This Christmas and New Year, I am fortunate enough to be well. I am lucky that I can see the joy in Christmas and celebrate it with gusto. But for many, I know this may not be the case at all; just like it wasn’t for me last year when I was recovering from post natal depression. Christmas and New Year can be extremely difficult for people suffering with depression. It is not always a merry and happy time of year. It is often a very lonely and difficult period for everyone who is affected by the illness, and supporting someone through it can be – in its own way – as challenging as it is being the person who is ill.
Today I have the pleasure of hosting a moving post about just this…supporting others with PND. And in particular supporting others when you are suffering or have suffered yourself – for many of us who are recovering or have recovered are determined that no one should suffer like we have, because that thought is simply unbearable; you wouldn’t wish post natal depression on your worst enemy.
The post is from the lovely Pumping Mama who blogs, amongst other things, about her experiences of PND with raw honesty at thepumpingmama.wordpress.com. She’s recently blogged about Christmas, and describes it as a ‘two sided coin,’ one side where you are able to enjoy it, and another where you are suffocated by other’s Christmas cheer and possibly feel at your lowest point ever. The Pumping Mama is passionate about mothers not feeling alone, about us all supporting each other through talking, texting, and tweeting, giving hope and encouragement to each other. This post has verbalised many thoughts I’ve had when talking to others suffering from PND, for even though I’ve suffered my experiences may be very different to those of others. For me in particular, the last line says it all.
Supporting Others With PND
Do I make my reality theirs? The feelings they have, the things they’re suffering, may not be anything like my personal experience.
Do I tell them the gritty truth? Do I tell them that I don’t remember a lot of the first year of Moos life? Do I divulge to them that I still have bad days, even now, more than two years on?
Do I just listen? This isn’t about me now. Do I tell them that I can empathise, that I’ve been there, that it gets better?
No one tells you how to support others in life. Is this why we live in such a fractured society, often lacking in compassion for mental health issues? How do we learn how to love other human beings, to hold each other up, to comfort and nurture one another?
I don’t know the answers. I just know my experience, my reality, my journey, and what works for me. All I can do is hold a hand, make a cup of tea, and listen. I’m no expert on mental health, no degree backs up my support. But in the midst of a vastly lonely head space, someone simply walking alongside you is enough.
You can follow The Pumping Mama on Twitter @ThePumpingMama, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ThePumpingMama and her blog is http://www.thepumpingmama.wordpress.com
Instincts: Any behaviour is instinctive if it is performed without being based upon prior experience (that is, in the absence of learning), and is therefore an expression of innate biological factors. Sea turtles, newly hatched on a beach, will automatically move toward the ocean. A joey climbs into its mother’s pouch upon being born.
Manual: Manual may mean: Instructions. User guide. Owner’s manual. Instruction manual (gaming) Online help.
This morning I sat down to write a post. A post which I had been meaning to write for sometime, but had never quite plucked up the courage. For this post might just be a little bit controversial. Now, if you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that I always try to be fair and balanced, but the name of my blog itself implies where my loyalties lie in this particular piece…however I will, as always, try to look at it from every possible angle! And before we get started I’d just like to say that I am not saying don’t ask for advice. I think asking for advice and support is brilliant…I just think you should ask for it from the best possible places.
I wanted to write a post about books. Namely manuals and books all about babies. The kind of books you buy when you are pregnant with your first and then promptly ditch or use as a coaster with your second or third. You may have put your feet up on maternity leave, read these books and thought you had it sorted, that this parenting malarkey was going to be a doddle because you knew what was coming and were going to be in control. That these mums whose babies didn’t sleep through the night, were fussy eaters or had tantrums were bad parents and had done something wrong. The manuals made it all sound so easy, so simple, so straightforward.
Or were you a new parent, overwhelmed and completely sleep deprived searching for answers, seeking much needed help? Were you desperately trying to find some way of making your baby sleep because you were led to believe that a baby that doesn’t sleep is indicative of a bad parent? Were you sat on your bed in the middle of the night scouring these books to find a solution, and then did you try a gazillion different things suggested these books,that didn’t work? Whilst all the time not even looking at your baby to see what it was they actually wanted?
Now, I might have angered a few of you already. Have I made judgements? Assumed things? Or would it surprise you to know that in both of the cases above the person I have been taking about is me? I’m not ashamed to say that with my daughter, twelve years ago, even though my instincts were screaming many things and me (as was she!) I still attempted to follow the rules and listen to advice which told me what she should and ought to be doing. I still read the (often conflicting, one size fits all approach) books and believed that sleeping through the night was something that had to be achieved and then I could become part of an exclusive club. I know we all like sleep, but surely the needs of our babies are more important?
The more I read in the media and on social media the more upset and frustrated I become. I fear that parents are becoming less empowered to trust their instincts. That so called ‘experts’ are making parents believe that they are not doing the things right, and are sucking the natural parenting instincts and confidence out of new parents through feeding off their anxieties. These ‘experts’ are now, thanks to the wonder of social media, more available than ever and can even come into your house and make you believe the only reason your baby is now sleeping is because of them, and what they told you to do. That if you didn’t follow their often very strict advice and guidelines, then you’d be in a mess because you are not an expert. That if you don’t do 100% of what it says in the book that you and your baby are doomed for life. How does a mother then feel when left on their own or when what is said in the books just doesn’t happen…possibly worse than they did before?
Many of the authors of these books are not parents themselves, however, I would also argue that even if they are they would still not be the experts on my children or indeed any children but their own. They might be an expert on mixing formula, or creating a nutritious meal, but not about all of the intricacies of a baby that only a mother knows. Now I’m not saying that these manuals are the reasons for all doubt, for all anxiety and all loss of trust in our instincts, but I am saying they undoubtedly don’t help. So what would help?
I know a lot of mums I have spoken to tell me that when their baby was born they felt they had no instincts. That they didn’t know what to do. That they couldn’t read their baby who cried all of the time. And it got me thinking (yes again, sorry!) about what I could do to help. Is there a market for a book about trusting your instincts? A book that empowers parents to trust theirs? And if there were then what could I write in that book that would help, comfort, and reassure mums? (yes I do appreciate the irony of a mother who has just written a blog post about her avid dislike for baby books wanting to write one, but this book wouldn’t be a manual ok?!) It would be honest and tell of real accounts of life with babies, possibly elaborating on my previous blog posts like the one on sleep and potty training. And instead of pages and pages of instructions on what you must do it could have questions at the end of every chapter to help you read your baby and learn to trust your instincts? Your baby, your instincts, your choice.
Yes parenting is hard, yes at times it is draining, debilitating and more frustrating than anything in the whole world, but it’s still a journey I believe you and your children should undertake together. You’re not always going to get it right, but if you have the confidence to trust your instincts you’re never going to be far off the mark.
So let me know, what do you think would help mums trust their instincts more?
I wrote this post for myself and my blog, but have agreed for it to be shared on What to Expect.
Blockage: The act of obstructing. Something that obstructs; an obstacle.
So today I have the pleasure of hosting the blog hop, along with @Judith Kingston from http://www.secretsofthesandpit, for the lovely Emma @crazywithtwins. As those of you who have already linked up or are following all of the wonderful posts you know we are all here blogging to show support for her and attempting to cheer her up whilst she is unable to cuddle her precious children during her gruelling radiotherapy treatment.
I am so pleased to be able to start this post with some GOOD NEWS from the lovely lady herself! Last night Emma sent Judith and I an email…
On day 3 of isolation, after excessive drinking, peeing, showering and other activities you don’t want to know about…my radiation emission levels dropped unexpectedly to 700, meaning I was safe to be discharged from isolation. I still cannot come within 1-2 metres of any human being (or cat) but have gone home and been given estimated dates for cuddles with my husband on 5th June, 6yr old Bunny on 11th June and 1yr old twins on 16th of June!
This is 6 days early and for any bloggers going to Britmums Live or the BiB awards ceremony… I WILL SEE YOU THERE!!!
This is absolutely fantastic news, but even though she is home Emma is still not able to do what she is so desperate to do, and that is cuddle her girls, so….here is my ‘humorous’ post and my attempt to cheer her up.
Over the past few weeks I have thought long and hard about which story to tell to make you all laugh, to cheer everybody, especially Emma up! I have plenty of embarrassing tales to tell…I am one of those people that things seem to just happen to! I could tell you my most recent tale of mortification upon where I was walked in on whilst hovering over an aeroplane toilet by the fittest guy on the plane, who then had to stand there red faced whilst I ‘finished up’ infront of everyone enjoying the flight. Who, having heard my scream of sheer terror, had realised what had happened and were sat, squirming in their seats stifling laughter. I can tell you that summing up the courage to walk out of that toilet was sodding difficult. And as I did, those stifled giggles erupted into full blown bloody guffaws. *cringes at the memory*
But I’ve decided to tell you another tale of bodily functions and desperation instead. (Lucky us I hear you cry!) When I was a single parent my daughter and I lived in a ground floor flat. It was a gorgeous and spacious flat in an old Victorian building, attached to a new build with three more flats inside. We had lived there for couple of years and I’d slowly been renovating, one room at a time. The kitchen had been done, the windows double glazed and the night storage heaters upgraded to ones that actually kicked out some heat, all be it at three in the morning. The one room left to do was the bathroom. It was a glorious shade of pink, with asbestos under the ancient and crumbling tiles. There was no window, and the sewage pipe from the three flats above ran down one wall and was bricked off. The bathroom was mostly functional….all apart from the ageing, pink toilet. It was temperamental. Very, very temperamental. As long as you used it correctly it would do you no harm, but the minute you broke the rules, the second you stepped out of line, the toilet became your worst enemy and was a pain in the sodding arse. (No pun intended) Vomit, for example, was one thing it did not like and instead of swallowing it up and sending it down the waste pipes to the sewers below it would regurgitate the stuff and vomit itself. Too much toilet paper and it would block, leaving you to put on rubber gloves up to your elbow and scoop the damn stuff out. (Retching continuously as you did, but knowing you couldn’t vomit in the bloody thing as that would only make it worse) I bought fancy plungers and manufactured my own ‘unblockers’ out of wire coat hangers and tennis balls, and mostly fixed it myself. But…then the day came which made me loathe my toilet more than ever and vow to rip it out with my bare hands and replace it as soon as was humanly possible.
It was a normal morning, but the toilet was ready to ruin it. It blocked. Who knows why on this occasion, but it blocked. I went to work doing all of my usual many tried and tested techniques. Scooped the contents out with my bare hands as I’d thrown my last pair of overused rubber gloves away and forgotten to buy more. *heaves at the memory* Swearing and cursing under my breath I flushed, hoping magically that it would all be back to normal. But no. The f***ing thing was still f***ing blocked. And another problem was brewing, one that with me when you need to go you need to go. And I had no-where to bloody go. A plumber was called who promised he’d be there within the hour. I knew I couldn’t last that long. I tried the other flats and all of my neighbours were of course out, or ignoring me, in cahoots with the toilet, and not answering their doors. My daughter was with me, I had to wait for the plumber and we didn’t live near enough to anywhere for me to pop out relive myself and then pop back. Walking didn’t help, sitting down didn’t help, squeezing my butt cheeks together so hard I could cry didn’t help. I was going to go whether I liked it or not, and I had no f***ing toilet to go in. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw….the potty. The tiny little white potty. No I thought, that would be disgusting, I cannot possibly do it in the potty. Besides, where would I put it when I’d finished?! But my stomach growled as if speaking to me saying, ‘for goodness just do it woman, I can’t hold it in much longer, just sodding squat and do your business…NOW!’
And so ladies and gentlemen. I did. With my then 2 year old daughter watching me of course and all the while sh***ing myself that the buzzer would ring and the plumber would arrive right in the middle of my relief. I won’t give you the gory details, but let’s just say it was better out than in. I then, feeling immense relief but immense disgust, got a carrier bag from under the sink, (after I’d hoiked myself up, my thigh muscles did not like squatting for that long) scooped it up and threw it in the bin. My mum was the only person I ever told, until now, about this incident. She laughed so hard that her tea flew out of her mouth and across the room. I’ve never heard her laugh like that before…or indeed since!!
The toilet and bathroom were hastily replaced after that day, and never again have I had the misfortune of needing to use a potty. Have you?
You can catch up with Emma’s news on her blog: http://www.crazywithtwins.com/ and follow her on Twitter: @crazywithtwins
Tomorrow we hand the baton over to PODcast, @The_Doves, but for now if you have a happy, humorous or inspiring post PLEASE add it to the link below and show your support! Xx
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I wasn’t going to blog today, but this post was inspired by a Twitter conversation I read earlier, and made me wonder why we mums do ourselves a disservice sometimes. Being a mum is a tough, but fantastically rewarding job. We are all amazing and need to big ourselves up! We all need to support each other a little bit more, and respect how others choose to parent their children. It wouldn’t do for us all to be the same, but one thing we do ALL have in common, is that we ALL rock!
What am I?
I am a nurse
I am a friend
I am a confident
I am a party planner
I am a stylist
I am a hairdresser
I am a comforter
I am a support
I am a counsellor
I am a crisis negotiator
I am a chef
I am a cleaner
I am an educator
I am an organiser
I am a comedienne
I am a taxi driver
I am a swimming instructor
I am a secret keeper
I am a personal shopper
I am a helper
I am a carer
I am an artist
I am a writer
I am an IT technician
I am a record keeper
I am a bank
I am a musician
I am a photographer
I am a singer
I am an entertainer
I am a role model
I am a motivator
I am an inspiration
I am more than just a mum.
What are you?