Mother's Day

The Mother’s Day Milestones

When you have a child, Mother’s Day is one of those holiday milestones you look forward to. Or you hope to, anyway.  Many of us envision sleeping in, being served breakfast in bed by the kids and handed flowers by our doting husband or partner. Everyone is all smiles and ready for a perfect day..….except, when it isn’t.

My first Mother’s Day left much to be desired.  It was May 8, 2005, which was also my son’s 6-month birthday.  And it was also one of those unwritten deadlines that I gave myself to “feel better.”  Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was suffering from a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder, more specifically postpartum OCD.  I had it in my head that all the intrusive thoughts would just go away.  This deadline made all the sense in the world to me.

After all, it was my first Mother’s Day and Corey’s 6-month birthday, right?  I was to wake up that morning with my breakfast in bed, flowers, smiles, etc… and all will be dandy.  

Except it wasn’t.

My son, Corey and I on Mother’s Day 2005

Being that it was 15 years ago, the memories are a little fuzzy.  What I do remember clearly is NOT feeling better.  Crap.  “It” didn’t go away. 

Now, my husband did go out early with my son to buy me the obligatory large coffee from the deli and a breakfast sandwich.  But shortly after, we were heading to lunch with my parents, aunt, uncle and cousins at a diner about 45 minutes away.  As we were driving there, I felt a little queasy, but figured that it would pass.  We walked into the diner and members of my family were in the waiting area.  So many people.  It was hot. I was sweating.  And crowded and I didn’t want to be there. I couldn’t be there.   I had to step outside for air. They’re calling me in now – the table is ready.   I can’t do this.   And we left.  I never even made it to the table and I don’t think I even saw my whole family.  

When we arrived home, I crawled into bed.  I asked my husband to keep my son away from me, as I didn’t want to spread any germs in the case that I was really sick.  A little while passed by and my husband asked if he could take my son and spend the rest of Mother’s Day with his mother.  He’d let me rest and relax.  And it was fine….go.  I just wanted to be alone and to sleep, which I did for the rest of the day on and off.  

It was my first Mother’s Day.  My beautiful son’s 6-month birthday.  Two milestones.  Gone.  I’ll never get that back.   This was supposed to be a good day.  

My son, Corey and I on Mother’s Day 2006

 Fast forward 1 year to Mother’s Day 2006 – May 14th. My son just turned 18 months old.  It had been about 4 months since I was officially diagnosed with a PMAD, started therapy and began to take meds.  I was starting to feel like myself again!  We held the Mother’s Day celebration in our apartment, with my side of the family and my husband’s side of the family all in attendance.   It was truly a time to celebrate!

My son, Corey and I on Mother’s Day 2007

 Fast forward another year to Mother’s Day 2007 – May 13th.   I had found out that week that I was expecting again – all fully planned.   We spent the morning at the playground with my parents and watching my son playing.  We shared the news that day with my parents that Corey would be a big brother later on that year.

What a world of difference – in the span of two short years!  On that first Mother’s Day, no one could have convinced me that this day would ever be a day that I’d look forward to.   I’d always be sucked back into how I felt on that first Mother’s Day.  The day would forever be officially ruined.   I’m happy to say that this couldn’t be further from the truth.  That said, I will never forget how low I felt on that first Mother’s Day.  It makes me quite thankful and grateful for my eventual diagnosis and subsequent recovery.  It’s a time for me to reflect and celebrate how far I’ve come in this motherhood gig! 

Holidays can be tough and might not live up to your expectations. And with the hype around Mother’s Day and the way it’s portrayed on television and in the movies, or your observations of friends and family, it’s inevitable that you’ll want to make comparisons to your life.  All I can say is please do your best not to.

If you’re in throes of a PMAD, don’t question yourself if you’re not feeling festive.  You have all the permission on the world to feel what you feel.  Take it from someone who has had that rock bottom feeling – it’ll come in time.  It might not feel like it, but it will.    If you’re ready to celebrate, please do and don’t feel guilty.  Look how far you’ve come – you’ve worked hard for it.   

Mother's Day letter

A Love Letter to My Boys on Mother’s Day

To my sweet boys, 

You are too little to truly understand this, but you are my entire heart. You hold it, carry it, and bring it with you wherever you go. I hope you can feel it even if I’m not there – whether it’s on a Monday when I’m at work and you’re with Daddy, or when you’re at nursery school playing with your friends. My love is there always. It’s a cloud of love surrounding, protecting, and guiding you. 

The moment I found out I was carrying you inside of me, my heart grew and my heart helped shape yours. I instantly fell in love with both of you even before I knew who you were, but yet I felt like I already did, somehow. I rubbed my swollen belly with awe and tenderness, sang you “our” songs, read you countless books, and told you endlessly how much I loved you. Nothing, absolutely nothing could have prepared me for how much I would adore you. Each of you are exactly who you’re meant to be. Perfect in your own ways, beautiful in mind and soul. 

Although I was not at all prepared for how enormous and intense my love would be for both of you, I was also not ready for the fear and anxiety that overtook my mind. The panic, terror, and sheer fright that something awful would happen to you clouded my life. Suddenly I was afraid of everything and everyone. I wanted to protect you and keep you within my bubble of fierce love. As time went on, I learned that I could not live like that for myself, but more importantly, I could not go on like that for you. Just know that it was my love that created this discourse, but it was also my love that pulled me out of those dark, stormy clouds. You’re both the rainbows at the end of the my storm. My love for you will always be your constant, your light in the fog, your sunshine radiating through the clouds. 

You’ve both given me so much to be grateful for. You’ve taught me a lot- unconditional love, continuous patience, and true, pure joy. This Mother’s Day, I honor both of your beautiful souls, for without you, I would not be a mommy, your mommy. 

All my love always & forever, 


jenn mullen

Surrender and see where it can lead you.

“It took me a while to learn the true meaning of patience and surrender, but I have finally accepted that healing doesn’t happen on our schedule. It doesn’t have a clock or a calendar.” Yolanda Hadid

Tonight’s theme is yoga class was surrender. This notion has always been a hard pill for me to swallow because I love having control & planning ahead for everything, but as we talk about #maternalmentalhealthday I realized that I haven’t truly surrendered. I haven’t surrendered to fully forgiving myself for my postpartum anxiety because I still mourn those early moments. I haven’t truly surrendered to the change in my life not just being a mom in the emotional sense, but the physical sense, too.

My mental health changed and went through a major shift. I’m lucky to be on the opposite end now. I’m lucky that I didn’t struggle with anxiety before my boys, but I’m super lucky that I know how to cope with it now. Momming ain’t for the faint hearted, that’s for sure. But aside from not recognizing my emotional state, I also see my physical self as a stranger. My body is a totally different one and the things it once did are so much harder for me now. Two c-sections in two years is no joke, people. It’s not the easy way out of delivering a baby. My core is shot. My ab muscles are so shifted and separated. For awhile, I hated my body, but then somehow something magical happened, I surrendered. This body that I don’t recognize created life- two beautiful, healthy, amazing little baby boys. Does my body look the same? Not even a little. Does my body feel the same? Nope, but here’s the thing, I’m surrendering to that pain and fueling it into a new strength, a new love for myself.

Yoga has been my most cherished form of self love and self care. I take my practice very seriously and sometimes I let my ego speak rather than my soul. I get mad at myself if I can’t get into a pose that I was able to do prior to my boys. But then it seemed to shift tonight, I surrendered and this happened…My very first head stand since having my babies. I let go of my fear of not being able to do it, fear of falling, or fear of failing and I breathed in love. The love for my family, the love for my yoga practice, and the love for me.

Surrender and see where it can lead you. 

frosted glass

Life Beyond The Frosted Glass

[vc_row][vc_column 0=””][vc_column_text]

I experienced life through Frosted Glass. Out of reach, just going through the motions. I made it through many of days that I thought I couldn’t. I wanted to give up the Rage, OCD, Anxiety, Obtrusive Thoughts.  I would cry – but you would never know. I was losing my mind. I had no idea who I was anymore.

I had 2 under 2. I packed and moved into a new house at 7 months pregnant with no help.  Returned to work earlier than I should have. Nobody knew what I was going through.



Because I didn’t want my kids taken from me. 

I was embarrassed that I wasn’t living in a perfect world with a newborn baby. The perfect world you see people always posting about. Families always smiling. Life is so wonderful if you saw me, you’d never see beyond my Poker Face. 

Motherhood IS tough. And you need a strong core of friends who understand what you are going through. 

It took me 10 months to find the RIGHT help. 10 months to walk into a hospital and find my tribe. The struggle of ‘Me Against Myself’ was real. 
I share only a part of my story with you to let you know that we have to end the stigma surrounding Maternal Mental Health.

We have to feel comfortable sharing our stories because this is what is helping others.  I do not want anyone to suffer the way I did. And if someone can relate to some or all of my story, then I have saved a life. 

I volunteer my time with The Bloom Foundation as a peer to peer group facilitator for moms in recovery – Embracing Your Motherhood.

If you or anyone you may know is suffering, reach out to me. Any state. Nationwide. The women behind The Bloom Foundation are angels – no judgement – our mission is to #saveallthemamas 

I have a 3yr old and 4yr old; together we are stronger and I no longer live my life through Frosted Glass

You. Are. Not. Alone. 

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row 0=””][vc_column 0=””][vc_separator 0=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row 0=””][vc_column 0=””][vc_column_text 0=””]

Elena Juliano originally posted this on Facebook on May 1st for Maternal Mental Health Day. 

Within minutes she received this private message

I have to say I’m completely blown away by how open you are with the struggles you had.  I deal with high anxiety on a regular basis and it was very much exacerbated by the adoption of each of the children. I love my kids and would do anything for them and my anxiety is most about them. I would love to hear your story.

This woman is now attending Elena’s Support Group – Embracing Your Motherhood. 

Share your story, someone is waiting to hear.


An Open Letter to My Warrior Mom Friends

[vc_row 0=””][vc_column][vc_column_text 0=””]

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” — C.S. Lewis

I came across this quote today and it stood out to me so bright like the gleaming sun reflecting off of the ocean during a sunset. As a thirty-something year old woman, I’ve had many friends throughout the different stages in my life – childhood friends, high school gal pals, college partners in crime, and a lot of those friends are still a major part of my life, but nothing, and I mean nothing could prepare me for the friendships I made during my struggle with my postpartum anxiety. 

I walked into a center for maternal wellness when Jake was 2 months old without realizing that I would meet fellow warrior mamas who were struggling with the same issues that were suffocating me. I surveyed the ladies I met with a closed heart and mind for fear of judgment. I didn’t want to share my story or admit to the things that were weighing me down. Momming should be easy, right? Rainbows, butterflies, and unicorns with a splash of glitter for everyone!!  Well, not so much. I always wanted to be a mom, so how could I admit that my anxiety was literally taking over my life? What kind of a mother would that make me? So I kept my distance, casting judgments in my mind like “They looked normal,” or “Why are they even here?” It wasn’t until I decided to go to a peer group therapy session that I saw beyond their masks. It was such an “aha moment” when I heard how there were all feeling similar emotions, tangled up in the same worry, paralyzed by the same fears, and triggered by the same situations. I quickly realized, “I’m home and these are my people.” I started to open up more, slowly letting my guard down, no longer afraid of the judgment or criticism. These women are my go-to’s, my life-lines, my cheerleader. I can remember clear as day when I walked out of that group in the middle of a panic attack because my baby was crying (one of my biggest triggers), and one of those angel moms followed me out with her beautiful baby girl. She gave me the space to be, to cry, to find calmness. We found out that our babies were exactly 2 weeks apart, we both had older sons, and lived a couple blocks from each other. The stars had aligned with this one. I found my person. My warrior mom bestie. I am so thankful for her friendship and all of the women who contributed to my story.

We come from all walks of life and parent with contrasting styles, but the constant is this, we have a bond so deep, so real because we came out on the other side together. In a world full of so much discourse, it’s easy to get swept up in negativity, but these women filled me with love and positivity. So here’s to the moments that we all said, “Me too” and realized we weren’t alone in this crazy thing called motherhood.  They are part of my story, a hand in my healing, and a piece of my heart.

Jennifer Mullen 
“If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.”


lessons from nursing the bloom foundation

Memorable Lessons from Nursing

[vc_row][vc_column 0=””][vc_column_text]

Let me start by saying this, nursing is hard! Not always, but at times it feels like this tiny, adorable human hates you for no reason. I mean hello, my body is MAKING WARM HOMEMADE MEALS, all I want is a little appreciation for that hard work. Sometimes Talula would be so hungry that she wouldn’t nurse… because she was too hungry. The irony is not lost on me and I wasn’t prepared for rejection from a person I made. However, there’s nothing more satisfying than when she would finally stay latched on and eat her fill of milk, even sweeter when she would toss a smile my way. If I could bottle up that feeling of sweet sweet relief then I’d be a damn bajillionaire. 

*Lesson: You may not always feel appreciated, but you need to try and find ways to appreciate what you’re doing. 

**Other Lesson: I appreciate you, you badass goddess who created life. 

Oh and I learned that falling asleep while eating isn’t just for the wildly inebriated, it’s also for babies (the term “milk drunk” is making WAY more sense to me now, why was I so slow to pick up on that??). These beautiful little boob suckers won’t always stay awake while eating and you need to get creative to keep them awake. I’m talking stripping them down to a diaper, getting a damp cloth on their back, tickling their feet, making annoying noises… whatever works. Oh and the fun part? Those tricks won’t work when they’re older and falling asleep on the boob after fighting a nap all day. Instead, those same tricks will piss them off even more and make nursing an even bigger struggle in those moments. Get creative ladies and gents! Now that Talula is 10 months I find that she likes playing with drawstrings from a hood and it doesn’t distract her too much that she stops eating. Give it a try, maybe your child is secretly a cat too!

The sleepy baby crisis is strong in those first few weeks!! And honestly, nobody really told me about how OFTEN it would happen that baby would fall asleep with my nipple still in her little mouth. They told me about “milk drunk”, they just didn’t emphasize how it’ll happen before the meal time is over and several times in one feeding. Why is this not in the manual? Hahahahaha jk, there is no manual for these real-life tamagotchis. But I promise that I’m telling it to you straight: they will fall asleep and you’ll try to wake them, sometimes it’ll work and other times it won’t. They will not starve in that moment. Just try and soak in that itty-bitty baby cuddle. & take a selfie while you’re at it! Who cares if you think you look like what you imagined you at 70 would look like… take the damn picture and don’t put it on social media. Duh. 

*The Lesson: Just gotta roll with the punches, even if that means holding your baby in front of an open refrigerator to wake them up enough to nurse (don’t you dare judge me). 

*Other Lesson: Take more pictures with YOU in them.

But you know what else I learned from nursing? I really loved it despite the challenges, rejection, and exhaustion. I found that the bond we built and the cuddles I enjoyed overpowered all the other hard stuff. All the yummy good moments honestly make me easily forget about the really hard times when I would just sit in silent tears thinking “why won’t she eat?” or when I got so angry I punched a wall (I said NOT to judge) because I couldn’t stop her tears, or mine for that matter. 

And if I wasn’t able to breastfeed, then what? Easy: I’d give formula because FED IS BEST and my baby was happy with a full belly, no matter what it was full with. 

*Lesson: Were you even reading? FED. IS. BEST.

I love you, I support you, your body is an amazing vessel that deserves to be celebrated.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row 0=””][vc_column 0=””][vc_empty_space][vc_text_separator title=”About The Author”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row 0=””][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”2493″ alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow_border_circle_2″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text 0=””]



This Is What We Know…The Latest On The New PPD Drug, Zulresso.

[vc_row 0=””][vc_column][vc_column_text 0=””]

For many women, having a baby is all they ever wanted. Pregnancy, and the promise of motherhood, will make you the happiest woman on earth. However, the reality for 1 in 5 women is a far cry from the what they always dreamed of.  Postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders become the new reality, and for these women options are scarce.  Women suffer in silence. Mom guilt descends, screening is spotty, providers are untrained, treatment is sparse, and it’s one of the greatest causes of maternal mortality. So on March 19th when the FDA approved Zulresso, the first drug ever for postpartum depression, the game changed. But, initial reports of lengthy hospital stays and costs over 30K created a huge backlash from skeptics and hopefuls alike.

Lisa Tremayne is the Director Center of the Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Long Branch, NJ. This center is one of only a handful across that country that is hospital based and provides support and treatment for women suffering from PMADs. Lisa has also been part of Sage Therapeutic’s (maker of Zulresso) advisory council and returns to the Bloom Foundation (she is also President) after meeting with the Sage team and other leaders in the PMAD field in Washington DC to discuss the next steps for Zulresso with COO, Shannon Hayes.

Shannon Hayes: When the announcement came that the FDA approved Zulresso, we were thrilled here at Bloom. I don’t think our phones stopped ringing for days. It was exciting, but then we started to see a backlash.

Lisa Tremayne: Yes, the pushback came pretty quickly.

SH: Because you are on the front lines, you see and treat women suffering from PMADs every day which is an unusual situation due to the limited number of resources around the country, you have a unique perspective on this issue. There are very few people like you and your team. You know what works and what doesn’t work…

LT: …and we see the collateral damages of waiting to get help. That is my number 1 frustration. So, here we have a breakthrough drug, the first drug ever for PPD and I wonder why anyone would feel anything other than – WOOHOO! Why, without the full answers, would one be against something so groundbreaking. I also assume this approval will open up a full new class of drugs. Every time there is a new allergy drug it is like, yay this is the best one! Why wouldn’t this be received the same way.

SH: I think you said it when you said “without full answers.” So let’s address that because we don’t have all the answers but let’s talk about what we do know. It has been reported that the treatment doesn’t come cheap—the average cost per patient is $34,000. Do you know anything more about that, how is that going to be addressed?

LT: The FDA approved this drug on March 19th, and now the process begins. The manufacturing, release, and launch looks to be about June. Again, I am not an FDA person, I am just telling you what I heard. Once the FDA approved it, Sage went to their insurance board and said –  here is what we have, here is what it treats and what will be the reimbursement for this or what information do you need from this. As of day 8 from FDA approval, they have had no negative feedback from insurance companies. There is an out of pocket and deductible expense, as there is with any hospital treatment. Everyone reacted to the wholesale price that was reported, but that is not the price that will be passed on to the consumer.

SH: Another pushback that has garnered lots of discussion relates to the 60 hours of IV infusion needed. One of the first texts I received after the announcement was  “What mom who has just had a baby is going to take the time away from their newborn to spend 60 hours in a hospital hooked up to an IV?”Do you feel this a valid push back?

LH: I feel this is an uneducated response. Zulresso is a tool in the breadth of drugs available, if needed, for a woman and for a family unit that is suffering the impacts of perinatal mood disorders. Say a mom scores off the charts for PMADs, hypothetically a 10 out of 10. Medication will work, but it will be 4-6 weeks before any real effects are seen, and that is if the correct med and dosage is given the first time. Can we help her with that now; absolutely? But, If you told me I could feel better from my allergies tomorrow instead of June, I choose tomorrow. Zulresso is the tomorrow choice. A woman who is going to be considered for this drug, or more likely will be suggested to receive this 3 day treatment after evaluation, is despondent. She is not intact in her family. She is not showering. She is probably not breastfeeding.

SH: Breastfeeding is another question that has been raised.

LT: If breastfeeding is a way mom is feeling attached to her baby, then she can pump and dump for 3 days. We do this when babies go into NICU, we do this if a mom gets into an accident and needs general anesthesia. This is not a bizarre request.

SH: So this is for the woman that is suffering so much that 3 days won’t matter because she is not engaged, she is not involved, because mom is sick.

LT: Exactly, mom is sick. I also did hear some questioning about the single mom. This is a valid question, and I think this is a wonderful opportunity for nonprofits and advocacy groups to step in and offer help. Help with child care, or financing so dad can take time off or for a nearby hotel for the family to stay… there are may ways to address this.

SH: Who exactly is this drug for?

LT: This is for the mom who is experiencing moderate to severe PMADs. A valid screening tool has been used and a team has made an evaluation and assessment of the mom. This is not a one size fits all. This is not a treat and street situation. This is not, okay you had your IV now off you go!  There is a responsibility to say- Hey, we think this IV treatment is your best option right now and when mom is discharged, here is her follow up treatment plan. She can’t go home and start thinking – I can’t believe I left for 3 days, I stopped breastfeeding, what mother does that? So she has to be in a PMAD specific treatment plan.

Remember, they are coming in for treatment at a time when they feel despondent, lost, are experiencing intrusive thoughts, are not connected. Wouldn’t it be great to take that time mom is hooked up to IV and get her started on some nice self care as well. Have a therapist visit and maybe a survivor who can let her know she is not alone, how about a little aromatherapy and lots of sleep. The goal is to get the mom back to feeling like a human being, not a monster, not a failure, not disconnected.

SH: A lot of blog posts and comments addressed sleep. Many suggested that any new mom who got 60 hours of sleep and rest would feel better no matter what.

LT: Of course, if you put any mom with estrogen and progesterone anywhere for 3 days with protected sleep they would feel better just to get the mental load taken off their hands. My questions is would be how would they feel 3 days or a week later.

SH: So with this drug they still feel better 3 days later? A week? A month?

LT: Yes, but it is not 100%, it is around 70%.  70 works for me. I would a take 70% chance. If it doesn’t work, there are still other options such as medications and therapy.

SH: So hospitals that will be given the opportunity to provide this drug will also need to have in place a comprehensive PMAD therapy plan.  Do you know if there are any physical side effects.

LT:  The only one I know of is somnolence, which means sleepy. I think this is a really good side effect.

SH: I was going to wrap it up by asking what your feelings were on this drug, but I think that it is pretty apparent.

LT: I think it is amazing in my lifetime to see a first drug for something, that part of it blows me away. I can’t remember a first drug for anything.

SH: Viagra?

LT: Viagra was a very good invention….for some people.  Maybe not women, hahaha just kidding.

SH: LOL, and Viagra is covered by insurance.

LT: So if erectile dysfunction pills are covered… this better be covered.

The bottom line is that postpartum depression and anxiety and OCD and psychosis and rage and all PMADs affect the health and welfare of the mom, their children, the family and society as a whole; and suicide is one of the leading causes of women after their first year postpartum. Our nationwide resources are abysmal and while there is no magic pill, Zulresso is one step closer to saving lives and THAT is worth celebrating.


sharing your experiences with ppd

Helping Just By Being You

[vc_row][vc_column 0=””][vc_column_text]Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to meet many women at all stages of the PMAD journey, including many survivors. One commonality I’ve sensed amongst many survivors is that itch to help.   

But how? What can we do? We want to be open and have an impact.  We want to have a reason for “why this happened to us.” We want to protect other women.  We want these women to know that there are resources and they aren’t alone. I question myself though. I’m a writer for a couple of blogs and I’ve certainly written about my experiences. Is writing enough? Besides writing, I post often on social media about PMADs and related causes. And I’ll talk about my experiences with anyone who’ll listen. Is sharing my story at all helpful?  For me, it’s been 11 years since my youngest was a baby and it’s been 14 years since my true PMAD struggles. Am I still relevant? 

The answers to these questions are a resounding YES, YES and YES! Even though I’m not running a support group or making worldly changes (yet!), I am most certainly making a difference by the little things that I’m doing. I’m reminded of this often. And I’m also reminded that these “things” aren’t exactly as “little” as I think they are. 

An Old Friend Remembers My Story

A few weeks back a childhood friend reached out on Facebook messenger and shared with me that a friend at work had been struggling. 

Hi Melissa – hope you’re doing well. I was speaking with a coworker/friend today who has been going through a rough time lately. Kind of a long story but it’s possible it may be postpartum depression. I remembered your story and even just sent her your article. I was wondering if it would be ok if she emailed you. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that maybe you could point her in the right direction. I was really inspired by your story and by your dedication to the cause. I’m not sure if this is what she has – but any info would be helpful. Thanks in advance. 

My response:….Thanks for reaching out…I’d be happy to connect with your friend.  Whether it’s postpartum depression or not, I’m sorry to hear that’s she’s hurting.  Thank you also for your kind words….trying to help others and bring awareness is why I can’t keep quiet about it even tho it was so long ago. 

This mom and I were able connect one recent Saturday afternoon. Mom shared that she has 3 children, ages 2, 4, 6, and after she stopped nursing her 2-year-old, she began to feel “different.” She didn’t know what it was, but she simply didn’t feel like herself and was having racing thoughts and feeling very anxious. Mom also said that she almost felt like she was living outside of her body. I chimed in with “Oh! Depersonalization! I remember that feeling” and she responded with a sigh and said that she didn’t even realize it was a real phenomenon – and even had a name! I spoke of times where I felt similar and she says, “You’re going to make me cry.” 

Mom was finally speaking with someone who understood. I was someone who had similar experiences and I could relate to what was going on in her life. I couldn’t make it go away, but my words were eye opening. She knew that I “got it” and it was reassuring to know that she wasn’t alone. We probably chatted for about 30 minutes, with many “me too” moments – from both of us!

At the end of our conversation I referred her to the local support group in Westchester County (facilitated by a friend of mine). I ensured she had information about the upcoming meetings and the group’s Facebook page and recommended joining, if she felt comfortable. A few days after we spoke, I peeked at the “members” in the group and saw mom’s name there. I’m hoping she’ll get to a meeting or two, but either way she’ll receive the posts and daily inspirations from the other moms in the group. 

The Many Facebook Groups

As we’ve all become accustomed to, Facebook has many groups that we can join and there are no shortage of groups and resources related to PMADs.  Truthfully, I belong to so many PMAD groups that sometimes I feel numb to posts. It can get overwhelming and at times, even triggering, but there was a recent post that came across my feed where a mom was asking for a support group in lower Westchester or Southern CT.   

Being that this was local, it caught my eye, as I knew I had information and resources to share. I chimed in on the post asking mom to message me and then I’d send her along some information. We chatted briefly via Messenger and I relayed the information about the local support group in Westchester. Again, I suggested that she join the Facebook group, where she would receive information on meetings, events and get to know some of the mothers. A couple of days later, as I was scrolling my feed, I noticed that mom had joined the group and commented on a post or two – and I was thrilled to learn that she attended the most recent meeting!    

I felt a sense of satisfaction that maybe I played a small part in her healing process, but also a sense of gratitude that I had the resources to connect her to other women with similar experiences. 

Do I Still Belong?

As mentioned earlier, my youngest is 11 years old. My eldest is 14 and it was after he was born that I suffered from PMADs, specifically Postpartum OCD. That brings us back to 2004/2005. There were no Facebook groups back then. There were hardly any support groups, let alone anyone who was talking about PMADs.  

It took me over 14 months to be officially diagnosed and to find help. With therapy, medication and time I got better. The years went by and my involvement in the PMAD community grew. Through networking and an online presence, I met local women who had similar experiences. It definitely wasn’t a big audience, yet the connections were helpful.   

In 2014, I met a local PMAD survivor who had started a support group.  For all intents and purposes, I was “cured” and while I didn’t “need” the group, I went to some meetings to stay connected, as well as to offer support and any resources I could as a survivor. And no matter how many years went by, it was still quite comforting to hear so many “Me too!” Over time, the group evolved, changed leadership and membership grew. Word was getting out and it was amazing to witness.

I attended meetings here and there, but I stopped going regularly – due mostly work and family obligations, but there were other reasons as well. First off, I hadn’t been in the throes of the illness for many, many years. In addition, I didn’t want any of the newer moms thinking “Oh my, her kids are older and she’s still coming to group! Why is this lady not cured? They told me I’d get better!”  I wanted to allow these women the freedom to share their stories. The group provides a safe space for women and it was their time to be heard and to share openly.   

This past December, I decided to attend the last meeting of the year. I wanted to see all my ladies!  Towards the end I stayed behind with the group leader and another group member to catch up. The topic of “where have you been?” came up. I explained my thoughts – and the two of them completely disagreed with me!  The group member responds that she always remembers the words I had at the first meeting we were at together – that I found support and got better. My words gave her hope, and to this day, she always appreciated and remembered what I had said. They were both thankful that I came to the group of as a survivor and as an example that things do get better. Simply by sharing my survivor story, I did belong – and I was still relevant. And both of those were a help to the group.

Helping Can Be Subtle

Funny thing about this PMAD community is that when we are strong enough and out of the throes of this illness, we want to help in our own individual ways.  We come out of the illness with this determination that leaves us feeling like “Uh-uh. What was that? All I know is that I will not let another mother suffer like I did.”

If you feel guilty about not doing enough, or about not starting a support group or being active enough in the cause, think hard. You probably do more than you realize. Reflect upon yourself. Don’t be surprised if someone who remembers your story shares it and connects with you out of the blue about their friend who is struggling. And asks you to reach out to said friend. And when said friend feels confident enough, hopefully she’ll do the same with her own story and so on and so on. You can help just by being a survivor. You can simply help just by being you.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row 0=””][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”2537″ img_size=”full” style=”vc_box_shadow_circle”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text 0=””]

About Melissa

Melissa Jacobowitz is a Bronx native who moved to Westchester County after she and her high school sweetheart got hitched in 1997. She and her husband currently live in Mount Kisco with their two children, Corey (14) and Mia (11). Melissa is a two-time survivor of Postpartum OCD. In order to raise awareness for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, she volunteered for Postpartum Progress, which was a peer-to-peer organization to support women with maternal mental illnesses, and is an active member of the Westchester Postpartum Support Group. Melissa initially became interested in writing to just share her journey with Postpartum OCD, but has found that writing is newfound aspect of her life that she thoroughly enjoys. She was also a contributing writer with Suburban Misfit Mom and you can find her stories at Melissa is also a featured writer in the book “A Dark Secret,” which is a compilation of where 15 women share their stories of maternal mental illness from diagnosis to recovery.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

how to teach friends how to deal with your ppd

3 Ways To Teach Others How To Deal With Your Postpartum Mood Disorder

[vc_row][vc_column 0=””][vc_column_text]

Ok, so you have someone in your life who doesn’t understand what you’re going through… or maybe a bunch of someones?

How do you get them to understand? You teach them. I’m a teacher and if I have a student who doesn’t know how to accurately cite research using MLA parenthetical notation (please keep reading, I’ll stop nerding out after this analogy, I promise) then I need to teach it to them. This instance with your partner, in-laws, parents, friends, co-workers – fill-in-the-blank – is no different: it’s a teachable moment.

What I have learned while getting treatment is that majority of women suffering from Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMAD– the real name since it can start during pregnancy) are helpers. We are teachers, nurses, doctors, therapists, etc.… we help others. We tend to put others’ needs before our own and calling someone out for their insensitivity can go against this need to “help.”  However, having someone in your life who is making your healing process more difficult won’t help anyone or anything, including your relationship with that person.

So, how do you “teach” someone about what you’re going through? That’s entirely up to you and it may be different based on who the person is that needs an education, but these 3 ideas may get you started:

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1553273769027{background-color: #ffffff !important;}”]

  • Talk. It seems simple, but sometimes talking is anything but simple. Figure out your words ahead of time and then schedule a sit down to discuss your feelings in a safe place. You may even want to write down your thoughts first so you can figure out the major points you want to make. When it comes to matters of the heart, it can be easy to ramble. Try and stay true to your big issues or points and avoid language that would make whoever you are speaking with feel attacked (“I feel a lot less anxious when visitors wash their hands before touching the baby” versus “I’m asking you to wash your hands, which is a simple request, but you continue to not do it”).
  • Ask. Ask someone to do the talking for you. Communicate with your speaker what you would like to be said, but make sure that you trust this person and they have enough knowledge of the situation to adequately respond to any questions the non-understanding party may have.
    • My husband took this role and it made me less anxious than having to do it myself (because I KNEW I would cry if I had to do it myself). BUT, I had to really hold back asking him incessant questions like: How did they take it? Were they upset? Do they think I’m crazy? Do they get it?
  • Educate. Politely send them *up-to-date* literature about PMAD so that they can learn on their own. You can print articles to give them or you can send them links via email, text, or social media.
    • This is a great hands-off approach that would allow the other party to process the information on their own time and in their own space. We all know people who would somehow turn a friendly and open discussion into them being attacked ::eye roll:: This is the way I would handle that kind of person – they can bitch and moan privately and once they put on their big-boy/girl pants then you can one day have a discussion together. You may also want to include in your message that you aren’t ready to talk about it in person at this point, but thought it would help them to better understand what you’re going through in the meantime. That way they don’t see the literature as an opportunity to get their two cents in because, guess what, it’s not about them.

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text 0=””]

What if they are not teachable at all?

What if you tried any/all of these tactics and nothing worked?

What if being around this person continues to trigger your symptoms?

My advice is, and this is going to be harsh, to just say “fuck them” and move on. If they aren’t aiding in your recovery then perhaps they need to take a backseat to your needs and you can return to them once you are healed. Because guess what? You WILL heal. And just like you, your relationship with that person can be healed too.

I love you. I see you. You’re doing a great job.

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator 0=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row 0=””][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”2493″ img_size=”full” style=”vc_box_shadow_3d”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text 0=””]Amy Brewer

Amy is married to her best friend, a mom to a wonderful baby girl, & a pet-mom to two cats and a dog. She enjoys watching Netflix, drinking wine, & laughing at her own jokes (she may even have chuckled as she wrote this).[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Vicki kelly quirk

Engagement Over Success/Failure

[vc_row][vc_column 0=””][vc_column_text]When my business was my primary focus in life, I could use my monthly stats, weekly client sessions, and the amount of money I made to see how I was successful.  I measured a lot of my self-worth against those numbers and client feedback.  Since being pregnant and becoming a mother, my business has fallen to the 2nd position.

I had been beating myself up because I couldn’t get my once thriving business back on track and all I could think was “Fail”.  Every night that my son was up for the 6th time, all I could think was “Fail”.  When he is yelling “No” at me for the 55,000 time since he got out of bed, all I could think was “Fail”.  All I could see was failure until one day when my therapist said to me “There is no scale to measure motherhood on. There is an epic amount of expectations we can set for ourselves and ideas we have about how it will all be, but those aren’t scales to measure against. Those are things to reality test.”

I left the session feeling a bit relieved, a lot exhausted, and a tad curious.  I asked my husband if he feels successful in life right now and he replied, “Sometimes at work I do.  I don’t look at parenting the same way though.  I take what Brene Brown says about parenting and use that… I know I am an engaged father. That’s good enough for me.”

I went to bed pondering this. What if my experience of motherhood isn’t about succeeding or failing? What if it is about engaging? Could I be considered an engaged mom in every moment just because I am willing to be there with whatever is happening?

I have played around with being engaged and staying out of tallying my successes and failures. I have tried to stay present in my body and with my emotions.  The tougher moments brought out the little Failure Gremlin and it tried to tell me I was failing when things weren’t going well or I was losing my patience. I told it “I am engaging.” It didn’t run away as quickly as I had hoped for but it didn’t stick around repeating itself either.

I can’t tell you it has been is easy to choose engagement over saying “Success” or “Fail” but it has shifted how I am feeling. I am not clenching my jaw or walking around with super tense muscles. I question my choices less and have even felt confident in many of them.

It has helped me to be gentler and more compassionate with myself and what we can give ourselves we can share with our children and everyone else in our life.

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text 0=””][/vc_column_text][mvc_team_profile memb_name=”Viki Quirk” memb_prof=”Author” memb_about=”Viki Quirk is a mother, Breathwork facilitator, and intuitive coach who empowers parents to build their support network from the inside out. She is volunteers with the Bloom Foundation as a peer to peer support group leader of Embracing Your Motherhood which is for moms who had Perniatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. ” memb_url=”” social_icon=”fa fa-instagram” social_url=”viki_quirk” social_clr=”#dd3333″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Contact Us

The Bloom Foundation
716 Newman Springs Road, #117
Lincroft, NJ 07738


postpartum depression support group New Jersey the bloom foundation for maternal wellness logo

Copyright © by The Bloom Foundation All Rights Reserved

The Bloom Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization