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I didn’t know that I had post natal depression. I just thought I wasn’t coping. I just thought it was normal.

Never in a million years did I think that I didn’t have to live that way. I honestly thought that it would pass. And I guess after my first child, it did. But I still had a bout of PND for the first 6 weeks. After the initial 6 weeks, a light came on and I finally felt like I knew what I was doing. Maybe it was just the ‘black dog’ going on holiday. Then he came back after my second child, and has been with me ever since.

My hubby was the one to tell me to speak to my doctor. He told me several times, and when I finally broke down, I finally thought I can’t live like this anymore.

And yes I manage the deepest darkness with medication, but if it helps me to find the light through the fog, I don’t mind. I like drugs. Drugs are good for me.

But that isn’t all I do.

I listen to my favourite music. I go to the gym every week to see my personal trainer which I only started to do as a result of my PND and is a constant check in to make sure I’m doing something for me. I write (case and point right here!). I exercise as much as my ailing body will let me. I have coffee with friends, and sometimes I just stay home and do nothing. I watch comedies on tv to make me laugh. I crochet. I build websites. Yes I am a nerd, but proud of it!

But all of these things give me an outlet to be creative, to be me, and to find that little piece of myself that I feel like I lose at times.

Do you know if you are the one experiencing anxiety or depression that you may not be the one to recognise it? That usually it is a friend or family member that will notice it first.

Even though we all think we know the signs, it is really common to think that ‘I’ll get over it’, or ‘I’m just having a bad day’, or even ‘I must be getting my periods’.

Though if you have been feeling this way for more than two weeks, it is most likely that you are experiencing a form of anxiety or depression.

And that is ok.

Did you know that 1 in 2 people will experience anxiety and depression at some point in their lives? That’s 50% of the population. And although there may be a major trigger for some – separation, loss, illness – others will suffer for years on end.

Yet no one needs to live like this. There is help. There is a lot of people who really want to help.

So if you find that you have been feeling ‘off’ for a number of weeks, and someone you know and love also recognises this in you, take 5 minutes to take care of yourself by seeing your GP.

 


 

Here is an extract from the beyondblue website in regard to seeking help, and the benefits of checking in with your GP.

It can be difficult for people with depression or anxiety to take that first step in getting help. These conditions can reduce people’s motivation or confidence to take action, and some may feel embarrassed. However, effective treatments are available so while you might be hesitant, it’s worth seeking support.

If left untreated depression and anxiety can go on for months, sometimes years, and can have many negative effects on a person’s life. It’s therefore important to seek help early – the sooner a person gets treatment, the sooner they can recover. Enlisting the support of family members and friends can be helpful in getting you started towards your recovery. A range of health professionals can also assist.

General Practitioners (GPs)

GPs are the best starting point for someone seeking professional help. A good GP can:

  • make a diagnosis
  • check for any physical health problem or medication that may be contributing to the depression or anxiety, or may affect your treatment
  • provide information and discuss available treatments, taking your preferences into account
    work with you to draw up a Mental Health Treatment Plan so you can get a Medicare rebate for psychological treatment
  • provide support, brief counselling or, in some cases, more specialised talking therapy
  • prescribe medication
  • refer you to a mental health specialist such as a psychologist or psychiatrist
  • provide information and support to family members, if you agree
  • schedule regular appointments to check how you are going.

Before consulting a GP about depression or anxiety, it’s important to ask the receptionist to book a longer or double appointment, so there is plenty of time to discuss the situation without feeling rushed. If you have not been able to make a longer appointment, it’s a good idea to raise the issue of depression or anxiety early in the consultation so there is plenty of time to discuss it.

It is recommended that people consult their regular GP or another GP in the same clinic, as medical information is shared within a practice. While some GPs may be more confident at dealing with depression and anxiety than others, the majority of GPs will be able to assist or at least refer you to someone who can, so they are the best place to start.

It pains me to say it, to admit it, but my children are a big trigger to my anxiety.

I never wanted to be the one to bitch and moan about my kids all the time. I love them to pieces, would do anything for them and will protect them to the ends of the earth.

But truth be told, they are a major part of my anxiety.

Socks. Putting on socks every morning as we get ready for school and kindy is the biggest drama in the world.

I get, ‘They hurt’, ‘I hate them’, ‘They’re twisted’, ‘You did it wrong’, ‘Something feels funny’, ‘They’re hurting me’… I could go on – it is a broken record in my house.

My response?

‘Socks?! Fucking socks?! Every fucking morning I am dealing with socks! They are the softest thing in the world yet every morning they are so fucking hard!’

Yep I swear. I swear a lot. Not just under my breathe, but quite loudly. Ok I’m usually yelling. I always feel like there is going to be a crowd out the front of my door shaking their heads at me as I take the kids to school and kindy. I’m almost certain everyone can hear me in the street. Maybe the loudness of it scares them all back inside their homes. Good. Be scared, be very scared.

This morning was no different, it was n’t just the socks though. It was also the brushing of the hair. It is like nails down a chalkboard the noises that come out of my daughter as I brush her hair. Every. Single. Day.

So much so , my nerves are shot, I get angry and there are tears. OH MY GOD THE TEARS.

I don’t know if my anxiety would be so bad, if I didn’t have to get tears after every little thing that doesn’t go right.

I want to cry. I want to cry. Every. Single Day. But I can’t. I have to listen to it instead. I have to listen, and listen, and listen to it.

I should be a spy.

They could use crying on me as a torture device and instead of breaking down and giving them the information they want, I’d go nuts and break them in half. That’s how it makes me feel.

Angry. Oh the anger that boils up inside. I hate it. It really makes me hate myself. For feeling so angry. And I don’t know what to do with it. So I yell. I scream. And then my heart breaks into a thousand pieces. Leaving a huge gaping hole inside my chest which is replaced by a huge think chunk of anxiety.

For being such a shitty mum. A horrible, mean, bitch of a mum. I am the mum I really didn’t want to be. The mum who is angry all the time. The mum that behind every smile is struggling with how she is going to cope with the same dramas outside of the home. The mum that every time her kids act this way in front of other people, has a mini heart attack because I have no Idea on how to deal with my own children.

And so now I’ve admitted it. I’ve been brutally honest with you, and although I may feel like shit, maybe, just maybe, one of you feels the same way?

That we are all horrible shitty mothers who have no fucking idea what we are doing, but at the end of the day don’t judge each other for it. Instead we cuddle each other and laugh at how ridiculous it all is. That we, as big kids, are responsible for these little kids, these mini figures of ourselves. And how the hell do we teach them the way of the world, when we don’t really know?

Talk about being nervous!

What a proud moment to be an Ambassador for beyondblue. 

Looking forward to a great day of fundraising, and pogoing at the National Bounce Back Day Pogo-Thon at Tempe Public School This Friday 16 October 2015.

Go here to donate to beyondblue for the fundraiser – https://give.everydayhero.com/au/national-bounce-back-day-pogo-thon

Well I didn’t write anything yesterday. And it was a bit of a test for myself.

I wanted to see if I failed to write just for one day, would I be upset. Would it make me just give up on the whole thing.

What I actually found was that I didn’t get angry at myself, rather I realised just how much my writing was helping me.

When I write I can write anything. I just blurt it out onto the computer and hit publish. Well that is what I am doing this month anyway.

At times it is hard to talk, really talk about how I feel. Writing is much easier as I can use so many more words to describe how I feel, and what I’m thinking.

It helps me to process the chatter in my brain, to realise the real thoughts and the monster thoughts I can just ignore. It is a very cheap form of therapy and I don’t even need anyone to read it. Knowing that I’ve recorded it I can always go back and remember what works and what doesn’t.

It doesn’t matter how little or how  much I write so long as I make an effort to get back to my writing, everything gets a little bit easier.

Today is a day when I have nothing to say.

This is not a bad thing. Sometimes, the silence in my mind is a good thing.

I am enjoying the sunshine. I have been in the garden. I have been to the pool with the kids and got wet. Nothing strenuous, and my mind isn’t racing.

Tonight I am going out for drinks with friends, and I have told them many times I am coming. Now all I need to do is make sure I get there. I won’t let the anxiety creep in and tell me to stay home. I won’t think I have nothing interesting to say. I will not worry about anything.

My friends will even read this and laugh when I show my face.

I have great friends that can laugh at me.

I am pretty fucking funny after all.

 

Today I am tired. It is a regular Friday issue. I just want to curl up on the lounge and rest. At some point I usually do, with my 4 year old beside me, as we watch a movie and take a breather before the craziness of the weekend.

So today I’m looking back over my week and realise I have a lot to be grateful for.

I use my ‘gratitude’ notebook to write down 3 things everyday that I am grateful for. It helps me focus on the little things and be more mindful of them as they are happening.

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Sometimes it is the very small things like –

1. Coffee

2. Sunshine

3. Sleep

And it doesn’t matter how little the items are you are grateful for, or what they represent, to be grateful for anything in your day keeps you focusing on the positive, instead of the negative.

But you have to be honest, really honest.

No excuses – no saying your day was so bad there was nothing to be grateful for, because no matter what, you should always find at least one thing.

For example… if you have been shouting at the kids all morning, then when trying to get out of the house you have a car accident, and you end up with crying kids and a nappy explosion with no change of clothing left in your bag, plus being locked out of your house…you would be quite in your right mind to bitch and moan about how shit your day was. I would even supply you with a drink and mounds of chocolate.

Yet in this you could find something.

Be grateful that you managed to get out of the house, that the car is damaged but you are okay, that clothes can be washed – or thrown away – and you will laugh about it one day, and that you have learnt that you should hide a spare key for when you get locked out next time (because if you are anything like me, it will happen again!).

You can also be grateful that at the end of the day there is someone close by who cares about you and what you have just gone through and I’m sure that at a moments notice you will have company to vent about the shitty situations, and laugh about it in the future.

(Caution: rude words ahead…)

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Part of my long term dream is to encourage more and more people to talk openly about their own anxiety and depression.

Last year I applied, and after an hour long phone interview, was invited to take part in training to become a speaker and ambassador for beyondblue. I had my first speaking event at the end of September this year, and it was a humbling and amazing experience. I was proud of myself for not cancelling (something that I would normally do when I was dealing with anxiety) and for telling my story to a room full of strangers.

My story is not hard for me to tell. I have told it a million times over, and is a part of who I am. I have even written it in down in my book for every one in the world to read.

Being a speaker and ambassador for beyondblue does make me feel proud inside. I have accomplished a goal of mine, and in times of anxiousness, I will hold onto this as a badge of honour.

This morning I met with a writer friend, who has interviewed me about my Oxfam trail walker experience. For those of you who don’t know, I participated in the Oxfam 100km Trailwalker at the end of September this year. It was an amazing experience and one that has had a major impact on me.

I did not finish. I retired from the walk at checkpoint 3. Just 43kms or 15 hours into the walk.

To tell you the truth – this is the reason for my anxiety and depression of late. In the honesty of this month, I thought I had dealt with these feelings, but the reality is – I am majorly disappointed and angry with myself for not crossing the finish line.

This is the first time I have admitted this.

I am angry because I feel as though my doubt got the better of me. My mental toughness was not there on the day. The darkness of the night made me give up, throw in the towel and pull out of the event.

My knees were swollen and sore, and I admit the recovery took me some time following the event. Yet I can not let go of the feeling I gave up too easily. I can repeat to people over and over that my knees where what took me down, but in truth, in my heart I believe it was my brain that gave in.

On a different day, could I have just kept on going? Would it of changed the result? Would I be feel proud of myself instead of holding onto this gut wrenching feeling of regret?

It is these feelings that have been swarming around in my head. Subconsciously, and now consciously, for weeks on end.

How do I deal with these feelings? How do I move past them and learn from my experience? This I am not sure of yet. I know that in time this will come and I will look back on the walk as a fantastic life experience.

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I have my beyondblue ambassador role to keep me in touch with knowing that even when I am feeling low, my whole purpose is to show people that these feelings are all ok. They are a normal part of everyday life, it is just how you bounce back from them that shows your true strength.

I am proud to say that I will be representing beyondblue at the National Bounce Back Day Pogo-thon next Friday.

Just like life, pogo stick riding can take you high, low and even have you fall over but we can BOUNCE BACK! The National Bounce Back Pogo-thon is all about getting children to understand that we all have low days but we can bounce back and be RESILIENT.

They are raising much needed funds for beyondblue in their efforts and if you would like to donate you can so here – https://give.everydayhero.com/au/national-bounce-back-day-pogo-thon

pogo-thon

I think the price for perfectionism is the pain that you experience when you don’t reach the level of perfection that you hoped to.

All In The Mind | Australian Story – Gary McDonald (Monday, 5 October , 2015) 


I watched this episode of Australian Story on Monday night (as recommended by my mother-in-law) as part of the ABC’s Mental As program this week.

It struck so many cords of similarity in my own way of thinking. Garry McDonald talks about perfectionism and using CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) as a way of managing the thoughts in your head. I have, and continue, to use this process when I’m in a fog.

Take today for instance. I am smiling and social. It is after all Wednesday – and I’ve just finished my Wednesday coffee catch up at my place. It has become a tradition that on Wednesday morning after school drop off, a group of friends will pop into my place to enjoy a home made coffee on my sparkling machine.

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I love it. I love that it isn’t always the same group, depending on prior arrangements, but that everyone sits and chats. It gives me that social catchup I need in my week. Otherwise I don’t think I would see anyone except for drop off and pick up times. And sometimes, I just want to get home – to my safety net.

But now that everyone has gone, I’m alone with my fog. I am tired, after a restless night with the 4 year old, and it is compounding on my lack of focus and will power.

So now comes the tough part. I have to challenge my thoughts. It is almost like I have to talk back to my brain.

Brain: No one will care if you lie down on the lounge all day today.

Me: I have to work.

Brain: No you don’t. Your hopeless at it anyway.

Me: No, I have to write my post first.

Brain: Then lie down and do nothing.

Me: I could, but then I’ll end up behind in my work. And I will feel worse.

Brain: Perfect.

Me: No it is not perfect. I don’t want to feel worse.

Brain: I can make you feel worse.

Me: Shut up. I’m putting some music on to drown you out.

And now I’m distracting myself by listening to one of my playlists on Spotify. It is upbeat and gets me wanting to dance. I’ve turned it up loud enough to only be able to hear ‘Me’ and not ‘Brain’.

Here it is if you want a listen and need to drown out the voices, or as I call them – the monsters in my head

https://open.spotify.com/user/1251365346/playlist/1uYJD1QXQlB5TMld2btSOn

I would love to know what you use as your own distraction…

Today is back to school for my daughter, back to kindy for my son, and back to work for me & hubby.

I think we were all a little sheepish today. Daylight savings has us in a mini fog, and this heat is adding to the tiredness. Day 4 of plus 30 degree temps in Sydney. Just unheard of for this time of year.

So back to the grind for the four of us.

I’m late writing this morning as i had a catch up session at the gym today. I missed last weeks due to the sickness in our home and I only remembered as I was falling asleep last night that I had planned to go today. I woke to my son telling me he had wet the bed. Our bed. He had crept in during the night (a habit he had gotten into whilst he was sick) and although he had been doing so well for the last few weeks, this morning he must have been extra tired and just did not wake up in time.

It was 5.45am. My response was to just get up with him and put on the shower. I woke my hubby who groaned unhappily, but he was due to get up at 6.00am so what did it matter. Doesn’t it feel better to wake up before your alarm anyway – so that you are not startled from your sleep?

See things like that don’t bother me. I don’t make a fuss with my son as i don’t want him to be upset about something that happens to everyone. I just get up and get on with the job.

He showered, and dressed for kindy, ate breakfast as I made his sisters lunch. I actually felt like I was in control this morning. I even managed to get the kids off to before school care & kindy with just enough time for me to make it to my training session.

And what a beautiful morning to arrive at Cronulla at the gym.

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Chatting to my trainer, I told him about how hubby and i have started our eating clean program, to kick start my mood. I know that not eating well affects my brain and so now we are working on that together.

The session was good, and then as we finished I jumped on the scales… I had put on 2kgs in 2 weeks. There is that comfort eating I knew I had been doing. I knew I felt disgusting, and now the scales had confirmed it. I had not been this heavy since I first started at the gym – back when Ryder was only 9 weeks old. And whilst I don’t put pressure on myself to be ultra skinny, I do know my ‘happy’ weight range and I was 4kgs above that.

I have to stop pretending that I don’t care about my weight. I do. And I know at the moment, the fact I can’t fit into any of my shorts from last summer that I am holding that pain inside. So forgive me for wearing my #activewear to work, but it is all that fits me right now.

And it’s hit me – I was in a bikini in front of my neighbours yesterday. Oh gees, what a fat, white mess.  Mind you a did put the disclaimer in before jumping in the pool that I was a fat, white mess… so at least I pre-warned them. I’m seriously pale – fluro even at the moment. Like my skin is allergic to the sun. Guess I need to leave the house more. *sigh*

I know that to feel better about myself I will have to put some effort in. But I have been struggling to exercise without knee pain. (More on that story later, I’m not yet ready to delve deeper there. Though I will get it out – as I’m sure it will relieve me.)

If I am eating right, I hope to have more energy and feel like trying low impact exercising. Mind you the garden work I did the other day I have claimed as my cardio for this week. Though the eating I did over the long weekend more than cancelled that out.

It’s another day today, and whilst I am feeling lighter in the head space, I still have so many doubts. Doubtful I will be able to stick to our healthy eating plan (notice I didn’t say diet? I don’t diet – as I treat it as a ongoing plan to eat healthy), doubtful I will get some exercise in, doubtful it will make a difference to my brain or my body, doubtful I am worth it.

But I have to keep on challenging those thoughts.

Well yesterday started out anxious and full of flutter.

Grand Final day in the Rugby League and we were having a small BBQ at our place. My anxiety was purely from the alcohol I’d had the day before, and knowing that I had to get the place ready for our visitors. I went up to the shops to pick up a few bits and pieces, and once there, realised i could not decide on what to buy.

I often have lack of focus when dealing with anxiety. Combine that with a weary head and I could not put two thoughts together.  I’m sure it would have looked funny on the outside we me just wandering the aisles aimlessly. But at least I wasn’t talking to myself as well… So the shopping trip took a little longer than expected but I did get there in the end.

Oh had a few ‘fail’ moments yesterday as well. Completely had no idea daylight savings had kicked in, so spent the first few hours of the day thinking we had all had a sleep in and gotten out of bed at 8am. Well technically we had, though I did not benefit from an extra hours sleep. Then had that feeling I was running late all day.

Made some sorbet for dessert in my Thermomix. For any thermogeeks out there I forgot to mill my sugar first, so I’d put the berries in, plus all the ice, then removed half of the ice again (read the recipe again) and realised I had to put in half the amount of ice at a time. Then mixed everything – ah shit forgot the egg white, opened the lid, cracked an egg – ah shit didn’t separate the egg white, had to scoop the yolk out with my hand (they were clean I promise) – it was now I realised I forgot the sugar, oh well who needs sugar. And then just processed the shit out of it and stuck it in the freezer.

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Don’t tell anyone…

Any how, the day was lovely spending the afternoon with old friends and their kids. My anxiety was at bay, actually I didn’t even think about it all evening. Watching the grand final game, and being surrounded by people who have known me for years just made me feel comfortable and ‘at home’.

Mind you the game was a great on to watch and I’m not ashamed to say that I love my footy. I love my sport actually. I’m so happy that JT got his fairytale ending. It was amazing to watch all the ups and downs. And see all the tears flowing freely from grown men. I feel for Ben Hunt and dropping the ball. My heart went out to him – as he has been amazing all year. I know that’s what I’ll remember instead of one moment in the GF. Hopefully he will too.

I’m now enjoying a morning on the back deck having a late breakfast date in the sun with my hubby. We are watching the 49ers NFL match as I am following Jarryd Hayne with interest. Did I say I love my footy? Well I don’t care the code. Watching sport is one of those happy feelings for me. Win, lose or draw, I have a tonne of respect for the mental challenges professional athletes go through. I almost said toughness, but they are no different to you and me. They struggle, they have constant battles to be the best and take it hard when they make professional mistakes. It can mean their careers.

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Hopefully my truthfulness hasn’t meant the end to my career.