National Women’s Health Week-Post Partum Depression

Did you know that this week is National Women’s Health Week (May 13-19)?

“It’s Your Time”

This week it is important to stop and take some time to evaluate your own health and well-being. Being a busy mom of two children under the age of four, plus working part-time for our family business, and training for a marathon I have to remind myself to slow down and take care of myself.  I have always had the mother hen personality (My mom said I was always mothering others even as a kindergartener). When thinking about others and making sure everyone else is ok it is pretty easy to forget about yourself.

As you may already know, I suffered from postpartum depression after the births of both of my kids. My pregnancy with my daughter wasn’t exactly straightforward, I had to have abdominal surgery when I was 12 weeks pregnant, feared losing my baby and then had other complications towards the end. After going through all of the difficulties with pregnancy having postpartum depression was still very unexpected after the birth of my daughter. It actually went undiagnosed longer than it should have because I wasn’t ready to talk about it or admit that I was having such a hard time. It is difficult to feel like you are constantly under a grey cloud and feeling “stuck” as I did, paralyzed by the sadness and anxiety during a time that is supposed to be filled with happiness. Having a child is amazing and you will feel love like you never had before but it is also extremely difficult to ever be truly prepared for what having a child means. When my daughter was born I constantly felt overwhelmed by a challenging baby who did not feed well and so was awake all of the time and wanting to eat constantly. I felt like I was disappearing.  I felt alone. I felt helpless. I felt frustrated. I felt exhausted. I lost my laughter. Motivating and getting out to do simple things felt incredibly difficult. I completely lost myself.

When I was pregnant with my son I feared that I again be faced with the weight of sadness that is postpartum depression. And again, a somewhat complicated pregnancy ended with a beautiful baby and me in full on postpartum depression. This time we knew how to address this much sooner but still the climb to get out of the dark hole was a collision with my inner-self.  I needed to find a way to regain my positive outlook and get back to the “normal” me now as a Mom.

When you suffer from postpartum depression you have elevated levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which is a hormone often associated with depression. Low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin are also thought to be a cause of depression. According to the website Livestrong, Serotonin is,

“made from the amino acid tryptophan, which is a component of protein and which humans eating a normal diet consume in significant amounts. High levels of tryptophan in the blood signal the brain to make serotonin, which has many beneficial consequences on mood and affect, including promoting happiness, relaxation and the ability to get a good night’s sleep.” (Sep 2, 2010 | By Kirstin Hendrickson)

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/219843-what-are-the-benefits-of-serotonin/#ixzz1vBfq50cA

When I finally came face to face with the idea of getting help for the way I was feeling, knowing about how these hormonal imbalances can create the perfect storm of postpartum depression helped me to realize that it was not my “fault.” I needed to lean on my family and friends for support. I needed to open myself up and talk about why I was so sad and withdrawn. I had to let my support network in to my challenge to be my guidance and the light to the way out of darkness.  I had to create a plan for wellness for myself. This included getting back to exercise. This was perhaps one of the most important things for me because it is through exercise that I have always found balance, release, focus, motivation, and feelings of positive self-worth. It is through exercise that I have always felt in place, as a part of a team and a community.  Getting back to running gave me the goals that I needed. It has given me checkpoints along the way to better health, energy, and a positive outlook.

My husband helped me get back into my running shoes and out onto the road. He called on my friends to be my support and to get me back out there doing what I love where I could reap the positive benefits of the endorphin “rush”, the energy from Vitamin D from the sun, and the laughter that I so desperately needed to elevate my serotonin levels and to bring me back to a place where I could laugh at myself and to find the hope and bright spots. It is amazing how many women I have talked to who have told me that they too went through this when they had their babies. Postpartum Depression is nothing to be ashamed about and is something that should be talked about. As women we need to support each other no matter what our different challenges may be.

Now here I am almost 4 years after the birth of my daughter and then my son and about one week away from my Marathon goal. I now feel strong. I work to find time for me. I try hard to be positive and to not become overwhelmed. I have taken on new challenges with the attitude of “No Regrets.” I am working hard to take care of ME so that I can take care of my family and friends.  I have learned a lot about myself on this journey and work hard each day to use these lessons to grow and change.

My new outlook

During National Women’s Health Week please take time to check-in with yourself. Share your stories with the people in your life that support you. challenge yourself to a new goal and don’t look back.

Take the pledge to schedule a health check up:

National Women’s Check-Up Day

To find out more about National Women’s Health Week please check out the website:

www.womenshealth.gov/whw/

Related Posts:

http://twinsruninourfamily.blogspot.com/2012/05/healing-pregnancy-loss-through-art.html

http://funandfit.org/2012/05/women-health-and-humor/

http://kaitmakesarun4it.blogspot.com/2012/05/living-part-of-life.html


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Running LOVE

Running LOVE

What do LOVE and RUNNING have in common? Do YOU chase the rush of endorphins and the burst of adrenaline that comes along with exercise? The energy felt after an amazing run or race often comes close to matching the euphoric feeling of new love, lustful love, lasting love, lifetime love, endless love, sweetheart love, first crush love. Your heart is racing. You feel giddy. Your serotonin level is given a boost resulting in an increased feeling of happiness.  I have a life full of love and running adds additional feelings of happiness and well-being into my life.

elevated serotonin levels from exercise =happiness and love

What are the top ten reasons why I LOVE running? Let me count the ways . . .

10. Did I ever mention my love of SPANDEX-somehow I always end up choosing sports that require wearing spandex of some kind-it started with ice skating (perhaps the origin of my love of the running skirt-my favorite being a pair of bright pink spandex and a matching swirly skirt), and then horseback riding (not quite so fashion forward), then rowing (I had a flourescent cantaloupe colored uni-suit, no kidding), and now running (long spandex in the winter and now an addiction to running skirts in all sorts of bright colors and patterns)

My orange unisuit did not have a hood . . .but you get the picture

9. Just another excuse to purchase more shoes (because you can never have too many shoes). Now there are running shoes that are not only engineered for performance but that come with a bit of style too.

I love shoes and a new pair of running shoes is the perfect pair to add to the pile

8. Increased stamina for chasing my 3.5 year old and my 18 month old.

Catch us if you can Mommy!

7.  Stress release. Stress Release. Stress Release. Need I say more????

6.Vitamin D-especially during the S.A.D.  months in Northern NH. Soaking up the sun has amazing health benefits including feelings of increased energy.

Soak up that Vitamin D on your runs!

5.  The great outdoors-whether it be running on a trail, up a mountain or on the road.  I love running in the fresh air of New Hampshire even if it is only 5 degrees outside (as long as you are dressed in layers and looking like the “Michelin Man” you are all set).

No really . . .this is me. HA! HA!

4. Running with my best friends. This always provides he endless distraction of conversation during a hard run or a long training run which is always welcome. The topics range anywhere from talking about family to talking about the ridiculous and ending up in hysterical laughter along the way. Plus a great running friend is always ready to push you through your difficult moments.

Love my "original" chicks!

Invite my amazing running friend Bridget (ultra runner) if you need the distraction. She will talk all the entire way up a giant hill without even getting winded.

Ultra runner pace-100 words per minute

3.  Running peace-the ability to let go and just experience the quiet of your mind and the nevironment.

2. Training, and racing with inspirational athletes.

1.  Just putting on my shoes and heading out the door.

Why do you love to run? I’d love to hear your top ten reasons!