Post Partum Depression: The denied mental health issue

ppd

Photo Courtesy of thefeministwire.com

Ebony Wilkerson’s story or rather the many responses to her actions hit a nerve and was the reason behind a mini rant on twitter.

You see, I have seen post partum psychosis depression up close and in person. In case you did not know, it is not pretty.   I was 12 years old and that person was my mother. She had just had her sixth child nine months ago. It was a scene from a horror story. I will never forget what it looked or smelled like. I worry that I too may suffer from a similar fate. That is why I speak-out and for those women who do not have a voice to speak for themselves. Post partum depression is real. It is not made up any more than PMS is made up.

Just what is post partum depression? According to PubMed Health post partum depression is defined as, “Moderate to severe depression in a woman after she has given birth. It may occur soon after delivery or up to a year later. Most of the time, it occurs within the first 3 months after delivery.” Like any other medical condition, if post partum depression is left untreated it  can last for months or years. That’s where stories like Ebony’ s come in at. From all accounts, it seems in my opinion that Ebony actually suffered from post partum psychosis, which is far more severe than post partum depression.  According to WebMD post partum psychosis, “Is a rare, severe, and dangerous form of postpartum depression that can suddenly occur within the first 3 weeks following childbirth. A woman who has postpartum psychosis may feel detached from her baby and other people. Or she may have hallucinations involving smell, touch, sight, or hearing. She may have thoughts not based in reality (delusions), display bizarre behavior, or have urges to kill herself and her child or children.”

There is no question that Ebony needs help. There is no question that, her children need to be removed from her care. There is a question of whether she should be treated like a common criminal. While there are plenty of cases  of women killing their children and not being mentally ill, that a mental illness does exist should be taken into account. Most like to use the argument that pedophilia is a mental disorder too. What many fail to realize is that, in order to be diagnosed with a paraphilic diagnosis one must meet certain criteria. As per the DSM-V the criteria is:

  • feel personal distress about their interest, not merely distress resulting from society’s disapproval;

or

  •  have a sexual desire or behavior that involves another person’s psychological distress, injury, or death, or a desire for sexual behaviors involving unwilling persons or persons unable to give legal consent.

Many do not know this but, in truth most people who have  atypical sexual interests do not have a mental disorder. Rather, it is a perverse and willing choice that engage in such acts. To compare these people to women who genuinely have a psychiatric issue is inhumane.

While my mother did not hurt her children, she hurt herself. Every time I smell a certain smell, I have flashbacks to when she hurt herself. I will never forget that lost look in her eyes. I pray that one day I too don’t walk around with that same lost look. Like so many other mental health issues, incarceration is not the answer. Rather, it is the problem. As filled as prisons are today, there is no way that the mentally ill will get the care that they really need. Rather, the deplorable conditions only make the conditions worse. No one wants to have cancer. To think that someone would want to be mentally ill is ignorant beyond words.

Let us not judge or we shall be judged. If indeed Ebony is not ill then I say, carry out punishment to the fullest extent of the law. However, let us make sure that’s the case. Shame on those who have disorders such a bipolar or schizophrenia and because of medication are functional judging this woman. Your road is not the same as hers. Shame on society for not accepting that those mental disorders that only affect women real and not some made-up figment of our imagination. Shame on government for not doing more. Congrats to the person who decided that they should do more and created this White House Petition. Hopefully, you will do as I did and sign. We owe it to ourselves as women to protect ourselves before the right is taken from us.

If you you or someone you know is suffering from post partum depression/psychosis please advocate for treatment and contact these sources if you need help:

Words of Wisdom:

In health,

Maliyka

Lessons of a woman and the New Year

audre-lorde Without going into specifics I am going to stand up and say I have had my heart-broken. Looking back, even when I thought that I had surpassed the age of being young, dumb and full of c*m I really wasn’t. Here’s the thing though, after getting irrefutable proof  had whispers of truth but I wasn’t listening because I placed myself on a higher pedestal than he had placed me and believed him when he said no I took back my life and disregarded his low pedestal placement of me. Rather, I placed myself higher than what he had deemed I deserved and moved on. Out of that situation, I learned a few things.

  1.  There really are good men out there. Yes that heartbreaker was an a**hole but through it all, I was lucky enough to have a few “good” men in my corner who pointed out his “wrongness” and mine too. They broke down the science of the situation and gave me the courage to keep it moving. 
  2.  Intuition is God whispering to you…listen. Stop waiting for him to scream. It hurts more. Now keep in mind that sometimes that intuition can be based off of your own insecurities. That’s something that only you will know. 
  3.  Women are the root of all things related to male bullsh*t. That’s right I said it, and I will stand by my proclamation. More times than not, we women choose to make excuses for our men folks and the foolery that they do. We tend to turn a blind eye and and not blame them rather we blame the other woman or some other inconsequential factor. Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes the other woman deserves the blame. More often than not, she is just as much a victim as you are. Women are cruelest to each other and men have capitalized on that fact.

 While I am no relationship guru, I do know that the grass is not greener on the other side. I say with experience, stop settling for bullsh*t. I get that at some point we all settle for something. It’s not a matter of settling. Rather it’s choosing what to settle for. Too often, we are settling for things like money or someone to pardon our eggs on their death march that we forget our own worth. Contrary to the word on the street, money cannot buy you happiness. It does buy you false security. Eff what you heard and trust that just about everyone who has settled for bullsh*t has those hours in the dark of night when she sheds a tear for the whore that she has allowed herself to come all for the sake of the all american dream; a husband, which picket fence and 2.5 kids.

Now I respect that for many, my  definition of bullsh*t is different from theirs but I am sure most will agree that dealing with someone who doesn’t respect you is bullsh*t. No relationships are not easy and sometimes there will be bullsh*t. I am not talking about the bullsh*t where all he does is work and watch sports. Or the kind where he never saw a broom or a mop. Or even the one where he leaves the toilet seat up and toothpaste in the sink. Stop and think for a minute. You know what bullsh*t I refer to. I am talking about where he is cheating on you and and not call him out and make him accountable you cover his faults and make excuses. I am talking about the bullsh*t where is hand is constantly touching you in a harmful way. I am talking about the bullsh*t where he has you thinking that you are not smarter than a 5th grader. I am talking about the bullsh*t where you continue to act like his side piece when you know that he is never leaving his front piece. Yeah that’s the bullsh*t I am talking about.  

Today, is a new day. There is no need to “Act like a lady, and think like a man.” As matter of fact, stop trying. It is impossible. They really are from Mars. What you can do and should do is know your self-worth. Know and own up to it. You are deserving of someone who will treat you like a Queen and honor you . No one wants to be alone. I get it. But sometimes being together with someone is detrimental to your soul. At the end of the day, all of this here on earth will disappear. Your goal should be the riches of the afterlife where the bullsh*t of the world will be light years away. So on this new day in this new year, I wish you all strength and prosperity. I wish you serenity. The ability to make change. I wish you happiness and peace. Most of all, I wish you the ability to love yourself before loving someone else. I urge you to walk forward in the new year not with a resolution but a determination to succeed in this game called life. Stay beautiful. Stay bright. Most of all…stay well.  It;s a jungle out there and sometimes it will take you under.

Words of wisdom: “Ladies let me give you some advice: Men will treat you the way you let them. There is no such thing as “deserving” respect; you get what you demand from people.” Tucker Max

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Picture Courtesy of: Bing Image

It’s domestic violence awareness month too

 

A year ago, I went on a semi-rant about the NFL’s lack of involvement with domestic violence awareness (you can read all about it here). This year I am taking my rant a tad bit louder. Let me start by saying, I LOVE FOOTBALL. My favorite teams is the Jets. I am a loyal supporter even when they disappoint me. However, i am also a health educator and have a responsibility to educate the public about health issues. So despite my love, for football, educate I will.

On December 3, 2013, HuffPost Live aired “NFL Domestic Violence,” after Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend and later himself. According to HuffPost Live, 21 of 32 NFL teams had a player charged with domestic violence that year. Even still, the NFL has not stepped up to the plate and taken an active role in addressing domestic violence. While I appreciate their involvement in the breast cancer movement, domestic violence is just as important of a movement. While I commend players like Chris Canty and Chris Johnson on speaking out against domestic violence the NFL needs to step up as an organization and not only acknowledge but carry out programming to discuss their employees roles in all of this madness.  

According to a The Guardian article, “Reports of domestic violence increased by 10 percent in areas where the local National Football League team lost a game it was expected to win.” I challenge the NFL to do more. While domestic violence is not exclusive to the NFL, there is no question that the problem exist at an alarming rate.  More needs to be done to decrease this number. I am sure that it can be done seeing as how both Chris’ have stepped up to the plate and are doing.

It’s been a blessing and a curse. I have seen the savageness of domestic violence. I have been afraid that one day I would get a call that would change my life. It is easy to say what we won’t do or allow to happen. Honestly, none of us knows just what we will do. All we can do is hope that we won’t be a victim.

Words of Wisdom:

“In violence we forget who we are.”  – Mary McCarthy

In health,

Maliyka

Do you need Plan B…

plan b The morning after pill and I are intimately acquainted. I am sure that it is acquaintance of a lot of women. Both of my experiences happened when I was over the age of 18 and did not have to worry about the pesky issue of parental consent. One of my experiences was way before they made “Plan B,” rather they gave me a pack of birth control pills and told me to take half of the pack almost in a hr interval or something like that. The second time around it was less pills but the result was the same…nausea being one of them. The difference between the first and last time I needed to stop something before it started, I had to go to a health provider. The second time, it was to my local pharmacist.

First things first, what exactly is the morning after pill or Plan B as it is now called. For all the lost and confused, don’t make up stories. It is not the same thing as the abortion pill. If you are pregnant unfortunately it won’t work.  The morning after pill works by delaying ovulation when sperm meets egg by preventing the sperm from reaching the egg. Depending on the type of pill, thickening of the cervical mucus may occur. That is it. Mystery solved.

A few years ago, legislation was put in place to make the morning after bill available over-the-counter. The catch, you had to prove that you were age 17 or older. Recently, a Federal judge ruled against the age limit going so far as to blast the Obama administration stating that,  “It had let election-year politics trump science and were making it hard for women of any age to obtain emergency contraception in time for it to work.” As a result of the ruling, the morning after pill will now be able to girls/women 15 years and older. The FDA has a mnonth to make it happen and it looks like they are making ithappen.

That’s great news right? Perhaps. While there is nothing wrong with giving a 15-year-old control over her body afterall a long time ago she would have been a married woman by that age she must also be responsible. The morning after pill should not be used as a form of birth control. It should not give one license to engage in risky behaviors. If the morning after pill is not taken within the window time period more than likely it will not work. Even if it is taken in the window period it may not work. This is no miracle pill. It an emergency option for an unplanned situation. Yes young people have sex. That is clear given that teenage pregnancies occur. However, most of these teenagers really do not understand the consequences involved with having sex.

So yes while I see no issue with making the pill available to those who are considered to be legal adults, I need adults to understand that conversations must be had with our young people. We must take our heads out of the sand and stop denying that they are having sex. They are and sometimes more than grown people. We all know about abstinence. Most adults actually see the benefits even though they love sex you can raise your hand and some will even admit that they should have waited. These babies may have women parts but they don’t really understand how said parts work. For them sex is something to do. It is really more than that. It is emotions, heartache, headache, frustration, etc. It is devastation, accidents, incurable diseases, nine months later. So while the morning after pill is available to even more girls/women than before, lets not delude ourselves into thinking that a problem does not exist. It does and until we are honest with ourselves that issue will remain.

Words of wisdom:  “Sex: the thing that takes up the least amount of time and causes the most amount of trouble.” ~John Barrymore

In health,

Maliyka

Freezer burn: Egg freezing

Some time ago my mommy (she’s actually my cousin who is like a 2nd mother to me), asked me if I had ever thought about freezing my eggs. Before you start offering condolences, no I am not dying. Rather my eggs are dying. At the time, I had entered into my 30th year and had no still don’t really real prospect of a mate to help me in child making activities. Knowing how much I wanted a child eventually, she was concerned that when I got around to it I would not have any eggs left to fertilize. At the time, I was startled. I was not ready for a child. Children weren’t even on my radar yet here was someone wondering more about my eggs than I was. However, as I detailed in the blog post a few weeks ago I realized that my fertility had a ticking clock attached to it. Even still, I will not be freezing my eggs.

Although, this is not Fertility awareness month over the past few days there have been many post related to freezing ones eggs. One op-ed piece that I read in  the NY Times , did bring home a valid point. That doctor that every woman loves to hate, the OB/GYN almost always talking about pap smears, cancer, and contraception but they never really discuss whether you plan to have a baby. On a personal note, I can attest to that. During my last visit, my doctor asked me what form of contraception I was using. Not once did she say, “Hey you are almost 32 years old, do you plan on having children anytime soon.” While I am not in a rush, it is a conversation that I believe my doctor should have discussed with me. Go figure, she is not even aware that both my maternal grandmother and mother were considered post menopausal way before they were 50. As a matter of fact, my grandmother started going through menopause right after she had my mother. She was 38.
There should be nothing to big or small that a doctor will not talk about with their patients. Even if that patients says, “you know what doc, I don’t plan on having children.” At least the doctor can notate that they had the discussion. Even if my doctor, had broached the topic with me i would not rush to have a child. I am sure that this is one of the reasons why doctors are cautious about broaching this topic. No doctor wants to be liable for any decision that a patient made which is not in their best interest. Here is the thing, as a doctor it is your duty to talk about the good, bad and the ugly. at some point personal responsibility must come into place and this is one of those situations. Some women, may bot even realize that their eggs have am expiration date and the longer they wait the harder it may be to conceive. It is all about education. While I am not promoting egg freezing it cost too much money there maybe someone who is interested. Who better to receive that information from than by your doctor.

As the oldest of 10 children, while I would like children freezing those little things that pop out of my ovaries and roll down my fallopian tube is not a reality for me. I am comfortable with never having any children. But to the woman who has $12,000+ to freeze their eggs good for you. For those women who have a medical condition that may destroy your chances at fertility, you are in luck. With all the health policy changes and us living in a society that values procreation insurance companies may actually pay that high price tag.

Today’s prescription: There is nothing wrong with planning but remember that your plan must be realistic. Tomorrow is never promised.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer awareness month. If you haven’t feel your boobies pun intended  You may just save your life. On a monthly basis, you should be checking your breast for any abnormalities. You may not realize, but the breast are made up of different components however there are several areas that are more prone to developing cancer than others.The most breast cancer types are ductal carcinoma and lobular carcinoma (Source: CDC). As of 2008, 10,203 women were diagnosed with breast cancer and 40,589 women died from breast cancer.

As with most health conditions, it is best to be proactive. Something that doesn’t take long could end up saving your life. For those of you who do not know how to check your breast I have given you a gift…direction. It is also important to know that men can also develop breast cancer. It is important that they look at their breast area as well.

How to Examine your breast

In the mirror:

  1. Stand undressed from the waist up in front of a large mirror in a well-lit room. Look at your breasts. Don’t be alarmed if they do not look equal in size or shape. Most women’s breasts aren’t. With your arms relaxed by your sides, look for any changes in size, shape, or position, or any changes to the skin of the breasts. Lookin the direction of for any skin puckering, dimpling, sores, or discoloration. Inspect your nipples and look for any sores, peeling, or change  the nipples.
  2. Next, place your hands on your hips and press down firmly to tighten the chest muscles beneath your breasts. Turn from side to side so you can inspect the outer part of your breasts.
  3. Then bend forward toward the mirror. Roll your shoulders and elbows forward to tighten your chest muscles. Your breasts will fall forward. Look for any changes in the shape or contour of your breasts.
  4. Now, clasp your hands behind your head and press your hands forward. Again, turn from side to side to inspect your breasts’ outer portions. Remember to inspect the border underneath your breasts. You may need to lift your breasts with your hand to see this area.
  5. Check your nipples for discharge (fluid). Place your thumb and forefinger on the tissue surrounding the nipple and pull outward toward the end of the nipple. Look for any discharge. Repeat on your other breast.In the shower:
  6. Now, it’s time to feel for changes in the breast. It is helpful to have your hands slippery with soap and water. Check for any lumps or thickening in your underarm area. Place your left hand on your hip and reach with your right hand to feel in the left armpit. Repeat on the other side.
  7. Check both sides for lumps or thickenings above and below your collarbone.
  8. With hands soapy, raise one arm behind your head to spread out the breast tissue. Use the flat part of your fingers from the other hand to press gently into the breast. Follow an up-and-down pattern along the breast, moving from bra line to collarbone. Continue the pattern until you have covered the entire breast. Repeat on the other side.Lying down:
  9. Next, lie down and place a small pillow or folded towel under your right shoulder. Put your right hand behind your head. Place your left hand on the upper portion of your right breast with fingers together and flat. Body lotion may help to make this part of the exam easier.
  10. Think of your breast as a face on a clock. Start at 12 o’clock and move toward 1 o’clock in small circular motions. Continue around the entire circle until you reach 12 o’clock again. Keep your fingers flat and in constant contact with your breast. When the circle is complete, move in one inch toward the nipple and complete another circle around the clock. Continue in this pattern until you’ve felt the entire breast. Make sure to feel the upper outer areas that extend into your armpit.
  11. Place your fingers flat and directly on top of your nipple. Feel beneath the nipple for any changes. Gently press your nipple inward. It should move easily.
  12. Repeat steps 9, 10, and 11 on your other breast

For those of you who need visual instructions here is a video that will help you breast-cancer-awareness-breast-self-exam.html

In health,

Maliyka is health

Tick Tock: There goes that biological clock

 

As the person in charge of my Sorority’s Stork’s Nest I am responsible for facilitating the 1st session. Being a trained community health educator it is a walk in the park for me. Having recently partnered up with Harlem Hospitallocated in none other than Harlem, NY (for those that don’t know that is an area in Manhattan) we recently started our 2nd cohort on September 11th (how ironic). Now every time, I have facilitated a session, an interesting discussion has ensued. This time was no different.

I can proudly say that I am 32 years old. Not trying to brag but I look good. Aside from the weight that I could stand to lose (I’m losing it). My baby face has folks thinking that I am under 30 (not to long ago a woman told me I couldn’t come to a performance at a club because I wasn’t 21) quite often. The thing is, I don’t have any children. In my opinion and that of my mother that is not a bad thing. Coming from *drumroll* a mother who birthed 10 children and me being the oldest I just don’t feel the rush.

As always, when I facilitate the Stork’s Nest session, we talk about the basic things that people need to do while they are pregnant. We also talk about things that they need to look out for as well as what happens at each stage of their pregnancy in terms of development, doctor’s appointments and testing. The 11th was no different in terms of topics covered but the conversation add was enough to add another tick tock to tat dreaded biological clock. During our discussion about test like the amniocentesis I mentioned that unless there was a reason to think that there was a genetic disorder it really isn’t offered to you until you hit 35 years old when you are considered high risk. While discussing this, it came out that I was childless, 32 years old and not planning to have a child for at least 3 years. Doing the math for you, I would be 35 and as one of the women pointed out high risk. She’s right, I would but I am in no rush to move up my schedule.

I am at the age where a lot of my friends have children. This year alone, I have gained so many nieces and nephews via my friends that it’s hilarious. I promise you that I won’t remember any of their birthdays. Without fail, someone always insist that I need to have a child. My response to them is that I am too young. Out of 10 children, my mother only as 2 grandchildren and thankfully, she isn’t pressed for more. There is no question that, one day I do want to have children. I also understand that at 32 years of age having already lost about 90% of my eggs (keep in mind that women are born with all of the eggs that they will ever have) I may have increased difficulty in getting pregnant the longer I wait (ABC News) Honestly though, I am okay with that. Aging a child is a huge step and I know that I am not ready for it. It pisses me off when I ear of mothers throwing their baby in the trash like garbage. Aside from not getting pregnant there are other options. I am not worried that I may have difficulty in getting pregnant. If it is meant to be, it will happen. If not I will adopt. Articles like the one the New York Times put out don’t scare me. My ovaries may look older than my real age but so what. There are already to many people in the world using up resources that are becoming scarce such as water that one less person populating really isn’t a bad thing.

So yeah, after that conversation happened, my clock did tick tock a little louder but I politely hit the snooze button. I refuse to be ruled by the proverbial biological clock. This body belongs to me (God really loaned it to me but you get my point). No one has the right to tell me when I should get pregnant and even when they do I smile and say I am too young to have a baby. After all, I really am.

Today’s Prescription: when it comes to life changing events don’t rush. Granted you are not promised forever but that is not an excuse do things haphazardly. This applies to having children. Family planning is a lost art.

In health,
Maliyka is health