Sephonyia Porter On Creating A Safe Space for Women Experiencing PPD/PPA & Self-Care

Meet Sephonyia Porter, Sephonyia Porter and I met through Facebook! Let me tell you guys, you can connect with so many amazing women through social media. She is the creater of the Facebook group, “Black Women Surviving Postpartum Depression/Anxiety Together as well as a Mindset Coach. We’ve chatted so many times about PPD/PPA like good old friends. I am so excited to have her on the blog.

Tell me a little about yourself (How many children do you have, groups, organizations..etc)

I’m Sephonyia Porter. I am a blessed mom to a 4-year-old, bright and mighty daughter. The struggle with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety began around four weeks after giving birth. One year postpartum, I decided to take action to create a better life for myself. I started to find out what brings me joy again and shape my life around my daughter so that I could have more mindful time with her. I started my business, Virtual Empowerment Solutions in 2019, to bring more awareness to PPD/ PPA for Black Moms. I thrive from helping women feel more like themselves again, but 2.0. In the past year, I made a Facebook group, Black Women Surviving Postpartum Depression/Anxiety Together, and has truly become one of the safest spaces for us.

How are you feeling? At this particular moment, are you happy?

At this particular moment, I am feeling happy, patient, and hopeful. 

What made you create the Facebook group “Black Women Surviving Postpartum Depression/Anxiety Together? 

I created this group for Black moms experiencing PPD/PPA to have a safe space to be able to open up about what’s really going on in their heads. A place for women to speak about their unique losses and wins. These can be dark, uncomfortable, and confusing moments during this journey, so to have other women around that can actually understand almost exactly how you’re feeling is soothing. In this private group, we support one another, empower one another, and listen to each other. I also give tips and share my personal stories to give other moms hope and remind them that this too shall pass! 

In this private group, we support one another, empower one another, and listen to each other.

How did that group come about? What is the significance of the name of the group?

I was already in a few Postpartum Depression/Anxiety groups. I noticed there weren’t a ton of Black women in these groups but it was a lot and they weren’t speaking up quite as much as the white women. I immediately knew we needed a safer space. It’s so hard for a Black woman to be strong and speak on their vulnerabilities at the same time. The Black community doesn’t speak on this topic too often so it’s uncomfortable. I wanted us to be able to say exactly how we feel when we feel it. I wanted women to be able to grow and look back at how far they’ve come along their journeys.I searched Facebook and there were all kinds of different & specific “Black” groups. But not for PPD/PPA. I had to create this space, so I did, and ever since it has changed so many lives, and that itself just warms my heart.

Did you experience postpartum depression with your child(ren)? If so, when did you realize you were experiencing it and what steps did you take to heal?

Yes, and I realized I was experiencing 4 weeks after giving birth when my thoughts were becoming so intrusive to believe I was myself anymore. I actually thought my baby would be better off without a mom like myself and boy was I wrong. Anyway, I told my daughter’s father to stay with her while I visited the Emergency Room. They accessed me and diagnosed me that night. The first thing I did was grab a therapist and a journal. I practiced positive mindset shifting by working on specific personal development practices on a daily basis. Practices that I continue to use every day and will for the rest of my life.

What are your five favorite ways to take care of yourself especially during this pandemic?

This pandemic has really increased the ways I love on myself and take care of myself. It’s non-negotiable for me now to have one whole day off from working and have mindful time with myself and with my daughter. 

A life-changing habit I’ve become consistent with is to not look at my phone as soon as I wake up. This gives me an hour or more time to just myself and God. It’s daily me-time. 

I stretch my body out, stretch out and start the rest of my morning routine. I love my facial routines in the morning and night! It’s like a mini spa every day. I also enjoy taking a walk and connecting to nature. It’s everything to my mind, body and soul.

What advice would you give a new mom? 

Give yourself some grace! Your body has gone through a whole transformation while changing around to be a home for your little one(s). Take care of yourself, and your baby will feel that energy. You’ll figure it out better along the way.

What advice would you give a single mother?

Take a break for yourself. You are important, too! Remember that the tough times don’t last forever. Don’t be afraid to straight up ask for help. Start small and work your way up.

What advice did you receive when you became a mother?

I received some great advice and some bad advice. I was talked down to for just pushing through and smiling like everything is okay. I won’t ever forget the advice of, “self-care isn’t selfish, it’s essential.” I don’t play about my self-care anymore considering the results it brings me with myself and within my household. 

“Take it one day at a time.” When days were rough, I knew I’d be able to start over tomorrow. I stopped beating myself up on those bad days. I also started to live in the moment more with my baby girl. 

What does self-care mean to you?

Self-care means to love yourself and love on yourself. Self-care means taking care of yourself and putting yourself first so you can show up better for yourself and those around you. It is essential to recuperate. Once I became a mother, I learned that self-care is needed daily, not just weekly, monthly, or quarterly. And especially not just for a reward. 

Sephonyia Porter & her daughter

What is something you remember about giving birth to your child(ren)? How did you feel? 

My birth experience was pretty traumatic. I didn’t really like working in the hospital afterwards. I was high risk, had pre-eclampsia, and had my daughter 6-7 weeks early. I had to have an emergency c-section and things were just moving too fast for me. After the surgery, my blood pressure wouldn’t go down for days so I remained in the hospital down the hall from my baby girl in NICU. I remember how much of a fighter she was and that’s what kept me feeling happy and proud to be her mom throughout those tough days.

How did people around you make you feel? (Whether a doctor, family member, spouse..)

I was starting to become uncomfortable while speaking with my OBGYN because I did not feel heard. I was trying to tell her about my mind, body and some things I felt that were not right. She’d disregard it as being normal. I switched to a midwife and she paid much more attention to ME and the baby. It was a phenomenal experience because of her care. The surgery was done by the same OBGYN I switched from, but she also did an amazing job in the operating room and post-follow-ups. 

How do you show up for yourself vs how do you show up for your daughter?

I have learned that I need to show up for myself the same way I show up for my daughter. I went through a phase where I started forgetting about myself and only attending to her needs. Little did I know that burnout can sneak up on me when I forget about little ole me. I learned that I am deserving and just as important to me as my daughter is. I cannot be the best mom to her if I’m not the best person to myself first. Self-care is essential and when I put myself first, it does not mean I am being selfish. I show up for myself first in the mornings, at least an hour before my daughter wakes up. But I try to give myself a few hours more often than not. And even after she goes down for bedtime, I am closing out my night with myself by myself peacefully.

How do you stay encouraged and inspired?

I think about my ‘why’ every night before I go to bed. On days that I feel stuck or “in a funk,” I write down 10 things that I am grateful for to give me some hope back. I give myself some grace for only being human, so on those down days that I may not feel as motivated as others, I let myself have a day. I’ll still listen to an inspirational podcast and journal to process my feelings for the day. 

As you look back at your life, what are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my ability to be self-disciplined no matter what. For a while, before I was a mother, I still felt like I was missing out on life because my priorities were set up differently than my peers around me. But I don’t regret it at all. Self-discipline opened up opportunities for myself and my mindset to soar and to be able to do exactly what I put my mind to.

What are you most grateful for?

This may sound cliché, but I am most grateful for my daughter. She has helped me see myself and accept myself as a whole for exactly who I am. This has helped me be able to treat myself better. Growing up I was a people pleaser and I made sure everyone was okay before myself. My baby girl cannot be okay if her mommy is not okay, therefore I am my number one priority now with no “ifs, and, or buts,” about it.

FOMO is an acronym for Fear of Missing Out. Have you felt that you were missing out on anything when you became a mother?

Not really. I’ve always been a person that likes to stay to myself or truly enjoys being alone. After I became a mother, the only thing I was worried about missing out on was her milestones and daily growth. I feared that I wouldn’t be her favorite parent or she wouldn’t long for me as much as her father. I felt this way because I worked soooooooooooo much. I went back to work after 8 weeks, had 2 jobs and I doordashed at times, as well. I’d FaceTime her as much as possible when I was away from her. It turns out, she loves me no matter what! She’s definitely a mommy’s girl.

What is your favorite quote or motto and why?

My favorite quote is, “You are not responsible for their expectations.” This quote has followed me everywhere once I became a mom. If I ever forgot and started to let people get in my head, it would find a way to pop back up in my life to remind me, whether it had to do with motherhood or not. But, when you’re a first-time mother, you care a lot about what people are thinking of you. Whether you’re a good mother or not, whether you’re making the right decisions for your household or not, etc. Honestly, it’s draining and this quote has helped me learn to follow my own heart and intuition. It’s helped me learn to trust myself more than I ever had before becoming a mother.

There are times when our children can teach us so much about ourselves. Can you tell me about a time in which you learned something about yourself while parenting your daughter?

She has brought more innocence and joy back into my heart. When you grow up, you start to see the world completely differently, and not to say that is all bad thoughts but I missed seeing more positivity in the world like I used to and my baby girl has truly helped with that. She wants what she wants and her personality is beautiful and bubbly. I used to be like her as a child and I lost that along the way with childhood trauma and such. She’s taught me to go after exactly what I want and still be myself within a world that tries to change you or shape your mind on a daily.

She’s my idol, my hero, and my everything. I wouldn’t be ME without her!

You can connect with Sephonyia Porter on Facebook

Black Women Surviving Postpartum Depression/Anxiety Together

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