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.

 

 

 

 

Lifting the lid on postpartum depression

It is always an honor to be featured on someone else’s blog because it means one thing: more people are reading (and learning, hopefully) about Postpartum depression (PPD). I will never tire of talking about this form of depression, in part because i know how much mental health sucks. I am grateful for the different platforms I have been featured on (see this page). Today’s post was one featured by Kalekye Kasina, an award-winning journalist with a passion for health matters, which is how I got to share my story with her.

I met Kalekye at a volunteer meet-up organized by Carol Ng’anga, founder of the HELD organization  – an organization that offers help for those affected by cancer as well as creates awareness on the same. I am always amazed at the resilience and sheer determination to forge forward by Carol and her team. So, anyway, the volunteer meet-up yielded friendships, and this post is one of the fruits of the same. Thank you Kalekye for highlighting postpartum depression and the reason moms need to get help.

Read the featured post by clicking on this link.

Happy reading! And remember, you are not alone in this. Do get in touch using the contact page if you need any clarifications or would like to speak to a professional.

Image credits

#postpartumdepression: The conversation on Victoria’s Lounge

“I believe we need to get to a place where maternal mental health will not be stigmatized, and struggling moms can know that they are not alone, that help is available for them”

In my darkest days when I struggled with postpartum depression, this is the one thing I really wanted to hear, the one thing I really needed to hear: that I was not alone, that I could get help, that I was not a bad mother for my inability to bond with my son. Sometimes I wonder, what if I had heard about #postpartumdepression before? What if, by chance I saw someone tweet about it, or vent about their struggles on Facebook? Would that have made me better placed to handle it? I will never know. What I do know is that I would never want any other mom to go through PPD, yet the sad glaring truth is that 1 in 9 moms will experience PPD [source]

This is the reason I am glad to have been part of a panel on Victoria’s Lounge hosted by the ever graceful Victoria Rubadiri. Alongside these phenomenal ladies, the conversation centered on PPD. What are the risk factors associated with this form of depression? What are the symptoms you need to look out for? What treatment options are available? What does it feel like to be depressed when you just had a new baby?

The show airs on Thursday (22nd June 2017) on NTV at 8:00pm. Tune in and tell a friend to tell a friend.

 

Update: The wonderful team at Victoria’s Lounge put up the link on YouTube, so you might want to check that here

 

World Maternal Mental Health Day (WMMHD)

Today, May 3rd 2017, is World Maternal Mental Health Day. In fact, all of this week is World Maternal Mental Health (WMMH) Week. It is observed in the first week of May (from 1st), and just as the name suggests, this week serves to raise awareness on, not just Postpartum depression (PPD), but other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs).

In many parts across the globe, as many as 1 in 5 women will experience some form of PMADs. The fact that many of these conditions go unchecked, coupled with their devastating effects is more than enough reason for WMMH week. Women, regardless of their age, social status, religion, education and social influence, can be affected.

Read More: Postpartum Depression, What is that again?

The symptoms of these PMADs show up between pregnancy and 12 months after child delivery. These symptoms are varied, and affect women differently. The good news is that there is help available. Moms need not suffer in silence, but the question remains, is there enough awareness on maternal mental health issues? And how else would we raise awareness other than talk about maternal mental health, sensitize the community, reduce stigma and remind women they are not alone?

Part of the reason why WMMH week is observed globally is to change attitudes because, there is no health without mental health. Raising awareness will steer social change and encourage affected women to speak up and ask for help.

Remember: you do not have to suffer alone in silence. Get in touch through the contact page (confidential) if you need to speak to a professional.

This is why I kept my Postpartum Depression a secret

“Awwww, he is so chubby and adorable, look at him…”

I often got this when my son was still an infant, never mind that he is now a grown champ who prefers bouncing off walls and seats to, well, sitting still for 5 microseconds, (comes with the age I guess. We are at five now). These words, while very well-meaning, were like an empty reverberating echo in my mind.

‘Couldn’t they see I was struggling with motherhood? Couldn’t they see the hollow posts I put in my coded Facebook updates? Perhaps if they looked closely, they could see the hollowness in my sleep-deprived eyes…’

Maybe they couldn’t see it. Even if they did, maybe they couldn’t understand what I was going through. That was it!

They may never understand why bonding was so incredibly hard, why the proverbial blissful motherhood feelings seemed to elude me, why many of my nights were spent muffling my tears in the already soaked pillow.

Read More: Getting Help

They may never understand what it is like to suffer in such silence, struggling with every passing moment. What words would explain that though I struggled to bond with my son, I cringed at the thought of been his mommy because I felt he deserved better? Because I felt I was a bad mom who would never redeem the lost moments?

These thoughts are the reason I kept my Postpartum Depression a secret.

Because they wouldn’t understand…

Because motherhood comes naturally for moms…

Because ‘you should be grateful you have a healthy baby’…

Because, why can’t you snap out of it…

Simply put, because of the stigma that comes when moms admit they are struggling with depression after a safe delivery. PPD Island was birthed out of the need to stamp out this stigma and create awareness on PPD, one post at a time. So that moms are not ashamed to admit they are struggling with motherhood. So that moms can ask for help without going on a guilt trip. So that our society is aware that Postpartum Depression is real.

Featured Image: Patricia Esteve

Antenatal depression and what you need to know

I was talking to a friend recently, and they mentioned something that gave me the idea to pen this post. She asked, paraphrased,

“Looking back, were you able to tell anything was amiss [when you were pregnant]?”

My thoughts ran back to 2011. All of 2011, for the most part, was a blur – Pregnant, single and very confused. Looking back, now I see the red flags I missed. The constant tearing  (I remember walking downtown and just crying, not the pretty crying – I am talking bloodshot eyes, mucus and lots of tissue-), the sleepless nights I would lay awake wondering what this baby was going to eat (this baby who is now all of 5 years going 15), the drastic mood shifts and everything in between.

Little did I know that these were the early warning signs I was at risk of depression. Then I lost my job in the third trimester and everything just seemingly reeled out of control in my world. The thoughts of been unable to cater for baby’s needs were the catalyst for the Postpartum depression I suffered after his birth. In retrospect, there were all the signs that not everything was fine, but I remember thinking, ‘ah, it shall pass. Maybe it’s the hormones…’

Read More: 8 things to know when you visit a new mom

Today, I would love to share on antenatal depression. Why? Because it is often the precursor to Postpartum depression (PPD). Antenatal depression, just as the name suggests, is depression that occurs during pregnancy. While this is not perhaps as well known as PPD, it still is prevalent. According to PANDAS UK, around 1 in 10 moms will be depressed during their pregnancy. This is a sobering fact because 1 in 7 moms are at risk of PPD.

The causes of antenatal depression are broadly categorized into three: social, emotional and physical causes. Socially, some of the causes include lack of a support framework during pregnancy, an absent partner and generally, the stigma associated with depression. Given that the older generation typically may not have been aware of the different mental illnesses, it is easy to see why all these factors predispose a mom to antenatal depression.

Emotionally, the thought of bringing new life is often overwhelming, whether it is the first child or the fourth one. Add to this the fact that moms who voice their concerns are often told that the drastic mood swings are as a result of hormonal changes (what I thought at the time), and there’s not much that can be done about it.

Read More: Struggling with PPD? Here’s what you may want to avoid

The physical changes that come with pregnancy may predispose some moms to antenatal depression. The drastic changes include engorged breasts, extreme fatigue especially in the last trimester, swollen legs, bladder distress and heartburn among others, place a lot of stress on the body. Getting through the day sometimes get so so exhausting. It is little surprise therefore, that some women fall into antenatal depression.

With these in mind, it is important to look out for the symptoms of antenatal depression. These symptoms are eerily similar to those of PPD. The only difference is the onset that marks each of the perinatal mood disorders.

Symptoms of antenatal depression

  • Guilty feelings
  • Endless bouts of crying (as was my case)
  • Withdrawing from social circles, that is a mom-to-be is no longer interested in been around the people who mean the world to her. This is often accompanied by loss of interest in activities/hobbies they previously enjoyed.
  • A crippling fear of what the future holds, whether one will be able to care for the baby well.
  • Low energy levels
  • Appetite changes (one is either eating too much or too little)
  • Thoughts of self-harm
  • Fearing to speak out and ask for help
  • Recurrent sleepless nights for some moms

Left unchecked, antenatal depression affects the mom after birth and they go on to suffer from PPD. Therapy is a common method of treatment for moms with antenatal depression. If you have any concerns as a mom-to-be, remember there is no shame in reaching out for help. You are better off wrong (meaning you do not have antenatal depression) than fail to ask for help and suffer under the haze of this form of depression.

 

 

 

Postpartum Depression: My Story

Growing up as a little girl, I envisioned the Cinderella wedding, complete with bows, pink and Prince Charming. Then the babies would follow, and it would be blissful, and we would grow old and live happily thereafter. Only, that this is not what unraveled. I remember vividly the moment I found out I was expecting. A flurry of emotions that are hard to capture in words flooded every fiber of my being. I was ecstatic at the thought of bringing a little human into this world. I was scared too of what seemed like (and actually turned out to be) such a gargantuan task. Many days I was anxious of the journey ahead, and for a good reason.

Before conception, I had just started working at my new job and was so excited for the potential it showed. I had a great social life, loved traveling, hanging out with my friends, and was the typical party animal. Life at 22 was great…until I saw the two lines that changed my life forever. “No, I am not ready for this.” “How would the sudden shift change my life’s trajectory?” These thoughts plagued my mind with such relentless zeal. The struggle of whether to walk this journey or change it kept me at the same spot for days on end.

Read More: Night Terrors: Why my son kept waking up at night

I recall, with such clarity, the scary nightmares I’d get around this time. Grotesque bloody mess on my hand, unending baby cries all night and a terrifying aura that enveloped me during these moments in my sleep. I’d wake up in a huff, panting, sweaty and disoriented. Eventually, I opted to keep the baby. A threatened abortion threw me off balance in the 5th month, and in retrospect, was one of the subtle reasons I slowly gravitated towards depression (as I would later come to realize).

Save for that, my pregnancy was fluid for the most part. Towards the end of the third trimester, I lost my job, and with that, went reeling faster into a depressive state. Single parenthood beckoned, jobless and utterly clueless on how to bring a child into this world. Little did I know that financial constraints are one of the risk factors associated with Postpartum Depression (PPD). Early January of 2012, I got a healthy bouncing baby boy through normal delivery. Here’s the thing: I was certain there was going to be pain, just how much I did not know.

The trauma of labor and child delivery would leave in my mind harrowing memories which made it even harder to cope with my new status. The first two weeks were a haze of sleep deprivation, colic, yellow-mustard like diapers and a whole lot of exhaustion. This is not what I had signed up for. Where were all the perfect happiness moms were supposed to experience in the wake of their baby’s arrival? When would I experience the magic charm of motherhood? I despaired. Not only couldn’t I bond with my son, I slowly started growing resentful. I resented my son and motherhood and all of society’s norms and nuances for the same. I didn’t realize it then but I was slowly teetering on the edge of losing myself in motherhood – and along with it, my sanity.

Read More: Every June

The resentment increased three-fold before morphing into anger. This was quite unlike the ‘normal’ anger – it was fiery, it was intense and it was irrational. Anything and everything was cause for such ire. There’s a pile of laundry to be done, food to be cooked, diapers to be changed and satellite TV having issues. All these left me so angry, it scared me. My turning point came one day in my son’s 5th month. Having had an unsettled night, and struggling in the haze of another hopeless morning, I was at my most vulnerable.

The incessant crying did not help much, and the next thing I knew, I had slapped his fragile body. For a few seconds, time stood still as my mind raced to grasp the reality of what I had just done. I was undone, broken, disappointed and angry at myself for not been able to be a good mom. After this particular incident, I started toying with the idea of suicide. In my head, I kept wondering what the point of life was if I could not take care of my son and meet his emotional needs. The worst thing about these intrusive thoughts was, I wanted out, but just did not seem to muster enough strength to do it.

Over the next few days, I sought online to find out why I possibly hated my son and couldn’t bond with him. A whole new world opened up to me, providing relief and more trepidation in equal measure. There was such a thing as Postpartum Depression. Statistics show 1 in 7 moms are at risk of Postpartum depression. Was I the 1 in 7? I ingested this information with gusto, because it empowered me to know I could be better. Some of the symptoms of Postpartum Depression include anger, irritability, intrusive thoughts, appetite changes and insomnia. Reading through this was encouraging, in part because I somewhat had an idea of what I was going through.

At the time, I could not get medical help, largely because I was still jobless. And so I found myself a virtual circle of warrior moms on Postpartum Progress – moms who had been through PPD and conquered it. I began to see some light at the end of the tunnel. A couple of friends stood with me during this time, offering a shoulder to lean on those difficult days. I would not be here had my family not supported me. These are the pillars that held me together.

Watch: Interview with Family Media on Postpartum Depression

In July 2015, I took to writing this blog and go public about my struggles with Postpartum Depression as an outlet. This, alongside journaling, proved very therapeutic. One year later, I finally did manage to get therapy that was immensely helpful. Looking back at my journey, and how difficult it was for both of us, I made up my mind to create awareness of Postpartum Depression. Most moms are suffering like I did, in silence, not sure whether their struggles are ‘valid’.

Through my online awareness campaign, I would love to have everyone know that PPD is a mental health disorder like any other, and for which there is help available. That they are not alone in the quest for normalcy as they adjust to the changes, and above all, that they matter. One of the most fulfilling things is having moms reach out for help without feeling stigmatized, and been able to direct them to professionals for medical assistance. I am hopeful for a country where there is less stigma surrounding mental health disorders. We can change this narrative, one post, one tweet, one conversation at a time.

This post first appeared on Standard’s uReport platform here.

Onwards

Just one year ago I started this blog as a space to express myself, to share my experience and ultimately to help a mom who may be suffering from Postpartum Depression (PPD). In just one year, it has grown to be a great space, both for me and for the moms I get to interact with on here as well as on my social pages. I see growth on here, I see strides made forward, and while there is still so much groundwork to cover in terms of awareness, I am hopeful that we can change this narrative, one story, one tweet, one post at a time.

Looking back and seeing how far we have come, and are still going had me in introspection mode. Then, chatting a friend recently, he asked me whether I was scared of getting PPD second time around. I paused, I sipped my tea and let that thought sink in. Scary? Yes of course, for the simple reason that if one has had PPD, they are at risk of getting it after subsequent births. At risk – that is the key word. This is not a guarantee that one will sink into depression, but certainly warrants a thought.

Read More: To Those I Hurt

Barring the circumstances that surrounded the birth of my son, I am hopeful actually, that I shall not battle the demons of PPD with baby #2. Let me make it clear, however, that a lot of work goes into this progress. Knowing some of the risk factors associated with PPD, and working to eliminate them is a good place to start. Putting deliberate effort in the following goes a long way in reducing the risk of PPD –  a planned pregnancy, getting a baby whilst financially stable as well as surrounding myself with positive support systems are some of the things I would do differently.

Secondly, I am hopeful and excited l that the coping skills I learnt during my therapy sessions will come in handy. This is a constant work in progress. There are some tough days when I question whether I am slowly sliding to those dark days, then I remind myself that the aim of therapy was not to make me a perfect mom, but to help me be the best version of myself.

Read  More: Takeaway lessons from therapy session II

I would also like to add that the growth in my spiritual walk has made a huge difference. Knowing that, even while I couldn’t see it, God was working behind the scenes so I could be in a position to help moms struggling to cope with motherhood and PPD. Meditation, prayer and Bible Study are some of the things in my coping toolbox. Ultimately, PPD has stretched me a whole lot. I like to think I am a better person and mom than I was before therapy kicked off.

PS:  Do click on the ‘Follow’ button to the right of this post 🙂  Do not be afraid to drop by in the comment section below as well and let me know your thoughts. If you need help, or someone to talk to, drop me a line at ppdisland@gmail.com

 

I remember.

I remember seeing the two lines and spending the rest of the day in a haze, alternating between contagious excitement and intense anxiety,

I remember thinking twice, no thrice, actually multiple times about my abilities as a mom-to-be,

I remember getting through the craves and aversions, and always having an excuse that ‘baby does not want this or that’,

Then the fluttery kicks began and I fell in love with someone I was yet to meet,

Read More: 10 Things I would Tell My Pregnant Self

I remember drinking cold water and the kicks would set in earnestly,

I remember staring down at my belly and not been able to catch a glimpse of my toes,

I remember the build up to D-day during the Christmas festivities and waddling around home waiting to pop,

All my expectations, all my hopes, all my excitement, I anticipated motherhood, but still had a few worries at the back of my mind. Single parenting seemed so daunting, yet, here I was already.

I became a mom one fine Tuesday morning, and with it my life changed forever.

The whole labour and delivery process, while without complications, really got to me,

I remember the sleepless nights like it were yesterday,

The incessant crying, the inexplicable shrieks, the colic episodes dead in the night, all of which culminated in sleepless nights for days on end,

I was starting to lose my sanity, slowly under the weight of the demands that new motherhood places on women. I remember that bonding with my newborn was not automatic the way I had anticipated.

Read More: Angst

But weren’t moms meant to enjoy this blissful stage? Why couldn’t I? Why was I so irritable, and so damn angry?

I remember the intense anger and bitterness I harbored, perfectly masked in social settings, but aptly pulled down at dusk when the world went to sleep and I was left fighting the depression demons, feeling hopeless, helpless and utterly inadequate to be a mom.

I remember crying on many days and nights, the sobs soaking my pillow and hair, his soft breathing on my chest as he nursed. I couldn’t reconcile what I felt with what I expected before he was born. I was at a loss of words and totally broken on the inside.

I remember questioning my abilities as a mom, and slowly sliding into a dark hole. It felt lonely, it was lonely.  No one seemed to understand.

I remember Googling ‘Why do I hate my baby so much’ and learning that there was a high likelihood I was suffering from Postpartum Depression. This flooded my heart with relief, as it did fear, fear of the unknown.

I remember learning just about everything I could on Postpartum Depression (PPD) because information is power, and because it was helpful knowing I was not alone in this. The virtual communities and forums created for Postpartum Depression were a huge blessing.

Read More: Inspired by these blogs

I remember vividly the struggle of walking through the haze of Postpartum Depression, wondering whether it will ever get better. I am glad it did, I am glad I got help. To think there’s a mama struggling right now, is why I am passionate about creating more awareness on PPD.

I remember, and so I will speak more about Postpartum Depression.

If you suspect you may be suffering from Postpartum Depression, do not be afraid to ask for help. Talk to your doctor about it or get in touch on the Contact Page and we will direct you to professionals. If you are looking for a comprehensive resource center for the same, do check out Postpartum Progress.