On anniversaries of significant things in my life I usually pay closer attention to what’s going on in the world around me and think about how to move forward and make changes for the better or appreciate what I have. This Saturday I had a nice day with family and friends and I considered writing about that anniversary… one of the worst days of my life. I thought about writing about how it felt to have my heart ripped out as my family left their too-short visit with me in the mental ward to go back to my house without me and I couldn’t hold my own baby or be with him, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I remember Joel telling me on the phone while I was in the hospital that Isaac cried, seemed to miss me, and was somewhat inconsolable for much of the night.
Sunday was the anniversary of my release from the psych ward. I could write pages about how it felt getting out, but it can basically be summed up in a few sentences. I was humiliated and ashamed. I was traumatized. I was thankful to be out and with my baby. I felt free, yet I felt scared – terrified of myself and what I might do. I was angry at having been a prisoner even though I did nothing wrong. I was disgusted by the utter mistreatment I had been through.
Today I have to remember to check for the TIME Magazine July 20 edition so I can have a few hard copies for safe keeping. You know, to save them from the bonfire ceremonies in back yard barbecue grills around the country. I’m also expecting that there will be more hateful or misinformed blog entries that I will read in the blogosphere about The MOTHERS Act and how it will “hurt no one” and “save lives” and “your children will thank you for it.” And despite lies like this I will speak the truth and hope someone who needs to hear it will listen.
Some times I feel like I accomplished something good, and think, I can sit back for a while and just enjoy my life for a change and not constantly be thinking of the next thing I need to do. And then I look at Matthew’s picture, or Indiana’s picture, or Manie’s videos, or I get a chance to talk to Christian or Christiane or Amery. Or I get a random phone call pleading for help from a mom whose child is being drugged in foster care or in a psych hospital. I feel a sense of responsibility to do anything I can to help them get their stories out there or to help get things resolved for them. But mostly I feel like I owe it to the babies who are in danger right now to do all that I can to help them.
I’ve been thinking about how people accuse our side of saying PPD “isn’t real” – which is an obvious twist on the fact that we do state that the drugs are so dangerous that we don’t feel it’s justifiable for people to go blithely around promoting them. But that does not make the suffering of women any less real or less important. It’s important to take a step back and think about how to help all these people who may or may not be on drugs. Some of the PPD bloggers write that meds are a crucial part of treatment and self help cannot cure all cases. I can somewhat agree with the last part – that “self help” cannot cure all cases – if by self help we’re talking about reading books and taking baths and other methods of relaxation / self-training. Because in my case, all the self help in the world was not going to cure what the drugs did to me. Only removing the drugs was going to make me totally better. It’s true I never should have started them in the first place, but I did, and I suffered for four + months because of it. But I also have a very hard time imagining that the majority of cases could not be helped with “self care” alone, considering how much self help helped me out while I was insane.
In the remaining cases I think women need to see an alternative practitioner or do a lot of research into alternatives, and not simply see a drug prescribing doctor to get drugs. This would not fall under the category of “self-help” in my opinion. Since when does alternative medicine get forgotten and it’s like it’s a choice between taking toxic poison and reading a book?
I’ve written about this before but if you just google orthomolecular medicine you can learn about how people have cured things like schizophrenia with megadoses of vitamins. Also google Soteria houses (these are places where people with schizophrenia go to get well without drugs). Both these strategies can help people get better without neuroleptics. Also I know that Jenny Hatch has a lot of knowledge, as do several people I know, including Dr. Tracy, about the use of essential oils being applied to the skin to help with all sorts of health ailments. Since the oils are concentrated herbs etc. they apparently work very quickly. You might check out Jenny’s other blog for more on that.
Now as for self-help:
I thought I would just share a couple of book titles here. These are the books that I read while I was on Zoloft and trying to figure out a way to escape from the frightening thoughts I was having. I taught myself meditation and spent a lot of time praying and it did help me. Ultimately only going off of Zoloft would take the thoughts away but having these tools helped me during a desperate time. So in addition to having supervision from a family member at all times, I spent those months learning things that I’ll never forget. Whenever I get upset about something I just remember that during those times when I would pray, I felt like there was strength coming to me and protecting us because of the words I prayed. So I can always depend on that strength no matter what is going on.
One of the books I read was called How Long Til’ My Soul Gets it Right and it was a series of essays about life and the spirit. It’s been so long since I read it I cannot recall the details but I remember reading it and feeling more peaceful.
Also, Anxiety and Panic Attacks by Robert Handly. This book taught me meditation and relaxation techniques that I used to de-stress any time I had a bad thought. I told myself, I am in control. No matter what my mind was telling me to do, my mind was not going to make my body do those things. Any type of stressful thought I had, I would try to practice one of the relaxation techniques and focus on an image in my mind that I created involving a happy memory I had in a beautiful place I had been before my life had been turned upside down. I created a “dream” that I could go to if only for a short time, where everything is perfect and it always was and always would be.
It may not have been reality, but it was a better thought than the thoughts I could have allowed myself to focus on. I would recommend doing that if you are a mother going psycho on drugs. It could possibly help in the time you are suffering, until you are able to be well again.
I can only hope that I am doing as many things right in my life and in this world as I possibly can. Although any day may be our last, feeling like there is still much work to be done makes it easier to have faith in the future. If we all do our part hopefully the world will soon be a better place than it is today.
P.S. for the sake of the paranoid anti-informed consent bloggers out there – no, I don’t get any money from recommending those books or that you read up on essential oils. The only money I earn is anything I save when my husband gives me cash each week. LOL I’m officially a useless sponge in the wet sea of life.
Please feel free to add any other suggestions here or on this other article on the blog specifically covering PPD prevention and safe treatment.