This Rope Woven From Hope Is For You, Momma

The lowest, rock-bottom point in my postpartum anxiety battle was a quiet afternoon, as I rocked my then 9 month old daughter in her dark room, hot tears streaming down my face. I looked at her, and apologized over and over. I said to myself, “If you don’t get help, you will be the mom on the news.” 

1 hour later, I was in my car, driving to fill my prescription for Zoloft- something I didn’t want to admit until that very moment that I needed to get better.

Last weekend I was part of a revolutionary movement. I sat in a room at the first ever Warrior Mom Conference with over 100 other women, and we talked about our battles with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (postpartum/antepartum depression, anxiety, ocd, psychosis). We shared moments of tears, joy, and victory.

And then? We talked A LOT about helping moms who haven’t been helped, who need it the most, who need that one person to come into their life and let them know that they are not a BAD mom. They are a mom who is dealing with an illness, and that that illness CAN get better.

Katherine Stone, founder of the nonprofit Postpartum Progress that put on the conference, made a powerful analogy in her keynote speech. 1 in 7 moms (at least!) will deal with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, falling over a cliff at the edge of motherhood, into a dark hole. It is so important that some, many of us who make it out of that hole, come back around, and throw ropes down to the women who are still in it.

And so, this project I’m about to share with you, this is just one of my ropes.

I’ve spent the last 3 months working with the Warrior Mom Conference national sponsor Cotton Babies to create this short video with the hopes that as many moms, and people who love and support moms see it. I want them to see this rope that is woven from threads of hope and messages of victory and solidarity.

7 women in 3 cities opened their hearts and homes to me. They sat before my camera, raw and beautifully vulnerable, throwing out their own ropes.

Watch, listen, share. Grab hold of that rope, momma. We are here for you. You are a GOOD mother. You CAN get better.

Thank you to Cotton Babies and to these gloriously strong women for making this video possible.

~Raivon~

~Maggie~

~Laura~

~Rochelle~

~Marjorie~

~Erin~

~Dianthe~

If you or someone you love can identify with the struggles these women talked about in the video, and you need a place to start, head over to PostpartumProgress.org. I found their “Tools” to be incredibly eye opening and helpful.

  • Meg - Oh gosh. I just found all these posts recently.. Thank you. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I just had my third baby. My seconds postpartum period was hell. Now it’s the same. I’m terrified all the time. Friends keep telling me to get on meds. I can’t. I just can’t. My mom abused prescriptions to the point of altering herself all the time, she still does and isn’t allowed to visit our family. I’m terrified to take any medication. What other options do I even have? I’m tired of snapping at my kids all the time. Tired of seeing images in my head of them being hurt in some freak accident. Tired of beig angry all.the.time. I love my kids. I love my husband. What do I do?ReplyCancel

    • Kay - Meg, you are NOT your mom. You are Meg. Please don’t let avoiding your mom’s mistakes cause you to make mistakes of your own. One of my biggest regrets in my PPD journey is how long it took me to go on an antidepressant. I tried everything else first. If you feel you need to go that route, start with vitamins and supplements: a B Complex, omega 3s (1000 mg combined of EPA and DHA), magnesium ( cal/mag/zinc is good), and vitamin D. Make sleep a priority even if you have to hire help. Exercise 15 mins or more a day, and see a therapist. If those things don’t work, please consider medication. Once I got my meds right, I was back to feeling like myself in 3-4 weeks. I’m only sorry I waited so long. So is my family.ReplyCancel

    • Jill - I think the very first thing you need to do is find a medical provider you trust, and a great therapist. You don’t HAVE to take meds, and that’s not what I’m pushing (despite what a commenter above is saying). Did meds help me tremendously? Goodness, yes. But, you can certainly go your own way and try other routes. For me, sure exercise and sleep and all that helps so much, but SO much of that wasn’t even physically possible for me until meds stabalized me a little bit. I was off of them the first time around by the time my daughter was 2. This time, I’m still on (started when my 3rd was 5 months, he’ll be two at the end of the month), but I’m okay with that. They don’t feel addictive or scary to me.

      I was angry all the time, too. I had days where I screamed in my 3 year old’s face for not wanting to get dressed. It was not the mother I wanted to be, and not the mother he deserved.

      No matter how you get help, take a tiny step in one direction toward it. There are so many cheering you on. You’ve got this. All my love. xoxoReplyCancel

  • Lindsey Fears - Beautiful. I cried. Thank you for all those who made the video and for writing this!ReplyCancel

  • Mickie Geri Farris - Jill, this is amazing. It made me cry (good tears, though). I struggle/d with anxiety, particularly after my littles were born. Counseling and medication have made me a stronger, more resilient mom. There is no shame in getting help, and everything to gain. Thank you for doing this important work!ReplyCancel

  • Angela - I think I suffer from ppd. I had my doctor visit and he said I passed the test which if you ask me, the answers you can choose from are so cut and dry whereas the way I feel is not.
    I have punched my wall, I have wanted to drive into the river, I have wanted to shake my baby. I have not done any of those. I am an educated woman. I understand my son can’t tell me why he is crying. When he cries I go through the motions: change diaper, feed, snuggle and yet still he cries. Today he was up from 12:45-ReplyCancel

  • Angela - Sorry got cut off and it posted!
    My son was up from 12:45-8pm today crying relentlessly. Nothing I did stopped except if I help him and stood all day which after roughly 45 minutes my back hurt and needed to sit.

    I feel like a failure! I’m pressured to breastfeed even though he doesn’t latch so I pump. But how can I pump when he is screaming bloody murder. I don’t want to leave my house because I’m scared he will cry and people will judge me. I’m tired all the time but I fight it.

    I feel guilty because I am becoming a stay at home mom and I don’t want to be. I hate that right this very minute he is tied to me in one of those cloth wraps just so he would go to sleep which means I can’t sleep! If I try to take him out and put him down he will wake up and we start it all over again and I just can’t listen to him cry anymore, I want to pull my hair out, I want to scream.

    My doctor says it’s the blues? It’s almost 7 weeks and his exact words were “you passed the ppd test but looking at you right now I am very concerned”. Should t that mean more than just the blues? I’m scared to go talk to someone. I can’t go without my child and honestly the minute he would cry I would leave and never go back.

    Not sure what to do anymore. I can’t take my husband’s joking. Today during the period of our son being up I put him down to get the wrap on and he started screaming and my husband goes “what did u do to him” he says to lighten mood and I know he meant no harm but I felt like crap.ReplyCancel

    • Sarah Hassel - Angela, I would encourage you to find a provider that is will to do more for you. In my opinion, it’s not just the blues. I also passed the “test” on paper. But, I knew (and my doctor knew) I needed help. I am sending hugs.ReplyCancel

    • Christina - Angela, Have you told your son’s pediatrician about his crying? Sounds like he may be struggling with something for sure. Maybe something he’s eating? Sometimes, you have to put them in their crib and walk away. If your pediatrician says he’s ok, then I might try that for 10-15 minutes a day. It’s hard, but you need to have some down time. You need to see your doctor or a different doctor and explain what’s going on and see if you can get help. May God bless you on this mom journey!ReplyCancel

  • Jeri Tresler - “1 hour later, I was in my car, driving to fill my prescription for Zoloft- something I didn’t want to admit until that very moment that I needed to get better.”

    Zoloft does not make anyone “better”. It claims to treat symptoms, not a disease. If you listen very carefully to this Zoloft commercial you can hear the ‘verbal fine print’ where the announcer says about depression that “…the cause is unknown…”

    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/308567011942595315/

    UNKNOWN. How can a pill be designed to fix something if they don’t know what needs fixing..?

    Advocating the use of medications for depression and anxiety is very dangerous. These drugs work temporarily at best, and the side effects and withdrawal symptoms can be worse than whatever symptoms one took them for in the first place. These are addictive, mind-altering drugs that can lead to a plethora of physical and “mental” problems. I would implore anyone taking them, or considering taking them, to thoroughly research them by contacting the support groups for those who have been harmed by them. Doctors are largely not properly informed on the potential for harm with these drugs, and therefore cannot give patients all they need to know to decide whether to use them or not.

    This page seems to be nothing more than a pharmaceutical ad. Women with postpartum issues need nutrition, rest, and support from the people in their lives, and professional counseling, if necessary. They do not need drugs. They are not struggling because they have a Zoloft deficiency. They’re tired. Their hormones are a mess, they likely are not getting the proper amount of nutrients or sleep, and likely don’t have the emotional support they need to get through all that.

    People who go on these drugs often end up with worse problems than they went on them for in the first place. Do the research.

    Also note these drugs should NEVER be stopped ‘cold-turkey’. They need to be tapered very slowly.ReplyCancel

  • Meaghan Donoghue - Amazing video ! I had and still have postpartum aniexty. It never started until my baby was 10 months. I would cry all day for no reason. I finally went to the my doctor and right away he assured me that I wasn’t the only mom going through this and I would get better and it will get easier. Within 2 weeks I started feeling like myself again. I feel like everyone tells you there parenting stories but they leave out the part about how hard it can really be.ReplyCancel

  • Baby Rabies - @Jeri Tesler please take your conspiracy theories elsewhere. Can some meds have adverse affects? Sure. Everything carries risk, INCLUDING trying to treat depression, anxiety, OCD, and psychosis with only sleep and food. Everyone should make an INFORMED decision, based on advice from MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS.

    Oh, and I’m on Lexapro now. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Mary Adams - Thank you Baby Rabies for helping to put such an important topic out there in the spotlight.ReplyCancel

  • Margaret Hermosa Rice - I love Jill and I love Baby Rabies. This is such a wonderful post. The negative comments below are nothing more than just negative comments. Not only have I suffered but I AM a healthcare provider (a real medical professional, not a “medical professional”) that gives proper advice. The proper advice is that mom needs to take care of herself in order to take care of her baby. Multimodal treatment works best, in all types of mental illness whether it be postpartum or not, and studies have proven that. Of course there are non-pharm ways to cope and heal, but for optimal efficacy, that may be partnered with medication. Every person/patient is different, and responds to the illness and medication differently. It is actually more dangerous to advocate against these medications. Weigh the risks vs. benefits: a mom who has SI/HI would clearly benefit from medications, because the rare and *possible* side effects of these medications outweigh the greater possibility that she may harm herself or someone else. Non-pharm meditating or therapy alone will most likely not regulate those serious and uncontrollable thoughts. Leave the medical research and evidence based practices to the medical professionals. (Sorry Jill! I could go on and on! Love you, you are awesome, and thank you for your advocacy <3)ReplyCancel

  • Jaime - Wow. Just wow. Jeri. I have no words for you. I tried everything under the sun to get my anxiety under control; sleep, food, time to myself, relaxation classes, etc. You name it, I tried it. I knew I had a problem, but I also thought taking something meant you were weak. Jill posted about her journey and I remember showing my husband and saying ‘this is me. i really do have a problem.” I then went to the doctor who put me on medicine and explained all of the side effects of the medicine (and then also explained to me all of the side effects of advil just to put it into perspective that all medicines have side effects). Luckily, the medicine he put me on both helped and i didn’t even have any side effects. He also was able to wean me off slowly. I have been ok now that I am off of them completely, but still have my moments. In my case, the medicine helped the symptoms AND the problem. I am so thankful to Jill for putting herself out there because it made me realize that seeking help (especially after trying everything else) isn’t a sign of weakness. It is the first step to being better a better me.ReplyCancel

  • Angela Drucker - A friend sent me this link and it came at a time when I was losing it. I told my husband to leave and then refused to speak to him and just cried while my child cried because he was up for over 7 hours straight and he is only 7 weeks! He was so beyond overtired that none of my tricks were working.

    When he has good days so do I but on his bad days I have extremely bad days…I already punched my wall pushing a stud out of it, I think about running away because maybe my son will be better without me, I think about driving into the river, I have to put him down and walk away because I just want to scream to no end and sometimes I do scream.
    I’m educated I was a child psych major and am a preschool teacher so I know I need to walk away when I want to yell at him or shake him.
    He is a colicky baby, he has acid reflux and gas. I was advised to eliminate all dairy and soy lecithin. Well lovely as if it’s not already hard on me lets just pile more challenges on to me.

    I feel like I’m coming out of it until I have a day like yesterday.

    I’m scared to tell people because I feel like they are all judging me, sometimes I know they are. I thought moms are supposed to be supportive but I find the moms I speak to on some sites and even my own fam/friends are so hurtful and rude.

    I’m not saying I want meds as I’m not into ever taking meds but some women need it before they break. When I’m down and out I wish there was something I could take to make the thoughts and feelings disappear in that moment.ReplyCancel

  • Danielle M Dean - I had support, I was getting sleep, I had all the help I needed and I still wanted to run away. I dealt with anxiety for 12 years before I had my son. Why anyone feel the need to chastise anyone for taking medication is beyond me. Mind your own business, no one asked for your opinion on meds! I have been on and off them for several years. I am a better person and better mother and better wife when I am not dealing with panic attacks, PPD and anxiety. Some can do it with out meds, others choose meds. Bottom line, how does it affect you assholes with your noses pointed so high in the air? It doesn’t so STFU if you can be supportive. Sounds like some of you need a pill, cause you are some negative, shitty, and judgmental ass hats. Baby Rabies, thank you for furthering the support network for those of us who suffered!ReplyCancel

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