Tag Archives: PND

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: I Quit

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On Wednesday I got told that I’m a draining person to speak to and that people avoid talking to me lest they be trapped in a long conversation and need to pack rations to prepare for the journey. It wasn’t from a friend, it was from a person in a position of authority at work. A person I had never met before. In half an hour he found me so irritating that he felt the need to let me know. It sent me into a pretty sad place, but thanks to copious amounts of therapy I’ve got coping strategies to deal with this kind of thing.

Being diagnosed with PND in 2014 and spending 4 weeks in a mums and bubs unit at a psychiatric hospital and the follow up therapy has helped me to deal with not just PND but a whole host of issues life can throw at you. Life can be hard, and I certainly didn’t think of my time there as positive back in 2014, but it has helped me do better and be better. If you need help, don’t be ashamed to seek professional help.

I turned my hard day on Wednesday into an opportunity to seek new job opportunities on Thursday. Today I secured a new job with a higher pay rate. I start on Tuesday. Ten years ago I would have just cried and built a blanket fort. Now I rise up. I’m proud of me. I asked former colleagues to be my referrees. They were all happy to do so. They were happy to do so because they like me, they believe in me, and they don’t think I’m draining. Ten years ago I would have been so demoralized that I wouldn’t have even dared ask them. I would have accepted that one person’s (and possibly a couple of other managers) opinion as factual and I would have fallen into the depths of despair. But now I know my own worth and I know far more people find me competent and engaging than don’t. The angry lies my brain tells me about myself, that I’m not good enough, can now be overcome. Now, I’m not perfect. I still got upset. I didn’t eat for over twenty four hours afterwards because my stomach was so upset. But it was just a little over twenty four hours. And in less than twenty four hours I had taken steps to better my situation. That’s progress.

So, tell me about your progress. What can you give yourself a pat on the back for today? Even if it’s small.

Also, just quietly, next time you’re in a meeting with a boss and it turns to shit, avenge me. Just yawn and say, “Ugh, you’re so draining. You need to work on your communication style.”

If you or someone you know has mental health concerns you can find good resources on the following sites:

Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community http://www.westernmassrlc.org/alternatives-to-suicide and http://www.westernmassrlc.org/hearing-voices

Mercy Care https://www.mercycare.com.au/ats
Blue Knot Foundation https://www.blueknot.org.au
Black Dog Institute http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/
Lifeline https://www.lifeline.org.au/
Beyond Blue https://www.beyondblue.org.au
Head Space https://headspace.org.au
Relationships Australia https://www.relationships.org.au
National LGBTI Health Alliance http://lgbtihealth.org.au
The Children of Parent’s With a Mental Illness http://www.copmi.net.au
Mental Health in Multicultural Australia http://www.mhima.org.au/portals/consumer-carers

Some postnatal depression specific sites are:
Gidget Foundation http://gidgetfoundation.com.au/
PANDA http://www.panda.org.au/
PIRI http://www.piri.org.au/


Find my book on booktopia or everywhere

Read more about Robinpediahere.

Read about my experience of being a dyslexic writer here.

Read about my opinion on author brandinghere.

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I Have ADHD

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I know the title is pretty blunt but I couldn’t figure out a more dignified way of blurting out, I HAVE ADHD. So there it is, I’m 40 next year and have only recently been diagnosed with ADHD.

The 4 regular readers of this blog are probably thinking, is this new information? Didn’t you know this already? Isn’t it obvious?

And they’re kind of right. I have suspected for the last year that this is the case. One of my 4 followers went to primary school with me and is possibly shouting at the screen, ONLY THE LAST YEAR? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? And my ex teaching colleague who reads my blog is probably thinking, did you not see the state of your desk? Again, they’re right. The signs were all there, they’ve always been there, and yes, I’m in the severe range. In fact, in news that probably also shocks nobody, I’m severe for the severe range.

I have a family history of ADHD and related conditions, I have dyslexia and 40% of dyslexics have ADHD (more people have ADHD than dyslexia so 40% of people with ADHD don’t have dyslexia, a much lower amount of people with ADHD have dyslexia), and I have every single symptom aside from addiction to substances (Find a definition of ADHD and its symptoms at the end of this blog entry). So how did it take so long for me to realise this and for me to get diagnosed?

Firstly, I was born in the late 70s and started schooling in the 80s. I went to a regional primary school that was so small that it had composite classes. Dyslexia and ADHD were not on their radar. My dyslexica didn’t get picked up until university. And I did pretty well academically, always got somewhere in the top 3 for my tests in primary school (except spelling tests). Even in modern education students often get overlooked unless they’re doing poorly academically.

I was bright enough but just kept making errors. Fellow people with dyslexia and or ADHD know what they were called, right? Careless, silly or lazy mistakes. They weren’t enough to have me completely bottom out, I still did okay, but they were enough to get me called careless, lazy or silly on a daily basis, at school and at home. They were enough to get me a five minute detention after any spelling test. They were enough to mean I always stuffed up my left and my right. They weren’t enough to stop me from getting into the top class when I entered high school. It fortunately didn’t have a multiple choice component. Things always get weird when colouring in those dots.

I remember in high school, one class where you had to bring a blue pen, a red pen, your book and a ruler to class. That was all. Each item you forgot, you got 5 minutes worth of detention. I could always remember my book and a pen. That was it. I got detention ever week. The teacher, to their credit, would let me off if nobody else was around to see it, or let me off a few moments after the seconf last kid had done their time. They understood I was a scatter brain and detention wasn’t working but rules were rules.

I came to believe what I was told. My problem was that I was careless and lazy. As I got older the message got slightly more sophisticated, I was a chronic self-sabotager, but deep down I was a crappy, lazy person. Once I had kids it became even worse, you’re just not good enough to be a mum. The constant snippy and judgemental comments only compounded my already bruised self esteem. This combined with exhaustion and lack of support led me into a psychiatric hospital with postnatal depression in 2014. My first blog entry on this can be found here and an expansion on how I had postnatal depression in 2011 can be found here.

So how was it that I got assessed by all these people, even in a psychiatric hospital, with such an obvious history, and nobody picked it up? I honestly have no clue.

However, I do know how I eventually got diagnosed with it after all of this trauma and I can share that with you. The answer is simple, after my stay in the psychiatric hospital I found the greatest psychologist ever. Actually, I didn’t find her, one of my fellow patients recommended her. And we took a long journey together of piecing together my sense of self and restoring my self worth. After a long process of self reflection, I came to realise that all those things I was brushing off as, oh I’m just doing that because I’m a bad person, I’m lazy and I suck, might not be true. Because of therapy I liked myself enough to think, hey, I don’t thoroughly hate myself, I’m not the worst, most lazy person ever, might there be a reason I’m still struggling in these areas that doesn’t involve me being a steaming pile?

And then my husband said a throw away comment to me, “I wonder if your dyslexia is just like extreme ADHD? You can’t even get your brain to focus on the words.” I Googled the link between dyslexia and ADHD, it was there. Because I had already been questioning weather I truly sucked, this meant something and I kept researching. If I was still in the depths of self hatred, this would have meant nothing and I would have shrugged my shoulders and dismissed it. It would just be another thing about me sucking.

After many months of thinking and wondering I went and saw my GP and asked if I could get assessed. She referred me to a psychiatrist who specialises in adult ADHD, we wanted to be sure, and not muck around. Yes it was a long wait but I didn’t want any mistakes made.

Through my diagnosis with depression I have been prescribed a number of different medications. None have been particularly effective. One had some short term benefits, that lasted only three months but the side effects were so much worse than any of the short term benefits, and when they stopped the doctor agreed I could come off it. I didn’t want anymore of that. I wanted someone at the top of their field because I needed to be sure. I only wanted a diagnosis if it was true.

It was true. I have ADHD. I have severe ADHD. The psychiatrist spoke to me about management strategies like schedules and alarms on my phone, all of which I already have but haven’t been working. He congratulated me on remembering my referral, and I smiled so hard because somebody finally got it. He also prescribed me Ritalin. Just a low dose to see if I can tolerate it. I asked him if it was related to Effexor, I’d had such a bad reaction with that drug that I never want to go on anything like it EVER AGAIN. (NOTE: This is a perfectly good drug for other people I know, for me it wasn’t. Please don’t throw out your own Effexor based on it being bad for me) He assured me they were unrelated.

Even though I am on a low dose, I can still notice a tiny difference. I’m less easily frustrated. It is not such a supreme effort to focus that I get angry when people disrupt me. I don’t get so hypo focused that it’s literally painful for me to be pulled from it. I can dip in and out a little easier. I am slightly less frustrated in every interaction, which means that at the end of the day I have only built up to being fairly annoyed and snappy rather than angry and yelling. The 7000 alarms I have set to remind me to do things are now slightly more likely result in an action.

Yesterday morning my husband, who has said he can’t really tell a difference, said that he is feeling more full of love for me of late. He can claim he sees no difference but evidently there is. It’s small, it has a flow on effect. It has been positive. Of course I still get frustrated and will continue to do so even when the dose is increased, but I can see there has been a positive effect. It has helped me with the thing I had hoped antidepressants would help with, me feeling like total shit.

I’m a bit emotional about the negative side effects my body has endured from antidepressants (AGAIN NOTE: that does not mean everyone has negative side effects, don’t go off your own helpful meds because I reacted badly to them) that I possibly never needed. I’m also a bit emotional about the fact I’m not exactly a subtle case and yet so many professionals missed it. I had to essentially diagnose myself first. We go to doctors expecting them to help us and yet so many times we get dismissed as the hysterical women who just needs to calm down a bit. It’s a stereotype that needs to die. But I am also grateful to finally be on the right track with something that looks like it will work for me.

I’m not going to lie, my self esteem is probably still not as great as the average person’s, a lifetime of mismanagement doesn’t just evaporate, but it’s getting up there. It was high enough to make me question and think, and that was enough. And sometimes not despising yourself is all the progress you need to get you to the next level. When people say baby steps, they’re not kidding. All this stuff takes thousands of baby steps. Be proud of each little one you take.

Some websites my psychiatrist recommended I check out:

https://www.livingwithadd.com

https://www.additudemag.com/tag/podcasts/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-nPM1_kSZf91ZGkcgy_95Q

https://adhdrollercoaster.org

Wondering what ADHD is? This is what the NSW government has to say:

http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/pharmaceutical/patients/Pages/faq-adhd-consumers.aspx#bookmark1

ADHD is a condition characterised by the symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. While these symptoms are normal characteristics experienced by all people at one time or another, among individuals who are diagnosed with ADHD, there is an overabundance of these characteristics. Their levels of overactivity, inattention and/or impulsivity are severe and persistent and typically result in performance issues in social, educational or work settings.

While many children and adolescents with ADHD improve as they grow up, many will continue to experience symptoms as an adult. In adulthood the symptoms are typically displayed somewhat differently to the way they are displayed in childhood. A child who squirms, fidgets and is constantly ‘on the go’ may become an adult who is less obviously physically overactive but experiences intense feelings of restlessness. He or she may have troubling relaxing and may overwork. An impulsive child who blurts out answers in class, who constantly interrupts others and talks excessively may become an adult who displays impatience when in queues or whilst driving, and who may be impulsive with spending or quitting jobs. Inattentive children who have difficulty listening and forget their homework may become adults who often complain of losing things, such as keys and wallets, and are often late for appointments.

The main symptoms displayed by children with ADHD vary according to age, but generally about one half will predominantly have inattention problems, a quarter will mainly have hyperactive and impulsive symptoms, while the remainder will have a mixture of these symptoms.

It is common for children with ADHD to have co-occurring psychiatric conditions, the most common of which are disruptive behaviour disorders (‘oppositional defiant disorder’ or ODD – which involves a pattern of arguing with multiple adults, losing one’s temper, refusing to follow rules, blaming others, deliberately annoying others, and being angry, resentful, spiteful, and vindictive; and ‘conduct disorder’ or CD – which is associated with efforts to break rules without getting caught, and may include being aggressive to people or animals, destroying property, lying or stealing, running away, and skipping school), and mood disorders (depression, mania/bipolar disorder and anxiety).

And, as always, you can buy my stuff here: https://riedstrap.wordpress.com/what-happens-in-book-club/

#RUOK 2017: I Challenge You To Do More

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R U Ok Day is upon us soon. It’s a day that has people divided. Some say it’s fantastic and saves lives, others say it reminds them just how much people really don’t care about them because they only ask on R U OK Day as if it is some glib game. I’ve asked, I’ve done my bit, I’m a good person, give me cookies.

Love it or hate it, I challenge you to open yourself up and learn more about different mental illnesses this R U OK Day. Go to the library, or a bookstore, or online, and get a memoir that focuses on a mental illness. Really engage with lived experience, find out what real people went through, what they are still going through. And then when it comes to ask R U OK you might have something more specific and meaningful to say to a friend than a simple catchphrase.

Here are some recommendations:

Madness: a Memoir by Kate Richards

This is a memoir about living with depression and acute psychosis. In the memoir Dr Kate Richards also includes notes that she wrote during episodes which puts you directly into the mind at the time of turmoil. A compelling read.

Eyes too Dry by Alice Chipkin and Jessica Tavassoli

This is an innovative, dual person, graphic-novel memoir. It explores depression and suicideal ideation. It is essentially the conversation between someone in deep depression and their friend as they try to navigate through depression together. Very unique.

Bloodletting by Victoria Leatham

Cutting has recently been much covered in the media, but often sensationally and with little understanding gained. Victoria Leatham talks about her own experiences with self harm and how it is related to anorexia and bulimia. A truly eye opening read.

An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison

When it comes to bipolar few people have more experience than Kar Redfield Jamison. She both treats it as a psychiatrist and faces it personally. This book looks at bipolar from both the side of the doctor / patient equation.

The Good Greek Girl by Maria Katsonis

This is the memoir of the brilliant Maria Katsonis. Havard graduate, world renowned theatre producer, obedient daughter and sometimes rebel. It explores how this incredible woman found herself in a psych ward fighting for her life.

My Life as a Side Effect by Milissa Deitz

A memoir that helps demystify depression. It gives details from Milissa Deitz’s journey, including self harm, relationship breakdowns, medication and therapy.
The Green Bell by Paula Keogh

A memoir about Paula Keogh’s own experience with schizophrenia. It has been described as a coming of age story that takes a lifetime.

Tell Me I’m Here by Anne Deverson

This has become a classic text to read on gaining some understanding around schizophrenia. It is written by Anne Deverson and explores her relationship with her son and her efforts to get him appropriate treatment and the horrors they both endured. It does not hold back on catastrophic episodes.

Under Siege by Belinda Neil

Belinda Neil is a former police negotiator and homicide detective. Under Siege explores PTSD and its effect on not only work but also on her personal life. It is a very generous sharing of living with trauma.

Me and Her: a Memoir of Madness by Karen Tyrrell

This memoir appealed to me greatly because it looks at how a teacher was brought to the brink and how she managed to come back. As a former teacher who has witnessed and been on the receiving end of workplace bullying this really hit home for me. This book is very thought provoking into our own actions and what we dismiss and turn our backs on.

Woman of Substances by Jenny Valentish

The nature of substance abuse and addiction is explored in this compelling memoir/investigation by Jenny Valentish. From underage drinking to adult use of hard drugs, Jenny Valentish uses her own story and others to explore the nature of addiction, who is most susceptible, and what both treatment and mistreatment look like. Her skills as an investigative journalism are on display in this book as she draws information from experts and sufferers alike.

Well Done Those Men by Barry Heard

Australian Vietnam Veteran Barry Heard shares his life before and after the Vietnam War. It explores how young mean were sent off to war inadequately prepared psychologicaly. It also gives an earnest and gut-wrenching look at his post-war breakdown.

Crying into the Saucepan by Nikki Hayes

The incredible memoir of someone who had battled with mental illness for most of their life only to be repeatedly ignored or misdiagnosed. Nikki Hayes had received many diagnoses such as depression, postnatal depression and anorexia before being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. This memoir delved particularly close to my heart, because even though I don’t have BPD, I also had begged for help from various professional only to be fobbed off.

Small Acts of Disappearance by Fiona Wright

This is a collection of ten essays about Fiona Wright’s experience with an eating disorder. The essays cover different phases of her illness including life threatening anorexia nervosa. Heartbreak and humour are combined in this moving memoir from a well known and respected Australian poet.

Things That Helped by Jessica Friedmann

This is a collection of essays about Jessica Friedmann’s experience with postnatal depression after the birth of her first child. Jessica Friedmann has achieved honours in creative writing and it shows. The prose is beautiful to the point of poetic. Fans of Fiona Wright will LOVE this.

And of course there is always little old me.

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Postnatal Depression Sucks by Robin Elizabeth

A direct, not holds barred, earnest telling of my time in a psychiatric hospital with postnatal depression four months after the birth of my second and third children, twins. It is conversational, injected with humour, and includes practical tips.

So, on this R U OK Day, the 14th of September, I challenge you to go further than repeating a preprepared question. I challenge you to use the day to truly engage. Grab a memoir, bunker down, and find out what lived experience is like without interrupting.
Add your favourite memoirs about mental illness in the comment section.

If you or someone you know has mental health concerns you can find good resources on the following sites:

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

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

Beyond Blue https://www.beyondblue.org.au

Head Space https://headspace.org.au

Relationships Australia https://www.relationships.org.au

National LGBTI Health Alliance http://lgbtihealth.org.au

The Children of Parent’s With a Mental Illness http://www.copmi.net.au

Mental Health in Multicultural Australia http://www.mhima.org.au/portals/consumer-carers

Some postnatal depression specific sites are:

Gidget Foundation http://gidgetfoundation.com.au/

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

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

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: The Movie… Sort of

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I’ve done something new today, uploaded a video to YouTube. I’ve never done it before. It was exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time. Especially because my first post was the trailer or my book, “Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Postnatal Depression Sucks” which is out in December. 

I’ve never made a book trailer before either. That was pretty nerve wracking in itself. In the end I kept it simple; just my words, and pictures of me with my little ones when we were going through my PND. I’ve attached the link. I hope you like it and I hope you’ll love my book. And don’t forget to check back regular for excerpts, give aways, exact release dates and links on where to get a copy.


Thanks for supporting me. You all mean more to me than I can say.

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

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/

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Let’s #StartTheConversation and Have a Virtual #LunchOutLoud 

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Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Let’s #StartTheConversation and Have a Virtual #LunchOutLoud 

Okay ladeez, this week is PANDA’s   Postnatal Depression Awareness Week. As most of you know postnatal depression  (PND) is a topic that is near and dear to my heart and I started blogging about it after the birth of my twins. This year PANDA is urging people to host a lunch in November and start the conversation about perinatal mental health. I’m not exactly the hostess with the mostess, so this blog entry is my version of having a “lunch out loud.” So let’s start the conversation about perinatal mental health. I’ll go first.

I don’t just have PND and dyslexia, I also have questionable fashion sense.

Hi, my name is Robin and I had PND with all three of my children. Granted child two and three are identical twins, so it was actually only two  cases, which makes it a little easier to cram it all in.

Despite the fact I had several things that made me a prime target for PND I wasn’t diagnosed until 9 months after the birth of my first child. That’s an awfully long time to go untreated. I was picked up earlier after the birth of my twins, at 4 months, but by that time I was so far gone that I was immediately admitted to a psychiatric hospital with a Mother and Baby Unit. Hardly a postive reflection on our allied health professionals ability to pick and and begin ttreatent of  PND at this time.

Some of the more obvious risk factors I had, but were ignored, were:-

– Premature birth of all three children. my first child came at 35 weeks, and the twins came at 32 weeks.

– I had been through major depressive episode twice before in my life.

– I had limited family support and no paid support to fill that gap.

These were not my only issues but they were three key concerns that health workers should have known to keep an extra careful eye on. They did not.

My daughter, although born 5 weeks early, was big enough and strong enough not to need any medical assistance by the NICU. She roomed with me from the moment she was forceped out of my cut open vagingo. We were in hospital for 1 week and then  we took her home at just 36 weeks gestation. One week before full term, four weeks before her eestimated  due date.

Awwww, she still melts my heart on sight.

She looked like an angel and I loved her completely. However, she wouldn’t sleep and  would spend two hours on the breast, feeding. She out-right refused a bottle, and no, you don’t get to just let a premi baby go hungry to force them to eat, they’re small and have enough issues without adding tough love. Any time that I would try to lie her down she would shriek in pain and vomit.

I was lucky if I got 30 minutes sleep all up in 24 hours. I was a mess. I cried, I vomited, and I began to collapse at random moments. My husband was angry that I kept calling him, begging for help. He told me that I needed to learn how to sort stuff out on my own like every other mother. He had a dreamy 1950s Hollywood fantasy and I was rudely intruding upon it.

I told the community nurses, I told my GP, I told Tresillian, I told a social worker. Their responses varied from – I couldn’t really be sleeping that little or I wouldn’t be able to smile  (I’m a smiling depressive) – to – babies like to suck, a breast is better than a dummy, so I should just STFU. Nobody was willing o help me because I loved my baby and had bonded with her. As far as they were concerned, that was the only issue.

I contemplated suicide repeatedly every day. Given that nobody could see an issue with my existence I concluded that I was the problem . I felt that I wasn’t good enough to be a mother to my angel. It never occurred to me that I might have PND because the vast amount of media coverage depicted mothers with PND as being distant and unbonded. On top of that, not one single health professional had suggested it. I didn’t fit the stereotype, I didn’t hate my baby, I hated me.

When it came time for my daughter’s 4 month injection and checkup I couldn’t get an appointment with my regular GP. The receptionist recommended nother doctor. That doctor saved my life.

The doctor immediately recognized that my daughter had reflux and referred us to a specialist. She had a particular bad case. It was a textbook case and should not have been missed. Medication was prescribed. The GP also picked up that my daughter had hip dysplasia and referred her to another specialist. Because this condition was missed by the hospital, community nurses, and my previous GP, it had progressed past the point of a harness or brace being able to fix it. Within two weeks she was in for surgery and placed in a spica cast. It was traumatic for all involved. She is five years old now, her hip is much improved but not 100%.

Spica casts are not an easy ride, it gets better with time but don’t let anyone fool you into thinking it starts out easy.

Soon after that the GP called my husband into her office and told him that I was exhausted and unless he wanted me to end up in hospital he better start helping. From that point on she became my regular GP, I dumped the old one. A good GP is worth their weight in gold. If you find one, keep them, they can truly save your life.

After my daughter was treated and my exhaustion started getting under control my GP started working more seriously with me. So at 9 months post birth I was finally diagnosed with PND, put on a mental health plan, placed in therapy, and given medication. It was a long and brutal road but I got there.

I tell more of my story and all about my time in a psychiatric hospital with my twins in my book “Confessions of a Mad Mooer” which is being released in December. I hope it helps to further breakdown stereotypes and makes PND more relatable for others. We really need to get rid of the stigma and start that conversation to gain understanding and acceptance.

Okay, that was my turn, now it’s your turn to join the conversation. I’d love to read about your experiences in the comment section. 

My book! It’s out in December. Woot!

(Note: I’m dyslexic so if you wish to comment to gloat about spelling and grammar errors… your time will be wasted. I can not simply stop being dyslexic and see and write things as you do.)
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/

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Gastro and Antidepressants, Not a Winning Combination

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crazy pills

Recently I had a bad bout of gastro. I don’t just tell you this because I have a shameless love of sharing my bowel movements with people, I mean I do, but that’s not the reason I’m mentioning it this time. This bout of gastro meant that I couldn’t take my antidepressants. I simply couldn’t keep them down, not to mention the husband is not exactly a quality nurse. He found it quite odd that I’d need to be checked in on more than twice a day so dispensing medications was quite beyond him. So I went from Tuesday to Friday without any antidepressants. That’s four days without antidepressants. What could go wrong in four days? Surely that’s not that long. Wrong. The result of being off antidepressants were swift and brutal. On the Saturday I was well enough to get out of bed and keep some food and water down. I was feeling very odd, I’ve been in a down phase for over six months now but this was different, I took my antidepressant at about 8am for the first time in four days but it wasn’t soon enough to stop the effects that the withdrawal had on me.

 

At 9am I went back to bed. I still wasn’t very well from four days of exploding from both ends and not being able to eat. I proceeded to have vivid nightmares of memories that I prefer to keep buried. There are some people that are of a theory that you must confront and deal with every single memory and feeling but quite frankly there are some that I’m perfectly happy with keeping buried deep down under the concrete fog of suppression. They can stay buried as far as I’m concerned because there are some things in this life that I will never be strong enough to deal with and they get to stay in that box. Unfortunately they came running out of that box and dancing around in my head. I woke up. They continued to run around unfettered. Jumping about, opening other boxes. I desperately tried to close them. I began to shake, I began to cry, and I began to think I was losing my mind. I felt that my kids would be better off without a crazy mother and that I should kill myself rather than have them endure my endless psychological burden on them. I tried to contact my husband, he was busy. I tried calling the medical centre my GP works at, they were fully booked and nobody could see me. I then contacted my two best girlfriends, Helen and Lisa, they were probably busy, they’ve both got kids and commitments, Lisa was even in the process of publishing her book, but they pretended they didn’t. They sent me the number for a home doctor visit and asked if there was someone they could call for me, was there someone they could get to come see me. They immediately wanted to look after me and make sure I was cared for. At this point, 11am I sent the following message to my psychologist:

Hi _____. I’m really sorry to bother you on the weekend but I’m slightly concerned that I might be having a bit of a psychological episode. I can’t stop having nightmares even when I’m awake. I think it is because I’m so depleted from gastro, which thankfully stopped and I hadn’t been able to keep my medication down since Tuesday and because the pain in my leg is quite bad at the moment but I’m really struggling and just don’t quite know what I should do. I’d normally just duck in to see my GP but she doesn’t work on weekends and nobody else can see me and I was just unsure what I should do so was wondering if you had any advice. Sorry, Robin

She sent me a message saying that she would call me back in 15 minutes.

 

In four hours I had gone from feeling a vague sense of impending doom to feeling like I was losing my mind and wanting to kill myself. Such a short amount of time and I was ready to end it. That’s how intense sudden withdrawal from antidepressants can be. There was no lead up into this overwhelming despair it just hit full force within a matter of hours. I had started taking a new antidepressant a little over a month ago and had found it quite effective for me, it was like all that had been undone and I’d slid even further backwards. When my psychologist called she explained to me that I probably wasn’t losing my mind that I was probably suffering withdrawal symptoms. That the feelings that I was having were from the chemical imbalance rather than some sort of break in my mind. This was very comforting to me. She spoke to me for quite some time to make sure that I was okay, and told me to go to the emergency department if I needed too, and to not simply suffer through the symptoms if they were unbearable. That sudden withdrawal from medication was awful but it would be over in a few days but there were things that doctors could do for me in the interim, such as prescribe a drug like Xanax to keep me more settled whilst my regular medication kicked back in. Just knowing that I wasn’t crazy, that there was a reason that my brain seemed to be melting out of my ear provided me with great relief. It gave me a lens to view my thoughts through that let me know that it would pass, and that they would go away. The symptoms were still to server for me to cope with on my own so I took 25mg of Seroquel over the next few days whilst the worst side effects were present.

 

A week later and I’m back to normal and I actually feel really proud of myself. I know that probably sounds weird, proud of myself having a complete meltdown, but I am. 2 years ago when I went into Saint John of God Psychiatric Hospital I was having similar feelings. I went to my husband for support, he’s not good with the feelings, he was too busy. I continued to flounder and could not cope and felt like there was nothing I could do. This time round, in a matter of hours I had repeated the same process, reached out to my husband, he was too busy but I am hopeful that one day he will have made enough progress that he reaches back, on being rebuffed I tried my GP, on being unsuccessful I still didn’t give up and contacted my two wonderful friends Lisa and Helen and then my psychologist. In the last two years I have made three fantastic decisions that have made me a stronger and better person. I chose Lisa and I chose Helen to be my friends, without them my life would be so much less productive, and I picked the best psychologist that I have ever seen. Someone who understands me and how to treat me. Someone who is willing to take time out of their weekend to treat me. I am so proud of myself for making these healthy choices in my life. I am so proud that instead of spiraling out of control for months that I got onto it in a number of hours.

 

So I guess I write this blog entry to both warn people on antidepressants that if you get gastro or any other illness where you can’t keep your medication down then please go see your GP or a hospital immediately, because you’ll have effect beyond the illness and they are savage, but also, just because you fall it doesn’t mean you can’t get up. And just because you fall doesn’t mean you need to be ashamed. You can be damn proud of yourself for how quickly you got yourself back up.

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/