Sharing Your Voice: Welcome PPD Survivor Yael

I have only recently met Yael when she responded to my request for Moms to share their Postpartum Depression stories. I don’t know much about her, but I do know that she lives in one of the most beautiful places in New York and if I still lived in NY state, I would probably be living there myself. Yael is new to the blogging world, but has big plans to share her story while helping others who suffer from PPD both locally in her community and online with her new blog From Postpartum Depression to Joy

I am honored to share Yael’s story, when you are done here, you can hop on over to her blog and get to know her a little better.


My name is Yael Saar, and I survived postpartum depression. Three times.
September 24 2010, the day I first published my blog, was my 39th birthday. I’d like to share that moment with you. Here we go:

In a few minutes I will be 10 years older than my mother was when she succumbed to Postpartum depression (No, she didn’t kill herself on my birthday, that would have been cruel and she wasn’t cruel, just very miserable). It is 11:59. And when the clock strikes midnight, I will publish this website. Here goes.

39? How the heck did that happen?
OK, that’s not the point.  This is:

For my mother Mina, my mother Mati, my grandma Esther, and for all mothers everywhere, I am dedicating my work to healing the pain caused by postpartum depression. I’ve been there too. Thrice.

My birth mother Mina was very beautiful.
And very sad.
She cried.
A lot.
Her pain was all-consuming.
It affected all of us.
She killed herself when I was six.

But this is no sob story. My dad remarried a year later to the best stepmother ever (I asked Mati to marry him before he did!). And I grew up in a loving, healthy family environment. Seriously, if all stepmothers were like Mati, kids would be telling their moms to leave them alone so they could get a stepmother already. She is just that good. Still, you can imagine that the scars from losing my birth mother are forever with me.

My second encounter with PPD was six years ago. When my own son was about 7 months old. The combination of sleep deprivation, difficulty breastfeeding (I spent about 5 hours a day pumping. Looking back it seems insane, at the time it  felt like the only way to prove to myself I was a “good mother”). Add a hefty dose of genetic predisposition, and it’s no surprise what happened next.

Well, you know how sometimes you need to hit rock bottom to give it a good kick that will propel you all the way back up? My rock bottom was a long hard night with my green suede belt wrapped around my neck, crying and praying for the strength to pull it tighter.
More than anything, I longed to free my loved ones from the burden of having such a broken person as wife and mother.
In my tortured mind, I was fantasizing about going up to heaven to search from above for the best stepmother out there, and rush her to my family, so she would take care of them so much better that I could. Would you believe it?
For the first time in my life, I understood my birth mother.

Something deep inside me recoiled at these thoughts, and ignited a spark. I found strength I didn’t know I had, and started seeking help. I spoke up: to my husband, my parents, my friends. I got a lot of support. I got professional help.I got better.

Besides sharing this pain with the people who loved me, what helped most was learning every mental fitness method I could find. I read books, went to depression support groups (I couldn’t find one dedicated to PPD so went to “general” depression meetings). I worked with therapists, took courses, you name it. I found many different modalities, with some overlap and varying degrees of accessibility during crisis. Some of them were totally useless for me: “Breathe deeply, meditate, relax…”. Yeah, right.
Some methods are pretty darn good when applied consistently: Cognitive Therapy, The Work of Byron Katie, and the teachings of Abraham Low.
But none of those methods had everything I needed. And much was explained in technical ways that are far from user friendly.

It took about a year to get “myself” back. But it was a better self, far more equipped to handle emotional challenges than ever before, and much more present to joy.  I am now able to mother happily: it is not easy, but it is soul-satisfying.

Almost two years ago I had another baby. This time around, when the fatigue and hormones took their toll, I recognized the early symptoms and worked with my family and my doctor to minimize the depth and the duration of the pain. And just as important: this time I knew enough to recognize it wasn’t my fault. I had only to deal with the actual hardship, without compounding it with the extra suffering brought on by guilt and shame. That made all the difference in the world. So this third time was the least painful and the shortest bout I had with PPD.

I have made it my life’s calling to find a way to replicate my success in overcoming postpartum depression. I am at the very early stages of developing a system that combines the best aspects of the many methods I have studied, and presents the information in a digestible, compassionate, guilt-dissolving way.

My goal is to create a program that is emotionally accessible even to women in the depth of the abyss. I envision customizable treasure maps and paths, to be followed in baby steps and a leap of faith (faith in you, not necessarily in god). I am planning units directed at partners, parents and in-laws (enough with the ”you just need to relax” and the “snap out of it”), as well as tools for addressing self-talk, body image, relationship issues, self-expression, and compassionate self-care.

For the past few years I volunteered as a counselor at a suicide prevention center. There, I found that my ideas and the tools I was using and especially the language in which they were presented, successfully cut through the thick cloud of pain to show callers a glimmer of hope. When the judgment is removed, callers (of all genders and ages) could see a reason to go on living. And seek help. (This sort of work is heart-wrenching, but oh, so worth the effort.)

So in the first week of September, when my toddler started going to nursery school, after years of being “just” a stay-at-home mom, I started working on, as my home online, where I’ll be doing my life’s work.

I am currently leading recovery groups in my community of Ithaca, New York, and offer a free a monthly teleclass, accessible from anywhere. I’m an ambitious gal: I feel compelled to get this life-saving information into the hands of mothers everywhere.
My mission: to remove guilt and shame from the parenting experience. I want to show struggling mothers that what seems like a dead-end cave is actually a tunnel, one that can be crossed safely with the support of a community throughout the journey.

So if you need this sort of help, please write to me. I am always interested in your story, your point of view. What hurts the most? What is easy for you to handle? What do wish you had known in advance? What is the worst way people have been trying to help?
Since I aim to create content that will help women everywhere, the more perspectives I see, the better I can accommodate different women’s needs.

If you know another mother in pain, please spread the word.  Let’s help the suffering mothers of the world step out of the dark clouds of shame and guilt, and begin to shine.

Hugs all around,


If you are a Postpartum Depression Survivor, and wish to share your story, you can find all the details at The Nut House Community. Sharing Your Voice is a weekly feature at The Nut House and visiting authors share their stories on Mondays.

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One Response to Sharing Your Voice: Welcome PPD Survivor Yael

  1. Tricia on November 15, 2010 at 9:57 am


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