Tag Archives: blogging

Patient Like a Rainbow

10 Dec

I contemplated not writing this.  Just letting this space and its audience slowly fade in the same way it slowly grew. But if there’s anything I love more than coffee, it’s closure.

I created this as place for me almost 4 years ago – a journal of sorts, online only because an audience is sometimes the best way to create voice and focus in writing, and inspired by my friend Melissa Lee to share my experience with postpartum depression.  Any fear I felt with each press of the “publish” button evaporated with the kind feedback that filled my inbox, and soon the words came with a side of courage.

So I kept writing, and somewhere along the way, my words began to help people.

I am immensely grateful for that most of all.

“don’t be afraid should things happen to change
’cause change can be a beautiful thing
should things fall apart
be patient like a rainbow
life is loving and letting go”

– Brett Dennen, Don’t Forget

I’m not sure exactly how to be “patient like a rainbow,” but have felt a shift over the last year in my need to blog, my desire to write, and my place in the online community.  What began as a whisper last winter is suddenly as clear as day.  My love for this space and all it has given me at first left me in denial, but as I’ve begun to focus on other things, I’m now sure – it’s time to close this chapter and step away from personal blogging.

You can still find me writing for Postpartum Progress as a contributing editor and member of the Warrior Mom Leadership Team.  I’m honored to have joined the Postpartum Progress staff as the Warrior Mom Conference Director, and I’m absolutely loving my work over at Crocheted Happiness, creating little works of art from yarn.  I’ll be around.  Just not here.

Thank you so much for being a part of my journey, for reading and commenting.  For sharing and for encouraging me. And for helping me find my courage.  Writing here has been key to my recovery from postpartum depression and to my path into advocacy work and I will always be grateful for all the experiences and people it brought into my life.

With fondness and deep gratitude,

Susan

 

Four

15 Oct

 

I’m linking up with with  Tracy,  Galit , and Alison for Memories Captured today.  They’ve asked us to honor our children – to take a moment and celebrate who they are and to be respectful of them when we write.  I use this blog to share my own feeling about motherhood and my experience living with a mental illness, so I am always mindful of what my children might think when they read it many years from now.  I want it to reflect how much I cherish them, but also how challenging it has been for me to become a parent and to balance my life with the life of this family.  I hope they will take all the imperfections I share here and see their mother as more than just “mom,” instead a whole person with hopes, dreams, struggles, and bad days.

But when they read this post, (Hi, Doodlebug!  Hi, Bean!) all I want them to see is how proud I am to be their mother.  Because I am.  Even on the hardest days and the longest nights, I am.

No1 turned four this past week.  During her party, all the kids climbed into the giant-cardboard-box-turned-convertible and pretended to drive to Story Land.  They all played so nicely together the whole party and No1 was in the middle of it all, being celebrated and lavished with the affection her bright personality brings to all of us.  I love this picture.  I love how she’s surrounded by her friends.  I love the look of belonging I can see in her eyes.  I hope that this is one birthday she will actually remember years from now, because it was incredible.  She is incredible.

 

 

 

 

On Search Terms

13 Sep

ImageI see your search terms, googler.  One day you search for “sweatpants” and another for “nursery with queen bed.”  I question your judgement (and my writing) when you search for “doodle up girls a@$hole.”

And then today, you searched for “why am i having intrusive thoughts baby is 7 months old” and my heart hurt for you.  I’m glad you’re searching for answers and reaching out, even if only online.  I’m honored that you landed at Learned Happiness.  And I hope what you found here helped.  I hope it let you know you’re not alone.  You do not have to suffer.  Tell your doctor, your partner, your friend.  You deserve to be happy and healthy.

And should you return, I’ll be here.  Still sharing about mental health.  And pandas.  And Oreos.

BlogHer 2012 Recap

14 Aug

Well, here it is.  My BlogHer 2012 recap.  I suppose many of you are sick of these, and mine is coming a little late.  But I want to give an account of my time in NYC in hope that it will be helpful to someone who is considering going in the future.

I’m going to skip writing about the hotel (which was nice), the loooong lines for lunch (which we skipped out on and instead enjoyed at Chipotle and then Lindy’s), and the official parties (which were all in an awkward L-shaped space and VERY loud but did have free booze).

Let me start by saying that BlogHer was big.  Huge.  Colossal.  And just not because it was in NYC or because there were nearly 5,000 in attendance.  BlogHer made it clear to me that blogging is big business these days.  President Obama addressed us on Thursday via live video conference.  Martha Stuart and Katie Couric spoke during lunches.  And brands went all out at the dozens of off-site parties. People were there to WORK. IT. and to take advantage of the plethora of marketing opportunities.  All weekend, I kept thinking about how big it was.  I felt so small.  And so out of place being a non-monetized small blogger.   I suppose that’s the thing I think it’s important for BlogHer newbies to know: that small bloggers are welcome, but that (at least in 2012) BlogHer seemed to me to be mostly about PR.  All weekend there was this energy all around – women vying for success.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that.  Who doesn’t want to be successful?  If you are interested in how to polish your branding, how to use twitter and pintrest to drive traffic to your blog, SEO, html, or how to make an app, BlogHer is the perfect conference for you.  Unfortunately for me, I went to focus on my writing, and only a few events seemed to really do that well. Cecily really says it better than I ever could here.

There has been talk of bloggers being cliquish. If that’s even a word.  Yes, bloggers who were familiar with one another hung out together.  They probably roomed together, ate together, and attended parties together.  I know my roomies and I did just that because we felt more confident and secure.  But you know what?  Every blogger I introduced myself to was friendly.  And 90% of them were also more than just polite.  They asked about my blog, my history, my hometown and really listened.  I shared a cab on Thursday with Tamera of MomRN,  Jenny Ingram from Jenny on the Spot, and another blogger whose card I didn’t get and whose name I can’t remember.  I feel terrible, because she was really kind – and her life/music blog sounded awesome.  These women didn’t know me from Eve, but were kind enough to include me in the ride to Social Luxe (which is a whole other story) and remembered me when I bumped into them later in the weekend.

I quite literally stalked Gina from The Feminist Breeder down in the Expo Hall just so I could thank her for her post about oversupply.  She was genuine and kind and I may have done that awkward happy skip away from our meeting.  Let’s just hope she wasn’t watching.  I got to hug Katherine Stone from Postpartum Progress again and dance with her at Sparklecorn.  She came over to our little foursome periodically to check on us like a proud mother hen.  I made new friends in the Serenity Suite, a quiet place to get away from all the calamity and to have great conversations.  And Fadra Nally from All Things Fadra was exceptionally kind at Social Luxe on Thursday – taking a genuine interest in my blog and encouraging me in my attempt to mingle at a party where I knew absolutely no one.

And then there were the PPD mamas.  I’m going to make some folks really jealous, but I have to tell you that Yael is just as  warm and comforting in person as she is online.  We sat together in the Serenity Suite Thursday evening and she made me the absolute best cup of tea I’ve ever had.  There’s something about her that looks straight to your soul and really sees you for who you are.  Her aura is stunning.  It was so nice to meet Ivy in person instead of just on Facebook, and to hug Jenna (Frelle) every time I ran into her.  And she was everywhere.  That girl has got some conference stamina, let me tell you!

And my roommates.  I’m convinced there have never been five strangers sharing a hotel room  as considerate as we were of one another.  They are the reason I spent much of the conference not at the conference…and I don’t regret it one bit.  We had lunches off-site, held mini panels in our hotel rooms, Skyped with Story, Lindsay, and Yuz, shopped for luxurious soap at Sabon, and discussed everything from blogging to kids to relationships to sex.  I felt truly heard…seen for who I am by these women, and I feel so lucky to have gotten a little girls getaway with them.

Jaime, you are so beautiful and passionate and kind.  A’Driane, hugging you in person will be the highlight of 2012 for me.  Truly.  Amiyrah, I wish we had gotten more time to hang out.  You worked your butt off all weekend and I was in awe of you.  And Melanie, I am so very glad to have you as a new friend.  I think we’re kindred spirits.

All of my best BlogHer moments were small, intimate meetings.  Whether it was with old friends or new ones, the time spent with people, making deep connections – that’s what I wanted to really get out of BlogHer.  I feel like I managed to do just that, but that I had to miss a lot of the conference to do it.

Would I go again?  Maybe.  It would depend on the speakers, the sessions, the prospective roommates.  I have a feeling a smaller conference like Blissdom or Type A Con might be more up my alley.  But I don’t regret attending BlogHer 2012 one bit.  I found some great new folks to read and follow.  I got some awesome free stuff.  And I learned so much about the blogosphere and where I see myself fitting into it (or not fitting, actually).

I pushed myself , stretched my comfort zone wide open, dyed my hair pink, and thrived.  Thank you, BlogHer for the memories, the experiences, the toilet cleaner.  Most of all, thank you for my friends.

 

What do you mean “bloggy friends?”

15 Jul

Summer means vacations, and sharing about your vacation plans.  For me, sharing my plans to take the train to NYC for BlogHer seems to lead to blank stares and vague commentary.  It’s the same look I get from folks when I talk about my “bloggy friends.”

Me: I was tweeting with A’Driane and she was telling me this hilarious story about the time she participated in donkey races down by the river…

Them: Oh.  You’re on twitter?  Huh.

Me: I’ve made some really great friends through twitter and blogging.  They’ve really helped me with my PPD this time around.

Them: {awkward silence}

Look.  I get it.  I write in my About Me section that I thought Web Logs were silly.  I mean, who wants to read about how I potty train my toddler… or what I had for dinner… or the inner workings of my anxiety-ridden brain?  And what about privacy?  That’s what makes my parents uncomfortable with my blogging, I think.  And Facebook.  And Twitter.  That I’m telling so much to so many.  And what kind of ego must I have to think that anyone would want to read what I write?

It’s not for everyone.  Just like marathon running, dog shows, video games, or singing, it’s a hobby for some and a career for others.  So it’s cool with me if people think its geeky, or silly, or self-absorbed.  It makes me happy.  But maybe (just maybe) this will help my IRL friends understand why I do it:

When I was a kid, I had a penpal in Japan.  I have long since forgotten her name, but I bet my mom saved some of the letters I received.  We quickly got over introductions and shares some pretty personal (as personal as a ten-year-old’s life can get) stories and really connected.  I looked forward to getting her letters and sharing my life with someone who was far-removed enough from my life that I felt like I could tell her anything.

That’s what blogging is – at least to me and the small community of PPD bloggers I’ve connected with.  It’s like having twenty-five pen pals.  You can share anything with them because your kids don’t play together, your husbands don’t know each other, and you’re not going to run into them at the grocery store and have an awkward moment.  They’re all seeking the same kind of honest, vulnerable friendship, but there’s a distance that makes it feel just a little less intimate…less frightening.  And because other people may stumble upon your blog or twitter feed too, you gather more pen pals along the way.

I’m going to stop referring to my bloggy pen pals as “my twitter friend, Lea” and “my blogging friend, Jaime.”  From now on, they’re just my “friends.”  That’s what they’ve become.

So there you have it.  Yes.  I spend hours online “chatting” with people I’ve never met in person.  And yes, I publish my personal diary on the internet for all to read (and comment on!).  I never expected to do either, or for it fill a hole in my life.  But it does.  It surely does.

BlogHer 2012

7 Jul

There are a bunch of you who have never heard of BlogHer.  That’s okay.  Like my husband says, the only people who care about blogging conferences and really read blogs are other bloggers, just like the only people who read academic papers and care about academic conferences are academics.  To each his own.  BlogHer is the largest conference for women in social media.  Bloggers from all over will descend on NYC in August to network, learn, and party.  And this year, I’m going!

I’m excited about the sessions – opportunities to get inspired by powerhouse writers and to learn tricks of the trade, both technical and artistic.  I’m excited to attend the parties.  I won an invite to SocialLuxe, people!  And I’ll be dancing my glittery butt off at Sparklecorn.  But I’m really going to meet some of my online friends for the first time.  I’ve truly connected with some spectacular writers, moms, and women online.  We’ve bared our souls but have yet to be in the same room.  And that’s about to change.

Originally, I was going to bring the baby with me.  I was prepared to babywear, take breaks for naps, breastfeed in the middle of sessions, and miss out on some of the social events.  And then I realized…this was my chance to have a little time to myself.  Probably the only change I will have in the next year.

So, I’m leaving the girls with my husband and Mama’s going to PAR-TAY!  I’m going to get to really focus on my writing and connecting with some amazing people.  I’m going to sleep without waking up five times a night (unless one of my roomies snores.  Fess, up, ladies!).  And then I’ll miss my girls something fierce and want to run home.

I can’t wait.

Please Read Me!

7 Apr

My stats are down.  Way down.

When I wrote earlier in the week that I’m writing for me, I meant it.  This is my place to think and process what’s going on in my life – mostly in my head.  So though I *will* admit that it’s awesome to check in and find I’ve gotten over a hundred hits in a day, I don’t need stats to make this worth it for me.

Usually I can count on at least 50-60 hits on a day when I post something new.  Most of those link from Facebook, where my friends and family keep tabs on me.  My biggest days?  The post after No2 was born, and my post entitled “Breast is Best“.  I figure people wanted to see the new baby…and then couldn’t wait to get all riled up and argue about breastfeeding.  (Nobody argued with me, by the way.  It wasn’t that kind of post.)

So why aren’t they reading now that I’m exclusively writing about mental health for a month?  My ego truly isn’t bruised.  I am simply worried about what this tells me about my topic.  Could it be that mental health is still so taboo that no one wants to read about it?  Or are these posts boring people?  Is the ppd blogging community deluding ourselves when we think we’re creating awareness?  Perhaps we’re really only writing for one another.  Or maybe it’s just a bit overwhelming.  It’s a tough topic.  Hard to think about.  I get that – really.  It’s a month of heavy writing, of me up on my soapbox.  So I understand if some of my readers are taking a break.

But.

I will keep writing.  1 in 5 mothers suffers from a postpartum mood or anxiety disorder.  This statistic from Postpartum Progress is shocking and frightening:

In fact, more mothers will suffer from postpartum depression and related illnesses this year than the combined number of new cases for both sexes of tuberculosis, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy. This is not to minimize these other terrible diseases, of course. I simply want to illustrate just how prevalent postpartum mood & anxiety disorders are.

These women cannot be left to believe they are alone.  I will continue to stand up and proudly claim my status as a ppd survivor and anxiety sufferer.  I am proof that mental illness can strike anyone, and that you can come out the other side stronger and more resilient than ever.

I hope you will support my fight against stigma.  I hope you will keep reading.

Self Care

4 Apr

Prompt: Reflect on why you write about your health for 15-20 minutes without stopping.

This was one of my favorite prompts last year during HAWMC, and everything I wrote HERE still rings true.  I write to decrease stigma.  I write in the hopes that my story may help someone.  I write to connect with my online community.

But these days?  I’m really writing for me.

Baby No2 was born in December, and after a long, successful battle with antenatal depression, I was prepared to meet postpartum depression head on, with my team of experts.  I scheduled appointments with my therapist and psychiatric nurse, and made sure to take care of myself, getting as much sleep as I could and eating well.  And after a few weeks?  I started to realize I was okay.  I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak, but it never did.  And so with my therapist’s guidance, we set a plan in action that includes putting weekly/monthly therapy on hold unless I need a session.  I check in with my psychiatrist’s office once in a blue moon, and I’ve already passed my 6-week physical check-up at the OB.  I’m on my own these days.

Writing is one of the keys to my success.  It’s my favorite method of self care  (because peeing alone does not count as me-time, mamas) – and the time to decompress without a small child or screaming baby is priceless in the early postpartum period.  But it’s more then that.  Writing about my battles with postpartum depression, antenatal depression, and generalized anxiety frees me from my shame.  It reminds me that I am a person suffering from these disorders and that I am more than the sum of my mental illnesses.  If I can put my truth out there for the world to read about, then I know I can separate myself from the moods.

I hope my readers continue to come back for inspiration and hope.  And I want to keep fighting the stigma surrounding mental illness by sharing my stories with friends and family… but ultimately, if my blog becomes only a love letter to myself?  That’s okay, too.

On Being a No-Name Blogger

18 Aug

Last week, @story3girl posted on her blog,  Sometimes It’s Hard, about how she was feeling lost in the blogging world.  There are so many big bloggers out there that it is all-too-easy to feel lost…like the new kid at school just learning the ropes and trying not to get a big “kick me” sign taped on her back.  Those big bloggers we all look up to?  Super-nice.  But it’s still hard not to feel intimidated.

She got me thinking about what I’m doing here in my little corner of the internet.  I mean, I know my IRL friends read the blog, and my FB friends usually click over, but do I want more?  Do I want to be an important blogger?  Do I want to make money with this?  Does blogging appeal to me as a career?

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being thrilled with the increased traffic and comments I’ve been seeing since I started back up this month  (and by increased, I mean sometimes I get 3 comments.  Woo hoo!).  There’s a validation in having people like what you have to say…especially since I spend most of my day with a toddler who rarely tells me what a great job I’m doing as a SAHM.  Comments and traffic are one of the ways bloggers feel “seen”.  And isn’t that what all people want?  To know they are being seen and heard for who they are?

But.  I started writing for me.  I needed an outlet for processing my experiences as a mother and a woman struggling with a mood disorder.  I suppose I could have bought a leather-bound journal at Barnes & Noble and written for myself, but without an audience, the writing would have been shallow and unfocused (I swear my old diaries are literally painful to read through).  The first thing my writing students learned to always ask was “who’s the audience?”  An audience holds you responsible for your writing.  They bring the writing to life.  This blog gives my writing purpose.

I like to think of my blog – my writing – like my music.  I play two instruments…well.  But I hold no expectations of ever being a famous pianist or  flautist.  I play for the love of music, for the process of learning a new piece, and for myself.  It’s been more difficult to enjoy and stay motivated without an ensemble to perform with, because music is just like writing – it needs an audience to truly come alive.  But still, I play, and I teach, and I share what I know.

As long as the writing continues to bring me clarity and serves as cheap therapy, I’ll still be here blogging.  I enjoy the process, and especially the peace being vulnerable and open has brought to my life.  And although I don’t get many comments, I know friends and family are keeping up with me, and that my words mean something to them.  I think that’s enough for me.

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