What does it feel like to have a mood issue?
That's complicated because each person feels differently. One thing that unites us as parents with mood issues is that bringing it into the light and asking for support will help. We can be well again.
A peer support group- lead by a peer who has experienced Depression/Anxiety/OCD/PTSD- is meant to be a safe confidential space.
Is it therapy? No. But it feels therapeutic and cathartic at times. We do not share with outside groups your information. I can provide assistance to find referrals to professionals upon request.
Am I the right fit for this group? It must be new moms with babies. True. New moms with first babies come. Moms on their third babies come. Fathers and partners come. Parents experiencing mood issues 6 months, 12 months, even 4 years out from birth come to group. Why? It's a safe understanding space. Other common parent experiences include pregnancy loss, infant loss, infertility, IVF, foster, surrogacy, hospitalization, domestic violence, birth trauma. I get asked this question a lot. These issues are parenting issues that we all benefit from learning to hold space for- because that perfect "blissful experience" is just not everyone's reality. Knowing you aren't alone is a powerful feeling.
What if I cry? Most people do. Especially the first few times or when recounting a vivid story. The members of group knows what it feel like to be vulnerable.
Is it instructional like a lecture or do we share feelings/stories in a circle? Mostly the latter. That being said, group is not a place to tell you how you are doing things wrong. This is not a group that tries to problem solve, fix your issues, or judge you. Nope. Against group rules to tell someone what they "should" do. We walk around feeling enough "shoulds" everyday already. We get to dump those frustrations in group, and hopefully we walk away feeling lighter.
What do we do in group? We learn to hold space. With confidentiality, people feel safe enough to share vulnerable stories. Holding space is an act of accepting another person as they are. Give it and receive it in our peer support group.
For example- we start group with introductions. Who are you, why are you here, what do you hope to get from group. Then we share our mood issue brags and drags- what have you struggled with recently and what have you felt you overcome. Then we open group up from there and talk on issues relevant to our discussion so far. I include books, activities, meditations, and speakers.
I'm feeling better- why should I continue to visit group? On a road to recovery, helping others with your compassion is not just good for them, it feels GREAT for you. Compassion and empathy are muscles we need to practice in order to use often for ourselves. When we leave group, we leave behind those stories and take the compassion we practice with us. Numerous group members in recovery feel coming to group also reminds them how hard they worked and how far they come- it brings hope to themselves and new members
Issues discussed in the past include: vulnerability, shame, guilt, "should", partnerships, siblings, birth traumas, birth stories, working parenting and stay-at-home parenting, depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, psychosis, mind-body connection, resource finding, tool box building, finding our super power, finding gifts in our mood struggles, physical health, pelvic health and trauma, energy, suicide, and more.
I hear a person's deepest fears about being a parent and keep them safe. I see this person as a parent in ways that they share with no one else.
I see their strengths in a way they don't allow themselves to quite celebrate.
I share space to provide support so they can help themselves start their parenting chapter, which can feel very scary, with an empowered outlook and plan.
Nesting is important. It's the brain and body's way of gearing up to help a new human, that was on the inside, survive on the outside.
Yet getting things in order can be overwhelming.
A doula can help.
1. Sibling help- A family with a toddler was expecting twins. That toddler needing some help learning to sleep in her crib for naptime. She had always slept with mom up until mom was just not able to skip her pee breaks and stretch out. Physically mom needed support to lift and put toddler into the crib. Emotional support was also necessary because mom felt anxiety about how things would change for her daughter when the twins came. How would she adapt to having to juggle the needs of many littles?
2. Bringing baby home- is the home ready? Have you thought of all the details of what works best for feeding, sleep, and supporting yourself? Nursery prep. Supplies. Meal train, meal plans, and meal support. Diaper choices, feeding options.
3. Meals- I can prep a ridiculous number of meals in one day. I can prep snacks. I can grocery shop!!! Physically and energetically it is hard to grocery shop, prep meals for the freezer, and even imagine what you needs will be postpartum. I can help take on some of the mental and physical load.
4. Preparing for birth- get the towels! Get the receiving blankets! Get the butt paste! I've been in several homes helping mom prepare for her home birth. Gathering supplies and preparing the space in ways that mom is not able.
5. Emotional Support- Cool cool cool. You got pregnant. You probably won't see the stress and anxiety of parenting until the wee one is here- right? We look for positivity by discovering your superpower (strength) as a parent. We celebrate wins. We create strategies for accountability as we create new challenges to overcome. I work peer-to-peer because all that separates me and my clients is time and experience.
6. Birth Plan Details- Not everyone wants to do a full childbirth education course. Some just want help creating a comprehensive plan. You see, nurses and providers respond well to plans that are in their language. If a plan is concise and deliberate, it can enable nurses and families to become allies for the same birth outcomes. Have questions? I've got some evidence based answers. Need options? We can include those too. Let's create a unique-to-you birth plan that helps you feel prepared going into birth.
I am sure that there will many more new experiences to come.