Category Archives: Book Release

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: I screamed and screamed and screamed but nobody would listen to me

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I have been diagnosed with postnatal depression twice in my life, both times I begged for help very loudly and very clearly, and it fell on deaf ears. 

Mixed Media Canvas by 

Sillier than Sally Designs

People seem to think that women with postnatal depression keep everything bottled inside and never ask for help. I did ask for help. I begged for it. Sure some people have never ever asked for help ever, but most actually do. 

Firstly I asked my husband for help when my daughter was born. He said no. He reminded me that the nurse we did a birth course with said that the working partner had to be fit for work so it wasn’t appropriate to ask them for too much help. And she did say that, she really did  I told my GP I wasn’t coping, that my daughter wouldn’t sleep so I couldn’t and I was exhausted. It took her two hours to feed, then she’d only sleep in my arms. The GP flat out told me I was lying and being a typical first time mum. She said if that was true I’d be dead. I said I was already throwing up and my legs were buckling under me. She just sighed and told me that as my daughter was 5 weeks premature that she needed extra care and to deal with it. I spoke to my community nurses, they again said I was just being a hysrical first time mum. To just cut her off feeding and to put her down. Putting her down resulted in her shrieking in pain, a piercing cry far different from I’m hungry or I want a cuddle, and then would explode in vomit. I told the nurses and the GP this. They just sighed and dismissed me.

Now that I’ve read The Girl Who Cried Pain I understand why. It’s because women are far more likely to be dismissed and left untreated by medical professionals. It’s why women have to see doctors more often, we get sent away without follow up treatment or testing. We have to go back. This study should be mandatory reading for all medical students.

When my daughter was 4 months old she needed her vaccinations, my regular GP was busy, the receptionist recommended another GP. I took the appointment. When I put my daughter down to be weighed and she immediately began shrieking and then gurgling with vomit the doctor diagnosed her with reflux. It wasn’t a subtle case. It was an obvious case that should have been picked up by any medical professional easily. But of course, the ones I’d encountered had their “hysterical mother” blinkers on. She also picked up that my daughter had hip dysplasia. It was so bad that a large part of her pelvis hadn’t formed. Within two weeks my daughter had been put in for surgery and placed in a spica cast. She was also given reflux medication. These are two things a parent CANNOT treat. These are two things that specialists need to diagnose and treat. The medical system failed my daughter because they didn’t listen to me because they felt that I was a silly first time mother. They made the start of my child’s life agony because of their unconscionable bias.

Of course after months of being ignored and left with no sleep I was in a bad way. I would cry, I would vomit, I would collapse. My body was broken but my soul was too. The medical staff hadn’t believed me and my husband trusted them over me because they had the medical degrees. He started to come around after the specialists came flocking and he realised the initial medical professionals had been very fucking wrong and he had been wrong to believe them and treat me accordingly. After my daughter was starting to settle my new GP, the only one I see now, said that now that the intensive treatment of my daughter was starting to dissipate it was time to focus on me.

I was given a mental health check, I failed spectacularly… or aced it? I was prescribed antidepressants and referred to a psychologist. I got the initial set amount and then the two extensions for more for extreme cases. That’s right, extreme. There was nothing subtle or small about it. And I continued to see that therapist afterwards until my money ran out. Things began to settle.

And then I had a miscarriage followed by reoccurring bouts of pancreatitis. It was not fun and involved far too much time in hospital for my liking.

Enter the twins. I got pregnant with twins immediately after a three week stay in hospital. Clearly my husbandis a very sexy man and I just can’t keep my hands off him. The pregnancy went really well up until 30 weeks. And then it continued to go badly until my boys were born via emergency c-section at 32 weeks. They were 8 weeks early. The spent 3 weeks in the NICU. When I went for checkups for the twins back at the hospital I said I was exhausted and having three kids under three years old was really hard. I also mentioned that the twins clearly had reflux like their big sister had and having to keep them both upright was hard, they were basically living in their car seats being rocked. The hospital paediatrician told me that all prem babies had some reflux issues but it couldn’t be that bad or they wouldn’t have been discharged. Again, I was called a liar. When I spoke to the hospital social worker she said, “That’s life in the fast lane.” I was again dismissed.




And then I ended up in hospital with pancreatitis again. Doctors don’t know why, that’s the reality for 20% of cases. So I was in hospital pumping milk but not allowed to eat or drink. I kept needing shots of glucose. At no point was I offered any assistance on how I was to cope with this situation. I was discharged, still weak and sick, and expected to immediately go back into full time care of my three children, the oldest was two. Given that the medical professionals weren’t willing to say I was sick and needed help why would my husband and others believe I was? So I suffered on. And I truly mean suffered. Until my boys and I ended up in hospital again.

The boys had bronchiolitis. My daughter had a cold and had passed it on to the kids. We’d been told to have our daughter taken care of by family members so that she wasn’t in the house with the boys as they were too little. Unfortunately we couldn’t get someone who would look after her for the duration of her cold and she was returned to us sick complete with an lecture. The boys got sick. The boys couldn’t breath so off we went.

I was ready to die. Nobody would listen to me again and I knew that people rush to help widowed men. It was time to die. I had decided that once my husband visited the boys in hospital I would pretend I was going to the bathroom but in reality walk into traffic. And then the paediatrician who had treated my daughter for reflux walked passed talking to another doctor. I had one last hope. I called out and said hello. He looked over at me, immediately excused himself from the other doctor and came over. I looked like hell and he wasn’t going to walk passed like everyone else. Hevsat me down and asked me how I was. I told him, just like I had told everyone else, but he believed me. He didn’t dismiss me. He called the NICU social worker. She was a different one from the one I saw when my boys were in a NICU. She apologised and saidI should have been picked up earlier. I had several risk factors

  1. Premature birth
  2. The under threes were outnumbering us
  3. Previous history 
  4. I had been hospitalised with illness 

I should have been helped long before this moment. I should have been referred at the very latest when I was hospitalised with pancreatitis. She was so sorry. They could have referred me to get 50 hours babysitting a week because I was an ill primary carer. BUT I was passed that now so she was going to refer me to the hospital psychiatric team. They referred me to a psychiatric hospital with a Mother and Baby unit. Once the boys were well enough to be discharged from the regular hospital we went straight there. And the rest you know because it’s in my book.

I was one of the many women who did not suffer in silence. I suffered out loud very much BEGGING for help and was ignored. I am not alonein this. Perpetuating the stereotype that women who aren’t helped simply didn’t ask for it, or didn’t ask for it correctly, is dangerous and victim blaming. We need to demand more of our medical professionals. We need to demand a systematic change in the treatment of women. And yeah, I get it #notallmedicalprofessionals but enough of them.  Enough of them to make it a subconscious bias that pervades the field. I again urge you to read The Girls Who Cried Pain. Let’s not keep women screaming in the wilderness. Let’s demand change. We are 50% of the population and deserve equal respect and equal treatment. 
If you or someone you know has postnatal depression, don’t hesitate to cook them fully prepared meals (not partially, FULLY), and do their washing. You can also find great resources at The Gidget Foundation.
So, how did hearing my story in my own words compare to hearing it from journalists from Kidspot and Femail?

Suicide is the number one cause of death amongst women postnatally, not medical complications. Don’t you think it’s time we started to listen to women when they ask for help?

Find my book on booktopia or everywhere

If you or someone you know has postnatal depression you can find good resources on the following sites:

  1. Gidget Foundation http://gidgetfoundation.com.au/
  2. PANDA http://www.panda.org.au/
  3. PIRI http://www.piri.org.au/
  4. Black Dog Institute http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/
  5. Lifeline https://www.lifeline.org.au/ 
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Confessions of a Mad Mooer: I’m in Kidspot 

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Image courtesy of super babe Josie Neeves Photography.

Tania Connolly recently conducted an interview with me about my experience with postnatal depression and having three under three. Hope you enjoy it.
http://www.kidspot.com.au/parenting/parenthood/mums/how-three-under-three-left-me-in-a-psychiatric-hospital

It is always interesting for me reading about my own experience but from another person’s perspective. How did you find reading my story, that you’re used to hearing about from me, through Tania Connolly’s lense? How does it compare to my first ever interview with one Lauren Ingram?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-4083002/Mother-contemplated-suicide-reveals-s-like-psychiatric-hospital-post-natal-depression.html

Grab my book from Booktopia or everywhere really. 🙂

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: I Love Eurovision

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I love Eurovision. In my opinion you’d be crazy(er) not to. In fact, I love Eurovision so much, that I talk about it in my memoir. Yep, I managed to work it into a memoir about postnatal depression. No regrets.
In honour of it being Eurovision season I’m sharing an entire chapter from my memoir with you now. And yes, it mentions Eurovision, repeatedly. Enjoy.

Carrots, Potatoes, and Broccoli

Okay, that last section got a little heavy with the artistic wankatude. I apologize. I did a BA, so can get a little theoretical and heady at times. Let’s bring it back down to reality with a chat about hospital food. I have spent extensive amounts of time in hospital. I have a dud pancreas, therefore from time to time, I end up in hospital on a cocktail of painkillers and NIL by mouth. When they ease you back onto food, to ensure you can eat without exploding from both ends and doubling over in pain, they put you on a clear-food diet. They tell you that this involves jelly, apple juice, and broth. This sounds kind of awesome. The only awesome part of this is the apple juice, which tastes like heaven after being denied food for sometimes weeks at a time. This desperation for food, unfortunately, cannot make hospital jelly or broth taste better. The jelly is vomitously sweet, and the broth isn’t so much broth as Bonox and water. It tastes like bitterness and the ashes of destroyed dreams. Once you graduate from apple juice and refusing to eat jelly and “broth,” you get “treated” to real hospital food. Just quietly, I’m fairly confident that hospitals save on money by serving up removed organs as protein. I’m pretty sure that I’ve had my own gallbladder served back to me and a few umbilical cords. When people say hospital food is bad, they’re not exaggerating. Always order the sandwiches for lunch and dinner until they ban you. Fortunately, food at the psychiatric hospital was markedly better. Perhaps it’s because they aren’t performing organ removals so have to actually source their protein from outside the hospital grounds.

Given that I went into the psychiatric hospital on the back of two stays in regular hospital, the food was a welcome relief. It was real, it was hot, it wasn’t wet, and it tasted reasonable. I was also able to go and eat it at a table rather than in my bed. It was almost like being human again. However, there was an element to the menu that soon began to drain on me. It was the accompaniment to every meal. Potatoes, broccoli, and crinkle-cut carrots. My relief at edible food soon faded to boredom and then heightened to horror as the weeks wore on. By week three I simply couldn’t face another meal with potatoes, broccoli, and crinkle-cut carrots on the side. It got so bad that we all began joking that they must have put one of the OCD patients in the kitchen for some rehab. The head chef would walk in, all excited for the day. “Okay, guys, let’s do something different today. I’m thinking an Italian theme. How about a little lasagne, maybe a nice Italian salad on the side?” And of course, we’d end up with lasagne with potatoes, broccoli, and carrots. The next day the head chef would come in and say, “Wooooohoooo, I’m coming down with Mexican fever today. Let’s do some tacos, some homemade guacamole. It’s going to be fantastic. You can do it, Frank.” In the end, they plate up tacos with potatoes, broccoli, and carrots. “Time for Chinese food. Who doesn’t love sang choi bow? Come on Frank, you can do some Asian greens, even include some Chinese broccoli.” And so we crazies are served up sang choi bow with potatoes, broccoli, and carrots. “Seriously, Frank? You’ve shown no fucking progress; get your head out of your arse and serve something different.” Ladies, here are you potatoes, broccoli, and crinkle cut fucking carrots.

I shouldn’t be to hard on them. They’re dealing with a lot of crazy people. Maybe if they gave us too much variety for our sides, we’d start getting ideas. They’d find us sitting nude in a janitor’s cupboard reading poetry whilst smoking a kranjska. Can’t have us going all Dead Poets Society on them. Particularly because none of our group therapists were inspiring enough to have us clambering up onto tables and declaring them our captain. One of my group leaders actually told me to just quit writing until the kids were all older. Robin Williams would NEVER have said that. It just wouldn’t work at all.

Honestly, our biggest source of excitement was watching MKR and discussing the impending Eurovision finals. But even our enthusiasm over television shows was kept at bay by the rigid structure of our ward. The whole decor seemed to be designed to ensure we weren’t too stimulated.  The communal lounge room had square chairs, square coffee tables, rectangular rugs, and a giant rectangle flat-screen TV mounted on the wall. Very orderly. It’s like the structured furnishings would help keep us calm so that we wouldn’t go wild. Probably so that we wouldn’t start making crazy demands like having something other than potatoes, broccoli, and carrots with every damn meal. In fact, if we giggled too loudly whilst watching our guilty evening pleasure of MKR, the nurses stared at us and asked us if we’d like our evening medication. Couldn’t have us giggling too loudly; there’s trouble to be had there—better medicate us and ship us off to bed. But I’m proud to say we persisted in rebelling. I even got a couple of magazines with sexy sealed-sections and left them in the communal area. Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone it was me.

But even with all this structure, the staff couldn’t diminish the untamed ecstasy that is Eurovision. Perhaps the hospital has better results further away from the finals. Because we tended to remain defiant and fobbed away our evening medication until we were told quite sternly that it was late, and the medication window would be closing, and if we didn’t take our freakin’ meds right now, we’d get reported to our psychiatrists. Given that mine was such a low talker that I wouldn’t have been able to understand any lecture I received, this was possibly not such a great threat to use on me. Unfortunately, my compadres quite liked their psychiatrists and could understand every word that they said, so I had no allies to fight the power with. But we still talked big.

And as for Eurovision 2014, what a spectacular winner. Conchita Wurst. An Austrian drag queen with exquisite eyes, the voice of an angel, and a beard. A real “stuff you” to the establishment. A celebration of being unique. It showed that you can be different and not deficient. Just like myself and my fellow mums were. We were anxious, we were guilt ridden, and we were gradually getting hairier ourselves because most of us assumed that we wouldn’t be allowed to bring in a razor, but we were great. We loved each other. We laughed with each other. We empowered each other in that “you’re weird and I’m weird, but that’s okay” kind of way. So as much as the food, the furniture, and the nurses wished we’d just mellow the fuck out a bit and follow an orderly life, it was the moments of joined rebellion that really helped get us through. It gave us a much needed sense of ourselves and let us know that we were still fun and good company. I still love those girls. I know you’re reading this. You’re possibly the only ones reading this. Big smooshy kisses to you all.

Looking back, there seems to be an awfully high correlation between inmates and a love of Eurovision. I’m not saying you have to be crazy to like it, but apparently, it helps. If you, like me and my crazy-arsed friends, find yourself getting the tingles each year as the Eurovision final approaches, then maybe you should consider getting yourself checked out. Personally, I think you’re crazy if you don’t like it. What’s not to love? The wind, the glitter, the dancing, the miming. It’s champagne television. But what would I know? I’m nuts.

Love that excerpt? Grab my book here.

Nice Things People Have Said About My Memoir

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I am feeling so lucky that people I have never had the pleasure of meeting in real life are connecting with my book about postnatal depression. I could use #blessed right now without being ironic. The list even includes authors and bloggers who I have admired from afar, which utterly blows my mind. I went for a deliberately conversational tone, that tired minds could soak in, and dumped any highbrow existentialism in favour of being awkwardly and messily me. I am so glad it worked and people are able to connect so easily with my book. I’m going to share some of the comments from people… I’m not crying… okay, maybe I’m a little misty eyed.

 

‘The result was a funny, real, and sometimes confronting look at something many women deal with.’ Lauren Ingram, The Daily Mail

 

‘A potpourri of confessions, wise advice (not just for those suffering PND), hilarious parenting and cleaning tips, and compelling stories. CONFESSIONS OF A MAD MOOER is told with honesty and humour, and will make you want to join Robin’s girl tribe.’ Tania Chandler, Author of Please Don’t Leave Me Here and Dead in the Water, review on GoodReads

 

‘This book had me laughing out loud, holding my breath, and restarting my heart. The recognition of familiar situations, the descriptions of stereotypical reactions, the responses of well-meaning people…all conveyed in a no-nonsense account that is full of practical advice and suggestions, and most importantly, lots of non-judgemental support.’ Cass Moriarty, author of The Promise Seed, review on GoodReads

 

‘One might think that as this book covers the very important topic of PND (and I am well and truly out of the ‘post natal’ zone, with my ‘babies’ now staring down the barrel of adolescence), it’s no longer relevant to me. But the tough issues that mothers constantly face: (anxiety, yeh – definitely anxiety), the pressure to be that perfect parent, or worrying that your less-desirable parenting skills are going to outweigh the ones you’re proud of – never seem to go away. This book helped me see with a clarity (which I’ve really only learned to appreciate over more recent years), that those early years can be hard. Really hard. It’s ok to admit that, and it’s ok to ask for help. This book gives permission for mothers to do that, in the most humorous, honest way.’ Marie McLean, blogger and banterer, review on GoodReads

 

‘Robin’s voice is witty & unfiltered, but she also manages to hit home on some very big, often taboo subjects. I will be recommending this to all my mum friends, if not buying a few copies to share around.’ Kirsty Dummin Smith, blogger and very tired mum of a newborn, review on GoodReads

 

And can I just give a special shout out to John Hunter Hospital! There are a group of nurses their who bought like 10 copies of my book. You guys are awesome. Let’s all blow a big kiss to John Hunter’s Paediatric Ward. Mwah!

Find out where to grab my book here. OR just ask your local bookshop to order it in. They all have accounts with Ingram Australia / Lightening Source who distribute my book so you can get it anywhere in Oz. And they have deals OS too so check it out.

A Thank You to Jane Rawson and All the Authors Who Allow Me to Escape

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Things have been getting on top of me of late. You probably noticed from my last post that I’m spiralling down into a depressive state again. I’m exhausted and there doesn’t seem to be a break for me in sight. There doesn’t seem to be a Robin sized shape in my life at all. Yesterday morning I could do little more than cry and vomit. I was trapped inside my own head and couldn’t see the light of day.
But then I had an external mood boost and it has made all of the difference in the world. Yesterday I received an early copy of From The Wreck by Jane Rawson to review. 

It is, quite simply, sublime. From the very first sentence the atmosphere is so thick that you could eat it with a spoon. I won’t comment any further on the book right now as that’s not the purpose of this blog entry, and I will definitely write a review closer to the release date in March. The reason I am writing this blog post is to affirm just how important good books are. Not just from an educational point of view. Not just from a place of social commentary. Not just to shine a light on horrendous issues. All those things are important but they can also provide a much needed escape.

As the great J. R. R. Tolkein said, ​”Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?” Unfortunately using literature for escapism is often derided as silly. It is as if some people think that you should be intensely feeling and consciously  changing your life at all moments of the reading journey. You must feel miserable and outraged. You can’t just grab a book and float away somewhere else, you must be very much here, on Earth, in your own tightly-fitting shoes, and in your own burning skin. Literature like that certainly has its place but so do stories that let us become so utterly immersed in their world that we can switch off our brain from our own troubles from time to time and go somewhere else. 
When you have a mental illness such as depression or anxiety, like I do, sometimes you just need to get out of the prison that is your own mind. Books provide a gaol-break. They are life saving, they are necessary, they are not simply trivial nonsense. So never be ashamed of reading to escape because it very well could save your life. And do keep an eye out in March for Jane Rawson’s From the Wreck. It is intensely gripping and has allowed me to escape from my head.

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: the musical ( #bePNDaware )

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Quick confession, the title is a tad misleading. My blog posts on postnatal depression, which I always start with Confessions of a Mad Mooer, are not being converted into a musical… but I have used them as a basis for a book! That’s right, a book. I have written a book about my journey through postnatal depression mainly focused on my month long stay in a psychiatric hospital with my twins when they were newborns. My first blog entry on this can be found here. And the good news is, that you will be able to get it in both print and e format.

So in honour of Postnatal Depression Awareness Week, which starts today Sunday the 13th of November, I am doing a dramatic cover reveal even though my book is not due to be released until December. TADAH!

Look at her. Isn’t she magnificent? The art and cover design were done by Sally Walsh from Sillier than Sally Designs. I’ve never loved an image containing my own melon so much. I simply showed her the linked blog post, said that the picture in it represented my time in the psychiatric hospital, mentioned that I liked orange and birds, then asked if I gave her monies could she give me a cover. She said yes and managed to create this amazing piece of art.

Confessions of a Mad Mooer will be out in December. Talk about the perfect Cristmas gift for the  hot mammas in your life. 
Keep your eyes on this page for more information coming up about the release of my memoir about postnatal depression and my month long stay in a psychiatric hospital. Excerpts and giveaways are coming your way this week, I promise.

I will be doing a blog post about postnatal depression everyday this week as a nod to Postnatal Depression Awareness Week. Please do check in regularly or all the news.

For more information on Postnatal Depression Awareness Week please go here.

And as always, any women who suffer from any form of depression or anxiety are welcome to join my own FB girl-tribe group which is pro mystical troll but doesn’t allow any nasty trolling.

https://facebook.com/groups/563402577109194

If you or anyone you know is depressed, here are some great links:

PANDA http://www.panda.org.au/

PIRI http://www.piri.org.au/

Black Dog Institute http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/

Lifeline https://www.lifeline.org.au/

New Release: What Happens In Book Club…: E2 (I’m Just Not That Into You)

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Fresh from the oven, What Happens in Book Club: E2 (I’m Just Not That Into You) is here! Get it while it’s hot.

WHIBCE2Following on from a disastrous encounter with a gassy Mr Bingley and a damp Mr Rochester, schoolteacher Gwyn just doesn’t seem to be able to keep herself out of trouble. Her mind is full of career ambitions but also of literary super hunks, especially a certain silver fox. What part of her brain will win?

And what’s even better, her best pal Maureen is back in town. Maureen is always a sure fire way to kick both fun and trouble up a notch. How will Gwyn’s steadfast friends, Mac and Selene, cope with the competition?

Enjoy the second part of Gwyn’s adventures where you get to find out if she encounters her knight in ‘silver’ armour again and if Shelley gives her more love than Austen. And don’t forget, what happens in book club, stays in book club.

Get it on: AmazonKobo / Scribd. / Inktera / Oyster / GooglePlay / Barnes&Noble / iTunes – for $1.99 USD

Find out where it all started in What Happens in Book Club…: E1 (It’s Not Me; It’s You) for FREE on iTunes / Kobo / Scribd. / Inktera / Oyster / GooglePlay / Barnes&Noble

Also available on Amazon