Friday, September 19, 2014

The L.A. Postpartum Depression Meetup Group

When I was first diagnosed with postpartum depression, I wanted to join a group of women who also had postpartum depression. I imagined we would share war stories and give each other support. Maybe someone who had already recovered would be my Big Sister and mentor me. I was not looking for formal group therapy because I already had a psychiatrist and psychologist.  I wanted something that was free and social. Since I live in Pasadena, right next door to L.A., I assumed I would have tons of nearby options.

There were no nearby options... unless you count Missouri.  (Or maybe it was Michigan - whatever, it was in another state, and not even a state adjacent to California.)

I was shocked and disappointed. I had a ton of support from my doctors, husband, parents, siblings, family and friends, but I really yearned for a community of women who knew exactly what I was experiencing. I often felt incredibly alone and frustrated because I could not find local mamas who had PPD.

Last May I started a meetup group for mamas in Pasadena who have or had PPD. We are now eleven mamas strong! We meet at local parks and talk, and by "talk," I mean "we pour each other's hearts out." Although I am fully recovered, I still find the group incredibly cathartic and healing, and I enjoy helping moms who are traveling through the darkness of depression. 

A few weeks ago, one of our members started a meetup group for mamas in Glendale who have or had PPD. I was so excited! Yes! This is exactly what we need! L.A. is BIG, and it is difficult to drag a baby to the far corners of the county, so let's have a meetup group in every neighborhood, from Malibu to Echo Park and everything in between.

At first I was excited, but then I felt INSPIRED.

Why should I be content with organizing a meetup group in Pasadena?  There are women, just like me, struggling with postpartum depression in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Los Feliz, etc. etc. Those women need meetup groups, too! But if you have PPD right now, it's difficult enough managing showers, groceries and diaper changes. I myself could not even think about starting a group until I was 110% better.

I cannot sit by and do nothing if there is one woman with PPD feeling alone and scared in L.A. County, so I started another Meetup Group today: the Los Angeles Postpartum Depression Meetup - We're Not Alone!

I am hoping to use this big L.A. group to start lots of neighborhood groups. One out of seven women suffer from postpartum depression after giving birth. There is no need for us to suffer alone!

I am so excited! I have so many other ideas. I want to get some links and pages going with PPD info on this blog. I need to start some Facebook groups to compliment the Meetup groups. And I want to send fliers to pediatricians and hospital support groups. I told Pippa's pediatrician I want to make fliers to share information about my group, and she was very enthusiastic about this. I also need business cards! I talked with a momma this morning who gave birth two weeks ago and told her about my postpartum depression. Ugh, I wish I had remembered to give her my name and email address.

I also want to make a tote bag that proudly declares the fact that I had PPD. Something I can use for sand toys so other mommas at the playground can see it, and maybe my candor and openness will help someone who is feeling shitty.

Once I help get the neighborhood groups off the ground, I want to use the L.A. group for monthly and quarterly gatherings.  Maybe sometimes we will have weekend gatherings so the dad's and grandparents can come as well.

AND THERE NEEDS TO BE A DANCE PARTY! Postpartum depression is, well, depressing; so I want to encourage moms to do fun things, because FUN helps fight depression.

AND THERE NEEDS TO BE A 5K! Every cause has a 5K. Where's the PPD Fun Run??

And this is L.A. so we need an outing to Dodgers stadium. 2015 season, I'm looking at you! I want the big t.v. screen thing to flash a big cheerful welcome to PPD Moms of L.A.

But whew, all in good time. For now, I'm working on the L.A. meetup group and getting the neighborhood gatherings started. I hope this project gathers momentum quickly, but I realize it might take time. That's okay. The best things come to those who wait.

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