Tag Archives: mother

Structural Workshop with the Divine Dr @KathrynHeyman – #SydneyWritersFestival

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If loving Kathryn Heyman is wrong, then I don’t want to be right. There, I said it. Everyone else in the Structural Intensive workshop hosted by the Sydney Writers’ Festival was thinking it, I just said it. You would be hard pressed to find a more dynamic presenter, and the best bit was, that Dr Heyman had substance to back it up. I’ll be perfectly honest, I am not going to detail everything that she covered, partly because I wouldn’t do it justice, and partly because if you want to truly learn from Kathryn Heyman then you need to go and do a workshop/course/mentorship with her yourself. What you get out of a course is a deeply personal thing because we are all on different paths in this writing journey. BUT this would be the world’s shortest blog if I gave nothing away for free so here goes…

One of the first sound bites that really moved me was when Kathryn Heyman said, “Your fear drives why you write.” Now I’ve heard, “if it scares you do it,” “go where the fear is,” and all those other common things before but on that cold, wet, Friday, where I had arrived drenched, late, with a slightly broken umbrella and the memory of my kids crying ringing through my brain, this phrasing, and this women really hit home. For me, I’d got my money’s worth all in that one hit. Because, I’ll let you in on a little secret, come closer, even closer, shhhh, closer, I’m going to whisper this so listen carefully, every single novel I have written deals with exactly the same issue, no matter what the genre or target audience. My chick lit novel coming out in July has a main character who has an intelligent, and quirky main character who happens to have incredibly low self-esteem so can make some pretty dumb choices. My children’s novel coming out next year has a very confident main character but the backstory that never gets explicitly covered is that the mother is deeply scarred and traumatized individual trying to be that super mum who gets everything right. Memoir From the Madhouse (I’ve never shared an excerpt from that so will pop it at the end of this) looks at why we are who we are, how our past demons drive us. I could go on but in a nutshell, I write women’s fiction, no matter the genre, no matter the age range, and the story is always – What happened to the little girl that nobody loved. Fuck, I hope she turned out okay. Until Kathryn Heyman said, “Your fear drives what you write,” I did not realise that I had written the exact same story over and over again as I grappled with my fear. It’s kind of liberating to know that I am on a cathartic journey. It’s even more liberating to know that I love that story and I will tell it over and over again, in as many ways as I like until I am ready to put that issue to bed. Because that story needs to be told. That story needs to be told not just for me but for all those little girls. I’ll keep speaking out. I’ll keep publishing for you. I hope you will join me.

Now I think you can understand what I meant by saying that this writing gig is a deeply personal journey and you have to go sit at Dr Heyman’s feet yourself to get what you need. However, I won’t be a total spoil sport, there were plenty of general things that were good for everyone. Mainly, it really helps to have a concrete, physical manifestation of conceptual matter. So if there is an obstacle, how about getting another character to embody that. If you have some sort of transformation make sure there is some sort of event or location that can act as a metaphor rather than having it all inside the character’s head. If the character has an internal desire, give it a physical manifestation, as in what action or situation would demonstrate that the desire had been met or totally failed. I’m leaving it there because as I keep saying, you have to go learn from Kathryn Heyman yourself in order to get the real benefit.

 

As promised, and true to my blog’s about section, unedited, unkempt, and untamed, here is an excerpt from Memoir from the Madhouse.

 

I am running, running faster than I’ve ever run before. The cold from the dew damp ground runs up my bare legs and covers my naked body with goose pimples. But still I run on. The warmth is fleeting, the wind is chasing me, and they are hunting me. I run naked in the cold dark night and all the while I think – I’m not crazy, I’m not crazy.

Out of my periphery I see a nurse approaching me. I let out a delirious laugh and keep on running.

‘Run, run, run as fast as you can…’

The wind whips away my words and I still run on. The ground starts to gently slope downwards and in the darkness I lose my bearings. I trip. I roll. Arms and legs flail at impossible angles. The world slows down as sky and earth blur into one. I smile and think about what has brought me here, starkers, in the dead of night, chasing demons, in the psychiatric hospital’s grounds.

 

6 Hours Earlier

I sit in Consultation Room 2 staring at my psychiatrist. I have no idea what he is saying. His voice is so soft that I can only make out every second sentence if I’m lucky. Regardless I nod like I understand. I don’t want him to think I’m rude or worse, stupid. My constantly interrupting to say, ‘Eh?’ or, ‘What?’ only results in him repeating his mumbles anyway. So instead I just nod along like I agree.

‘Are you anxious about going home tomorrow?’ Finally a sentence I can hear.

‘No,’ I lie.

Of course I’m anxious. I’ve got newborn twins and a two year old. They’re hard work. I have to somehow keep on functioning, no, mumctioning, despite the fact that the twins won’t sleep, which means I can’t sleep either. All work and no sleep makes Robin a dull girl. Perhaps they could be trained to settle one another. One cries and the other rubs their back, then they roll over and swap jobs. That’d be pretty sweet but although I’m in the nuthouse even I know that won’t happen.

‘Really?’ my psychiatrist raises an eyebrow. ‘Last time you were supposed to go home you had such an anxiety attack that we had to transfer you to a medical hospital.’

I shrug. More words are spoken that I nod thoughtfully along too. God only knows what I’ve agreed to in these sessions.

‘Do you like cap guns and pillows?’ Nods in agreement.

‘Do you still wet the bed?’ Nods thoughtfully.

‘Do you have a Christ complex?’ Nods politely.

‘Do you like the smell of your own farts?’ Nods vigorously.

He probably thinks I’m the biggest psycho to ever have graced this Crackpot’s with Babies Unit. No doubt I’ve inadvertently agreed to having a fetish for gingerbread men, partaking in cock fighting as a chicken, and having to burp three times every time I hear the word purple lest the world ends. Not surprising that Doctor Huang is so shocked by my casual attitude.

Truth be told I’m just quietly packing shit. My husband and I have arranged for a babysitter to come for a few hours a day during baby rush hour. 4 – 7 sucks with the under threes. They’re cranky, they need baths, they need dinner and they need to go to bed. Times that by three and I seriously struggle. The babysitter coming at these times doesn’t help me rest. Just helps me make sure none of my kids are neglected. I want to rest. We can’t afford rest. Fucking money.

‘A lot can change in a week.’

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.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

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My bright eyed babes

Apparently my boys turn one tomorrow. I’m not ready. They’re so little and cute. They’re my last babies. Just… no…. tear. I want to hug them and love them forever but I know when they’re 15 they possibly won’t let me scoop them both up at the same time, and kissing their bellies will definitely be out. Sigh… Le Sigh. Ugh… I tell you what, they came 8 weeks early, so can I pretend that they’re not one for another eight weeks?

Fresh home from hospital, even 0000 were swimming on them.

Fresh home from hospital, even 0000 were swimming on them.

Impractical Parenting: You know you’re a mother when…

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… this is considered not THAT messy.

… you run out of pads so use a nappy in the interim.

… you discover you haven’t actually run out of pads, you’re brain was just too fried to see them so now you’re a grown woman wearing an infant boy’s nappy for no reason.

… the idea of having a cocktail with the girls makes you so excited that you can’t sleep… for the entire month beforehand,  because that’s how far in advance you have to arrange things.

… you’ve forgotten how to go to the toilet unsupervised.

… a good day is when you get to brush your teeth.

… one spew on your top isn’t enough to make you change it.

… you enjoy snuggling in bed on your own even more than a university student.

… your food intake is even worse than a university student’s. It consists of half sucked on left overs.

…  the idea of giving yourself a timeout is appealing.

… having a headache is not an excuse,  it’s a way of life.

… the spirit is willing but the body is exhausted.

… your partner’s very presence infuriates you for no particular reason.

… you’re always hungry but never get food because your children steal it.

… you think it’s okay to sniff another human’s butt.

… you think of creating a blanket fort and hiding in it on a regular basis.

… chocolate is your bed fellow.

… you go to put laundry away, forget what you’re doing, go to make a cup of tea,  forget you made it, go to find clean clothes, can’t find them, then drink cold tea you have just discovered.

…. ask your 27 year old babysitter if she’s been taking her probiotics, because apparently everyone needs to be babied by you now… awkward.

… you have no desire to get out of your pajamas.

… a baby comes bursting out of your vagina, or in the cases like my twins thanks to an emergency c section, out of your stomach (alien style).

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: the threenager strikes back

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I just want to go cry in a corner, in the dark, until I spew.

So it turns out that the terrible two’s are merely a warm up act to threenagehood. The threenage years are when your cute little button alternates between being the sweetest little monkey in the world and being a monkey with full blown rabies. Possibly some sort of super mutated strand that even Science Fiction writers haven’t imagined yet. Anything and everything is a potential crisis situation.
“I want chocolate.”
“We don’t have any chocolate.”
“Give me chocolate right now!”
“Honestly Angel Cake we don’t have any.”
High pitched squealing where you are worried the neighbours will call DOCS followed by hysterical crying until they throw up followed by you regretting your no chocolate in the house stance. And then it’s breakfast time…

Prior to this transition I’d never heard of the term “Threenager” and to be honest I hope it passes soon. Most of the time she’s the sweetest little angel on Earth but these extreme terrorist attacks are exhausting. After the threenager stage is over it better be smooth sailing until the teenage years. If there is some kind of “Fournado” I will seriously have to consider becoming a high functioning alcoholic.

Ugh. As always any fellow Mad Cows are welcome to join my group if because you’re a little crae crae and you have a fanwah then it’s the place for you. https://facebook.com/groups/563402577109194

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: that’s what she said

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I’ve been let out! After four weeks in the nut house I’ve been thrust back into society with all you good folk. I’ve been rubber stamped sane… well not so much sane as ready to take the long journey required to heal, reflect and become a more positive person. I of course miss the new friends that I made but am glad to be home. My fellow inmates truly were a bunch of fantastic mums with beautiful, all be it fragile, spirits.

Fantastic mums??? I hear some of you question. How can mums with postnatal depression be fantastic mums. Aren’t they all a bunch of baby hating, self indulgent cows? Aren’t they all bad mothers? The answer is quite simply – nope. And it has got me to thinking about some of the thoughts people have regarding postnatal depression and why there is such a stigma attached to it. So I’d like to take this time to address the black dog in the room and comment about some of the things people have said to me on finding out I had and yet again have postnatal depression.

You can’t have postnatal depression, you like your baby?
The vast majority of the women I have met who are battling postnatal depression, both in and out of the chicken coup, absolutely love their kids. They sing to their children, they hug them, they praise them, they play with them, they pick them up, they do everything a ‘normal’ loving mother would do. Despite all this love they still struggle with anxiety and coping. When your baby is unsettled that’s stressful for anyone. Few people simply don’t care if their baby screams however, once the crisis is over most mums can start to calm down also. It is tough, it is unpleasant, they look forward to when this phase will pass and their tension can ease. With a mum with PND their thoughts spiral out of control ~ I’ve done something to upset the baby, it’s my fault the baby is upset, I’ll never be able to sooth my baby, I’m a terrible mother, I’m ruining my precious baby’s life and causing permanent damage because I can’t work out what is wrong, I’m a terrible person, I’m useless, I’m worthless, the baby would be better off without me so that they could get a better mother. The crisis is over but the thoughts keep churning around in our heads. With every unsettled period and every perceived mistake we make the thoughts we have regarding ourselves and our fitness to parent our beautiful child become darker. Tears come, screams escape, zoning out happens. As a result of this seemingly uncontrollable negative thinking many mums like myself become paralysed by guilt. We love their baby so much that they drive their body’s and minds to ruin making super human efforts to be perfect. Our bodies breakdown and we can no longer function. For others they become so lost in the nightmare in their head that they start to retreat and zone out. They are physically present but not mentally. They can have some bonding issues simply because they checked out of reality because it was too painful rather than disliking their babies. And yes their are a few that start to resent their baby for dredging up all these feelings and this resentment can start to spiral into anger and hate. It can seriously affect the mother child bond. But from my experience angst ridden, tearful, making yourself sick, kind of postnatal depression seems far more prevalent. Regardless of how it manifests it is highly treatable and people do get better with help. They can shed these negative thoughts and become the happy, positive, parents that they want to be.

Oh my god! Have you been thinking about hurting your baby?
No! Not everyone with PND wants to hurt their baby. Left untreated and unsupported it could get to these extreme levels but generally no. Women with PND are far more likely to hate themselves than their babies. They feel hopeless and useless and like the baby and the world would be better off without them. But of course not all women with PND have suicidal idealisations. It isn’t a stereotypical, one size fits all condition. And there is a world of difference between Postnatal Depression and Postnatal Psychosis. Suffering from depression does not make you psychotic or dissociative. It’s actually quite offensive to treat someone active getting treatment like they’re completely unhinged and are on the verge of murder suicide at any moment. And treating people like they can’t be trusted actually holds up treatment and makes people unwilling to communicate because they’ll have to put up with a whole host of bullshit assumptions.

You still have your sense of humour so everything must be ok.
When I was being catered away in the ambulance with full blown Pancreatitis I was still making jokes. The mask of humour in public stays firmly in place lest we turn into gibbering messes in public and become social outcasts.

You look good so you must be okay.
Thank you. I’m one sexy bitch.

Everybody feels like that.
True. Every mother has moments like this but the feelings don’t last as long. Minimising these long term, pervasive feelings only holds up a woman getting help. It doesn’t help.

Some people are just more anxious than others, you don’t need treatment.
You do not have to live with anxiety. You deserve a better life and so do your kids. Some people may be happy to live as a shaking anxious mess and have those they love suffer through this but that doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve help. Anxiety is very treatable.

Other people have it tougher than you so why aren’t you coping.
Hooray for them. Seriously good on them. BUT if you’re going to compare do it properly. Do they have your history, have they had your health complaints, do they get more help??? And even if they are this amazing super human who can juggle 17 kids without breaking a sweat, whilst working fulltime, without any babysitting and have perfectly well adjusted children that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person for not coping. Everybody is different. We all have different skills and have had different role models. It’s okay to struggle with things and for others to find it easy. We aren’t all scientific geniuses, we aren’t all amazing singers. It’s okay to have your own skills and your own struggles and it’s okay to get help with areas you struggle with.

You’re a selfish mother and just want to do your own thing and not tend your baby.
My response to this is simple… fuck off.

Just keep going and it will get better.
Sure… and if you just keep walking on a broken leg it will get better too… sure it will…

Just needed to get that off my chest. I’ll keep you updated on my progress with more Confessions of a Mad Mooer.

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: I’ve just had an Oprah moment

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As you know I’m currently “convalescing” in a “supportive environment” (oh just say it, in the nut house, no judgement) with Postnatal Depression. PND as the cool kids call it.  Generally plenty of group therapy and contemplation of taking up smoking in order to get a break. Today has been no exception with two group meet ups already and another scheduled. I missed the earliest one. But in the second one I finally had my “ah ha” moment, as the big O calls it. And I’m going to tell you all about it after a “quick” note about group therapy.

A note on group therapy:
Damn you film and television for making group therapy look so god damn hilarious. I spent the first week here so bitterly dissapointed with the fact that it was nowhere near as entertaining as it “should” be that I really didn’t process information as well as I should. That’s right, I’m blaming Hollywood for my own shortcomings rather than taking responsibility for my own actions. As a writer (well I’m a wannabe be writer not a really real writer. I’ve written a couple of novels but I’m no Kate Forsyth with a plenitude of published novels in multiple contries with five star reviews… I’m not even published or reviewed at all… I’m more of a “writer” than a writer…) As a “writer” I was expecting something excing to write about. You know, come up with the next ‘Sucker Punch.’ Some dramatic confessions, arguments, the odd chair thrown and of course being that we’re all women here the obligatory cat fight that devolves into a group pillow fight. Totally has not happened. Not even close. The closest we got was someone said I had no filter between my mind and my mouth, I had to agree unfortunately, so no animosity, backstabbing or pillow fighting ensued. We sit in a circle, yes like the movies, but we have manuals. We pause thoughtfully as we try to articulate how the theory relates to us personally, but not too personally, no sordid tales or juicy tid bits really, and we nod appreciatively when another person is speaking to show that yes we feel that way too. All very civilised. It’s more like a group of girls out to coffee but with guided conversation and plenty of thoughtful pauses. Le sigh, not the stuff of a best selling novel with a slin off blockbuster film. I guess I could sex it up a bit. Put in a lesbian love triangle and then the struggle to return to heterosexual family life… ‘Girlback Mountain’… ‘Brokeback Interrupted’??? I’ll work on it. There’s something there, once I put in some forced drug use and us all wearing hospital gowns instead of our own clothes. Anyway, back to my point, yes I had one, group therapy is not the awesomely hilarious experience you see in comedies. So just be warned about that. Don’t get your hopes up on the therapist who clearly has more issues than anyone else, a drunk member and a sexually promiscuous virgin types. They aren’t there…

My O moment
In group therapy we’ve been looking at Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, CBT for those up on the lingo. It basically looks at how we respond to an event. How what we think, often unnecessarily negatively, effects how we respond to a situation and therefore how we feel and act and then the consequences of that. Makes sense right. So a common example for us mums is, the baby is crying, then you list what your thoughts were about it. For me starting from something is wrong, ramping up to I’m doing something wrong, I’ll never do tjis right, my babies will be permanently damaged because I’m not responding right. As a consequence I get stressed. Simple really. I get that. And logically I got this and a range of other exercises on a variety of topics over the last 3 weeks but emotionally I still felt sick and anxious. My emotions were running rings around me. But today our group leader said something a little bit different. When we got to stating out thoughts/beliefs about the situation the therapist said, “Now how does that relate to your core beliefs about yourself?” And the world went CLICK. Suddenly I was forced to think about what I truly thought about myself deep down. And that my beliefs about specific situations all stem from this very horrible but very misguided notion I have about myself. So here’s what I wrote all in a rush as the emotional floodgates opened – I can’t do anything right, I poison everything I touch, I’m not good enough, I’m not enough enough… and then it was like a huge ray of sunshine broke free and I just smiled. I wrote down those awful things I believe about myself and all I felt was elation and happiness because now when I start having these thoughts I know what is at the core of it. I now have more of a chance of halting the escalation of my anxiety because I know it comes from within me, within my own twisted psyche, not from a situation. I don’t need to conquer my thoughts regarding a thousand different events, I need to conquer myself. Now it’ll be exceptionally hard work and a long journey to rid myself of this core belief that has been ground into me through my entire childhood. BUT I now feel that at the age of 34 I have a map of where to go. Maybe some of the streets are misnamed and some roads closed but at least I now have a start and end point.

I’ll keep you posted on my journey with more “Confessions of a Mad Mooer.”

P.S. I refuse to apologise for my brazen use of commas. Don’t be a commaunist!

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: hi, I’m a mad mooer

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So it happened. I’ve gone completely around the bend. Had a nervous breakdown, got post natal depression, had a meltdown, chucked a wobbly, got myself in a tizzy, whatever you want to call it. I’ve been a bit of a cow and I’m mad. I’ve evidently got mad cow’s disease. So I’m currently in the nut house. Or should I say, “I’m convalescing in a supportive environment whilst I recoup from exhaustion.”

And who wouldn’t be exhausted with newborn twins and a toddler? Who wouldn’t need help under these circumstances? Well, one of my cousins for one managed not to turn into a jibbering mess when she had a two year old plus newborn twins. And in my mind everyone else in these circumstances sailed right on through but not me. At three months I cracked it. I just cried and cried and cried and cried a bit more. My body hurt from trying to settle premi twins that never wanted to sleep. My brain hurt from trying to juggle my three babies. And my heart hurt from feeling like I was failing all three of my children simultaneously. I couldn’t get my twins to settle so I was spending so much time with them that my toddler was missing out. On top of that if one twin had been crying for ninety minutes straight I was so exhausted from dealing with him that I didn’t have time for his brother when he inevitably started his round of crying.

So what did I do? Kept telling the husband that I was exhausted. That I couldn’t cope that I needed help. That I couldn’t do it. He told me to “crack on,” as it was only a tough phase, in a years time it’d all settle down and I just needed to ride the wave. Turns out I don’t know how to surf. Not even body board, or boogie board as it used to be called. Heck I can’t even body surf. To be perfectly honest I don’t even know if I can swim at this stage. (I know what you’re thinking, can she stretch this metaphor any further, surely not, let dead horses lie, don’t whip sleeping dogs, but oh I can stretch it further.) It was like I’d been paddling in a kids wading pool and all of a sudden had been thrown into the middle of the ocean, during a storm at night, with only one oar and nothing else to help me. Sure an oar is useful when there is also a row boat and another oar but when it’s by itself it just drags you down. So my husband’s pep talks, his attempts at blind optimism simply dragged me down further rather than helping me to rise to the occasion. With added support I may very well have been able to rise to the occasion with his encouragement.

But there wasn’t any and I just sank deeper and deeper into depression until when all three of my children got sick (joys of having a toddler in childcare, they bring every plague going home) and I ended up in hospital with my little boys who had developed bronchiolitis from their sister’s cold after I’d just gotten out of hospital myself for Pancreatitis I lost it. I couldn’t cope. I was just sobbing uncontrollably in the hospital room when the paediatricians began their rounds. By coincidence one of the doctors was Dr Rowel who had been my daughter’s paediatrician through reflux and operations for hip dysplasia. He saw me, could see how bad I had gotten and immediately referred me to the hospital social worker, who referred me to the phychiatric team. So in turn I got referred to a mothers and baby unit at a psychiatric hospital to get my bearings, physically recover a bit and try to sort through some stuff in my head.

So how’s it all going? Well I can tell you inside my head is a terrifying place to be but I’ll keep you updated with my progress through more Confessions of a Mad Mooer.

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/