Tag Archives: Postnatal Psychosis

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Postnatal Depression Awareness Week #LunchOutLoud #PNDAawarenessweek #StartTheConversation

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Welcome to November. As those of you who follow my blog know postnatal depression is an issue very near and dear to my heart, having gone through it with both my daughter and my identical twin tornadoes. The 13th to the 19th is Postnatal Depression Awareness Week. I’ll be doing blog posts about PND everyday that week, plus have an exciting announcement and am initiating a giveaway but there are more ways that people can get involved.

PANDA are asking supporters and individuals to organise a lunch or get together where people can talk Out Loud and have honest conversations about the joys and challenges of parenthood. Everyone’s journey to parenthood is unique and different.

Five easy steps to enjoying your Lunch Out Loud

1. Set the date- Whilst Lunch Out Loud is designed to coincide with PNDA Awareness Week in November, you can hold your event at any time during the year!

2. Invite guests- Invite as many people as your venue can handle- at home, in a restaurant/café or at work.

3. Use social media- Facebook is a great way to promote and plan your Lunch Out Loud. Set up an event page, invite your guests and keep them updated in preparation for your event:
#LunchOutLoud #PNDAawarenessweek #StartTheConversation

4. Collect funds- you can accept donations, hold a raffle, charge an entry donation, hold a bake sale- the possibilities are endless!

5. Most importantly, have FUN – At PANDA we hear every day that parenthood is tough; friendship and support are a great first step in this unique journey. 

Get more info here:

http://www.panda.org.au/get-involved/panda-events/lunch-out-loud

If anyone is keen to organise a lunch in the Sydney city area but is worried that nobody will talk about their issues  please feel free to shoot me an email on robin.elizabee@gmail.com I am very open and honest about my experiences and am happy to come and talk. I already blog about it and have a book coming out in December about PND so am definitely an open book on the subject. At this stage I’m free Thursday and Friday to come help get that conversation started.

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Another Baby Is Dead, Let’s Not Demonise People With Postnatal Depression

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Content warning: (Infanticide, PTSD, DV, Suicide)

The nation held its collective breath when Sofina Nikat, mother of 14-month-old Sanaya Shahib, said that her daughter had been stolen by a “black man” whilst they went for their morning walk. Nikat claimed the man smelled strongly of alcohol, wore no shoes, he was African, between 20-30 years old, and that he pushed her down and then unstrapped little Sanaya before running off with the toddler. The story seemed far fetched, Internet sleuths quickly pointed out how could she know the age or gender or ethnicity if she didn’t really see them, how did he unstrap the baby in time, and what the F does African look like? The continent of Africa contains many countries and ethnicities so simply “African” doesn’t cut it. This isn’t 1920s America where a vague story about a “black man” is enough to get everyone gathering their pitchforks. And of course the brother of Nikat speaking about himself more so than the toddler he should have been grieving made everyone even more suspicious. Their suspicions were correct, Nikat has confessed. The “black man” didn’t take her baby. She murdered her baby.

Cue the cries of, “she must have had PND.” People insisting that the mother be shown compassion because nobody in their right mind would do something so horrible, she must have had Postnatal Depression. Compassion is an admirable state but I’ll just give you a moment to think about the full statement and let that sink in. Nobody in their right mind would do something so horrible, she must have had Postnatal Depression

Recently another Australian toddler died at the hands of his mother. His name was Braxon and his mother was Jasmine Mossman-Riley. Mossman-Riley jumped off a cliff holding her son Braxon after leaving a suicide note on Facebook. It was tragic. Any death is tragic, more so a child, and even more so when that child has the terror and pain of witnessing someone that they love killing them. Mossman-Riley’s family have said that she suffered from PTSD as a result of Domestic Violence and have urged victims to speak out and get help before it is too late. Nobody wants something like this to happen again. A family member of mine, on hearing about this case, decided to take me aside and tell me that she had read about the mother in Sydney who had jumped off a cliff with her child and that the mother who jumped had PND and I also had PND and to call her before I did something like that… blinks… it was mortifying. Let’s not even get into the logistics of the situation. The idea that I could get myself, a four year old and two year old twins off a cliff at the same time when I struggle to merely get them in the car at the same time without losing a sock somewhere. A friend told me to shake it off, she’s just a an older lady concerned about the kids…. but why? Because there’s a subconscious bias that PND = potential baby killer. [My friend, for the record has suffered PND and knows the two aren’t one and the same and wasn’t saying they were.] And not in the same way that anybody could become a killer, people link the two closely. It’s a subconscious bias that needs to be challenged because it is utterly false.

Those who follow my blog know I’m open about my struggles with PND. I even blogged whilst in a psychiatric hospital  (first entry is here), but I have never had an urge to hurt any of my children or kill them. I’m a living, breathing, human being, not some blown up stereotype made up by the media, an actual human being. And it was hurtful to be treated as such. As if any time somebody murdered their child, I would be thought of and that other mums, just struggling to get by, and doing their absolute best would be thought of as well. After how hard we try to be the best mums possible, in the end we’re just cut down to mindless killing machines because nothing else matters but that one label – PND. A label that shouldn’t even mean psychotic baby killer in the first place. It was insensitive and it hurt. It was also unfair. And the irony is, the mother had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from Domestic Violence, not Postnatal Depression.

Conservative estimates state that approximately 1 in 7 mothers experience Postnatal Depression. That’s just over 14%. Other figures have the rates considerably higher, even up to 30%. That’s a lot of women. If you know 7 mothers, chances are, at least one of them has experienced Postnatal Depression. Many of them will never have told you and the vast majority of them you will have thought were excellent mothers with good relationships with their children. You’d think that because the vast majority of them are. Depression is not the same as being a pathological killer. It is not the same as not knowing wrong from right. It is not the same as being utterly unable to control your actions. It can be debilitating,  it can cause bonding issues, although much less frequently than the media and societal stereotypes would have you believe. It does cause high levels of anxiety around your ability to parent. Anxiety than can interrupt sleep even more so than a baby up all night with reflux, or even twins with reflux. I’ve had both, the singleton, and the twins with reflux. And I’ve also had Postnatal Depression. Never have I ever had a thought to hurt, maim, or murder, any one of my children. Suicide, oh yeah, I’ve contemplated that, murdering another human being, one utterly dependant on me, no I have not. And chances are, the women that you know with PND, regardless of if they have told you they have it or not, also aren’t ticking time bombs just waiting to go off and kill a child.

Beyond Postnatal Depression is Postnatal Psychosis. In this state mothers do lose contact with reality and experience impaired decision making capabilities. Unsupported women with this condition can cause serious damage before they receive help. Supported women in treatment often have successful recoveries and have meaningful relationships with their children. When I was in the Mothers and Babies Unit at a Psychiatric Hospital I met two women who had been diagnosed with this condition. Both were picked up almost immediately after birth. Most cases are picked up within 2 weeks of birth. The first had been in treatment for three months by the time I met her. I would not have realised that she had a serious condition because her treatment had been so successful. I had noted that she did try to avoid being alone with her baby and had thought it was because she was a young mum and was simply anxious. Her anxiety was a whole other level because she still didn’t quite trust herself. She loved her baby very much and did not have murderous intent. So why was she worried? Perhaps explaining what the second woman I met was like might help. The second woman that I met with Postnatal Psychosis had only just been admitted. She had little touch with reality and at times didn’t seem to realise that her baby was her own. Had she been left alone with her baby she could have left it on the side of the street thinking it waa a garbage bag or tossed it into the washing machine thinking the baby was laundry. A pretty terrifying prospect for a young mum to think she might harm her baby without realising. I hope both of those women are doing great now, I know they were in the best place to recover and to embark upon fantastic future because they deserved it. And I don’t think people reminding them every time a child is murdered that they too were once unstable would contribute to that. In fact they’d probably find it not only hurtful that nobody could see their progress but also triggering. Do you really want to trigger a psychotic episode due to your insensitivity? Id also like to note that neither of these women killed their babies. A diagnosis of Postnatal Psychosis does not a killer make. A whole series of negative circumstances surrounding a mental health issue generally contribute to a catastrophic result such as murder, not simply the diagnosis of PND or PNP. So be careful when using a label of mental illness to explain murder because there is far more too it than that and you’re unintentionally vilifying a group of vulnerable people who are far more likely to be the victim of a crime than have one committed against them.

So how about we start being more careful about what we assume about others because of one of the many “labels” that they “wear.” And don’t treat a bunch of anxious mums trying to do their best like unhinged murderers incapable of making a decision, just be nice.

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/ 

Let’s Talk About That Baby

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock you will have heard about the newborn left in the drain for 6 days in Western Sydney at just 1 day old. You will have heard that the baby’s 30 year old mother dropped the baby approximately 2.5 metres down a drain, an almost certain death sentence. You will have been horrified and wanted to hug that baby. You will have wanted to tell that baby to fight and that he is worthy of love and life. You will have also heard the public outcry about the situation. You will have seen people calling for the mother to be locked up, beaten, dumped in a drain in searing temperatures herself. It’s a horrific situation,  people will obviously have an extreme reaction. It doesn’t surprise me, it doesn’t even disappointment me. All these strangers reacting strongly just proves how much they love children. The bit that does surprise me and disappoint me is that when women I know, who like me suffer from Postnatal Depression are calling the mother of this child all sorts of names, baying for her blood and saying how they can’t comprehend what she has done and that she deserves no understanding. Now I’ve personally never had any urges to harm my children, I sit within the postnatal depression range not postnatal psychosis BUT if we can’t have compassion, or at least a willingness to withhold judgement until all facts are out, for mothers who have done something so clearly out of the ordinary,  then… well… who the fuck will?

I never tried to OD with Postnatal Depression. Something that would deeply scar and traumatise a child for the rest of their lives, leaving them with a lifetime of issues requiring therapy,  but I withhold judgement from my friends who have attempted such things. I know what it’s like to feel like you’re such a toxic person that your children would be better off without you. So I offer these mothers compassion. Sure I could tell them they’re awful and that they don’t deserve kids and get up on my high horse and really go to town on them but I don’t. Why? Because I know what pain and confusion feels like. The same with mothers who leave their kids. I’m very much with my three babies. Mumma isn’t going anywhere save ill health (I can’t rule out being hospitalised with Pancreatitis again, unfortunately I just have a bad pancreas that confounds the medical world). But I understand the urge to run because you feel like you’re not doing anything right and your kids would be better off without you. Of course that’s not true, they’ll feel abandoned and unloved,  but we can see perception and reality aren’t always friends.

I hope you can see where I’m going with this. What if the mother didn’t abandon this child into a filthy hole in hellish temperatures which would certainly result in death because she was evil but because she thought it’d be better for the child to die than be with her. What if her self loathing wasn’t merely to depressive levels but psychotic levels? What if she did this out of sick depraved love not because she was “a dog” or a “selfish mole” or any other insult levelled at her? My heart doesn’t break any less for the baby. I don’t want to hug that baby and make everything better for him any less. It doesn’t make his circumstances any less horrific,  dropped into filth where he was unlikely to ever be found with no milk or hugs. The torment that sweet baby endured for 6 days when it so desperately needed love and nurturing sickens me. Not just a bit but to the point that I literally threw up. But I’m willing to see that the mother clearly needs help. That her mind is just as disgusting as that drain. That it needs to be cleaned out. That she isn’t necessarily some demon that needs to be hung. So I’m withholding judgement on the mother until the facts are clear and sending that baby love and strength. I urge fellow battlers of mental illness to do the same, because if we can’t show compassion for others, than who else can?

Furthermore, I think what some people fail to realise is that some women when in the depths of Postnatal Psychosis become so detached from reality that they just don’t even recognise their baby as a baby. Very rare but I have witnessed one such woman being shown her baby and repeatedly refusing the baby and asking the nurses what the hell they were talking about. Thankfully the baby was in a hospital and the nurses were there to protect it whilst this woman went through her break from reality but she could have so easily dumped her baby not even realising what she had done should medical staff have failed to pick up on the situation early enough.

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: I Didn’t Know I Had Postnatal Depression

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This week I’ll try to do a Confessions of a Mad Mooer post each day in honour of Postnatal Depression Awareness Week. My Confessions of a Mad Mooer posts deal with my journey through Postnatal Depression and the first post was here – https://riedstrap.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/confessions-of-a-mad-mooer-hi-im-a-mad-mooer/ But that wasn’t the first time I was diagnosed with PND.

The first time I was diagnosed with PND was 9 months after my beautiful daughter was born. I couldn’t have been more in love with her. I thought she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Every tear shredded my heart and I wanted nothing more than to protect her. Sure I was exhausted,  she had reflux which wasn’t diagnosed until late and she was also diagnosed with hip dysplasia late, but who wouldn’t be in those circumstances. I had a baby in a cast from ankle to armpit and severe reflux at the same time. It wasn’t easy. I was exhausted,  I was teary, I was suicidal. But hey I loved my baby and this was a trying circumstance so how could I possibly have Postnatal Depression? Women with Postnatal Depression all hate their babies right? They think they smell weird and will not hold them? Wrong. Sure there are some women who fit into that perfect stereotypical box but many women do not. Many women are DEPRESSED postnatally not utterly disconnected or psychotic. They love their kids, they just have zero resilience left. They put that beautiful baby to bed and then lie on the kitchen floor sobbing uncontrollably until the baby wakes again or they vomit. They can’t sleep for fear something will happen to their baby. They can’t unwind because everything they do they are sure is somehow wrong and ruining that little baby’s life. That baby that they love more than anything. Essentially it is exactly the same as the fears all mothers have but times that by ten and never ever switch it off, not even for a cup of tea. Women with PND are just like every other mother, just more so. We’re not scary, we don’t need to feel ashamed,  we need compassion and support. And even if you previously thought you couldn’t understand us, you really can because we’re just like you.

The medical profession has recently separated Postnatal Depression into two categories,  Postnatal Depression and Postnatal Psychosis. The later deals with those more extreme cases such as the rejection of the baby upfront, all the way up to those murder suicide cases that break everyone’s hearts. I have a theory that in years to come it will be split again to add a third category,  Postnatal Anxiety. Because I think that gives a more understandable definition. Mothers are anxious creatures to begin with, us women with PND just tend to excel at it.  Hi5s all around,  we won at something… even though it’s nail biting,  stomach churning and hair pulling…

Hug a mother today and tell her that she’s doing an amazing job.

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Any women who suffer from any form of depression or anxiety are welcome to join my own FB group which is pro mystical troll but doesn’t allow any nasty trolling.

https://facebook.com/groups/563402577109194

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/