Lost

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I am lost.

I am so totally, utterly and completely lost.

I don’t know which parenting book to read first, which website to visit, which therapist to call. I am struggling with the heavy weight of despair closing around me like a cage. It’s not so much my own depression that I am battling – though that war wages on (and on and on), it’s the added weight of feeling lost in my own family.

My beautiful baby girl – Beanie – I don’t think I could feel further away from her than I do right now. I think I have spent more time crying in the last few weeks than I have in the previous few years. I’m sure not having the buffer of the antidepressants makes things that much rawer but I also feel that it is the cumulative weight of my mothering grief that is really pouring out of me right now. Every day there is a new row, a new argument, a new drama to negotiate. Beanie is not yet 6 and she behaves like a hormonal teenager right down to the ‘”I’m not listening!” and the slamming of her bedroom door.

The hubble and I are struggling to understand what happened to our happy, funny little girl. When did this angry, sullen, overly sensitive teenager slip into our home and take her over? When did she decide that the only way to get our attention was to defy, challenge, ignore, scream, shout and push against us continually? Is this what being 5 is normally like? I keep hoping that it is a phase but I don’t think that it is. I had hoped that starting school would help her settle into a rhythm, help her to learn to listen and act as part of a little team. It has not. Her teacher, a lovely woman very experienced in teaching, has told us that Beanie is very ‘challenging’. Tell me about it. But where does that leave us? If a woman who has over 20 years of teaching calls our daughter challenging and finds her difficult to deal with, then what hope have we? We have a grand total of nearly 6 years experience of having children and most of those have been fraught. At least they have for me.

I can honestly say with my hand over my heart that I do not enjoy parenting. It’s not that I don’t love my children. Of course I do. With my whole conditional, demented heart but I do not enjoy the endlessness of this ‘difficult’ phase in my mothering journey. I have been on this road too long and no matter what help I seek, I am still here, still sitting in the shit and wishing it smelled differently. I cannot seem to move away from the sadness and the grief and the enormous guilt that I am forever saying and doing the wrong thing. I say things in anger that make my cheeks sting with shame afterwards. I try to reason with her like an adult, even though I know that she is still so very little. I lack the ability and the tools to know how to manage my angry child and not make it all worse. Not make my own anger and sadness worse. I’m sitting here, sobbing over my keyboard and trying to empty it all onto a page, so that i can at least find some space inside of me to figure out what to do next. Where to go now with my precious, rebellious, angry daughter.

Discipline doesn’t work, time-outs don’t work, consequences don’t work, taking things away from her doesn’t work. We have tried time-in’s but they are not working. I am desperately trying to master active listening, so that she feels heard – God knows with me for a mother and my own rage evident much of the time, she probably feels completely unheard – but I am trying so hard. I truly am.  Nothing changes her behaviour. She is rude and disobedient to us in particular, but it has started spreading to other adults too – her grandparents, her aunty, whom she absolutely adores, and to people she barely knows. I’m only surprised that it hasn’t been more evident at school. She isn’t rude there, just disobedient. And she doesn’t listen to anyone. Not ever. And then we will have a week where very little behaviour is evident, where we seem to have turned a corner and then BANG! for no apparent reason, she overflows with brattishness all over again and we are left standing in the debris wondering what the fuck happened. And I sit there feeling like it is ALL my fault. That my anger, my difficulties with mothering, my impossibly high standards for myself (and therefore probably others too), have just fucked up my bright beautiful little girl and I deserve everything I get. And I’m sure everyone feels like this from time to time but I know how bad it gets here when I am way out of control with frustration and resentment and every little thing sets me off. I am on simmer all the time with this PND and yes, I decided to come off the medication anyway. Mainly because it was simply detaching me even more than I do myself, every time things got tough – which is EVERY DAY. I don’t want to be emotionally disconnected from my children. I don’t want to not feel anything or feel through cotton wool. I thought that it would help, but it didn’t and the withdrawal from even the low dose of SSRI’s that I was on, was phenomenally bad. I will not ever take that kind of drug again. Not ever.

She is struggling and I don’t know how to help her because I am struggling too. I can work through some of my difficulties with my therapist, but what can she do? The only person she really has to talk to is me, or the hubble, and obviously we are the last people she wants to talk to right now. So we have made the decision to take her to see a child psychologist/family therapist. This is a major step for me because I feel so horribly responsible for the whole situation. I am terrified that when I explain honestly to the therapist what has been happening, that he will recommend that Lily be immediately taken away from me. Thus realising my absolute worst nightmare – that I am such a shitty excuse for a mother that I am not safe to be around my babies.

What the fuck do I do? How do I turn this horrible heartbreaking situation around and make it into something good before she hits her teens and we find ourselves in every parent’s worst teen nightmare. I am scared for our family and I am scared for her. This much wilfulness needs to find an outlet that is positive and self nourishing or it will destroy her and everything around her. I know. I’m jumping ahead wildly, she is only 5, but I can see it coming the way a rabbit can see the headlights of an oncoming truck and can’t seem to move out of its way. I am a staring down a semi with ‘out of control Wild Child’ written on its grille. And it terrifies me.

Wildling in the Forest

Wildling in the Forest

If you could see her – you would immediately know how wonderful she is. She is so smart, and so capable and she has such perseverance – she will try something over and over again until she masters it. That’s not to say that she does it with any kind of patience – we have many, many tantrums over her inability to do something initially, but she keeps going back. I know that feeling. I am the same. I don’t want her to be like me. I don’t want her to carry my issues as her own. I want her Spirit to remain intact. I just also want her to understand that in finding some way to express herself that is not defiance or downright rudeness, she is giving herself tools to manage her own volatile emotions and that can only be a good thing.

Didgeridooing

Didgeridooing

But if you did meet her, you might be amazed at how often we have to ask her to do something before it gets done. Or you might notice how cheeky she can be, how inappropriately she often behaves – like flashing her bottom at people for no apparent reason, or at us because she knows it incenses us. Or you might notice that she has seemingly boundless energy, which she more often than not uses to get into mischief or to just push buttons until something snaps and we go spiralling into another argument, another weepy tantrum, another round of screaming and door slamming. Even my patient, kind, playful hubble is losing the plot.

Dancing Queen (from the 1980's!)

Dancing Queen (from the 1980’s!)

When she sleeps, I go and sit by her bed and tuck her into her blankets. I kiss her softly on the cheek and stroke her head or hand and I tell her how much I love her. I tell it to her as she sleeps because I keep praying that in that open unconscious state, she will hear me as she can’t seem to when she is awake. My heart is breaking for our relationship. I don’t know how to move forward with her. I don’t know how to mend all that is broken between us and it is torture and pain and so much sadness I can’t contain it all. I think that I have spent most of the time between school drop off and this entry, crying. I am not someone who cries much. But these last few weeks I have made up for that in spades. I have never felt so ineffectual and there is only so much gentle discipline I can try with my exasperating child before I revert back to the disciplinarian and get angry again.

Me & My Girl

Me & My Girl

I am crying for myself and for her – that she feels so wounded that all we have is this fractured connection. I am crying for my wee Bear who is already picking up on her behaviour and copying it – as he does everything else she does. I am crying for the strain it is putting on my relationship with my beautiful, compassionate husband – and though I know he loves me and trusts me and understands how hard I’m trying, I also know that in his heart, he blames me a little too. I am crying for the nurturing mamma in me who can’t seem to catch a break and who would tear herself in half if she thought it would make everyone happier. I am crying for her because I so want to step into the role of mother and I cannot.  I just don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to travel this path with any kind of grace or understanding. I feel as if I am just swinging wildly from one problem to another with no way of making the pendulum stop.

I keep asking the Great Mystery to reach out a hand to help me. I need some guidance to figure out how to do this right. I don’t expect a life filled with roses and sunsets on the beach but it would be nice to know that there is even a chance I can spend one whole day with my child where we love each other and enjoy each other’s company. One day in which there is no drama, no tears, no anger, no pulling away or withdrawing. One day in which I can hold her hand and see the child she is inside and make her laugh again.

For her and for myself I am asking The Powers That Be – please, please help me. Please show me a way to make this right before it gets stuck in wrong, forever.

Don’t Make Me Angry…

You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

And I’m angry a lot.

You can call it frustration, irritation, having ‘the shits’ (Australian vernacular), being pissed off but it all amounts to the same thing. Anger. And if that anger is not positively expressed, then it becomes depression, guilt, resentment and self-loathing. I think I’ve experienced them all in varying amounts but the fact remains that I have ridden this frightening roller-coaster of exhausting and self-defeating emotional turmoil for far too long. I’d love to say that I’m coming out of it now. I’d love to say that I can see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel but honestly, being in a tunnel suggests forward movement. I feel like I’m at the bottom of a very, very deep pit. And that’s where I’m stuck.

I made the decision to come off my PND medication a couple of months ago. I have gradually been reducing the dosage and it’s been bumpy but bearable. However, I have noticed that the anger is amping up again. Certainly the anger was there even with the anti-depressants, but I guess I wasn’t as connected to it. I wasn’t as connected to anything actually – hence my decision to come off. But I am concerned about what it is happening to me right now.  I am yelling so much. I am swearing so much more. I plunge into irritation and frustration at the slightest provocation and, today, the cherry on the cake, my anxiety started to resurface. I had that fear, for the first time in ages, that something was going to happen to my child and that our last exchange was an angry one. I had to fight hard to not give in to the wave of panic that rose. I had to remind myself fiercely that, as Beanie is in school, it is unlikely that anything bad will happen to her and that I am simply feeling much of what has been dampened down by the medication. Honestly? I was quite happy to have this particular feeling dampened. It gives rise to this sense of hopelessness and guilt that is horrible to sit with. Because there is always a chance, isn’t there? Always a chance that this horrible ‘un-wish’ could come true. And then where would I be? How do you live with something like that? I hope that I never have to find out because just scanning that scenario is enough to send me limping for the Nutella and Gin.

It’s funny but nobody ever tells you how very scary your own mind can be. I have had times in my life, though thankfully they were short, where I truly wondered if I was losing my mind. Or if our family is just genetically more pre-disposed to mental, what shall we call it, disturbances? That sounds a little bit too ‘Psycho’. This is more of a mental gloominess. Understandable on many levels and yet, the spirit is strong in almost all of us. These stressful wonderings are made worse by the presence of real mental illness in the form of my older brother. The childhood thing was just too much for this sensitive boy and he turned inwards and became inaccessible with cataonia, and then unreachable with schizophrenia. Suddenly there were just too many ‘other’ voices in his head for him to hear ours and he changed from being a handsome young man with his whole life ahead of him, to a reclusive and increasingly paranoid late middle aged man who looks much older. A visibly shrunken, wizened version of himself, prematurely grey and with his troubles written all over his beautiful face. And there he stays. Taunted by voices from the past who berate him and keep him pinned in such a dark, dark place, very little light or love can reach him. So you can imagine how the thought that I might end up like him crosses my mind from time to time. Because I was there too. Not for as long and thank all the Gods for that sweet mercy, but long enough for just a little of that darkness to stick to my insides and cause these glitches in my otherwise happy existence.

It’s amusing because before I had children, I never thought of myself as a depressive personality. Sure I had been sad before, even experienced some real grief, but I always knew that it was fleeting and that it would pass. Even the depression I suspect I experienced after my relationship with Adam fell apart had an end. But our family don’t get depressed. At least I didn’t think so. Until, that is, I look hard at what feelings where experienced during difficult times. Understandable levels of grief at loss, and sadness where it was appropriate but when my mum’s sister died, she grieved alone and not for anywhere near long enough. She didn’t want to upset anyone else even though she was completely devastated. Our family has this toxic history of never truly expressing our emotions. Of never truly connecting with that big wall of ‘ack!’ that lives inside of each of us and that stems from all of the horrible psychic, emotional and physical beatings we have endured. And why would you want to? Because healing cannot come through such high walls, such well guarded fortresses. And so, with each tiny prick of sadness, each small niggle of grief, each small spark of rage – another brick is added until we are convinced that we are coping beautifully, while everything smokes and slowly burns away at our happiness unnoticed by our brisk, busy and cheerful air.

It’s all so deeply ingrained that we don’t even know it’s there most of the time. We just ‘get on with it’ or, my personal favourite, we ‘grin and bear it,’ as so many people do. As so many people of my mamma’s generation had drummed into them and indeed, there is most definitely a place for that. I don’t want to wallow in a big pool of self-pity, or at least not long enough for my skin to get all pruney. I want to ‘do’ and keep moving, even if I’m going around in circles at the bottom of this fucking pit. At least I’m doing something. I’m not waiting to be rescued, though clearly I would need someone to at least chuck down a ladder in order for me to climb out. Unless depression gives you wings anyway. And I hate feeling lethargic and useless. I am someone used to doing, achieving, action. So when the depression is at its worst and I can see no point in doing anything because it will only be there to tackle again tomorrow, it’s demoralising to my accustomed gusto too. I have been here for far too long now. I am missing so much of my children’s lives, bogged down in regret and self-loathing. I know that I am not a wholly bad mother. I realise that I am simply a loving mamma who has anger issues, but that’s not what I live with daily. I live with the outbursts, the foot-stomping, tantrum throwing, unreasonable, resentful mamma, who just wants everyone to fuck the hell off and let her alone to sew, for fucks sake! And that is who my children live with too. And that is what I find hard to forgive. I am so far from who I imagined I would be that I’m not sure who I am any more, and that’s more worrying than most things right now. I am, once more, in this process of unravelling, or revealing all the scarred and wounded places I would really rather not look at. Thankfully, I have a good woman by my side who can be stern and soft in equal measure (and believe me, I do need both, for I am an artful dodger when it comes to uncomfortable emotions) and who offers me a place to empty out. It’s slow going and I admit I find it frustrating sometimes. WHY do I need to go back to these pockets of darkness in order to feel the sunlight on my face again and be reminded of who I am? Why? Why? Why? (A question i get asked a lot by my nearly two year old!). Surely the past is exactly, exasperatingly that? THE PAST. But know, delve we must. Blah blah fucketty blah.

So this is where I am. Sitting in a big pile of my own emotional shite at the bottom of a very deep well, wanting a ladder and ignoring it when it’s there, in equal measure and trying to negotiate this progressively more unmedicated state with some degree of grace. Most days, it’s broke and I feel like I’ll never fix it. As I think I said to my hubble just the other day, some days my life feels like a Mike Leigh film and he’s not known for his rainbow unicorns. Ho hum.

Anyway – as this has been largely a big pile of emotional doodoo to write and, I’m sure, to read, I will leave you (or is it just myself I’m talking to?), with something cheerier to think about. Just be grateful Mr Leigh never brought out a fabric line…

Stuff I have made (and look, it’s in cheery bright colours too, ooooh:

I Hope You Dance

Ok, I realise that the above may reveal a little more about me than I might wish. I would therefore like to justify my choice by saying two things. I am not a fan of country music,(I find it one of the more self indulgent types of music and therefore a little hard to stomach, though I do love the titles of the songs (‘If You Leave Can I Come To?’ and ‘You Ran Away With My Best Friend And I Sure Do Miss Him’) and I admit to having a soft spot for ‘Sweet Home Alabama’). Secondly, it was a little text reminder from a good friend in the UK that reminded me of this particular song and why I had apparently played it “over and over” during a very difficult time in my life. The friend in question is about to get married and I can’t be there as I’m due the same day as her wedding! She intends to walk down the aisle to this song and I think, given everything she’s been through to get to this place in her life, it is wonderfully appropriate. So there you go. Justification over.

Ahem.

In other news, the bump has dropped. I have another eight weeks to go and apparently the bump dropping has given people carte blanche to comment constantly about how low it is. I literally couldn’t get away from one woman who insisted on commenting (with horror) on how low my belly is and how high she carried her son until the week of the birth…and then I got a play by play of how big he was and how small her pelvis was and how it ended in a caesarian…yadda yadda yadda. Why do people do that? I mean, I get that they think that it’s forming a connection and that maybe it’s interesting to share birth horror stories with pregnant women (thanks) but many of these comments are tainted with a kind of obnoxious attention. As if by comparing themselves to me and coming off more favourably, it makes them better people, their choices better or their experiences better. It pisses me off a bit to be honest. *sigh* I think that given how complicated life often is and how tiring being pregnant is, we should be left alone to enjoy (or not) our individual experiences of pregnancy without people feeling it’s their solemn duty to point out anomalies, imperfections or share unbidden their most intimate birthing experiences with us. Is that too much to ask for?

On top of all of that I have been feeling a bit wibbly in general. This pregnancy has rushed by with unseemly haste and I am now standing on the threshold of the next birth/death gateway with my new bubby. I am aware that I have dropped early. I am also aware that I may not get to enjoy the fullness of the next eight weeks because it could happen at any time. And I. Am. Not. Ready. Not even close. I meant to do so many things differently this pregnancy. I did. I meant to meditate regularly and do pre-natal yoga. I haven’t. I guess I’m learning to accept that this is just the way I am but it’s not going to help me when D-Day arrives, is it? The pelvic instability thing has worsened and the back ache has deepened, which has meant that my mobility has been compromised and the nature of the instability means that the yoga poses that I am most drawn to, are the ones which would make the instability worse. *sigh 2* I feel trapped in a large body that is becoming less workable and comfortable by the day. Add to that the fear that I might go into labour early and have a premmie baby with all the intervention that will bring about, and you have one nervous mamma.

The baby’s got hiccups. It’s very cute.

Anyway, I don’t want to rant on. I am not in a very calm or centred place right now. I am slightly unnerved by the swiftness with which everything is moving and how unprepared I am for everything that is to come, despite my best efforts. I’m about to start working with my doula this week and that gives me some hope that we can get to a place of, if not peace, then relative calm before the upcoming birth. I am also due to do my Calmbirthing classes this weekend, so at least there will be one new tool in my birthing repertoire this time.

I sound panicked don’t I.

I just want this birth to be a good experience for me and the baby and I know how badly things can go wrong. I’m trying to focus on the things that will help me to bring about a better birth but I guess it’s natural for the fears to come up first, to have some attention given to them, before they pass away. At least that is what I am hoping.

More later.

The Girl in The Bubble

So, I’ve been having a few problems with our neighbours. They like loud music played late at night. I don’t. We have an arrangement where I ring and tell them to turn it down and they do. And they are usually decent about it. The trouble is, I am beginning to get very anxious about it. My highly stressed nature is anticipating the problems to come. I am already fed up of having to phone them every weekend to tell them what they must surely realise – that they are playing their music too loud. Again.

So, I went to see my psychologist yesterday and I mentioned the problem I was having with my neighbours and how anxious it was making me. We then proceeded to have what I felt was a very combative session. She basically said that I was not dealing with the problem and that I was being ‘too reasonable’. I disagreed. I AM dealing with the problem, every week actually, and as I said on many occasions during our session, I had every intention of trying to find a better solution with our neighbours, the next time I spoke with them. I was merely expressing my fears that it could all end badly. I found the session quite stressful. Rather than helping, I felt she added to my already stressful situation.

The problem is that I CAN see things from other people’s point of view. From a very basic perspective, it is MY problem because I’m the one that doesn’t like the loud music. Sure, they should be aware enough to moderate their behaviour and take other people’s needs into account – but they don’t. I can’t change them. I can only change myself. My psychologist thought it was silly of me to think about having triple glazing put in when I shouldn’t have to. Well yes, I SHOULDN’T have to but, as I can’t really see this situation getting better over time, I need to think about ways to keep my sanity and not have to move house. This is a solution. It may not be a great one given the cost and inconvenience and it doesn’t replace my need to talk to the neighbours honestly about my concerns but what it all the talking doesn’t produce a change? What then? That was when she suggested that I was trying to ‘control’ my environment. (Well, duh!) And that I was living in a bubble.

Personally, I think that whatever gets you through the night (without being adrenalised and upset) is a good solution. Bubble is fine with me if it means I get to live my life undisturbed. I will still continue to dialogue with our neighbours but I have to do what keeps me stable and able to sleep at night. Am I wrong?

I spent all day yesterday looking into soundproof windows and triple glazing and acoustic technicians to help me figure out the best solution for our problem. It could be costly and yes, I do resent having to think about these issues at all. Before they moved in, I didn’t have to. All was well. However, I am dealing with the ‘what is’ of the situation. Or trying to.

This got me questioning the nature of reality. Mine to be specific. Warning: This may rub people up the wrong way.

I have always believed that we have a reasonable amount of control over our own reality in a ‘create your own reality’ type of way. I have seen it work time and time again in my own life (for good and bad) and I have clearly seen the way it works in other people’s lives. I do not, though, believe in Destiny necessarily. I think that we all have free will and that we can choose to work with or against or in spite of, the prevailing winds and/or the gentle ministrations of Spirit. Now, I am a bit of a pessimist by nature. Actually, this is not true. It is not by nature. It is by experience. Anxiety, fear and constant dread were the prevelant emotions for the early part of my life. This has definitely affected the way that I view the world when the shit hits the proverbial fan. I get into disasterising, even though I know it won’t help and isn’t healthy. Yes. It’s annoying. I know. It’s also frustrating because it’s like I can’t let go even though I know I need to. So, the anxiety levels rise and the body gets flooded with adrenaline and I go over and over and over the problem until I want to scream. That is what I mean when I say that I am pessimistic. I know that I can’t accurately predict the outcome of this current difficulty. But I can look at it logically and say if it was going to improve, it probably would have with the first of the numerous phonecalls I have made.

I have run the entire gammut of emotions really. I have felt punished by adding yet another noisy neighbour to the two we already enjoy. I have felt totally depressed by the thought that my every weekend will be peppered with stress and anxiety as I anticipate and then deal with the inevitable noise pollution. I have felt unbelievably wronged and angry. I am concerned that my whole philosophy of life is completely wrong and that has caused a somewhat existential crisis. Well, perhaps that’s a touch over dramatic, but that’s what it feels like. Like I am in crisis. I feel like I should be able to look for the lesson and ask myself what I am supposed to learn by this. Why have I attracted this situation into my life? And I am asking that daily, believe me. Maybe it IS all about sticking up for myself and my needs. Maybe it is all about learning to ask for what I want and being prepared to be unpopular in order to get my needs met. I know other people who would just call the cops. However, I think that in order to get a good result for everybody involved, their has to be dialogue. There has to be at least an attempt to resolve the situation to everyone’s satisfaction. I don’t want anyone to lose. Least of all me.

Then there is the whole ‘what if I’m totally wrong about life, the Universe and everything?’ dilemma. What if I AM wrong about the way I view life. What if I am just shit out of luck. If it’s just bad luck that I am living in a noisy beautiful area, then what do I do now? My belief’s help me to deal with life, the shit and the good stuff, they give me an understanding of things, they help me to make sense of it all. That’s normal for a spiritual belief system isn’t it? So, if I AM right, I do create my reality, then why did I create this? Why couldn’t I learn this particular lesson in some other, less stressful way? Like I said. Existential crisis. Oh deep and unadulterated joy.

So, as Michael directed, we are dealing with it nicely first off. We have met them, we have introduced ourselves and our daughter to them, to let them see the ‘real’ family that they are impacting. I have explained our needs and asked them to keep the noise down after midnight. I have since phoned on three occasions to ask them to turn it down and they have been sweet about it but it doesn’t stop them from banging up the volume every weekend. So, now I have to think about how to approach it when it inevitably happens again this weekend. I have to be much more direct and explain about the impact it is having upon me and upon us as a family. I have to do all of this and it causes me great anxiety. I hate confrontation. I still do it but I hate it. It stresses me out and taxes my already tired adrenals. I don’t want any of it and yes, I’m bitter about it right now. Tired and bitter and not very hopeful.

Anyway, I just needed to get that off my chest. And if anyone has any suggestions on how to tackle this problem constructively, i.e. not just reporting them to the police (that may come later!), then I’d love to hear them.

I’ll post Day Seven of my 30 Days of Happiness in another post. There’s not much happy in this one!

On Visits & Strange Offers


*Photo from here.

While my daughter enjoys a little one-on-one time with Charlie & Lola, I thought I’d pop in here to have a quick catch-up. I know, it’s a bit naughty, but she’s happy and I’m getting some ‘me’ time. There was precious little of that last night as our little visitor gave me a mere 20 minutes of sleep before joining us in bed and wrestling her way all over me for the next 4 hours before I got up. Tired doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Anyway, the real reason why I’m here, is to share with you the delightful news that the PND Fairy is visiting again. Well apparently, she never actually left. This revelation is however not as dark and woeful as it may sound. My visit to the naturopath yesterday was surprisingly helpful despite the rather depressing prognosis and I have been given at least a little useful information on ridding myself of my most unwelcome visitor. It’s sort of ironic that I went along for some advice on dealing with some long standing health issues and to talk about preparing the way for another baby and ended up being diagnosed as still suffering from Post Natal Depression caused by the first little ankle-biters arrival. I wasn’t diagnosed with PND until Lily was 16-months old and a lovely friend suggested, quite gently and with much love, that my struggles with motherhood might be due to me suffering from post-natal depression and recommended that I read ‘The Masks of Motherhood’ by Sarah Maushart. I did and I found it very helpful but I honestly believed that the worst was behind me and that I was out of the thick of it. How did I not pick up that something this obvious was wrong? And not just me, the maternal health nurses, the doctors, the people who were supposedly supporting me after childbirth? I guess there are such subtle degrees of it, it can be tricky to detect. I mean, I filled out all the forms that are supposed to detect PND sufferers. Are you crying uncontrollably – no; Are you overwhelmed and unable to cope – no; Are you having thoughts of harm to yourself or your child – definitely no. So why would I think that I had PND? I was coping. Yes, I was emotional and slightly overwhelmed, but so are a lot of new mothers and I had so much more support than many others. Of course, I also set the bar so high for my mothering that I could not help but fall short in my efforts, so that didn’t help.

* My idea of the PND Fairy. Image from here.

So fast forward to now. I’m sitting in my naturopath’s office talking about health issues and pregnancy and getting a bit emotional, as I do when someone gives me the opportunity to talk about stuff that I normally keep so well compressed in my psyche, when buggar me if she doesn’t drop the PND bombshell on me again. She states, with a great deal of surety, that I have, in fact, been continuing to live with and trying to raise a child through, some more undiagnosed PND. Great. Just. Great.

Actually, it was rather great. You see, the diagnosis of PND means that I am not the entirely crap mother that I often feel myself to be. No. I am actually suffering from an acute form of anxiety which presents as hypervigilance and an over-reactive response to any form of stress. As she said, it should really be called Post Natal Anxiety because that’s what it really is. And let me tell you, life with a toddler can be very stressful. Hence, the Shouty Banshee is in fact simply a mother coping with PND. I feel sort of vindicated. A bit. I mean as I’ve said before, it doesn’t give me carte blanche to be a crap mother but it does at least enable me to see how some of the difficulties of the past two and half years could be attributed to this undiagnosed and therefore undealt with condition. I have been trudging under the weight of so much weariness, mental sluggishness and a real lack of enthusiasm for life and mothering. And it has been harder than I ever could have imagined despite the end result being so beautiful and radiant a spirit as my Beanie.

And so, I am now taking copious amounts of St John’s Wort to help get my emotions under control, am on a new low GI diet to help keep my blood sugar stable and thus handle the endocrine system imbalance I suffer from and am under strict instruction to do 45 minutes of exercise daily in order to lose a few kilos. My naturopath also told me that if I didn’t feel better in two weeks, to call her as she would be frankly shocked if I didn’t feel much improved in that time. So – the baby-making is on hold temporarily – we don’t want to go into all the hormonal upheaval of another pregnancy when I’m still hormonally upheaved from the last one! – and we are working towards a calmer, more emotionally stable Kitty. Bring it on, I say!

I also enjoyed a much more enjoyable visit yesterday and a welcome squidgy shoulder to cry on. The delicious sol-y-luna came a’callin’ and we hatched up numerous plans for our newly formed (with gorgeous DocWitchy) Cackle Club. Much mischief and red wine guzzling will no doubt ensue. Lovely sol-y – what a great couple of days we had. We laughed our asses off during a spot of fat burning belly dancing with bollywood moves thrown in for good measure. We talked about things past, present and future and we shared a good few glasses of red. We even went outside and serenaded the beautiful Lady Luna, who was in full and beautious flight across the blackberry blue and star-studded night sky. It was dee-lightful. And the best part is, I get to do it all over again on Saturday with the added bonus of Doc. Yes, the first official meeting of the Cackle Club is happening this Saturday and, hold on to your hats, it includes a Pyjama Party. Whoo hooo! I cannot wait for a whole day and night with my girls. We are planning on visiting the wonderful Stitches & Craft Show at the Melbourne Show Grounds, during the day but apparently, Sol-y and Doc have some surprises up their sleeves for lil old me. Hopefully it doesn’t involve me, naked in a classroom, without my homework. I’m sure it will be ‘moste excellent’ as Doc would say.

Talking of strange offers – I have, oddly enough, been approached by The State Library of Victoria because they are ‘committed to preserving electronic publications of lasting cultural value’ and they felt that my blog would offer a valuable addition to their collection. In particular they are interested in my blogs regarding the recent bush fires. I am frankly a bit stunned to have been chosen by anybody as a good example of anything (unless the ‘Whinge and Waffle’ Society is offering me their much coveted ‘Whingeffler of the Year’ Award) but I’m also obviously quite flatered that they think my blog worthy of preserving. I’m going to say yes, obviously, because its nice to think that something I have written may be of value to someone else, but also because its simply so lovely to be asked. Hopefully, this doesn’t turn out to be some giant mistake/misunderstanding/punk’d experience. But because I’m kinda paranoid, I will just say here, in BIG LETTERS and for the absolute record that THE CONTENT OF THIS BLOG remains MY copywrited property and may not be used for defending the planet from Evil (or anything) without my WRITTEN CONSENT. Yes, my ego really is that fragile people.


Picture from here.

So – PND Fairy – Begone Foul Hag. Begone I say!

Until next time, may your caravan be peaceful and (evil) fairy free.

In and Out of My Mind

*see end of post
Today is the day I do my radio show on 3MDR 97.1FM. I am on air once a fortnight on Wednesdays between 3pm and 5pm – around abuot the time all the mummies are picking up their little kidlets. Today’s show is on Oriah Mountain Dreamer who I am enormous fan of and who I have mentioned on more than one occasion in this blog. Listening to her on audio, as I have been doing recently, is like taking a long walk through a silent, rain soaked forest. She has this quality of stillness about her that I just love. I can feel my muscles relax and my spirit sit up and take notice. This is an amazing feat in itself, especially as I am so often ‘Hi, I’m currently out of my mind, please leave a message or call back later.’ I have often said that if all the tension were taken out of my body the rest of me would simply dissolve into a pool of slightly sticky regret. I am, by my own admission, a little neurotic, a little over-anxious and more than a little stressed. But that is, at least for now, just how I am. I’m learning to be ok with it. I am also fervently hoping that in my spiritual unfolding there will be a way for me to reach back into the woman I really am at the core of me. The one that is unperturbed by external circumstances, the one that loves deeply, rests well and embraces the ‘now’ fearlessly. Oriah, who seems to have lived in my skin, is my way of reminding myself that I have choices, that I can choose to simply let go and ‘be’ without worrying if the dinner will get made or if my daughter will wake up for the fortieth time in the night and need me. I can, at least for a little while, be ok if she does. This is why I like her so much.

My chronic tiredness continues unabated and has been joined by the evil little fuckers that are insomnia and restless leg syndrome. Neither is a welcome bedfellow. Insomnia snores and farts under the covers while I gasp for a wiff of the cool still air of dreaming and Restless Leg Syndrome makes my calves disco dance all night long. They both have me tossing and turning like a demented swing dancer. I HATE not being able to sleep. It adds insult to over-tired injury and makes me crankier than a whore past her sell-by date. And yet, I still have to get up, take care of my child, cook nourishing food and make time to write and run my business, when what I would actually like to do is fall into a sleep to rival Sleeping Beauty’s and kick the living shit out of anyone who dares to try and wake me. I am NOT a morning person. In fact, I very rarely feel like a person at all. Not sleeping really is a torture and its impact on mind and body are very much underestimated in my humble opinion. I am a good deal less fun to be around when I have slept little and I am a lot more likely to forget to do important things like locking the door (or even shutting the door on one particular day), putting on my seatbelt, checking the straps on the car seat once I have my beanie strapped in, making sure I take my keys with me. That kind of thing. Beanie also gets the rough end of a very sharp tongue. Not good.

On the good news front I have emptied out our extremely messy store room and created in its place a lovely jewel of a meditation room. I hope to drag my sorry carcass from the warm cocoon of bed at the ungodly hour of 5am in order to get some ‘omming’ in and some writing done. It looks amazing. Filled with the smoke of copal and frankincense which always make me feel like a priestess in some ancient temple. I have lovely sari covered indian cushions to sit on and a soft blanky to wrap around me for those cold mornings. The altar is an oasis of peace which I can choose to stare at or ignore depending on my mood. (well, actually, I know exactly what sort of mood I’ll be in but I will persevere nonetheless).

Post Script:
I’m back and I really must stop drinking coffee, especially instant coffee (which I never normally drink). I haven’t stopped twitching yet. I drove over to the station looking like this… and totally rocked out to the Black Eyed Peas. Let me state for the record that one should NEVER listen to the Black Eyed Peas if one wants to arrive anywhere even remotely sane and definitely never on a weird coffee high that has already lasted for more than 5 hours! Nescafe is evil and must be punished. Still, fun drive though. Felt like a total badass and everyone needs to feel the funk occasionally – even if they are nearing 40 and wearing tracksuit pants and ugg boots.

The show went well I think. It’s difficult for me to really be objective about such things as I’m a horrible perfectionist and never feel that I’ve done a great job of anything. However, it seemed to go ok and I am still a newbie at this broadcasting malarky and one must take that into consideration (something that I rarely do!). I actually really resonated with Oriah’s suggestion that one can sacrifice something like perfectionism in favour of wholeness and would like to try that for a while and see if it helps.

More damper. Yes. Now please.

Anyway, I’m anxious to go ‘Slow Down and Let Go’ in my meditation room. Ha! Anxious to meditate. There’s an oxymoron if ever there was one. So I’ll leave you with a thought.

Beauty is the doorway to silence.

Like I said, please leave a message or call back later…

* the image at the top of the post is of two hand carved bangles by Jessica Cushman and can be purchased if you’ve a spare $130 knocking around. I wish!