STILL A MUM 2018 CONFERENCE & AWARDS GALA

PPDKenya at the StillAMum 2018 Conference

Every year, October 15th marks the World Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) day. The goal of this day is to, first and foremost, recognize the loss that so many parents have experienced, as well as to create awareness on pregnancy and infant loss.

This year, Still A Mum organized a two-day conference that included two events and an awards gala. PPDKenya partnered with Still A Mum for the conference, and we were able to share some of the information that PPDKenya does at our stand.

It was amazing to speak to the expecting couples and new parents on Postpartum depression and what places moms at risk in the period after birth. A number of the dads-to-be and dads asked about PPD. One of the common questions from them was, “If PPD mainly affects moms, how does it affect dads yet they have not physically given birth?”

This was a great point for discussion because not only are these dads the first point of contact for a new mom (usually), their been aware may help a mom who’s developing the symptoms of PPD and who may not be aware of the changes they are going through. To answer the question on why dads sometimes get PPD:

Paternal Postpartum Depression (or its abbreviation PPPD) affects at least 5% of new dads globally. Why then does it happen if, in women, it is thought to be triggered by hormonal fluctuations after pregnancy, and yet men cannot possibly have it as a result of this? Studies show that, for reasons that are still been researched, a man’s hormonal levels also change, albeit not as significantly as in moms.

Read More: Postpartum Depression affects dads too!

Add to this the psychological, social and financial changes that come with a new baby and it is easy to see why new dads are at risk of PPPD too. Unfortunately, men (generally speaking) will not often readily share what they are experiencing, which poses a challenge even in PPDKenya’s efforts to reach out to the dads. For this reason, the opportunity to speak to the men at our stand was very significant.

The first day of the conference targeted medical professionals, particularly those working in the maternity and pediatric departments. It incorporated training on different aspects during pregnancy, child birth and after as well as Respectful Bereavement Care. Day Two of the conference was dubbed ‘Healthy Baby, Healthy Mum’, and targeted expecting women and their partners as well as new parents. Some of the topics that were covered included healthy habits during pregnancy, labor, delivery, breastfeeding, immunization and Postpartum Depression. I was honored to host the talk on Postpartum depression (with most of it in Swahili! – did you know Postpartum Depression is known as ‘mfadhaiko baada ya kujifungua? You are welcome!), share a bit of my story, what symptoms to look out for, the work that PPDKenya does, and most importantly, that there is hope for the mom and dad with PPD. After the talk, a number of moms did visit our stand, and of them, a few had a free counseling session. PPDKenya was honored to have Brenda Sharp volunteer her services as a psychologist to help the moms at the event.

 

The awards gala had to be postponed from the 13th to the 20th because Wanjiru Kihusa, founder of StillAMum, was out for her Facebook Community Fellowship (Glad to know such fierce kick-ass women!). The gala was organized to celebrate the wonderful work that StillAMum has done in the past three years of operation and to honor persons and companies improving the lives of Kenyan parents. All photos courtesy of Tek Photography.

Dresscode was black-tie, and boy oh boy, people caught the memo. The ambience, the setup, the dinner, the live band and the MC (one and only DJ Soxxy) put together a stellar awards ceremony! It was a beautiful event and I was honored to have joined efforts with the StillAMum team. Let’s do this again in 2019!

 

Stay-at-Home Motherhood affected my self-esteem

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day, and disclosed how, I was a little anxious about setting up my LinkedIn account. Yes, I am the one in a zillion who had never bothered to create a Linkedin account until the point I decided to get PPDKenya registered legally. And partly because I subconsciously didn’t think there was anything worth writing about myself in the professional circles. Walk with me, I am going somewhere with this.

See, I have been a stay (and work) at home mom since my son was born – in January 2012. Even typing this makes me pause for a few seconds. It’s going to seven years since I last set foot in a regular 8-to-5 job, which amazes and shocks me in equal measure. It hasn’t been easy – it cannot be easy to make the switch from a travel junkie whose work involved lots of travel, to staying and raising a child round the clock.

Becoming a SAHM was not something I sought out to be. In the second trimester of my pregnancy, I realized I was going to be raising my son alone. Shortly after, I lost my job. So jobless and with no partner support, I ended up going back home to my parents and figure out life from that point. My son was born with no health complications, thankfully. My parents were very supportive, and I am thankful for that to-date. I knew however, I needed to find something to do to help me raise my child and get the basics (diapers, clinic money, clothes etc) because at the time, I wasn’t paying any rent or utility bills.

Read More: This is Why I kept my Postpartum Depression a secret

That’s how I stumbled onto online writing. A friend suggested the possibility of working from home and I embraced the idea because it would keep us afloat. Years later, it has provided a lifeline for my son and I, but it was not without its own challenges.

At the onset, it gave me a profound sense of self to be able to stay home and cherish whatever memories I could of raising him before Postpartum Depression stole the precious moments. But as the years went by, I realized I was starting to feel overwhelmed by it all. SAHMoms find themselves alone, quite literally, for long hours every day. I found this aspect of SAHMotherhood particularly challenging. I am an extrovert by nature, and love to be around people. Here I was, spending up to 10 hours indoors, alone, with nothing but baby talk, bibs and nappies to fill my days.

The lack of adult interaction for most days made it difficult to articulate the emptiness I felt. Caring for my son almost 100% of the time made it very easy to forget about myself. Add to this the monotonous routine of daily life and it started to feel like my sense of self was slowly but surely slipping away.

My PPD didn’t make it any easier. I remember asking myself, ‘What’s the point of dressing up anyway, if I wouldn’t be going anywhere? Why make my nails if I will spend half the day cleaning up mustard-coloured nappies?” Let’s not talk about the matted nest that was my hair. I let go of myself. I just did not see the point of making it… and over time, how I looked on the outside began to seep into how I viewed myself.

Read More: Changes

It started to feel like I had lost my sense of identity, I had lost the person I was before motherhood, so much so that on several days when I got someone to watch over him, I’d spend the whole day trying to remember what it was I loved doing – what it was I enjoyed most. I couldn’t find myself in the haze of motherhood. I didn’t feel attractive anymore, and struggled to look at myself in the mirror. Under the layers of baggy tees with several milk patches and saggy track pants, I felt completely lost.

The intrusive thoughts I had with PPD worsened how I viewed myself. My mind kept telling me I was frumpy and ugly (frugly if you like), and it didn’t matter because everyone seemed so put together on IG but I was struggling with my sense of identity and self-esteem.

I did go for therapy, and that helped quite a bit. I recovered from PPD, but the scars on my sense of identity linger on many days, particularly on those days when there’s an impending change or I am embarking on a new project as is the case with the organization. I second guess myself so many times, I doubt my abilities, I hear the subtle voices in my mind telling me I am not good enough.

But,

But I am learning to look into the mirror and tell myself I am doing an amazing job raising my son. To say out loud positive affirmations, and to remind myself of the wonderful work PPDKenya does to help moms with PPD. I am learning to create boundaries to practise self-care. I am learning to say NO. I am learning that this is part of my journey. And it is helping me find myself, and teaching me to let go.

 

 

 

 

 

I am talking to my 6 year old son about Postpartum Depression. Here’s why

I have been talking to my son about Postpartum Depression (and mental health generally) lately, and there is a reason why. As a Postpartum Depression Survivor, I keep wondering, what if I had learnt about mental health way before I became a mom? What if this was part of our conversations? Wouldn’t it go a long way in reducing the stigma associated with mental health? Wouldn’t help my son learn about self care and help him comprehend some of the changes in mood he has seen in me? in himself? in the family?

Having gone public with my Postpartum Depression story (see this link), I realized that withholding accurate information on mental health from my son does no good. He might not understand it now, but in this day and age of the internet, he will learn about it sooner than later. And instead of leaving him to his own devices to figure it out, I am beginning the lessons early enough. If anything, I am hopeful this information helps him feel more secure and less fearful about mental illness.

Here’s how the conversation began: He asked what I have been doing ‘talking on TV’ and why ‘those TV people have not come back this year yet he has been waiting’. And so I figured this would be a wonderful note to start the topic. So, I told him when he was born, I was not able to handle a small baby well and my mind got a little sick. That made me sad and I used to cry sometimes. But I saw a doctor who helps treat the mind, and I got better. So, after that I started a ‘company’ (organization really) that helps moms whose minds are sick. He asked what company that was, and I said PPDKenya, even showing him some of the official documents.

Read More: PPDKenya provides psychosocial support for moms with Postpartum Depression (PPD)

He was quite inquisitive. He asked how and why the mind gets sick, what the doctor does and whether I would get sick again. To which I answered, the mind is a part of the body, like the leg, hand or head. And just like these other parts get sick, so can the mind. The doctor may give medicine to a mom to help her get better. Would my mind get sick again? (This had me undone to be honest, because it is a fear that lingers at the back of my mind.) I answered honestly, and at a level a 6 year old would understand: I could get sick again, anyone’s mind can get sick, but I am taking care of myself and doing what the doctor told me (during therapy). I assured him that talking about what worries our minds is one of the ways to take care of ourselves, and if he ever had any issues he could share them with me. He agreed (and has since admitted he doesn’t like it when I do XYZ, his heart feels sad when someone dies like my cucu did this past week, and that he feels like crying when the phone games hang..) It is encouraging to see him learn how to describe his emotions an put words to his feelings – it reminds me we are making progress.

Hopefully we can keep up this momentum as the days go by.

Sidenote: Ever since he saw the PPDKenya documents, he has been so enthusiastic to ‘help’ me run the organization, complete with writing posts on his ‘PPDKenya Notebook’. This warms my heart, that this tiny human believes in me to help other mommies, in his words ‘for their minds not to get sick’ 🙂

Letting go

I haven’t been here in a while, and it feels like dusting that sultry dress you were itching to buy, got it on offer… and never wore it for months on end. Before finally deciding to dress up, show up and strut in that dress.

I have been away from this space, and I will be honest and admit – it has been a mix of neglect, despair and questioning, lots of questioning. The past few months have been a rollercoaster of emotions. I am not quite sure exactly when the rain started beating, but when the year started out, I was hopeful, optimistic and enthusiastic. I’d just confirmed that at PPDKenya, we would be running our first support group therapy sessions in January. In the months leading up to the end of 2017, a few moms had gotten in touch and registered for the support group meetings. It was encouraging really, because this is something I had been wanting to do all of 2017 (but was holding back because of fear). And so the year began, with hope, enthusiasm and lots of gusto.

We had our first meeting on Saturday 13th January 2018, and it marked the beginning of a whole new chapter for PPDKenya. It was encouraging to hear the moms’ stories, see the passion and hope to get better and make a full recovery. Our meetings were bimonthly, so we met every other Saturday for a total of five sessions up until the second weekend of March 2018. Never before have I been so certain of what my purpose is, what I am meant to be doing and my small thing as far as touching lives is concerned.

Away from PPDKenya however, I was struggling to get work done. I have worked online as a freelance writer since late 2012, a few months after the birth of my son. This wasn’t part of the plan to be honest. I have a BSc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and had just began my career’s trajectory when I found out I was pregnant. Unprepared for this new role, wondering how I’d raise this child alone and having to move back to my family’s home meant my career took a backseat.

Part of the reason for this was I lost my job at about 7/8 months pregnant, and that threw me off balance. It was one of the factors that contributed to my Postpartum Depression (PPD). It is well known that financial constraints, unplanned pregnancies and raising a child single-handedly (whether due to the death of a spouse or a partner taking off when responsibility knocks) are all risk factors for PPD, as was the case for me.

Read more: Celebrating with PPDKenya support group 01

Without any source of income, I found it pretty hard to get a nanny so I could go job hunting. That is how I found myself looking online after a dear friend mentioned online jobs in passing. Initially, it was hard because having to meet deadlines when still learning how to wean, sleep train and just take care of my son is not a walk in the park. At the time too, I was struggling with PPD, found it incredibly hard to bond with my son, and would, from time to time, imagine a world without us both. I did experience suicide ideation too, and every other day it would feel too overwhelming… I have shared that in this post.

I eventually got help after attending therapy sessions with a counselling psychologist (who has since walked the journey with me) and made a full recovery. I continued to work from home, while managing this website. It certainly wasn’t what I studied for, but it paid the bills and so I kept going. As at the time of writing this post, it has been six years of working from home – pretty much all of my son’s life.

And it was great, until it wasn’t. My social life is well, non-existent. I was struggling to accept that my life as it is/was, revolves around my son – prepare him for school, drop him off at school, work until 3PM, pick him from school, prepare his snacks and dinner, spend time with him, put him to sleep, lay out his uniform… rinse, repeat, rewind. Add to this the mundaneness of daily house chores and I started to feel like I was losing myself in motherhood. Now, please get me right: I love my son, so much, I am grateful he came into my life and I appreciate these moments for they are fleeting. But at the back of my mind I asked myself, why do I feel like I lost myself in motherhood? Like I became a mom and everything I loved to do faded into the background? What happens when my son is out of the nest and I am left alone? Will I be struggling to pick up the pieces? To relearn who I am, not as a mom or daughter – but as an individual? Will I be struggling to fill my days because I know not who I am anymore and have no idea what I love to do?

Read More: Change

After six years of working from home I started to feel closed in, lost, flustered. The demands of the online job meant often, I couldn’t work on PPDKenya, which is where my heart truly is. I am passionate about raising awareness about PPD and walking with moms who are struggling. It fires me up, it makes me come alive, and it is so fulfilling. But I continually found myself typing the days away, letting go of my dreams. I can’t explain how frustrating it is, and slowly, I started to inch closer to the edge.

I’d wake up on some days and feel there was nothing to live for. I felt lost, overwhelmed and frustrated. I knew everything wasn’t okay when, for more than two weeks in recent months, I’d drop my son off to school and come back home to cry it out – till 3PM when I’d do a facial to try hide my swollen eyes from him. I’d write for hours on end, filling up my journal pages and emptying my thoughts. My mind was constantly racing and I couldn’t seem to catch a breath, ever. It was exhausting, physically, mentally and emotionally. I remember how, in despair, I admitted to a friend how I was tired of living, yet not wanting to die because I had so much to do with PPDKenya. I will add too, that I was not suicidal/ wasn’t having thoughts of harming myself or my child, and that’s hard to articulate. I felt like all I wanted to do was exist in a vacuum. Not live, not die – just exist. I am not sure that makes sense, but that’s the best way to explain it..

During this time, many thoughts crossed my mind. The racing thoughts:

  • Does PPDKenya even matter? Is anyone even reading what we do/ follow what we do online? We could simply close shop because it feels like it doesn’t matter, isn’t helping anyone.
  • My family supports me the best way they can, but I am letting them down.
  • I am not caring for my son like good moms ought to (regardless of the fact that it felt like my life revolved around him)
  • So many contacts on phone, so few people I feel I could talk to. (Also, some of my closest friends at the time were also fighting their own battles, and I was cognizant of the fact that they may not be available, and that is okay. But it didn’t take away from the loneliness.)
  • I feel suffocated; i feel like I am drowning and there is no way out.
  • I feel grossly inadequate, insignificant and unworthy – a failure really.

And the list goes on and on. I know that these thoughts are not the truth, but in a moment of utter overwhelm, there is no mental fortitude to fight back. And so, for a couple of months now I have been in that place, that dark place. A few days ago, I hit rock bottom and knew I had to get help. I had to ask for help, and I did. It brought hard truths to the surface. It made radical change a necessity if I was to get out of this mental space. It made me realize that nothing is worth it if it affects my mental health negatively – not a job, not a relationship, not manipulative relatives, not a toxic work environment. The mental fog is beginning to clear. Starting to feel a lot more like myself – it is hard, it is scary, it is beautiful.

 

 

OUT OF THIS LIFE – A photo exhibition on suicide in Kenya

“OUT OF THIS LIFE – Let’s talk suicide. This is an invitation to a necessary dialogue in any society that condemns suicide because of cultural, religious, or social reasons.”

My friend Patricia Esteve is holding an exhibition aptly titled ‘Out of This Life’ to shed light and have conversation on a taboo subject in our community – suicide. According to Patricia, “This is a documentary project, which gathers the experiences of people in Kenya who have tried to commit suicide or who have lost a loved one to suicide. Using photography I collect their testimonies throughout the country, on the stigma surrounding suicide as well as the social and legal injustice they face.”

Did you know that according to the Kenyan Law, anyone who attempts to commit suicide is guilty of a crime? What’s more, the sentence for such a crime is two years in prison, a fine, or both. This appalling, and need I add archaic, decriminalization of an act that results from mental health disorders only does more to stigmatize and shame the people struggling. Often times, a suicide attempt is a cry for help, which is precisely why this exhibition is well timed if the increase in suicide cases lately is anything to go. (See this link). As someone who struggled with suicide ideation when I had Postpartum Depression, this project is dear to my heart.

Read More: On suicide ideation – The hardest post I ever had to write

The exhibition, which opened on 19th April 2018, tells the story of suicide, from the eyes of those who have flirted with the idea, attempted and survived, and the caregivers of those who have died by suicide (Please note, I wrote died by suicide – not committed suicide. It is part of the language of mental health. When we say committed suicide, there is the implication of doing so willingly, yet we are all aware suicide is one of the symptoms of a wide range of mental health conditions. Saying died by suicide therefore, is the very same way we would say someone died from any other health condition. Whew, I feel like I need to do a blogpost on this).

I walked in late (thanks Nairobi traffic), to find the credits rolling to the video Patricia had put together, after which she gave a small speech and thanked everyone for showing up. I took a moment to breathe in and out before going round the exhibition. The very first photo I saw was of this lady, face covered with a black shawl, a red dress and black stockings. I know this lady inside and outside, because that was me, deep in the throes of PPD, back in 2015.

Suicide. Open Spaces. depresión post parto .
Samaine´s story.

Patricia reached out and asked whether I would get on board with her project, which I did and share my story on living with PPD. Seeing those photos (they were two, one where I was with my then 3-year old son) tugged at my heart in a way I cannot quite explain. There was a sense of amazement – at how far we have come with J, and there was a lingering sense of relief. Relief because PPD had pushed me to the very edge of suicide ideation – but we survived because we got help, and can now offer psychosocial support for moms through PPDKenya support groups. The silent tears came and I requested a friend to let me have a moment to myself.

There are a few other photos that really stood out, which I will share below.

Photo Credits: Patricia Esteve

Go check out the exhibition guys! Patricia has done an amazing job with this exhibition. Check out her website here.

It runs up to the 27th of April 2018, between 10am and 6pm at the Kenya Cultural Centre (Kenya National Theatre) on Harry Thuku Road. entry is free!

YAY! We finally got PPDKenya support group therapy underway!

This past weekend is probably the highlight of the year (so far) because it ushered in a new chapter for PPDKenya. See, I have, for the longest time, been so scared of stepping out and just starting! So guarded up, and so fearful of failure, that at one point I considered shutting down this website and deleting its social media pages. Frustration and fear will have you throwing in the towel reaaalll fast (not that this is something I have dealt with in entirety, I am still learning and unlearning). So, anyway, this past Saturday we had our very first support group therapy  meeting! I cannot put in words how exciting – and nervous- this was. It was a dream come true.

Read More: Why is a PPD support group important?

Of the seven who had confirmed, four showed up. The rest, for a number of reasons, could not make it. Which is okay really. For a start, this exceeded my expectations. PPD Kenya intends to create a safe space for moms and dads struggling with postpartum depression to express themselves and begin their recovery journey. By creating a small intimate circle, we are able to reach out to the moms and help them make a full recovery. By we, I mean PPDKenya and Royal Fountain Counselling Services (RFCS). RFCS is headed by a qualified psychologist who brings on the professional angle to the therapy groups, while as a survivor, I offer peer support for the moms and dads. Note: For a number of the participants, there is need to see a psychiatrist as there are some severe cases on board.

This was just a post to give a headsup and say thank you to each and everyone who came, and to RFCS for making this possible. I also created a Twitter thread for the same. Please check it out on our Twitter Page.

PS: We decided to hold the support group therapy meetings on alternate Saturdays as the moms felt every Saturday for the next 5 Saturdays would be too restrictive. So, our next meeting will be on Saturday 27th January 2018. Here is a rundown of the details in summary:

When: Saturday 27th January 2018
Time: 11AM to 1PM
Where: Princess Park Apartments, Kabarnet Road, off Ngong Rd
Cost: Kshs 2500 for ALL 5 sessions held on alternate Saturdays (Payable through MPESA to 0717 040090)
RSVP Required.

Email ppdisland@gmail.com or call 0733 424 361 for more details

 

 

Registration for PPDKenya support group therapy meetings is now open!

Happy New Year 2018!!

It is my sincere hope the new year has began well for you, and that you are looking forward with enthusiasm to accomplish your set goals. At PPDKenya, we are excited to embark on a new chapter that seeks to provide psychotherapy help to moms and dads affected by Postpartum Depression (PPD) and other perinatal mood disorders. This was birthed by the need to reach out to more parents following numerous inquiries last year on the formation of a support group. Check out this post here for the basic on the support group structure.

In light of this, PPDKenya has partnered with Royal Fountain Counselling Services to lead the group therapy sessions. These sessions will be facilitated by a professional counselling psychologist and moderated by a PPD survivor (aka yours truly :). We look forward to hearing from you. Below are the details for the meetings. Please feel free to get in touch for any inquiries or clarifications. Note too, that it would be amazing if you RSVP’d using the form included at the end of this post.

Summary Details

When: Saturday 13th January 2018
Time: 11AM to 1PM
Where: Princess Park Apartments, Kabarnet Road, off Ngong Rd
Cost: Kshs 2500 for ALL 5 sessions held on alternate Saturdays (Payable through MPESA to 0717 040090)
RSVP Required.

Email ppdisland@gmail.com or call 0733 424 361 for more details

Please click on this link to fill in the registration form and we will get back to you.

 

 

 

 

17 things in 2017

So, *drum rolls*, 2017 is finally coming to an end, and what a year it has been. If I had to use three words to describe it:  a stretching season, heartbreaks and vulnerability. Looking back, I think this was one of those years where, had I known what curve balls life would throw, maybe I’d have skipped it altogether and re-joined  yall in 2018 (chuckles). That said, I thought to put up a post with highlights, lessons and memories from 2017 (in a nutshell), because it is always good to reflect and put some perspective to past experiences for posterity’s sake. Here are 17 things in 2017.

 

  1. I am exactly where I am meant to be, in the grandness of life, and my journey is mine alone to make. It is often easy to forget (and hard to believe in all honesty), that we are right where we are meant to be, but over the years, I realized how profoundly true this is. Every experience – the good, the bad, the ugly- moulds me to be a better human, if I allow it. So even in the thick of things, I remind myself that it is part of the journey.
  2. Family matters, family is important. Always grateful my family supported me the best way they could when I was struggling with Postpartum Depression, and even now, they are an anchor and my support system.
  3. Life is about seasons, and reasons. People will walk into your life, some for a season, and some for a lifetime. I think one of the most important (and heartbreaking things) for me this year was the realization that for some friendships, the season had ended. What started out as a beautiful friendship, had run its course through life’s issues and my friends and I had drifted apart. The visits become fewer, the calls sparse and the texts spaced out. And it is okay to know when the seasons have changed – that’s just how life is.
  4. In the same breath, it is okay to walk away from toxic relationships, places and spaces. You owe it to yourself to have peace of mind, and if something or someone doesn’t grow you, then it is only wise to walk away. Here’s the thing I realized, it takes so much courage to walk away from toxicity and to own your space. Here’s to shedding dead weight in 2018.
  5. Grief is not linear. I realized this when guka passed on in August this year, and I blogged about it here. Grief is personal, so people who’ve experienced loss will express it differently. Some wail, some cry for days on end, some lock up their emotions for days and then break down after the funeral… however one does it is really up to them (provided it is addressed, otherwise it never really goes away).
  6. Sometimes you just need to plunge and do it anyway. It’s been one year since my son and I moved from home, and what an exhilarating ride it has been. Fell in love with my not-so-new town, and making beautiful memories.
  7. Health is wealth. So many times we take good health for granted, until hospital visits remind us to be grateful. This year I learnt, if I am healthy, then I am wealthy because it means I have the capacity to chase after my dreams and goals. And when the kids are not sick, there is so much to be grateful for.
  8. Change is good. Change is scary. Change is inevitable.
  9. Journaling is such a profound tool. This year, in the midst of my storms, I have learnt to put my thoughts down in their raw and unedited form. It’s therapy, putting words on paper. It is exhaling. It is venting. It is clarity. It is the purest form of expression in my opinion.
  10. Take time to be spontaneous and adventurous. (I am giving you the side eye Tina). Sometimes, in the humdrum of daily life, it is easy to lose glimpse of our sparkle, what makes us shine, what makes us, US. Sometimes, breaking away from this monotony with a random adventure is the way to go.
  11. Love is a beautiful thing, start with the person in the mirror.
  12. Cherish the moments with family, friends and loved ones. A day will come when those will be the last moments to hold on too.
  13. Be kind, but kind does not equate a doormat.
  14. The sum experiences that make our life are inextricably linked to why we are still alive. And this is one of the highlights of my year. PPDKenya is finally starting support group therapy sessions from January 2018. More details in this post.
  15. Dream big. Write the vision down, it will not tarry. I remember way back, watching Victoria’s Lounge and thinking how awesome it would be to be on her show. Well, that did happen, and the show aired mid this year, and we are grateful for the feedback and the many moms who reached out. In all honesty, this did give the impetus to start the support group therapy. If you missed it, catch the video here.
  16. Mental health matters. Mental health illness can affect anyone, regardless of their colour, social status, educational background or religion. Mental health matters.
  17. Thankful to God for yet another year. I cannot wait to see what 2018 holds in store.

Happy New Year everyone! And thank you for reading and sharing on the blog.

Featured Image shot at Olooseos Resort

We have good news!! PPDKenya is finally launching physical support groups!

December is finally here – 2017 has been a long year (well, for many of us). Personally, it has been the one year that stretched me in just about every aspect – emotionally, financially and physically (because the weight settled in, haha to all the cake). But it has also been the year in which I have grown and learned – still learning – to embrace change, because change is the only permanent thing in life. It has been a journey in every sense of the word. Some days exciting and full of purpose, others dreary and depressive. We pulled through, and ultimately that’s what matters.

This and last month has felt like an unending struggle day in day out, in part because my son fell ill first week after closing school and then after that I started to feel myself lose the grip on what PPDKenya is all about, whether there’s any impact it’s having and if it is worth anything. I found myself utterly disillusioned, and just not having any energy to come back to this space. And so, I took a break. I spoke to a few pals and two things stirred me up to get on here and begin to share on something I have always wanted to start on, hence the good news.

Read More: This is why I speak out about PPD

My pal KK reminded me of his journey as a photographer (who by the way, does a fabulous job. Check out his IG account here), and why he started. His mission is to make beautiful memories. That is his why. He asked me to remember my ‘why’. I recalled how, when I started this blog, I was all about creating awareness and helping moms struggling with postpartum Depression (PPD). That was, still is my ‘why’. This had somehow faded into the background, toppled over by the demands of motherhood and a seemingly unending load of work in the quest to get some money. And in a few months it started to feel like a daunting task, just to get up and come back here. Reminded of my ‘why’, I am slowly crawling back to this place.

Second thing that stirred me up is when I talked to a lady who works in the mental health field and I was interested in additional resource material. She recommended my website to me (at which point I chuckled because I hadn’t mentioned it to her), and said she had been referring moms to it as a helpful reference point alongside medical help. It was humbling and encouraging to hear this, which is why it stirred me to come back to the place where my words find a home.

Read More: PPD – the conversation on Victoria’s Lounge

For the longest time, I have wanted to start support group therapy for moms and dads dealing with PPD. It has always been the underlying need to do more than just the TV and print interviews – to reach out and offer psychosocial support to those struggling with the aim of connecting them to professional help. I am reminded of my son’s early years when I desperately looked for  support group or forum that addressed PPD and couldn’t find any. In retrospect, maybe this would have helped. It is the reason why, after months of hesitating and self-doubt, it is time to launch and start a new chapter on the blog, hence the good news.

We are finally starting support group therapy sessions in 2018! *insert ululation*. Many moms have reached out and asked about this, so there’s a need for such a safe space. PPDKenya has partnered with Royal Fountain Counselling Services (RFCS) to offer group therapy sessions at a very subsidized fee. At the core of these meetings is the need to offer support and walk the journey through recovery with those suffering from PPD. This professional-led group will offer information, support, and tools to help you in your recovery journey. Anyone affected by PPD need not struggle alone because there’s help available, and they can recover.

Details:

  • The first meeting is slated for Saturday 13th January 2018 at a venue to be confirmed. The cost of all the five sessions is KShs. 2500 (which translates to 500 per session). This is heavily subsidized to ensure that help is closer to those affected, while offering a chance for parents to connect and share their experiences in a confidential setting.
  • A cycle is typically made of 5 sessions spread over two months. The support group meetings will be held on alternate Saturdays, so the first will be on 13th Jan, the next on 27th Jan and so on. We thought this to be flexible for most people.
  • Once a cycle begins, the participants will typically attend all 5 sessions before another new cycle begins with new participants. This is done to help ensure that those affected get the most of the support groups.

In Summary:

Date: Saturday 13th January 2018, from 11AM to 1PM (and thereafter at the same time on alternate Saturdays)

Venue: TBA

Fee: Kshs 2500 (Note that this is for all 5 sessions)

Please email on ppdisland@gmail.com or call +254 733 424 361 to register for the support group therapy meetings or to make inquiries. We look forward to hearing from you. Do not forget to like the Facebook Page here and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

Ramblings on motherhood, toys and straws

These holidays have been an emotional rollercoaster for me and mine. The school holidays began with a bang. My heart was bursting with gratitude and just the sheer amazement that we made it this far. Here, my not-so little boy, all grown, graduating from kindergarten to Primary school (wrote about it here). It was a big moment, I still look back and I’m like whoa, see God. (You may never understand the magnitude of this milestone if you never had to struggle with depression that made you question your ability and worth as a mom. I have blogged about this here and here and here as well).

So, anyhow, graduation came to an end and the very next week he was admitted to hospital, and discharged after almost a week. Mom and baby were ecstatic to have him in great health. Then mom got the infection and off I was to hospital. Took a couple of days off, and was better. Right after that, kid had a stomach bug and it was back to hospital. To say this was a rough ride is to put it mildly. I was really scared, and my thoughts were going crazy. (PS: Has any of you moms ever made the silent prayer that says, I’d rather be sick than my child gets unwell… then you actually get sick and are unable to cater for the child’s needs? I’m like – this is twisted irony 🙂 )

Read More: 7 Gross things moms do (admit it, you have done one of these!)

Fast forward to now, we are both in great health and are thankful for that. And we are back to bouncing off walls and off each other. Don’t go just yet, I am going somewhere with this post… So, J has an affinity for drinking straws, the disposable ones. A weird affinity that sometimes irks me because, I just don’t understand why anyone ought to take their yoghurt in a cup using a straw – but maybe therein lies the wonder and amazement of a child’s life.

Now, drinking with the straws is no big deal per se. It’s what follows once that happens which gets on my nerves. The not-so-empty cup is left on the table, and the straw leaning over. It’s easy to drop the cup by simply having the swish of my cardigan touch the end of the straw. For whatever reason, this is one of those pet peeves I have always had.

How does it relate to the hospital visits? The few days we were at hospital got me thinking how we as parents take so much for granted. We have this misguided illusion of immortality. There is all the time in the world, we think to ourselves. Until sickness jolts us back to reality. The other day I looked at him playing on the floor, strewn with all his toys, LEGO blocks, and my pens and pencils. On the table, the yoghurt cup and straw he had just used. For a split second I wanted to scold him and ask him to clean up.

Read More: Lessons from my son’s bag of toys

Then it struck me, when he was sick, I prayed and hoped that he would get back his health because at the time, I certainly preferred a messy house to a sick child. And here he was, playing, all energetic – yet I was inwardly grumbling at the sight of the messy floor. It struck me that one day, when this rambunctious little boy is all grown, there may never be a messy floor again.

I realized that a time will come, when there will be the last straw – quite literally. When he is taller than mommy, and has a deep voice to go with it, I may never need to tell him to discard the straw and drop the cup in the sink, because he will not be so little anymore. A time will come when there will not be the pattering of little feet up the staircase, a time when the warmth of morning cuddles and wet cheek kisses will be few and in-between.

This struck me because the inquisitive and wondrous stage we are in will not last forever. The genuine sparkle of his brown eyes when he makes a discovery may not be so obvious in a few years to come. I am making an intentional decision to enjoy this stage, to enjoy the endless stories even when I’d rather be scrolling down the gram, to enjoy the balloon games and blowing bubbles while they last – not forgetting the cartoons on JimJam. As I write this, my work desk is filled with toys, and you guessed right – a cup of yoghurt.

 

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