Amber Mendoza

@ambermendozaa | contributor
Mom ⁷ 31 Special Needs Mom
Amber Mendoza

Treatment for Postpartum Depression Saved My Mental Health

Mother’s Day 2010, the day I found out I was going to be a Mom. I remember the two pink lines on the pregnancy test and the immediate joy I felt to finally have them. Three years of trying and it was finally happening. Looking back, I think the first sign something wasn’t right was when they placed my 6 lb. 15oz little girl in my arms that I had been dying to meet for the last 38 weeks, I instantly started sobbing. Not necessarily tears of happiness, not exactly sadness. Just a pure sense of being overwhelmed. The day we went home from the hospital was the day it really started. What do I do now? How could the nurses really just send me home with her? I didn’t know what to do without them. I had such bad anxiety over everything, I had read so much about SIDS that I couldn’t fall asleep for more than 15 minutes without waking up convincing myself she wasn’t breathing. No sleep and prior mental health issues don’t bode well. I remember one morning after my now ex-husband had gotten home from work, it was probably 2:30-3 am, and was tired from being a new dad and having worked all night, I took the screaming baby to him and said “I can’t do this anymore, she cries and I can’t make her stop. I don’t want her anymore, just take her I can’t do it.” She cried all the time, I obviously wasn’t meant to be a Mom I told myself. She hated me. She would be better off without me, happier. It’s been 11 years since I said those words but I can still see his face in my mind clearly, as if it just happened today. The look of confusion, anger, disgust, hurt. We had planned this child, how could I not want her? I didn’t understand it myself, I couldn’t imagine how he must’ve felt. A mother, the mother of his newborn daughter saying this about a child we desperately wanted. I feel guilty even today for ever having said those things, thinking them. But I know that wasn’t me. Not the me I am today. I don’t remember much about the early days, I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse. I have pictures, but the person in them looks blank. Lost. Scared. I went for my 12 week appointment to get my stitches checked. Her birth was traumatic and I had to have an emergency episiotomy while my epidural had worn off. I talked to the doctor about how I was feeling and he told me this is common and that I would get better. That I should’ve spoken up sooner, with the complicated pregnancy, traumatic birth, and prior mental health issues that postpartum depression (PPD) was very likely to be occurring. But it would be better. I would get through this. In that moment I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t see past that minute, in that small office. I felt trapped. I can’t explain it, but I felt as if the walls were caving in on me and all I wanted to do was run so far from that room, away from my daughter, from my then husband, my then mother-in-law. Everything and everyone. It took until my daughter was 7-8 months old for me to even start bonding with her again. I’d always loved her, more than anything, but the bonding hadn’t been there at first. It pains me to admit that. To someone who hasn’t experienced it themselves, I’m sure it makes me sound terrible. I’m thankful I didn’t lose more time to PPD. Seven to 8 months felt like a lifetime. Being diagnosed with PPD really made me take charge and be proactive about the mental health issues I had neglected since my teens. I don’t know how it would’ve turned out had I not been forced to get the help in treating my PPD. I believe as terrible as it was, that it saved me. Today, my daughter is 11. She’s smart, funny, an amazing pitcher in softball; she’s beautiful. We have definitely come so far from those early days. I’m sad that I “missed out,” but I’m thankful I got the help I needed to be there for her now, when she’s old enough to realize if I wasn’t here supporting her. I’m the loudest at her games, her number one fan. Postpartum depression was and is one of the worst things that I’ve ever had to deal with, but we turned it around and made our ending better. I will forever be an advocate for women in the postpartum period. Postpartum depression is scary, you can feel alone. But you’re not alone. I hope we can end the stigma and help other Moms know they’re not alone.

Community Voices

BPD Awareness Month: Let's Break Some Stigmas

<p><a href="" class="tm-embed-link  tm-autolink health-map" data-id="5b23ce6700553f33fe98e87d" data-name="BPD" title="BPD" target="_blank">BPD</a> Awareness Month: Let's Break Some Stigmas</p>
15 people are talking about this
Community Voices
Community Voices

Which area of your life does your bipolar impact the most?

<p>Which area of your life does your <a href="" class="tm-embed-link  tm-autolink health-map" data-id="5b23ce6600553f33fe98e465" data-name="bipolar" title="bipolar" target="_blank">bipolar</a> impact the most?</p>
37 people are talking about this
Community Voices

How do I ask for help?

My wife and I just had another fight. I am pretty sure I am bipolar but ashamed to really ask for help. I can control things for a little while but then I will react to something she says and the WW3. Then she reminds me she hasn't wanted to be with me for years. I just want to die.

6 people are talking about this
Alyssa Rossi

When Repressed Memories of Trauma Resurface

The impact of recovering memories that have been repressed for years can be a debilitating process in your trauma healing. They have been repressed for a reason; that reason being that when a person goes through significant trauma, the brain shuts down, dissociation takes over and as a survival technique, the trauma(s) get unconsciously blocked and tucked away from you and stored into disorganized files in your brain due to a high level of stress, or you were in a situation where you felt threatened and it was a matter of life or death – so your mind did what it had to in order to keep you safe, and therefore you could go on and have the ability to live your life and function in society. Repressed memories can come back to you in various ways, including having a trigger, nightmares, flashbacks, body memories and somatic/conversion symptoms. This can lead to feelings of denial, shame, guilt, anger, hurt, sadness, numbness and so forth. Having new memories come up can affect your current state of reality, your relationships, your perception of the world and of those around you, which can take you back to the past and keep you stuck there, making you feel as though you are re-living the trauma all over again. It can destabilize you and your life, and may be followed by dissociation, depersonalization/derealization and dissociative amnesia. It can make you see “safe” people as “unsafe,” and while you’re stuck in those memories, nothing and no one may feel safe – not even yourself. This can then lead to isolation, avoidance, low self-care and a war within your mind and your body. Your body can react in ways that it did back then which can be both new for you, and extremely frightening. You may find yourself going into the fight, flight, freeze, flop or fawn responses at what you think are minuscule things. Your memories may come through in re-enactment behaviors. You may find yourself repeating behaviors that relate to your traumas. However your memories come back to you is valid. However you and your body respond to your memories coming up are valid. Your feelings towards your memories are valid – and all of this is OK. You are OK, and you are safe now. When repressed memories come up, it is important to try and understand the biology behind it – why they’re coming up at this point in time, how you can work with them, learn to trust yourself and what your mind and body are trying to tell you, and how you can manage your safety and wellbeing as you’re working through them. Try to acknowledge what is happening for you and validate your past experiences, learn and identify your triggers, and allow yourself to sit with the feelings that are coming up. Ground yourself in your current reality, “It is 2019, I am in xx years old, I live with __ now, I am safe.” Differentiate between your reality and your memories and work on staying present and grounded, and give yourself permission to be kind to yourself during this process. Communicate your experiences with a trusted therapist. Allow space for vulnerability. Be gentle and compassionate towards yourself. Trauma recovery isn’t linear – you might have all of your memories of your trauma, and you might have none. You might not have memories, but it may still be affecting you subconsciously. You might have scattered jigsaw pieces of different traumas and not the full puzzle, and that’s OK too. Your repressed memories come to you when you are finally ready to deal with them. They are not there to hurt you or ruin the life you have created for yourself – they are there to tell you what happened to you, to help you make sense of why things are the way that they are, that it’s time to work with them and that you are safe enough to do so.

Community Voices

How do you deal with light sensitivity? #Fibromyalgia

I’ve recently noticed I’m sensitive to light. Working in an office with a ton of fluorescent lighting doesn’t help matters, At All, and I was wondering how my fellow sufferers cope with it and what helps. Thanks!

7 people are talking about this

Borderline Personality Disorder Is Exhausting

Living with borderline personality disorder (BPD) is exhausting. It’s like living on an emotional roller coaster 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You just don’t know how you will wake up or what triggers you’ll have to face during the day — these can be anything from words to sights to thoughts. E motions fly into your head fast, and before you even really think about it, you’ve totally catastrophized whatever started the thought in the first place. Or on the other side of the scale, you feel absolutely nothing at all, just emptiness. The thing with BPD is the constant change of emotions. One minute you’re fine, then the tornado hits. You’re angry, upset or want to hurt yourself (just to name a few). A lot of the time you just don’t know why, let alone when these outbursts will happen. The scary thing is that it only takes the tiniest thing to trigger it all off. Just keeping up with these changes, especially on bad days, drains you of all your energy. Life with BPD is constantly questioning every move you make or thing you say. You text someone and don’t hear back as soon as you would like to, and then you start thinking: They don’t like me. They don’t want to see me. What have I done wrong? I must be a terrible. What is wrong with me? Are they avoiding me? Why? Why? Why? Now, I sometimes just don’t text people for fear of rejection, making the world both lonely and exhausting. Plans being cancelled also triggers off these same questions and feelings. I often feel they’ve found someone they would rather hang out with, or something better to do. Once again, I am not good enough. Another thing I do is keep everything to myself. I really don’t share what’s going on in my life with anyone except family. Until I was diagnosed I did not realize why. Bottling everything up all the time and hiding behind a mask is hard work. You also don’t want to share too much because you don’t want to let people get too close — you’re so afraid of abandonment it feels safer to keep everyone at arm’ s length. Abandonment is a huge issue for me. Imagine keeping up with these constant feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness — it is sometimes too much to bear and you just want to shut off. Impulsiveness is another thing you have to look out for, though often thoughts come in so quickly it can be difficult to notice. For me, it’s the struggle of self-harming. Sometimes out of nowhere I get this unbearable, stomach-churning urge to hurt myself, just to relieve the heightened painful emotions I feel. (Now I have coping strategies in place to help beat these feelings.) For other people, these urges can be to drink, do drugs, act on suicidal thoughts, go on spending sprees or binge eat, to name a few. The best way to describe living with borderline personality disorder is that it’s like walking on eggshells — for both you and those around you (as they don’t know how you will be from one moment to the next). However exhausting living with BPD is, it comes with a vast amount of empathy, sensitivity and compassion for others. So as exhausting as it is to live with, it’s also not all bad. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 . Image via Thinkstock.

Haley Quinn

Kim Kardashian Says She 'Like Literally' Has Body Dysmorphia

Sometimes the news isn’t as straightforward as it’s made to seem. Haley Quinn, The Mighty’s mental health staff member, explains what to keep in mind if you see this topic or similar stories in your newsfeed. This is The Mighty Takeaway. In a recent episode of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” Kim Kardashian West revealed she had anxiety after being photographed from an unflattering angle, and that she might be struggling with body dysmorphia. She doesn’t explain whether or not she actually has the disorder, but says, “You take pictures and people just body shame you… It’s like literally giving me body dysmorphia.” Although we don’t want to discount Kim’s struggles, it’s important we don’t confuse struggling with your body image after seeing an “unflattering” photograph with having body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). Just like people sometimes say they’re “depressed” when they’ve actually just had a bad day, or say they “want to kill themselves” because they’ve done something embarrassing (or like the time Khloe Kardashian made a KHLO-C-D: Cookie Jar video), it can be easy for people to confuse body dysmorphic disorder with a bad body image day or having an insecurity. According to the Mayo Clinic, those who experience body dysmorphic disorder become extremely preoccupied with a perceived flaw in appearance that may be unrealistic — and that may not even be perceivable by others. Those struggling might focus on things like acne, complexion, blemishes, facial or body hair, breast size, vein appearance or muscle size — not just body shape or size in general, as commonly understood. As Mighty contributor Rachel Grawlewski, who struggles with body dysmorphic disorder, wrote, “BDD goes deeper than feeling self-conscious.” Additionally, those struggling with BDD may believe that others take special notice of their appearance in a negative or mocking way. Rachel states that, “Whenever I am speaking with someone, I keep telling myself they are staring at my flaws and must be thinking to themselves how they are disgusted by me.” These preoccupations can lead people who struggle with BDD to engage in behaviors or compulsions that are difficult to control — including skin picking, excessive grooming, constantly looking in the mirror and taking too many photos — in order to fix or hide perceived flaws. But what truly sets BDD apart from insecurity, bad body image or feeling self-conscious about a photo, is how much these preoccupations and compulsions cause immense emotional distress, interrupt day-to-day functioning and affect one’s quality of life . Although, like with most mental illnesses, there is no one size fits all diagnosis — it’s incredibly important to remember this is a psychiatric disorder that greatly impacts the lives of many, and by joking about it or using it flippantly, we continue to reinforce the stigma that mental illness isn’t that serious. While we cannot officially say whether Kim actually has body dysmorphia or not, her references to the anxiety she’s experienced after being robbed at gunpoint in October of 2016, combined with comments she made in an interview with Rolling Stone about how “she’ll photograph herself 30 times to find the right selfie,” could be interpreted as signs that she is indeed struggling. According to the mental health organization, Mind, depression and anxiety increase the likelihood of triggering BDD. Other common contributors to the development of BDD include abuse, bullying, low self-esteem, fear of being alone or isolated, perfectionistic tendencies and genetics. With that being said, it is unsure as to what extent Kim’s “ anxiety over her body ” affects her quality of life and and day-to-day functions. While it’s no secret Kim has faced her fair share of body-shaming and inevitably must feel pressure to adhere to the media’s beauty standards, it’s easy to see why this reality TV star could create misinterpretations of what struggling with BDD is like. Regardless, it’s important to note that just like mental illness, body dysmorphia doesn’t discriminate. According to the International OCD Foundation , BDD affects 1.7 to 2.4 percent of the general population, including men, and maybe more since those with the disorder are often reluctant to reveal their BDD symptoms. Additionally, the onset of mental illness can occur to anyone — even Kim Kardashian West — at any point in one’s lifetime. You can still be body positive and struggle with BDD. You can still use social media and deal with body dysmorphia. But please, be careful when making comments about psychiatric disorders that severely affect other people’s live. And if you or someone you know if struggling with body dysmorphic disorder, remember you are not alone, you deserve help and help is out there. Image via Kim Kardashian West Facebook Page