Trauma, New Parenthood and the Pandemic

“In these challenging times,” “we’re all in this together,” “stay at home.” If no one has given you permission to scream from hearing these phrases, allow me to do that. Being exasperated does not diminish the value of these statements that are 1) acknowledging what is happening, 2) normalizing the experience and 3) making a plan to be well – that is all perfectly sound messaging. However, it is also perfectly human to be frustrated, angry, exhausted, triggered, sad, and overwhelmed by this world health crisis. If you are also pregnant or postpartum, it’s okay to express disappointment that you feel robbed of your planned birth experience, or that you are scared to navigate having a new baby with fewer supports in place due to social distancing, or that it’s terrifying to walk into a hospital where you know so many people are ill and dying. If you are also one of many people in this world that has experienced trauma or Adverse Childhood Experiences, you may be feeling particularly vulnerable and overcome by this trifecta of events. While many of our healthcare systems have been working to become trauma-informed, this is not yet a universal approach. Trauma-informed care seeks […]

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This Chanukah, don’t forget:

Amidst all the chaos and fun, Amidst all the parties and purchases and presents, Amidst all the weekends off with the kids, Amidst the frying, the friends, and the family, Make sure to take time off for yourself! Self care isn’t selfish! It’s necessary! It’s easy to get depleted and worn down. Print up this picture and hang on your bathroom mirror as a daily reminder! We cannot love and care for others, Unless we care for ourselves first!

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10 Easy Ways to Boost Mood

No matter our age, occupation, or lifestyle, we ALL experience stressors in our day-to-day lives. Finding useful activities or coping skills, can help boost your mood, mental health, and give your mind a much-needed break in the form of relaxation and fun. Here are 10 ideas for you to try as you improve your own mental health: 1. Journaling Whether you enjoy journaling in the form of long narratives or bullet-style journaling to help you define necessary tasks, journaling is a great way to organize your thoughts and clear your mind. 2. Coloring Adult coloring has been popular for years, and with good reason! It’s a great way to flex your creative muscle and distract yourself from ruminative thoughts. Find free coloring pages online or buy a coloring book or magazine at a local shop. 3. Cooking Oftentimes, we overlook mindful cooking and eating as we go about our busy lives. Taking the time to lovingly prepare a nutritious meal for yourself is a great way to reap nutritional rewards and enjoy the process of creating a masterpiece in the kitchen. 4. Tidying It’s common to overlook keeping our space neat when we are feeling stressed, depressed or anxious. Try […]

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Coming to Grips with My Mental Illness

After my first child was born I developed severe postpartum depression and sank into a dark abyss. I used to think that people with mental illness are incapable, dysfunctional, dumb, and just downright weird. Until I had the distinct honor and pleasure of joining the exclusive club. After my first child was born I developed severe postpartum depression. Life as I knew it ceased to exist. I had sunken into a deep and dark abyss. Through my journey to recovery and self-discovery I was forced to ask myself probing and painful questions. Who am I? What am I? Does my mental illness define me? Am I a worthy being? What makes a person worthy anyways? These questions kept on spinning round and round in my head and I was free-falling. I realized I was faced with the hardest choice in my life: I could take the humiliating leap and go for help or continue to let things spiral out of control on the suicidal path that I was heading towards. Deep down I knew that I wanted to go for help, but how would I be able to look myself in the mirror again? I need help? Do you hear that? I, Rivka Kaufman the […]

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Summer is here!

We hope you are doing well and enjoying some of the glorious weather we’ve had lately. We know how a little sunshine can go a long way! The dark, cold and dreary days of winter are behind us. A new season is unfolding. Homework, holidays, carpools, and even some of our jobs are going on hiatus. The frantic and frenetic mode that we experience during the year is slowing down to make way for lazy mornings and relaxing evenings. The transition isn’t that simple. Lots of shopping for those of us with teens going to camp. Reshuffling of carpools. Kids slamming doors all hours of the day, dripping ices across floors and dragging dripping towels through house. Some of us crave order and routine especially when we are not feeling our best. Some of us feel safer in the peace and quiet of our homes and don’t do well sitting outside with neighbors, in the heat and with all that noisy conversations. So here are some pointers to help you enjoy your summer to the fullest, whether you’re a summer fan, or whether you prefer cozy winters. 1. Drink! The hot and humid weather can really dehydrate us. When we […]

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The Stress is Real- Tools to Help With Pesach Prep

To our dear Yad Rachel family members, Purim has come and gone! We sincerely hope that you were able to tap into some of the joy and celebration that comes along with that magical and mystical Yom Tov. Can we sit back and relax now? Not quite. The Jewish calendar is once again calling for us to keep busy. All around us, there is a palpable tension in the air. Conversations of cleaning, cooking, shopping can be heard. Shelves in grocery stores being lined and filled with Pesach products. Pesach kitchens being opened and scrubbed down. Lines in kids clothing stores with purchases and returns. For a large majority of us, all this activity fills us with dread and anxiety. The lists seem so long. The errands seem endless. The cleaning seems insurmountable. When? Where? How? The anxiety can turn to panic; the panic can then turn to anger. “Is this Simchas Yom Tov? Really? Scrubbing and cleaning?” The anxiety can turn to shame, which turns into feelings of inadequacy. “Everyone else is managing. Why am I crying and why am I the only one not coping?” The anxiety can turn to avoidance, which then turns into unmanageability. “The list is too long. I can’t handle. I’ll leave it to the last […]

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Tips to a Stress Free Purim!

To our dear Yad Rachel family members, Purim is around the corner, just days away. A beautiful Yom Tov, celebrating miracles of redemption and salvation. A day to take the time to recognize and commemorate Hashem’s Hashgacha Pratis so long ago.Feasting, dancing, gift giving, happiness and joy are the themes of the day. So why is it so stressful? Why is it that some of us aren’t feeling that happy vibe and instead feeling anxious … feeling overwhelmed…feeling tired… and even, although we feel shame admitting it, maybe feeling DREAD? It’s a challenging holiday. So much to do and accomplish for such a short day. Endless costumes, discussions about costumes, costume accessories, and then there’s creating endless amounts of Shalach Manos, kids Shalach Manos (when did that become the standard?), notes to be written to Rebbeim, teachers, therapists, delivering those endless amounts of Shalach Manos in the endless traffic, hearing Megillah twice while juggling babies who can’t attend Megillah, preparing Seudos, attending long Seudos where kids are hyper from too much sugar and too little sleep, dealing with a tipsy husband, the mess, the fatigue…And of course, weighing most on your mind, is feeling terrible shame that you aren’t HAPPY. And feeling so guilty that you are secretly waiting for it to end. Yes it’s […]

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Natural Happiness

Using Exercise & Nutrition to Help Fight depression! Exercise and Depression Want to learn more about exercise and depression? Many studies show that people who exercise regularly benefit with a positive boost in mood and lower rates of depression. What are the Psychological Benefits of Exercise with Depression? Improved self-esteem is a key psychological benefit of regular physical activity. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as “euphoric.” That feeling, known as “runner’s high,” can be accompanied by a positive energizing outlook on life. Endorphins act as analgesics, which means they diminish the perception of pain by acting as sedatives. They are manufactured in your brain, spinal cord, and many other parts of your body and are released in response to brain. It appears that any form of exercise can help depression. Some examples of moderate exercise include: Biking Dancing Housework, especially sweeping, mopping or vacuuming Jogging at a moderate pace Low-impact aerobics Playing tennis Swimming […]

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Breaking the Myth of Perfection

By: A Yad Rachel Mentor/Volunteer I once attended a lecture years ago about postpartum depression. I volunteer at Yad Rachel, and this training like many others was mandatory. The speaker, a popular social worker who specialized in treating women of child bearing years, was asked to educate us on perinatal mood disorders. After spending time giving over many scientific facts and percentages, she suddenly shared a message that was both powerful and direct. “Ladies, there is a disease that is rampant in your community that is causing untold amounts of stress and anxiety. No, not postpartum depression. It’s called the disease of perfectionism. It’s destroying women and their families, and we must fight it!” She went on to share that in her many years of practice, she has counselled women of all different ethnicities, cultures, backgrounds. ” in general, women especially mothers, can be hard on themselves. But of all the women I’ve seen, Orthodox Jewish moms have placed unrealistic expectations upon themselves that are impossible to achieve or maintain that are bringing them to a breaking point ” She listed the demands we make on ourselves one by one, and we all nodded along. Perfect Wife – We need to be supportive, encouraging, and […]

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Dear Yad Rachel…

I was recently perusing through one of the local newspapers and spotted an ad from Yad Rachel. You weren’t asking for donations, your weren’t hosting a dinner, and you weren’t advertising a Chinese Auction. Your ad was inviting all women who are experiencing pre or postpartum distress/depression to reach out to you for help. The advertisement brought back a rush of memories- all the way back when I was in 8th grade. My mother had given birth to our youngest, and everyone knew there was something wrong. My mother was completely not herself, constantly crying, and was hardly talking. I didn’t understand at the time what it was that she was going through, and I thought that I could do something to help the situation. I took to cleaning the house from top to bottom, bathing and caring for my younger siblings, and acting as the mommy at bedtime. All the while waiting for that expression of thanks from my mother. None was forthcoming. This continued for weeks, and I felt like I would crack. That’s when Yad Rachel, then a fairly new organization stepped in. Someone started coming to make suppers, someone got the extended family to get involved to come […]

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