This is another post about Mama’s Comfort Camp Facebook group. If you are not already a member, you can find the background story on this special group in this post.
This is the essence of the group culture at the Mama’s Comfort Camp Facebook Refueling Station:
Nourishment. Safety. Sisterhood. Community. Inquiry. Joy. Stomp-ability. Playfulness. Curiosity. Courage. Respect. Permission. Sovereignty. Trust. And above all: Kindness.
Welcome to Mama’s Comfort Camp. You can exhale now. In the safety of this refueling station we focus on meeting needs rather than keeping up appearances or fulfilling expectations. This is a closed group. Only members can see your posts or know that you are here.
Things we talk about:
Motherhood in all its glory and struggles. Parenting. Relationships. Work/life challenges. Identity shifts. Some of us struggle with depression and anxiety. All of us know guilt intimately, and wish to disarm our inner critics. We are all good mothers, and some days are better than others.
Sometimes we will be utterly serious. Other times we will be silly side up. We always mean well. When we are sad, we ask for help, guidance, clarity. We ask for what we need, and it’s good to be specific: when we seek advice we ask for it. When all we need is to be comforted and heard, we say so. When we support each other, we avoid giving unsolicited advice, and when we have suggestions, we present them as options rather than “shoulds.”
We have permission to express ourselves here: when we are mad, we get to stomp, rant, and vent. When we are sad we get to cry. When we are happy, we get to celebrate.
PT = Potential Triggers: We warn our friends when we are about to share something painful.
When posting about a painful topic that may trigger strong emotions in others, we use this safety structure: please start your post with the letters PT & a label (Guilt / Marriage / Family relationships / Medical / Parenting chalenges/ Anxiety / Depression / Mental Health / Fears… etc, you get the idea) click post, and then tell your story in the comments of the tread. Please remember to keep all related updates in comments on the same thread. (Scroll all the way down for more on our safety structure for the full explanation).
This is a safe space. This means that we honor confidentiality and do not repeat what is said here anywhere else. It means that we can speak freely and that all of our thoughts and emotions are valid, even when the scary stories they tell are not necessarily true. We don’t tell people what to do or how to feel, but we can make loving suggestions. Hateful posts will be deleted immediately by the admins, but we assume good intentions. When in doubt, we will ask the original poster to remove or clarify their own post. We make room for many parenting choices: feeding, diapering, work or stay home, homeschool or mainstream school, etc. There is, however, a parenting choice that we are strongly opposed to: the use of spanking and all forms of corporal punishment. Any posts that refer to hitting children as good discipline will be immediately deleted. If you consider hitting children to be a valid discipline strategy, than Mama’s Comfort Camp may be the wrong parenting forum for you. This doesn’t mean that none of us have ever hit a child in a momentary loss of control, this is a topic we do discuss without shaming anyone, and we are committed to supporting each other in learning parenting skills that prevent such breakdowns.
Guilt Free participation at your own shifting level of capacity: Whenever you read and comment (or not) and however often you participate (regularly/occasionally/rarely), you don’t have to earn your spot here. You are simply welcome.We come here when we need to, or when we feel like it. We don’t have to visit every day, or comment every week. We don’t have to apologize when we stay away. We don’t have to apologize when we ask for help. We don’t have to apologize for anything, unless we feel moved to do so if we learn that we accidentally hurt someone despite our good intentions (it is the internet after all – when people don’t see your face or hear your voice, misunderstandings happen). We make amends and move on.
Sharing of information and resources is encouraged. You are welcome to share related* blog posts (from your own blog if you have one, as well as others’), and recommend related* books and products that you have personally found helpful. Please only mention products or services that pass the “I’d want my best friend to have it” test. Please click the remove preview button when sharing links to commercial websites (it’s okay to keep the preview for personal blogs). When mentioning products and services, please use your best judgement and do so in good taste. (The use of affiliate links may be acceptable with permission: please make sure to message Yael Saar privately before posting any.)
In the spirit of full disclosure: I (Yael Saar) am in the process of developing such related products: classes and kits that teach the very same self-care and self-kindness principles that allowed me to recover from my own depression and anxiety. I will be sharing my progress in developing these tools, and I will occasionally offer group members first dibs on my classes and workshops, products and services as they become available.
*Related = pertinent to self-care and comfort of the mother and meeting needs rather than appearances and expectations. By this logic, this is not the appropriate space to promote cool toys or awesome makeup. Surely there is nothing wrong with toys or makeup of course, but there are plenty of other online spaces dedicated to them, and not enough places to talk about how mothers really feel on the inside, so please try to stay on topic.**
**Staying on topic = we will try to stay on the topic of a thread, but we will keep in mind that motherhood is messy, recovery is full of tangents, and sometimes solutions come from unexpected directions. Placing the expectation that we keep discussions on track seems restrictive, and also too subjective: what feels on track for one can feel way off track to another. So don’t worry so much about staying on target, just be respectful and loving, and when in doubt, start a new thread.
Social support: none of the information shared in our forum should EVER be taken as medical or mental health advice. This is a peer support group, none of us has professional health or mental health training, and this is not a crisis management environment. Topics such as suicidal thoughts, self-harm, violence, drinking, addiction, or any other extreme/volatile/dangerous situations are outside the scope of this group.
If you are recovering from depression, anxiety, or any other medical or mental illness, please seek the care of a qualified medical professional. When in crisis, please call the CrisisLine: The National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255. Don’t let the name of the hotline prevent you from calling when you are in crisis but not feeling suicidal. As a former CrisisLine volunteer counsellor Yael can vouch that it’s better to call before you ever get suicidal. The trained volunteers are eager to listen and speak with anyone who is suffering and needs emotional support.
Discussing medications and therapies: When called for in a discussion, it’s ok to mention your own personal experience with medications, supplements, medical or alternative treatments, and therapy styles. However please bear in mind that this is not an appropriate space for seeking advice about medications of any kind, including psychiatric or prescription or over-the-counter medications. Please note that selling or recommending any kind of drugs in this space is strictly prohibited! (Not that you would ever do such a thing, but we were told that we should state that clearly, so there!)
The essence of permission: permission to act and feel true to ourselves is central to the mission and success of this group. For more on Yael’s Permission-Based Healing philosophy see: http://www.ppdtojoy.com/permission-based-healing/
If you are not a member of the group yet, yes, you are welcome to join us. Ask to join the group on our gateway facebook page: https://www.facebook.
PT: A safety structure for posting about painful topics:
This group’s mission is to be a space for self-care, self-kindness, and comfort. When pain comes to the foreground (as it often will) we meet it with respect and love. We allow pain to exist without judgement, having pain doesn’t make us weak or broken. But we also do our best to shield those who cannot handle such pain at the moment, and come to this group in search of comfort.
Also, please remember that this is a peer support group. We have no doctors or therapists on staff. We don’t even have a staff, we are all volunteers here. And none of us here has the professional training to adequately support a person in a crisis situation.
With all the love in the world, we ask that in order to maintain the qualities of safety and comfort in this group, we will keep pain-related posts in the same thread. This helps group members keep up with an unfolding process or situation, while helping those who need to protect themselves from potentially triggering input to feel safe here.
What this looks like:
1. Please start the post with PT. This is short for Potentially Triggering or Painful Topic, (and Practically Toast for when you are so exhausted you feel like you are almost burnt to a crisp, know the feeling?) then add a label (Guilt
/ Marriage / Family relationships / Medical / Parenting chalenges/ Anxiety / Depression / Mental Health / Fears… etc, you get the idea).
click post, and then tell your story in the comments of the tread.
2. Once you started a thread about your current situation, please keep ALL further updates in the comments of that original post. Then each time you post an update, your thread will float up to the top of the stream, and each time somebody responds to your call for support, you can find it all in the same place.
3. If your pain is related to postpartum depression and anxiety, please also avail yourself of additional support at the #ppdchat facebook group and use the #PPDCHAT hashtag on twitter.
4. Please consider calling the Crisisline. If you are in acute pain, typing is helpful, but voices are much more effective in reaching through the fog. I cannot stress this enough! Being in crisis does not necessarily mean being suicidal: if you feel like you are about to crawl out of your skin, or if you ever feel like what you are dealing with is crushing you, you are absolutely eligible to receive support from the trained volunteers who are waiting such callers. The free national number: 1-800-273-TALK(8255) The Ithaca number: 607-272-1616. Please please please do not wait for things to get worse before you call.
5. If the situation involves domestic violence or abuse, please consider calling the Advocacy Center Hotline: 607-277-5000. They are available 24/7/365. This is an Ithaca-based agency who can support people from other locations as well. http://www.theadvocacycenter.org/
Calling a domestic abuse hotline is a first step that requires a ton of courage. If you are not feeling particularly courageous, please lean on us for support.
6A. Please remember that there is no shame in having pain or being in a crisis situation. Pain and crisis are the birthplaces of courage and growth (darnit!). When the going get’s tough, the tough ask for help!
6B. Please remember that there is no shame in shielding yourself from another person’s crisis. Please stay close to yourself and your own needs. If you see a post that is marked with PT, you have every right not to read it. Your own emotional safety is important in this group. Please remember to put your own oxygen mask on first. Sometimes that would mean skipping a post and trusting that this large group will produce just the right responses from others.
7. No matter what happens, you are worthy, you are a good mother, you are a good friend, and you are loved.
And that’s it, for now. Your thoughts and input in the comments are more than welcome, and will be considered fully.
Truckloads of love. May you find comfort, and may the joy be with you.
These guidelines are a work in progress, and will be amended as the group’s needs present themselves. Please feel free to make suggestions in the comments below. Copyrights: This document was created by Yael Daphna Saar on March 9, 2012, and was last amended on April 30 2012. © All rights reserved. You may share portions of this text with attribution and a link back to this page. Members retain their own copyrights for their own words and images shared at the Mama’s Comfort Camp.