My favorite high school English teacher was Mrs. Redclay.
Mrs. Redclay was different than my other English teachers at Palisades High School. Instead of the Shakespearean canon, she taught us Robert M. Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Dressed in her 70’s-era outfits, she stood out among the conservative, monied set of West Los Angeles; not quite a hippie, yet definitely eccentric.
Mrs. Redclay wrote my college recommendation letter and noted, “Dyane has a fine value system that reflects deep respect for herself and others.”
While I must admit that wasn’t exactly true back then,
I’m all about r-e-s-p-e-c-t now!
Especially when it comes to recognizing ALL eight perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
Sock it to me!
When we wrote our essay assignments, Mrs. Redclay implored us to answer the question “So what?” in each piece.
Sometimes students received their papers back with a “So what?” scrawled at the top instead of the highly anticipated “A+”. My English teacher’s “So what?” lesson has stayed with me for a whopping thirty years.
And in this post I’ll attempt to answer “So what?” (Please don’t grade me.)
You may be wondering…
Dyane, with all the important things going on in our world, who cares if people don’t know about this obscure postpartum mood disorder/form of bipolar disorder. There are thousands of other rare illnesses. You don’t hear folks afflicted with those maladies whining; they’re just trying to survive, for Pete’s Sake!
However, even though postpartum bipolar disorder isn’t as common as the other seven PMAD’s, I wouldn’t classify it as obscure. If postpartum bipolar disorder was an obscure condition, I’d still be writing this post because we all have issues close to our hearts, and this one is mine.
I know I’m not the only one who has suffered with PPBD, but I feel that way. I was diagnosed in 2007, and now I’m reaching out in the hopes I can connect with those who understand life with this type of mood disorder.
Whenever I check my Twitter and Facebook newsfeeds I’m reminded that both the postpartum and bipolar communities ignore PPBD’s existence. Why? Ignorance or thinking that PPBD doesn’t count as a bona fide perinatal mood and anxiety disorder and form of bipolar.
I’ve found that the best way I can channel my frustration is to publicize PPBD’s existence, explain its exact definition, and to share anecdotal experiences through this blog.
I’m also contacting PMAD and bipolar organizations, doctors, researchers, and advocates. (And getting blown off by some that I can’t believe don’t give a damn- more on that next week!)
I’m always on the lookout for other women diagnosed with PPBD.
While I have certain significant things in common with women diagnosed with some of the other postpartum mood disorders or have bipolar disorder, PPBD is unique.
To visit most PMAD websites and never see anything mentioned about my specific mood disorder has made me feel that PPBD isn’t valid or worthy of support. Pardon my potty mouth, but it feels like crap. Sounds ridiculous, but if you haven’t experienced it firsthand, I ask for your empathy.
Whenever an opportunity arises I share my PPBD information. An hour ago while surfing Twitter, @WmnMentalHealth (Women’s Mental Health, a perinatal & reproductive psychiatry information center at Massachusetts General Hospital) tweeted a link to the Washington Post article “8 Things You Didn’t Know About Perinatal Mood Disorders“. I read the article.
Due to the title, I thought that PPBD might be mentioned, but that wasn’t the case. There was no mention of PPBD. I took time to write a detailed comment thanking the article’s author for addressing perinatal mental health. I provided some information about PPBD. I tweeted the link to my PPBD Part One post with the article’s author. She “liked it” it, but she chose not to retweet it.
In time, the postpartum and bipolar communities
will recognize the ignored PMAD: bipolar, peripartum onset/postpartum bipolar disorder.
PPBD counts too.
Thanks to the organizations and individuals that tweeted & reblogged Part One – this is not a complete list. I’ll always be grateful to each of you!
The International Marce Society for Perinatal Mental Health, Joel Sax, Postpartum Stress Center, Dr. Katayune Kaeni, Supporting Mamas, Bipolar Blogs, International Bipolar Foundation, Postpartum Support International, Kitt O’Malley, Two Bipolar Chicks, L.E. Henderson, Liza Brock, Alchemists Heart, NAMI Santa Clara, Ann Preston Roselle, A Mothers Sanctuary, The Sage Mum, Yvette Nicole Hess, The Lithium Chronicles, Jeanleesworld, The Perinatal Mental Health Project in South Africa, Jennifer Moyer, Sharon K. Gerdes, Olivia Rodriguez of The Bipolar Diary, Demonic Divas, Jessica McNeill Azar, Dr. Tams Van Rheenen, Dr. S. Melzter-Brody, Dr. Helen M. Farrell, OzoneparkPatti, Tidbitsofexperi, DBSA South Orange County, Pacific Post Partum, M1keM1n, CityPsych Wellness, The Maternal Health Task Force, and the flagship program of the Women and Health Initiative at Harvard School of Public Health. Please forgive me if I left anyone out, and please comment to remind me you helped out, so I can thank you in the next post! 😉
I’m now on Instagram! You can follow me here: birthofanewbrain
Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder, with a foreword by Dr. Walker Karraa (Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth), will be published by Post Hill Press in Fall, 2017.