Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Postpartum Depression (PPD): Day 4 - getting help

Now that we've talked about what PPD is, the risk factors for it and the signs/symptoms, how does a person get help? It's hard to admit you need help, I know it is. But there's no reason to suffer through it alone or prolong getting help. It's not your fault. You are not alone. You can get help and be well again and things will be so much better for you and for your family. You can start to move forward again.

First of all, tell someone what you're feeling. Your spouse, friend, mom, sister, whoever. Just reach out and connect with someone and then go from there.

Next, call your OB-GYN. They should be made aware of the situation quickly and should know of some resources in the area to help you. But I would not rely on them alone. As I mentioned, my OB prescribed an anti-depressant over the phone, then scheduled a psychiatric appointment for a week later. She did not direct me to the local support group or PPD clinic in town. I ended up in the hospital before that appointment she made ever happened.

When you do call them, insist they get you in right away, and then in the meantime go to Postpartum Support International's website. They have lots of information on PPD as well as a listing of local resources by state, including local PSI support volunteers who can get you in touch with professionals who counsel women experiencing PPD and support groups in your state. I personally volunteer for this agency and have in South Carolina, Florida and now Kansas. I know firsthand how dedicated these volunteers are in getting help for any woman who needs it without judgment of any kind.

Here's an example of resources in South Carolina, where I went through my experience. I attended the support group in Columbia for a couple of years. There are also extensive resources in Florida. Some states don't have as many, but if you contact PSI  you can be sure you will have someone to talk to (one of the volunteer coordinators) about your situation and someone to track down help for you and also direct you to online resources.

There is an active online support group and other online resources as well.

In addition to counseling and medication, I talked to lots of women who had been through or were going through the same thing, mostly in the support group. I am not exaggerating when I say it was the single most important thing I did. I knew I wasn't alone. I realized these women - all of whom were bright, wonderful, caring women - had felt all the same things I did. We shared our stories more openly than we probably would have with anyone else. There was no judgment, only understanding. How wonderful.

And when I was well, the opportunity to help others continued to nourish my soul and does to this day.

I hope this series has been or will be helpful to someone. At the very least maybe someone will read it and realize they are not alone. Many, many others have been through it. They got help and got through it and are better now. And  you will be too.

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