We Can't Forget About Postpartum Psychosis When Talking About PPD

 "Pregnant Woman" By duron123

"Pregnant Woman" By duron123

There has been much attention given to postpartum depression recently since the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force is now recommending screening of all pregnant women for postpartum depression both prenatally and postpartum.  This is great news and a great stride in bringing much needed attention to an under-addressed public health crisis.  That being said, when the general term of postpartum depression (PPD) is used, it can be misleading and the spectrum of perinatal mood & anxiety disorders can be overlooked.

Although postpartum psychosis may be considered a rare perinatal mood & anxiety disorder, it affects many women and families worldwide.  More awareness, education and research are needed in the area of postpartum psychosis as well as properly identifying and diagnosis the illness.  As things move forward in addressing the public health crisis of perinatal mental health, it is important that postpartum psychosis not be forgotten. 

Of course, many of you know that my efforts are to increase the awareness and understanding of postpartum psychosis.  I know many others are striving to do the same.  Some of us are already joining each other in our efforts.  If any others are interested in getting more involved in addressing postpartum psychosis, particularly in the United States, please let me know. 

I know the year 2016 is going to be a good year in moving forward in addressing perinatal mental health.

 

 

 

Guest Appearance on Motherhood on Webtalkradio.net

 "On the Air" by digitalart

"On the Air" by digitalart

I am honored to have had a guest appearance on the Motherhood program hosted by Dr. Christina Hibbert on Webtalkradio.net

Here is the link to the program:  Motherhood – Mom Mental Health Crisis! How to Cope, Heal, & (Eventually) Use it for Good

Hope you take the time to listen to the program.  Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences as well.

 

The Cast is Off!

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The cast on my ankle came off this week.  After 10 weeks of physical limitations and no driving, I am grateful to have it off.  Being in the situation that I was, I have a better understanding of how hard it is when you are physically limited.  I can now empathize better and recognize the importance of getting practical support.  I am very appreciative of my family and friends that were able to assist me.  Now with the cast off, the work on rehabilitating my ankle has just begun. 

One thing my recent experience has revealed to me is that having a visible challenge seems more accepted than having an invisible challenge.  The level of outreach and support I received was much greater for my visible disability than for my invisible disability.  Regardless of this, I have learned to always have an attitude of hope and gratitude.  The more that individuals speak out about life challenges, the better understanding there will be.  So I continue to speak out and share my experiences.  I hope you will too.

My Little Christmas

As I reflect on this holiday season, I appreciate the simple things.  Having a fractured ankle and being on crutches and not being able to drive helps me be reminded of my blessings.  As an advocate for mental health, I had never experienced what it was like to have a visible challenge.  I am finding there is much more compassion when you have a visible disability as opposed to an invisible disability.

So as I celebrate this holiday season, I am having a simple Christmas. It is good to go back to the basics.  My heart goes out to those that are experiencing life challenges and do not have any support.  My new experience is helping me to have a new perspective and motivates me more to continue my advocacy efforts.

No matter what the situation, remember each day is a new day.  May you all have a Merry Little Christmas!

An Attitude of Gratitude

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Having an attitude of gratitude can be very hard at times but over the years I have learned to look at a glass half full instead of glass half empty.  It has been difficult but in the end I am grateful to be living and breathing and trying to make a positive difference in the world. During this time of year, keep in mind the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich."

A Time to Fall Back

It is that time of year again when the Fall season begins.  Here in the USA most states turn the clocks back an hour for the end of daylight savings (not sure why we still do it since, sadly, farming is a dying industry here).  But the other thing that warms my heart this season is the changing leaves in the Northern states.  Since I live in a Southern state I don't get to see to many trees that change but growing up in Pennsylvania, we used to rake leaves into piles and have such fun. The most special memory I have about the fall season is that my wonderful son was born 20 years ago during this month.  One of the best things that ever happened to me.

So I have a new event that has happened this fall but this memory won't be so pleasant.  I have a fractured ankle.  The first time ever in my life that I have to use crutches.   Sadly, I am still waiting for an orthopedic referral after more than 10 days since the "fall.". Because I had to request that the emergency room doctor take X-Rays, I am not so confident in the emergency care I received.  I learned once again that when your medical history becomes apparent and you have a brain disorder (or more widely known as a mental illness), your treatment often takes a different path.

Despite my recent experience, I am truly blessed to be alive and well and "kicking" with at least one leg. LOL.  My photo is a reflection of my fall status, a casted ankle and an uncommon fall leaf that I discovered while in a very Southern climate.  Would love to hear from others who have had good/bad experience with emergency care treatment.

Fall Blessings to You All!

Jennifer

My Weekly Therapy Event

Many of you have probably seen the beautiful beach pictures I post on Facebook and Twitter. If you haven't liked my page on Facebook, please do at https://www.facebook.com/jenniferhmoyer.  You can also follow me on Twitter @MoyerJennifer 

I am blessed to live in a beautiful coastal community so every Wednesday, I do my best to walk on the beach.  This is my weekly therapy event.  During the summer, I had limited opportunity to incorporate my "therapy event" but the past several weeks, I tried to make it a priority to walk as I was more stressed due to the graduate class I was taking.  By the way, for those of you that read my last blog: Time Management and Managing Stress, I got an A- for my final grade in the class.  So the hard work was rewarded :)

I have found that taking that weekly walk grounds me and clears my perspective no matter what is going on in my life.  I encourage you to find something similar in your life.  The benefits of exercise for our mental health are tremendous.  Hiking, walking, running, swimming or another physical activity are all great ways to clear your mind and help manage stress.  I am feeling the difference in my life by getting back to my weekly walks on the beach.  No matter what the season, there is something about the beauty of nature that helps me maintain a fresh and grateful perspective.  What do you do to help maintain a healthy perspective and manage stress in your life?

 

Time Management and Managing Stress

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I have been getting to practice time management and stress management techniques the past month.  Not only has it been stressful due to difficult personal family circumstances, such as grief, job loss, and less social interaction with friends, it has been stressful in managing my different roles as wife, mother, friend, advocate and now student.  Some of my friends are aware that I applied for a scholarship to go to graduate school.  Although I didn't receive the scholarship, I did get accepted into a graduate program :)

So I had the dilemma of not being able to afford tuition, etc. yet wanting to see if I could handle taking on graduate school.  As a result, I was advised to take one of the required initial courses to hold my place in the graduate program, in hopes of reapplying for the scholarship in the spring.  The initial class is just a one and a half credit class but it is only 6 weeks in length.  A fact that I failed to know when I registered.  Needless to say, I am learning that time management is even more critical now. 

I have actually been enjoying the course but incorporating it into my schedule has been more challenging.  As my stress level goes up, my cognitive functioning seems to go down.  But that is not stopping me from doing the best I can in both the class and my other responsibilities.  Of course the busier I get, the harder it is to incorporate stress management techniques such as exercise and my weekly walks on the beach.  I am doing my best to practice what I preach.  Thankfully, the weather is cooling off so I am motivated to get outside even if it is just to get sunshine while reading my textbook.

My class ends on October 9th so I have to stay focused on the task at hand.  I guess considering I have not been in college for over 20 years, I need to give myself credit no matter what the end result.  I will check in again after my course is over but for now I need to go practice some stress management skills :)

Maternal Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System

         "The Law Book With Gravel" by cooldesign

        "The Law Book With Gravel" by cooldesign

Postpartum Support International will be presenting a program titled Maternal Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System on October 23, 2015 in Cedar Knolls, New Jersey. 

While many other countries have laws in place recognizing the existence of perinatal mood & anxiety disorders and their relevance in rare cases of a mother harming her child(ren), the US legal system does not yet have an understanding of these illnesses.  This program is a step towards bringing better understanding. 

I encourage attendance of this very important educational seminar for anyone involved in the legal system or anyone interested in learning more about maternal mental illness and the criminal justice system.   I have included more information and the link for registration below.

Maternal Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System
October 23, 2015

41 Ridgedale Avenue, Cedar Knolls NJ 07927   
Presented by Postpartum Support International

Thurs Oct 22, 7:00pm -- Dinner and Remarks by George Parnham, JD

Fri Oct 23, 8:30-5:00 -- Maternal Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System

Postpartum Support International presents “Maternal Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System” in Cedar Knolls New Jersey on Friday October 23.

Attorney George Parnham,  Psychiatrist Margaret Spinelli, MD, and an expert team of faculty present this premier seminar designed for professionals interested in the defense and treatment of women accused of crimes that occurred during a postpartum psychiatric mental illness.

Please join us Thursday night to enjoy remarks by George Parnham, JD and a spectacular dinner by H2Ocean Restaurant, hosted by owners Michael & Sylvia Frodella.

Link to registration https://www.eventbrite.com/e/maternal-mental-illness-and-the-criminal-justice-system-registration-17945396163

 

A Time to Grieve

This past month has been a difficult one for me.  My eldest sister, Kathleen, recently passed away.  She lost her battle with cancer on August 4th.  She was an amazing woman.  I looked up to her as my big sister. She was a retired reading specialist and businesswoman with a zest for life.  She had great dedication to her family.  

Losing a loved one is never easy.  Everyone has to grieve when a loved one dies but the process is different for each person.  Thankfully, it was only in the last month that she had a tremendous struggle in her battle.  Since she did not live in close proximity to me, I didn't get to spend as much time with her as I would have liked.  Despite the geographical distance, her love and strength were always with me. 

Although I did not arrive in time for her passing, I have reassurance from loved ones, who were with her in the end, that she had a prayerful and peaceful transition.  Because of my faith, the faith of my sister, Kathleen, and the faith of my family, I have a peace that I would not have otherwise.  Although the grieving continues, I will cherish the memories and the love that will forever be with me. 

As difficult as it is, grief is a part of life that we all face at some point.  Regardless of the circumstances, we must accept it.  I am thankful that I am able to have peace in the midst of the tears.

Honored to Have Presented at the 2015 CAPPA Conference

It was an honor and privilege to have presented at the 2015 CAPPA conference that was held July 10th through the 12th in Tucson, Arizona.  The location was beautiful.  When I became certified as a postpartum doula in the early 2000's, it was through CAPPA that I became certified.  It is wonderful to see how much the organization has grown and developed.  Although I no longer practice as a postpartum doula, I still feel very much a part of CAPPA.  I got to see some of the amazing professionals that I knew all those years ago and got to meet even more amazing professionals at the conference.  The atmosphere was warm and inviting.  It felt like a family reunion.

I was humbled by the response I received after my presentation.  It is always encouraging to hear how sharing my story impacts others in a positive and motivating way.  The reason I do what I do is to help increase awareness and prevention in the area of mental health related to childbearing, particularly in the area of postpartum psychosis .  My mission is to bring hope and inspiration to others so I am extremely thankful when I hear from others that my presentation did exactly that for them.  Thank you, CAPPA, for the wonderful experience and I plan to see everyone again in 2016.

The 28th Annual PSI Conference was a Life-Changing Experience

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I recently had the opportunity to attend the 28th Annual Conference for Postpartum Support International.  The conference was held at the beautiful Inn at St. John's in Plymouth, Michigan.  The theme was Planting seeds of hope: overcoming stigma, increasing options and embracing innovative treatments.  The conference accomplished its goal.

One of the pivotal moments for me was participating in the first ever support group for those touched by postpartum psychosis.  I was honored to be able to experience such a special moment.  There are amazing things to come out of the support group so stay tuned.....

I was also honored to be a presenter at this year's conference.  It was wonderful seeing my PSI family, some whom I have known for years and some new to me.  I will never forget the experience and I am grateful to have been a part of it.

Now off to Arizona for the CAPPA conference :)

Facilitating My First Leadership Academy was a Successful Experience

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This past weekend, I co-facilitated a Leadership Academy for the first time.  It was a great experience. The Leadership Academy is an exemplary training program designed for peer, family and parent leaders in mental health recovery.  The Academy is an educational training program for those who are eager to strengthen their leadership, networking and advocacy skills. 

The Academy focuses on creating system and community changes through collective self-determination, which exemplifies empowerment.  I originally attended the Academy myself back in May 2013 and completed the train the trainer program in October 2013. 

Due to funding, the Florida Academies were delayed until recently.  So, FINALLY, this past weekend, my co-facilitator, Laura Gribble, and I conducted the first Leadership Academy in our region.  We had a great group of individuals, who participated in the three-day training.  The participants want to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.  

The Leadership Academy began in Idaho in an effort to increase consumer involvement within the behavioral health system and communities.  The program expanded and in May 2013, the first Florida Leadership Academy was held.  The Florida Leadership Academy is sponsored by CLEAR (Connecting Leadership, Education, Advocacy and Recovery), a statewide program of NAMI of Collier County and the state of Florida's Department of Children and Families, who overseas mental health services in the state of Florida.

Despite being a little "rusty" on the material since it was 2 years ago since I attended the original academy, the weekend training went well.  Laura and I successfully graduated 12 individuals, who are now going to be even more effective in advocacy within their communities.  I am honored to have been a part of the training and I look forward to co-facilitating the next one.

 

Excited to Launch My New Website

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I am excited to announce the launch of my new website.  I am very pleased with the final site.  For those of you that have not reviewed it yet, please do so.  I would love your feedback. 

Here is the link to the site:  http://www.jenniferhmoyer.com/

You can now find information on my book, A Mother's Climb Out of Darkness, directly on the new site.  For those of you interested in having me come speak to your organization or in your community, you can contact me by filling out the contact form on my website.  Also, if you are a mom or family member in need of emotional or informational support, please contact me through my website.

I believe the new site will help me better achieve my mission of bringing hope and inspiration to individuals and families facing mental health challenges.  Look forward to hearing from you.

 

I Learned on My Trip to Malta that the Country Addresses Maternal Mental Health

April 14, 2015

I recently had the opportunity to visit the country of Malta.  Malta is a beautiful Island located South of Italy in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.  Before my trip, I learned from Wendy Davis, the Executive Director of Postpartum Support International, that there was a Perinatal Psychiatrist in Malta.  Wendy was able to connect the two of us via email. As a result the doctor and I were able to meet one evening while I was in Malta.

It was wonderful meeting Dr. Ethel Felice as well as her lovely daughter, Elena, who also works in the area of perinatal mental health as a psychology assistant.  According to Dr. Felice, the annual birth rate in Malta is about 4,000 births.  Even though Malta is a small country, it is addressing perinatal mental health including the rare cases of postpartum psychosis. I am encouraged to learn that moms and dads have properly trained professional resources available to them.  They are also planning to start a support group sometime in the future.

Ethel and Elena were both appreciative that I donated a copy of my book, A Mother’s Climb Out of Darkness, as a resource for them as well as for moms and families.  It is exciting to have a copy of my book in Malta and I hope it encourages all that read it.  My trip to Malta has been a memorable experience for many reasons.  One of the best memories will be meeting Ethel and Elena.

 

Stigma is Real and Stigma.com is Making a Difference

March 2, 2015

Congratulations to Stigmama.com! The website is celebrating its one year anniversary.  Walker Karraa, PhD began the site because she believes in the power of women, especially those who have been touched by mental illness or mental difference, to create change.

According to Walker, “We are different. We see what others don’t, write what others won’t, and give beauty to the deepest experiences of motherhood and the human soul.”

STIGMAMA was created for mothers of all ages to speak their truths in a non judgmental, supportive, creative community. Walker wants women to share wisdom and support each other in unpacking stigma of mental difference in motherhood.

I commend Dr. Karraa and the awesome contributors for their efforts in stamping out stigma.  Stigma is real and we all can do our part to help eliminate it.

 

This InLinkz account has expired. You can still view the linkup here

Honored that NAMI has Reviewed My Book, A Mother's Climb Out of Darkness

February 6, 2015

Thank you, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), for recently reviewing my book, A Mother’s Climb Out of Darkness.  I am truly honored.  I have provided an excerpt and link to the entire review below:

In America, after a woman goes through childbirth, there is often a strong focus on her physical well-being, but the state of her mental and emotional health may be overlooked. In light of recovering physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, Jennifer Hentz Moyer shares her experience with post-partum psychosis in her memoir A Mother’s Climb Out of Darkness. – See More

If you haven’t had a chance to read my book, I hope you will consider doing so as I have been receiving encouraging feedback from those that have read it.

Here are links to more reviews:

Amazon Reviews

Goodreads

The Importance of Support in Crisis Plan

January 20, 2015

As we begin a new year, it is important that we look ahead but also that we learn from the past.  I, personally, know the importance of support in a crisis.  In the past, I have had many a crisis but thankfully, I now have knowledge that I did not have back then.

Back in October 2013, I was trained on the SAMSHA approved WRAP (wellness recovery action planning), which enabled me to develop a formal plan that would be used in my recovery management.  I was waiting for my husband to return from his overseas job in November 2013, in order to finalize the crisis portion of the plan.  It was a busy six weeks while he was home, so we never got to complete it.  He had to return to work but all was well so I put it aside until had time to complete it.  In March 2014, I had a situation arise when I was meeting the deadline for my manuscript, for my recently published book A Mother’s Climb Out of Darkness.  It was positive stress but anytime I experience sleep deprivation, I am vulnerable to developing further symptoms.  In March 2014, the situation ultimately leveled out once my sleep pattern was restored.

As a result of March 2014, I knew I needed to make the completion of my WRAP plan a priority but again, the schedule did not allow for me to sit down with key support people (there will be 5 in total) to finalize the plan.

Fast forward to December 2014.  Again, I had some positive stress that caused sleep deprivation but this time I also had some concern when I was under the impression that my husband did not have a way to communicate in case of an emergency (via Satellite Phone) in his current work location.  There were also some time-consuming issues (health insurance related as well as an incidence of credit card fraud on one of my cards) that contributed to my having a serious crying spell.  My amazing son had not seen his mom have such a crying spell in recent years.  He was unaware that I had already contacted my therapist.  He began to reach out for help.  This began the cycle of all that happened.  My son did the best he could under the circumstances but as a 19 year old he is still learning.

 

I will not get into all of the details of what transpired after that but ultimately, some individuals that were attempting to help me, did not realize the full extent of the situation.  Nor did they understand that my doctor had communicated with me and I was following her course of treatment. Unfortunately, I did not get the opportunity to DIRECTLY speak with her as I did back in March 2013.  So she initially did not understand that the sleep deprivation was a contributing factor and had become severe. But as back in March 2014, once the medication to address it was prescribed, I began to sleep for 8 hours, which is essential for me especially during times of stress.

Unfortunately, due to the lack of DIRECT communication with me, some individuals believed I was psychotic and in need of hospitalization.  Hospitalization is the LAST resort in my case due to PTSD (post-traumatic stress symptoms I have surrounding past hospitalizations). My doctor is aware of my wishes but due to the indirect information she was receiving, she did not get the entire picture.  Sadly, due to the fact that some involved made assumptions and did not communicate properly with me, the erroneous belief that I needed to be forcibly hospitalized evolved (FL Baker Act law require suicidal, homicidal or complete inability for self-care).  This was not the case but again with out direct communication with the me, the patient, how would one know?

Thankfully, as Florida law does allow, I was able to request voluntary evaluation at the facility that I have requested to use if hospitalization is ever necessary.  Because I was properly evaluated and screened, I was released on my own accord.  Thank God my brother came in to town because he was the only one that has known me for my entire life so he had a perspective that others did not.  My final discharge was on my own accord and to return, if future symptoms.  Symptoms that subsided once my sleep was regulated.

It is important to understand the importance of your support people.  I recognize that some have no family but we can make our family and reach out to friends, professionals or anyone we want to be involved in our treatment and recovery.

I have finalized my WRAP plan and the 5 support people I named (who will have to agree to be one) will receive a copy as well as my therapist and doctors.  In the state of Florida, in order to have a legalized document, I have to name one person to be my patient representative, who oversees the crisis portion of the plan along with the support individuals.  I can also provide copies to any of my friends or family that would like to have one for future reference.  But keep in mind for those individuals it is for informational purposes only and only the named support individuals will have decision-making authority.

We are human and sometimes people forget the most important person involved in the situation. the person going through the crisis.  Wellness and recovery are possible but we can not do it alone.

Many Blessings to you in 2015 and in the years to come.

Jennifer

Interview with Colby and Amanda Taylor on their Postpartum Psychosis Experience

December 5, 2014

This month I am sharing an interview with Colby and Amanda Taylor on their Postpartum Psychosis experience.  This couple is sharing their experience publicly in order to help others.  Thank you Colby and Amanda for your willingness to share.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Colby: I am 34 years old and recently left the ministry of Young Life where I was involved for nearly 10 years. I am originally from Kansas and graduated from Kansas State University. I enjoy working out, spending time with my family and investing in the lives of others.

Amanda: I am 29 years old and have been married for 8 years. We have four kids, ages 5, 4, 2, and 1 (one girl and 3 boys). Some of the things I like to do are go running, read a book, mail gifts to others, play with the kids, and go on date nights with the hubs.

2. How did you first learn about postpartum psychosis?

Colby: Amanda was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis last year and had 2 stints in a Psychiatric hospital. It was while waiting in the ER that I first learned about PPP through a friend who had looked it up online.

Amanda: I had never even heard of postpartum psychosis until the doctor diagnosed me with it in March 2013. I was in the mental hospital for 7 days after the birth of our fourth child, and that is when I first heard what PPP was.

3. Since you both have different perspectives, in your own words, briefly share about the onset of your postpartum psychosis experience?

Colby: It was after the birth of our 4th son. She began exhibiting manic behavior and becoming very agitated and angry. The day I took her to the ER she had been missing for over 6 hours and when found she was in the process of buying 2 cars and a house.

Amanda: It was 12 days after our fourth child was born. It was a Tuesday. I hadn’t slept in 8 days. I was full of energy, overly happy; everything was perfect (otherwise known as manic- in my situation). I left the house and felt like God was leading me to buy a house and two new cars, so I didn’t tell Colby because I was going to surprise him. I spent $8,000 in 6 days, all without telling my husband. I became violent and angry. Something was not right.

4. What did you find the most challenging in getting the help you needed?

Colby: There is not a lot of information about postpartum psychosis out there. No one knew exactly where to go or what was going on, even the medical professionals seemed very vague as to her condition. Getting answers was probably one of the hardest parts of this.

Amanda: I felt very isolated in the Psychiatric hospital. No one knew what to do with me. I just had a baby 12 days prior, and they almost didn’t let me bring my personal breast pump in my hospital room. I was in the same room with schizophrenia patients and patients that tried to commit suicide and my situation was 100% different but I feel like they just clumped me in with the others.

5. What is the one thing that helped you the most in dealing with your experience with postpartum psychosis?

Colby: Our relationship with Christ was the most significant in helping us get through. Outside of that learning to ask for help was the most important.

Amanda: Honestly, we could not have gotten through it without the Lord. I was so close to hurting myself and/or the kids. I am so thankful for God’s help and protection. I also am thankful for modern medicine and counseling. Those two helped me greatly.

6. What message would you like to share with families facing postpartum psychosis?

Colby: That you can get through this and that you are not alone. This illness is beatable and we are here to help you get through it. Your marriage is worth fighting for and keeping your family healthy is not impossible. Be transparent and ask for help, surround yourself with a community of believers that will help walk through this with you. Seek professional help for your spouse and for you, be proactive in safe guarding your marriage and family. Don’t be intimidated by doctors or medical professionals. If you feel that you are not getting the answers you need than ask until you do. Pray on your knees every day and seek Christ with all of your heart! Allow God to teach you what true reliance on His strength looks like. Learn to get away and take time for yourself. It is most beneficial to find something to distract your mind from your situation. Allow yourself grace as you will make mistakes and you will learn from them, no one expects you to handle this perfectly and that is ok.

Amanda: It is not a long-term illness. It can be. But it also, doesn’t have to be. 18 months out, I feel like good ol’ normal Amanda. I never thought I would feel normal. It took a little over a year to feel like I was back to normal. I want to tell others to not be afraid to ask for help. I can’t imagine going through this alone. We need help and support from others. Also, don’t be opposed to medicine. Faith is very important to me, but I couldn’t pray my way out of postpartum psychosis. I had to take medicine, seek counseling, and be on top of my healing. Be pro-active. You will make it through! We are here to help with whatever you need!

Thank you, Amanda and Colby Taylor, for this interview and your willingness to reach out to others. Readers can learn more about the Taylors on their website at www.colbyandamandataylor.com

 

The interview questions are prepared by Jennifer H. Moyer for her website/blog and answers will be published on her website www.jennifermoyer.com with permission from Amanda and Colby Taylor.