Maybe Matilda

Monday, March 2, 2015

4 Ways to Find More Time to Read

I’ve partnered with HP to introduce their x360 laptop/tablet. HP is on tour with Meghan Trainor for her All About That Bass Tour! #BendTheRules

Every now and then—usually after my monthly reading recap posts—someone will ask how I find time to get any reading done. We’ve got two young (and needy) kids, my husband and I are running our own business, I blog 3+ times a week . . . by all accounts, it doesn’t add up. I should not have time to sit on the couch with a book.

Before you get impressed with me and think I’m balancing all these demands particularly well, I’ll set the record straight: there are many days when I probably shouldn’t be spending time reading—but I do it anyway, often at the expense of clean laundry and mopped floors and meals that don’t involve hot dogs.

But I do have a few suggestions on finding more time to read, even when you’re busy. Inspired by the versatile new HP x360 which can be used in 4 modes—laptop, tablet, tent, and stand—I want to share 4 tips on finding more time to read.

4 tips on finding the time to read

1) Audiobooks

Up until last year, it had hardly occurred to me that I could be listening to a book while I’m doing something boring, like folding laundry or cleaning bathrooms. Serious lightbulb moment when I finally realized that these quiet moments could include a book, hands-free.

When we’re driving to grandma’s house an hour away, or cleaning up toys at the end of the day, or even if I just need a break from the constant noise of two little kids, I’ll turn an audiobook on. Sometimes I envy people with a daily commute—even with his relatively short 15-20 minute drive to work, Jeff pounds through audiobooks. Such an easy solution when you can’t actually pick up a book, but you’d still love to read.

2) Embrace technology

I will always love reading real, hard copies of books, but opening that door to reading digitally has made a world of difference in the time I can spend reading.

Books that I can’t find at my library are often available in my library’s ebook collection, and you can’t beat the convenience of downloading a new book without ever leaving the house. Not having to go somewhere to pick up a book means I can start reading right away instead of waiting to find the time for a library run—no lag time between books.

I love that the HP x360 can be used as a laptop and as a tablet with a touch screen—it goes from work mode to reading mode instantly by just flipping the screen around. I don’t have to waste time switching back and forth between devices, which means I get to spend more time reading.

4 tips to find extra time to read

And having ebooks ready to go on an ereader or tablet (or even on your phone!) makes it easier to spend a few minutes reading during those dead times when you’re away from home—like in waiting rooms, in line at the post office, or sitting in your car at school pickup.

3) Keep (and check) a to-read list

For many years, I kept a physical, handwritten list of books that I wanted to read in my wallet. I find it far more convenient these days to use Goodreads to keep track of what I’ve read and want to read, but whatever method works for you, having (and regularly revisiting and adding to) a list of books I want to read keeps me excited about reading.

When I finish a book, I’m eager to get my hands on the next one on my list. I don’t close a book, then sit around for days trying to decide what I ought to read next. I have a list of titles ready and waiting, so I can pick up another book as soon as I finish my current one.

And as silly as this may be, moving a book from my ‘to-read’ list to my ‘read’ list is a bit of a nerdy thrill—motivation in itself to spend more time reading.

4 suggestions on how to find more time for reading

4) Turn the phone off

There is no time-waster in my life bigger than the internet. What starts as an innocent 10-minute email/facebook check turns into a 2-hour spiral of completely wasted time.And nothing is worse than squandering an entire naptime (precious, precious naptime!) online when I could have been doing something I would have really enjoyed (such as ohIdunno reading).

I try not to even have my phone in the room when I plan to read. As soon as I hear it ding (and even if I don’t!), I’ll drop my book and realize an hour later that my entire reading time has been spent liking photos of babies and lunches on Instagram. When I find myself with a few free minutes to read, I make sure to leave my phone and computer in another room (set to silent!!), and just enjoy reading without distractions. The internet will still be there when I’m done.

4 tips to find more time to read

What are some of your tips and tricks to find more time to read?

Friday, February 27, 2015

February 2015 Books

After a very zippy start in 2015, I hit a major reading slump mid-February after loving one of these books too much—do you ever experience that? Where you enjoy a book so much that you find it kind of hard to move along to the next one? Many a book suffered early abandonment this month when I couldn’t get over one of these. Read on to see which.

Here are my picks for February, and my thoughts on each of them.

Short and Sweet Book Reviews at www.maybematilda.com

alias grace review

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

I have loved what I’ve read by Margaret Atwood in the past (The Handmaid’s Tale and The Blind Assassin), so I was excited to read this one, a fictional account of a true crime—Grace Marks was convicted in 1843 for the murders of her employer and housekeeper, and spent 30 years in jail but claimed to have no memory of the murders.

You have to respect Margaret Atwood—she is an amazing writer—but I didn’t love this book. It was very slow-moving, and there was sort of a huge reveal near the end that was rushed through and never explored. I felt totally cheated out of what should have been a really interesting ending.

The writing and structure of the book were just fantastic, but overall, I had a hard time getting through this one.

__________________________________________________________________

The Lost Husband book reviewThe Lost Husband by Katherine Center

After her husband’s death, Libby and her two children spend a few years living with her critical, distant mother before being invited to live and work with an eccentric aunt they’ve never met on her farm in rural Texas.

If most ‘chick lit’ feels too fluffy for you, this might be a good fit. I thought it was cute and light and so easy to speed through, but it has more substance than a lot of chick lit.

Plus, it made me want to live on a goat farm (words I never thought I’d say).

 

 


__________________________________________________________________

Working Stiff book reviewWorking Stiff by Judy Melinek  

After reading (and loving!) Stiff last month, this account of a forensic pathologist’s career as a New York City medical examiner popped up in my Goodreads recommendations.

How many books about cadavers can (or should) a person read? Two in two months may be a bit much, actually.

This was certainly interesting, and if you read Stiff and found it hard to put down, you may enjoy this one, too. But Stiff had a lot of humor to keep it feeling light despite the subject matter—this one certainly does not. In particular, the chapters on the 9/11 attacks are grim and depressing (as one would expect). Overall, I found it interesting and read quite a bit of it to Jeff (weird deaths just beg to be read aloud), but if you’re only going to read one book about cadavers (!), go with Stiff.

__________________________________________________________________

The Girl On the Train book reviewThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Oh, the wait on the library hold list for this one! Ages!

This thriller keeps being compared to Gone Girl, which I think is pretty appropriate, although in my opinion it doesn’t have that mess-with-your-head quality quite as strongly as Gone Girl (which, for the record, I enjoyed but didn’t love—this isn’t a genre I get super excited about).

Rachel (a quality character name choice) gets daily glimpses into a young married couple’s life on her commute by train, and becomes caught up in the search when the wife goes missing.

This was nearly impossible to step away from, and we had a few days of laundry piling up and toast for dinner while I raced through it. 

__________________________________________________________________

Bloodroot book reviewBloodroot by Amy Greene

Without a doubt, my favorite book of the month. This novel follows the story of one family, as told by various interconnected characters, on a quiet Appalachian mountain, and the legacies and mystery that shape who the family members become.

I loved it—the characters are fantastic, and the setting and landscape are written so beautifully that even the dang mountain feels like a character. I always love a little dash of magical realism (if it’s handled well!), and it is a perfect addition here.

I enjoyed it so much, actually, that it threw me into quite a reading slump when I was finished. It’s kind of hard to get excited about whatever book follows a really good one.

 

__________________________________________________________________

the life intended book reviewThe Life Intended by Kristin Harmel

This novel reminded me a lot of The Lost Husband (reviewed above) in more ways than one. They both featured bereaved widows who lost young husbands, and both walked that line between fluffy chick lit and heavy fiction.

In The Life Intended, 12 years have passed since Kate lost her husband—she is recently engaged and successful in her career, but still feels lost and cheated of what should have been a perfect life with her late husband. But vivid, eerily realistic dreams of what her life could have been had her husband not died make her question the direction she’s heading in, and have her wondering if there might be a remnant of her lost family out there somewhere.

Like The Lost Husband, it hits some heavy topics while still feeling rather breezy and light, which makes it super easy to zip through. And the ending surprised me when I was sure I had it pegged, which is always kinda nice.

What did you read this month?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Movie Night Chocolate Drizzled Peanut Butter Popcorn

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BigHero6MovieNight #CollectiveBias

Movie nights were a weekly tradition in our house when I was growing up. And they were such a fun part of our family life that my parents converted the room above our garage into an amazing theater room, complete with a projector and movie screen. It was pretty darn cool.

The movie setup at our house isn’t nearly that impressive, but now that Forrest is getting old enough to really pay attention to movies (and enjoy a lot of the same movies that Jeff and I want to watch!), I am more than happy to carry on the family movie night tradition. It’s such a simple, fun way to spend time together.

And of course, having an awesome snack to enjoy doesn’t hurt, either.

Chocolate Drizzled Peanut Butter Popcorn recipe

Years ago, before we had kids to join in our movie nights, Jeff and I hosted a movie night for some friends who offered to bring peanut butter popcorn to serve. I’ll admit, I was skeptical. That just doesn’t sound like a flavor combo that should work, but of course, I was wrong and it was incredible.

So for our most recent family movie night, we picked up Big Hero 6 from Target, along with the ingredients for peanut butter popcorn. Definitely a great way to spend an evening.

Peanut Butter Popcorn with a Chocolate Drizzle for family movie night

The popcorn is so simple to make, especially since it can be made in the microwave—no pots or pans to wash. And the finished product is irresistible—crunchy and rich and delicious.

Start with some basic ingredients (you probably already have everything you need in your pantry).

ingredients for peanut butter popcorn

Place the butter and marshmallows together with the brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl.

melt butter and marshmallows with brown sugar for peanut butter popcorn

And microwave it, stirring every 30 seconds, until it’s well-combined and smooth. I can’t tell you how much I loved not standing over a hot stove for this recipe.

melt butter marshmallows and sugar

Add the peanut butter and stir until it melts, then pour it over your popcorn and stir to coat. You could certainly stop here if you like your popcorn to be sticky and gooey and chewy.

Personally, I prefer it to be crunchy and to lose some of that sticky gooeyness, so I recommend spreading it out on a greased baking sheet to bake at a low temperature, stirring every 10 minutes. It will keep some of that yummy chewiness, but will have an awesome crunch to it and won’t stick to your fingers or teeth nearly as much.

Peanut Butter Popcorn in pan to bake

After 30 minutes in the oven, drizzle with melted chocolate and let it cool, then break it into chunks and enjoy. That peanut butter and chocolate combo is always divine, and this is no exception.

chocolate drizzle on peanut butter popcorn

Chocolate Drizzled Peanut Butter Popcorn

10 cups popcorn
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
20 large marshmallows
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 squares chocolate candiquik/almond bark

Preheat oven to 250 degrees and prepare a large baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat (or grease the pan lightly).

Place popcorn in a large bowl. In a separate, medium microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, and marshmallows. Microwave for 90 seconds, removing from the microwave to stir every 30 seconds. When it is smooth and melted, add the peanut butter and stir until it melts (feel free to pop it into the microwave for another 10-15 seconds to melt the peanut butter if necessary). Pour over popcorn and gently stir until evenly coated.

Spread popcorn out onto the prepared baking sheet and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring gently every 10 minutes.

In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate. When the popcorn is finished in the oven, drizzle the chocolate over it and let cool, then break into chunks and enjoy.

Note: if you prefer, feel free to use 1/2 cup chocolate chips in place of the almond bark. I love using almond bark because it hardens up so nicely, whereas chocolate chips stay somewhat soft after being melted.

Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com.

Chocolate Drizzled Peanut Butter Popcorn, perfect for family movie nights!

If you’re gearing up for a family movie night soon, I hope you’ll try this recipe out! Forrest was crazy about Big Hero 6, and has told me he’d like to start calling me Baymax instead of Mama. Ok, kid.

big hero 6 movie night 

And be sure to keep up with great deals from Target on their Facebook and Twitter.

What’s your favorite snack to munch on during movies?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Build Your Blog Conference 2015 Recap

This could be a pitch for a crappy reality show: “Ok, so we take an introverted blogger who hates big events and meeting hordes of new people, and we send her to this enormous conference with 700 other bloggers, and we see if she survives!”

My fellow introverts probably shuddered reading that sentence, and will totally understand why I packed a book in case I needed to leave the masses and hide in a corner by myself to recover.

build your blog conference recap

I spent the weekend at Build Your Blog Conference in Salt Lake City, along with 700+ other bloggers to learn how to create better content, reach bigger audiences, and make more money blogging. I hadn’t planned to attend—I’ve never been to a blog conference before—but I ended up with a sponsorship from Taste of Home, so off I went.

It turned out to be a really fun experience (despite my nerves!), and I met some sweet new friends. And would you believe it—I never even had to go hide with my book (although I did head home early both days—I can only push myself so far). I learned so much helpful information on how to improve the content I share, and there are plenty of tweaks I’d like to make to improve my writing and photography and site design.

But you know, my main takeaway from the event was that I’m happy where I am in blogging, and I’m not sure that huge growth will ever be my biggest blogging goal.

It seems that a lot of the bigger money-making opportunities in blogging are via methods I have no interest in, either because I find them a turn-off when I see them on other blogs, or because they simply aren’t a good fit for my personality, or they would move me and my blog in a direction I don’t want. Maybe that means I’ll always stay a smaller blog, and if so, that’s fine.

I love what goes on here. I love that I can be open and honest and share my life with you, and I love that you guys visit and read and chat with me. And of course I am thrilled that I can make money on my blog when an opportunity comes along that is a great fit (and I learned lots of new ways to make the most of those opportunities and build relationships with brands I care about).

But when I blog, I think my biggest goals are always going to be about improving my writing, connecting with like-minded people, sharing more of the things that matters most to me, trying to spread some joy and creativity . . . and I’ll let the numbers do what they will.

Some of my favorite notes from the conference:

- Don’t let old posts die. Remind readers—new and old—of the great posts you wrote 3 months or 3 years ago.

- It’s easy to worry about numbers (pageviews, followers, likes, etc.) but engagement and a sense of community are far more important than statistics (yes, this!).

- The main message at the Taste of Home event was to know your readers—know who they are and what they want, and give them what they’re after without worrying about what’s trendy. So . . . maybe you guys can prep yourselves for a reader survey, because I’m going to need to find out exactly what you want from me :-)

- Focus on WHY you do what you do, not HOW or WHAT. The ‘why’ is your motivation and gives your work meaning—the ‘how’ and ‘what’ are just the day-to-day minutiae. It’s easy to get caught up in those details but the WHY keeps you centered and meaningful.

Friday, February 20, 2015

My Postpartum Depression Story

I’ve mentioned that I had postpartum depression after Forrest was born, but I’ve never shared many of the details. I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I dealt with it again after Darcy was born—in fact, in this post when she was 2 months old, I wrote (chipperly!)  that everything was going okay and I didn’t think I’d end up with PPD this time around. (Boy, was I wrong.)

It felt a bit misleading for me to only have a few brief mentions of PPD on my blog--it has been a fairly big, formative part of my life as a mother, and it has started to feel odd to me not to write about it. Not that anyone cares about the details of my experience, I’m sure, but PPD seems to be a silent struggle for many moms. No one wants to be the person to bring it up, but it sure is a lonely path if you think you’re walking it alone.

I’ve been meaning for months—years, even—to write my postpartum depression story, and the day has finally arrived. This is a long post, but I hope it might be helpful as a warning or call to action to others who are expecting, or have new babies, or have friends with babies, or gosh, even if you don’t have kids but you feel like something’s not right, hopefully this will give you a push to do something to fix it. Sometimes making that phone call to the doctor is the hardest part.

The Background

I have a family history of depression, so perhaps I should have been better prepared for my own diagnosis. Looking back, I think I had brief touches of depression during big transitional times in my life, like leaving for college or moving to a new area and feeling alone. But it was never bad enough that I considered anything was actually wrong, and I certainly never talked to a doctor about it (although I wonder how much easier those times could have been if I had).

Knowing that I struggle during times of big change probably should have been a red flag while I was pregnant, but I was so excited about having a baby that it barely crossed my mind to talk to my doctor about my family history, or learn about how to recognize PPD, or plan what to do if I found myself depressed.

After Forrest

postpartum depression story

After a difficult delivery, Forrest turned out to be a very difficult newborn. He was colicky and angry and impossible to please--a perfectly healthy baby, but a very demanding and unhappy one. We lived thousands of miles from any family members (although my mom stayed with us for a week after he was born, which was a huge help), and I quickly felt completely overwhelmed.

There was the issue of trying to care for a crying infant nearly 24 hours a day, plus trying to recover from a hard labor+delivery on top of the sleep deprivation (I don’t remember Forrest ever sleeping, although I’m sure he must have nodded off at some point in his infancy).

There was the guilt of feeling like I must not be taking good care of my baby (surely any decent mother could figure out why her child was crying and make things better!), and the shame that came with trying to hide my stress and unhappiness (heaven forbid anyone find out what a terrible mother I am!).

And I felt guilty about being stressed and unhappy, period—there are plenty of babies who have actual, serious problems beyond some measly crying, so why was I making such a big deal out of it? I knew I should be thrilled and grateful for a healthy child, and I felt so guilty about being unhappy during what ought to be a joyful time. I loved Forrest so much, but the day-to-day reality of life at that time was overwhelming and lonely and exhausting.

The way I felt after Forrest was born seems like textbook depression, and I’m not sure why I didn’t recognize it sooner. Much of the time, I felt completely numb—as if I wasn’t actually living my life, but was watching it from a distance and barely cared what happened. Other days, I was so deeply sad that I couldn’t even function and spent days at a time in pajamas, not eating or sleeping, never ever leaving the house or answering the phone.

There were conversations with friends when I felt so confused and exhausted that I could hardly string sentences together, and later couldn’t remember anything we had talked about. I remember being out with Forrest once when a stranger asked his name, and I couldn’t remember what it was. I stood there, waiting for my baby’s name to come back to me. It’s hard to believe now that I didn’t think something was seriously wrong.

my experience with postpartum depression

Jeff was as supportive as he possibly could be, but he had a lot on his plate at the time. He was nearing the end of school, and Forrest was born right before Jeff had to take his national boards. He did as much as he could, but even when he was home and helping with the baby, I couldn’t relax or rest.

I had friends I could have talked to, but I felt too ashamed to ask for their help or be honest about how I was feeling (although I suspect a handful of them figured out what was happening anyway, and I thank God for those sweet friends who saw past my ‘everything’s okay’ facade and were loving and helpful even as I did my darnedest to push everyone away). I couldn’t figure out why my friends—many with two or three kids of their own!—were handling things so well while I was falling apart with just one child, and I was humiliated at the thought of telling them what was going on and asking for their help.

After months of this, I finally called my doctor about it. I don’t know why that phone call was so difficult and took so long to make—maybe because I was finally admitting, out loud, that something wasn’t right. I wanted so badly to be a good, normal, happy mother, and I think it took a long time to let go of that idea and just admit, out loud, that something was wrong and I needed help making it better.

My doctor was so kind and gentle and helpful, and wrote me a prescription for an antidepressant and a referral to see a therapist. And, stupidly, I did neither. The idea of being medicated scared me so much that I never filled the prescription, and after one uncomfortable visit with a therapist, I never went back.

I can’t think of a worse way to handle depression than what I did. I turned down all offers of help, I refused to talk about it with people who could have helped make a difference, and I didn’t take my doctor’s advice. I’m not qualified to give mental health advice (obviously!), but  this was definitely a very poor way to deal with depression.

As Forrest got older, though, he was becoming so much happier, which was making a difference in how I felt, too. Then we put him through sleep training, and after I started getting some rest for the first time in months, I finally felt a glimmer of hope—maybe being a mother could actually be enjoyable. Maybe Forrest wasn’t going to spend the next 18 years of his life screaming and crying full-time. Maybe I wouldn’t always feel exhausted and on the verge of a physical and mental collapse. Maybe our lives could actually settle into some sort of predictable, happy rhythm.

As the weeks went by, Forrest became more and more pleasant and predictable, I got more sleep and (prodded by Jeff) focused on doing things that helped me feel better (like exercising, getting out of the house without Forrest, and spending time with the friends I had spent the past few months shutting out), I slowly returned to normal.

I feel very fortunate, as I look back, that things worked out the way they did. I regret a lot of the choices I made at the time, and the way I thought about myself—I should have listened to my doctor, I shouldn’t have blamed myself for Forrest’s colic, or been ashamed of being depressed. I made all the wrong choices in handling my depression, and I’m just very glad that things worked out in spite of those wrong choices.

After Darcy

one young mom's experience with postpartum depression 

I was nervous about having a second child, in part because I was worried we’d have another difficult baby and I’d end up with postpartum depression again. But the more Jeff and I talked about it, the more we convinced ourselves that Forrest was probably a bit of a fluke—of all the babies we’ve met over the years, we haven’t known many who were as difficult as Forrest, and he did outgrow that difficult stage, so maybe we’d have some perspective if we had a second colicky child. We thought that I probably wouldn’t have PPD if we had an easier newborn. Very optimistic of us.

We felt so lucky when Darcy was born—she was such a sweet, happy baby. She certainly had her tough days and moments, but compared with Forrest, she was practically a different species. Exactly the sort of pleasant little cherub a pregnant mother expects.

I was exhausted, of course, but I felt like I was handling things pretty well in those early weeks. When I wrote that post 2 months after she was born, I was telling the truth—I certainly had days when I felt upset and depressed and frazzled, but overall, I was doing okay.

On top of the baby stress, though, we had a lot of work stress—within weeks of Darcy being born, Jeff left his job and we decided to start our own practice. Definitely not a low-pressure time for either of us, and the timing was terrible. Jeff was incredibly busy and stressed himself, and we had so much to do that had to be done quickly so we could start making money.

As I grew more and more sleep deprived and stressed about taking care of the kids plus dealing with the work and stress of opening a business, things went quickly downhill.

With Forrest, my symptoms felt very ‘typical depression’—no energy, no motivation, sad, withdrawn, numb. But after Darcy, they took a different form. I discovered there’s such a thing as postpartum anxiety—I would wake up in the middle of the night with panic attacks (I remember waking Jeff up at 2AM, sure I was having a heart attack). Many nights, I’d lie awake all night long, too anxious to fall asleep at all. I would have irrational, scary thoughts that I felt powerless to stop, and would have vivid images of terrible things happening to the kids that I couldn’t stop myself from thinking/seeing. I was so anxious and worried and upset about everything that I could hardly function.

Thankfully, I wised up a bit this time around. I called my doctor as soon as I realized that the way I was feeling was more serious than just a few bad days in a row, and when he wrote me a prescription, I took it religiously. I told my family and close friends what was happening, and they stepped in to help me with the kids and household stuff (help that I gladly accepted this time, instead of pretending I could handle things alone).

postpartum depression experience

It was very difficult at first to open up and tell people what was happening, but it made the journey so much easier—I had the help and support I needed to focus on getting better, and talking about my PPD with others helped take away the shame of feeling like depression was my fault, or a secret I should hide.

And that medication was nothing short of miraculous. Within about 2 weeks, I felt normal again. I could sleep at night, and I could think and act the way I normally would. I still felt the typical stress and tiredness of having a new baby, but I felt like I could handle it, and that I wasn’t giving stress and anxiety more time/attention/worry than it warranted. Now that I know how well that medicine worked for me, it’s hard to remember why I felt so scared of it the first time around.

Today

As we got closer to Darcy’s first birthday, I started feeling like I could stop taking the medicine and be fine. We had fallen into a steady, fairly predictable routine at home, everyone was sleeping, our business was doing well, and our lives felt more or less normal again. I talked to my doctor, and he agreed that this would probably be a good time to stop taking it, if that was what I wanted.

Over the course of a few weeks, I slowly weaned myself off the medication. I definitely experienced some withdrawal symptoms—the anxiety returned for about a week (although it wasn’t debilitating like it had been before—more of an annoyance than a real issue), I felt irritable and had mood swings, as well as some nausea and headaches.

After a few weeks, though, I felt fine. I can’t say I’m 100% awesome all the time, but who is? I doubt I’ve gone more than 2 weeks at a time since weaning off the medication without having a totally crap day and thinking, “Jeez, maybe I should get back on my happy pills.”

But overall, I feel good now—I have stressful days (sometimes weeks), but I feel like I am in control of how I think and feel instead of being at the mercy of depression/anxiety, and that I can handle stress and emotion without crumbling. I’ve figured out some ways that work for me in handling stress, I’ve learned to recognize what  things are likely to trigger depression and anxiety for me, and what I can do to get on top of it as soon as it starts before it has the chance to spiral into something serious.

a story about postpartum depression

A takeaway?

I had a few reasons that I wanted to put all this out there.

I think I’m about as open and honest as I can be on this blog . . . except that I hadn’t ever really talked much about depression. And that seemed like a big thing to not discuss. Blogging about my kids and my family and my life as a mother without talking about depression felt a bit like I was putting up an image of myself that wasn’t quite right. I feel like we’re friends here . . . and this is something I don’t hide anymore from my friends.

I also hope that by posting this, anyone who might recognize some of themselves here can find a little hope. I was ashamed of having PPD for too long, convinced that it was a sign of some flaw in myself as a person and as a parent. I spent years feeling like it was something I couldn’t/shouldn’t talk about. As I’ve accepted it for what it is, though, and opened up about it to friends, I’ve realized that so many people are dealing with depression/anxiety and just aren’t talking about it. If that means I have to be the one to bring it up so we can talk it over and get better together, that’s okay with me.

I’ll mention depression casually in conversation now and have a friend reply, with huge relief, that she is/was depressed, too. I’ll occasionally get emails or phone calls from friends who know I’ve struggled with depression and are going through it now themselves, and I’m honored that they feel comfortable discussing it with me. I don’t think it should be a topic we’re scared or embarrassed to talk about.

If you recognize yourself in this post, I hope you’ll know that you aren’t alone, you don’t have anything to feel ashamed of, and that things can get better. Call a doctor, talk to family and friends. Take steps to make it better. Would you sit at home with an ear infection, too ashamed to call the doctor and ask for antibiotics, too embarrassed to tell a friend that you were sick? This isn’t any different. And it can get better.

Some links for your perusal:
The National Institute of Mental Health
The Mayo Clinic on postpartum depression
Postpartum Depression & Anxiety Symptoms (in plain English)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...