Don’t Dream It’s Over (My Postpartum Progress Update)

 

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The decision could have gone either way and frankly I was prepared for the worst:

To be ignored…

To be shunned…

To have my deepest concerns minimized…

Some of you who read My Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder Gets No Respect Part One and Part Two know that I contacted Postpartum Progress to ask if they’d include information about postpartum bipolar disorder (now termed “bipolar disorder with peripartum onset” in the DSM-5) on their ginormously popular website.

Postpartum Progress is one of the largest, most influential U.S. nonprofits that assists women living with postpartum mood and anxiety disorders (PMAD’s) aside from Postpartum Support International. Both PP and PSI are amazing organizations which provide information, encouragement and networking for women living with postpartum mood disorders.

In 2014 Postpartum Progress published my article edited by Cristi Comes about postpartum bipolar disorder. After this article went live, postpartum bipolar disorder was included in a list of PMAD’s on Postpartum Progress’ fundraiser Climb Out of the Darkness page.  

However, postpartum bipolar disorder wasn’t mentioned on the most important website pages defining each PMAD. Some of these page titles include “PMAD’s We Think You Need to Know About”and “FAQ’s” – the very pages that anxious, possibly mentally ill moms scan when they’re in crisis. This information could help mothers  who might have this lesser-known disorder but not be aware of its symptoms.

I had a big problem with this omission and I couldn’t let it go – and believe me, I wanted to forget about it. The way I saw it was this: if you’re going to run a nonprofit for mothers with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, then you need to include every single PMAD in your information pages. It’s not enough to list PPBD in one paragraph and publish my article about it (which is buried among the hundreds of other articles) yet otherwise ignore its existence.

A couple days ago I decided to send a second email to Postpartum Progress as I had sent it almost a month ago but hadn’t heard back. Today I got great news in my email’s in-box from Postpartum Progress founder Katherine Stone. She apologized for not getting back to me sooner, explained they have an extremely small staff (which I knew) and wrote that if I write up something about bipolar disorder, peripartum onset, she’ll be glad to include it on the site. She also mentioned they’re redoing their “Warrior Mom” badges this fall (I explain this in my “Respect” posts) and she promises me there will be a badge for bipolar disorder, peripartum onset! 

(I like the sound of postpartum bipolar disorder better but I need to go with the DSM-5 terminology for Postpartum Progress. )

I was so happy to get Katherine’s email. I knew she was busy as their big Warrior Moms conference had just ended a few days before I sent my first email, and I wrote her that I understood that she or another staffer would need time to get back to me.

BUT…

I had to go with my gut and be a pain in the ass, hence email #2. 

Frankly, I might not have been so caught up with nagging Postpartum Progress to mention PPBD if I wasn’t constantly reminded that my perinatal mood and anxiety disorder doesn’t exist by almost everyone. It gets old real fast! I was pleased and stunned for a minute when I read BP Magazine editor Elizabeth Forbes’ article “Your Particular Slice of Bipolar” in the Summer 2015 issue – she included a “bipolar disorder, peripartum onset” definition. Oh joy!

Sure, I’m writing my book to educate people about postpartum bipolar, but we all know that almost everyone is writing a book these days, including my hound Lucy.

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As much as I’ll promote Birth of a New Brain (and at that point I’m probably going to lose my Seroquel belly from all the effort) it’s likely to get lost in the shuffle of the tribble-like profusion of books published every day. 

Those who can make the biggest impact to educate others about PPBD are established perinatal mental health nonprofits, doctors, hospitals etc. through the internet and other channels. After my book is published and promoted, I’d like to start a nonprofit for mothers with postpartum bipolar disorder.  I’ve worked for no less than three nonprofits and I know a thing or two about the good, the bad and the ugly. I’d really love to do this and we shall see!

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Moving on…(if you want a direct, concise “brevity is the soul of wit”-style post, this blog is not for you! 😉 I’ve noticed some women, including me, rarely get the assistance they deserve unless they get angry at the customer service representative or doctors or what have you. It’s bizarre.

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I’ve fired off emails that are sweet-as-pie and never get a response, but when I’ve sent emails with a subject title such as “I’m extremely disappointed”, “An unhappy fan”, or “I’m furious!” I got a speedy reply! It shouldn’t be like that, but it often is. So I’m glad I didn’t have to get angry (not “bipolar angry”, but simply angry) in this particular situation. I don’t like playing that game one bit. 

I’ve saved the end of this post for my Crowded House Don’t Dream It’s Over speech. If there’s something important to you that you want to do (but you keep putting it off) PLEASE don’t give up. Maybe you’ve attempted this difficult task a few times to no avail. I’m giving you permission this very moment to go easy on yourself about the whole matter, but give whatever it is one more chance. I want you to have your Postpartum Progress moment! Take to heart the words of the great Neil Finn:

“Hey now, hey now
Don’t dream it’s over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
We know they won’t win”

 

Thanks for reading, my friends – have a great ‘n groovy weekend!

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Artwork by blogger extraordinaire Blahpolar Diaries – I actually thought this was a coffee mug at first! Can I blame the meds?

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Walker Karraa (Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth) will be, fingers and eyes crossed, published by Post Hill Press in Fall, 2016

Where’s My Cape? I’m a “2014 Mental Health Hero” in Chato B. Stewart’s Cartoon-A-Thon

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Yesterday on the first day of Mental Health Month, I was triggered.  In reading the local news headlines I discovered that someone I knew who I’ll call Elana had been reported missing.  She was found alive through an aerial search, but she had attempted to take her own life.  

I told my husband about this tragic news last night.  Craig was a friend of this woman’s long before I met him, but they lost touch over the years.  Yesterday he found out exactly where she was being hospitalized and he spoke with an administrator working on her case.  I encouraged him to get her a card and he sent it to her this morning.  I know that a card sounds like a little thing, but it’s not.  Especially when the illness is a mental illness connected with a suicide attempt.  I know with all my heart that as she recovers, she will appreciate his gesture very much.

Today I kept thinking about Elana’s situation, although I moved on with my obligations.  I dealt with various mundane duties: making beds, bill paying, laundry, putting away dishes, working out, driving the girls back and forth from ballet and playdates etc. that I was supposed to accomplish. Was a little Facebooking & Twittering thrown into the mix?  You know it was!  (And yeah, it was more than a little.  I’m working on it!)

My day brightened up considerably when I got an email from the mental health advocate/cartoonist Chato B. Stewart.   Who is Chato B. Stewart?

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Chato is a man of many talents.  I’ve known Chato as the Psych Central Network and BP (Bipolar) Magazine Cartoonist/Blogger .  He’s the artist behind the “Mental Health Cartoons” drawn from his personal experience of living with bipolar disorder.  Chato creates positive, provocative and sometimes even funny cartoons!  (He is sensitive to the subject matter, that’s for sure.)

Chato believes there is power behind humor, and his motto is “humor gives help, hope and healing”. His mission is use humor as a positive tool to cope with the serious effects of mental illness. He has won the Wego Health Hilarious Activist Award and  a prestigious Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) award, and he’s a father of four and a devoted husband to his wife Joan.  (Plus, he has a full-time day job, no biggie!) 

Chato emailed me to let me know that he selected me to be one of his 2014 Mental Health Heros!  Chato’s recognition of my mental health advocacy efforts, which I’ve done on and off over the past five years, completely lifted up my spirits.  He’ll be publishing my story on his Mental Health hero website this month, and get this – he’ll be drawing a cartoon of me (yep!) for what he calls his Cartoon-A-Thon.  

When Chato started the Cartoon-A-Thon in 2008, he wanted to “actively contribute in a small way to Mental Health Month, which was established by Mental Health Americana in 1946.” Since then Chato has drawn many heroes who can be nominated by anyone, or personally selected by Chato. 

Why a Cartoon-A-Thon?  

Chato explains his philosophy on the Mental Health Hero website:

“The purpose of the Cartoon-A-Thon is to use humor and laughter as positive tools in dealing with emotional disturbances which affect many people and families due to mental illness.”  

Chato brainstormed an idea of drawing cartoons about mental health disorders each day in May for Mental Health Month.  In 2008, he drew 18 cartoons. The following year he drew 31 cartoons .  In 2010, he introduced his Mental Health Heroes and he featured 31 heroes in the mental health community.  

In 2011 and 2012 he kept up with the hero theme to give his peers a platform to tell their story.  Many readers were excited in 2012 when Chato’s three daughters started drawing their versions of the heroes.  Once again, they’ll pull out their crayons and draw alongside him in 2014.  The fact that Chato’s little girls will be drawing pictures of me will be funny, and my two girls will get a HUGE kick out of their efforts as well.

Here’s an example of 2013 Mental Health Hero Margarita Tartakovsky’s cartoon!   460-Margarita-Tartakovsky-Mental-Health-Hero-for-Mental-Health-Month-2013-cartoon-by-Chato-Stewart-150x150

So my day contained happiness and sadness, just like every day does, but on this symbolic beginning of Mental Health Month, I felt those two emotions to a more amplified degree.  All the more reason for me to make time to exercise, even though it was a heatwave and I felt like blowing it off.  And all the more reason to calmly reassure my husband that when I said to him that I felt “triggered” by Elana’s situation, it didn’t mean I was going to fall apart.  

I emphasized to Craig that triggers are not always rational; they are not always easily tamped down and controlled.  He told me how much he appreciated my explanation, and that it helped him to hear my perspective.  Then he wrapped his arms around me and he said how glad he was that I was doing well.  That was pretty cool to hear, and his words meant more to me than any award I could ever receive.  

To view the 2013 winners, see their cartoons and read their stories, visit: http://mentalhealthhero.com/

To learn more about the illustrious Chato B. Stewart, visit his website: http://www.chatobstewart.com/

 

                                                    Please donate to my walk benefitting Postpartum Progress! 

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For more information about the June 21st walk for Climb Out of the Darkness and to donate please visit:

http://www.postpartumprogress.com/join-climb-out-of-the-darkness-2014#comment-18563

 

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