A letter to The Man

I know you want to fix me, but I’m not a broken toy.
Your trusty letter opener and superglue won’t work on me.

I know you don’t understand what is going on in my head.
How can I expect you to, when I struggle to myself?

I know finding me crying in the dark seems irrational to you.
But for me, sometimes it’s the only thing that makes sense.

I know you have been trying hard to be supportive.
I appreciate your efforts so much, even when you falter.

Above all else, I know that you love me unconditionally.
Right now that is exactly what I need.

All my love

Née

A post about depression. Or motherhood? Or maybe both…

One of the primary reasons I started to blog was to help me to consciously reflect on everyday life (the good, the bad & the ugly) and to capture my boys’ childhood.

So much of their baby days are a blur. Where did it go? What did I do? I didn’t go out much. No Playgroup or mother’s group. Maybe the odd play date with friends who had kids. I certainly wasn’t the best at being Suzy Homemaker. I wasn’t even blogging until well after I returned to work.

What was I doing?

Surviving.

I’m sure at times I was in “the moment”. I have brief recollections and thankfully thousands of photographs to trigger memories of happy times but mostly it feels like time lost in an overwhelming sea of repetition and exhaustion. Punctuated by frustration and helplessness.

When I think too hard about it I cry. Cry for me, as that time lost can never be regained. Cry for my babies who on many days only had a mother in body, not in spirit.

Things will change. My focus is now on the present. I will be here for them. For me.

R U OK?

R U OK?

I was “diagnosed” with depression 18 months ago. I use the term loosely as this diagnosis was the result of a 10 minute conversation with my GP after the completion of a screening survey, which I suspect any but the most perkiest of mothers with young children would have failed miserably. I said thanks but no thanks to the antidepressants and psychologist’s referral and went on my way certain I could beat this on my own.

Heck, I work in mental health. I know about depression. I know what it looks like. How to seek help if things get bad. I wasn’t that bad. I’m also acutely aware of the stigma around mental health issues and in hindsight I wonder if this knowledge clouded my judgment and insight at the time (duh).

Besides all that, I had gotten this far hadn’t I?

No, I’m not in complete denial. I acknowledge I have had some clearly discernible depressive episodes in my time – 2 of which were after the birth of each child. These days are mostly a confusing blur of tumultuous emotions punctuated by periods of numbness.

Sadly, my story is not unique. When my first born was diagnosed with reflux after 3 months of screaming and no sleep, the paediatrician gave me a PND screen. I made a joke and faffed my answers on his questionnaire. He commented how I must be coping if I still had my sense of humour. He obviously overlooked the fact that humour is a powerful defense mechanism.

In any case, I was not going to correct him. I was coping. Wasn’t I? I knew I was feeling more than the overwhelming emotions of new motherhood but I stopped just short of seriously contemplating driving into a tree. That was something.

It wasn’t until 3yrs later that I was given my “diagnosis”. At this point I felt I was on the slightly lighter side of those very dark days. It’s ironic then, that it wasn’t until after a number of friends and family knew that I had been labelled with depression that anyone really asked me if I was ok.

Not surprisingly, of the few people who had actually asked, most had experienced depression to some degree themselves. A couple had unknowingly been my lighthouses from the very beginning. I can tell you under no uncertain terms that the love and support of these people still gets me through a lot of rough days. I cannot thank them enough.

There are still people very close to me who I suspect are more in denial than I am about the whole shebang (I may or may not be married to one of them). So many people struggle to talk about feelings, whether it be their’s or other’s.

Today, Thursday 15th September, is R U Ok? Day. I say: Man-up people and ask. It’s one simple question that can make all the difference in the world to someone who is on the brink.

Check out the website for more info about R U OK? Day and ways to open communication with someone you suspect isn’t OK. There are lots of support organisations out there as well. Beyond Blue has some wonderful resources on depression, including great info for friends & family (perhaps I should leave a few lying around).

My Big Nutshell has also pulled together a Bloggers Collective in an amazing show of support for R U OK? Day. Please go check out all of the wonderfully brave bloggers who have contributed their stories

So, please, tell me, R U OK?

Little rituals

I have been going through a rough patch of late (better known as “life”).  I must admit I have to work very hard some days to keep from dropping my bundle. I feel I have been failing dismally.

So, in an effort to regain some semblance of control over my feelings and reactions, the last couple of days I have tried to be more mindful of what triggers my stress, anxiety, depression, frustration,  ANGER… well you get the picture… 

In doing this I have realised that I do a multitude of little things each day in an attempt to prevent myself from decompensating completely. My daily rituals include:

 A morning shower which I cannot function without. Full stop.       

Michael Buble’s Crazy Love CD (specifically tracks 4 & 5)  which I listen to in the care with my boys on the way to kindy. They know all the words (even Nick who can barely say “milk”) and sing along at the top of their lungs.  Switching on this CD instantly calms us all from the stress of the morning rush and makes us feel happy & loved up which is exactly the way I want to leave my babies as I toddle off to work.  The beauty of this – it works in reverse for the return trip home in the evening too.

Coffee, coffee, coffee! Whether I’m at home or work, if I’m frustrated, exhausted, have a mental block or am just plain procrastinating, I find the simple act of making a coffee very therapeutic.  Of course the chocolate or biccie that inevitably accompany it probably helps with the endorphins too.

Hand cream. I have the most beautiful Cath Kidston Rose & Carnation hand cream. It smells divine & the simple act of rubbing this luscious, silky cream on my hands is amazingly soothing.

Washing up. Strange but true. As much as I resent extra time spent in the kitchen, I find the actual process of washing up relaxing. I also hate waking up to a messy kitchen so it’s a means to an end!

Non of this is earth shattering stuff but up until now, I’ve performed these little rituals semi-consciously. Doing something that calms you and fully appreciating the experience for what it is are two different things.  With this in mind I’ve decided to perform my little rituals much more consciously to ensure I saviour every calm-enducing moment.

Do you have any little rituals that bring peace to your day?

 

 

Image from here