Tag Archives: antenatal depression

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

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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.

Happy Mother’s Day, You’re Not Good Enough

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So it’s Mother’s Day and you thought breakfast in bed and some chocolates were in order? Wrong. Let’s sling some hate your way. No you can’t have a day where your family says thanks, you have to have a day where other people flame you, because that’s the Ozzie way. So let me start on all the ways myself and my fellow mothers suck and deserve to be persecuted. Please note this is all done tongue in cheek… or is it. We suck!

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If you’re a stay at home mum, I’m sorry but you’re lazy, and everyone hates you, especially working mums. Because apparently you do nothing all day, because mothers with full time jobs can keep their kids happy, healthy, and functioning, all whilst working full time… As they of course are doing it all we can only assume that their children are roaming the streets. Because it would be a tad hypocritical for a working mother to tell a stay at home mother that they don’t do as much as them if in fact whilst they’re at work they are paying someone to look after their kids, because that would imply looking after kids is WORK!

Working mums, sorry everybody hates you too. You selfishly work and neglect your children. You should be charging into Primary School every lunchtime so that your ten year old can suckle at your teat. Clearly you are a lesbian, feminist, child hating, man hating destroyer of society. You should be getting pleasure from being a woman and doing woman’s work. You are a burden on society because you insisting on working means we need far too much childcare and you have contributed to the destruction of traditional family values. Why not put on devil horns and be done with it.

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Do you work from home like me and have flexible hours? Well you’re the most hated of the lot. You suck. You’re not a real stay at home mum because you actually want to get work done at times, and you’re not a real working mum because seriously you just sit in PJs until noon. You quite simply are the worst of all worlds. You work too much to be able to properly look after your children but you don’t work enough to be wonder woman. Some woman have it all, you have nothing. You bitches!

Do you breastfeed? You are a stuck up bitch who lords your mammary glands over everyone else. You only breastfeed because you want to show other woman that you’re better than them. In fact you probably wouldn’t care if your baby starved. You depraved nipple possessing heathen. Stop being so stuck up, we know you have boobs, we get it. Why do you have to prove it by feeding your child? What kind of sicko feeds their child?

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Do you formula feed? Wow, why did you even have children? You must hate them. You don’t want to breastfeed so much that your bitter little nip nips won’t even express a drop of precious golden milk just as God intended. Why don’t you just feed your child heroine because that’s what formula is!?! Stop acting like it is some sort of scientifically created nourishment that will help you feed your hungry child. It’s toxic garbage.

Do you mix feed? What the hell is wrong with you? Are you pro feeding or something? You just care that a child is happy, healthy and fed? Pick a side you sicko! You’re as bad as mothers who work from home with flexible hours. You’re not enough of anything. For shame.

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Do you make updates about how proud you are of your children? Well stop. Nobody wants to read about the good things in your life. In fact you must only be writing good things because you are a closet child hater. You’re covering your arse. Bastard. I cannot believe you are so twisted that you think your friends would actually want to take joy in the things that make you happy. As if friends care about your happiness. Next tell me about how happy you are with your exercise regime. As if I take joy in your joy. Taking joy in other people’s achievements is weird. We must all be miserable and bitter.

Do you make updates asking questions or asking for support during difficult times? If you were a good mum then you would know the answers. You’re just a drama queen looking for people to give you sympathy. How dare you want sympathy on a hard day? How dare you expect your friends to love and support you? You’re a mother, you don’t deserve love and respect and support anymore.

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Do you exercise? Yes? Well isn’t that nice for you. Your children must be running the streets injecting heroine into their eyeballs whilst you do that. There is no possible way for you to do that if you are looking after your children properly. If you love your children you will be spending time with them, not taking thirty minutes a day to exercise.

Do you exercise? No? You disgust me and are an embarrassment to your children. Not only that, you are a terrible influence on your kids. Your disgustingly unhealthy lifestyle is rubbing off on your children. They are going to become sedentary and just sit watching TV all day. Because that’s what you do, if you’re not exercising you must be just sitting on your butt doing nothing. If you loved your children you would be exercising and demonstrating a positive lifestyle to them.

Are you a single mum? You’ve ruined your children’s lives because you haven’t provided them with a stable home, because a stable home isn’t about love and support it’s about how many parents are in the house.

Are you part of a couple or married? You intolerant, fake, human being. Your smugness sickens me. Your kids will be jerks because you think you’re better than everyone else because you have a traditional home life.

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Are you a lesbian mum? See – Are you a single mum? You and your wonton ways will be the ruin of our society, the ruin.

Did you have a vaginal birth. Ewww. Your sons will hate vag now so will be gay and your daughter will love it so will be lesbians.

Did you have a C section. Wow, too posh to push, I don’t care about your health conditions and how you and your baby/babies could die, or you could be permanently incontinent. You posh bitch.

And now for the latest round of shaming that I never even dreamed was possible, courtesy of Facebook. Did you keep your child in your belly for long enough. Here’s the status update chaining its way around.

In honor of Mother’s day, post the name, birthday, due date, and weight of your child(ren). Then post in comments so your fellow mothers can post onto their wall.

Name: 
Birthday: 
Due Date: 
Weight: 

If you are before your due date, in particular if you are more than three weeks beforehand (37 weeks is full terms so you are still okay and your fanwah is functional from 37-39 weeks, I guess, not perfect just okay, don’t get too proud of your nethers), you have a sucky vagina. If you are late with big babies, you’re a lazy chocolate eating beast who poisoned your child in the womb. If you had it on the due date, you’re anal. Good luck with that.

 

So just let it be known, whatever kind of mamma you are, you suck. So no happy Mother’s Day to you. You suck, and society hates you and guess what, so do other mums. So have a Sucky Mother’s Day, ya bitch!

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Although, just a little side note away from the general humour of this piece, if you have friends who come from abusive backgrounds, perhaps you shouldn’t be raving on about Mother’s Day to them. It’s a little like pouring salt in their wounds because they don’t have a lovely mamma like you to celebrate, and they’re probably quite sad about that. So maybe show them some love too. Compassion.

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)

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/ 

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Invisible Prejudices

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Hmmmm… hmmm… ugh…. It is with great awkwardness I write this because it was inspired by a friend who I know checks this blog from time to time. It’s about the supposedly invisible prejudices people have against mental health issues that really aren’t so invisible. So although I’m looking forward to the meltdown that will follow about as much as the idea of my husband giving me a brazilian I’m writing this anyway. Because if I’m this upset and uncomfortable about it then surely other people are too. So deep breath and here goes…

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Today one of my friends told me for the umpteenth time that, at this rate she was going to be needed to be admitted into an institution if her family didn’t pull their finger out. Like it was the pinnacle of bad things. That getting intensive, professional, support marked just how fucked up and unsupportive she felt her family were being. Now I understand that a lot of people reading this will think, “So the fuck what? Isn’t going into a mental home the worst thing that could happen? Isn’t everyone in there really crazy and fucked up?” Ummmm no and no. There are worse things, like denying that you’re mentally ill and forcing your loved ones to live through your paranoia and rages untreated, like self medicating with drugs and alcohol putting your family into debt, running away leaving your children with abandonment issues… And oh so many more things. As for the crazy and fucked up, a standard psychiatric hospital and a hospital for the criminally insane are two very different things. You don’t slap a bunch of women with PND or cops with PTSD in with pedophiles and serial killers. It’s just not even close to the same thing. And that’s the problem. People subconsciously put us all together into one barrel.  That we’re all disturbed individuals, totally disconnected with reality. Sure if you question someone on their beliefs they’ll no doubt say that they see depression and extreme psychosis as two very different things yet they’ll still treat people with depression and anxiety like they don’t know what is happening and can’t really be trusted.

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This same friend also freaked out when someone she knew suggested she had PND. She complained bitterly about how she was going to go to the doctor and take a test to prove them wrong. Like the notion was so abhorrent she needed to rush off to prove otherwise. That it was a stigma she couldn’t accept because people would think she was a bad mother. BAM, there you have it. Invisible belief visible. Societal norms dictate that people with depression are not capable people. And people who seek intensive help for it are weak and should just soldier on… poisoning everything they touch around them. Treatment is for the weak, anger and resentment is for the strong.

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People in our liberated time of 2014 say how they can’t believe how patients,  even as late as the 1970s were subjected to horrific treatments. Things such as rotation therapy which was like being on the spinning swings at a carnival but for hours not minutes, immersion therapy where patients were kept submerged for not just hours but sometimes days in water, radiation therapy where patients were exposed to things like radium, to name but a few. Patients were often kept sedated so that they weren’t of a bother to staff. I am beginning to realise we really haven’t come that far, as society would like to sedate mental illness from its conscious. That it’s ok for the odd celebrity or journalist to have depression but only bring that nasty crap near us once you’re better and productive again. Please don’t tell us about your reoccurring battles and certainly don’t thrust it into our faces with suicide. Heck even in my own life people cannot reconcile the fact that I seem to be smart, articulate, a great mum and not entirely unfortunate looking, and that I suffer from depression and anxiety at the same time. “Oh you’re not really depressed,  you’re a Super Woman,  you’re just exhausted.”

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Well I’m going to have to burst your bubble… I’m all those good things but I am also depressed. Not just a little blue, not a little flighty, but chronically depressed.  I went to a Novel Pitching event yesterday,  other participants thought I was confident and a bit glamorous (and some thought I was a mindless pretty bimbo but only one was rude enough to ask me if I was there to sell my manuscript or my body*) they didn’t realise it wasn’t a bit of a mask that I was wearing like they were, but a carefully constructed performance that I have for public rituals. Because I know damn well what a burden people find me if I let all of me out to play. That the nervous,  shy girl, who threw up before entering,  would not be considered good company. So I only show part of me. I’m not even sure they’re the best parts of me but they are the socially accepted parts of me. Humour, grooming, smiles, the odd profound insight (but not too many) and self deprecation. Heck, the day before going I was lamenting to a friend, who was also pitching,  that I was worried that the not so acceptable bits of me would slip out. Bits that are so objectionable by our invisible prejudice.

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I don’t write this blog to shame anyone but more so as a think piece so that people can start actually addressing their true feelings about mental health. You can say you’re ok about it but if someone said you might have depression would you react as if you’d been called a racist?

Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. –JOHN WATSON

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* Others would have shaken that comment off as the other person being a bitch but unfortunately being a depressed individual it tends to eat away at me behind the mask.**
**The mask is me, I’m not dishonest or ingenuous but I certainly don’t allow my issues to show to their full extent. I joke about them but never really address them.

Please remember if you are a woman with depression or anxiety you are welcome to join my group on Facebook: https://facebook.com/groups/563402577109194

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: sometimes my kids are so sweet that it pains me that I suck so much #PND

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I've become addicted to creating memes... my only regret is that I didn't start this addiction earlier.

As those of you who have been checking in on my blog for the last few months know I’m currently journeying through Postnatal Depression (PND as the cool kids call it), for the people visiting for the first time, hi, I’m Robin, I have Mad Mummies’ Disease. With PND you have good and bad days. Some days I’m so full of anxiety that I have to take zantac and gaviscon by the truck load on top of my regular proton pump inhibitor just to keep the acid at bay. No particular reason is needed for this excess stomach churning. Something as simple as someone rushing a social interaction with me can get me so anxious that I produce enough acid to dissolve the Monument of Light…. or my pancreas. Never mind that they could have been busy, or they have their own issues, or they’re socially awkward, or they could just be a massive bitch, or many other ores, no I jump straight to me sucking completely. Of course they rushed a conversation with me, of course they palmed me off onto someone else, who wouldn’t,  I suck, spending time with me must be awful. So as you can imagine with that kind of negative self talk going on in my melon I have more bad moments than is “normal” and they last longer.

When parenting you are faced with these dilemmas on a moment to moment basis. Your child is crying,  clearly it must be your fault, you’re a terrible mother, you’re a terrible person,  you can’t do anything right, your children will be permanently damaged by being subjected to your hideous company. You’re stuck in traffic, it’s your fault,  you should have forseen the accident or truck convoy or L Plater causing it and either left earlier or taken another route, now your kids are going to over heat and die in your moving air conditioning car, or get stung by a bee in your insect free car and have an allergic reaction and die, or you’ll miss their appointment,  their lives will be ruined and the world will declare you a dead beat mum. Deep breath. So many ores. Getting anxious just thinking about it.

Now of course there are still great moments of joy. As I have said in a previous entry most mothers with PND love their kids, https://riedstrap.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/confessions-of-a-mad-mooer-thats-what-she-said/ yes there are some exceptions but that is more common with Postpartum Psychosis than Postnatal Depression. However, if caught late the anxiety can definitely drive a wedge between mother and child. So in light of this of course there are moments of happiness. Many moments. More than moments,  prolonged times of delighting in your child/children but for the PND mum even these can result in more anxiety and guilt. Guilt is the mind killer.

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My Angel Cake. She's so perfect sometimes I feel like crying when I look at her.

I’ve had a great weekend with my kids. I had a beautiful brunch with my daughter yesterday.  It has been months since we’ve had real mummy daughter time. Time she needs and I need. She was adorable. We went to our old cafe, ordered our old favourite- french toast and strawberry milkshakes,  and we sat and chatted happily and then went for a walk finished off by running around a park and jumping about. I loved it. But now I feel sickened with guilt. My little girl needs special time with me so much. But I rarely give it to her. Sure we hang out whilst the boys nap but it’s not the same. I feel sick like her life is being ruined and that her confidence will be destroyed because I can’t get a break from my beautiful boys to spend special time with my little Angel Cake. So even the joy of quality time with my girl was tainted by guilt and anxiety.

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They're so perfect I sometimes find it hard to believe that they're real.

Today the guilt bit again. I went to check on my beautiful boys to see if they were sleeping well. I check multiple times. It is a issue I have with my PND. For me PND largely manifests with obsessing over safety. Making sure my babies are alive. Listening to them breath. Checking over and over again that they’re really there. And of course with guilt. So back to the guilt. I was doing my crazy lady SIDS check on my boys and came across them like this. Sleeping whilst holding hands. They’re adorable boys. They love each other to bits and pieces and have such a special bond. I watched them basking in their warm glow for a while then grabbed my camera, took a pic and snuck off back to cuddle time with Angel Cake. But then the guilt started. My kids are so beautiful. They’re clever, they’re funny, they smile and laugh all day. They’re adorable. These are all good things. There’s just one draw back. They’re saddled with me. So the guilt started again, eroding the shiny hue off this truly special moment. These wonderful creatures are saddled with an angry, nasty, negative,  pessimistic, witch of a mother. How can they stay happy and confident for long when they’re saddled with such a wretched beast as myself. The self loathing,  that nasty voice in my head jumped out and destroyed everything yet again. And as I’ve said in a previous blog I do know what my core belief is, https://riedstrap.wordpress.com/2014/05/05/confessions-of-a-mad-mooer-ive-just-had-an-oprah-moment/ heck I even know where it came from, I know exactly who put that awful critic in my head and yet I still struggle to overcome it.

So what to do. Well for me, I’m having a cup of tea, feeling a little bit teary, but know I need to up the exercise tomorrow. A bit of distraction goes a long long way. I need a mummy time out so I can pick myself up, forget who I am and get my energy back. A few hours of escapism would be great. Let’s hope I get some soon. (Note: rushing to the grocery store is not me time Mr Husband!)

I’ve come a long way in the last three months but I still have a long way to go. I’ll keep you posted with more Confessions of a Mad Mooer

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)
https://facebook.com/confessionsofamadmooer My page for anyone and everyone
even tweet with me @RobinRiedstra

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