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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

PPD, Work v. Stay Home Rages In Self


by Tracee Sioux

For Blogher's Postpartum Depression Mother's Act Day, I want to write about a deep inner conflict I faced. And inner war which might help explain some of the increase in PPD we're seeing today.

During the first three months after birth I was faced with two completely unacceptable choices.

Was I to give up my profession as a journalist and stay home with this no longer hypothetical human?

Or was I going to leave her with strangers at least 55 hours per week? Missing all her firsts and resigning myself to being a "bad mother?"

For the 12 weeks the Family Medical Leave Act protected my job, I labored with my two terrible choices until I became paralyzed by the fact that I loathed both with a valid and legitimate passion.

If you disagree with another person or a social norm, but hold true to yourself, you'll probably avoid depression, anxiety and various forms of mental illness. But, if your conflict is within and the war between two negative choices rages within, it will likely result in depression, anxiety and mental illness.

Behind my inner conflict was the influence and pressure of all previous generations of mothers telling me only bad mothers left their children to pursue personal ambition. Mine were particularly loud due to the Mormon upbringing I had in which a woman's only role was to mother. Pitted against the present-day pressure and influence of my husband, who didn't want to make the financial sacrifices it would require for me to stay home. Not to mention the deep gratification I got from my professional life, which I didn't want to abandon. The trouble was I believed they were both right.

Of course, I tried to create a third option for myself. Having read all the media hype about telecommuting and realizing my duties were all performed over the phone or on the Internet I felt working from home was a reasonable request. I had a plan that included going in for meetings and fulfilling all my obligations. I took it to my employer.

No. Though we had one male staff reporter telecommuting from San Fransisco, I was denied.

PPD exasperated. Choice between my need for professional validation and financial security or the bonding and development of mother and child.

My hypothesis is that we'll see fewer cases of Postpartum Depression when we see better employment policy for families. When there is real flexibility, versus media hype about flexibility, that allows women to pursue both mothering and professional ambition without sacrificing one or the other I believe the prevalence of PPD will drop.

It's something worth working towards even if it wasn't in time for me. The motivation is to create a more flexible and supportive professional environment for our daughters.


More reading about other factors of my Postpartum Depression:

Becoming Mommy - PPD or Identity Crisis

Addiction Off

Readers please go to Congress.org and ask the representatives working for you to pass the MOTHERS Act. What is the MOTHERS Act? The Moms Opportunity to Access Help, Education, Research and Support for Postpartum Depression Act, or MOTHERS Act (S. 3529), will ensure that new mothers and their families are educated about postpartum depression, screened for symptoms and provided with essential services. In addition, it will increase research into the causes, diagnoses and treatments for postpartum depression.
BlogHers Act: Blog Day for the Mothers Act

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for blogging about this today!

MGH Center for Women's Mental Health said...

Thanks for your support of the MOTHERS Act. Too often postpartum depression is a problem that goes unnoticed, and most women with PPD never receive any type of treatment. PPD is a treatable illness, and it is essential that we continue to educate ourselves and others about this important issue.

For more information on PPD, visit us at The MGH Center for Women's Mental Health

Jonna said...

This is a very interesting theory. I bet you're at least partly right. As a person whose struggled with regular old depression for my whole adult life, I'm really afraid of how I might experience PDD (this coming March). I suspect that I'll fight my way through the exact same battle, internally. Sad sigh. Any advice?

Tracee said...

Yeah, here's my advice, vote for family-friendly leave policy this election so you won't have the same conflict for baby #2.

Take more than 3 months leave if your work situation makes it anywhere near possible - 6 is more reasonable and 1 year is even more beneficial for both of you.

Visit the LeLeche League to find out which antidepressants you can take while breast feeding - just in case you need them.

Don't wait to get help. If by 8 weeks you're still feeling depressed and sad - get help immediately. (The first 8 weeks are an oblivion of emotional meltdown regardless).

Katherine Stone said...

Not sure if I've sent you this yet:
I'd like to invite you to join our Surviving and Thriving Mothers Photo Album (http://postpartumprogress.typepad.com/photos/happy_healthy_mom/index.html) at Postpartum Progress. The photo album helps to show mothers who are currently suffering that they will survive and become happy mothers. It features women who have recovered from postpartum mood disorders and their children. If you would like to be in it, email me a jpeg to stonecallis@msn.com, and include your first name and last initial, as well as which illness you suffered and what year it was, and the state you live in!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

PPD, Work v. Stay Home Rages In Self


by Tracee Sioux

For Blogher's Postpartum Depression Mother's Act Day, I want to write about a deep inner conflict I faced. And inner war which might help explain some of the increase in PPD we're seeing today.

During the first three months after birth I was faced with two completely unacceptable choices.

Was I to give up my profession as a journalist and stay home with this no longer hypothetical human?

Or was I going to leave her with strangers at least 55 hours per week? Missing all her firsts and resigning myself to being a "bad mother?"

For the 12 weeks the Family Medical Leave Act protected my job, I labored with my two terrible choices until I became paralyzed by the fact that I loathed both with a valid and legitimate passion.

If you disagree with another person or a social norm, but hold true to yourself, you'll probably avoid depression, anxiety and various forms of mental illness. But, if your conflict is within and the war between two negative choices rages within, it will likely result in depression, anxiety and mental illness.

Behind my inner conflict was the influence and pressure of all previous generations of mothers telling me only bad mothers left their children to pursue personal ambition. Mine were particularly loud due to the Mormon upbringing I had in which a woman's only role was to mother. Pitted against the present-day pressure and influence of my husband, who didn't want to make the financial sacrifices it would require for me to stay home. Not to mention the deep gratification I got from my professional life, which I didn't want to abandon. The trouble was I believed they were both right.

Of course, I tried to create a third option for myself. Having read all the media hype about telecommuting and realizing my duties were all performed over the phone or on the Internet I felt working from home was a reasonable request. I had a plan that included going in for meetings and fulfilling all my obligations. I took it to my employer.

No. Though we had one male staff reporter telecommuting from San Fransisco, I was denied.

PPD exasperated. Choice between my need for professional validation and financial security or the bonding and development of mother and child.

My hypothesis is that we'll see fewer cases of Postpartum Depression when we see better employment policy for families. When there is real flexibility, versus media hype about flexibility, that allows women to pursue both mothering and professional ambition without sacrificing one or the other I believe the prevalence of PPD will drop.

It's something worth working towards even if it wasn't in time for me. The motivation is to create a more flexible and supportive professional environment for our daughters.


More reading about other factors of my Postpartum Depression:

Becoming Mommy - PPD or Identity Crisis

Addiction Off

Readers please go to Congress.org and ask the representatives working for you to pass the MOTHERS Act. What is the MOTHERS Act? The Moms Opportunity to Access Help, Education, Research and Support for Postpartum Depression Act, or MOTHERS Act (S. 3529), will ensure that new mothers and their families are educated about postpartum depression, screened for symptoms and provided with essential services. In addition, it will increase research into the causes, diagnoses and treatments for postpartum depression.
BlogHers Act: Blog Day for the Mothers Act

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for blogging about this today!

MGH Center for Women's Mental Health said...

Thanks for your support of the MOTHERS Act. Too often postpartum depression is a problem that goes unnoticed, and most women with PPD never receive any type of treatment. PPD is a treatable illness, and it is essential that we continue to educate ourselves and others about this important issue.

For more information on PPD, visit us at The MGH Center for Women's Mental Health

Jonna said...

This is a very interesting theory. I bet you're at least partly right. As a person whose struggled with regular old depression for my whole adult life, I'm really afraid of how I might experience PDD (this coming March). I suspect that I'll fight my way through the exact same battle, internally. Sad sigh. Any advice?

Tracee said...

Yeah, here's my advice, vote for family-friendly leave policy this election so you won't have the same conflict for baby #2.

Take more than 3 months leave if your work situation makes it anywhere near possible - 6 is more reasonable and 1 year is even more beneficial for both of you.

Visit the LeLeche League to find out which antidepressants you can take while breast feeding - just in case you need them.

Don't wait to get help. If by 8 weeks you're still feeling depressed and sad - get help immediately. (The first 8 weeks are an oblivion of emotional meltdown regardless).

Katherine Stone said...

Not sure if I've sent you this yet:
I'd like to invite you to join our Surviving and Thriving Mothers Photo Album (http://postpartumprogress.typepad.com/photos/happy_healthy_mom/index.html) at Postpartum Progress. The photo album helps to show mothers who are currently suffering that they will survive and become happy mothers. It features women who have recovered from postpartum mood disorders and their children. If you would like to be in it, email me a jpeg to stonecallis@msn.com, and include your first name and last initial, as well as which illness you suffered and what year it was, and the state you live in!