Tag Archives: psychology

Life Hacks for Women with #PND

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8 Life Hacks for Women with Postnatal Depression

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Girl Interrupted

When you have PND everyday chores and merely thinking can become an impossible task. Solutions that seem so simple to others are often drowned out by the barrage of negative critics inside our own heads. So here are 8 tips to take the thinking out of the equation for you so that you can get back to being the best you that you can be.

Outsource Support

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PND does not occur in a vacuum, although it does seem very much like you are trapped in the vacuum of space where no one can hear you scream, it is a whole family issue. Most women with PND are lacking support, whether it be an emotionally distant partner, dysfunctional family of origin or having moved far away from family and friends, these women are often very much “alone” in some way. Hire a nanny or babysitter someone to fill that void. Nobody is Super Woman, everybody needs help. Even just 4 hours twice a week will have you feeling more in control. Use one day to sleep and the other to get things done.
There are several organisations that can help connect you with a babysitter so that the whole process is not so scary and difficult to manage. Find A Baby Sitter allows you to advertise for a Babysitter or to simply browse through people in your area and contact them.

Order Food Online

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Sometimes doing big shopping trips is hard with a little one in tow, having to manage carrying a baby or toddler or two plus heavy groceries can be a more strenuous workout than any Zumba class. Order big items online. There are of course always the big two companies, Coles and Woolworths, but other companies run delivery services as well such as Farmers Direct and Harris Farm.

Get a Dryer

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Yep, you’ll feel like an environmental terrorist but it will save you time, time which is precious to you. You don’t need to be Super Girl or Enviro Woman every moment of your life. You can prioritise getting through the day for the next few months/years and then return to your ecologically friendly ways once you have the energy to smile, let alone lift your arms to do washing.

Get a Therapist

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Nice one Sherlock, tell me to get a therapist, obviously I know that but where to start. You can always check the list of Medicare Approved Providers in your area, call up, find out if they have a vacancy, and then see your GP to get a referral to that specific person, or see your local GP and ask about a Mental Health Treatment Plan and ask who they would. With a Mental Health Treatment Plan, Medicare Approved Providers give you either free or drastically discounted therapy. You simply pay the gap.

Medicare isn’t the only organisation that helps with paying for psychologists. Both BUPA and The Teacher’s Health fund offer free one on one sessions with PIRI (Parent – Infant Research Institute) connected Psychologists. No paying upfront and getting a refund you simply show them your card and they bill the Health Fund directly.

Your Child Health Nurse at your Community Centre can also refer you to see a Social Worker who can be of enormous benefit for pointing out options and strategies.
There are also organisations like Maternal Connections and Jade House that deal exclusively with women and women’s issues. Google “Postnatal Depression Psychologists” in your area.

Relationships

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PND is a whole family issue. There is every chance that you may need relationship counselling with either your partner or ex-partner. Living with a person with depression can be tough on the partner, but living in a depressive state where you do not feel supported is also a harrowing situation. Both sides need to heal the rift so a good place to start is Relationships Australia.  Relationships Australia is a National body that offers assistance with setting up and maintaining positive relationships in families and communities. Just call them up and ask them where to start, they’re experts in the field not you so don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers because that’s what they’re there to help you with.

More Intensive Intervention

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If you’ve hit breaking point then it is time for serious intervention. Across the country there are Mother and Baby Psychiatric Units that allow yourself and your child/children who are under one stay for treatment. They have nurses on staff to help with not only your care but also your baby’s and psychiatrists and group therapists to assist you in healing. Speak to your GP about what Mother and Baby Units are near you and how to access them.

Just Breathe

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Sometimes it seems like it’s all too much and that you can’t take it for a second longer. You have a baby crying, dishes piling up and no help in sight. Just breathe. Everybody says it, but it does work. I find that more focused breathing through the use of Tai Chi or Chi Gung to be more helpful to me rather than simply taking deep breaths as it really allows me to detach for a moment, regain my energy and start again. Even just a two minute warm up exercise can help and the best bit is you can do it anywhere, and if you have a toddler they’ll usually join in quite happily. Being a busy mum you probably don’t have time to dash out to a Tai Chi class but you can still learn the basics through an exercise DVD or even YouTube.

Keep a List of Contacts

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If in doubt phone a friend, and by friend I mean a professional. There are several organisations who will be happy for you to ring up and say, “I’m lost, I’m struggling, I need help and I don’t know what to do.” They’ll then ask you a whole bunch of questions in order to try to find out how best to help you. Answer them honestly so they can do their job. It may feel intrusive but you’re worth it and you deserve help.

http://www.panda.org.au/
http://www.piri.org.au/
http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/
https://www.lifeline.org.au/

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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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Gidget Foundation http://gidgetfoundation.com.au/
  2. PANDA http://www.panda.org.au/
  3. PIRI http://www.piri.org.au/
  4. Black Dog Institute http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/
  5. Lifeline https://www.lifeline.org.au/