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Showing posts from August, 2017

Stop Searching For Your Passion

Terry Trespicio is a writer and branding consultant. She gave a fabulous TED talk entitled, "Stop Searching For Your Passion." She describes passion happens when "your energy and efforts meet someone's need." Giving your full attention and energy to the task in front of you is the best way to fuel success and consequently ignite passion. We are so focused in this society on labels and destinations. Social media and social conversation demand brands, titles, interests (passions) and links to websites and blogs, etc. As a society we loose the value and momentum found in the journey, the process. 

As a stay at home mom, the environment and the responsibilities involved are limiting at times. There are days when daydreaming of future professional endeavors are inevitable. Life becomes monotonous and tired with many a job over time. It's important to remember that reinventing yourself can happen at any stage. It may begin with a hobby or some freelance work. When…

Poor Practice

I had a friend over the other night. I'll refer to her as Kelly for the sake of privacy. We were taking about pregnancy and crossed over to the topic of medication in pregnancy. She has a history of depression and has been taking antidepressants for about 4 years. Kelly is getting married soon and she plans to start a family in the near future. She recently spoke to her OBGYN about her about her options regarding medication in pregnancy. She has been working with this particular doctor since adolescence.

Kelly's doctor shared a new study on antidepressants and autism with her, explaining that if she were to continue on her antidepressant that she would have to locate another healthcare provider. There was no mention of a referral made.
This story took me back to my initial conversation with my longstanding OBGYN. He was similarly limited and uncomfortable with my questions regarding lithium in pregnancy. After explaining to him that I reviewed the research and I intended to rem…

Let Peace Begin With Me

"The important thing is not to think much but to love much; and so do that which best stirs you to love." -Teresa of Avila

I am a spiritual person by nature. I look for meaning in most everything. I don't believe in coincidences. I find comfort and healing in prayer and service. 

There was a moment. A definitive moment, a turning point, that took place on Saturday, July 15th. It was roughly 10:30pm. It was the weekend of our parish's annual women's retreat. I had arrived home from a long day of hospitality related duties at St. Edward. I retreated to our guest room upstairs so as not to disturb anyone.

I could not stop smiling. It was a funny thing really. I just laid there awake beaming from ear to ear. There was this surge of joy and excitement that welled up from within the earth of my heart. Feelings which had been smothered by apprehension and fear for weeks and months were now being replaced with feelings of peace. The whole weekend experience was about practi…

Holding On

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and learn not on your own understanding." -Proverbs 3:5
As I mentioned in my last post, I experienced heightened anxiety and mood swings following my second pregnancy. Poor judgement calls were made. Several. The first major oversight being resuming my routine dose too quickly postpartum. The second major oversight being not communicating symptoms of unmanageable anxiety nor mood changes to my psychiatrist/husband/close family. I tried to manage a lot of changes on my own. I didn't involve my support system on numerous occasions. I look back on this past year and notice a trail of warning signs of impending mania. 
We took a pregnancy test at the end of February. It was positive. We were both overwhelmed. We had our first ultrasound on March 22nd. Three of my sister-in-laws were in town at the time. What timing! The worst of the first trimester nausea and exhaustion were in full swing. Their presence was a true God send for several rea…

The Postpartum Period

I experienced situational depression after my first pregnancy with Christine. Although, it never transpired to anything unmanageable. The winter months are difficult for many of us. With my second pregnancy I opted to increase my medication during the second trimester. I was experiencing routine sleep disturbances and I figured it was worth a try. My sleep improved with the increase. Upon delivery, I resumed my routine dose within a few weeks. I was under the direction of a new psychiatrist at the time. Looking back, the dose was reduced too quickly. The three months following Amelia's birth were unusually stressful due to an increase in visitors and multiple travel plans. This was a frenzied, anxious time in my life with or without an existing mood disorder. Adding bipolar disorder postpartum stress and multiple children into the situation only heightened my anxiety. In the end, I suffered from heightened anxiety and mood swings throughout the winter and spring. I learned several…

To Breastfeed or Not to Breastfeed?

When searching for answers regarding lithium and breastfeeding I came a across a single study; a single study with 10, yes 10, mother-infant pairs! Needless to say making a sound decision to breastfeed was very difficult.

Although the sample size in the study (through MGH) was small, it is the largest systematic study quantifying exposure of lithium in children through breastfeeding. "While early reports raised concerns regarding exposure to high levels of lithium in nursing infants, this study suggests that lithium levels in infants are relatively low and were about 25% of maternal levels" (MGH, 2005). There was insufficient data regarding long-term effects of in utero exposure to mood stabilizers. In the same way there is limited long-term data regarding mood stabilizers and breastfeeding.

Sleep interruption was a major concern of mine/ours. Sleep is central to maintaining mood and stress levels with any mental illness. If we choose to breastfeed there would be a need for r…

The Medication Question

Some women approach the topic of pregnancy with thoughts of optimism and enthusiasm. Others, meet this topic after deep reflection and deliberation. And even fewer women, broach the topic of pregnancy with honest fear and apprehension.

"According to Psychology Today (2015), Research suggests that women are about 40% more likely than men to develop depression. They're twice as likely to develop PTSD, with about 10% of women developing the condition after a traumatic event, compared to just 4% of men." Depression occurs most often during a women's childbearing years, ages 25 to 44 (MHA, 2015). Although women seek out treatment more often than men, women in treatment make up less than half of the depressed female population (MHA, 2015).

Although women are typically more comfortable seeking treatment and disclosing personal information, making the decision to become pregnant with a mental illness is a daunting one. According to Massachusetts General Hospital's Center…

My First Pregnancy

I didn't relapse; if anything, my mood improved some. I remember feeling like the best version of myself. I slept well, throughout.  I was calm. Cool. Collected. Well, most days. We moved into our first home. I even helped carry some boxes!

With every passing month, it was clear that we had made the right decision to remain on medication. All my well visits were routine and uneventful, as were the ultrasounds. As a high risk patient in a maternal fetal health practice I was ordered an anatomy ultrasound. The ultrasound tech took pictures for what felt like 45 minutes. A pediatric cardiologist examined the heart, brain and spinal cord for developmental issues. There were none.

Leading up to delivery day you could find me tutoring kids at Kumon, volunteering at a local nursing home or walking on the indoor track at our neighborhood park. Pregnant or not, I prefer to be busy. Having multiple responsibilities and a schedule has always kept me sane and satisfied. 

Our first child, Christi…

It All Begins With a Seed

I didn't set out to have three children. Heck, I didn't set out to have a family until I was forced to reckon with something undealt with--uncertainty! It was the fall of 2012. I had recently wed my high school sweetheart, moved to the Chicago-burbs and was in the process of job hunting. Positions in my field of interest were limited due to recent job cuts. Although job hunting in this day and age is entirely cumbersome, it wasn't the repetitive application questions and demands that were nagging me. It was something else-something bigger than my field of social work. It was this idea of vocation. What was my purpose in the here and now? What opportunity was truly worth the taking? Who should I listen to?

These questions eventually took presedence over telephonic counseling interviews and led me to a shrine in Des Plaines, IL dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe (it should be noted-it is the largest of it's kind outside of Mexico City). As I sat down in front of the shrin…