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Guest Post - Why I Wanted to Jump: My Journey into Postpartum Psychosis and Back Again


In the honor of raising awareness of postpartum depression I'm sharing this post written by my very brave friend and fellow mother, Lisa Abramson. Lisa is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Mindfulness Based Achievement and has a beautiful little girl. She has shared her story of dealing with postpartum depression and psychosis and today I get to share with our readers. Thank you Lisa for your candid honesty and bravery! The more we talk about these real life experiences, the more we can support others in what they might be dealing with.


Why I Wanted to Jump: My Journey into Postpartum Psychosis and Back Again

By Lisa Abramson

Shortly after the birth of my daughter, I spent 10 days locked in the psych ward of the hospital after my postpartum depression and psychosis made me suicidal. In my altered psychotic state, I thought my house was bugged and the police were coming to arrest me for a crime for which I was wrongly accused. I thought the only way out of my crisis was to kill myself, so I told my mom and husband that I was going to go jump off the Golden Gate Bridge.

 My delusions heightened while I was in the hospital and I remember my mother bringing me gloves and some of my favorite spiced pecans and thinking she’s trying to give me hidden messages… I thought everything had a double meaning and I thought she was telling me “I’m nuts” and that the trial for my imagined crime was coming up and that since the gloves she bought me did indeed fit, they would never acquit me. None of what was going on made any sense but my blurred “reality” terrified me and also felt so real. In fact, I was practically mute for the first five days in the psych hospital.

In the hospital, I remember my husband bringing me a printed copy of the Postpartum Support International website so he could explain that I had a disorder called Postpartum Psychosis. I thought my husband had created a fake website for me to make me feel better about myself and I didn’t realize that postpartum psychosis was a real thing. I had all of the symptoms ranging from having delusions, strange beliefs, hallucinations, paranoia and suspiciousness to feeling very irritated, being unable to sleep and having rapid mood swings and difficulty communicating.

It’s one thing to admit all of this to my friends, it’s another thing to share it with the world, which is why I’ve been dragging my feet for months. I wish I could just neatly hide my postpartum experience in the closet and have it remain hidden forever. I know it would be a heck of a lot easier to do that, but every time I share my story one on one with a friend, they tell me about their experience of having friends or family members with some type of maternal mood disorder ranging from the baby blues to depression.

Over coffee yesterday, I opened up about my experience with a new girlfriend and she shared that her sister went through a difficult time after the birth of both of her children and how it really helped to hear my story since she was concerned she too might suffer from postpartum depression. She said seeing me now, doing so well, really gave her hope that if she suffered, she also knew she could bounce back over time.

After talking with her I knew I couldn’t wait any longer, I couldn’t keep my story hidden out of fear. Especially because the shame and guilt associated with maternal mental health disorders is part of what made my experience so awful. I felt so alone, so misunderstood and so ashamed that I couldn’t handle things on my own and needed help. And it’s from the genuine hope that I can help others that I’m willing to sit with my discomfort and write this now.

So let’s start at the beginning.

I’m Lisa Abramson and I’m a survivor of postpartum depression and psychosis.

I’ve always been an ambitious and confident person. Professionally I pursued a successful career as a marketing executive and entrepreneur. By age 30 I was ready to take on my next challenge — motherhood.

People often describe me as the happiest person they know. I had never suffered from depression. I prided myself on my mental fortitude and self-sufficiency. I even thought it was a badge of honor that I had never been to therapy.

All of this changed shortly after the birth of my daughter.

On January 5, 2014 I gave birth to my perfect daughter Lucy. I loved her immediately and with all my heart.

But within a few weeks, I started to realize that something wasn’t right with me and I just couldn’t recognize myself in the mirror. I was not the happy go lucky woman I used to be, I was in a deep fog, I was exhausted, I was crying all the time and I started avoiding my friends.

I knew something was wrong, but I REALLY didn’t want to believe something was wrong with me. I kept telling myself that I loved Lucy so I couldn’t have postpartum depression, because I thought only mothers that didn’t bond with their babies suffered from postpartum depression.

I just didn’t know that sleep deprivation, stress and hormonal changes after birth could have such a drastic impact on my brain chemistry. I thought it was all my fault and that I had done something wrong. That I was a bad mother for experiencing this.

By February 10th, my family moved from worried into action that saved my life once I became suicidal. I spent 10 days in the psychiatric ward on 24 hour watch as the doctors and my family patiently waited for the Zyprexa, Klonopin and Zoloft to stabilize my mind.

I thought that by admitting I had postpartum depression and psychosis it was somehow admitting that I was an unfit mother. That my deep sense of sadness meant I didn’t love my daughter enough. That I wasn’t sacrificing enough, wasn’t good enough, and the list goes on. The sense of guilt at not being good enough was unbearable and the pressure of trying to fake a smile and enjoy this precious time in my daughter’s life was too much.

I feel unbelievably fortunate that with medical, therapeutic and family support, I’ve had a full recovery and no longer need to take any medications. I’ve also been able to resume my career and have a healthy, wonderful relationship with my daughter, husband and family.

I’m a survivor because I got help early, but it was a terrifying experience.

What I needed to hear and what I want to shout from the rooftop to all moms suffering from postpartum issues is:

1. It’s not your fault.

2. You’re not alone. (1 in 8 women suffer from postpartum depression)

3. There is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.

4. It doesn’t make you a bad mother.

5. You will get better, just GET HELP RIGHT AWAY.






Raising Awareness of Postpartum Depression 

On Saturday, June 20th I'll be joining Postpartum Progress' Climb Out of the Darkness in a hike to raise awareness of postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, psychosis and more. I will be hiking one of my favorite bay area hikes. 

Mothers across the globe will join together to climb mountains and hike trails to represent their symbolic rise out of the darkness of maternal mental illness and into the light of hope and recovery. I'm proud that I will be one of those climbers! 

Nearly five years ago I struggled with PPD after the birth of my first child Reese. Although it was a long time ago I remember that time in my life like it was yesterday. It was dark, scary and sad. Opposite of what I imagined feeling after bringing home my baby. Fortunately it was a brief period in my life but I will always honor it and continue to share my story with anyone who will listen because the more people who know about this stuff, the more other moms and families will have support. 

I am still so thankful everyday for the love and support from my husband, family and friends. 

Some things to keep in mind: 
  • One in every seven women gets a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder like PPD 
  • Prenatal mood and anxiety disorders can show up any time during pregnancy or in the first 12 months after birth.
  • Only 15% of women with postpartum depression ever receive professional treatment. This means about 850,000 women each year are not getting the help they need
Please take a moment to visit the Post Progress website to learn more. If you'd like to support the cause and or join in helping me fundraise, please visit my fundraising page.  


Thank you! 

Fundraising Websites - Crowdrise


Fresh Baby Bites: Just Like You Made It (or Maybe Better)

Cutest. Baby food. Ever.

I’m all for homemade baby food. I loved roasting apples for homemade applesauce and figuring out home many things I could add butternut squash puree to. However, it would have been nice not to have to make ALL of their food. At that time (2010 and 2012), if you wanted fresh baby food, you had to make it yourself. All of it.

It’s now 2015 and the on-demand economy has taken hold. If we can have hot meals delivered nightly by one of a plethora of startups, why not also have fresh, organic baby food delivered to supplement what you make at home?

Enter Fresh Baby Bites. They contacted me last spring about trying some of their offerings out on my little ones and I took them up on it. First off, their packaging was ADORABLE. I’m a sucker for nice (and not wasteful) packaging and they really exceeded my expectations. And the best part was that the food tasted as good as it looked.

We received black bean brownies, two types of tamales, beef and carrot empanadas, mini-meatballs, homemade yogurt with cinnamon applesauce, apple carrot muffins, and carrot puree. It even came with a reusable little pouch for the puree. (Tangent: Back in 2010 I wanted to invent a reusable pouch like this. Looks like someone did it and I hope they are making millions from it.)

All of the food was a hit, but the black bean brownies were the all-around favorite. I think Z could have eaten the entire box in a sitting. And the best thing was that they were sweetened with dates--genius!

Fresh Baby Bites can be ordered through Good Eggs, a grocery delivery service that focuses on local food sources. I have to admit, that If I was still feeding “baby food” full-time, the prices would have to make this service a supplement to making my own baby food at home. The quality and flavors are really good, so I can see getting a few of these items a week as the perfect way to keep meals interesting for baby (and mommy!).

I know it's blurry, but these brownies made Z beam.  

FULL DISCLOSURE: I received the food samples from Fresh Baby Bites for free.



Love Letter to Our Co-Op Preschool


Last week, I said good-bye to a place that has meant so much to me as a parent. After four years at Little Hands (what I affectionately call a pre-preschool), we had our last class and closed the child-proof gate on a very important part of our lives.

After hearing raves from moms at our playgroup, Nic and I started our first class at Little Hands when he was 18 months old. I thought it would be a good way to get us out of the house and for me to meet some new mom friends. Little did I know that this place, and the AMAZING teachers, would be my parenting inspiration through toddlerhood and probably for the rest of my life.

I often tell people that I don’t know what I would have done without the parent education that is a major part of the Little Hands program. When we started there, I had relatively little need for discipline, but as Nic approached two, and then three, that changed big time. At Little Hands, I was able to watch the teachers, emulate their examples and ask them for advice. They helped me sort through the internet sea of discipline philosophies to find something that seemed kind, fair and effective (Positive Discipline!).

Little Hands also helped me build the community that I wanted so badly. Having not grown up around here, I missed running into people while out and about. My web of connections has grown so much through all of the parent involvement at Little Hands. Nowadays, we rarely leave the house without running into someone we know.

Nic aged out of Little Hands years ago and Z will officially be too old for next fall—kids must be under 36 months by September 1. I’m excited for Z to start at the wonderful Montessori where Nic has been for the past two years, but I’ll miss seeing him in the classroom on a regular basis and watching him learn and grown among his peers. I’ll also really miss the regular child development curriculum that has been so vital to my development as a parent.

I want to take this opportunity to thank each of the boys’ teachers individually. They have each made such a major contribution to their lives that I’d be remiss not to tell them one more time.

Teacher Carol: You pour your heart and soul into Little Hands. You do such an amazing job with kids in parents in class, but it’s your level of commitment to the school and everything that it stands for that constantly astounds me.

Teacher Erika: You are my parenting idol. The way you can see a conflict coming and step in to resolve it is unparalleled. You have a keen eye that can really see what is going on with kids, and your input has been invaluable to me through the years. I feel lucky to have had you in my life at my toughest parenting moments (so far!).

Teacher Lalaine: Your connection with Z has been so sweet and true and it’s really helped him cope with his separation anxiety. You have been his safe place this year and that means so much to both of us.

I feel so lucky to have found such a wonderful parenting resource so early on. I know that Little Hands has helped me lay a foundation for parenting that will serve me and my family for decades to come. Thank you Little Hands for all of the love and learning!  

Z "graduating" from Little Hands with Teacher Lalaine.



Getting in Front of the Camera

You've heard it before. As moms, we're often the ones behind the camera capturing the moment. This makes for full and varied photo albumns, but it leaves us out of most of the pictures. I know I recently did some fun photos with Eversnap, but when my very good friend Adriana Klas offered to take some familiy portraits as part of her Mother's Day mini-sessions, I couldn't refuse. And man was I right about the difference in the images from a casual photographer versus an artist like Adriana. These new photos knocked me off my feet. 


Mini-sessions like this are the perfect way to periodically capture a moment in time. They are more affordable than a full session and short enough that the kids (and dad) can tolerate them. I know that I'll look back at these photos and laugh about how the boys used to knock me over with their hugs, and I'll always wonder what Nic and Z were talking about in that last one.