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Alternative Remedies for Post Partum Depression/Psychosis: Oprah Winfrey Censors
by Jenny Marie Hatch
In a message posted on the Oprah.com website, entitled "Alternative Remedies," under the discussion entitled, "Post Partum Psychosis," a new mother requested information regarding treatments for post partum depression that did not include medications. In describing her symptoms this mother wroteÖ.
"I cried on Wednesday as I watched the Oprah show partly because I could relate so well to the pain that others have felt, and partly because I was relieved that I was not the only one feeling pain. I had my first child, a son, five months ago, and have not felt like myself ever since. I did the Bradley method (no anesthesia), which went very well with the exception of some unavoidable injuries that left me extremely anemic and unable to really walk, sit, stand, lie down without extreme pain for almost two months. I had been home from the hospital for about a week when I totally lost control.
The baby was screaming, my husband was tired and arguing with me at 2:00 am and I completely snapped. I can't even really remember what happened, I just know that I left the house and drove through the night/morning, so exhausted I could hardly see the road. I was just looking for an overpass so that I could run the car off of the side. I knew that my baby would be so much better off without me, that someone else could take better care of him. I don't know how long I had been driving when I called my husband from a payphone to tell him goodbye and that I loved him and the baby, but couldn't come home. I am sure that he was beside himself, and he called the police to help him to look for me. I don't know how or why, but I caught a streak of reality and finally decided to go home, take a sleeping pill, and go to bed.
Since that time, I have "left" home several times. Sometimes I take the baby with me and drive to my mother's house to stay for a few days, and sometimes, like last weekend, I left the baby with my husband, drove a few hours away and stayed at a motel for the night, trying to decide how I could take my own life.
Until Wednesday, I didn't know that anyone else had those horrible thoughts about their babies, like I had about mine. I don't ever want to do anything to hurt him, but sometimes I imagine what would happen if I dropped him while we were going down the stairs, or what would happen if I slammed on the brakes when we are driving on the freeway. When he screams in the middle of the night, I want to scream back at him and call him all kinds of horrible names, and sometimes I even imagine slapping him senseless. It makes me sick to my stomach as I type this; I can't believe I am vocalizing these thoughts. I have not done anything to hurt him, and I do not want to, but the other day, I caught myself picking him up too rough because I was so angry.
I am not myself. I only recently told my husband and my mother about these feelings (after the show), but I am so good at covering things up that I am afraid that they are going to think that everything is resolved and everything is okay. I know that they don't understand. I am afraid that if my family or my husbands family knew how I really felt, or what really went through my mind, they would take my son away from me and force me to quit breastfeeding him, and give me medication in the hospital against my will.
I am not able to sleep at night, I get heart palpitations all the time, especially at night, I bite my lips incessantly (they bleed), and my mind never stops. I can't focus long enough to play the piano, exercise, or even read - all of the things I used to be able to do to relieve anxiety. I can't pay the bills or clean the house. Laundry is a joke. I have no appetite, no desire for food.
I don't enjoy anything that I used to. I am afraid to go out in public, can't go to church, won't answer the phone or the door if my husband isn't home. I really do feel crazy. I am writing because I am wondering if anyone has had any success with natural or alternative remedies. I took anti-depressants as a teenager, and do not want to take that route again, especially with nursing my baby. I have a doctor who is board certified and is a naturopath; she has placed me on natural progesterone replacement as well as supplements."
In response to this motherís plea for help I encouraged her to ponder Deborah Warner's article on non-drug approaches for post partum distress and posted the link to the article.
Imagine my surprise when I went back later in the day to see if this new mom had read my words and after a careful search for my post, I realized that my message had been deleted from the discussion.
Oprah's mission statement for her web site is "Live your best life." What it should say is "Live your best life only with the permission of the American Psychiatric Association." The censoring of my post was a simple, yet, effective attempt to keep this new mom from receiving the encouragement she was looking for.
Perhaps the Oprah people are afraid of a lawsuit if this women goes on to kill herself or her child because she didnít get the proper "medical treatment," yet, this motherís own words articulate her fear of being put in the hospital, medicated against her will, and having her child taken away from her.
Are these fears grounded in reality? Yes they are. Thirteen years ago, while suffering from the symptoms of Post Partum Psychosis, I was hospitalized against my will, separated from my daughter for six weeks, forced by the courts to take medication - against my will, and then sent home "cured" to pick up the pieces of my life.
While in the State Hospital, when no one was watching, I was gang raped by four orderlies and then literally thrown naked into a seclusion room to stay for three days. While in that little cell my breastmilk dried up. The nurses just about killed me with an overdose of Haldol, and after 28 days of refusing to take the medications, I landed in front of a judge who casually sentenced me with, "forced medications, 90 days if necessary." All of this for the "crime" of losing my mind!
For many women the reality of "care" at the hands of the psychiatric profession is far worse than the realities of life with post partum depression and/or psychosis.
The desperate Mom who posted her story on Oprahís site has found help in the form of a naturopathic doctor who correctly has put her on natural progesterone and nutrients to restore her body. Every person who is mentally ill has a niacin and b-complex deficiency.
What she doesnít realize is that her body is experiencing a normal reaction to trauma, with every symptom a logical, even predictable, response to the terror of her birth. Early in her post she relayed that the end of her birth resulted in physical trauma that left her unable to sit, stand etc., without extreme pain. She also must have had a large blood loss as she was anemic.
As a teen she must have struggled with depression, as she mentions being put on medications. My guess is that this woman experienced some sort of trauma early in her life and the physical trauma of her birth, perhaps a fourth degree episiotomy or high forceps delivery, was the cause of her physical pain, and perhaps also a triggering event that recalled to her mind memories of being sexually abused.
Suicidal feelings are common in those who have been sexually abused whether they remember the abuse or not. Most women assume some pelvic damage will occur when giving birth, after all, 90% of women who give birth vaginally receive an episiotomy. And many women deal with this needless trauma in a logical or even flippant way. For them it is "normal" to have the muscles of their vaginal walls cut and ripped to shreds. But for others, especially those who associate sexual abuse with pelvic damage, even a simple pelvic exam could bring up those traumatic memories. This layering of trauma associates the baby and the babyís birth with cellular memories of being sexually assaulted. Having a "vaginal cesarean" leaves many women more damaged than the worst rape.
Some women who have never been sexually abused experience the exact same reactions to their births that women who are recovering from rape feel. The same powerlessness, the feelings of panic, suicidal overwhelm and frustration because when they try to articulate their feelings everyone shuts them up with the comment, "but you have a healthy baby!" As if the baby can make them forget the trauma! The little one is a constant reminder! Some women are able to compartmentalize their trauma and it will not come back to haunt them for many weeks or months. Others start to feel the overwhelm during the most challenging weeks while the baby is a newborn and no one is sleeping well.
A common theme in women who kill is the desire to send their babies to a safe place. They will say things like, "I am not going to allow them to be hurt the way I was hurt" or they will feel the baby will be better off with God than allowed to stay in mortality. I believe this again is a sign that the mother was sexually abused. Given the fact that so many women struggle with healing from sexual abuse, the two hundred babies that are in fact killed by their motherís every year is a witness to how well women do in general to cope with the trials and traumas they struggle with. Without a change in the current birthing world, (the c-section rate went up 17% in the last few years and no one seemed to notice), and the continual emphasis on drug therapy for crisis management of emotional illness without a real dialogue on how to prevent birth trauma Ė I predict that the numbers of children killed by their motherís will grow, despite the use of more sophisticated drug therapies.
The new Mom who shared her story on Oprah most likely was told that her baby needed to be delivered quickly or it would die. She likely never considered that perhaps she was being hurried along to suit the needs of the staff and/or her doctor.
Without looking at the current slaughter of motherís in the delivery rooms around the world as being a factor in new mother's experiencing the symptoms this new Mom so graphically shared, we will never get to the root cause of post partum depression and psychosis. This woman is not psychotic, she is able to write a reasonable, articulate post detailing the symptoms of her distress, the help she is searching for, and the hope she has of being able to continue breastfeeding without her child being taken from her or being medicated against her will. Her traumatic birth had much more to do with her suicidal overwhelm and "scary thoughts" than a hormonal or chemical imbalance.
When mothers and babies are traumatized at birth and not able to bond well, even if they are only separated for one hour after birth, a wedge is placed in each of their hearts. This wedge of unnatural affection can be overcome. However, the stress of recovery, new-baby-sleep-depravation, and with the general ignorance of most American families on the true needs of the post partum mother- this breach of hormonal interconnectedness can lead to mother's having thoughts of killing or harming their babies. It can also lead to child abuse and neglect.
In the animal kingdom it is a well established fact that if mother animals are separated from their babies for even a few minutes after the birth, when the baby is returned to the mother later on, she may be indifferent to it or even try to kill it.
I personally believe that one of the main reasons new Mom's find it easy to go back to work and leave the baby in the care of someone else is because they honestly believe the baby will be safer with someone else. In the years since my own psychosis I have done a ton of research and talked to hundreds of women.
I was a Phone Contact Support Person for Depression after Delivery before they fired me for encouraging women not to take the drugs and use alternative remedies for their depression. During the five years I volunteered my time to this organization I had anonymous phone calls from women from all over America who were looking for emotional support. Because of the anonymity factor of the setup of this organization I believe the fifty or so motherís who called me over the years were more apt to share their true hearts than even what is shared with professionals in the medical world. Almost all of these women expressed deep concern over the scary thoughts they were having of wanting to harm themselves or their babies. It was most helpful for them to hear that they were not alone and that this was a common response to a traumatic birth. Many that I talked to would burst out crying in relief that they were not the only ones on the planet having these feelings.
A few women will have these thoughts after a quiet home birth. Some Mom's that I have been in touch with wonder if they stuff the memories in order to take care of their babies, and having an empowering gentle birth at home emphasizes the truth about the horror they experienced during a botched hospital birth. These women have expressed to me that they were able to work through the "scary" thoughts using prayer and other spiritual tools.
Oprah is right, we need to discuss this taboo subject and get motherís the help they desire and need, but we also need to understand that for some women the drugs of the psychiatric profession are not the answer. While many women may feel the medications give them their lives back, otherís are determined to stay away from mental hospitals, drug and electroshock therapy, and psychiatrists. As with all female health care decisions, this is a choice issue and women should be able to make their own decisions regarding their minds and bodies.
Censoring information is not in the best interest of the mother. Many women go on to kill themselves or their babies even when they receive the whole range of psychiatric services. I find it ironic that a few women on Oprah's discussion board mentioned having had the thoughts of wanting to hurt their babies ten, twenty, or thirty years ago and making it through that time with the help of God. Many of these same women claimed how helpful it would have been to be diagnosed, get the professional help, the meds, and the hospitalization to help them. While they bemoan the fact that they didnít have those "treatments" to aid in their recovery, they all did in fact recover without the professionals!!!
I have given birth to three additional children since the trauma of Psychosis. As my confidence in nutritional therapies and prevention has been increased with each baby, I want to sing for Joy. I want to shout to all the women in the world, "YOU don't have to be a victim, you don't have to experience the blackness of drug therapy. You can bond with your babies and overcome the darkness in your minds!"
In recalling the horrors of The State and Private Mental hospitals, the power of the Courts, the Evil Orderlies waiting to rape me, the four point restraints, and the general ignorance of everyone around, I can hardly believe all those things happened to me. It is like a nightmare in my memory, but it did happen- and it should never happen to another woman ever again. When I ponder that it is in fact happening all over the world, every day... I just cry in frustration for the pain of my sisters and the evil of the Corporations who make billions from our suffering.
Ladies, we need to speak and yell and write. We will not stop until the drug manufacturers start trying to discredit us, and then we will know we are being effective.
Please contact Oprah to demand that she support choice in mental health care by discussing the connection between Post Partum Depression/Psychosis and traumatic birth, educating her audience about how to prevent traumatic birth, and stopping the censorship of her site.
I give Heavenly Father all of the glory for helping me while I struggled down this path. May every woman be encouraged in making whatever choices she feels will be best for her mind and body.
~Jenny Marie Hatch
Email: [email protected]
Recommended Related Reading
"A Mother's Journey"
A Mother's Journey, A new E-book written by Jenny Marie Hatch, chronicles her experience with Post Partum Psychosis. After using the Psychiatric profession for fourteen months because of a court order, Jenny just knew their had to be a better way of coping, with fewer side effects from the medication, and so she spent the past twelve years researching psychosis and how to prevent it in herself Post Partum. "I have come up with a system of healing that has enabled me to have three additional children with no recurrence of the emotional distress. I believe anyone who desires to leave the medications and move into the natural realm will find this book an aid in their healing journey,"
In this book she focuses on the spiritual, physical, and emotional aids available to families that want to have nothing to do with hospitalizations and the tortured world of the psychiatric profession. She also details her progression from mainstream medicine to Unassisted Childbirth and how this aided in her healing. Buy this book from her web site www.naturalfamilyco.com
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