Let’s Talk About That Baby

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock you will have heard about the newborn left in the drain for 6 days in Western Sydney at just 1 day old. You will have heard that the baby’s 30 year old mother dropped the baby approximately 2.5 metres down a drain, an almost certain death sentence. You will have been horrified and wanted to hug that baby. You will have wanted to tell that baby to fight and that he is worthy of love and life. You will have also heard the public outcry about the situation. You will have seen people calling for the mother to be locked up, beaten, dumped in a drain in searing temperatures herself. It’s a horrific situation,  people will obviously have an extreme reaction. It doesn’t surprise me, it doesn’t even disappointment me. All these strangers reacting strongly just proves how much they love children. The bit that does surprise me and disappoint me is that when women I know, who like me suffer from Postnatal Depression are calling the mother of this child all sorts of names, baying for her blood and saying how they can’t comprehend what she has done and that she deserves no understanding. Now I’ve personally never had any urges to harm my children, I sit within the postnatal depression range not postnatal psychosis BUT if we can’t have compassion, or at least a willingness to withhold judgement until all facts are out, for mothers who have done something so clearly out of the ordinary,  then… well… who the fuck will?

I never tried to OD with Postnatal Depression. Something that would deeply scar and traumatise a child for the rest of their lives, leaving them with a lifetime of issues requiring therapy,  but I withhold judgement from my friends who have attempted such things. I know what it’s like to feel like you’re such a toxic person that your children would be better off without you. So I offer these mothers compassion. Sure I could tell them they’re awful and that they don’t deserve kids and get up on my high horse and really go to town on them but I don’t. Why? Because I know what pain and confusion feels like. The same with mothers who leave their kids. I’m very much with my three babies. Mumma isn’t going anywhere save ill health (I can’t rule out being hospitalised with Pancreatitis again, unfortunately I just have a bad pancreas that confounds the medical world). But I understand the urge to run because you feel like you’re not doing anything right and your kids would be better off without you. Of course that’s not true, they’ll feel abandoned and unloved,  but we can see perception and reality aren’t always friends.

I hope you can see where I’m going with this. What if the mother didn’t abandon this child into a filthy hole in hellish temperatures which would certainly result in death because she was evil but because she thought it’d be better for the child to die than be with her. What if her self loathing wasn’t merely to depressive levels but psychotic levels? What if she did this out of sick depraved love not because she was “a dog” or a “selfish mole” or any other insult levelled at her? My heart doesn’t break any less for the baby. I don’t want to hug that baby and make everything better for him any less. It doesn’t make his circumstances any less horrific,  dropped into filth where he was unlikely to ever be found with no milk or hugs. The torment that sweet baby endured for 6 days when it so desperately needed love and nurturing sickens me. Not just a bit but to the point that I literally threw up. But I’m willing to see that the mother clearly needs help. That her mind is just as disgusting as that drain. That it needs to be cleaned out. That she isn’t necessarily some demon that needs to be hung. So I’m withholding judgement on the mother until the facts are clear and sending that baby love and strength. I urge fellow battlers of mental illness to do the same, because if we can’t show compassion for others, than who else can?

Furthermore, I think what some people fail to realise is that some women when in the depths of Postnatal Psychosis become so detached from reality that they just don’t even recognise their baby as a baby. Very rare but I have witnessed one such woman being shown her baby and repeatedly refusing the baby and asking the nurses what the hell they were talking about. Thankfully the baby was in a hospital and the nurses were there to protect it whilst this woman went through her break from reality but she could have so easily dumped her baby not even realising what she had done should medical staff have failed to pick up on the situation early enough.

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: New Mother Workshops

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Yesterday morning I met with a lovely life coach who had stumbled across my blog. Her special area of interest is new mothers and to this end she wishes to put on a series of workshops and panel discussions next year.  I was meeting with her because she is interested in having me on one of the panels. I’ll keep you updated next year.

After Lathamgate yesterday it is more important than ever to host these events for new mothers. Latham indicated that if you work you don’t love your kids, if you take medication you’re a coward, if you do anything at all for yourself you’re selfish. But this is hardly the first attack levelled against mothers. There’s a whole industry out there just to guilt mothers. If you use controlled crying your child will be psychologically damaged, if you cosleep your child will end up with an Oedipus Complex plus never be able to sleep on their own, if you give your baby mushy food it goes against nature, if you don’t give your baby mushy food they won’t be able to digest enough nutrients, you have to exclusively breast feed for at least six months preferably 24 months if you truly want your kid to be healthy,  if you don’t bottle feed you won’t know how much your child is consuming,  if you use disposable diapers you are killing the environment by increasing landfill,  if you use cloth nappies you are killing the environment through water pollution, if you put your baby in a forward facing pram they are traumatised because they have lost their connection with you, if you put them in a backward facing pram they’re development is impaired by lack of new stimulation,  if you put them in a pram of any kind you aren’t bonding with your baby because you must wear your baby, if you wear the incorrect carrier you are causing your children hip dysplasia,  if you walk near your child as they play you’re over parenting and denying them the ability to explore,  if you let your child out of arms reach they could get hurt or stolen and you’re an irresponsible parent, it takes a community to raise a child, grandparents are overused, too many kids are in childcare. I could go on. There isn’t an area where mothers aren’t judged. So not surprisingly, what I have termed,  Postnatal Anxiety,  is at an all time high. So that’s why we as mothers need to stand up and say ENOUGH. Different but safe choices are fine. Any event, cause, article, program that helps mothers to do that is invaluable.

As most people know, I’m a bit of a writer (a lot of a ranter) and I do enjoy a good Writers’ Festival. I think it’s time that we had Mother Festivals. Not Mother and Baby shows where merchandise is pushed on us and there are one or two speakers but an actual festival that focuses on connections and relationships rather than products. I was at the Emerging Writers’ Roadshow the other week and as always the first panel was 5×5. Five authors sat down and gave the five best pieces of advice they wished they had when they started writing. This same premise could be used for a mothers festival. Panels on multiple births, ethical responsibilities, juggling work, staying at home, maintaining a sense of identity,  Postnatal Depression are just the tip of the iceberg for discussions to be put on in various rooms. Sure, have a market where people can buy stuff but we’ve got enough festivals for consumerism,  so just have that small and on the side. Let’s get the focus back where it needs to be, support and wellbeing,  not judgement or product placement.

Now go out and hug a fellow mother today and tell her you respect the heck out of her.

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Any women who suffer from any form of depression or anxiety are welcome to join my own FB group which is pro mystical troll but doesn’t allow any nasty trolling.

https://facebook.com/groups/563402577109194

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Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Mark Latham is a BEEP

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So… it’s Postnatal Depression Awareness Week,  we’re all wanting to #bePNDaware … What does Mark Latham do? Write a revolting article shaming women with mental illness. What does The Australian Financial Review do? Prints it. They print this ridiculous article that shames women who take antidepressants, shames women who want a career, shames women who struggle with this whole motherhood thing at all. Because apparently your child’s smile should be the only antidepressant that you need and if you need more you are selfish and hate your children. Apparently Mark Latham knows this because he is a Stay At Home Dad, who has lots of leisure time, tends his garden and cooks gourmet meals, single handedly. Where the fuck are the kids that you are taking care of whilst you are doing those things!!! Either they are in school being cared for by others or you have help where other take care of them also.

And correct me if I’m wrong… but doesn’t Latham have a little bit of an Anger Management problem? One that is evidently not responding to his rigorous treatment of smiles from kiddies as he is still doing the aggressive handshake stand over combo he loves so much.

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So maybe,  just maybe, this article is an anxious lashing out because he’s so deeply insecure about his own situation. Mark Latham,  I invite you to see your GP and get a Mental Health Action Plan drawn up. Don’t shun treatment. You don’t have to live your life in such an angry way. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Please reach out and get help, because as you say yourself, your kids are the most important people in the world and they deserve someone who can model compassion and contentment not just dominance.

Writer/ Publisher Interviews: or Literary Speed Dating as the cool kids call it

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As a high school English teacher I’m familiar with Parent/Teacher Interviews. I get to see the parents of the children I teach and find out why they’re so hilarious or why they’re so not hilarious. Often they’ll have the nervous teenager in tow giving you that look like, “Please don’t tell them I said my parents don’t care if I don’t do my homework because they do and they will kill me,” so I obligingly start with homework. It’s generally all very civilised and we have a few laughs and agree that their child is special and what we can do as a team to maximise their potential, ie homework. Well except for that time when the parent turned up drunk and fell off their chair and kept forgetting why they were there and persisted on asking me about their nephew who I didn’t teach instead of their son who I very much taught,  that was slightly less civilised and laughy. Although now years and schools later I am seeing the laughingness of the whole thing. However, this only prepared me in part for the Literary Speed Dating event hosted by the Australian Society of Authors and the New South Wales Writers’ Centre.  Mostly because the publishers were the teacher, I was the parent and my manuscript was the kid… and I was utterly petrified that I was going to hear that he hadn’t done his homework.

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Fortunately, as I am the queen of catstrophising, things did not go as badly as I’d imagined.* Now I was a little delirious from lack of sleep,**  so my word can’t be taken as gospel,*** but it all seemed really good to me. The organisation was excellent. I know from Parent/Teacher Interviews that things can quickly devolve into a chaotic quagmire with nobody hearing bells or moving on but with the very loud air horn going off every three minutes that just wasn’t an issue. Light bladder leakage may have been an issue as some of us never quite got used to the volume, but it certainly made things run smoothly. I salute you air horn. Lining up was a great chance to catch up with old friends from writing courses like Lisa and Helen who I met through Kate Forsyth courses, and new friends I’d met through twitter such as Meyrnah. And I cannot forget my fellow acolyte of Walter Mason,   Ms Ashley. Thanks to Ashley I am now obsessed with Armenia. My husband is very pleased because he loves discussing history and politics. The atmosphere was absolutely electric. Being around so many dedicated writers was really inspiring. Most people were happy to discuss their manuscripts and I can honestly say that there are a lot of very interesting concepts out there waiting to be published. And to top it all off the Publishing reps asked for my manuscripts so that was brilliant. I shall now have an accelerated heart rate for the next three months whilst I wait to hear back about my memoir, or my children’s novel. Worth it!

If you have a completed manuscript that you feel is ready for a professional eye I strongly recommend you book in early for next year. It sells out around 6 months in advance so make sure that you’re organised.

For great tips on how to handle the event read here:

http://illuminationsbylisafleetwood.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/literary-speed-dating/

https://highfantasyaddict.wordpress.com/2014/11/20/literary-speed-dating-sydney-nsw-writers-centre-2014-asa/ ****

The only thing I could possibly add is, don’t be afraid to discuss your manuscript with others. Discussing it will warm you up for pitching to the publishing representatives. Life is too short to be paranoid that everyone is going to steal your ideas. And heck, even if they are, back yourself, you’ve written it better and at the very least you’ve got a massive head start as yours is already finished. If someone is now out there madly attempting to write a memoir inspired by my time in a psychiatric hospital best of luck to them. Heck, if they want to write a tale of friendship for children, go ahead, there’s already plenty on the market and there will be plenty more because life is about relationships. Back yourself,  be confident, believe in yourself. If you can’t believe in your own writing how can you expect other people too? So book in early, be confident and pitch your heart out.

*I’d imagined being met with a long awkward pause followed by, “Don’t ever waste my time ever again.”

** Mummy still loves you, but kids… I’ve got an audio book narrated by Samuel L Jackson that you need to hear.

*** Or any biblical chapters for that matter.

**** Those entries managed to capture photos of a smoking hot red head… a red head… a bottle red head. It’s me ok!

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Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Mamma Needs A Wine

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If I’m totally honest, I still have bad days. A lot of bad days. People think once you get medication and you get a therapist (and to be honest, because that’s the nature of this post, I have the best therapist in the world) that you’re cured. You just “get over it.” Unfortunately “it” isn’t so easy to get over because “it” is your brain. I still flip out. Even today I locked myself in my room for an hour because two weeks of no sleep,  concern over an AWOL friend and a threenager tantrum of epic proportions was all too much. So did I take a few deep breaths, have a cup of tea and move on. No, I went to my room, climbed into my bed and hid in my blanket fort. However,  it was just an hour and not in my cupboard behind my clothes so that was progress. Yep, today was progress.

You’re welcome to join me at
https://facebook.com/groups/563402577109194 My group for ladies that are cray cray (any kind of lady crazy, not just PND, if you’re a little bit mad and you’re female you’ve found a home)

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: I Didn’t Know I Had Postnatal Depression

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This week I’ll try to do a Confessions of a Mad Mooer post each day in honour of Postnatal Depression Awareness Week. My Confessions of a Mad Mooer posts deal with my journey through Postnatal Depression and the first post was here – http://riedstrap.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/confessions-of-a-mad-mooer-hi-im-a-mad-mooer/ But that wasn’t the first time I was diagnosed with PND.

The first time I was diagnosed with PND was 9 months after my beautiful daughter was born. I couldn’t have been more in love with her. I thought she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Every tear shredded my heart and I wanted nothing more than to protect her. Sure I was exhausted,  she had reflux which wasn’t diagnosed until late and she was also diagnosed with hip dysplasia late, but who wouldn’t be in those circumstances. I had a baby in a cast from ankle to armpit and severe reflux at the same time. It wasn’t easy. I was exhausted,  I was teary, I was suicidal. But hey I loved my baby and this was a trying circumstance so how could I possibly have Postnatal Depression? Women with Postnatal Depression all hate their babies right? They think they smell weird and will not hold them? Wrong. Sure there are some women who fit into that perfect stereotypical box but many women do not. Many women are DEPRESSED postnatally not utterly disconnected or psychotic. They love their kids, they just have zero resilience left. They put that beautiful baby to bed and then lie on the kitchen floor sobbing uncontrollably until the baby wakes again or they vomit. They can’t sleep for fear something will happen to their baby. They can’t unwind because everything they do they are sure is somehow wrong and ruining that little baby’s life. That baby that they love more than anything. Essentially it is exactly the same as the fears all mothers have but times that by ten and never ever switch it off, not even for a cup of tea. Women with PND are just like every other mother, just more so. We’re not scary, we don’t need to feel ashamed,  we need compassion and support. And even if you previously thought you couldn’t understand us, you really can because we’re just like you.

The medical profession has recently separated Postnatal Depression into two categories,  Postnatal Depression and Postnatal Psychosis. The later deals with those more extreme cases such as the rejection of the baby upfront, all the way up to those murder suicide cases that break everyone’s hearts. I have a theory that in years to come it will be split again to add a third category,  Postnatal Anxiety. Because I think that gives a more understandable definition. Mothers are anxious creatures to begin with, us women with PND just tend to excel at it.  Hi5s all around,  we won at something… even though it’s nail biting,  stomach churning and hair pulling…

Hug a mother today and tell her that she’s doing an amazing job.

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Any women who suffer from any form of depression or anxiety are welcome to join my own FB group which is pro mystical troll but doesn’t allow any nasty trolling.

https://facebook.com/groups/563402577109194