Picture credit to www.imperfectwomen.com
There is a need here that must be met. From the moment I learned that some of the ladies in my support group had no respite help, nor knew how to get resources, a passion bloomed in me so fierce that I could not just sit still with it.
That was the beginning of this blog. I did all I could to get resources and information out there and then I let it coast. I got caught up in life, but my desire to help didn't end there. I learned that the region in which I lived was looking for "PPMD Moms" to be peer volunteers for awareness and stigma removal for PostPartum Mood Disorder. I joined.
I have been a peer volunteer for three years and just signed up for my fourth, but it is not enough. Not for me. A few months ago, something shifted in me that amped up my passion into full throttle. I still am not sure what that was. I think that it just might be that my heart is finally aligned – in the right place.
Out of my passion for getting respite for these women -who are in need of desperate help, an idea began to take form: I would create a centre that would have therapists, resources, workshops, a daycare, a café and respite workers on call. I planned it all and wrote it all down. My Big Juicy Dream.
Of course, it is a big dream that requires a big budget. I was so excited that I shared my idea with friends and family some of the peer volunteers during our recognition dinner last month. One comment mentioned from a fellow volunteer stuck in my mind: She suggested that I don’t limit myself to one geographic area because I would not be able to reach everyone that would need reaching. It was a great suggestion. I could start now, outsourcing trained respite workers in postpartum mood disorder to PPMD mom’s in need of sleep, the most important self-care need for progressive healing. I did not need the facility. Yet.
And then, a few days later, self-doubt hit me: Whack! And all of a sudden, all of my in-the-creative-flow-heart-energy just sizzled away. How was I going to accomplish this? How could I do this? I had no start-up funds, no idea how to go ahead with it, I had no experience and definitely didn’t feel qualified to take on such an endeavor. My time was already split raising my son and helping support our family. My heart sunk low. How could this feel so right and have so many roadblocks?
For two weeks, my heart stayed derailed. I had also considered going to school and getting my SSW to make my foundation stronger; backing it with education and experience. That did not pan out. (Not yet anyway ;))
During this time, activity in the postpartum awareness area had increased in my life:
A friend of mine Patricia Tomasi,( kickassdreams.com) whom I met through this blog two years ago, told me about a panel that was being put together that would be broadcast live at the U of T and would include a prominent Canadian celebrity who had experienced PPMD. “Whoo Hoo! I shouted. This was great!” I was so excited at all these amazing steps that were being taken. The woman who organized the panel was Claire Zlobin, founder of “Life with a Baby” (www.lifewithababy.com)
“The Life with a Baby peer support system is a project of Healthy Start, Healthy Future, a not-for-profit organization whose goal is to provide ongoing practical and emotional PEER-based support for new and expecting parents, and parents of children up to the age of six.”
It was a great event. I met Ms. Zlobin who gave me my first clue on getting started. I then met a passionate man named Ed Bader (http://www.linkedin.com/pub/edward-bader/2b/8b2/103) who has his hand in getting dads help they need and who loves the research so much he may not retire! (And, YES, dads can get postpartum depression too) I will be getting in touch with him when the time is right.
These were the signs showing me that help was out there. My self-doubt cooled down a bit. I still felt overwhelmed and frustrated because I knew what I wanted to do, and some of what I needed to do, but I didn’t know how to do any of it. My slump was less of a slump but it was still dragging me down.
I let the dream slide, my heart dull and confused on how it was all going to work and I fell back into my normal life.
Until yesterday. Well, I can say that the powers that be are not giving up on me, because they jump-started my heart and said “you are not getting off so easy!” Read on:
I saw a message from a friend I met just recently, also a mom with PPMD, that expressed she wasn’t doing so well. I immediately sent her a message. We spoke on the phone and I heard her story. She was at a late crisis point in her life because she has had no one around her that understood PPMD, and she was being the mom she thought she should be: strong and perfect. My biggest concern was that she has had no respite for the last two and a half years. (Her second child is fourteen months old) She is experiencing social isolation and needs understanding peers around her and someone to come in to her home and give her a much needed break when her husband is at work and she is alone. This is crucial for her recovery. (There is much more to the story for it to be understood, so please see the plea between the lines and refrain from jumping to judgement – not that any of my readers wouldJ)
After getting off the phone with her, I was stumped. Where do I find resources for her area? How do we get her respite? RESPITE! That is right. R-E-S-P-I-T-E. There are no respite services in her area. In fact, I haven’t found one active respite service for Postpartum Mood Disorder affected Moms ANYWHERE in Ontario! ( I do know that there are other services out there because friends of mine have used them for respite and they usually come from social services. Don't quote me, but correct me if I am wrong. I want to be in the know.)
I checked in with Life with a Baby first to see if there was a support group in her area: unfortunately, not yet. Then I went online to search out support groups. I found one! That was a bonus. The downside is that my friend does not have a car, so that will have to be figured out next. Now back to the hard part: getting help in so she could rest.
A lot of thinking and researching later, I found a respite service for seniors, but I am afraid that a nurse or a person trained in postpartum awareness and support would be needed as well as being trained in infant and toddler care.(or another recovered PPMD Mom) So I am looking for ECE’s (Early Childhood Educators) who are trained in Postpartum Awareness and want to be a respite worker. Sorry, none out there---yet! (I am being cheeky)
(I also checked on the Municipality’s website and found only parenting and breastfeeding classes- just the basics).
The Ontario Early Years Centre in her area was one of the first options I suggested, but not having a car and more so is the fact that her eldest child is allergic to almost every food group out there, it is quite stressful to take her child out anywhere.
Not all PPMD Moms have the same challenges, obviously, so taking your children to an OEYC is a good choice, and even better if they have a support group on site. This way you get free babysitting while you are in the group getting the much needed peer to peer support. (Not all PPMD Moms attend groups, it is a personal choice).
And so, here I am, fired up, stomping my feet, shaking my fist in the air, frustrated that I cannot find or get a respite/relief worker to aid my friend.
And then, my friend Patricia sends me a text which gives me more confirmation: In Australia the government provides respite services to a variety of needs....including new MOMS who need sleep!
“Each Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre has extensive regional networks and maintains a comprehensive database containing community aged care, disability and other support services. Shopfronts are operated by organisations that already provide established services within their region. Their extensive local knowledge ensures they provide a quality service. This regional focus enables each Centre to develop an awareness of the entire range of services available, to establish networks with local providers and ensure information is up to date.
Examples of respite care assistance include in-home respite care; support workers to assist you when you are taking a break away from home; and residential respite care.” http://www9.health.gov.au/ccsd/index.cfm#1
Wow!! That is amazing!!!
I can hear the engines revving up....where there is a WILL there is a WAY, and I WILL make the WAY happen!
P.S. I did research www.respiteservices.com , a website sponsored by the government of Ontario:
“respiteservices.com coordinates a network of agencies, located across the province of Ontario, funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to provide respite services to families and individuals with disabilities. Host agencies are collaborating to develop a coherent process to ease access to services and information for both children and adults in local communities and across Ontario.”
(I looked for any mention of help for postpartum depressed moms needing respite, but the common words that popped up were respite for people/children with a disability or seniors.)
As I said, there is a need here that must be met. I am going to make sure that happens.
Postpartum Mood Disorder Awareness and Support Activist