“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
I could not have come up with a better quote to introduce you to our guest for this week’s “Mynewfavoriteweek’ly Inspiration” interview. The ever-amazing Katherine Stone. She plants so many seeds for so many, that her days can only be judged as beautiful.
If I could tell you I so so so wish I would have known of Katherine and her “Postpartum Progress” movement earlier, I wouldn’t be totally honest, I needed to find her 2 years ago.
While I have talked on and off around our journey in the NICU and around the babies coming home, I did not talk a lot about the awful time when it was just me, in the quiet, in the car, in our house, in the dark of the night while the babies were tucked safely in the NICU. At least, not in brutally honest detail.Until I met Katherine, I would have said, I “probably” had Postpartum mixed with PTSD, but after taking her questionnaire designed to help identify if women have Postpartum, it was clear I had suffered from Postpartum OCD.
I truly have never talked about this before, but I was plagued and haunted by disturbing thoughts about the babies. Songs would chase me with lyrics that would include tragedy around the Q and E. Mostly E. It was songs that we all know, but the lyrics would mysteriously change. Even typing this confession, makes me want to get sick. My temperature has increased and I feel a tightness in my chest. I was terrified to tell anyone about my thoughts. Not even KSP. Noone knew these songs and thoughts that raced through my mind or rattled my entire person as I would drive back and forth to the hospital each day.
I beat myself up, tried to yank myself out it, listen to different songs, anything I could do to chase it all away. I talked to noone, did no research and hoped it would just go away. What kind of mother would not be able to protect herself from these thoughts? How could I be so bonded and desperate to do everything I could to save them, and at the same time these thoughts, the worst thoughts were in my mind? I am embarrassed and sad even now.
Yet, our outcome is good. I don’t have these thoughts any longer, the fear of something happening to them no longer fills the songs I hear. My mind is free; however I am one of the lucky ones. In a weird way, I was lucky in my Postpartum OCD to be able to channel my efforts and focus into the a positive outcome. That I wasn’t at home with my babies, under “normal” circumstances having these thoughts. Under a different kind of pressure. I could chalk up my thoughts to PTSD and trying to compensate for what “might” happen. So in that way, I was lucky. But I wasn’t lucky enough to have known of Katherine.
Katherine Stone has become a known expert blogger, and voice, as it relates to providing a forum and spotlight for educating and supporting women suffering from Postpartum Depression. If you haven’t experienced Postpartum yourself, you surely know someone who has, even if they didn’t or don’t know it. Katherine was recently voted #6 in Babble’s Top 100 Mom Blogs, so I am clearly not alone in my admiration of her and all that she has done and chosen to continue to do in this area. She is a light for many that are caught in the dark and as you read her interview, if it occurs to you that you know anyone who may be suffering from Postpartum Depression, please don’t hesitate to send them to Katherine’s blog as a starting point for awareness and action. With that, I would like to introduce you to Katherine from “Postpartum Progress.”
Shannon: What inspired you to create “Postpartum Progress?”
Katherine: I had postpartum OCD in 2001 with the birth of my first child. Once I recovered, it really bugged me how unprepared and uneducated I had been about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. It continually ate at me that there were other women out there suffering who were likely feeling as alone and confused as I had, and I felt I needed to do something about it. At the time I was already somewhat familiar with blogging, so I decided I’d start writing about it. My first post was in July 2004.
Shannon: Was PPD something you were familiar with prior to starting “Postpartum Progress?’
Katherine: I knew of postpartum depression, but not enough to really understand that it was happening to me, or where to go for help. I just thought I’d gone crazy and would never get better. I hear that from a lot of women. They have a very elementary understanding of PPD but not enough so that when they get it they feel informed enough to know they have it and what to do about it.
Shannon: If someone joins you now in your blogging journey, where would they find you now from where you came/started?
Katherine: Initially there was just a blog. Now we have a Facebook Fan page, I’m on Twitter, I have several contributing writers, we have a nonprofit. I’m now speaking publicly across the country. There are a lot of innovations I’ve created over the years like our Warrior Moms Photo Album or Daily Hope. So we’re a much richer resource at this point.
One of the important things about creating a blog with longevity is innovation. You can’t be stagnant. I try every year to come up with at least one new thing, one new resource that you can’t find anywhere else that helps make Postpartum Progress special.
Shannon: How has the response been to the community you have created?
Katherine: I think the response has been fantastic. It’s been a slow, organic growth over the past 7 years but that’s fine by me. I’m still disappointed, to be honest, that more women don’t know about Postpartum Progress because I think we have some of the best information out there. At the same time, I’m happy we’ve been able to help as many as we have and am proud to have become the most widely-read blog in the world on PPD. I’m particularly proud of the Warrior Mom brand we’ve created, because it helps moms who are at the depth of misery feel more empowered.
We’ve also gotten a lot of nice kudos from the social media world that have helped. This year we were named #8 among the top 50 pregnancy blogs, which was great. We’ve won several awards of which I’m very proud. It lends credibility to the work we’re doing.
Shannon: Do you think Postpartum Depression is better recognized now than even 3 years ago?
Katherine: Not by a lot. I think people believe it’s better recognized, but anecdotally I’m not seeing that among the women I talk to who are telling me they weren’t screened for PPD or that they saw doctors who really didn’t help them. You should hear the stories I hear. They’re awful. OBs who tell moms who ask for help, “Sorry, I don’t do psychiatry.” Physicians who tell women they’re just being selfish, or that they should just wait it out and PPD will just go away eventually. It’s unacceptable, really.
Shannon: What are the signs of Postpartum that women should be aware of for themselves and their friends?
Katherine: I created something called The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety (In Plain Mama English). I would direct anyone who is wondering whether they have PPD or a related illness like postpartum PTSD or postpartum OCD to check it out. I think it’s an extremely helpful way of describing what it’s like to go through one of these illnesses. The important thing to know is that one size does not fit all. Most people think of depression as simply being very sad, but there are many types of symptoms, from numbness and disconnection, to crying and sadness, to anger and irritability. One mom with PPD may have a completely different set of symptoms than another.
Shannon: If someone does suspect they may be suffering from Postpartum Depression, what should they do?
Katherine: Call their doctor. Discuss the symptoms. They can even print out and bring along the list of symptoms in plain English I shared above and show the doctor which ones they are experiencing. If the doc isn’t helpful, they can email Postpartum Progress and we’ll let them know if we know of a good one in their area.
Don’t keep it inside. I know it’s scary. It’s not a fun thing to talk about, but hiding it or ignoring it is not worth the negative long-term effects of untreated PPD on both mother and baby.
Shannon: When someone visits “Postpartum Progress” what are 3 key things you hope they takeaway?
Katherine: How about just two?
1) Postpartum depression is temporary and treatable with professional help.
2) You are not alone. We understand and we support you. We’ll hold your hand through this.
Shannon: I heard you were starting a non-profit to support this very important cause, why did you decide to take that step?
Katherine: First, it bugged me that after 7 years of blogging I was still seeing so many women who don’t have enough info and aren’t getting good help. I felt I needed to start doing more than just blog about PPD. Second, I wanted to be able to raise money so that I’d be able to do more. We are in fact now a nonprofit. I didn’t want to ask people to contribute money to support Postpartum Progress and think it was going in to my pocket, so the 501c3 status was important to me. I would like to get to the point where millions of women know we are a resource for them. I would also like to be able to help fund more and better support and services for women with PPD. I want to create a kick-ass national awareness campaign. I can’t do that without funding.
Shannon: Would you please leave us with a pearl of wisdom to help make it our readers ‘newfavoriteday?’
Katherine: Hmmm. I have a service called Daily Hope, where I send little pearls of wisdom every day (or most days, anyway) to moms with PPD who sign up for the email service. They’re meant to provide hope, inspiration and understanding. So how about if I share some of my favorite quotes from Daily Hope?
“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul — and sings the tunes without the words — and never stops at all.” ~ Emily Dickinson
“Hope is not about proving anything. It’s about choosing to believe this one thing, that love is bigger than any grim, bleak shit anyone can throw at us.” ~ Anne Lamott
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” ~ Thomas Edison
Thank you so much Katherine for doing me the honor of allowing me to interview you. It was a true pleasure and I know that through what you do, you can give people back the feeling of ‘anewfavoriteday.’
Have you suffered from Postpartum Depression? What did you do to recover? Or have you? Are you a Warrior Mom?
You can find Katherine at http://postpartumprogress.com/
On Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/PostpartumProgress?ref=ts
On Twitter at @postpartumprogr
If you want to spread awareness of Katherine’s cause and initiatives, please share this on Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon or however else you would like to help others who may be in need of simply knowing they are not alone. Thank you!