Posted by: Heather Coleman | April 23, 2013

#HAWMC Day 21: In Your Face Adversity

Rose bud
“The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.” ~ Mulan Do you believe this statement to be true or false? When do you bloom best?

Everyone is tested by adversity at some point in their life and to some degree. It is how you respond to that adversity that shows your true character, and ultimately determines whether you will succeed or fail.

I do believe that the flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all. I think that our struggles provide us with the opportunity to soar higher and farther than we ever could have without them. But not everyone handles that opportunity the same way. It takes shear resilience, extreme strength of character, and a good amount of luck to overcome life’s greatest obstacles and challenges. Not everyone is equipped with all three of these things.

I feel as though I have faced my share of adversity. But I was never tested more than I was by postpartum psychosis. It shook me to my core, sent me back to the basics, tested my relationships, and made me have to learn to trust myself again. Coming out the other side of an illness like that has given me a greater sense of confidence in myself, my own strength, and my ability to overcome any challenge that comes my way. I think to myself, “if I survived that, I can survive anything!”

For a long time after my postpartum psychotic episode I would wear a bracelet I made, during my stay at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington, as a visible reminder of how far I had come. I no longer need the bracelet, because I know in my heart just how strong I am, and how lucky I am to be here. That fact alone gives me a greater sense of urgency, to live life to the fullest, each and every day.

Posted by: Heather Coleman | April 23, 2013

#HAWMC Day 20: I’m Burned Out

What does burnout feel like? What are your burnout triggers? Today’s #HAWMC challenge is to answer these two questions. For me, burnout makes me feel very apathetic. I stop caring about things as much and definitely lose my focus.

BurnoutMerriam Webster says burnout is, “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.” I must admit that I thought more about mental burnout than physical burnout. Maybe that’s because I use my mind for far more activity right now than I do my body. My biggest burnout trigger is my never-ending To Do List. This burnout is a self-imposed form of burnout. I have a hard time saying “no” and far too many interests in different subjects and activities. Couple that with a feeling that I can do it all and I’m asking for trouble.

The biggest help in avoiding this type of burnout is adhering to this mantra from Margie Warrell, “Sometimes you have to say no to the good, to make room for the great.” This lesson has made a big difference in my life over the last few years. I realized that less is more and that life gets even better when you spend your time on only the most important activities.

Another emotional burnout trigger is being around negative people. It’s as though they suck the life right out of you. This is especially dangerous online with troll behavior. It’s easier to get drawn into an argument online. It’s a trap! The other person doesn’t care. Like a child, they are trying to get a reaction out of you and you just end up wasting your positive energy and feeling terrible after the fact. So I try to avoid negative people, whether it means unfollowing and unfriending on social media, or detaching myself from relationships in real life. This becomes especially clear and easy to do after events like last week’s Boston Marathon bombings. Although I know everyone deals with situations like this differently, when I see someone being crass or thoughtless about human suffering, I turn my attention elsewhere. I’d rather be surrounded by people that build other people up. We need more of that in today’s world. We need more love.

So how do you combat burnout? I try to make some additional quiet time for myself. I schedule mental health days. I do something I love and enjoy, like photography. I try to locate the source of the stress or frustration and minimize it. I also limit the amount of new tasks I take on at work and in my personal life. I refocus my energy on smaller, easier tasks and get them off my To Do List. It’s not always easy, but it’s important to try.

Posted by: Heather Coleman | April 21, 2013

#HAWMC Day 19: A Vintage Photo of Me

Here is a vintage photo of me, circa 1984 (8 years old). In terms of my health condition, I was oblivious. I didn’t realize I had bipolar disorder until I suffered from postpartum psychosis when I was 32 years old. But I think this is a sweet picture of me from my childhood. I was definitely happy and carefree.

Heather Coleman

Posted by: Heather Coleman | April 19, 2013

On Caring for Your Emotions After a Tragic Event

Needed right now.

My Postpartum Voice

Over the past few years, I’ve grown to be close friends with Erika Krull. She’s an amazing woman and we have a total blast during football season. (Well, except this past year when our teams who RARELY play each other actually played each other. That was painful. But I’ve digressed.)

Erika writes over at Psych Central and is a practicing mental health counselor. We occasionally chat about mental health issues. This week has been no different and I was glad when she asked me, after I posted something on Facebook, for permission to share it with her readers at Psych Central.

I shared tips on how to take care of yourself after a tragic event, specifically in response to the events in Boston on Monday. Turns out they really apply to this entire week because it’s been a doozy.

To read Erika’s article and get some really helpful tips on…

View original post 34 more words

Posted by: Heather Coleman | April 18, 2013

#HAWMC Day 18: I Take It Back (Remorse)

I'm sorry

Today’s prompt: Write about a time that you lashed out at someone close to you because of frustration/fear/anger resulting from your health condition and you wish you could take it back. Forgive yourself and let it go.

The first, and really only, incident that came to mind was an argument with my mother-in-law about a year and a half ago. It started with her feelings being hurt around my son’s school project, which involved family photos. I soon became defensive and the conversation quickly went downhill from there. Before I knew it, I was screaming, and at one point I yelled something about her not understanding what it was like to be sick like me (having a mental health issue).

I had never ever used my illness as an excuse like that and I regret doing so. I also really regret letting my emotions get out of control and not being able to have a calm conversation about the original issue. I think at times we are so similar that we end up butting heads. Truth is I adore her and how much support she gives to my husband and me, and especially how loving of a grandmother she is to our children. But I know that everyone says things out of anger that they wish they hadn’t sometimes. So in this case, I forgive myself and hope that she has too.

Is there anything you regret doing or saying because of your health condition?

Posted by: Heather Coleman | April 17, 2013

#HAWMC Day 17: Word Cloud Wednesday

Word Cloud

Posted by: Heather Coleman | April 16, 2013

#HAWMC Day 16: Misinformation About Postpartum Psychosis

What is truth?

Today’s challenge is to share 3 things that are true about me, my condition, or my Health Activism and then tell you 1 lie. Can you tell the difference?

1. In the midst of my postpartum psychotic episode, I removed all of my clothing and ran down the side of the highway naked.

2. My short-term disability benefits had been used up by my recent maternity leave, but because of the new diagnosis of postpartum psychosis, I was able to gain another 12 weeks of leave.

3. I spent 5 days in the Psychiatric Institute of Washington.

4. One of the first warning signs I experienced was believing that God was talking to me and that he had an amazing sense of humor.

Posted by: Heather Coleman | April 16, 2013

#HAWMC Day 15: Sharing and Caring for Boston

Boston Marathon Memorial

Photo credit: Jennifer Lynn Kanter

I didn’t find the time yesterday morning to write a post for the “sharing” challenge and by the time I was ready to write, I was instead watching in horror with the rest of the Nation as the tragedy unfolded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I definitely didn’t feel right posting on social media about anything other than helpful information or positive thoughts and prayers for the people of Boston.

Today I would rather use the topic of “sharing” to focus on caring for the Boston community, especially in light of the unfortunate events that transpired yesterday. I want to showcase some helpful resources and posts that I came across on social media following the explosions.

1. This is an ongoing investigation. If you have information, photos, or video you think could help the authorities, please call 1-800-494-TIPS.

2. You can use Google’s Person Finder if you are looking for information on someone or have information to share on someone.

3. Donate blood. Here’s where you can go in Massachusetts, but it’s a good idea no matter where you live.

4. If you are willing to open up your home and share available space with people who have been affected by these events, please fill out the form for temporary lodging.

5. I choose to focus on the immediate help that was provided by first responders and everyday citizens, as well as the outpouring of thoughts and prayers for the victims and their families. I read a tweet that talked about several marathon runners finishing the race and then going back to take the shirt off their backs to bandage wounds. I can’t confirm it, but I certainly believe THAT is the world we live in.

Finally, I want to share an important reminder about using social media, or any form of communication really, you need to THINK, which means asking yourself:

T – Is it true?
H – Is it helpful?
I – Is it inspiring?
N – Is it necessary?
K – Is it kind?

If the answer is “no” or “I don’t know” to any of those questions, you might want to rethink what you are sharing and WHY.

Posted by: Heather Coleman | April 14, 2013

#HAWMC Day 14: Spread the Love


I want to thank a few of my fellow Health Activists for what they have done by using their voices and sharing their stories:

Jeffrey@JavaJay73 and his post on hindsight.

Esther@CornMuffinsMama and her post from last year on quotation inspiration.

Rhiann@serenebutterfly and her acrostic poem “Brain Stem Lesion”

I know just how hard it is to share about a health condition and I applaud each of them for their efforts. I’ve learned a lot about each of them and their conditions through their Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge (#HAWMC) posts.

Posted by: Heather Coleman | April 13, 2013

#HAWMC Day 13: An Acrostic Poem for Postpartum Psychosis

Today’s challenge: To write a health acrostic for postpartum psychosis (acrostic = a poem where every letter of a word serves as the first letter of a word or phrase).

Motherhood Guru

Here goes:

Missing sleep is a sure sign that something isn’t quite right.
Over time, things will get better.
Take time for yourself.
Help is a good thing; ask for it.
Each story is unique.
Research positive stories.
Hiding the fact that something is wrong will not help you get better.
One day at a time.
Open yourself up and share your story.
Don’t wait, ask for help today.

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