What To Do When Postpartum Depression Makes You Suicidal

Postpartum depression, like many mental illnesses, has a way of making a woman feel suicidal. 

For a person who has never suffered from mental illness, it’s almost impossible to understand why a mother would want to abandon her children in such a way.  But a woman who has suffered from postpartum depression, anxiety, psychosis or other mental illness will tell you that it’s not about that at all.

The misconception about mothers who are suicidal is that they are “giving up.” In reality, many mothers see it as a way to free their children, spouse, loved ones, etc., from the pain that they are causing.  It is the ultimate sacrifice for someone else’s happiness.

Despite what the reason is behind it – it is completely extreme and unnecessary.  Any person in their right mind would realize that.  Right mind being the key word here.

So what is a mother to do when postpartum depression makes her feel suicidal?
What to do when Postpartum Depression Makes you feel Suicidal
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.  **Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.

Get Treatment

Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide. Do not let postpartum depression get out of hand, and don’t expect it to get better without treatment.  I realize it’s hard to ask for help, in fact, I’ve written several times about all the reasons why mothers don’t speak up about postpartum depression, so if anyone understands, it’s me.  But there’s a big difference between feeling ashamed and feeling suicidal.  If there was ever a time to speak up about postpartum depression, it’s now.

The only way to avoid suicidal thoughts and tendencies caused by postpartum depression is to begin a treatment plan.

If you think you have postpartum depression, speak to your doctor.  If your doctor is not available in the near future, or you simply don’t feel comfortable speaking to your doctor about it for whatever reason – then try contacting your local public health nurse, find a therapist or mental health center.  And if all else fails, head to an urgent care center or the ER.  But don’t give up seeking help just because your doctor isn’t available, there are so many other options available.

If you don’t get the help you need, keep looking.  It’s sad that I even need to include this as an option but it’s so common for women with postpartum depression to get brushed off by the health care system.  If you’re told that “it’s nothing” or “it’s just sleep deprivation” or “this is normal motherhood” and you truly don’t agree – then get a second opinion.

If you’ve exhausted all your options locally, then consider finding treatment online or over the telephone.  Online therapy can be extremely beneficial and convenient.  There are several other resources available online, in-home and over the phone, so there is no excuse for avoiding treatment.

The Postpartum Depression Drug | Brexanolone (Zulresso)
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Value Your Life

“They would be better off without me” should be the slogan for postpartum depression considering how many women have said it, myself included.

Postpartum depression is notorious for reducing a woman’s self-esteem and sense of self worth.  This opens the door for suicidal thoughts.  To make matters worse, others often tell us things like “don’t worry, you’re a great mom” or “you should give yourself more credit” thinking that they are helping, when really, it just invalidates our feelings.

In order to see your life as worth living, you need to focus on how you feel about yourself.  

Consider all the things that you once loved about yourself, and that you will love again.  Like your ability to win arguments or make people feel comfortable around you.  Maybe it was how others came to you for fashion or relationship advice.  These are things you can look forward to again when you get the postpartum depression under control.

Make a list of some of your best qualities. Do you have the best smile? Great hair? Eyes that sparkle?  Or is it your excellent sense of humor or party planning skills?  What makes you stand out among the rest?

Think of a time that you made others laugh, or helped someone who was hurt. You have the power to affect another person’s life in a way they may never forget.  Try surrounding yourself in positive images or create a self-care sanctuary that you can escape to when you’re feeling low.

Look at pictures of your pregnancy, some of your happiest memories, vacations or family holidays. What would those pictures look like without you in them?  There would be a big empty hole where you belong.

Scroll through old Facebook or Instagram posts and remember who you were before postpartum depression. You have changed, and it’s unlikely you will ever be the same person again.  But it helps to remember who you once were and know that your life is just as important now as it was then.

Maybe we’re not the ideal mothers we thought we would be, but no one ever is – even the ones without postpartum depression.  The truth is, our children would much rather have a sad mother around than no mother at all.

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Make a plan

No, not a suicide plan. A plan for the future. 

It’s hard to imagine a future when you’re in the depths of postpartum depression, but I promise you – it’s there.  Each climb that you take upwards out of the deep, dark pit of despair brings you closer to the light.  And if you can see the light – even if it’s just a tiny speck like a distant star in the night sky, then you can climb towards it.  That tiny speck of light is your future and the higher you climb, the closer you get to a brighter future.

Having a plan can remind you that the future does exist.

Set realistic goals with dates to achieve them by.  These can include things like finishing a book or learning a new skill.  Try to avoid putting things like weight loss on there as those are almost impossible to achieve and can be discouraging.

Make a bucket list.  What are some things that you’ve always wanted to do before you die?  It doesn’t have to be the usual big ones like skydiving or cliff-jumping.  Think of anything and everything you’ve ever wanted to do in your lifetime and put it on the list.

Create a self-care schedule.    Self-care is the latest buzz word these days, and there’s a good reason for that.  Mothers need to make time for themselves otherwise bad things like suicidal thoughts can happen.  Schedule yourself some time to take care of yourself and don’t put it off.  Postponing things just for you signal your brain that you are not as important as the other things happening around you.

Bonus: Check out the post: How to Create a Self Care Routine as a SAHM and download a free self-care workbook!

Meet with a financial adviser.  No, not to “get your affairs in order” but rather, to make a financial plan for the future.  Find out how to save and manage your money to make sure it will last.  Financial problems can cause a lot stress and suicidal behavior.  Having a financial plan for the future can help you feel more prepared for the road ahead.  You can start getting your finances organized by downloading a Finance Tracker kit from Shine Sheets.

10 Mothers Who Lost the Battle to Postpartum Depression

Avoid Triggers

Suicidal tendencies are only one of the many nasty symptoms of postpartum depression.  Women also have to deal with postpartum rage, intrusive thoughts and a whole slew of physical pain as well.  Even with a treatment plan in place, it is likely something that mothers will have to battle their entire lives.

The key to keeping postpartum depression symptoms under control is avoiding the things that trigger it, such as stress, illness, sleep deprivation or the winter blues. 

Since it’s impossible to avoid triggers 100% of the time, it’s important to follow your treatment plan and make sure you are open about what you’re feeling with your loved ones.  Recruiting help to manage your symptoms and triggers will make sure that you continue down the right path.

11 Postpartum Depression Triggers and How to Avoid Them
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Talk to Someone

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, it’s important to talk to someone about them.  When someone commits suicide, those closest to them often swear that they had no idea what they were going through.  Don’t let that be you.

You have several options for who to talk to if your postpartum depression is making you feel suicidal.  

Your closest person. This could be your spouse or partner, a sibling, friend or parent… whoever you feel the closest to and most comfortable with.  They are often the best person to tell first, because if they have been paying attention to your behavior – maybe they already suspect that someone isn’t quite right.

A therapist.  Therapists are trained to handle situations where people feel suicidal.  They know what to say and what not to say.  They also understand where the feelings stem from and won’t judge you for expressing your feelings.  Online therapy is an option worth considering if you’re worried about the trouble of finding a therapist and making appointments.

A support group.  Sometimes all we need is a sounding board and someone who can relate.  Joining a postpartum depression support group, whether in-person or online, is a safe place where we can open up about feeling suicidal and not be condemned for it.  Many mothers have been there too and will gladly give you advice or encouragement.

How To Know if Online Therapy Is The Right Choice for Moms
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A crisis center.  Crisis centers are designed specifically for handling emergent situations where you feel like you have no where else to turn.  Many of them have the ability to dispatch help locally if they feel it is required (similar to calling 9-1-1).  But they will also listen to you and provide you with advice and resources.

Or – you can talk to me!  I’m here to help, after all.  I’m a stranger who doesn’t know anything at all about you except that I have once been there too, so I will never judge you, ignore you or invalidate your feelings.  In fact, I would treat you exactly the way I wished someone would have treated me when I needed them to.  I DON’T have any formal medical training but I DO have access to a lot of resources that I would be more to happy to share with you.

If you are feeling suicidal and need someone to talk to, use the confidential contact form below *

Your information will never be published or shared

*Alternatively, you can email me at vanessa@runningintriangles.com


Suicide is not a choice that a woman with postpartum depression makes, but rather something that happens to her.  It’s the result of an illness in the brain that tells us lies and forces us to attack our own bodies.  Women with postpartum depression are exhausted, chemically imbalanced, overwhelmed and in physical pain, so when the brain sneaks in and whispers “just end it” – it sounds like a good idea at the time.

I hope, with every fiber in my being, that you find your true worth and value, remember that you are loved and cherished and know that suicide is not the best option.

National Crisis Support Numbers for Postpartum Moms
Get this FREE printable PDF Quick Reference Guide of National Crisis Support Numbers in the Running in Triangles Free Resource Library, available exclusively to subscribers of the Postpartum Depression Survival Guide. Click here to subscribe.

6 Ways to Get Online Help for Postpartum Depression

Too many mothers with postpartum depression or anxiety put off seeking help or getting the care they need. 

One reason for this is because they just don’t know where to go or who to talk to.  And even if they did know, the idea of leaving the house for appointments can be both inconvenient and terrifying.  The good news is that, thanks to modern technology, there are many ways for a mother to get online help for postpartum depression from the comfort of her own home.  Not only is it convenient, but it makes it easier to find the right person to speak to.  Instead of having to rely on resources available locally, women now have access to an international panel of experts.

Here are a few different ways that mothers can access online help for postpartum depression.
6 Ways to Get Online Help for Postpartum Depression
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust. **Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.

1. Try Online Therapy

One of the best ways for moms to get help for postpartum depression is by speaking to a therapist.  But it’s also something that many women avoid doing for several reasons:

  • It’s tough to arrange for childcare during appointments, especially with a brand new or exclusively breastfed baby. 
  • There is a lot of stigma around “going to therapy” that may deter a mother from choosing to do it in public.  
  • With so many horror stories of mothers being treated like criminals, they may avoid speaking to someone without knowing how that person will react first.
  • Finding the right therapist can be difficult.  It sometimes requires a referral from a doctor, which can delay the process.
  • Having to make phone calls to set up appointments, get dressed to go out, interact with others socially and feel judged by everyone along the way is an exhausting task for mothers with postpartum depression.
  • Mothers don’t always feel at their worst between 9 – 5, Monday to Friday.  Some therapists might offer an emergency number to call but that would mean inconveniencing someone and mothers aren’t usually down for doing that, no matter how bad it gets.

Signing up for online therapy can solve so many of these problems.  Online therapy is convenient, affordable and private.  There are several different companies that offer online therapy, ranging from traditional therapy sessions to something more interactive.  Here’s a review of some of the best online therapy apps and sites from Consumers Advocate.  Or check out my recommendations below.

Online-Therapy allows you to work on cognitive behavior therapy at your own pace.  You complete various reading sections and worksheets, like chapters in a text book.  Your therapist guides you along the way, providing feedback on your answers and offers support via live chat or e-mail.  You also get a variety of other tools and resources at your disposal, 24/7.  You can access an online forum for therapy members, yoga and meditation videos, workbooks and more.  You get so much more than just a therapy session, and you can do it all right from home.

BetterHelp is a popular online therapy company that works hard to match you with the right counselor.  You can complete the online questionnaire as the very first step so that your therapist will have some information about your condition ahead of time.

eVideo Counselor is another great option for moms suffering from postpartum depression.  Through their sessions, you can video chat directly with a licensed and HIPAA compliant therapist.  You schedule your appointments just like any other therapist office but speak to your therapist using your computer or cell phone.  The sessions are much more like traditional therapy sessions and your therapist can send their notes to your doctor for followup. 

How To Know if Online Therapy Is The Right Choice for Moms
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2. Make a Phone Call

Sometimes, when you are having a really bad day, you just need to talk to someone who understands.  A helpline is designed specifically for that purpose.  While not technically considered online help for postpartum depression, it’s still something that you can do from the comfort of your own home and have access to 24/7.

If you are having suicidal thoughts and need to speak to someone urgently:

In the US: 

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8225

In Canada: 

Call the National Crisis Services Canada Number 1-833-456-4566 and you will be connected with the closest provincial crisis center to your location.

Internationally:

On the Befrienders Worldwide website, you can search for suicide helplines by country.  The website is also available in different languages and provides resources and information about mental health.

For general information, support and resources:

Call the Postpartum Support International’s Helpline 1-800-944-4773 (4PPD) It’s a messaging system so you would have to leave a message and then someone would get back to you as soon as possible.  It is NOT meant for emergencies, but rather, to find out where and how to get help.

A Mother's Guide to Postpartum Rage
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3. Send a Text Message

Texting is a newer way that moms can get online help for postpartum depression and many support groups are making this an option.  It is so much easier for a mother battling a mental illness to send a text message when she’s overwhelmed with thoughts and feelings, rather than speak to someone over the phone or face to face.

In the US:

Text HOME to 741741 for any type of crisis and a trained counselor from the Crisis Text Line will respond 24/7.

In Canada:

Text HOME to 686868 to access the Crisis Text Line in Canada.  This text line is managed by volunteers and is a division of the Kids Help Phone.

Text Crisis Services Canada at 45645 anytime between 5 pm and 1 am and get a response from someone at the crisis center.  A live chat option is also available on their website (also between 5 pm and 1 am).

You can also text the Postpartum Support International’s Warmline at 503-894-9453 for information and to get support and resources close to where you live.

Many local support groups also offer their own text line, so make sure to find out what they are and store them in your phone for emergencies.

Get this FREE printable PDF Quick Reference Guide of National Crisis Support Numbers in the Running in Triangles Free Resource Library, available exclusively to subscribers of the Postpartum Depression Survival Guide. Click here to subscribe.

4. Join a Facebook Support Group

Facebook support groups are a great way to get online help for postpartum depression.  Not only will you be able to find some posts that you relate to, but you’ll see that you’re not alone in your struggles.

If you’re not big on communicating with strangers, it helps just to read some of the posts and comments.  If you have a particular question, you can search for it in the group and see if someone else has already asked about it.  It’s a great resource to get peer support and advice for postpartum depression and anxiety.

Some of the groups that I’m in and would recommend:

Postpartum Support International – Group Size: Large (8,000 + Members).

If you have a question about treatment options, symptoms, previous experiences – this is the place to go to get your questions answered.  PSI’s support group is a mix of health care professionals, therapists, sufferers and survivors.  If you have a question about anything related to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, you will find it here.

Momma’s Postpartum Depression Support Group – Group Size: Medium (4,000 + Members).

This group is a very supportive one and the perfect place to go and vent about what you’re feeling.  If you just need someone to talk to or share your story with someone who will understand, then the women in this group are here for you.

Postpartum Depression & Anxiety Support Group – Group Size: Small (3,000 + Members).

What I love about this smaller group is that you really get the chance to connect with other members.  If you’re seeking more than just a sounding board, and hoping to make friends and build a support system to help you through this difficult time, then consider joining this group.

How to Avoid a Postpartum Depression Relapse
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5. Hire a Postpartum Doula

A postpartum doula is someone who comes to your house after you have a baby specifically to help you out.  They are not like a nanny, in that, they are there to support you and not simply to take care of the baby and the house.  They are trained to recognize the early symptoms of a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder and can direct you where to get help.  Most can be hired to work a night shift so that you can get the sleep you desperately need.  I consider this a form of online help for postpartum depression because searching various websites is generally the best way to find the right doula for you.

Benefits of Doulas
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There are several websites you can use to find a doula in your area:

DONA International

One of the most widely recognized doula certification organizations – you can search their database for a postpartum doula near you!

ICEA (International Childbirth Education Association)

A non-profit organization that supports doulas and other professional childbirth educators.  Their list includes both certified and non-certified doulas.

Doula Match 

You can search a database of over 10,000 doulas in Canada and the US and the best part is that you can enter the dates when you would need their services to make sure that they are available before contacting them.

Postpartum Doula
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6. Download an App

There are so many apps available to help with almost any kind of problem you’re experiencing.  Online help for postpartum depression in the form of an app is so convenient and always at your fingertips.  Instead of scrolling through social media on your phone, download a meditation or self care app to use regularly instead.

Mom Genes Fight PPD

This is part of an important research study but the app provides resources for women with postpartum depression.  Read more about it on the Mom Genes Fight PPD website.

MGHPDS (Massachusetts General Hospital Perinatal Depression Scale)

This is a good one for new moms who are concerned about developing postpartum depression or anxiety.  It contains questionnaires to assess your mood and stress level and will remind you to take them again every few weeks so that you can document any changes.  The questions are similar to those used by medical professionals to check for maternal mood disorders.

Virtual Hope Box 

This app was originally designed by the military to help patients coping with PTSD.  It’s recommended by therapists as a supplement to treatment for stress and anxiety disorders, but it can be a great tool for a mother battling postpartum depression.  You have the ability to add happy photos or video memories, favorite songs and quotes and access tools for coping with stress and anxiety.

Headspace 

Practicing meditation and mindfulness are great ways to help with postpartum depression and anxiety. This popular meditation app is easy to use and has sessions ranging from 1 minute up to 10 minutes.  It’s perfect for a busy mom with only a few minutes to spare.

14 Ways to Help A Mother with Postpartum Depression
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Online help for postpartum depression should never be a replacement for help from a medical professional.  Always make sure that your doctor knows what you are feeling.

But also, get educated.  Know who to call and how to take care of yourself.

When my battle with postpartum depression began, 6 years ago, I didn’t even have a smartphone.  Aside from a few brochures that I was given in my doctor’s office, I had very little information about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.  Now, almost anyone can access online help for postpartum depression.  There is so much more information for struggling mothers, that it would be a shame to let it all go to waste.


6 Ways to Get Online Help for Postpartum Depression 6 Ways to Get Online Help for Postpartum Depression 6 Ways to Get Online Help for Postpartum Depression

The Amazing Benefits of Yoga for Postpartum Depression

Yoga is known for it’s amazing mood boosting and stress reducing benefits.

Using yoga for postpartum depression can help to improve your overall mood and well-being.  Adding yoga into a regular self-care routine is a simple change that can make a big difference.  Since it is a low-impact way to exercise, it can be safe for mothers who are pregnant or recovering from childbirth.  It’s also a great exercise to do with children or babies around because they love to watch and sometimes even follow along.

In this guest post from Meera Watts of SiddhiYoga.com, you can learn about all the amazing benefits of yoga for postpartum depression.

amazing benefits of yoga for postpartum depression
*This is a guest post and all opinions are those of the author. This post may also contain affiliate and/or paid links. Rest assured that I only work with companies and individuals that I trust. While some of those companies and individuals may work in the medical field, this post is not intended to be a substitution for medical advice. Always speak to your doctor if you have concerns about your mental or physical health.

There are a variety of benefits yoga has displayed. It has been used for centuries for good reason. Instead of using prescription medications, there was the development of yoga to manage physical and mental problems. So it is that yoga can help us in the modern world with depression, stress, and mindfulness.

You are more prone to nurturing yourself when you create body awareness and of course mind awareness. You won’t beat yourself up anymore and let your ego dictate how you’ll feel. Yoga is a deeply grounding practice that brings out your truths. As your heart opens more and you learn about who you really are, you’ll have a profound sense of self. This can only create a place of self-love.

Here are the benefits of yoga for postpartum depression that you might not know about.

Harvard released the suggestion after a recent controlled trial study that yoga can help with the following:

• Reduction of the impact of stress in your daily life.
• Assists with anxiety and depression.
• Teaches you to self-soothe yourself with techniques like meditation, relaxation, and through the exercise aspect of the practice.
• Energy is improved.

Yoga and Depression

The physical things in yoga will have your body moving in all sorts of directions. You get a gentle workout, a core workout, and learn to breathe properly. Then, you’ll do meditation. Yoga teaches you a lot and taps into your mind, body and soul. It can be helpful with depression and the symptoms. For example, yoga helps you to concentrate and helps you with your energy levels. These are common problems of depression that are solved through yoga.

Yoga helps you to manage any mental and emotional problems you’re dealing with. Conditions and disorders that can lead to depression such as chronic pain can be relieved.

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Improve Your Mood

The reason we experience things like depression and anxiety is due to unbalanced levels of certain chemicals in the brain. Serotonin is something that makes us happy and gives us energy. When we don’t have enough, we can feel down. Yoga naturally helps to increase serotonin levels. Yoga is gentle so even if a person does feel low, they can go to a class and get the nurturing benefits. The fluid nature of the moves you do can evoke a nice feeling. As your body moves, you become more conscious of that, instead of how you feel emotionally.

Warrior poses can make you feel powerful. That is not a feeling that someone with depression usually feels. You will also concentrate on your breathing which can bring you more energy.

A Mother's Guide to Postpartum Rage
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Reducing Stress and Anxiety

Yoga works to increase your heart rate. Through breathing and encouraging blood to flow better with poses, it can change time between heartbeats. The relaxation response will dominate over the stress response in the body. The body gets better at monitoring itself and fighting against stress. It also reduces levels of cortisol that are released in the body. When you do get anxious, you cause the body to overproduce this chemical. When you have too much in the body, it can cause damage to the mind and body.

Yoga lowers your blood pressure and makes it easier to breathe. When you learn how to do deep breathing in yoga, you can immediately relax yourself. You also increase your pain tolerance by reducing stress. Stress has been shown to lower your pain tolerance.

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Yoga and Mindfulness

A big part of yoga is learning to be mindful. This is the key to solve any negative feelings you have. As you learn to just observe the ego mind instead of going down to its level, you can manage any storm. It is the ego that says you’re not good enough, that you can’t do something, or that there’s something to worry about.

Almost nothing it tells you has any true purpose and it can lead you to feel extremely angry, sad, anxious, or afraid.The funny thing is, the ego is basing it’s reality on your past situations. Say you’re triggered by a smell, this is the ego searching for an experience that occurred with a relate-able scent. If the memory is a good one, you feel happy. If it’s a bad memory, it can make you feel instantly terrible.

Intrusive Thoughts
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Mindfulness is being aware of the emotional pain or the physical pain that manifests in you when these things happen. You may not be able to remember what happened when you were five that created sadness from a smell. You can scan your body and be aware of what the brain is saying.

Even just witnessing your thoughts can calm the rest of your body down. Your ego doesn’t have a chance to berate you. When you’re kinder to yourself, you are less likely to do things like emotionally eat or get angry at people who don’t deserve it.

Medical studies and scientific research say that meditation and mindfulness has neurological benefits.

Yoga works on the body and through the breath to create a centered mind within you. Stress is decreased and so is depression. You will experience a higher quality of life with that open heart you’ve created. Then you’re not prone to fear and self-doubt.


Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of SiddhiYoga.com, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh and Dharamshala) and Indonesia (Bali).

For more information, view her website at www.siddhiyoga.com and follow her on social media.

Youtube | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook


Yoga
Online-Therapy.com:  Access yoga videos as part of the online therapy toolbox as well as several other ways to get help for postpartum depression.

 

Yoga for postpartum depression

The Truth About Scary and Intrusive Thoughts

Scary and intrusive thoughts are a common symptom of postpartum depression.

Intrusive thoughts lead many women to believe that they are terrible people, unfit mothers or a danger to their children.  While many women experience them in some form, they don’t always recognize that they are intrusive or involuntary.  Instead, they believe that the thoughts are how they truly feel, or what they are thinking subconsciously.  They don’t talk about them for fear of what others will think of them.

It’s important to speak up about intrusive thoughts, but before a woman can do that – she needs to understand what they are, where they come from and what they mean.  This is the only way she will be able to accept that the thoughts she is having are not who she has become, but rather, a side effect of her mental illness.

Here is some more information about intrusive thoughts.
The Truth about Scary and Intrusive Thoughts
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.  Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.
The truth about scary and intrusive thoughts

What are Intrusive Thoughts?

Intrusive thoughts are an idea or image that come to your mind involuntarily.  The thoughts may be extremely out-of-character and can be shocking when they happen.  They are almost exactly the same as the thoughts and images that you normally have, except that they are not created nor welcomed by you.  Intrusive thoughts are a sign of mental illness and prove that your mind is playing tricks on you.


What are NOT Intrusive Thoughts?

    • They are not hallucinations
    • They are not third party voices in your head
    • They are not an indication of postpartum psychosis
    • They are not subconscious thoughts or images
    • They are not part of your normal train of thought
    • They are not how you truly feel deep down inside
9 Reasons Why Mothers Don't Talk About Postpartum Depression
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Types of Intrusive Thoughts

The most common type of postpartum intrusive thoughts are of doing something bad to the baby.  They can be “what if…” type of thoughts such as “what if I drop my baby down the stairs” or “what if I stab my baby with a knife.”  They can also come in the form of intrusive images such as watching the baby drown in the bathtub or crashing the car with the baby in the backseat.

Intrusive thoughts can also be about harming yourself.  Many women experience suicidal thoughts but have no actual desire to commit suicide.  Postpartum depression can cause women to experience thoughts of running away, jumping out of a moving car or falling asleep and never waking up again.  Intrusive thoughts often make a woman believe she is unfit to be a mother and that her children would be better off without her.

10 Mothers Who Lost the Battle to Postpartum Depression

Another type of intrusive thought includes harming a spouse or another loved one.  It’s normal to complain about the annoying things a spouse does and imagine doing something bad to them, but when it affects your relationship or comes out of nowhere it could be an intrusive thought.  Postpartum depression, and especially postpartum rage, are often misdirected towards spouses and partners – making a woman believe that she really does hate her husband.  Add in intrusive thoughts like running them over with the car and it’s a relationship nightmare…

Some intrusive thoughts are inappropriate and violent.  Many can be sexual in nature or include things like harming animals, behaving violently or setting the house on fire.

Basically, any thought or image that enters your head that feels scary and unnatural is considered an intrusive thought.
A Mother's Guide to Postpartum Rage
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The Danger of Intrusive Thoughts

Thoughts and images alone are not dangerous.  But intrusive thoughts can cause several unwanted side effects that can become dangerous both physically and mentally.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  Intrusive thoughts can cause a woman to develop postpartum OCD and become obsessed with certain thoughts and images.  If she imagines the baby dying in their sleep, she may stop sleeping in order to check on baby several times through the night.

Stress and Anxiety. Knowing that intrusive thoughts are a possibility is a big source of stress and anxiety, which can worsen symptoms of postpartum depression.  Intrusive thoughts can also cause panic attacks and other physical symptoms.

Acting on Intrusive Thoughts.  It’s rare that a woman would go so far as to act on her intrusive thoughts but the danger that she might still exists.  Being unable to recognize the difference between intrusive thoughts and reality can signal something worse (like postpartum psychosis).  If you feel a strong urge to act on your intrusive thoughts, make sure to speak to your doctor immediately. 

Stigmatizing.  Intrusive thoughts play a major role in the stigma of postpartum depression.  Many mothers who try to open up about them are treated like crazy people or seen as dangerous and suicidal.  If intrusive thoughts are confessed to someone without enough knowledge about them (even a medical professional), the consequences could be devastating.  Its important to find a safe place to discuss intrusive thoughts.

What to do when Postpartum Depression Makes you feel Suicidal
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The Truth About Intrusive Thoughts

The truth is, they are not real.  They may stem from the feelings of inadequacy or overwhelm caused by postpartum depression but they are not part of the subconscious mind.  They are a figment of your imagination and a by-product of mental illness.  In order to eliminate them, and avoid having them control your life, you need to accept that they are coming from somewhere else, and not from what’s within your heart.

How to Get Rid of Them

As long as a woman is suffering from a mental illness, the intrusive thoughts will always be a possibility.  So the only way to eliminate them altogether is to treat the underlying condition.  There are still several things a person can do to keep intrusive thoughts from affecting their lives.

Document Them.  Writing down scary thoughts as they happen can help make them less frightening.  You can write them on paper, in a journal or workbook, on your phone or use an app.  If you really want to take a stand and connect with other women who are having them, you could even consider blogging about them.

Release Them.  Intrusive thoughts are perhaps one of the hardest things to speak out loud when battling postpartum depression.  Many people are not nearly as informed about intrusive thoughts as they should be, and this makes talking openly about them risky.  The best place to express the scary thoughts you’re having is to find a safe and positive space, such as a support group. The Postpartum Stress Center offers a safe place online for women to anonymously #SpeaktheSecret.  It helps to read some of the thoughts other women have had, and even submit your own to release them from your mind.

Online Therapy.  Speaking to a mental health professional is always a good course of action for women battling intrusive thoughts.  With online therapy, you have the option to chat with your therapist anytime throughout the day, as opposed to waiting for a scheduled appointment.  This is a great option to be able to discuss scary thoughts as they occur.  (If this is an option you’d like to explore, try online therapy using my affiliate link: http://runningintriangles.com/OnlineTherapy).

How To Know if Online Therapy Is The Right Choice for Moms
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Meditation.  Clearing the mind on a daily basis can help reduce the instances of intrusive thoughts.  Meditation can also help to create mindfulness in general, making you feel a little bit more in control of the thoughts and images in your own head.  Meditation, either alone or while doing yoga, should become an important part of your self-care routine for battling postpartum depression and intrusive thoughts.

Positive Imagery.  Surround yourself with sights that make you feel happy.  You can put together a photo album of some of your happiest photos and look at it regularly.  Or keep flowers and plants in your home.  Hang motivational posters or family photos on the walls.  Subconsciously, your mind will soak up all the beauty around you and be a happier place.

Postpartum Anxiety Insomnia 1
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Get Enough Sleep.  Sleep deprivation is known for causing all kinds of problems in new mothers.  A lack of sleep is like leaving the door wide open for scary thoughts.  Try changing around your bedtime routine, invest in a better mattress or look into other ways to fight off insomnia.

Distraction.  Keeping the mind distracted will allow less time for scary thoughts to creep in.  Music is an excellent way to keep the mind distracted.  Try playing music in the background while you’re home, call or visit with a friend, read a book or put on the television.  Maintaining a proper self-care routine can also help keep intrusive thoughts away.

Intrusive Thoughts Infographic
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The most important factor in dealing with intrusive thoughts is to know the difference between your actual thoughts and the unwanted ones.

Having frightening thoughts may make you feel like a bad mother with the potential to do something harmful but it’s not the truth.  Focus on the positive thoughts and try your best to ignore the ones that make you feel anything but joy.  Accept that they are a side effect of postpartum depression and not who you have become.  It may take a while for the thoughts and images to go away, but as long as you remember that you are still you inside, you can defeat them.


Crisis Support Numbers for Postpartum Moms
Get this FREE printable PDF Quick Reference Guide of National Crisis Support Numbers in the Running in Triangles Free Resource Library, available exclusively to subscribers of the Postpartum Depression Survival Guide. Click here to subscribe.
The Truth About Scary and Intrusive Thoughts

Physical Symptoms of Postpartum Depression That Will Surprise You

Despite being considered a mental illness, there are several physical symptoms of postpartum depression that can also plague mothers. 

The physical symptoms of postpartum depression aren’t discussed as often as the mental or emotional ones.  And sometimes, the physical symptoms are mistaken as a condition of something else, both by mothers themselves and by health care providers. 

Therefore, many mothers with postpartum depression report feeling like hypochondriacs and find themselves constantly googling their symptoms online to find out what is causing them to feel so physically ill.  While it’s important to rule out anything else, it’s just as important to make mothers aware that postpartum depression can also cause physical pain.

Here is a breakdown of some of the physical symptoms of postpartum depression.
Physical Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.  **Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.
Physical Symptoms of Postpartum Depression Physical Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Common Physical Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

There are a few physical symptoms of postpartum depression that are common knowledge and almost all sufferers will experience at some point.

Exhaustion and Fatigue

Many mothers will say they didn’t notice they were experiencing fatigue because, well… they’re moms.  And if you’re not exhausted 99% of the day, are you even a mother? But the exhaustion and fatigue caused by postpartum depression goes far beyond the normal tiredness that all mothers experience.

Try tracking how much sleep you’re getting each night.  If it’s a decent amount but you’re still exhausted all day, then you could be experiencing fatigue.

Appetite Changes

This is another one that is commonly missed by mothers.  We are often too busy taking care of the kids to eat or sometimes just forget.  And then we binge eat after the kids go to bed because we haven’t eaten anything all day.  Those aren’t appetite changes…

Appetite changes due to postpartum depression are much more extreme.  An aversion to food altogether is common, but so is non-stop eating.  And this all depends on our personalities.  For some people, it’s hard to eat when they feel sad or stressed.  For others, eating is comforting and makes them feel better.

One way to stay on top of the appetite changes is to watch for weight fluctuations.  A sudden and drastic increase or decrease in weight can signal that postpartum depression has taken a toll on a person’s appetite.

Sleep Problems

This is a physical symptom that can go either way.  Many women cannot sleep at all (insomnia) and others want to sleep all day long (hypersomnia).  This also depends on the individual personality but if a woman has anxiety as well as depression, they are more likely to experience insomnia.

Sleeping pills can help, but there are natural sleep options as well.  Or, try switching to a better mattress.  There are some that you can test one out for a full year to see if it makes a difference.

Postpartum Anxiety Insomnia 1
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Physical Symptoms Caused By Stress

In addition to the more common physical symptoms of postpartum depression, many women experience pain caused by stress.  Stress is a big trigger for symptoms of depression, and as long as stress is a factor in your life, you can expect to have constant mental and physical pain.

Back/Neck/Joint Pain

Tension caused by stress puts a lot of extra pressure on the bones and joints in the body.  When stressed out we tend to tighten up, raise our shoulders, hunch our backs and hang our heads, which isn’t the way our bones and muscles are supposed to work.  In addition to tension-related pain, many sufferers of postpartum depression experience bodily pains due to the large amount of time spent in bed plus a lack of exercise. 

Massage therapy, thermotherapy or a low-impact exercise such as yoga can help to relieve some of the pain.

Headaches/Migraines

Chronic headaches and migraines are also a result of stress and the overall drop in healthy habits.  Without the right diet, exercise or fresh air intake, they are almost unavoidable.  Tension headaches caused by stress can be a regular occurrence.  Certain medications can also cause headaches (or withdrawals from medications)

Essential oil blends that are specially developed for migraines are a better alternative to taking medication on a regular basis.

9 Reasons Why Mothers Don't Speak Up About Chronic Pain
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Nausea and Digestion Problems

Stress can have quite an impact on the digestive system.  That feeling of knots in the stomach is not just in the head – it’s literal.  Stress and anxiety can cause nausea and constipation or diarrhea.  A poor diet, different medications and a lack of exercise can also result in slower digestion. 

It can take a while to get your digestive system back on track with everything going on, so it’s a good idea to supplement with a digestive enzyme and use essential oil blends for nausea.

Teeth Grinding/Jaw Pain

Stress, anxiety and insomnia can cause severe jaw pain (TMD) from teeth grinding or clenching at night.  Teeth grinding can also contribute to headaches and even cause dental problems.

Using a dental guard can help protect your teeth and reduce jaw pain from clenching and grinding while you sleep.

Chest Pain

Any type of chest pain should always be checked out by a doctor –  don’t automatically assume that your chest pain is a symptom of postpartum depression or anxiety. 

However, if you’ve ruled out the chance of any other condition, it’s very possible that your chest pain is caused by stress from postpartum depression or anxiety.  Chest pain can be a sign of a panic attack, muscle atrophy, dehydration or malnutrition.

A Mother's Guide to Postpartum Rage
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Physical Symptoms Caused By Hormonal Imbalances

Hormonal imbalances can cause a lot of physical symptoms in women with postpartum depression.  It’s important to get your hormone levels checked and make sure that there isn’t another underlying problem that is causing your hormone levels to be out of balance (such as a thyroid problem).  Pregnancy and breastfeeding can cause significant changes in hormone levels.  It may take a long time after giving birth for the hormones to regulate, and during that time you can expect several different physical symptoms.

Hair Loss

Postpartum hair loss is extremely common with the change of hormone levels after birth.  If you’re experiencing hair loss long after the postpartum period is over, then it could be a sign of a hormonal imbalance. 

There are specially formulated hair growth supplements for women with hormonal imbalances that can help your hair stay healthy during the battle with postpartum depression.

Acne

Having hormones that are out of balance is like being a teenager all over again.  Adult acne is a symptom of sudden changes in hormone levels and is a common complaint of pregnant and postpartum women. 

You may need to consider adding an oil free cleanser or blemish treatment to your self-care routine.

Dryness

Dry skin, dry eyes and vaginal dryness are symptoms of an estrogen, progesterone or testosterone deficiency.  While not a big problem on their own, in combination with some of the other physical symptoms of postpartum depression, it can become a nuisance.

Self Care Routine for a Stay at Home Mom
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Dizziness/Lightheadedness

Changes in hormone levels can cause women to experience bouts of dizziness and lightheadedness.  This can also be a symptom of a poor diet and lack of fresh air caused by depression.

Menstrual Changes

This can be a difficult symptom to track for postpartum women.  It’s not unusual for women to experience irregular periods after giving birth, especially while breastfeeding.  But even exclusive breastfeeding isn’t a guarantee of avoiding periods and ovulation.

With a hormonal imbalance, women with postpartum depression may experience drastic changes in their menstrual cycle, such as painful periods or ovulation and severe PMS.  Specialty essential oil blends can help treat the symptoms of PMS naturally.  

Alternatively, some may experience symptoms similar to menopause such as hot flashes, infertility, irregular or missed periods and spotting.  It’s still important to report these changes to  your doctor, though, as you could be suffering from something more severe – such as fibroids or endometriosis

Regardless of what is causing the irregular menstrual cycles, there are natural supplements available to help regulate them.

Reduced or non-existent sex drive

Low or fluctuating testosterone levels can result in a low libido for women with postpartum depression.  But even with balanced hormone levels, sex is normally the last thing on the mind of an exhausted and struggling mother. 

There are different homeopathic libido boosters available that can help despite the imbalanced hormones.

Battling Endometriosis While Suffering From Postpartum Depression
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One of the most surprising physical symptoms of postpartum depression…

A Weakened Immune System

It’s surprising but also it’s not.  A woman with postpartum depression isn’t eating right, exercising or sleeping enough.  They’re unlikely to get out of the house very often so they’re deprived of fresh air and sunshine.  They wouldn’t be exposed to enough of the world’s bacteria to build up an immunity to it (even worse if they suffer from postpartum OCD).

It should actually be no surprise that a woman with postpartum depression will get sick more often due to a weakened immune system.  Being prone to illness can, in turn, increase a woman’s anxiety and tendency to believe that something else is wrong with them.

It can take months or even years before the signs of a weakened immune system start to show, and even longer to build it back up.  There are natural ways to boost your immune system despite all the side effects of postpartum depression.

16 Ways Ecotherapy is Good for Moms
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Mental illness can have an effect on all parts of a person’s life.  A lot of the time, the illness is invisible and therefore, women with postpartum depression fly under the radar because they aren’t “sick enough.”  In fact, many of the physical symptoms listed here are often blamed on something else, rather than recognized as an actual symptom of postpartum depression.  By treating the mental aspects of postpartum depression, which includes (but is not limited to) online therapy, eliminating stress, eating right and exercising – a lot of the physical symptoms will also get better.


Interview with a Postpartum Doula

A postpartum doula is a newer trend in postpartum care but offers many benefits for new mothers.

The term doula seems to be synonymous with labor and childbirth.  But what many mothers don’t realize is that the first few months in the postpartum period can be even tougher than childbirth itself.  These are the times when mothers need the most support.  A postpartum doula is not just for first time mothers either.  Those with other children at home often need even MORE support to get the rest they so desperately need.

Having help in the first few months after having a baby can greatly reduce the risk of mothers developing postpartum depression.

In an effort to learn more about what a postpartum doula does, I interviewed Lenamarie Gorski, a birth and postpartum doula from Birth With a Voice Doula Service and fellow postpartum depression survivor.  
Postpartum Doula
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.  *This is a collaborative post and therefore not all of the opinions and statements made are necessarily those of Running in Triangles.
Interview with A Postpartum Doula

1. What is a doula?

A doula is a person that assists a woman in labor. We support the women emotionally, spiritually and through the pain. A doula also assists women in the postpartum period because “it takes a village” to care for a newborn.

2. What is the difference between a birth doula and a postpartum doula?

A birth doula usually ends after the birth.  There is typically one follow up appointment but then the contract ends. The focus is on the birth, pain management and supporting the birthing mom and her partner.

A postpartum doula is strictly for the period after the birth. The focus is on helping with caring for the infant AND mom! I personally try to keep life as normal as possible during my time with a client.

Precipitous Labor
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3. What kind of training do postpartum doulas have?

We typically do workshops. You also are trained in infant CPR as well as breastfeeding for help with the new mom. Certification follows up after the training with work to complete from the accrediting company.

4. What tasks does a postpartum doula do?

A postpartum doula typically does light housework, laundry, preps meals and helps with the infant care as well as breastfeeding. Sometimes we go shopping for the client, anything to keep life moving while the new mom is recovering and adjusting to life with a newborn.

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5. What type of shifts does a postpartum doula work?

It really depends on the client. The typical shift is nighttime form 7pm-7am. I have had clients change me from night to day as the baby grew/slept longer at night. I sometimes help them until they can find a nanny (I also have trained nannies to the everyday happenings in the home) or it is time for the baby to start daycare.

6. How many months after birth does a postpartum doula provide service for?

Its typically 12 weeks but we can be there up to 6 months with a client depending on the baby’s sleep patterns. The four month sleep regression can sometimes have clients call us back since it can be rough, especially for two parents expected to be at work or when there are older children in the home.

How to Start Sleep Training The Moment You Bring Baby Home
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7. Approximately how much does a postpartum doula cost?

It varies. It can be anywhere from $20.00 an hour to $45.00 an hour. You just need to shop around.

8. Are doula services ever covered by private health insurance?

Currently, no. Unfortunately, this has not yet caught on. In NYC they are going to be covering birth doulas with insurance so I’m hoping this is the beginning of an important trend. However, you can always try! You can submit the bill of the doula to your insurance company and see if they will reimburse.

9. What is the best way to find a postpartum doula where I live?

DoulaMatch.net is a great way! Also, word of mouth! Postpartum, birth groups of your area on Facebook or going to a local birth center. Also, Facebook! You can search “doulas” and Facebook pages of local doulas should come up.

Benefits of Doulas
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10. How can a postpartum doula help a mother with postpartum depression?

Doulas are not medical professionals but we have resources for moms with PPD. We also help them by listening and supporting them through that time to tell them that they are not alone! Whenever I start with a client I always share my story of PPD, to tell them that I am a safe place and I am not here to judge the. Motherhood is hard, sometimes you just need a safe and understanding place to go to and often times doulas provide that safe place.

Any additional information you would like to provide about postpartum doulas?

A postpartum doula is not a nanny, we often get confused by that. We are infant specialists; this covers swaddling, sleeping, nursing, bottle feeding, etc. We are a valuable resource for moms and I really encourage everyone to spread the word and get some help in the postpartum period.


Birth With a Voice

Lenamarie Gorski is a birth/postpartum doula and mother of five from Philadelphia, PA. Before finding her passion as a doula, she finished her degree in biology with a minor in chemistry, while raising her first two children. Feeling like she was pushed into c-sections, as well as her struggle with postpartum depression, encouraged her to begin her training to help other women.

“When you have a baby you need support, love and guidance no matter if it is your first or your fifth child. Never be ashamed to ask for help, it is a sign of strength not weakness.”

If you’re interested in hiring a postpartum doula in the Philadelphia, NJ, or Delaware area – you can contact Lenamarie via her website: www.birthwithavoicedoulaservice.com

You can also purchase her New Mommy Box & Breastfeeding Box online.

And don’t forget to follow Birth With a Voice on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter

Do you have a question about postpartum doulas?  Leave it in the comments!

How To Find the Courage to Talk About Postpartum Depression

Most women with postpartum depression know two things – that they should talk about it, and that they don’t want to.

New mothers are bombarded with information telling them that they need to speak up if they just aren’t feeling right.  But they don’t – and for several good reasons.  So how do we bridge the gap between the terrified mothers living silently in darkness and the concerned support system who can only help if they know what’s wrong?

Ending the stigma surrounding mental illness would break down so many barriers.  And more women talking about postpartum depression would help to do that.

The women who DO speak up, are courageous for doing so.  They have decided to ask for help and tell their stories, despite the barriers presented by the medical system and society in general.

Here are some tips for women who want to know how to talk about postpartum depression.
How to Talk About Postpartum Depression
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.  Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.

Read About It

Reading the stories of other mothers can help you figure out how to talk about postpartum depression.  Try to read as many stories as you can, because each mother’s experience is different.  You never know which ones will relate to you specifically.  And if you find a story that feels like the author took the words right out of your mouth – then save it and read it over and over again.  Share it on social media or with someone you love.  Let the courage of other woman inspire you to want to share your own story.

Find some stories to read in The Ultimate Collection of Postpartum Depression Stories

The Ultimate Collection of Postpartum Depression Stories Online
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More of a visual person?  You can find hundreds of videos of women telling their postpartum depression stories on YouTube


Write About It

If you want to know how to talk about postpartum depression, then you need to practice what you’re going to say.  Writing it out is a great first step.  You don’t need to be a professional writer nor feel any obligation to share your story with anyone.  Write it just for you.

Write it out on paper, in pen, so that you can’t erase or delete anything.  You can scribble words out but they will still be there like an everlasting reminder that running away from your thoughts doesn’t help.

Write about the bad stuff that you’re too afraid to say out loud.  Write about the sad stuff and keep writing even when your tears soak through the paper.  Write about all the hopes and dreams that haven’t come true for you yet.

When you’re done writing it out – you will want to burn it or tear it up into a million pieces and flush it.  But instead of doing that, find the courage to keep it.  It will help you greatly when you are ready to talk about postpartum depression.

Bonus:  Download and print this free PDF workbook to write about your thoughts in.

How to Start Blogging About Postpartum Depression
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Help Someone Else

Helping someone else who is in the same situation as you are is a great way to learn how to talk about postpartum depression.  One way to do this by joining a private online support group where you can talk more freely with strangers.  Mothers are usually quite honest and open in these groups and ask questions about everything from medications to marriage problems.  If you don’t feel quite ready to ask your own questions, then start by answering one for another mother.

Supporting someone else is incredibly empowering and can give you the courage to talk about your own struggle with postpartum depression.

Here are some online support groups you can join: (I am a member of all these groups as well)

Momma’s Postpartum Depression Support

Postpartum Support International

Postpartum Anxiety Support Group

Postpartum Depression & Anxiety Support Group 

Intrusive Thoughts
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Talk to a Survivor

No one knows how to talk about postpartum depression better than a survivor.  I should mention that, when it comes to maternal mental illness, there are no REAL survivors because there is no REAL cure.

What I mean by a survivor is:
  • A woman who has lived through the worst of it in the first year postpartum.
  • A woman who decided she needed help and asked for it.
  • A woman who spoke up about what she was going through.
  • A woman who made changes in her life to avoid the chances of a relapse.
  • A woman who has established a treatment plan.
  • A woman who’s mind told her to end it all but she didn’t.

Survivors are still battling the pain of postpartum depression and/or are at risk for a relapse.  But survivors have one thing that you don’t… they have spoken up about postpartum depression and lived to tell the tale.  So find a survivor and ask them how to talk about postpartum depression.

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Don’t Do It Alone

Fighting a battle alone is never a good plan, no matter how much courage you have.  It is much easier to talk about postpartum depression when you have someone holding your hand.  Asking for help with postpartum depression doesn’t always mean asking for medication or therapy.  Asking for help can mean something as simple as helping you talk to someone about what you’re going through.

Who do you want to talk to about postpartum depression?  Your spouse?  Your doctor? Your family or friends?  Find a person or group to stand with you as you do it (physically or virtually).  Having someone else there for “emotional support” can give you the courage you need to speak up, and also hold you accountable so you can’t back out at the last minute.

6 Ways to Get Online Help for Postpartum Depression
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One option to consider if you’d like help to speak openly about your postpartum depression to your family and friends is to access an online psychiatrist.  Thanks to the privacy and anonymity that it offers, you can speak to a licensed professional, on your own time, without anyone needing to know until you are ready.  Find out more at Online-Therapy.com.

Consider the Worst Case Scenario

Make a list of all the things keeping you silent.  Which one do you fear the most?  Are you afraid you will be treated like a criminal or child abuser?  That your children will be taken away from you, or that your spouse will leave you?  Maybe you’re worried that someone will judge you, say insensitive things to you or avoid you altogether?

Now make a list of all the reasons why you want to speak up.  Are you struggling and don’t know how to cope?  Do you want to be a better mother and wife?  Do you want others to know why you’ve been acting strange?  Do you feel alone?  Are you scared of what you might do?  Contemplating suicide?

9 Reasons Why Mothers Don't Talk About Postpartum Depression
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Which list is your worst case scenario?

Don’t wait for something bad to happen before you decide to talk about postpartum depression.  Think carefully about the consequences of staying silent when you should be speaking up.  Talking about it won’t be easy, and neither is battling in silence – but wouldn’t you rather have an army by your side to fight the war raging inside of you?
10 Mothers Who Lost the Battle to Postpartum Depression

Make Plans For the Future

Thinking about the future can help you decide how to talk about postpartum depression.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the darkness happening right now, but the future is that light at the end of the tunnel.  Without help or a plan to get better, the future seems bleak.  It seems like a never-ending life of sadness and despair.

Imagine what you want your future to look like.  Do you want to have more children?  Think about watching your children grow up, helping them with homework and taking family vacations.  Aim to achieve it instead of mourn what would be.  So make a 1, 5, and 10 year plan for your life.  Having a future will give you something to fight for.

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The simple act of talking about postpartum depression can feel like an insurmountable task for many mothers. 

The hundreds of reasons for staying silent are completely valid and understandable.  Postpartum depression is a private matter and there is no need for the entire world to know about a mother’s inner most thoughts and feelings.

But the hundreds of reasons for speaking up are also valid.  It will take a lot of courage, and make a person feel exposed and vulnerable.  But it means that you won’t have to fight this battle alone.  And if you don’t have to fight it alone, you have a much better chance of winning.

Don’t wait for someone to ask you how you’re feeling, take matters into your own hands and find the courage to speak up.


Ready to talk about postpartum depression?  I can help you share your story!

Mothers Answer 10 Questions About Postpartum Depression
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A Mother’s Guide to Postpartum Rage

Are you even a mother if you’re not constantly yelling at your kids for something?  Getting mad at your kids or spouse is one thing, but postpartum rage is something entirely different.

Mothers who find themselves suffering from episodes of postpartum rage may feel like they are just unable to handle the everyday challenges of motherhood.  Or perhaps they believe it’s a sign of trouble in their marriage and relationships.  Maternal mental health disorders can have a tricky way of making mothers feel like they are failing.  And postpartum rage is one of the scariest tricks yet.

Here’s what moms need to know about postpartum rage.
A Mother's Guide to Postpartum Rage
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust. **Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.
A Mother's Guide to Postpartum Rage
Postpartum Rage Info Graphic Postpartum Rage

What is Postpartum Rage?

As the term suggests, it is classified as feelings of uncontrollable anger in a mother who has recently given birth.  Usually set off by something insignificant (but also triggered by valid reasons), episodes of postpartum rage come on very suddenly and escalate quickly.  They are generally out-of-character for most women and can be especially frightening to those around her.

In most cases, women do not get violent, but because postpartum rage is uncontrollable, it can manifest in violent ways such as throwing or breaking things, swearing, screaming or threatening to do something worse.

Postpartum rage is usually a by-product of a maternal mental health disorder such as postpartum depression, anxiety or OCD.  Similar to anger management problems, postpartum rage is caused by an underlying issue that makes it difficult to control feelings of anger.

6 Ways to Get Online Help for Postpartum Depression
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Rage vs. Anger

It’s called postpartum RAGE for a reason.  It’s more than just anger or getting upset over something valid.  It’s not deep-sighs of frustration or disappointment.  It’s not “mom’s upset because we didn’t put our toys away.”  It’s full-blown, blood-boiling, fist-clenching rage.  How do you know if you’re suffering from postpartum rage and not just a hot temper?

Symptoms of Postpartum Rage

  • Reacting quickly and passionately over small things (like a spilled drink)
  • Heart races and blood pressure rises when you start to get upset
  • You cannot stop thinking bad thoughts about someone who wronged you
  • Feeling violent urges or imagining doing something violent to yourself or someone else
  • Screaming or swearing
  • Punching or throwing things
  • Unable to “snap out of it” and needing someone else to intervene
  • Inability to remember everything that happened during the outburst of rage
  • Immediately feeling regret or a flood of emotions afterwards

Postpartum Rage + Postpartum Depression (PPD)

If you’ve ever heard the expression “depression is anger turned inwards” then a link between postpartum depression and postpartum rage makes perfect sense.  Sufferers of postpartum depression are usually seen as having very little energy, lethargic, sad and quiet.  In many ways, the opposite of what we imagine when we hear the word “rage.”

Anger is actually a very common symptom of depression.  Postpartum depression brings with it a lot of guilt and feelings of self-loathing or worthlessness.  Mothers with postpartum depression tend to bottle up a lot of these unpleasant feelings.  All of those bottled up emotions can, and will, eventually come out, often in the form of anger and rage.

This is What Happens When Someone Incredible Gets Postpartum Depression
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Postpartum Rage + Postpartum Anxiety (PPA)

This is perhaps the most common combination of postpartum rage.  Postpartum anxiety causes a mother to be worried, overwhelmed, and feel out of control, which easily opens the door to postpartum rage.

Postpartum anxiety can create situations of distrust and paranoia, which feeds the postpartum rage.  The more situations a mother is placed in where she feels out of control or overwhelmed, the more opportunities postpartum rage has to prey on her soul.  What’s worse is that simply knowing she is prone to episodes of rage can make her mental state much worse.

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Postpartum Rage + Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (PPOCD)

Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is similar to postpartum anxiety in that it leads a new mother to worry quite regularly.  The difference is that with postpartum OCD, mothers become obsessed about doing something to the point where they can barely function if it isn’t done.  For some women, it’s obsessively cleaning the house, washing their hands or bathing baby, but it can be any kind of obsessive behavior.

If a mother is unable to perform these tasks, it can lead her into a state of postpartum rage due to a loss of control.  She may also be easily irritated and annoyed if she is interrupted while performing obsessive routines and will lash out in fits of rage.

Intrusive Thoughts
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Postpartum Rage + Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Stress is known to have all kinds of detrimental effects on the mind and body.  Many mothers who suffered from PTSD after a traumatic pregnancy or delivery can develop postpartum rage. 

This can stem from any resentment they may hold toward their experience.  They may feel sorry for themselves and be unable to move past the traumatic events.  Or, mothers with PTSD may feel hostile towards the doctors, nurses or anyone else who she believes may have contributed to her bad experience.

Precipitous Labor
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How to Manage It

Step 1: Remove yourself from the situation

As soon as you realize that you’ve lost control – walk away.  It’s important to tell your spouse or partner what you’re going through so that they can intervene if necessary.  Find or create a safe space in your home that you can escape to.

Step 2: Calm down

Take deep breaths, do some yoga stretches, have a drink of water, get some fresh air.  Do whatever you need to do in order to calm yourself down and regain control again.  Sniffing some calming essential oils are a great way to calm yourself down quickly.

Step 3: Find another outlet for your anger

Anger is an important emotion and while you want to keep the postpartum rage under control, it’s imperative that you find another way to express it.  Exercise is a great way to burn off all the pent up energy, as well as getting outdoors or you could focus it towards something creative.

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How to Prevent It

Ask for help

Postpartum rage can get out of control very quickly.  Don’t wait for someone to ask you if you’re alright. Make sure that your spouse or partner knows to get involved if you lose control, even if it makes the rage worse.  There are also counselors, online therapists and support groups available for you to talk to.

National Crisis Support Lines for Postpartum Moms
Get this FREE printable PDF Quick Reference Guide of National Crisis Support Numbers in the Running in Triangles Free Resource Library, available exclusively to subscribers of the Postpartum Depression Survival Guide. Click here to subscribe.
Treat the underlying cause

Since postpartum rage is a symptom of a bigger issue, it’s important to establish a treatment plan to get your maternal mental health back in good shape.  Supplement your existing treatment plan with a proper self care routine that includes stress-relieving practices like yoga, acupressure or aromatherapy.

Track your moods

Keeping track of your moods can help you to avoid an episode of postpartum rage.  By tracking the fluctuations in your mood on a regular basis, you can start to notice any specific patterns or triggers that cause you additional stress.  Download a printable monthly mood tracker and keep it somewhere easily accessible so that you remember to track your mood each day.

Let it go

Stop holding grudges against people who have hurt or offended you.  Let things that have happened in the past remain there.  Dwelling on a bad situation will only encourage that rage, so learn to just let it all go.  Practicing yoga or meditation, or writing things out can be a great way to release those feelings and let them go.

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Replace rage with laughter

Anytime you feel like bursting out in a fit of rage, just start laughing instead.  Yes, you will look like a crazy person – white walls, straight-jacket, insane asylum crazy person.  Laughter can release that built up energy in the same way that rage can, but it’s less frightening and makes you feel something positive instead.  Laughter really is the best medicine.

Avoid stressful situations

Stress is a big trigger for episodes of postpartum rage.  Try to avoid being put into stressful situations. If it’s the bedtime routine that stresses you out, then maybe it’s time to start sleep training – or have someone else put the kids to bed.  Stay away from online mom groups that discuss controversial topics and choose a support group instead.  You may need to re-evaluate your job, financial situation and/or relationships to see what is causing your stress and find ways to make it better.

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Postpartum rage can be a terrifying thing to deal with.  It’s often misdirected towards spouses or children and can have an effect on those relationships.  It’s important to understand that postpartum rage is a symptom of something bigger and make sure that your loved ones know that as well.  The more everyone understands about maternal mental health issues, the easier it will be to recover from them and the less damage it will do to our lives.

If you find yourself suffering from regular outbursts of postpartum rage, make sure to speak to your doctor about them, even if you are already taking anti-depressants or some other form of treatment.  Certain medications can make postpartum rage worse, so you may need to experiment with what works for you.

Additional Resources

Books:

Body Full of Stars: Female Rage and My Passage into Motherhood by Molly Caro May.  [Purchase it at Chapters or Amazon]

Articles:

The Scariest Symptom of Postpartum Depression – The Seleni Institute

Postpartum Rage: When You Start to Lose Control – Mothering.com

We Need to Talk About Postpartum Rage – And Why it Happens – Mother.ly

Anger Management: 10 Tips to Tame Your Temper – Mayo Clinic

Mental Health and Anger Management – WebMD

8 Important Postpartum Depression Resources For Canadian Moms

Oh Canada – the land of free healthcare!

While healthcare in Canada is free for citizens – and I wouldn’t want it any other way – it can be a challenge for mothers to find and access proper postpartum depression resources.  

Obviously, speaking to a doctor would be the first step.  But often, our family doctors, obstetricians or gynecologists were not our first choice, but rather, the ones with the shortest waiting list.  It’s difficult to speak to someone about something as personal as postpartum depression when a strong relationship doesn’t exist.

For mothers in Canada, it’s important to have a list of postpartum depression resources we can access when we don’t get the answers we were looking for from our primary healthcare providers.  Free healthcare doesn’t have to mean that our options are limited.

Here are a few different postpartum depression resources available to Canadians…
Postpartum Depression Resources in Canada 1
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust. Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.

Postpartum Depression Resources in Canada 1 Postpartum Depression Resources in Canada 1


Postpartum Support International

PSI (postpartum.net) is perhaps one of the best postpartum depression resources available to women regardless of where you live.  View their list of postpartum depression resources in Canada for contacts you can reach out to in each province.  At the bottom of the page, you can get information for different support groups available in cities across Canada.

The PSI helpline is available to Canadians (and internationally).  If you’re not sure where to begin on your journey to recovery, but simply know that you need help, calling this number is a great first step.

PSI Toll Free Helpline: 1-800-944-4773 (4PPD)


Postpartum Doulas

A postpartum doula is a fairly newer trend in postpartum support.  While many women hire doulas to help them through labor and delivery, a postpartum doula is specifically there to help you in the postpartum period.  They will do anything that you need – from helping with the baby to cleaning the house and running errands.  Even if you have the support of a spouse or family members, a trained doula comes with a ton of knowledge, both about newborn baby care and maternal mental health.  

So if you’re struggling, or worried about getting through the postpartum period on your own – consider hiring a postpartum doula to help.

Where to Find a Postpartum Doula

The best places to find a postpartum doula near you is by searching the member directories on professional certification websites. 

Doula Canadadoulatraining.ca

A Canadian organization that trains doulas and childbirth educators.  They offer listings of doula practices by province.

CAPPA (Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association) | www.cappa.net

An international organization for doula training and certification.  Check out their list of CAPPA certified postpartum doulas in Canada.

ICEA (International Childbirth Education Association)icea.org

A non-profit organization that supports doulas and other professional childbirth educators.  Their list includes both certified and non-certified doulas in Canada.

DONA Internationalwww.dona.org

One of the most widely recognized doula certification organizations – you can search their database for a postpartum doula near you!

Postpartum Doula
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Online Support Groups

An online support group is a great resource for mothers suffering from postpartum depression and other maternal mental health disorders.  There is something so freeing about chatting with a stranger, commenting on posts from women who feel exactly the same as you do, and being able to share any knowledge you’ve come across or support another mother who is struggling.

The Canadian Postpartum Depression Support Network on Facebook has over 600 members and is a very active group with extremely supportive members who comment on nearly every post almost immediately.  There is a benefit to joining a specifically Canadian group, as the members can relate to the healthcare system and treatment options available.  Join this group here.

Postpartum Depression & Anxiety Support Group  is a Facebook group run by Patricia Tomasi – maternal mental health writer for Huffington Post Canada.  With over 1700 members, you’ll find great discussions and a very supportive group.  Join this group here.  You can also follow her Facebook page for lots of great information and articles about maternal mental health.

Postpartum Support International has their own Facebook group as well and it has well over 8,000 members.  You are sure to get a response and lots of support from women all over the world who are struggling with maternal mental health issues.  Join this group here.

Mother Matters is an 8 week online support group open to residents of Ontario.  It is run by the Mental Health Program at Women’s College Hospital, and registration must be done in advance.  Find out more here.

If you’re looking for a more specific group, simply search on Facebook groups for one.  Once you find a group that’s the right fit, it can easily become one of your most treasured postpartum depression resources.

50 Reasons Why Moms Don't Talk About Postpartum Depression


Provincial Crisis Hotlines

In addition to Postpartum Support International’s Helpline, there are several local crisis hotlines available throughout Canada.

A crisis hotline is available 24 hours a day in the event of an emergency or if you are contemplating suicide, hurting yourself or hurting someone else.  The hotline operators are trained to handle emergency situations, especially those pertaining to mental health, so you can rest assured that they will understand what you are going through.

A local crisis hotline is one of the most important postpartum depression resources to keep nearby in case your mental health worsens suddenly.  In the event that you need physical intervention or support, help can be dispatched immediately.

Visit the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention to locate the crisis centers in your province – suicideprevention.ca/need-help

A list of different crisis hotline numbers available by province can also be found on the Your Life Counts website –www.yourlifecounts.org

A Mother's Guide to Postpartum Rage
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Online Counseling

Counseling is an excellent treatment option for women with postpartum depression, however, there are many barriers to meeting with a counselor in person.

Some things that may discourage mothers from seeking face-to-face counseling:

    • Difficulty finding a counselor that you feel comfortable talking to
    • Unable to arrange childcare while attending sessions
    • Unmotivated to leave the house for appointments
    • Scheduling conflicts or a lack of extra time
    • Fear of others finding out that you need counseling

Online counseling is a much better option for mothers with postpartum depression.  Through sites such as Online Therapy and  BetterHelp, mothers will be matched with a counselor based on their needs, and the sessions conveniently take place from the privacy of their own home.

6 Ways to Get Online Help for Postpartum Depression
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Genetic Research Study

Mom Genes is a genetic research study being conducted in Canada by the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, Ontario.  (It’s also being run in several other countries by their own sponsors).  They are currently trying to collect information from women who have postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis.  With this information, they will hopefully be able to find out the cause of postpartum depression as well as develop better programs and treatment options.

To take part in the study is very simple – it just requires downloading a free app.  If you qualify, you’ll be asked to provide a DNA sample in the form of a saliva kit which will be mailed to you.  In addition to contributing to this important study, the app provides postpartum depression resources, such as a tip of the week and important phone numbers.

Join the Mom Genes Fight PPD Genetic Research Study here.


Health & Wellness Products

Aside from anti-depressants, there are many all-natural and herbal supplements available that can help with the symptoms of postpartum depression.

A few popular products known to improve the overall mood and well-being of mothers with postpartum depression includes:

One of the best online sites to purchase health and wellness products in Canada is Well.ca.  Whatever natural products you need for your own self-care routine and to help improve your mental health can be found here.  Check out Well.ca’s Women’s Health Section to find all the products you’re currently using. 

Aromatherapy has amazing health and mood-boosting benefits. There are so many different blends and oils available to treat specific symptoms and create a more positive environment. Learn more about how aromatherapy can benefit you.

Decent, Canadian, online shopping sites are surprisingly good postpartum depression resources because it’s difficult to find the motivation to leave the house to find the products we need for our own health.


Platforms to Spread Awareness

Postpartum depression is dark and ugly.  It’s shocking and harsh and evil and all the bad things in the world.  But it’s also something beautiful.  It’s powerful and real and truthful.  A postpartum depression story, when shared with the world, can change lives.

To see what I mean, check out some of the stories from brave sufferers and survivors of postpartum depression in The Ultimate Collection of Postpartum Depression Stories.  Or read more from real moms in our 10 Questions About Postpartum Depression

Are you ready to turn your postpartum depression story into something beautiful? Share it in the form of a guest post right here on Running in Triangles.
Click here for details
Here are some other platforms where you can share your postpartum depression story:

Or, consider starting your own blog!  Mental health bloggers are doing some incredible things to help spread awareness and end the stigma by speaking up and sharing their stories.  If you’re interested in learning how to start your own mental health blog, check out this tutorial: How to Start Blogging About Postpartum Depression.


It’s unfortunate that there isn’t enough awareness about postpartum depression resources in Canada.

There are a few groups on Facebook that are working hard towards spreading awareness, including Maternal Mental Health Progress in Canada and Postpartum Depression Awareness and they’re definitely worth a follow.

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Get this FREE printable PDF Quick Reference Guide of National Crisis Support Numbers in the Running in Triangles Free Resource Library, available exclusively to subscribers of the Postpartum Depression Survival Guide. Click here to subscribe.


Know of a Canadian postpartum depression resource that’s not on this list? Let me know!