Loony Bins And Fear: One Woman's Struggle With Postpartum Psychosis

Friday, November 14, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Mom Stories/Opinion

Postpartum depression is a common occurrence, estimated to occur in around 15% of women. Many of them have symptoms including anxiety, hopelessness and trouble sleeping. But it is the thoughts of infant harm that scare these women most, often because they are led to believe that those with PPD harm their children due to a very biased—and very misinformed—media. 

But most mothers who engage in infant harm are not suffering from PPD at all. Most of these mothers are suffering from another disorder entirely, known as postpartum psychosis (Read more here in PPD is NOT Postpartum Psychosis: What Women Need to Understand About Infant Harm). However, even mothers with postpartum psychosis are not usually dangerous. Less than 1% of women ever develop postpartum psychosis, and of that 1%, less than 4% harm their children.

Postpartum psychosis is not an all-or-nothing thing (explained further in Understanding Postpartum Psychosis: A Temporary Madness.) Women may have symptoms and be able to get help even when in the throes of hallucinations or delusions. Most women are able to see past the thoughts and get assistance before they do something they will regret. Most can be pulled back from the brink. 

But it is usually the getting help that makes a difference for these women. Today, I invited a dear friend to discuss her experience with postpartum psychosis. And while she wishes to remain anonymous, it is her sincere hope that her story might help someone else out there to identify what is happening to them and get the assistance they need.  ...  continue reading

Birth Plans, The Mommy Wars and Jerk-Face Asshats: Shame, Maternal Anxiety and the Illusion of Control

Monday, November 10, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Psychology of Motherhood

So....birth.

I have seen too many cases of post traumatic stress and anxiety responses following childbirth to pretend it isn't a real issue. But stress surrounding childbirth isn't isolated to the outliers. At every turn we have people telling us that birth is dangerous, that hospitals are dangerous, that women who have cesareans are irresponsible and ill informed, that those who birth naturally at home are child-endangering hippies. Quite aside from the fact that we are often unable to actually choose our ideal outcome, our strong, evolutionarily-relevant response to public shaming triggers us to defend, to justify our experiences to others in a culture of "having surgery means you're broken," or, "dear god, you're fucking insane giving birth without a doctor." It's like saying, "You didn't do it my way? Fuck you and the vagina you rode in on."

This shit is crazy.

Regardless of our own birthing experiences, natural or cesarean, the element of choice in medical treatment carries physical and emotional implications for all women. And for those who believe that shame is not the issue at all, but that instead informed consent is the biggest driver here, let us acknowledge that in blaming other women for choices, whether fully informed or not, we continually reinforce this notion of "at fault" and subsequent shame, while dividing ourselves along lines of natural birthers versus surgical birthers.  As if one makes us inherently better than the other. As if we are really all that different in our desire to make choices for our bodies and for our families. As if the ability to choose always exists. Not to mention that those lines of division make it less likely that the demand for more education, for more choices, for more informed consent will fall below the threshold at which hospitals, other medical bodies or governments alter policy.

But you're not here for the policy. You're here for the psychology, right? So what about the emotional implications of these choices?

When faced with shame or blaming, many women feel "less than" or "wrong" for choices they made and this loss of empowerment has wider implications than we think. For while it is about control, it is not only absolute power that matters. It is our perception of control in any given situation that leads to emotional responses. We need to understand this as well as the fact that we are eroding the mental health of other women by blaming them for their decisions simply because they are not the same as ours or for having births that they may not have even wanted to begin with.

So for the love of holy fuck, knock it off and let's talk about this, about what control really means to us, about why we make different decisions, about how these things alter our emotional state. We need to understand one another. Because we get nowhere if we don't get there together....  continue reading

Herbs for Sexual Dysfunction and Depression: The Benefits of Maca Root

Friday, November 07, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Physical Health and Emotion

Did you hear the one about the guy who made an appointment to treat his impotence? He had to cancel because something came up! 

Maybe he was taking maca root. (Genius transition, I know.)

Lepidium meyenii, also known as maca, is a starchy potato-like root with a high nutritional profile. It contains nineteen essential amino acids, fatty acids such as linoliec, oleic and palamitic, along with calcium, potassium, manganese, copper, iodine, iron and zinc. Maca is often touted as an adaptogen, or a compound that helps the body to adapt to stress by normalizing internal systems. 

But it is great for more than good overall health. Maca root may also reduce depression and menopausal symptoms while alleviating sexual dysfunction, including low libido. 

“Say what? More happiness and better sex drive? Please, continue.”...  continue reading

Secrets About Female Sexuality Every Woman Should Know: The Evolutionary Basis of Girl-on-Girl Fantasies

Monday, November 03, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Sexuality/Relationships

"In a recent survey of married men, 80% reported that they wouldn't be angry if their wife slept with another woman. Said the other 20%, 'That's hot.'" (Ba dum, dum, ching)

Have you ever been turned on by another chick? It's cool. It happens to a lot of us. 

We are not inherently monogamous, which makes a rich fantasy life critical when we find ourselves with the same partner year after year. While some are able to take such things in a stride, there is potential to feel guilty, as if the fantasies are a betrayal of a current partner, which is not the case (discussed more here in Can Fantasy Be Useful?). This guilt may be especially poignant when the fantasy involves something that is really taboo, like making out with the hot chick who does your nails. 

But seriously, it's normal. And it's even evolutionarily relevant....  continue reading

Why She Stayed: Abuse, Loss and Surviving Domestic Violence

Thursday, October 30, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Mom Stories/Opinion

Domestic violence has been a hot-button topic in recent months. On television we watched Ray Rice beat his girlfriend unconscious, and listened to uninformed  mouthpieces attack her and other victims of similar crimes (read more here in Ray Rice, Victim Blaming and Why Women Stay). Some commentators went so far as to suggest that we should avoid elevators. (Instead of watching Fox and Friends commentators, do me a favor and check out the books listed at the bottom of this post instead. Your brain will thank you later.)

This is not a new issue, nor does it only affect women who choose to use elevators for their floor-changing needs. Domestic violence is something we must talk about so that those in these relationships know they are not alone, which is one reason I included this issue in my first novel, Famished (get it here). Nothing illuminates the struggle better than a story--and even better than fiction are real stories from real women. Because while it feels like a personal problem, domestic violence is an issue that affects us all, and will continue to affect future generations if we cannot address it openly. No one should suffer in silence....  continue reading

BOW DOWN! I AM KANYE, SUCKERS! What Causes Narcissism and Ways to Deal with a Narcissist (Besides Running)

Monday, October 27, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Sexuality/Relationships

Narcissism is a word that gets thrown around a lot, often to describe those with high self worth. But as anyone who has been in a relationship with an actual narcissist knows, it is not the self worth that is the problem but rather a personality style that can be overbearing, attention seeking, grandiose and even downright abusive2. Narcissists may be bullies, show offs or addictive self-soothers2. They may show up as martyrs, workaholics or as rescuers proclaiming that they can “save” you if only you listen to them2. Narcissists may also use ploys such as vanishing when you need them or confuse you by switching from protector to jerk face at the drop of a hat. 

All of these traits add up to partners feeling powerless, resentful, intimidated or flat-out depressed. But partners are not the only ones with emotional issues. Narcissism is often related to early attachment difficulties and trouble with self regulation. Those with narcissistic traits tend to be victims of their past as much as they make others victims in the present. But this explanation IS NOT a way to excuse those behaviors. Nothing in this post is to suggest that someone in an abusive relationship should stay. Regardless of cause, there is no excuse for physical or emotional violence; a partner cannot use their past as a way to justify the present. 

But as much as we don’t want to admit it, narcissism doesn’t develop in a vacuum. And by understanding why it does come about, we may be able to identify better ways to avoid it, treat it, and even use some narcissistic traits to enhance society as opposed to hinder it.

Enhance society? What in the actual fuck, Meg?

Trust me guys, you don’t want to miss this post....  continue reading