis are biological and genetic in nature (see Jones et al., 2001). Stating that psychosocial and demographic factors are probably not major factors in the development of postpartum (puerperal) psychosis (Brockington et al., 1990; Dowlatshahi & Paykel, 1990).
I wish these finding and research would have been available to me back in 1996 when I was struck with the onset of postpartum psychosis. The feelings I had of failure, isolation and that I had done something to cause the illness would have been lessened or put to rest. It is important that research continue to be done in the area of mental health related to childbearing. The health and well-being of pregnant and postpartum women is critical to our society and should be considered a priority.
Sources and Additional Reading:
What is the Stand Up for Mental Health Campaign About and Why Is It Time to Stand Up for Mental Health?
Like other groups throughout history, people with a mental illness have been marginalized, discriminated against and made to feel like second class citizens. Others refused to tolerate it, why should you?
By Standing Up for Mental Health, you’ll let others know: There is nothing “wrong” with having a mental illness.
- People with a mental illness are not alone in what they are dealing with.
- People with a mental illness shouldn’t feel ashamed or forced to hide their mental illness symptoms and desire for effective treatment.
- Mental health stigma will no longer be tolerated.
I am honored to be participating in the campaign. Healthyplace.com shared my story on disclosing my mental illness on the campaign’s website so I am now sharing it with you. My hope is that it can help others not feel ashamed.
Here is the link: Opening Up About Postpartum Psychosis
This is a great opportunity to help eliminate the stigma often associated with mental illness. Will you Stand Up with me?
With all the recent talk about gun control and mental health, I decided to take a look at how far America’s mental health system has changed (or not changed) over the past few years.
First, I must state that when I wrote a blog about Mental Illness and the Law, the research shows that those with mental illness are no more violent than the general population when substance abuse is not involved. In fact, according to an overview published in the June 2003 issue of World Psychiatry, one of the findings was:
“Substance abuse appears to be a major determinant of violence and this is true whether it occurs in the context of a concurrent mental illness or not. Those with substance disorders are major contributors to community violence, perhaps accounting for as much as a third of self-reported violent acts, and seven out of every 10 crimes of violence among mentally disordered offenders.”
In my opinion, if substance abuse is not addressed in the effort to decrease gun violence and improve the mental health system, there may be minimal changes. So that being said, I will now ponder the question, “Will America’s mental health system change?”
I do believe the proposed changes to the mental health system addressed in the recent executive orders on guns, can help bring about positive changes to America’s mental health system. But, why does it always take tragedy for changes to occur?
The mental health system in America has been broken for years. In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), reported back in 2009 that America’s overall grade for the mental health system was a “D”, this is one grade away from failure. The report graded every state. Zero states received an “A”, six states received a “B”, eighteen states received a “C”, twenty-one states received a “D” and six states received a failing grade of “F.”
The report compared the 2009 report scores to the 2006 scores and there was no overall improvement. In fact, the majority of states had no improvement and some even scored a lower grade. The 2006 overall grade was a “D.” The same overall grade received in 2009. So basically, after three years, there was no improvement in America’s mental health system.
So I ask again, why does it always take tragedy for necessary changes to be addressed? I wish I could answer this question. It makes no sense to me. As far as my original question, “Will America’s mental health system change?” I tend to be an optimist so my answer is “yes.” As to when, where and how, I do not know. I can only hope changes will occur sooner rather than later. I hope that all of the states will improve and that changes will occur proactively rather than re-actively.
I would appreciate hearing what others believe is the answer to the question, “Will America’s mental health system change?. Change often starts one person at a time so when more individuals come together, the greater the chance that change will happen.
SOURCES and ADDITIONAL READING:
Grading the States 2009
Grading the States 2006
Executive orders on guns address mental health changes
Violence and Mental Illness: an overview
It is hard to believe the start of a new year has begun. Seems the years go faster and faster as we get busier and busier. As we leave the year 2012 behind and welcome the start of 2013, may we reflect on where we have been and where we are heading.
The year 2012 has been a difficult year for me with the passing of my sister, Joy. She has only been gone 4 months but during certain times she seems to have been gone for much longer. I miss her tremendously. As I pondered in my last post “Miss You, Mom!, losing a loved one, whether expected or not expected, is one of the most difficult things we face in life.
For me, as difficult as it has been knowing that my sister struggled and lost her fight against appendix cancer, I know how much she was loved and how much she loved back. There were a few years during her life that we did not talk much but we put those years aside long before she was diagnosed with cancer. Forgiving and moving on are essential in life’s often difficult journey.
My hope and desire for you in 2013 is that if you have someone in your life that you have lost contact with or are holding a grudge against, that you do your best to mend what is broken. It may not be easy and the other person may not be receptive but take the first step. You can only control your own behavior and actions but forgiveness releases you from being controlled by negativity.
Living life with eyes that see the “glass half full instead of half empty,” is healthier both mentally and physically. When things go wrong, I do my best to “make lemonade out of lemons.” It may not be easy to think this way but it is well worth the effort.
How to Forgive, and Why You Should
Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness