Tag Archives: suicide

Alternatives to Suicide Talk in Glebe

Standard

Three months ago I attended an Alternatives to Suicide talk hosted by Being in Glebe Town Hall. I felt with the news of the passing of Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, Inés Zorreguieta and even Charles Williams that it was probably an appropriate time to share what I heard. And as the title suggests, yes this blog entry will indeed be discussing suicide and suicidal thoughts. The speakers, Caroline Mazel-Carlton and Sera Davidow, were from the Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community. It was really interesting to hear this revolutionary approach to dealing with suicide. What’s so revolutionary about the Alternatives to Suicide approach? First and foremost, you’re actually allowed to discuss suicide.

Being allowed to talk about suicide may seem like a given in order to be able to deal with it but unfortunately it’s not. Suicide is so taboo that generally the moment you open your mouth to say the word you get shutdown. If you’re talking about past thoughts you get told to shut up because you just talking about your issues will cause someone else to commit suicide. If you’re saying you feel suicidal people are leaping at you telling you it’s not normal, it’s not healthy, and you need to be monitored and have your rights curtailed for daring to vocalise just how tough you’re doing it. So being in an environment where silencing wasn’t the encouraged response was refreshing. I honestly felt like I could breathe easier just by being there. Being given permission to discuss and explore your life without fear of being silenced or shamed in itself was healing. But of course there was more to the talk than that.

After telling their own stories, where Caroline spoke about being treated as both dangerous and fragile like a time bomb made of glass, the issue of risk management was raised. It was pointed out how as soon as a person said they wanted to commit suicide the tone of the conversation immediately switched and the questions do you have a plan and do you have means were automatically asked. People aren’t asked why they’re asked how. And this is because of risk management. Which is odd because the most effective risk management tool is around 20-50% accurate, that’s right, as accurate as flipping a coin. Furthermore it was revealed that a clinician was more likely to be struck by lightning than to be sued over a patient suicide. So being driven by risk management and fear of litigation isn’t even realistic or particularly effective so we may as well just ask why instead of responding in fear about means in an attempt to control another person’s actions.

It was discussed how traditionally suicide is treated as the problem that needs to be fixed when in reality it’s a symptom of a problem that needs to be fixed. It was said that suicide is essentially a bad solution to a very real problem not the major problem driving a person. Why a person wants to commit suicide is key to helping them as is why they haven’t already. If we’re so busy restricting the movements of a person in order to control their ability to commit suicide then we miss out on dealing with the real problem that is causing this cry for a real solution to real pain. Ask why do you want to die and ask what do you want to do before you die.

Next the topic of pathology was raised. They spoke about how it is often portrayed that depression causes suicidal thoughts when in reality it is a symptom. They then unpicked where the concept of people having a mental illness are chemically imbalanced came from. Quick note before I go further Sera expressed that they are not anti-medication and that if medication helps you then you should definitely take it, they were more anti medication is the only and best answer. So please don’t misconstrue the next part to mean throw out your meds. Don’t throw out your meds! It was said that the studies into medication didn’t actually test levels of people within normal and severe ranges to determine if they are in fact different and that people are lacking in certain substances. They more ask how a person feels after taking medication and do they feel better. They get positive results in the short term and then gradually decreasing results in the long term. The comparison was made to coffee. These studies were compared to if we were asked if we felt better after a coffee, many of us would say yes, but does that mean we have a caffeine deficiency?

The talk really focused on the factors that contribute to suicide, such as a high ACE score. Having experienced multiple adverse childhood experiences tends to increase this risk. Being denied your own community and language increases this risk. Being silenced and ostracised increases this risk. And so the Alternatives to Suicide approach is to focus on these areas. How can we provide support for people, how can we provide community, how can we listen. It’s all about letting people have an open and honest dialogue without having to jump through prescriptive language hoops on what you are allowed to say and how you can say it. Do you know how demoralising it is to constantly have to say your life is a trigger warning? Alternatives to Suicide lets you speak without fear of repercussions and they let you explore why and also why not.

The key elements of Alternatives to Suicide are:

Validation

Curiosity (instead of fear)

Vulnerability / Transparency

Community

The people at Being did record the talk and I would love to share it with you, but to be perfectly honest, I can’t find where they have put up a link to it. Perhaps they filmed it for their own personal training or the link just isn’t quite as easy to find as I’d like. However, I did find a two part talk that Mercy Care has generously put on YouTube using two speakers from the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community Alternatives to Suicide program I hope it helps.

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/

You can read about what Australian journalist Jennie Hill has to say about the culture of silence around suicide here.

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: We Don’t All Make It Out Alive

Standard

My heart breaks for the family of Florence Leung of New Westminister, Canada. She was a woman, a human being in her own right, as well as a mother and a wife. Like me, she has battled postnatal depression, unlike me, she didn’t make it out alive. On Wednesday her lifeless body was found.

Last June Allison Goldstein made headlines in the US for her suicide. She was 32, just like I was when I had my first child, bubbly, beautiful, and well liked. She seemed to have it all on the surface. but below the surface postnatal depression pulled her down.

In 2010 an investigation was launched into Joanne Bingley in the UK. She had postnatal depression and sadly left her family home as her husband and baby slept and then laydown in front of an oncoming train. She loved her baby but felt like she couldn’t cope. Joanne had begged health care professionals for help but they wouldn’t listen. The result was that a little girl will never get to know the love of her mother.

These are just a few cases that made headlines, but they are unfortunately not isolated cases. Suicide is one of the leading causes of postnatal maternal death. I was nearly one of these women. Raging hormones, lack of support, complications with feeding, and exhaustion can provide a deadly cocktail for mothers. And yet women are still frequently dismissed when they ask for help.

Health professionals are supposed to be vigilant for signs of depression and not coping but mothers often report being treated like hysterical first time mothers when they ask for help. And science backs them up. Studies have shown again and again that males going in with the same symptoms as females are more frequently referred for further testing and given medication, whilst women are simply sent home. Mothers are on the absolute bottom rung despite the media releases from the health professionals declaring that they should be at the top.
I was on the receiving end of this dismissive attitude, I thank my lucky stars that someone finally listened otherwise I’d be another statistic. I doubt I’d even make it as a news report. Simply dead and ignored.

My daughter came at 35 weeks. She attached fine to the breast but was a slow feeder. She’d take up to two hours to feed. Then I’d change her nappy, try to put her down to sleep, she’d shriek in pain so I’d hold her upright in my arms so that she wouldn’t explode with acidic vomit. She’d sleep in my arms for forty minutes and the we’d start the process all over again. Day and night. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I’d cry often. My legs would buckle underneath me at random moments. I’d vomit up bile. I was exhausted and my body was failing me. I told the community nurse I was exhausted. She told me to just put the baby down and stop overreacting to every little sound. I told my GP at the time that I couldn’t cope. She said babies like to suck and a breast was better than a dummy. She said it couldn’t be as bad as I said otherwise I wouldn’t be able to smile or function. I felt like I was going crazy. I hurt. I couldn’t keep going. I wanted to kill myself so that my daughter could have a mother that people would help. And I would have done just that if things hadn’t changed.

My regular GP wasn’t available for my daughter’s four month check-up. I had to see a new GP. She diagnosed my daughter with reflux and hip dysplasia, both conditions were quite severe and had been missed by the hospital, community nurses, and my previous GP. Referrals to specialists were given. With medication for reflux my daughter was able to sleep better. Which meant I could too. She also needed two ooperation for her hip dysplasia, three months in a spica cast and several more in a brace. That GP improved my daughter’s quality of life and saved my mine. I doubt that I could have gone on another week the way it had been.

When my boys were born people said, just call, don’t get yourself into a tizzy like you did last time. But whenever I called they were too busy. And they were too busy the next day or the next. And then they’d show up and help with my daughter but I still had the twins, born at 32 weeks, to take care of and dinner to make.It was a slap in the face. A tokenistic gesture of help given not when I needed it and not in a way that allowed me to get any sleep.

As for my guardian angel of a GP, my boys had been in the NICU I was in their system. I had to go back to them for the twins’ checkups. I didn’t have time to also see my GP. When the social worker would pass she’d ask how I was, I’d say exhausted, she’d laugh. During check-ups I’d mention to the pediatrician that the boys weren’t sleeping well and I was having trouble taking care of them and their 2 year old sister. I was told that was life with premi twins, just deal with it.
Again by four months I was ready to end my life. And then my boys got bronchiolitis and ended up in hospital. In the emergency room I just cried and cried because I was exhausted and desperately worried about my babies and it was a catastrophic combination. I felt utterly alone. The emergency nurses were fantastic. They told me that they rarely got to have babies in there so would have no shortage of nurses who would want a cuddle. The nurses woke me to breastfeed then whisked my boys off to be cuddled. Nurses were coming from other departments on their break to get a cuddle with my boys. I got four hours of broken sleep that night. I wouldn’t have had much more than that all up in the past four months.

And then we had to go up to the children’s ward. I lost my beautiful angels of mercy who had come to help me in emergency.

They had strict rules in the children’s ward. Most of them resulted in the nurses not being able to help. So I juggled my two babies on my own and stared out the window and thought about how I’d jump out if I could actually open it. I decided that when my husband visited I would excuse myself to go to the bathroom, walk outside, then walk into traffic so that I could finally die. I was in so much pain, physical and emotional, that I just wanted it to end.

Luckily the pediatrician who had treated my daughter for reflux was the doctor on the ward. He took one look at me and knew I was not myself. He spoke reassuringly to me that there were options and that he was calling the social worker and that they would help. I was too tired not to believe him.

The social worker came. She said there were things that she could do to help but she also wanted to refer me to a hospital psychiatrist. He was there within twenty minutes. It became apparent that I was a patient along with my boys and that I was the more serious case. It was determined that I needed intensive support. Once the boys were well enough the three of us were transported to a psychiatric hospital with a mother and baby unit. And that’s why I’m still alive now.

If health professionals had continued to minimise my cries for help then I would be dead. I wouldn’t be typing this up on my phone next to my 5 year old daughter. She lies next to me sleeping peacefully as I type this because she was scared so came in for some mummy hugs. Last night it was my youngest child, he may only be younger than his twin brother by a minute but he’s still the youngest. He was scared and wanted to watch Yo Gabba Gabba. It was 3 am so I said no and he had an epic meltdown which I tried to soothe as quietly as I could lest he wake his siblings. The night before it was my middle child, all he wanted was for me to hold his hand whilst he dropped back off to sleep. If I hadn’t made it, my kids would have missed out. And to be honest, my death was only avoided by half an hour.

I owe a great debt to both those doctors, but they shouldn’t be so few and so far between. It’s about time health professionals stopped paying lip service to the notion that they’ll be vigilant of mothers struggles and actually were. How many more avoidable suicides must we mourn?

My book Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Postnatal Depression Sucks will be out in December. It deals with my time in the psychiatric hospital aan what I have learned. If it stops one more mother from killing herself then it is worth it. You’re not alone. I’m here, I made it through and so can you.

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/

Buy my memoir Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Postnatal Depression Sucks here.

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: I wasn’t okay #RUOK

Standard

image

When I was in my early 20s I was living with my boyfriend, studying teaching at university, studying kung fu,, creating short films, I was on New Start, and was working periodically in libraries, science labs, bars, and essentially anywhere I could. It’s not exactly an abnormal existence for a girl in her 20s. Lots of people work odd jobs to get through uni, lots of people move out of home, albeit the trend is to move out much later these days. Most people would have thought I had it pretty together. I had a smart boyfriend doing a prestigious degree, followed by honours and then a PhD, I was working towards getting my degree, I had active hobbies, short film and kung fu, that I was progressing well with, I was fit, and I was living relatively independently. Acquaintances would have thought I was doing well… but I was not okay.

On moving in with my boyfriend I had become increasingly isolated from my friends who I had previously seen regularly. Prior to my relationship I had a wide circle of friends in multiple friendship groups. I could dip in and out with different people from time to time. Strangely being an introvert this suited me well. I could see people briefly then flitter off to recharge. I didn’t burn out on people this way as I did when I had intense, one-on-one, friendships. My new boyfriend was the opposite. He had a very tight circle of friends and enjoyed intensity of time and attention. His friends were all living hours away in his hometown whilst he had moved to study. I became the sole focus of his attention. My friends began to balk, why does he always have to come? I was hurt by my friends shutting out my boyfriend and so withdrew. This led to my increasing isolation and suffocation in a relationship that wasn’t healthy for me. My boyfriend and I had so many activities that we loved in common that we just kind of assumed that we were meant to be. We were not.

Anytime I started seeking out new friends and wanting to go out on my own my boyfriend would see that as an attack on our relationship. He would in turn attack by saying that my new friends weren’t really my friends and they were just using me. I hadn’t come out of high school with sufficient self esteem to shake off his comments. One of my friend’s older brother had called me the walking forehead in year 7 and the name stuck. I had “cool girls” drawing pictures of me in year 9 science and passing them around the class saying how stupid I looked and what a try hard I was. In year 11 other kids complained that sometimes I wore shorts and sometimes I wore skirts and I should always wear one or the other. It wasn’t even that I could never win, I could never be neutral, I could never be just me. I withdrew in high school and did the same in this relationship.  I became increasingly depressed. My boyfriend needed a rather closed relationship and I needed to roam. Not in a non-monogamous sense. I’ve always been monogamous in romantic relationships. It was a mismatch of relationship styles.

A year or two into living with my boyfriend I encountered an old friend. She could sense something was up. She asked me if I was okay, and I said no I was not. Not only did she treat it seriously and not try to diminish or dismiss it she helped me deal with how overwhelmed I felt. She booked me an appointment with a GP and she even went with me because she knew I was too anxious to go. Now unfortunately after that point things unravelled for a variety of other reasons but what she did was important.

She didn’t just ask R U OK? and then move on.

She helped device a plan of seeing a doctor and helped me get there.

Sometimes when you’re at your lowest and feeling overwhelmed you need someone to step in and take care of you. You need someone to not defer and say that the parents, or the boyfriend, or the family, or someone else SHOULD be helping, but to say I will help you and here’s how I’m going to do it.

So if you know someone drowning in their iwn depression offer them a life line and sit with them and make that call. Take them to the doctor. If it’s an online friend send them links to Black Dog, or Relationships Australia, or Beyond Blue. Try to take a concrete step beyond just asking. Because words are nice but often people are already overwhelmed with sites and sounds and they need action to be taken. Ask R U OK, but let that be just the start.

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/ 

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

Standard

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/ 

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

Standard

image

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.

image

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/ 

Book Review: Under Siege by Belinda Neil

Standard

image

This memoir was gritty,  haunting, disturbing and made me cry in places but that’s exactly what it needed to be. In her line of work as a police officer Belinda Neil has been witness to horrific crimes. She wasn’t even spared of horror on the first day on the job. As someone who has family and friends who are on the Force this gave me a whole new level of respect for them. I always knew it was a tough job with horrible sites to witness but this book took me a step closer to just how mentally tough our police force has to be. I’m glad it only took me a step closer and that I will never have to fully feel the unspeakable horror of seeing a triple homicide. And I’m grateful for our men and women in Blue who are assaulted with this daily so that I can live a safer life.

On a personal note I found it quite interesting how after child birth her symptoms became over powering. Through my own dealings with PND, the psychiatric hospital, group therapy and managing my Facebook for mentally complex women ( https://facebook.com/groups/563402577109194 ) I have found that past trauma always comes flooding back after child birth and that PND does not happen in a vacuum. Although Belinda Neil has PTSD I believe that women with PND would get a lot out of this book.

Reading this book reminded me of Walter Mason’s “Inspirational Conversation” ( http://www.waltermason.com/?m=1 )  with P.M. Newton ( http://www.pmnewton.com/?m=1 )  at Ultimo library. She had said that she needed to to go on a journey of self discovery after the darkness of serving on the Force and now she writes Crime novels. I hope that Belinda can similarly find solace in writing,  although I know writing her own memoir was harrowing rather than cathartic perhaps fiction will give her the release she deserves.

Find out more about Belinda Neil here http://www.belindaneil.com.au/

Review also here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1098696331

image

As always if you’re a lady and a bit crae crae you are welcome to join my group

https://facebook.com/groups/563402577109194

image

Life Hacks for Women with #PND

Standard

8 Life Hacks for Women with Postnatal Depression

image

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

image

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

image

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

image

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

image

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

image

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

image

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

image

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

image

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/

image

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

R U OK?

Standard

R U OK?

image

Look after yourself today. Switch on your parasympathetic nervous system. Time for you to calm not shine. Bliss out with plenty of B vitamins,  zinc, magnesium,  omega 3&6, and iron. Love yourself and love your friends. Reach out and relax.

Any crae crae ladies out there looking for online shoulders to lean on, or a place to chill out and laugh, come and join my bunch of merry men https://facebook.com/groups/563402577109194