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 http://suburbanmisfitmom.com/writer/melissa-jacobowitz/ 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]

a poem about ppd

It’s Scary What a Smile Can Hide

After working up the courage, I shared this poem on Facebook a few months ago. It was a scary thing to do.

It was received with a lot of love publicly and privately, and one friend reached out and said she thought she was the only one who felt this way. With the help of Tiffany of the Bloom Foundation we were able to get her the help she needed.

If you are reading this and feel the same, know that you are not alone. You don’t need to hide behind a smile. There is help.

I lied and said I was busy. 

I was busy; but not in a way most people understand. 
I was living in a body fighting to survive. 
I was fighting a war inside my head.
It’s scary what a smile can hide. 
My illness does not define me. My strength and courage does. 
Although I am still Blooming, I made it to 2018 as a survivor
my story is not over.

Notice Me. This is PPD

[vc_row 0=””][vc_column][vc_column_text 0=””]David Zinell, writes in his science fiction novel, The Broken God, “Before, you are wise; after, you are wise. In between you are otherwise.”

We have all been there, been in the thick of it.  We struggle to stay afloat in the proverbial swamp and only later when we emerge and dry ourselves off do we see the paths we could have taken to avoid the swamp completely; and while hindsight can be frustrating the power it provides is immeasurable. The power to help others.

A couple of blocks east of Downtown Scottsdale in a newly renovated 3 bedroom townhouse that would make Joanna Gaines proud, Lisa and I sat at a kitchen table that had become our impromptu office space and talked lived experience, hindsight, PPD, and the triangle of power they form.  We talked about moms in the swamp, when they are “otherwise”, and wondered how to get their husbands, their partners, their families –their people– to notice them. To see their PPD. We talked about how PPD manifests itself differently in its’ sufferers, and as the Arizona sun shone through the windows and the kitchen table grew heavy with empty coffee cups and discarded post it notes, we realized we needed help from those with the power.

100+ moms who have been swam in the PPD swamp told us how to help people see. They told us what they wished “their people” had noticed. This is their hindsight.

[su_slider source=”media: 1067,1066,1065,1064,1063,1062,1061,1059,1058″ height=”600″][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Jersey Shore Gets NJ’s First PPD Treatment Center

Studies from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention say 1 in 7 new mothers suffer from maternal depression.

WBGO’s Ang Santos takes us to the Monmouth Medical Center on the Jersey Shore, where a team of experts are operating the state’s first treatment facility for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

Check out the article here!



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