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I did all the things I was 'supposed' to do to help my PPD + anxiety—and nothing worked until this

It became clear to me that I needed an extra push to solidify the gains I was making.

woman looking into the distance

Every morning, after I get the kids their breakfast and pour myself a cup of coffee, I open the spice cabinet above the toaster and, one by one, take out the bottles that constitute another part of my morning routine.

Most of them come from the supplement section at my local pharmacy: Vitamin D, B-complex, fish oil, a probiotic and some herbal supplements to help with my mood. But there's also a little orange bottle filled with oblong blue pills my doctor has prescribed for me—my SSRI, which I've been on in one form or another for a few years, and which was most recently increased after my son was born last year.

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I'd like to not need that one.

I think sometimes, as I spill them out into my hand and pluck one from my palm, that I have some sort of character deficiency because I take it. That I'm just not strong enough. Or good enough. Or "normal" enough.

But thankfully, the days I feel that way are fewer and fewer as time goes on. Because I have seen how taking that little pill has changed my life for the better. How it has actually allowed me to bring out parts of me that were suppressed before by a constant anxious chatter in my head and an overactive drive to control everything.

Blame it on the stigma surrounding mental health disorders, but I still hear comments from people saying that mood medication isn't necessary. And those comments feed into the negative self-talk I find myself engaging in occasionally.

As a family friend said shortly after I increased my SSRI dosage during the depths of postpartum depression, "Oh no, not the blue pill! Anything but that. It'll make you a zombie! Have you tried eliminating sugar?"

Their comments stung. I knew they were judging me, even if they were trying to be helpful.

My family friend is one of many who subscribe to the (completely valid) notion that most things can be cured through mindfulness, meditation, exercise and a healthy diet. I know all of those things—if I could be deliberate about them and just "clean up" my life—would impact my life and my moods.

And I tried them. While also tending to the needs of a newborn and a toddler.

While in the darkest depths of postpartum depression—where daily panic attacks tossed me about like waves crashing on the beach and existential dread filled every thought of every minute of every day—I walked the neighborhood furiously in the sub-freezing winter bleakness. I modified my diet and eliminated sugar. I listened to mindfulness podcasts while nursing the baby. I rested and tried to prioritize sleep. I went to counseling sessions every week for nearly 6 months.

I did all of the things I was "supposed" to do.

And, it became clear to me that I needed an extra push to solidify the gains I was making.

Medication helped get me over the threshold to sustained mental well-being.

If you are reading this, odds are you have an infant or a preschooler. Or both or older kids, too. And as you know, mama, eating clean and doing yoga and limiting screen time… well, those are all things we can strive for. But for many of us, those ideals are a luxury. And if we can carve out the time and brain space to be mindful of them all and we are still feeling like something is off with our mental landscape, why should someone else tell us what our brains should or should not be feeling?

When I heard the comment from our family friend, it hurt. Instead of feeling supported in the most horribly painful time of my life, I was feeling judged and inadequate. Like my efforts weren't enough even though I knew in my core I was working harder on improving myself than I ever had in my life—while meeting the needs of two small children who were completely dependent upon me!

Where was the appreciation for that? And where was the trust in my ability, with my doctor's support and recommendation, to know what my brain needed?

With the help of my medication, I was able to tone down the intensity of my anxiety—the catalyst that helped me beat postpartum depression and enter into a season of life where I can be present and relatively worry-free.

I take comfort in knowing I won't need it forever. This is a season. And I am glad in this season, that I have medication to support my well-being in order to be the best mom, wife and person I can be.

There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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Mothers wanted the president to condemn white supremacy—he didn't

What you need to know about the first presidential debate and the 'Proud Boys'.

Screenshot/CNN

[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

For many American families, the impacts of systemic racism are a daily reality. This summer saw mothers and children go out and join Black Lives Matter protests in an effort to make the United States a safer place for Black children.

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Individuals across the country stood up and condemned white supremacy in 2020 and wanted the sitting President of the United States to do that Tuesday night, during the first presidential debate.

But he didn't.

When Chris Wallace of Fox News, the debate moderator, asked President Trump to condemn white supremacy, to ask militia groups to stand down and not escalate violence in cities like Kenosha and Portland, the president stated he was willing to...but when Wallace said "Then do it, sir," the president's answer was far from a clear condemnation.

First, Trump asked for a specific group to condemn, rather than simply condemning white supremacy as a whole. When the others on stage offered "white supremacy" and "Proud Boys" as the name to condemn, the President picked Proud Boys. But a condemnation didn't come.

"Proud Boys, stand back and stand by," Trump said. "But I'll tell you what, somebody's gotta do something about Antifa and the left. This is not a right-wing problem. This is a left-wing problem."

This followed a previous exchange in which Wallace asked President Trump why he ended a racial sensitivity training program. Trump responded that the training was racist and was teaching people to "hate our country."

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