Split Personality

I just love this brave guest post from Jenny. We met online at #ppdchat (where she is a regular), and I got to hear her wonderful voice (the girl can sing!) through my PPD SpeakEasy calls, and we became close. I was overjoyed when she agreed to serve as a Den Mother at my Mama’s Comfort Camp facebook group (join us?), and what can I say, I’m just floored by this brave and honest account of her struggles with anxiety and rage. Jenny took my (Not) Secret (Not) Weapon course this spring, and it was a joy and an honor to have her in the group. Jenny lives in a small town in Wisconsin on the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan.  She and her husband juggle (sometimes not so successfully) working outside the home, parenthood and housework.  Jenny is a mom to two beautiful girls who is trying to tame her inner perfectionist and just be a good enough mom. She is @jenrenpody  on twitter, and she blogs at http://tranquilamama.wordpress.com/

Passing the mic to Jenny:

My anxiety if unchecked presents itself in rage. I can go from 0 to 60 in a matter of seconds. I feel like Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde when the rage takes over me. I explode and unleash on whoever is closest to me, usually my girls or my husband. I have never hit my girls in anger, but I shoved my husband in front of my oldest daughter. That was my lowest point of my struggle with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. I realized how out of control my rage was. I felt sick to my stomach realizing that
my actions spoke louder than my words to my preschooler. How could I expect her not to hit if I did it? I was wracked with guilt and worry that I was damaging my child. I have not hit anyone since that time. Now when I am in my rage, I throw things or slam doors. Again this is not an effective way to handle my rage. Especially as a homeowner, I need to take care of my home, not destroy it.

I have been working towards managing my anxiety and my rage. I am now sensing my physical symptoms that manifest prior to my explosion. My face becomes uncomfortably hot. I start to feel very itchy, like I want to crawl out of my skin. I have the sensation of wanting to literally run away from wherever I am. I feel like a pot that is ready to boil over. I start to have trouble concentrating.
I can feel my heart pounding in my ears. My breathing becomes very shallow. I feel like there is a flashing neon sign that is telling my brain that there is danger ahead. As Yael says, “Your feelings are valid, but the scary stories they tell are not the truth.”

Sometimes I can stop this explosion. I take a timeout if I am at home. Sometimes I need to get outside and go for a walk. If it is just anxiety, I can walk with someone. If the anxiety is manifesting as rage, I need to walk or run by myself. I also use music to help defuse my anxiety. Singing in full voice and taking those deep diaphragmatic breaths helps me physically. Another favorite way of infusing my being with calm is to listen to Yael’s audio cookies from her (Not) Secret (Not) Weapon e-course, where Yael talks about Permission-Based Healing. I have learned to utilize this when I am in the midst of frustration. I gave myself permission to feel my frustration by stomping and shaking my fists. My girls thought that it was funny. I loved using this technique because it relieved my frustration in a healthy way. It allowed me to express how I felt.

It has taken me a long time to manage my anxiety and my rage. It was a combination of factors that helped me: therapy, medication, exercise, blogging, online support with the #PPDchat group on Twitter and Facebook and the Mama’s Comfort Camp group on Facebook and offline support from my husband, my family and my friends. I realized how critical it was to my emotional health and well-being to take some time every day for self-care. Some days all I can find is five or ten minutes. I also focused on my nutrition and sleep needs. I realize that a happy mom means a happy family. If I am depleting all my energy and resources, I cannot continue to give and give. My energy level or lack thereof can directly contribute to my anxiety and rage. I have also learned to communicate my needs directly to my husband, my family and my friends. It is okay for me to take a timeout in the bathroom. I am not being a bad mom. I am taking the time I need for myself to regain my perspective on a situation. It has taken
me a lot of work to manage my rage and my anxiety, but I am taking it day by day, hour by hour. I am so proud of the progress and the hard work that I have put into managing this rage and anxiety.  I have come so far.  By now I am much better equipped to deal with my anxiety and my rage than I was a year ago.

– – –
Comment magic: please tell Jenny what reading her story has brought up for you, and offer whatever encouragement you can. You are invited to share your own moments of anxiety and rage with us in this safe space.

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  22. Jaime
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    • Jenny
      August 14, 2012 | 6:01 pm

      Thank you so much for your support Jaime. I am proud of me too, and I struggled with saying that for a long time because of the rage. I wish the rage was more openly discussed. I hope that my story can help others.
      Jenny recently posted..Split personality

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  23. Margaret (@mammacockatoo)
    August 14, 2012 | 10:38 am

    Jenny, I’m so proud of you. I totally understand. Anger/rage is one of my challenges too. I’m so glad you are recognising your triggers and warning signs, and overcoming them.
    For various reasons, I missed Yael’s course, but it’s great to know it is helping you, added to all the wonderful things she already does for so many.
    I’m so lucky to have “met” both of you.
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    • Jenny
      August 14, 2012 | 11:59 am

      Margaret,
      I am so lucky to have “met” you as well. I was so excited to see that one week of Yael’s course specifically talked about anger. I still continue to struggle with managing my anger and my rage. I try to take each moment as it comes.
      Jenny recently posted..Split personality

  24. Kathy Morelli, LPC (@KathyAMorelli)
    August 14, 2012 | 7:00 am

    Honest post ans so revealing of how depression and anxiety can manifest in anger and rage..thanks, Kathy
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    • Jenny
      August 14, 2012 | 11:58 am

      Kathy, thank you so much. I still struggle with describing my experience with PPD to friends. I am afraid to tell them how my anxiety manifested itself in anger and rage. Those emotions carry such a stigma for women. I am supposed to be the “nice Catholic girl”.
      Jenny recently posted..Split personality

  25. Mirjam
    August 14, 2012 | 6:02 am

    For me, it was the medication that did the trick. I am just so relieved that I am not so angry ALL the time. It was the first thing my husband noticed. That I was so calm and not willing to jump on his back about every little detail or discussion.
    I remember exactly how that rage felt and that I felt it all the time. I was constantly trying not to explode. I was so relieved when I found out that it wasn’t me. And the bit of anger that was left I took on with my therapist.

    So I hear you say my rage and my anxiety.
    And I have to address that. Though you are the one struggling with it, it is not you. You are not an aggressive person, you are not even an angry person.

    There will come a day when you look back and will have completely found every bit of yourself again and the rage and anxiety will be completely in your past. But you know that, you are well on your way! Thanks for sharing.
    Mirjam recently posted..Wealthy

    • Jenny
      August 14, 2012 | 11:57 am

      Mirjam,

      Thank you so much for finding yet another piece of this that I need to work on. I still feel a lot of guilt and shame over this rage and anxiety that I struggle to manage. I am not ready yet to take myself out of the equation. I feel like I need to be acocuntable for my actions even when I am in the midst of a rage. I need to be able to step away from the situation. Thank you for this. I am going to keep working on this.
      Jenny recently posted..Split personality

  26. Rosstwinmom
    August 14, 2012 | 4:32 am

    Jen, this is also my big problem. You nailed the description of the feelings. For me, it’s like I’m watching myself in a movie. In my mind I’m trying to tell the character, me, that the rage is coming, and she must stop it. Sometimes she listens, and sometimes she doesn’t. I slam a lot of things around and curse a lot. I have grabbed the boys arms very roughly too. I find going and doing something easy like unloading the dishwasher helps me calm down. I use music too, or a card game like Solitaire. I know the feelings you describe all too well. You can always vent to me about it.

    • Jenny
      August 14, 2012 | 11:52 am

      Stephanie, I have felt the same way that you have. It can be like watching a movie – like an out of body experience. Sometimes I can turn that tide. Other times I am powerless against the rage. I love love Tetris. I think I have found another tool to add to my toolbox. Thank you.
      Jenny recently posted..Split personality

  27. […] I came across a post by Jenny from Tranquilamama, entitled “Split personality” (appearing as a guest blogger at PPD to Joy).  I was obviously meant to come across this post for […]

  28. Yuz
    August 13, 2012 | 11:18 pm

    And once again – open, honest & raw. Ingredients I’d say for an amazing woman & mama xoxo

    • Jenny
      August 14, 2012 | 11:53 am

      Yuz,

      Thank you so much, my dear. I try every day to be better than I was the day before, especially in terms of managing my rage. Some days I do well. Other days I lose my cool, but I am getting better.
      Jenny recently posted..Split personality

  29. Kristin @littlemamajama
    August 13, 2012 | 9:40 pm

    Jenny, you are a fantastic, brave woman and a wonderful mother and friend. Thank you for sharing your story here. I see myself in your story, as my PPD/PPA symptoms manifested mostly in rage. Thanks for sharing your tools for helping release your tension.
    Kristin @littlemamajama recently posted..Mamavation Monday: Curious About Paleo

    • Jenny
      August 14, 2012 | 11:50 am

      Kristin,

      Thank you so much. Part of my healing from my postpartum rage was listening to a SpeakEasy call with Robin of http://farewellstranger.com/ where she discussed her postpartum rage. I went to her blog that night and wept tears of relief to realize that I was not the only one. Rage is so common, but we are conditioned as women to be “nice”. We are ill equippeed to find tools to express our anger, frustration and irritation in a constructive way.
      Jenny recently posted..Split personality

  30. A Write Relief...
    August 13, 2012 | 9:29 pm

    Jenny, my goodness… This post has hit home for me in almost every way possible. Last night I found myself in the shower after my HF got home from work, literally just hiding myself away from the world in an effort to calm the rage I could feel just waiting to burst inside of me. Not for any particular reason, but because of a lot of little things that had happened throughout the day. I can’t thank you enough for sharing this part of yourself because it’s the one part I have the most difficulty accepting about my condition. Massive hugs to you!
    A Write Relief… recently posted..Big iPhone/iPad Update Now Available

    • Jenny
      August 14, 2012 | 11:47 am

      T, I am so glad that this post has helped you. The rage was the part of my PND and PNA that I struggled to accept. I felt so much shame and guilt over my behavior. For a long time, I could not identify my triggers. I would feel red hot rage boiling up at the end of the day due to a combination of little things that just kept building and building. Hugs to you! You will get better.
      Jenny recently posted..Split personality

  31. Suniverse
    August 13, 2012 | 8:14 pm

    This was wonderful – that you are able to articulate that rage and the feelings it engenders. I can also go from 0 to crazy instantaneously, and it’s been a long road to work myself through it.

    XO

    • Jenny
      August 14, 2012 | 11:41 am

      Thank you so much Suniverse. It has been a long journey to get to where I am today. I am able to recognize those warning signs more clearly, so I can prepare myself.
      Jenny recently posted..Split personality

  32. frelle
    August 13, 2012 | 4:12 pm

    Thank you for being so transparent here and sharing some of your darkest moments, as well as what steps you’re taking to become more self aware and manage your feelings. you’re an inspiration to me, with your courage to face your anxiety head on and not pretend it’s not there or allow it to speak for you. You’re strong and amazing and I’m blessed to know you. *HUG*
    frelle recently posted..Newspaper

    • Jenny
      August 13, 2012 | 4:53 pm

      Frelle, thank you so much. I am tired of trying to hide the anxiety. It is a part of me, but it is not all of me. I have learned how to manage the anxiety and the rage so it does not control me.
      Jenny recently posted..Split personality

  33. Robin | Farewell Stranger
    August 13, 2012 | 2:39 pm

    Love this and both of you. I relate so much, as you know.
    Robin | Farewell Stranger recently posted..Self-portraits

    • Jenny
      August 13, 2012 | 3:30 pm

      Thank you so much Robin. It was after listening to you tell your story on a PPD SpeakEasy call and finding your story on your blog that I realized I need to do something about my rage.
      Jenny recently posted..Split personality

  34. Jenny
    August 13, 2012 | 10:52 am

    Yael, thank you so much for having me. I adore your speaking voice. To all who are reading this post, go listen to the link above – the pocket of comfort. Yael’s voice invites you into a calm and welcoming haven. That is how I have felt during the PPD Speakeasy calls and with the Mama’s Comfort Camp.
    Jenny recently posted..Split personality

    • Yael
      August 13, 2012 | 11:43 am

      Oh, Jenny, thank you so much for this post, and for pointing people to the pocket of comfort. And I loved loved loved hearing your voice on the phone this morning. So many hugs.

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Split Personality

I just love this brave guest post from Jenny. We met online at #ppdchat (where she is a regular), and I got to hear her wonderful voice (the girl can sing!) through my PPD SpeakEasy calls, and we became close. I was overjoyed when she agreed to serve as a Den Mother at my Mama’s Comfort Camp facebook group (join us?), and what can I say, I’m just floored by this brave and honest account of her struggles with anxiety and rage. Jenny took my (Not) Secret (Not) Weapon course this spring, and it was a joy and an honor to have her in the group. Jenny lives in a small town in Wisconsin on the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan.  She and her husband juggle (sometimes not so successfully) working outside the home, parenthood and housework.  Jenny is a mom to two beautiful girls who is trying to tame her inner perfectionist and just be a good enough mom. She is @jenrenpody  on twitter, and she blogs at http://tranquilamama.wordpress.com/

Passing the mic to Jenny:

My anxiety if unchecked presents itself in rage. I can go from 0 to 60 in a matter of seconds. I feel like Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde when the rage takes over me. I explode and unleash on whoever is closest to me, usually my girls or my husband. I have never hit my girls in anger, but I shoved my husband in front of my oldest daughter. That was my lowest point of my struggle with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. I realized how out of control my rage was. I felt sick to my stomach realizing that
my actions spoke louder than my words to my preschooler. How could I expect her not to hit if I did it? I was wracked with guilt and worry that I was damaging my child. I have not hit anyone since that time. Now when I am in my rage, I throw things or slam doors. Again this is not an effective way to handle my rage. Especially as a homeowner, I need to take care of my home, not destroy it.

I have been working towards managing my anxiety and my rage. I am now sensing my physical symptoms that manifest prior to my explosion. My face becomes uncomfortably hot. I start to feel very itchy, like I want to crawl out of my skin. I have the sensation of wanting to literally run away from wherever I am. I feel like a pot that is ready to boil over. I start to have trouble concentrating.
I can feel my heart pounding in my ears. My breathing becomes very shallow. I feel like there is a flashing neon sign that is telling my brain that there is danger ahead. As Yael says, “Your feelings are valid, but the scary stories they tell are not the truth.”

Sometimes I can stop this explosion. I take a timeout if I am at home. Sometimes I need to get outside and go for a walk. If it is just anxiety, I can walk with someone. If the anxiety is manifesting as rage, I need to walk or run by myself. I also use music to help defuse my anxiety. Singing in full voice and taking those deep diaphragmatic breaths helps me physically. Another favorite way of infusing my being with calm is to listen to Yael’s audio cookies from her (Not) Secret (Not) Weapon e-course, where Yael talks about Permission-Based Healing. I have learned to utilize this when I am in the midst of frustration. I gave myself permission to feel my frustration by stomping and shaking my fists. My girls thought that it was funny. I loved using this technique because it relieved my frustration in a healthy way. It allowed me to express how I felt.

It has taken me a long time to manage my anxiety and my rage. It was a combination of factors that helped me: therapy, medication, exercise, blogging, online support with the #PPDchat group on Twitter and Facebook and the Mama’s Comfort Camp group on Facebook and offline support from my husband, my family and my friends. I realized how critical it was to my emotional health and well-being to take some time every day for self-care. Some days all I can find is five or ten minutes. I also focused on my nutrition and sleep needs. I realize that a happy mom means a happy family. If I am depleting all my energy and resources, I cannot continue to give and give. My energy level or lack thereof can directly contribute to my anxiety and rage. I have also learned to communicate my needs directly to my husband, my family and my friends. It is okay for me to take a timeout in the bathroom. I am not being a bad mom. I am taking the time I need for myself to regain my perspective on a situation. It has taken
me a lot of work to manage my rage and my anxiety, but I am taking it day by day, hour by hour. I am so proud of the progress and the hard work that I have put into managing this rage and anxiety.  I have come so far.  By now I am much better equipped to deal with my anxiety and my rage than I was a year ago.

– – –
Comment magic: please tell Jenny what reading her story has brought up for you, and offer whatever encouragement you can. You are invited to share your own moments of anxiety and rage with us in this safe space.

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    • Jenny
      August 14, 2012 | 6:01 pm

      Thank you so much for your support Jaime. I am proud of me too, and I struggled with saying that for a long time because of the rage. I wish the rage was more openly discussed. I hope that my story can help others.
      Jenny recently posted..Split personality

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  23. Margaret (@mammacockatoo)
    August 14, 2012 | 10:38 am

    Jenny, I’m so proud of you. I totally understand. Anger/rage is one of my challenges too. I’m so glad you are recognising your triggers and warning signs, and overcoming them.
    For various reasons, I missed Yael’s course, but it’s great to know it is helping you, added to all the wonderful things she already does for so many.
    I’m so lucky to have “met” both of you.
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    • Jenny
      August 14, 2012 | 11:59 am

      Margaret,
      I am so lucky to have “met” you as well. I was so excited to see that one week of Yael’s course specifically talked about anger. I still continue to struggle with managing my anger and my rage. I try to take each moment as it comes.
      Jenny recently posted..Split personality

  24. Kathy Morelli, LPC (@KathyAMorelli)
    August 14, 2012 | 7:00 am

    Honest post ans so revealing of how depression and anxiety can manifest in anger and rage..thanks, Kathy
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    • Jenny
      August 14, 2012 | 11:58 am

      Kathy, thank you so much. I still struggle with describing my experience with PPD to friends. I am afraid to tell them how my anxiety manifested itself in anger and rage. Those emotions carry such a stigma for women. I am supposed to be the “nice Catholic girl”.
      Jenny recently posted..Split personality

  25. Mirjam
    August 14, 2012 | 6:02 am

    For me, it was the medication that did the trick. I am just so relieved that I am not so angry ALL the time. It was the first thing my husband noticed. That I was so calm and not willing to jump on his back about every little detail or discussion.
    I remember exactly how that rage felt and that I felt it all the time. I was constantly trying not to explode. I was so relieved when I found out that it wasn’t me. And the bit of anger that was left I took on with my therapist.

    So I hear you say my rage and my anxiety.
    And I have to address that. Though you are the one struggling with it, it is not you. You are not an aggressive person, you are not even an angry person.

    There will come a day when you look back and will have completely found every bit of yourself again and the rage and anxiety will be completely in your past. But you know that, you are well on your way! Thanks for sharing.
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    • Jenny
      August 14, 2012 | 11:57 am

      Mirjam,

      Thank you so much for finding yet another piece of this that I need to work on. I still feel a lot of guilt and shame over this rage and anxiety that I struggle to manage. I am not ready yet to take myself out of the equation. I feel like I need to be acocuntable for my actions even when I am in the midst of a rage. I need to be able to step away from the situation. Thank you for this. I am going to keep working on this.
      Jenny recently posted..Split personality

  26. Rosstwinmom
    August 14, 2012 | 4:32 am

    Jen, this is also my big problem. You nailed the description of the feelings. For me, it’s like I’m watching myself in a movie. In my mind I’m trying to tell the character, me, that the rage is coming, and she must stop it. Sometimes she listens, and sometimes she doesn’t. I slam a lot of things around and curse a lot. I have grabbed the boys arms very roughly too. I find going and doing something easy like unloading the dishwasher helps me calm down. I use music too, or a card game like Solitaire. I know the feelings you describe all too well. You can always vent to me about it.

    • Jenny
      August 14, 2012 | 11:52 am

      Stephanie, I have felt the same way that you have. It can be like watching a movie – like an out of body experience. Sometimes I can turn that tide. Other times I am powerless against the rage. I love love Tetris. I think I have found another tool to add to my toolbox. Thank you.
      Jenny recently posted..Split personality

  27. […] I came across a post by Jenny from Tranquilamama, entitled “Split personality” (appearing as a guest blogger at PPD to Joy).  I was obviously meant to come across this post for […]

  28. Yuz
    August 13, 2012 | 11:18 pm

    And once again – open, honest & raw. Ingredients I’d say for an amazing woman & mama xoxo

    • Jenny
      August 14, 2012 | 11:53 am

      Yuz,

      Thank you so much, my dear. I try every day to be better than I was the day before, especially in terms of managing my rage. Some days I do well. Other days I lose my cool, but I am getting better.
      Jenny recently posted..Split personality

  29. Kristin @littlemamajama
    August 13, 2012 | 9:40 pm

    Jenny, you are a fantastic, brave woman and a wonderful mother and friend. Thank you for sharing your story here. I see myself in your story, as my PPD/PPA symptoms manifested mostly in rage. Thanks for sharing your tools for helping release your tension.
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    • Jenny
      August 14, 2012 | 11:50 am

      Kristin,

      Thank you so much. Part of my healing from my postpartum rage was listening to a SpeakEasy call with Robin of http://farewellstranger.com/ where she discussed her postpartum rage. I went to her blog that night and wept tears of relief to realize that I was not the only one. Rage is so common, but we are conditioned as women to be “nice”. We are ill equippeed to find tools to express our anger, frustration and irritation in a constructive way.
      Jenny recently posted..Split personality

  30. A Write Relief...
    August 13, 2012 | 9:29 pm

    Jenny, my goodness… This post has hit home for me in almost every way possible. Last night I found myself in the shower after my HF got home from work, literally just hiding myself away from the world in an effort to calm the rage I could feel just waiting to burst inside of me. Not for any particular reason, but because of a lot of little things that had happened throughout the day. I can’t thank you enough for sharing this part of yourself because it’s the one part I have the most difficulty accepting about my condition. Massive hugs to you!
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    • Jenny
      August 14, 2012 | 11:47 am

      T, I am so glad that this post has helped you. The rage was the part of my PND and PNA that I struggled to accept. I felt so much shame and guilt over my behavior. For a long time, I could not identify my triggers. I would feel red hot rage boiling up at the end of the day due to a combination of little things that just kept building and building. Hugs to you! You will get better.
      Jenny recently posted..Split personality

  31. Suniverse
    August 13, 2012 | 8:14 pm

    This was wonderful – that you are able to articulate that rage and the feelings it engenders. I can also go from 0 to crazy instantaneously, and it’s been a long road to work myself through it.

    XO

    • Jenny
      August 14, 2012 | 11:41 am

      Thank you so much Suniverse. It has been a long journey to get to where I am today. I am able to recognize those warning signs more clearly, so I can prepare myself.
      Jenny recently posted..Split personality

  32. frelle
    August 13, 2012 | 4:12 pm

    Thank you for being so transparent here and sharing some of your darkest moments, as well as what steps you’re taking to become more self aware and manage your feelings. you’re an inspiration to me, with your courage to face your anxiety head on and not pretend it’s not there or allow it to speak for you. You’re strong and amazing and I’m blessed to know you. *HUG*
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    • Jenny
      August 13, 2012 | 4:53 pm

      Frelle, thank you so much. I am tired of trying to hide the anxiety. It is a part of me, but it is not all of me. I have learned how to manage the anxiety and the rage so it does not control me.
      Jenny recently posted..Split personality

  33. Robin | Farewell Stranger
    August 13, 2012 | 2:39 pm

    Love this and both of you. I relate so much, as you know.
    Robin | Farewell Stranger recently posted..Self-portraits

    • Jenny
      August 13, 2012 | 3:30 pm

      Thank you so much Robin. It was after listening to you tell your story on a PPD SpeakEasy call and finding your story on your blog that I realized I need to do something about my rage.
      Jenny recently posted..Split personality

  34. Jenny
    August 13, 2012 | 10:52 am

    Yael, thank you so much for having me. I adore your speaking voice. To all who are reading this post, go listen to the link above – the pocket of comfort. Yael’s voice invites you into a calm and welcoming haven. That is how I have felt during the PPD Speakeasy calls and with the Mama’s Comfort Camp.
    Jenny recently posted..Split personality

    • Yael
      August 13, 2012 | 11:43 am

      Oh, Jenny, thank you so much for this post, and for pointing people to the pocket of comfort. And I loved loved loved hearing your voice on the phone this morning. So many hugs.

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