Tag Archives: Psychiatric Hospital

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: I Love Eurovision

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I love Eurovision. In my opinion you’d be crazy(er) not to. In fact, I love Eurovision so much, that I talk about it in my memoir. Yep, I managed to work it into a memoir about postnatal depression. No regrets.
In honour of it being Eurovision season I’m sharing an entire chapter from my memoir with you now. And yes, it mentions Eurovision, repeatedly. Enjoy.

Carrots, Potatoes, and Broccoli

Okay, that last section got a little heavy with the artistic wankatude. I apologize. I did a BA, so can get a little theoretical and heady at times. Let’s bring it back down to reality with a chat about hospital food. I have spent extensive amounts of time in hospital. I have a dud pancreas, therefore from time to time, I end up in hospital on a cocktail of painkillers and NIL by mouth. When they ease you back onto food, to ensure you can eat without exploding from both ends and doubling over in pain, they put you on a clear-food diet. They tell you that this involves jelly, apple juice, and broth. This sounds kind of awesome. The only awesome part of this is the apple juice, which tastes like heaven after being denied food for sometimes weeks at a time. This desperation for food, unfortunately, cannot make hospital jelly or broth taste better. The jelly is vomitously sweet, and the broth isn’t so much broth as Bonox and water. It tastes like bitterness and the ashes of destroyed dreams. Once you graduate from apple juice and refusing to eat jelly and “broth,” you get “treated” to real hospital food. Just quietly, I’m fairly confident that hospitals save on money by serving up removed organs as protein. I’m pretty sure that I’ve had my own gallbladder served back to me and a few umbilical cords. When people say hospital food is bad, they’re not exaggerating. Always order the sandwiches for lunch and dinner until they ban you. Fortunately, food at the psychiatric hospital was markedly better. Perhaps it’s because they aren’t performing organ removals so have to actually source their protein from outside the hospital grounds.

Given that I went into the psychiatric hospital on the back of two stays in regular hospital, the food was a welcome relief. It was real, it was hot, it wasn’t wet, and it tasted reasonable. I was also able to go and eat it at a table rather than in my bed. It was almost like being human again. However, there was an element to the menu that soon began to drain on me. It was the accompaniment to every meal. Potatoes, broccoli, and crinkle-cut carrots. My relief at edible food soon faded to boredom and then heightened to horror as the weeks wore on. By week three I simply couldn’t face another meal with potatoes, broccoli, and crinkle-cut carrots on the side. It got so bad that we all began joking that they must have put one of the OCD patients in the kitchen for some rehab. The head chef would walk in, all excited for the day. “Okay, guys, let’s do something different today. I’m thinking an Italian theme. How about a little lasagne, maybe a nice Italian salad on the side?” And of course, we’d end up with lasagne with potatoes, broccoli, and carrots. The next day the head chef would come in and say, “Wooooohoooo, I’m coming down with Mexican fever today. Let’s do some tacos, some homemade guacamole. It’s going to be fantastic. You can do it, Frank.” In the end, they plate up tacos with potatoes, broccoli, and carrots. “Time for Chinese food. Who doesn’t love sang choi bow? Come on Frank, you can do some Asian greens, even include some Chinese broccoli.” And so we crazies are served up sang choi bow with potatoes, broccoli, and carrots. “Seriously, Frank? You’ve shown no fucking progress; get your head out of your arse and serve something different.” Ladies, here are you potatoes, broccoli, and crinkle cut fucking carrots.

I shouldn’t be to hard on them. They’re dealing with a lot of crazy people. Maybe if they gave us too much variety for our sides, we’d start getting ideas. They’d find us sitting nude in a janitor’s cupboard reading poetry whilst smoking a kranjska. Can’t have us going all Dead Poets Society on them. Particularly because none of our group therapists were inspiring enough to have us clambering up onto tables and declaring them our captain. One of my group leaders actually told me to just quit writing until the kids were all older. Robin Williams would NEVER have said that. It just wouldn’t work at all.

Honestly, our biggest source of excitement was watching MKR and discussing the impending Eurovision finals. But even our enthusiasm over television shows was kept at bay by the rigid structure of our ward. The whole decor seemed to be designed to ensure we weren’t too stimulated.  The communal lounge room had square chairs, square coffee tables, rectangular rugs, and a giant rectangle flat-screen TV mounted on the wall. Very orderly. It’s like the structured furnishings would help keep us calm so that we wouldn’t go wild. Probably so that we wouldn’t start making crazy demands like having something other than potatoes, broccoli, and carrots with every damn meal. In fact, if we giggled too loudly whilst watching our guilty evening pleasure of MKR, the nurses stared at us and asked us if we’d like our evening medication. Couldn’t have us giggling too loudly; there’s trouble to be had there—better medicate us and ship us off to bed. But I’m proud to say we persisted in rebelling. I even got a couple of magazines with sexy sealed-sections and left them in the communal area. Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone it was me.

But even with all this structure, the staff couldn’t diminish the untamed ecstasy that is Eurovision. Perhaps the hospital has better results further away from the finals. Because we tended to remain defiant and fobbed away our evening medication until we were told quite sternly that it was late, and the medication window would be closing, and if we didn’t take our freakin’ meds right now, we’d get reported to our psychiatrists. Given that mine was such a low talker that I wouldn’t have been able to understand any lecture I received, this was possibly not such a great threat to use on me. Unfortunately, my compadres quite liked their psychiatrists and could understand every word that they said, so I had no allies to fight the power with. But we still talked big.

And as for Eurovision 2014, what a spectacular winner. Conchita Wurst. An Austrian drag queen with exquisite eyes, the voice of an angel, and a beard. A real “stuff you” to the establishment. A celebration of being unique. It showed that you can be different and not deficient. Just like myself and my fellow mums were. We were anxious, we were guilt ridden, and we were gradually getting hairier ourselves because most of us assumed that we wouldn’t be allowed to bring in a razor, but we were great. We loved each other. We laughed with each other. We empowered each other in that “you’re weird and I’m weird, but that’s okay” kind of way. So as much as the food, the furniture, and the nurses wished we’d just mellow the fuck out a bit and follow an orderly life, it was the moments of joined rebellion that really helped get us through. It gave us a much needed sense of ourselves and let us know that we were still fun and good company. I still love those girls. I know you’re reading this. You’re possibly the only ones reading this. Big smooshy kisses to you all.

Looking back, there seems to be an awfully high correlation between inmates and a love of Eurovision. I’m not saying you have to be crazy to like it, but apparently, it helps. If you, like me and my crazy-arsed friends, find yourself getting the tingles each year as the Eurovision final approaches, then maybe you should consider getting yourself checked out. Personally, I think you’re crazy if you don’t like it. What’s not to love? The wind, the glitter, the dancing, the miming. It’s champagne television. But what would I know? I’m nuts.

Love that excerpt? Grab my book here.

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Nice Things People Have Said About My Memoir

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I am feeling so lucky that people I have never had the pleasure of meeting in real life are connecting with my book about postnatal depression. I could use #blessed right now without being ironic. The list even includes authors and bloggers who I have admired from afar, which utterly blows my mind. I went for a deliberately conversational tone, that tired minds could soak in, and dumped any highbrow existentialism in favour of being awkwardly and messily me. I am so glad it worked and people are able to connect so easily with my book. I’m going to share some of the comments from people… I’m not crying… okay, maybe I’m a little misty eyed.

 

‘The result was a funny, real, and sometimes confronting look at something many women deal with.’ Lauren Ingram, The Daily Mail

 

‘A potpourri of confessions, wise advice (not just for those suffering PND), hilarious parenting and cleaning tips, and compelling stories. CONFESSIONS OF A MAD MOOER is told with honesty and humour, and will make you want to join Robin’s girl tribe.’ Tania Chandler, Author of Please Don’t Leave Me Here and Dead in the Water, review on GoodReads

 

‘This book had me laughing out loud, holding my breath, and restarting my heart. The recognition of familiar situations, the descriptions of stereotypical reactions, the responses of well-meaning people…all conveyed in a no-nonsense account that is full of practical advice and suggestions, and most importantly, lots of non-judgemental support.’ Cass Moriarty, author of The Promise Seed, review on GoodReads

 

‘One might think that as this book covers the very important topic of PND (and I am well and truly out of the ‘post natal’ zone, with my ‘babies’ now staring down the barrel of adolescence), it’s no longer relevant to me. But the tough issues that mothers constantly face: (anxiety, yeh – definitely anxiety), the pressure to be that perfect parent, or worrying that your less-desirable parenting skills are going to outweigh the ones you’re proud of – never seem to go away. This book helped me see with a clarity (which I’ve really only learned to appreciate over more recent years), that those early years can be hard. Really hard. It’s ok to admit that, and it’s ok to ask for help. This book gives permission for mothers to do that, in the most humorous, honest way.’ Marie McLean, blogger and banterer, review on GoodReads

 

‘Robin’s voice is witty & unfiltered, but she also manages to hit home on some very big, often taboo subjects. I will be recommending this to all my mum friends, if not buying a few copies to share around.’ Kirsty Dummin Smith, blogger and very tired mum of a newborn, review on GoodReads

 

And can I just give a special shout out to John Hunter Hospital! There are a group of nurses their who bought like 10 copies of my book. You guys are awesome. Let’s all blow a big kiss to John Hunter’s Paediatric Ward. Mwah!

Find out where to grab my book here. OR just ask your local bookshop to order it in. They all have accounts with Ingram Australia / Lightening Source who distribute my book so you can get it anywhere in Oz. And they have deals OS too so check it out.

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/ 

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Invisible Prejudices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Memoir of a Teacher: Chapter 4, The Zoloft Diaries

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Memoir of a Teacher: Chapter 4, The Zoloft Diaries

My psychiatrist waits in Consultation Room 2.

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To get there, you have to walk up the hallway from your room, past the medication booth, then past the reception desk and then through the consultation room door. Safety screens cover all the windows so that all us inmates of the Mother and Baby Unit don’t gnaw our way out. You can’t have the motherly insane escaping. We might start fucking nagging someone or something.

I had never been here before. But I had heard of Zoloft before. Heck, this aint my first depression rodeo, I know zoloft. It was 2014 and zoloft was commonly prescribed for breastfeeding mums. I wasn’t to be one of the first to take zoloft, and I sure as shit won’t be the last. Let’s hope I don’t need to be on it for the next ten years. Fuck it, I’m going to try colonic lavage to fix my mood. I’m desperate.

My psychiatrist is a busy man. At least I assume he must be because he’s never around. Not that I can understand a word he says when he is around because he’s so freaking quiet. I need ear zoloft just to deal with him. He is handsome enough, I wouldn’t have shagged him back in my wild days but he’s not bad to look at I guess. He has a shining bald head and glasses so round you could use them for geometry. My mathematical knowledge is pretty poor so let’s just pretend I’m referring to the right area.

“Mwahflamammubble,” he said to me the morning we met. He gestured to a deep seat, and I sat as I assumed that was what he had said by his gesture but honestly he spoke so softly that I haven’t a fucking clue what he said. There was a silence between us then. A kind of awkward silence as I became increasingly paranoid that the mumbles were actually a question I failed to answer.

And that day was the beginning, the bare beginnings of a story very little like the popular zoloft myths–a wonder drug here, a drug that triggers violence there. No. For me the story of zoloft lies not between these poles but entirely outside of them. It is in the land of the bland and banal really. It just kind of takes the edge off, doesn’t cause hideous nightmares but also doesn’t make my whole world shiny and new. Should have gotten myself some seroquel whilst I was in there. In fact from time to time, when the panic rides me so hard I’m ready to peel my own skin off, I still regret turning down seroquel. But hey, a little bit of heart stopping anxiety for no reason is good for the soul, right?

I’ll leave my “appropriation” there because the original gets a little too scientific about prozac and I just can’t put my arty mind through that so close to bed time… fuck it, let’s be honest, the twins have croup and my little girl has gastro so I’m freaking exhausted and want to go to bed now. Yes it’s only 9:15pm but I’m really fucking tired.

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This chapter of my “memoir” was appropriated from The Prozac Diary by Lauren Slater.  Read the real thing here: http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/s/slater-prozac.html

To read the gripping first chapter of my “memoir” please go here: https://riedstrap.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/memoir-of-a-teacher-a-red-hot-tip-for-nanowrimo/

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As always if you’re a lady and a bit crae crae you are welcome to join my group
https://facebook.com/groups/563402577109194

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Wabi-sabi and the Mona Lisa’s smile

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I’ll apologise in advance for this post getting a little bit arty farty but it has been inspired by an art therapy session.

Whilst in the nut house for mad cow’s disease (in a psychiatric hospital for Postnatal Depression) I have been partaking in a bit of art therapy. For those wondering what art therapy is it’s essentially a place where people who are good at art can draw/paint/art masterpieces that express their inner turmoil or longed for optimism and the rest of the basket cases have fun doodling or making jewellery like we were little kids again. So far I’ve made three bracelets for my daughter (not pictured – that’s me and my boys). It’s nice to have the distraction. Now that might not be the technical explanation of what art therapy is, I did try to research what it was (I posted on a friend’s Facebook therapy “what do you do in art therapy?” I’m thinking investigative journalism may not be my thing) but I’m sure this gives you the general gist.

Art therapy can be quite daunting the first time you do it. Thoughts race like, “but I don’t art!” “Oh shit!! What do I art!!!” “OMFG!!!! I’m flipping failing at finger painting!!!!!” For those that are artistically inclined the feelings are apparently even worse. Fears of creating imperfect work abound, anxiety over time constraints ensue and before you know it everyone is just doodling and not creating the Sistine Chapel. Whatever your art level is this foray into a new environment seems to bring out similar fears, my work won’t be perfect, I’m not perfect, I suck.

It’s interesting that we as mothers (I’m in the chicken coup for PND) hold ourselves to such ridiculously high standards that a simple art class can dredge up such a tidal wave of self doubt and loathing. We want to do our very best and our children’s future seem to be in peril with every decision that we make. And todays saturation of parenting experts and baby whisperers only make things worse. If you’re not looking in your baby’s eyes as they play you’re making them feel abandoned. Pretty hard if you’ve got twins and or another child/children. Pretty hard even with one baby if you need to go to the toilet, brush your teeth or heaven forbid take a shower. If your baby cries they are getting permanent brain damage. Again the whole toileting and showering becomes a guilt ridden nightmare. If you just feed your baby enough and make them feel secure they’ll be settled and sleep well. An absolute trip down guilt lane into crazy town that last one is. This notion that if you do it “right” your baby will be happy and content is a crock. A baby is their own person, with their own thoughts and their own needs. There will be times when their needs are way more complicated than feed, play, sleep. Even more complicated then adding a bath or wrapping or not wrapping or massaging or or or or, the list goes on. When these inevitable unsolvable fits of crying happen to a mother without postnatal depression they get stressed and anxious. They then move on after the incident is over. When this happens to us mums with postnatal depression we start to spiral out of control. Our baby is crying, we can’t stop the baby crying despite trying every trick in the book and writing a few new chapters, therefore we are failing our baby. Our babies are going to become destitute, social misfits. Even worse, they’re going to turn into the emotional cripples that we are. Our beautiful, perfect babies would be better off without us around to screw them up. These catastrophic notions start to overwhelm us. Before you know it we’re out to sea trying to use a pillow as a boat and a cap gun as an oar. Now I like cap guns and pillows as much as the next person but they’re not exactly the correct tools for getting by out at sea. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great. Please don’t send me hate email saying stop pillow shaming. I’m just saying there’s a time and a place. A pillow is a fail as an oar. Just like expecting to be so perfectly intune with your baby that they are always smiling or sleeping soundly is a fail in reality. This idealisation of clinical perfection prevents us from being in the moment. It stops us from appreciating our experience as beautiful despite the “flaws” because deep down we are so ashamed of ourselves for not living up to these expectations of perfection that we can barely breathe.

In art there is a concept/movement known as Wabi-sabi. In a nutshell Wabi-sabi is the singular beauty in something that may first look wrong or flawed. It is the ability to see that the defects don’t actually take away from the aesthetic but enhance it. If you think of a sunset it isn’t perfectly lined colours with a perfectly circular yellow son in the middle. It’s a miasma of colours with a blobular orange sun slowly oozing downwards. This bleeding of warmth and colours is far more beautiful then if it was perfectly ruled lines on a page. Even in great art the “flaws” are still there. The transient nature of the human condition was something that the great da Vinci strived to capture and did so most famously in his masterpiece which we call the Mona Lisa. He deliberately attempted to capture a smile that was dynamic and fleeting because that is what he himself saw when he walked the streets. He could see the beauty in this inbetween moment and evidently so can we because people are still lining up to see her smile change depending at what angle they stand at. We can appreciate the imperfections in art, we can compose sonnets about it in nature, yet we condemn it in ourselves.

So what should we do? Quite simply embrace the Wabi-sabi, be our own sunset and be our own Mona Lisa’s smile.

I don’t know how long I’ll be on this journey for but I’ll keep you posted in 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!