Adrienne Griffen is the second member of our trio - the ladies of Postpartum Support International - who will be presenting together at our show on May 17th. Say hi to Adrienne!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Advocate for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders
Devoted wife and mother
Really loves nice restaurants
Into yoga and exercise
Energetic, enthusiastic, excited
Native New Yorker
Needs a massage
How has mental illness affected your life?
I had postpartum anxiety and PTSD after my son was born in 2001. I knew immediately that something was wrong, but it took 6 months to find a doctor who understood what I was going through. During this challenging time, I vowed to do something so that other new mothers did not suffer needlessly. So I started a support group, then started talking about my experience, then started a nonprofit organization to help others. I once wondered what I would do when my children started school and I had time on my hands. This issue fell in my lap; now I don’t have any free time on my hands!
Why did you want to be a part of This Is My Brave?
Getting the word out about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders – depression and anxiety during pregnancy or the first year postpartum – drove my decision to join This Is My Brave. These illnesses are the #1 complication of pregnancy and childbirth, affecting up to 1 in 5 new or expectant mothers. In fact, more women will experience these illnesses than will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Thirty years ago, everyone whispered if someone was diagnosed with breast cancer; today we all know someone who is a breast cancer survivor, we talk about breast cancer without flinching, and in October professional football players wear pink socks to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The same needs to happen with mental health issues. Talking about these issues helps decrease shame and stigma, raises awareness about how common they are, and allows women to speak out and get the help they need.
What inspires you to get or stay mentally healthy?
My family – my husband and three children -- are my inspiration for staying mentally healthy. Society acknowledges that a healthy happy mother leads to a healthy happy family. If I am operating sub-par (being tired or being cranky or feeling overwhelmed), it affects my entire family. So I try to get enough sleep, eat healthfully, and exercise every day. And say “no” to things that aren’t beneficial to me or my family.
What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?
I hope the audience learns three things:
1. Mental illness, in its many forms, affects many, many people
2. Mental illness is a REAL illness – it is not made up by the sufferer,, nor is it an excuse
3. Mental illness can be life-defining, but it is NOT a life sentence