Tag Archives: abandonment

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: We Don’t All Make It Out Alive


My heart breaks for the family of Florence Leung of New Westminister, Canada. She was a woman, a human being in her own right, as well as a mother and a wife. Like me, she has battled postnatal depression, unlike me, she didn’t make it out alive. On Wednesday her lifeless body was found.

Last June Allison Goldstein made headlines in the US for her suicide. She was 32, just like I was when I had my first child, bubbly, beautiful, and well liked. She seemed to have it all on the surface. but below the surface postnatal depression pulled her down.

In 2010 an investigation was launched into Joanne Bingley in the UK. She had postnatal depression and sadly left her family home as her husband and baby slept and then laydown in front of an oncoming train. She loved her baby but felt like she couldn’t cope. Joanne had begged health care professionals for help but they wouldn’t listen. The result was that a little girl will never get to know the love of her mother.

These are just a few cases that made headlines, but they are unfortunately not isolated cases. Suicide is one of the leading causes of postnatal maternal death. I was nearly one of these women. Raging hormones, lack of support, complications with feeding, and exhaustion can provide a deadly cocktail for mothers. And yet women are still frequently dismissed when they ask for help.

Health professionals are supposed to be vigilant for signs of depression and not coping but mothers often report being treated like hysterical first time mothers when they ask for help. And science backs them up. Studies have shown again and again that males going in with the same symptoms as females are more frequently referred for further testing and given medication, whilst women are simply sent home. Mothers are on the absolute bottom rung despite the media releases from the health professionals declaring that they should be at the top.
I was on the receiving end of this dismissive attitude, I thank my lucky stars that someone finally listened otherwise I’d be another statistic. I doubt I’d even make it as a news report. Simply dead and ignored.

My daughter came at 35 weeks. She attached fine to the breast but was a slow feeder. She’d take up to two hours to feed. Then I’d change her nappy, try to put her down to sleep, she’d shriek in pain so I’d hold her upright in my arms so that she wouldn’t explode with acidic vomit. She’d sleep in my arms for forty minutes and the we’d start the process all over again. Day and night. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I’d cry often. My legs would buckle underneath me at random moments. I’d vomit up bile. I was exhausted and my body was failing me. I told the community nurse I was exhausted. She told me to just put the baby down and stop overreacting to every little sound. I told my GP at the time that I couldn’t cope. She said babies like to suck and a breast was better than a dummy. She said it couldn’t be as bad as I said otherwise I wouldn’t be able to smile or function. I felt like I was going crazy. I hurt. I couldn’t keep going. I wanted to kill myself so that my daughter could have a mother that people would help. And I would have done just that if things hadn’t changed.

My regular GP wasn’t available for my daughter’s four month check-up. I had to see a new GP. She diagnosed my daughter with reflux and hip dysplasia, both conditions were quite severe and had been missed by the hospital, community nurses, and my previous GP. Referrals to specialists were given. With medication for reflux my daughter was able to sleep better. Which meant I could too. She also needed two ooperation for her hip dysplasia, three months in a spica cast and several more in a brace. That GP improved my daughter’s quality of life and saved my mine. I doubt that I could have gone on another week the way it had been.

When my boys were born people said, just call, don’t get yourself into a tizzy like you did last time. But whenever I called they were too busy. And they were too busy the next day or the next. And then they’d show up and help with my daughter but I still had the twins, born at 32 weeks, to take care of and dinner to make.It was a slap in the face. A tokenistic gesture of help given not when I needed it and not in a way that allowed me to get any sleep.

As for my guardian angel of a GP, my boys had been in the NICU I was in their system. I had to go back to them for the twins’ checkups. I didn’t have time to also see my GP. When the social worker would pass she’d ask how I was, I’d say exhausted, she’d laugh. During check-ups I’d mention to the pediatrician that the boys weren’t sleeping well and I was having trouble taking care of them and their 2 year old sister. I was told that was life with premi twins, just deal with it.
Again by four months I was ready to end my life. And then my boys got bronchiolitis and ended up in hospital. In the emergency room I just cried and cried because I was exhausted and desperately worried about my babies and it was a catastrophic combination. I felt utterly alone. The emergency nurses were fantastic. They told me that they rarely got to have babies in there so would have no shortage of nurses who would want a cuddle. The nurses woke me to breastfeed then whisked my boys off to be cuddled. Nurses were coming from other departments on their break to get a cuddle with my boys. I got four hours of broken sleep that night. I wouldn’t have had much more than that all up in the past four months.

And then we had to go up to the children’s ward. I lost my beautiful angels of mercy who had come to help me in emergency.

They had strict rules in the children’s ward. Most of them resulted in the nurses not being able to help. So I juggled my two babies on my own and stared out the window and thought about how I’d jump out if I could actually open it. I decided that when my husband visited I would excuse myself to go to the bathroom, walk outside, then walk into traffic so that I could finally die. I was in so much pain, physical and emotional, that I just wanted it to end.

Luckily the pediatrician who had treated my daughter for reflux was the doctor on the ward. He took one look at me and knew I was not myself. He spoke reassuringly to me that there were options and that he was calling the social worker and that they would help. I was too tired not to believe him.

The social worker came. She said there were things that she could do to help but she also wanted to refer me to a hospital psychiatrist. He was there within twenty minutes. It became apparent that I was a patient along with my boys and that I was the more serious case. It was determined that I needed intensive support. Once the boys were well enough the three of us were transported to a psychiatric hospital with a mother and baby unit. And that’s why I’m still alive now.

If health professionals had continued to minimise my cries for help then I would be dead. I wouldn’t be typing this up on my phone next to my 5 year old daughter. She lies next to me sleeping peacefully as I type this because she was scared so came in for some mummy hugs. Last night it was my youngest child, he may only be younger than his twin brother by a minute but he’s still the youngest. He was scared and wanted to watch Yo Gabba Gabba. It was 3 am so I said no and he had an epic meltdown which I tried to soothe as quietly as I could lest he wake his siblings. The night before it was my middle child, all he wanted was for me to hold his hand whilst he dropped back off to sleep. If I hadn’t made it, my kids would have missed out. And to be honest, my death was only avoided by half an hour.

I owe a great debt to both those doctors, but they shouldn’t be so few and so far between. It’s about time health professionals stopped paying lip service to the notion that they’ll be vigilant of mothers struggles and actually were. How many more avoidable suicides must we mourn?

My book Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Postnatal Depression Sucks will be out in December. It deals with my time in the psychiatric hospital aan what I have learned. If it stops one more mother from killing herself then it is worth it. You’re not alone. I’m here, I made it through and so can you.

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/

Buy my memoir Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Postnatal Depression Sucks here.

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: letter to a friend


True, but I'll keep on trying to help regardless.

I have a friend who is doing it tough at the moment so I wanted to let her know that I thought she was great particularly after she was visibly upset after a mutual person we know made several insensitive remarks. I tried to put those remarks into a better context and wrote to her. At the end she said thank you and she was so glad that I understood her. Later, however, she did spiral downwards. So I’m putting up this letter for anyone else doing it tough. Hopefully it will touch someone and make them know they are not alone before the darkness becomes too much. With much love here is my letter to a friend.


Your childhood was not awesome. I’m sure there were happy moments but what your parents did was just plain shit. You don’t give up on your own child. You do not ship them off for somebody else tp deal with. Now as adults we can realise that your parents didn’t give up on you they actually gave up on themselves and tried to put you with a better option. Clearly stupid and wrong to do and clearly a child is going to feel abandoned,  anxious, unloved and deeply worthless. Not something any healthy parent wants for their child. So clearly the wrong choice no matter how “right” the reason was. What your parents did would be considered unforgivable by many. But you are such a good person that you’re actually trying. Here’s the thing, reparations in “the circle of security” are the parents job, not the child’s. You don’t need to reach out,  they do. And for how long do they need to reach out? Until you feel it, until you’re 100% secure in your relationship with them. “I’ve tried for 10 years and that’s how long she was gone for,” does not even come close to cutting it. That upheaval was done when you were too young to have a voice so it’s deep and needs lots of effort on their behalf. So you don’t need to reach out to them they need to reach out to you. In fact reaching out to them only makes it worse every time they don’t reach back because it only reinforces that message of “I’m not worthy.” It’s like if you’re thirsty and you go to the tap and no water comes out. you feel worse each time it doesn’t come out. even worse than had you not gone. So put your parents on the back burner. No need to text message or Facebook or call trying to seek out their support or pride. They need to volunteer it willingly with open arms for it to matter. So don’t pursue them with a nice dinner or a lovely message or any of the millions of little things you do to try to make them see you. They’re the ones who fucked up, they need to do 100% of the pursuing. Sure welcome it but don’t pursue it back. This is not a fifty fifty street. So I think try to dull down any thoughts to do with them. let yourself off the hook and put them on it. Not with the odd angry word just calmly disengage and let them do all of the legwork. It’s their job. They’re your parents.

Now I am going somewhere with this. I know what X (removing the name) said was to do with your secure base for  your little girl.  That’s just the context for what I’m about to say. I haven’t totally lost the plot yet.

Because you did not have a secure base, your parents were evidently in an emotional tractor accident where they lost their metaphorical hands, you are super sensitive to suffering. You hear the crying and it doesn’t just make “shark music” it tears your soul apart

The idea of your kids, or anyone else feeling that kind of pain is too much. Hence I think she’s worried that you’ll unintentionally avoid the situation and cause some anxiety around the secure hands. Not like your parents caused. Definitely not! There’s no way she’s stupid enough to think that! I think she’s just worried that the pain will make you shut down.


Now here’s the catch about your kids crying. They’re not you. They haven’t been abandoned. They are not suffering. You are there for them. You are a great mum who is doing her best.

But even though you are there for them and they aren’t suffering like you were it’s hard not to get that emotional response because it has been drummed into you. “You’re not worthy,  you’re not worth the effort. ” And your husband has just sent you that message again with his carry on with his “mate’s mum” bullshit. And the hospital cancelling and then giving you the wrong number just builds up in you. A very raw time for you. But you are worthy and you are worth the effort.

Put it in perspective. You were treated quite poorly by your parents (understatement of the century), but you’re such a good person you actually still talk to them. Your husband is being a prick at the moment and you haven’t kicked him out. And your kids, you’ve got a threenager and a reflux baby,  that’s fucking hard, and despite not having good roll models for sticking by when the going gets tough you hang in there. You haven’t left them. You’ve stayed in their lives, in their home, in their sights. Well done chicken! That’s beyond fucking amazing. I think it’s about time you said, “Fuck this shit, I’m amazing and I won’t carry your burdens any longer, I’m going to take care of me and the kids.” Let the people responsible for wronging you in your personal life come to you, forget about pursuing them as they continue to distance themselves. Time for you to distance and them pursue. Put that pain on hold and focus on cuddles with the kids. Bring them in close and hug them twice as much. Once for them and once for you as a little girl. Your parents make comments like “relax” or other stupid shit just ignore it, distance yourself,  stop talking to them and turn around and hug your kids/self. Because seriously,  chill/relax, how fucking chilled and relaxed were they to abandon their daughter,  fuck that, they don’t get to give advice until they’ve made amends. And that husband of yours… hmmmm… he’s an insecure, spoilt, brat who is wholly taking advantage of your insecurity and abandonment issues. There, I said it. He’s being a jerk because he can be. He knows you’ll keep pursuing him because you want a deep and loving connection. And you deserve one and it’s about time he gave you one. No more begging for attention by cleaning the way he likes or doing stuff that makes it harder for you just because he likes it. Next time he flips out about your whereabouts you very calmly and firmly say, “No, you don’t get to question my integrity. I have been a good and loyal wife and mother, I have not snap chatted my vag to a “mate’s mum” that was you, my integrity is not in question, you may not divert attention from what you have been up too by randomly blaming me for imaginary wrongs.” Then calmly walk away to another room or hang up. And if he flares up and gets aggressive or lays so much as a finger on you get those precious kids and pack up and leave next time he is at work. You do not want your daughter thinking it is ok for her husband to yell at her and you don’t want you bear cub thinking he can yell at his wife. Don’t return until he heals the rift he has caused… although if he lays a hand on you don’t return ever. Now that seems all very practical but of course emotionally it isn’t that easy. “But I’m not worthy he won’t make amends.” If he doesn’t it is because he is too small, it is a reflection on his character not yours. You’re great, you’re flaw is putting up with too much and not valuing yourself enough, not being a bad person. So what if he doesn’t make amends. What’s the worst that can happen? He bangs on about how he’ll take the kids but he won’t actually be able too and you’ll get free accommodation at your parents house… let’s face it they owe you at the very least 10 years rent free plus all the add ons for emotional suffering. So the worst that could happen is that you gather up money whilst your parents get a chance to really make it up to you through taking care of you and your kids. And the best is that you break this negative cycle with your husband and he finally comes out of his shell and reaches out and steps up to be the husband and father that he deep down wants to be but has had it so easy and so good that he’s just become a spoilt little boy who acts on every whim he has because he’s been living in a consequence free world. At the very least he needs to never invite that woman who shipped her son off because he was “too hard” into your house again. Granted she’s obviously as nuts as us with huge issues but her issues are going to traumatise you so you need to look after yourself before you can look after others. She can be cared for by her loved ones, Lord knows she needs it.

So the new world order is you, then the kids, then the husband,  then the parents. I’d actually insert then the friends in front of hubby and parents for a while so we can energise you and bolster you up a bit so that you can feel confident enough to love you. Now you take care of your beautiful self and those beautiful kids.

You have a good heart. Granted your “picker” is broken but that’s understandable. You’ve surrounded yourself with selfish bastards who don’t appreciate you not because you’re a bad or unworthy person who deserves shit but because you didn’t have someone model to you what a true connection is. Now you’ve got to flip flop around and learn it all yourself which is bloody hard. But never think that you have arseholes surrounding you because you have a character defect because that’s not true. Your character is fine, just a bit shaky for obvious reasons,  they have the character defect. The reason they’re with you is because everybody else told them to fuck off before they got too close. Unfortunately with your broken “picker” you didn’t. Never too late to say now is the day I get respect. Quietly and calmly distance yourself from the arseholes and embrace all good things openly. You deserve it.


Trust me, I'm crazy.