Burying the hatchet

I need to apologise to someone. To someone who probably doesn’t even know that I needed to apologise to them. This person doesn’t know who I am, nor that I was their, well…”enemy” is too strong a word. Adversary is probably the better term. I suppose it stems from my adversarial views in comparison to their own. Jealously is most likely the cause, but more on that later. I’m talking about Constance Hall. That’s right, the mummy warrior that has endeared herself into the hearts and minds of so many people, including every mother I’ve ever known. They all love her. And you know what, good for them. But me. Well, let’s just say that Constance is not my favourite person. In fact, whenever I’ve seen her posts in the past, they tend to annoy the shit out of me. From airing her dirty laundry on line, to the constant derogatory comments about her husband, to her over use of the F and C word (especially the C word. For me it’s not empowering, it’s offensive). The incredibly judgemental bitch inside me will read her posts about her unruly kids and thinks she brings it on herself. And the writer in me will read her posts and scream out loud “Have you heard of spell check! Can you please read over your posts before you share them! How are you writing a book?!” I’ve wanted to share these thoughts so many times, but have held back purely because I don’t like to share hateful thoughts (most of the time). I grew up believing in “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything all”. So I’ve avoided making rude and derogatory comments even if they are on my own Facebook wall. And I would certainly never post them directly to someone, because that’s just terrible. I know how words can eat someone up inside. I know how it’s felt myself. And frankly posting horrible comments online is just cowardly. And lastly I didn’t post anything because I know if Constance ever got wind of my thoughts she’d probably just brush it off with a response like “Don’t you worry you Queen, you can hate me all you want, I don’t give a f**k, and it’s your right to hate whoever you want. You’re still a Queen, keep being a Queen”. Or something like that. And she’d win! She’d still come out on top looking great, while I’m the idiot embarrassing myself over here in the corner stamping my feet for no reason.

Now before anyone starts to jump down my throat, please hold off on your abusive mail, because let’s not forget the very start of this post. Remember, regarding that apology? Here’s the thing about being an open minded person. You have to allow yourself to look at the other side first before you can form an opinion. If you want your opinion to hold any kind of weight that is. You have to agree to be calm and research everything before you make an informed choice. And sometimes, just sometimes, you can be persuaded to change your opinion, to do a 180, to agree that maybe you were wrong. You have the right to change your mind. So Constance, if you ever come across this, I apologise. Please accept my humblest of apologies for being a judgemental bitch face. A lot of my angst was in fact born out of jealousy. I kept thinking to myself “Why does Constance get to go viral with her posts, and I’m lucky if three people read mine?” I realised after I did a bit of research, that firstly you have a proper website and not some shitty free thing being piggy-backed off WordPress. Secondly you have a Facebook page, so you get far more traction that I ever would at the moment. And thirdly, you’ve been doing this WAY longer that I have. 10 years compared to my barely 1. And not withstanding all this, but you started off with a somewhat known personality, thanks to appearing in Big Brother (and bug bear I have, considering how much I loath that show, but again my opinion seems to be in the minority). And as much as I would like for my work to get a bit more recognition, I’ve avoided taking that extra step of opening a page on Facebook because, let’s face it, I’m a woman, I have an opinion, and I’m on the internet. And we all know what that equals.

And that leads me to what caused my turn around on Constance in the first place. I came across this post by Constance in my feed a few days ago. https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fpermalink.php%3Fstory_fbid%3D1224023820975774%26id%3D1019711431407015%26substory_index%3D0&width=500

At first my reaction was a sarcastic and unsympathetic “What’s happened THIS time?”. Dully clicking on the link I read through. The post mostly confused me, because I hadn’t heard the back story regarding the book-week child and Nic Naitanui ( here for reference, http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/blackface-outrage-mother-paints-sons-skin-for-book-week-parade-20160825-gr1fo8.html.) Firstly I’ll say this: black face is never ok. I don’t care if the man was your kids’ hero. No. Don’t do it. End of story. Secondly, Constance’s response to the post on her page was brilliant. It was non-judgemental. It was kind and gentle and graceful. Nothing about her response suggested anger, or condescension, or vilification. And what did she receive in return? Death threats. Seriously people? Can you not have been a bit more dignified about this? Constance was trying to help and all she received was unnecessary shit slung at her. No one deserves that. Not the mother at the centre of the controversy. Not Constance. Not anyone. And yet, when I first saw her crying face in my feed, a dark little voice at the back of my brain whispered “Oh how the mighty have fallen”. But when I read her post, read her anguish, felt her anguish then read the back story behind it, I just simply couldn’t do this anymore. I can’t keep holding onto such dark and hateful thoughts. Over nothing. Over a difference of opinion. So setting aside my feelings I delved a little more into the world of Constance and read some posts. And you know what? They’re good. They’re really good. Yes, sometimes the spelling errors shit me, and the obscene amount of swearing offends me (and you know what, that’s so hypercritical because sometimes I swear like a sailor. I just don’t like to post like a sailor). And then I realised we have so much more in common than I thought we did. And then I saw this: https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FRafikiMwemaNakuru%2Fposts%2F683859338434121&width=500 For the longest time I’ve agonised about wanting to do more for the world. I’ve felt so useless lately, just another cog in the government wheel, unable to help people in any real manner. The only thing I feel like I can do is share certain posts, “like” when someone participates in a protest, and fling money at certain charities. But Constance! Constance has actually done something in terms of making a difference, being a wonderful supporter of such a worthwhile organisation. Suddenly my inability to get myself out of bed and make myself lunch before I have to go to work becomes a little pathetic looking compared to this Super Mum especially when I realised we’re the exact same age. Suddenly I realised, “Holy crap, she really IS a Queen!”

So Constance, we may not see eye to eye, we may have WAY differing ideas on parenting, I may not follow you on Facebook, or buy your book, and you may never read any of my stuff, or if you do maybe even think it’s the crappiest thing written since the God of Small Things (seriously, that is a soul destroying book. Never ever ever read it!). But one thing is certain, even if I don’t agree with your opinions, I will damn well respect them from now on. I will say “That is Constance, we may never be friends, and I may not agree with some of the things she’s says, but she is a strong woman, who knows how to write, and knows what she’s talking about, and knows how to tell it to you like it is”. Perhaps I will take some inspiration from you. Perhaps I will go my own path. But perhaps, maybe I’ll be able to let go of a little negativity, because that always leaves the world looking a little brighter.

Helping your child deal with death. A scary concept.

Morbid I know. But seriously, how do we help our children deal with death? Anyone? Anyone at all know the answer? I certainly don’t. Death is such a terrifying concept when you’re a child. I can still remember my first brush with death, completely not understanding the concept at all. I can’t remember how old I was exactly. I couldn’t have been older than 5. I remember finding a dead magpie in the back yard. I remember racing to my dad to tell him what I’d found. I remember feeling incredibly sad. I remember asking my dad “Why can’t we just give it some medicine to make it better?” I didn’t understand that it wouldn’t wake up. That it wouldn’t get better. After that moment I don’t recall if my mother or father sat me down and explained what death was. Maybe they did. Or perhaps they just avoided the subject, not wanting to put their child through the existential horror of one day simply not existing. They must have explained the concept to me at some point soon after, because my next fearful memory associated with death was the concept of my own impending mortality. I recall my mother conducting one of her extreme cleaning sessions. She was using methylated spirits as a surface disinfectant. I was at the time was playing with her very old typewriter (I guess I did start early after all). She came through my room and wiped over the keys with the lightly soaked cloth, then wiped the residue off with another cloth. I remember asking her what she was using. She told me what it was, then proceeded to install in me the very important value of never touching the methylated spirits, because if I accidentally ingested any of it, it would eat my stomach and I would DIE! Now I’m sure I’m probably exaggerating this memory. My mother probably only warned me not to touch something dangerous. But my child brain interpreted it as imminent doom. The sudden fear arose because I was typing along, then licked my finger to turn a page. Immediately I realised what I had done. The keyboard had been wiped with the metho, I had licked my fingers, therefore my stomach was about the be destroyed and I was going to die. I felt it starting already. It was a cold tingling sensation in the pit of my stomach. It was the first time I was really scared. I was utterly convinced I was about to die. My mother probably didn’t understand why I suddenly started becoming so clingy, why I stopped sleeping well at night. I think I was too embarrassed to tell her why I was feeling the way I was. At the time we were still quite religious and went to church every Sunday. Mum realised I was suffering some sort of existential crisis and tried to comfort me through the Word of God. Unfortunately that only made things worse. The idea of eternity or “Forever and ever” as was so frequently put in church, did nothing to comfort me, but magnified my fears. So my experiences left me both not wanting to die, but also not wanting to live forever. It’s something that still affects me even to this day. Sometimes when I think about it hard enough, I get that same cold hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach….Now I’m not saying that my parents didn’t handle teaching me about death very well, or didn’t do a good job. I don’t think any person really knows how to deal with death properly, let alone how a parent teaches a child how to cope.

After my last blog you’re aware that I’ve lost someone quite close to me. At the same time of dealing with my own emotions, I’ve also started thinking about how to deal with Stormaggedon when he eventually has to face the same sadness. Leading up to this particular death I felt the same obligation again regarding Stormy as I had in the past when deciding if I should bring him along when I visit people. My friend’s mother had literally only seen Stormy twice in his life. It wasn’t because I was avoiding bringing him, sometimes it just wasn’t convenient to bring him for a visit, and I always assumed there would be more time. In the weeks leading up to her death I knew that time was becoming very short, and was desperate to bring Stormy for a visit. I thought it would be a wonderful pick-me-up, and I was very eager to cheer her up. However his reactions to stressful situations and people who are not at all well had not gone well in the recent past. Currently my own Nanny has not been well, having had a stroke and now living in a nursing home. On the two occasions that I brought Stormy for a visit, it was not the happy little outing I thought it would be. Entering the room we found my Nanny lying in bed both times, frail, small and very tired looking. Stormy took one look and turned tail. Trying to force him to stay only caused the most extreme frightened tantrum I have seen him throw. He buried himself into my shoulder screaming “No no no no!” over and over again. He sobs turned into ridiculous heaving and I’m pretty sure by the end of our visit, most of it was quite put on. The part that frustrated me the most was the fact that he had absolutely no problem wandering into other peoples’ rooms and even walking up to other bed bound patients to curiously say hello. But every time we tried to bring him back to Nanny he’d freak out all over again. Such visits were cut invariably short, and I have not since braved going back at this stage. My idea was to cheer my Nanny up with a visit from her first and only (so far) great grandchild. What she was met with was a screaming, frightened toddler, probably making her feel bad for the fact that she was the apparent cause of his anguish. This is something that I would hate to repeat. So the idea of bring Stormy to see my Second Mummy, knowing full well what state her condition was, I only imagined that this would be exactly how he would react, in fear and sadness. That was the last thing I wanted to inflict on her, knowing her time left with us was so short. I knew that she already felt like a burden to those around her, feeling guilty for “making” others have to take such care of her (if only she knew that was never how anyone ever felt. They only wanted make her time left as comfortable, and as loved as possible). The thought of inflicting my screaming, tantruming toddler into her already incredibly stressful world was too unbearable for me. But not only that, selfishly as a mother I wanted to protect Stormy from experiencing that situation. I didn’t want to expose him to such a painful scenario. He’s still so very young, but oh so very smart. I know even though he wouldn’t have understood exactly what was going on, he would have known that it wasn’t at all good.

So what do you do as a parent? Do you force your children, with the possibility of traumatising them, to visit and interact with the sick and the dying because it might please those to see the young? Or do we protect our young from pain and trauma, for as long as possible? I feel like there are so many answers to these questions. Some people will say that death is a necessary part of life and children need to find out about it, the sooner the better so that they learn to cope with it earlier. Others will say we should protect our young from trauma in order to prevent trauma in them. The Right will say “Children need to suck it up, because life is full of pain. How will they cope in life if they don’t know how to handle pain?”. The Left will counter with “Children should be allowed to be children. There’s always time to learn about the sad things in life. We shouldn’t force them to do things for others just because it’ll make others happy. They won’t know how to how to empower themselves to say no if they get forced into things when they are older.” Argh, this argument does my head in! This kind of back and forth bickering runs through my head on a daily basis, about EVERYTHING!

So how DO we handle death? How can we teach our children that all things will eventually die? How do we allow them to go through such an enlightened quandary at such a young age, when their emotional abilities are not yet at such a level to process this kind of information? That it may leave them with that same cold tingling sensation in the pit of their stomachs that kept me up at night as a little girl, and frankly still keeps me up at night even now. Personally I think we should always be honest with our children. If they ask, tell them the truth. Don’t use fancy big words, but don’t talk down to them. Children can tell when you are being condescending. Protect them from the worst of a sad time, but don’t hide things from them. Don’t lie and say things like “Grandma just went on a long trip” or that the dog “went to the farm”. Worst of all, don’t ever compare death to sleeping, not if you ever want to get a good night’s sleep again.

Frankly I don’t have the answers. I wish I did. And one day when Stormy asks me about why people have to die, I only hope I have the strength to answer him. And hopefully not freak him out. The last thing I want is for him to develop that never ending cold tingling sensation in the pit of his stomach…

For my second mummy…

This week I lost my second mummy. I’ve known my best friend’s mum since I was 13 years old. But for the longest time I always called her Mummy. Because she was mum to practically everyone she met. I’ve never known a woman so generous of spirit. She was the type of person to give you her heart and her soul, and even after that would then ask if you wanted a tea or a coffee. Whenever I think of happiness I think of her. I don’t recall a time when I’ve ever seen her sad, or angry, or cranky, or annoyed. She didn’t make you laugh in the way a class clown would. That was always left up to her husband. But you could laugh with her, uproariously and often. Although in my case she’d then tell me to shush a little bit. But that’s nothing new for me. She always had time for you, even if she didn’t actually have the time. She would always make it. It was not an unusual sight for various friends, friends of friends, friends of her children, and people of the neighbourhood to drop by unannounced, because they just wanted to have a cuppa and spend some time with her.

One of my favourite recent memories was Christmas 2013. I was finally at the end of my first trimester, and revelling in telling everyone I knew about my pregnancy. My Second Mummy’s reaction was one of the best. Every Christmas my best friend’s family holds Christmas Carols at their house for the neighbours to come and enjoy. Knowing full well she would casually greet me with, “Hello darling, how are you?”, my plan was to answer “Oh you know, pregnant”. I get there and it plays out exactly as I had planned. Second Mummy gives me a hug whilst saying “Hello darling, how are you?” I answer exactly as above. I feel her tense for a moment in shock. She pulls apart from me, “WHAT?! AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!” She dances around for a moment then announces to the whole yard that it was simply the BEST news she’d heard all year. I quickly had to remind her that her own daughter got engaged not two months prior. “Second best Mum, second best news!” I said.  To this day that memory always makes me smile.

So when I heard about her diagnosis of motor neurone disease I was stunned and heartbroken. Stunned for the fact that she was now the THIRD person I knew close to me to fall victim to this horrible, and supposedly rare disease. And heartbroken because I knew exactly what she was about the go through. MND should be a disease left aside for only the cruellest of people to suffer from. There are perfectly healthy paedophiles, rapists and murderers rotting away in our prisons. Donald Trump is still triumphantly goose-stepping his way across America. And various agents of ISIS are allowed to thrive, and dismantle our world piece by piece. And yet, my second mummy is the one who gets to die from MND. She’d already had to deal with so much, from cancer to fibromyalgia. Why now MND!? Is this possibly some sort of sick joke? Or perhaps a terrible misdiagnosis? No, it’s the cold hard reality that we all had to face. Yes, I’ve been incredibly angry for months now. But nowhere near as angry as I’ve seen my best friend. Nor as devastatingly heartbroken as I saw her the other night. The look of anguish on her face I wish not see again, but know that I will probably for weeks, if not months to come. Why is death so hard? It is something that is inevitable for all of us. It has literally touched everyone we known, have ever known and ever will know. You’d think by now we’d know what to say and what to do. That in 3 million years of human evolution we’d have worked it out by now. But finding the right words are so impossible. Comforting words for one person can be the worst possible thing to say for another.

Some people I know at the moment will try and comfort her family in the general sense. “We’re sorry for your loss”. “Our thoughts and prayers are with you in this difficult time”. “Let us know if there’s anything we can do”. The more pious amongst us will try to placate the negative feelings with “It’s all in God’s plan”. The spiritual will say “God just needed a new angel in heaven”. I’d rather not insult anyone, so instead all I’ll say is I disagree. I know that her time here was not yet up. She wasn’t finished here yet, and she certainly wasn’t ready to go. She wasn’t done giving us her love, and we weren’t done giving her ours. That may be selfish, but I know it’s the truth. And as for a “Plan”, all I can say is I think God might have skipped a few pages in his Plan Book when he made this decision to take her from us.

Recently I’ve spoken of the Many Worlds Principle. In that every action and choice we make leads to the creation of an entirely different reality. I like to think that in not only one, but in MANY worlds out there, my Second Mummy still lives. She’s still pottering along in her life, free from pain and turmoil, greeting her visitors with “Hello darling, how are you?” She lives on in those worlds. But in this world she’s gone, and must instead live on only in our hearts and minds. And whatever you believe, I choose to believe that one day at least, we may indeed meet again.

I miss you and I love you Mummy. Rest in peace now.

The Darkness Part 2, Coping with PND

What’s the worst part about having a baby? The sleepless nights? Difficulties breastfeeding? The tedious days of being stuck in the house repeating the same things over and over again without much variety? The lack of sex drive? The thought of being chained to the house and never again being able to spend 5 minutes alone with your friends, or worse, with yourself? All of these scenarios are a nightmare, and you’ve experienced at least one of these, a combination of these, or at worst all of these. But I feel the worst part about it is suffering with the seemingly never ending darkness of post natal depression. Now it’s no secret that I suffered from post natal depression. This blog is after all a coping strategy that I created in order to maintain my sanity. Over the last 10 months I’ve found writing to be very cathartic, and it helps that I’ve been able to share my stories with others who have felt the same as me at one time or another.

I’ve spoken in the past about guilt, and I believe that guilt was one of the main drivers in my PND journey. Let me give you the perspective of someone who has gone through IVF.

During those 30 months of trying to conceive I saw the world through the eyes of desired pregnancy. It was the be all and end all of existence. I would see pregnant women EVERYWHERE. One particular day I was at the shops and counted 17 pregnant women in the space of two hours. It was just a reminder over and over again of what I was yet to achieve. And then there were the families with their children. Large families, small families, happy families and angry families. Particular the angry families. I live on a train line that, let’s just say, is populated with “Bogans”. Don’t know what a Bogan is? A Bogan is usually defined as a person who will stereotypically live on welfare, have no prospects in life, have little education, doesn’t tend to maintain good hygiene, have a dress sense that has an op shop feel about it, 1980’s hair styles, maintains a vocabulary that consists solely of the F word and C word, and treats their mannerless children with an air of “You ruined my life you little shits” and a clip around the ear. Needless to say, Bogans to the innocent observer, tend to not be the best parents in the world. And yet, they breed so well. And often. Sitting on the train heading to work, it was not unusual to see a family of 6, probably on their way to the local Centrelink, children in various states of undress, no shoes and filthy faces, while their parents had a loud domestic dispute in front of everyone. They would scream profanities at their children merely because the child dared to open their mouth in public, or curiously look out the window, or announce they were hungry. The adults would then get into yet another argument about drinking habits, out of control partying, or various affairs. Leaving the train would generally involve much shoving and the possibility of one child being left behind. Displays of affection such as these would leave me with a bad taste in my mouth and the poisonous thoughts of “Why would God give those arseholes 4 children, but I’m not even allowed one!?”

My desperation at wanting a child had started to turn into a reaction against the universe. I almost became a child myself. If I couldn’t have something, then it only made me want it all the more. I would make bargains with the universe, “If I had a child I would love it more than anything else in the world”. Some were reasonable agreements, “If you give me a child, I promise to care for it, and give it love, and teach it right from wrong, and never abuse it, and make it feel like it can always come to me for help and guidance…” Some were unreasonable, “I promise I’ll never yell at it, or argue, or lose my temper, or send it to it’s room, and give it all the freedom it wants.”

Then the tantrums would start, “I WANT A CHILD AND I WANT IT NOW, AND IF YOU DON’T GIVE IT TO ME I’LL HATE YOU FOREVER!”

I’m not even sure exactly who I was supposed to hate.

Eventually, as you know, the universe finally gave into my demands. So when I finally had this baby that I yearned so long for, it was no wonder that I felt immense guilt at the thought that maybe I had made a big mistake.

 In the beginning I remember feeling overwhelmed. I couldn’t simply do the things I wanted to do anymore. Watch TV, just head out to the shops, visit my grandmother (without the expectation of bringing the baby), have spontaneous morning sex (yeah, I went there), sleep. I remember times getting harder, when it felt like I couldn’t settle my own baby. He cried all the time. I never knew how to interpret his cries. It used to panic me into thinking I was a terrible mother because I didn’t instinctively know what was wrong. People kept telling me, “Don’t worry, you’ll soon figure out what the cries mean.” Nope, never happened. Was he hungry, was he cold, was he tired, did he need a change? To this day I can honestly say that I never knew what his cries meant. I remember the seemingly endless colic. I remember dreading leaving the hospital because they had ready warmed muslin wraps that they wrapped around his tummy which always settled him. Unfortunately we didn’t have that service at home. I remember feeling like I couldn’t ever hold my baby. I felt like every time he was near me he wanted to feed. I would feed him 15 times a day, I didn’t need to do it unnecessarily. Here people would say “Oh well, just let him feed if it calms him”, coming from the people who’s nipples WOULDN’T be the ones being sucked raw.

And this is what is boiled down to. In attempting to fall pregnant I had this vision in my head of this perfect, calm, cuddly baby that I could hold to my chest and feel utterly at peace. That feeding would be a wonderful, gentle, bonding experience, and I would just sit in this perfect glow of happiness and contentment. Instead I got a screaming child that I was convinced hated me and didn’t want me to hold him, and feeding time was a tedious, mind numbing, difficult nightmare filled with frustration and resentment.

Okay, so I’ve painted a very bleak picture here. I’ll admit that this is what it was like at it’s worst. I won’t deny there were a lot of moments like this. But it wasn’t all bad. Maybe I’m looking back with rose tinted glasses, considering my time with my toddler has so far been mostly wonderful. I get all the soft adorable cuddles I craved for when he was just a little baby. And the fact that he can actually say to me “I love you Mummy” makes me realise that he didn’t know or understand what hatred was, or is. But at the time I didn’t know this. At the time I was too sleep deprived to care. And at the time I would question myself everyday as to whether we, my husband and I, had made the right choice in having a child. All this time and effort and emotion, and suddenly I was wishing it all away. And that’s what pushed me into the deep end of depression. Where had all my promises gone? How could I have wanted this child for so long, only to wish to take it all back. No wonder I couldn’t fall pregnant. No wonder I didn’t deserve to be a mother. I wasn’t a good mother. The dark thoughts went on and on. I remember one moment when I went into work for a visit and someone asked a question about how I was coping. I answered somewhere along the lines of “It’s a never ending nightmare.” Everyone laughed, like I was making a joke. I wasn’t, and I wasn’t laughing. I was trying to express what I was going through, but everyone just wanted to brush it off as a silly remark that I didn’t really mean. Of course I didn’t, but I didn’t feel any less strongly about it at the time.

And after all of that I sometimes think that maybe women who’ve gone through IVF can suffer from PND the wors. Obviously anyone is vulnerable to suffering from it, it doesn’t discriminate. Yet, after going through such a prolonged effort to get pregnant, it was like I wasn’t appreciating what I was finally gifted. That’s when the thoughts became worse. I could hear my own voice sneering at me in my head, “You should be grateful. You should be happy. You should be appreciative. What is wrong with you!? No wonder he hates you!” It was at moments like these that I would just want to scream out loud, “STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT!”

 So how did I end up here? How did I end up with the loving care free independent toddler, with days filled with laughter, love and cuddles? Well first, I’ll say not everyday is a ray of sunshine. There are still some quite trying days when meals won’t get eaten, when clothes are being refused to be worn, when sitting on the potty is a nightmare, and when the slightest thing going wrong pre-empts a tantrum. Secondly, I didn’t get here without a lot of mental health help. I saw a councillor for about 3 months who helped me to develop a number of coping strategies. I created a number of ways to deal with issues at home. I finally created this blog. I felt that pouring out my emotions have been extremely cathartic, but not only that, I’ve had so many people tell me how my blog has helped them, or how they’ve experienced the exact same situations or feelings. It’s helped me immensely knowing that I’ve been able to give advice or comfort to others out there. And no, I’m not going to be like Constance and give my followers a name. I don’t care if you want to be a Queen or a King, or a fairy princess or a leprechaun or a Truther or garden gnome for all I care. You are who you are. You are you and you are magnificent.

 So for now I’d like to give some pointers on getting over those baby blues. I may have stated some of these in previous posts, but I think now is a prefect moment for a timely reminder.

  1. Get yourself some mental health assistance. It can be in the form of a councillor, or psychologist, your local GP, or the health nurse, or one of the call help lines like Beyond Blue or Lifeline. You are not wasting anyone’s time. Other people may have it worse than you but that doesn’t devalue the fact that you are struggling and going through your own emotional journey. It’s never too late, or too much of an inconvenience, to talk to someone.
  2. Clean as you go. This seriously helped my sanity. Okay, so I’m not a neat freak, but I also know that mess makes me stressed. I don’t like the idea of clutter, or dirty dishes in the sink, or massive amounts of laundry yet to be washed or put away. So I would always make sure that if I used a plate it went in the dishwasher straight away, that the bed was made in the morning, that the clothes got put away when my husband came home from work (he could watch the baby while I did this), or the toys got packed away before Stormy went to bed (and yes, we make him do it with us, so he knows about responsibility and cleanliness).
  3. Remember that it’s okay to let the baby cry. Remember when I said that I couldn’t tell the difference between Stormy’s cries? Well I will tell you that you can tell the difference between regular baby crying and something is seriously wrong and you need to seek immediate assistance crying. So if you’re baby is crying and you know that it’s just everyday baby crying and nothing you’ve done will settle them, it’s okay to just take 5 minutes away from the baby and re-collect yourself. Put them in a safe place like their cot, and go and sit in your car. For 5 minutes. Just breath, cry if you need to, meditate, count to 50, grab your phone and watch cats being hilarious on Youtube. Just take 5 minutes. Your baby might still be crying when you get back, but at least you will be less frazzled.
  4. Make sure you get “Me” time. There are so many ways you can have “Me” time. I found that leaving the baby with the hubby and going out to do the grocery shopping by myself was a great way to have some me time. And if I decided to go to a cafe and have a cup of tea and piece of cake before I did the shopping then that was a bonus. Try other things like getting out of the house for two hours just to hang out with your girlfriends (big note to all the ladies out there who are good friends with someone who has just had a baby, if they unexpectedly call or message you asking to hang out, PLEASE move heaven and earth to be with that woman when she calls on you. You might not realise because she might not tell you, but she might just desperately need to hang out to save her sanity). Spend 15 minutes just sitting outside and soak up the sunshine. Go have a bubble bath. Get a massage or manicure (or pedicure considering your manicure will be ruined within days with all the dirty nappies you have to change and the constant hand washing). Think of your favourite things you used to do before the baby came, and go out and still do them. Or at least smaller versions of them. If you used to be an avid skydiver for example, you might need to change that to indoor rock climbing for a while. Or knitting.
  5. Have sex. If you’re in a relationship (and hey, even if you’re not in a relationship!), you need to make sure you’re still having sex. And I say this with the assumption that you’re in a loving relationship where both you and your partner have consensual and willing sex, so let’s not jump to grey areas about deliberate abstinence, past abuse, or trust issues. If you were having sex before and you want to continue having sex, then do it. It’s a very important part of your relationship and should remain an important (and fun) part. I know it can be a bit daunting getting back into it. But once you’re emotionally and physically ready, then make sure you make the time to do it. And this might seem a bit unromantic but if you are having a bad time just trying to do it spontaneously, then you should think about scheduling it. I’m serious, pick a day of the week (or two days, or three) that you’re both happy with, and stick to that time. Look forward to it, like Christmas or your birthday or something. That way it’ll make it exciting, and not just another thing that you have to tick off your “To Do” list.
  6. Finally be mindful. Okay, this is a psychological term. It means having good mental health. It means doing things that calm you mind. It mostly contains creative stuff. Things like meditation, exercising (pilates or yoga are not only super healthy for you, but the beginners exercises are not too difficult, and you’ll develop a good core strength which is good for fitness and help you run around after that little one without becoming too exhausted), creative artwork like an adult colouring-in book, or just go out with sketch pencils and paper and draw what you see. Sing, dance, write a journal, or remark about something that made you happy that day or things you are grateful for. Put these thoughts in a jar and read them all at the end of the year as a happiness booster.

 Post natal depression like any other type of depression is hard. It’s hard to cope with, it takes over your life, and sometimes it can be fatal. It’s important that we not only be more mindful to reach out for help, but we are being more vigilant in seeing the signs and symptoms in others, and volunteering our support, love, friendship, and wherever possible all the help we can give. Remember to be there for each other people.

 And don’t forget to have a little laugh once in a while.