I’m beyond thrilled to feature this guest post from Lauren Hale.
Without her, Mama’s Comfort Camp would never have happened. Thank you my friend, for being the person who’s work and love made all this possible.
A two-time Postpartum Mood & Anxiety survivor, Lauren Hale has been advocating for and supporting new families on this same path for nearly five years now. Lauren is also a former NICU mom and understands the challenges a breastfeeding mother can face as she’s faced quite a few of her own. She writes at her blog, My Postpartum Voice, and also provides outreach via Twitter using the hashtag #PPDChat, which she founded almost three years ago.
Passing the mic to Lauren:
In many cultures, the “village” mentality is clung to when a new life is brought into the world. A mother has immediate family surrounding her to help her survive those first few weeks, months, and even years. Some cultures which began with this approach no longer actively practice it. Families are no longer extended but instead nuclear for various reasons — conflict (personal or larger), seeking work, lack of resources forcing families to move, etc. Perhaps technology has invasively torn us apart from the symbiotic relationship of this “village” our foremothers once had. But despite this, it is possible to use technology to find your own tribe and develop a new community upon which you can lean during the tough times.
The Internet is our new “village” and while we certainly can’t turn on Skype and leave another person in charge of our 3 month old, we can find support for the tough emotional times through various outlets online. Essentially, the Internet, for many new mothers, is the new Park. It’s where we gather to find other women with similar experiences, to chat with them about our daily struggles, whatever they may be, as we go about our daily routines.
This aspect of the Internet is growing stronger every day, particularly with the advent of the smartphone and tablets. Mom now has access to someone in her tribe 24/7. She could be nursing in the middle of the night and chat with someone in Australia about how her day went. Motherhood is a universal language and we all speak it. We just need someone who speaks the same dialect as we do.
When I struggled with Postpartum Depression (several aspects of it, including PTSD and OCD), all I wanted was someone to tell me that my crazy was normal and would get better. I found those voices online. I found Katherine Stone of Postpartum Progress and I found Postpartum Support International. There were, however, no local voices. So I started an in-person support group. But when that fizzled out, I started blogging as I discovered I was pregnant with my third child. Then eventually, that blog led to the start of #PPDChat on Twitter.
Relatively new to Twitter, I realized brands were having “parties” to discuss their products. I wondered why I couldn’t do that with Postpartum Mood Disorders. It would be two-fold – it’d open up support and remove stigma by yanking discussions about Postpartum Mood Disorder experiences out of the closet. I wanted to create a dialect about Maternal Mental Health in Social Media.
Nearly three years later, I’m still chatting. The hashtag, #PPDChat, is available 24/7, with a moderated chat occurring every Monday at 1pm and 830pm ET. We also have a closed group on Facebook rapidly approaching 200 members. I’m in awe every day of how close knit all the members are and how open they are to helping others, even if they are having a bad day themselves. The beauty in suffering is an amazing thing to behold. The strength and tenacity these mothers possess is akin to nothing I have ever witnessed before in my life. We all speak the same language, the same dialect of darkness tinged with hope. Hope that we will survive, that there IS life after falling so very deep into a shade of night we never knew existed.
I am so thankful for the many women my fall brought into my life, Yael included. What she has done with Mama’s Comfort Camp is nothing short of amazing as she too, has grasped the power of the Internet to create a safe haven for mothers. We all need to be reminded to mother ourselves, even those of us who lead and shelter others.Yael encourages all of us to be gentle with ourselves, to free ourselves of guilt, and to allow ourselves to feel emotion in a practical and mindful way. She is truly a blessing.
Here’s to a wonderful birthday celebration of Mama’s Comfort Camp – and to many, many more.
Thank you so much, dear Lauren. I don’t want to imaging my life without #PPDchat and you in it.
And for those reading this post, Lauren and I would love to know how you are using online structures like Mama’s Comfort Camp and #PPDchat to find support when you need it. Let us know in the comments, and then hop over to My Postpartum Voice for some of the best writing about mothering.
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