With the recent sad news of Greg Boyed’s passing I feel compelled to reach out.

Today, the chief coroner released The Mental Health Foundation’s provisional suicide statistics for the year July 2017-June 2018. Devastatingly, New Zealand’s suicide rate has increased to the highest it has been this century.

Since the sad news I’ve seen so many Facebook posts from people offering a listening ear or a caring shoulder for those in need. While I love seeing this type of support, from complete strangers, I can’t help but feel a little sad that it takes an event like this for people to offer support. While news like this always reminds us to reach out, I wish people knew all year round that our doors are open and our jugs are boiling ready for a cup of tea and a chat. Sometimes you don’t even want to talk, you just want to be in somebody’s company.

To see a public figure, someone who is seen as successful, somebody who ‘has it all’ clearly proves that material objects are exactly that – material objects. Money, fame and processions do not make a person happy.

It is such a taboo topic. One which people are afraid to talk about out of fear of judgment. It truly breaks my heart. There are so many people out there suffering in silence because depression and anxiety has somehow been dubbed something that ‘we don’t talk about’. Why? It’s far more common than we realize and if we were to talk about it more then I feel those struggling would feel far more supported. So many people are scared to open up and talk to somebody about how they truly feel and have that ‘I don’t need/want to be on medication’ mentality.

You know, it’s normally the ones who are the most ‘out there’ who suffer in silence? They put up this front to make themselves feel better, so people don’t ask ‘are you okay?’. This probably isn’t the case for all but I know it rings true for me. I know if somebody asked me that right now it’s highly likely I would burst into tears because no, I am not OK. And it is OK to say that.

Some days I feel great, other days that dark black cloud hovers over my head. Those who have ever experienced or struggled with mental illness simply don’t understand and adopt the attitude ‘cheer up’, ‘it’s not that bad’ & ‘tomorrow is a new day’. While there are positive coping mechanisms that have been known to work or at least assist. Somebody telling you to ‘snap out of it’ certainly isn’t one.

I’ve struggled with mental health issues for a large majority of my life so one of my biggest concerns when I became pregnant was the high risk of PND. My GP and midwife were well aware of my medical history so knew what to look out for as well as educating me.

For a while there I thought I was fine, that I had somehow managed to side-track the issues that for a long time consumed me. I hadn’t. Two weeks passed after Baxter’s birth and my partner was due back at work, it hit me like a freight train. Feelings of anxiety and worry flooded me.

It took me a while to gain the courage to admit I knew what was going on and go and speak to my GP, deep down I knew the day would come, she was super supportive and we talked through our options.

I started to get control back, things became manageable. But I feel myself slipping again. I knew that it was highly likely I would experience PND again with Lily. Did it ever really go away? How long does it last and when does PND become depression?

These days my PND/Depression/Anxiety masks itself in anger, a symptom many are not aware of. Sadly it hinders my relationships with people from time to time and if I am being totally open, my partner takes the brunt of it. People who haven’t experienced it or been close to somebody who has simply don’t understand and often respond with “just stop” or “stop getting so mad”. I would love to be that in control of my feelings but right now, I am not. Half of the time my reactions are so unreasonable but I simply don’t see it at the time. God, I thought I had no patience when I was pregnant but this is next level.

I know that these current feelings are not me, and while I know they’re not permanent, it’s hard to deal with right now.

If you’ve never struggled with mental health you may not understand where I’m coming from, you may not understand that you can have one really shitty day within a month of amazing days and all these old shitty memories/feelings flood back.

I am not going to sit here and feel sorry for myself, nor do I want you to feel sorry for me. I just wanted to share that it’s not all gummy smiles and rainbows. If you’re having a shitty day, it’s okay, you’re not alone.

Social media has heightened the awareness of what’s around us, obviously – and I believe it plays a big part in some of the negative feelings people experience. We see those beautiful curated squares on Instagram and find ourselves comparing how their life is different to ours, how are they looking so beautiful and refreshed after I barely got 2 hours uninterrupted sleep last night? How on earth do they manage to find time to keep their house so perfectly clean and organized? How did their body snap back so quickly after giving birth. It’s everywhere. What we often don’t think about is that these people are not necessarily happy. We only see what they choose to share, many do not share the messy corner of their house or how little they slept last night.

More often than not, we are our own worst enemies.

The dark truth is that if we don’t start talking about mental health now and more openly, the alarming rate of suicide and the prevalence of untreated mental illness will reach crisis point – in fact, I believe it already has.

Please, if you’re ever struggling, with anything or having bad thoughts – talk to somebody. You can talk to me, PM me day or night or call one of the numbers below. It is often easier to confide in a stranger.

It’s so much more common than you realise and we can all play a small part in trying to normalise it in some small way by talking about it openly. There is nothing wrong with feeling this way, but there is a way out.

Please know that no matter how bad things feel, there is always help available. Taking your life is NOT the answer and please take a moment to think about all of those loved ones you would leave behind.

Talking about things is the first step. Realising it’s okay to not be okay if the next.

You are amazing and you hold a special place in this world.

——-

https://depression.org.nz | call 0800 111 757 or text 4202

www.mentalhealth.org.nz | text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.

Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 522 2999

Youthline – 0800 376 633

Samaritans – 0800 726 666

https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help/in-crisis/

Gosh, that heading leaves a lot to the imagination doesn’t it.

I’ve written about my experience as being a stay at home mum back in November 2015, 3 months after Baxter was born. It wasn’t for me as horrible as that sounds. I wasn’t coping and I missed the adult interaction. I loved my child to bits but it really wasn’t healthy for me. Baxter ended up coming to work with my until he was 8 months old and then we made the decision that Reuben would stay home. It was an adjustment for all but Reuben really loved (and still loves) being a stay at Dad. It’s a conversation thats for sure and I feel like I am judged a lot because our situation may not be the norm but it works for us.

Being a stay at home Mum is tough, people often what you do and assume its an easy role. It’s not, I may have only done it for a short period of time but I know how tough it can be. How the days can feel so long and lonely.

Being a working Mum is really tough too I tell you. I think some people think (and joke) that I get to leave in the morning and just walk away from the drama and work almost acts as a hiding place. While some days, the break may be nice – I miss them all like crazy. I know what I am doing and I know the reasons behind why I am doing it. I know that by being at work I am able to provide a better future for my family but it doesn’t make the decision any easier. Last night Baxter ended up in our bed and Reuben went and slept in his bed, it’s not something that we make a habit of but he generally only does it when he is unwell. I woke up about 1am to him vomiting through our bed – goodie. He was sick again a few hours later.

Getting up in the morning was not only difficult because I was tired but it was tugging my heart strings because I knew I had to leave him when he was feeling his worst. I knew that all he wanted was me and that I couldn’t be there because I had meetings I really needed to be at. While I knew that he would have been fine with Reuben, it still ate away at me all morning. I kept messaging Reuben for updates and couldn’t wait to get home to him.

As a Mother you’re going to get judged no matter what you do. Whether you stay at home, go to work, put your kid in daycare or feed them with a bottle. Do you know what though? Every single decision you make it tough, cos being a parent is tough.

I find being a Mum who cares about her job and career is often skoffed at, like I value that more my children – bullshit. I just have a strong desire to do well and I am bloody good at what I do. Being out each and every day working my ass off actually makes me a better Mum. Now please don’t look into this and assume that if you’re a stay at home that you don’t care – that is not the case at all and I honestly, whole-heartedly take a bow to you because I couldn’t do it. Some don’t have the choice and that breaks my heart too.

Coming home each night at the end of a long stressful day only to have 1 hour with your kids before they need to go to bed is tough.

Today I really struggled, today I felt like I failed as a Mum. Seeing your kid/s is one of the most difficult things as all you want to do is help to fix them but 9/10 you can’t and it hurts.

Every Mum is walking a different path, struggling in different ways. Lets ease up on the assumptions and just be kind x

‘Becoming Mum’ is a journey that’s been an exciting and scary one for sure.

I never imaged myself as a Mum, it’s something I never thought I would be.

At times I struggled to look after myself, how on earth was I going to care for another small human being?

I was so scared leaving the hospital with this new little baby who was completely dependant on me. When Reuben and I got in the car at the hospital car park (away from both of our parents), I burst into tears. I was emotionally and physically drained + shit scared about what was to come. I haven’t been around a lot of babies so can honestly say, I had NO idea what I was doing.

If I only I knew how much things would really change when this little life entered my world.

I had so much advice thrown at me while I was pregnant, while some of it was pretty good, the rest of it was pretty shit.

A good friend told me ‘you find out who your true friends are when you have a baby’. There is SO much truth in this but when she told me at the time I thought, really? Fuck yes. Since becoming a Mum, I have come to realise its better to have a small amount of really good, close friends than a bunch of people you barely hear from. Some of my friends who I considered close haven’t even met my kids. I am OK with this, I’ve come to realise who my true friends really are based on their actions throughout my pregnancies and the birth of Baxter and Lily.

I guess a big thing for me that has changed is that, I used to be that somewhat cautious friend. I didn’t have a baby so I didn’t realise how much you’re life was turned upside down, especially in those first few weeks. I didn’t want to be that clingy friend while they were extremely sleep deprived but I also didn’t want to disappear of the radar and leave them wondering why. As somebody who has now been on both sides, the advice I can offer is just be there, send a text every now and then so they know you’re thinking of them, offer support where possible and understand that they’re probably tired as hell and won’t respond straight away or always be up for visitors. Know that they appreciate the invite out even if they can’t make it, it’s the thought that counts. Going out with a newborn is tough, being on time is a thing of the past and quickly ‘popping out’ is no longer possible.

Patience, what patience? I seem to have lost it in the delivery room alongside my dignity. I have the lowest tolerance for bullshit these days, from dramatic friends to opinionated people online (ironic as I am one of them). I have so much more to worry about these days, and have just found I simply can’t be bothered with trivial things that are of such low importance to me. Don’t get me wrong, I have so much patience when it comes to my son, I just seem to have lost it for everybody else and I think I put that down to the fact that my life is so devoted to him right now.

I could have never prepared for how much I could love another being, how much energy I would devote to them, how much I would worry, protect and second guess my parenting decisions.

I’ve grown closer to my family, they’ve been amazing and I love seeing them with the kids. I’ve gained some amazing new mummy friends through the internet and have also reconnected with some old friends who now have kids.

Being a parent is fucking hard; I am not going to lie. If you disagree, you must have a dream baby and I extremely envious. Don’t get me wrong, I love my son to bits but nobody could have prepared me for what these first few weeks would be like.

I waddled more after having my son that I did the weeks leading up to the birth, I have been milked by another human and I’ve had more hands in me than the pick & mix lolly bin at the local supermarket. We lived in the lounge for the first 2 weeks and it’s a good day if I manage to eat a proper breakfast; Tim Tams are nutritional, right? I had 5-minute showers every 2nd day if I’m lucky and my hair has been in a scraggly mum bun for about 3 years now.

When people told me being a parent is the most rewarding yet hardest job ever, boy were they right! I now have so much more respect and love for my own parents knowing what they went through with (although I would have been one of those dream babies we spoke about earlier).

No two days are the same and each and every day I am learning something new.

The thing that fucks you most is the sleep deprivation, the first two weeks were horrible (for us anyway) and I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy. Things seem to be on the up now that we have somewhat of a routine in place and are starting to get the hang of this whole parenting thing.

What upsets me the most about being a parent is how judgmental other people can be, who in turn make you question every parenting decision you’ve made to date. Breastfeeding was a horrible experience for me and I constantly feel like I’ve made a poor decision to formula feed my child due to all the ‘breast is best’ propaganda. You would think somebody; somewhere claims commission every time a child latches. Breastfeeding doesn’t work for everybody, for whatever reason. You don’t know their reasoning, and you don’t need too. 8 weeks in and I was still nervous about pulling out a bottle in public, it’s sad that society has made us feel this way. I constantly sit and wonder if I should have persevered through the tears, the blood and the sleepless nights, all so I wouldn’t feel guilty and question myself. You know what? That sucks and people shouldn’t feel this way. If you are successfully breastfeeding your child, I applaud you.

I hear about people being judged over trivial, and personal decisions. Where their baby sleeps, the use of a dummy, what they choose to share on social media, the list goes on. It’s tough being a parent and it’s only now that I am one, I feel like I can truly comment.

At times I miss aspects of my old life but I wouldn’t go back. I am not the same person anymore, I am a better person.

Life changes so much and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

What’s changed for you?

Maintaining a relationship post-baby takes a lot of time and energy, exactly what you’ve got f*ck all of right now.

Reuben and I decided way back when I started the blog several years ago that our relationship was something I would never go into great detail about on the blog. I see woman slagging of their partners online and this was something I never wanted to do. I see people discussing their sex lives opening, kudos to them but that’s not us. We like to keep some things private.

Reuben has been incredible since we first welcomed Baxter into the world, sure, like I was – he was scared. We were delving into the unknown, we were sleep deprived and we let it get to us. By the time we had Lily we were confident in what we were doing. We are certainly not experts, but we were much more clued up on what to expect (especially in the first 12 weeks). There have been rocky moments where we’ve yelled at each other and questioned or criticised each other’s parenting, but we still love each other.

When you have children, all your attention turns to them and you quite often forget that your relationship with your partner needs attention too.

I can count on one hand the amount of times that Reuben and I have been out without the kids on an actual date since having the kids and that’s pretty sad. With me working full-time (+ some) and him being at home with the kids it’s so easy to get lost in the day to day life. We have had countless offers from people to watch the kids while we spend some time together, but something always comes up. A kid gets sick, one of us get sick or we’re just tired. We worry about their routines being interrupted and we just worry too much.

After recently attending one of Reuben’s best friend’s wedding last weekend (he was a groomsman and I was the Photographer) it reminded how important love is, and spending time with each other. The past few years I have been so focused on so many other things – the kids, my work, housework that I have failed to make my relationship a priority. We’re too tired to have sex, we’re too tired to go out. We’re just tired.

My parents have a weekly date night that they do every week without fail and I am so envious. Between this and the wedding, we are both looking at things with a fresh perspective. We’re now spending quality time with each other once the kids go to sleep instead of doing our own thing (Reuben will do some work and I will do admin stuff on my blog/group etc.) and we actually look forward to it. Sometimes when you’re tired and your mind is cluttered, it feels like a bit of a chore or it can easily be put in the too hard basket but with a small shift in my mind – things are improving, and I am feeling really good about it. We became parents and that was it.

I thought I would put together a small list of things you can do to keep your relationship alive after kids! I mean hey, what would I know – haha. I am only just re-beginning the journey but have been reading about it a lot and thinking of ways to refocus.

Lower your expectations – yeah, those chores you asked them to do? They’re probably not going to get done. And if they do, it won’t be up to your standard. Unless you are part of a small percentage of women who have a partner who happily partakes in household chores – lower your expectations a little. I am told a lot that I need to lower my expectations, that I expect too much and to a ridiculous standard. I moan about how he hangs the clothes on the clothes horse. I mean does it REALLY matter? They’re still going to dry. It’s going to annoy the shit out of me, but I need to learn to lower those expectations and pick my battles.

Be appreciative – Reuben does a lot for me when it comes to the kids, the house may not be spotless, but the kids are happy and fed. Like everybody, we like to be told when we’re appreciated and that our work isn’t going unnoticed. So instead of telling them everything they’re doing wrong, focus on what they’re doing right and make it known.

Prioritize sleep – I know, it’s easier said than done but hear me out. Researchers think that one of the reasons the transition to parenthood might be hard on relationships is because kids wreak havoc on your sleep. When you’re low on sleep, you might find yourself feeling more irritable and hostile therefore reacting badly when something happens.

Talk – Sounds silly I know but how often do you two just talk, no kids, no distractions, nothing? I know us, it’s not often other than a quick call after work to see if we need anything from the supermarket. When Reuben and I first met we would talk on the phone (and in person) for HOURS! To the point I think one of us actually fell asleep one night. We would talk until we were so tired we could barely stay awake or until one of our phones died. Often when we talk now, it’s about the kids (obviously) but I think it’s so important to talk about other things, how each other is doing etc.

Make time for each other – As I mentioned earlier, having time together, away from the kids is important. No matter what comes up, make it happen.

I could carry on forever, but you guys get where I am going. I am using this post to hold me accountable because I am currently not doing half of these but with small changes, the two of us are noticing a big difference.

Being a parent is tough. Go back to basics, remember why you fell in love and prioritise alone time.

I am keen to hear what things you do with your partner to ensure you have some time away from the kids and keep your relationship alive?

It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with the whole parenting thing. I mean come on, who hasn’t? I think we all do at some stage or another – some are honest about it, some aren’t. I get comments all the time said to me or sly digs about those people who ‘share to much on social media’, who ‘have to tell the world about everything’.  Well, over-sharer? Quite possibly. But I definitely don’t tell the world everything. There is a lot you don’t know about me and probably won’t ever know.

I’ve been extremely slack on the blog front, life happened, kids happened, work happened. I’ve just been busy in general. For a while there I got so consumed in the online world, I let shit comments get to me and cloud my judgement. I wanted to stop doing what I was doing, all for the wrong reasons.

Well, life is still happening and I am still shit at making time for me as much as I try preach about how important it is. It’s a work in progress okay. BUT, I need to get back to writing, it helps me release and I get messages daily saying it helps you to so win win right?

I’ve been a mum of 2 for over a year now – what the actual fluff (see Mum, I can do it without saying the F word). If anybody knows where the past 12 months have gone then please holla atcha girl and let mew know cos I’m sitting here in disbelief that we’ve already celebrated Lily’s 1st birthday. I was so freaked out when I found out I was pregnant (yes, pregnant on my first child’s 1st birthday – am I mad?). I had huge fears about how things would pan out and how I would cope. I struggled with one so how on earth was I going to manage with 2? Well, I did. We got through and here we are, a year in and I am by no means going to say it was easy – it most certainly wasn’t. But I’m alive, and so are both the kids (and Reuben – just).

People often ask me what life is like with two kids. I don’t have a straightforward answer. It’s hectic, with one you can get away with distracting them and getting other stuff done, with two – you distract one and then the other goes in to pick a fight. So basically, there is a never a dull moment – for me anyway. Like everything in life, you find a way to get through, to manage – to get by. I can pop Lily in the highchair, give Baxter some toys and still get housework done. We chose to have the kids in quick succession which meant a small period of madness. Lily is 1 now and I think we are out of the really tough stage (for now), they’re getting along reasonably well (70%) of the time but don’t get me wrong – I know we’ve got some real shit times ahead of us. It’s all part of this parenting gig.

Looking at these kids when they’re playing nicely just makes it all worth it, all those shitty times are just forgotten about. I say to Baxter do you love Lily and he says “yes Mummy”. I die inside. He pats her head and gives her kisses. They’re really starting to engage with each other and get each other. He knows how to wind her up and she definitely knows how to wind him up.

Baxter is a mini Reuben and Lily is a mini me. It’s scary but its Karma at its finest, haha. I see us in them and it scares the shit out of me.

I am glad we chose to have the kids close together (18m gap). The stages are familiar with us and we haven’t forgotten about the tough times. Our theory was, ‘do it quickly and get those initial shitty times out of the way’ – they’re gone, behind us and gosh it feels good. The first 12 weeks is still hell but a different kind of hell because we remembered what it was like as we’d not long done it. We clearly remembered what tactics worked with Baxter and tried them on Lily.

The kids are actually different, Baxter was SO chill, almost too chill. Lily is so full on – all the time. Is really rough with Baxter (the me in her, haha). She climbs, jumps and squeals and the kid has no fear – none of which we experienced with Baxter. He has totally had to up his game now she is walking and trying to rule the roost.

Baxter is now in Kindy 3 days per week and is thriving, best thing we did for him (and lets be realistic, for us too). Reuben is a stay at home Dad still so having B in Kindy 3 days allows him some 1 on 1 time with Lily which he really enjoys.

The wolfpack is complete with no additions in the foreseeable future. I am content with the kids. I am still working on myself and managing my anxiety + depression but to be honest, I don’t think it will ever be gone. It’s part of me, its who I am and some days are shit, other days I am on top of the world.

Here’s to another year…