The tough talk

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.

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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/

Life with two

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…

To the boy who made me a mum

To the boy who made me a mum,

You turned my life upside down.

You showed me that there were far more important things in life than what I was currently prioritizing.

You brought out strengths in me that I never knew I had and discover weaknesses I never knew existed.

You made me realize I was focusing on all the wrong things in life and that it was the small things that really mean the most.

You’ve made me cry, you’ve made my laugh and you’ve made me yell.

You have the most amazing personality and you have such a kind heart.

You inspired me to start this blog and help so many people.

You saved me.

The moment you were put in my arms, I was overwhelmed with emotions. So much love, and so much fear. I was so scared because this whole motherhood thing this was new to me. I was so scared of not being a good Mum to you. I got post natal depression and I cried a lot. I would sit there and look at you, and cry. I was so scared that I was failing you because I wasn’t coping. The first few months were really difficult for me, coming to terms with such a big adjustment, my hormones were all over the place and I was discovering a new side of myself.

You are such a good big brother (most of the time) and these days when I look at you I am so proud of how far we have both come.

We are gonna move mountains together kiddo 

A letter to my first born

My OG. Bad boy ginge, our resident bobble head.

You made me a Mum.

If only I knew the things I know now.

I wasn’t sure if I’d have the capacity to love another like I love you, but the love you’ve shown towards Lily has made me realise that love never runs out, it only expands.

I’ve always been told that a mother has a special bond with her son, and you’ve shown me just how true this is.

You have taught me things about myself that I never knew existed. You made me find a strength within myself that I didn’t even know I had, a love I didn’t even know was possible.

The moment you were put in my arms, I was overwhelmed with emotions. So much love, and so much fear. I was so scared because this whole motherhood thing this was/is new to me.  I was so scared of not being a good Mum to you. I got post natal depression and I cried a lot. I would sit there and look at you, and cry. I was so scared that I was failing you because I wasn’t coping. The first few months were really difficult for me, coming to terms with such a big adjustment, my hormones were all over the place and I was discovering a new side of myself.

I hope that one day you will be proud of me and that you’re OK with me writing about you and your sister and how I am feeling. I have found a safe haven within this blog and people really love hearing about you and how you’re doing. It’s really helped me by helping others who were also struggling.

I was so afraid when Lily was born that you would become withdrawn. Sad and jealous of the attention I was giving your sister, but you’ve been amazing. You have been so welcoming and shown her so much love. You have such a kind heart and I know you’re going to do amazing things in your life.

We got some bad news this week and just having you around has made things a little easier to deal with. You have brought so much joy to our family. Seeing the bond you have with my Dad is something in itself. It literally brings a tear to my eye. You’re like his little shadow and it just fills my heart. Seeing you with my Grandad makes me so happy that he was able to get such joy from both you and your sister. I know Grandma would have been so smitten with you as your cheeky just like my Dad.

You’re an amazing wee boy Baxter with such a gentle soul. I sit here writing this with a tear rolling down my cheek. You are 2 next month and it has gone so fast. You’ve achieved so much and I know you’ll achieve so much more. I am sorry its not just you and me anymore kiddo, but I promise you that the love I have for you will never change. It will only grow. I promise we will have lots of Mummy & Baxxy time. We will go for secret ‘supermarket trips’ and eat chicken nuggets in the car and then dispose of the rubbish so Daddy and Lily will never know. I promise that I will make you proud. I will be the best damn Mum I can be to you and your sisters.

You’re going to go places B, I just know it.

Love you now, and forever xo

Where for art thou?

Do you know what I lost along with my pelvic floor muscle control? My patience. I’m not quite sure where it went, but it’s gone. If anybody finds it, please DM me.

I’ve heard people say you really learn patience when you have children, for me, it’s been the complete opposite. My fuse is short. Short af.

I love my kids, with all of my being. I hate that I always have to state this, it’s a no-brainer – of course I love them but there is always one negative Nancy who is like “well maybe you shouldn’t have had kids”, or some other shit comment that makes me backtrack to ensure I’ve ever implied that I don’t love my kids.

Lily is only 12 weeks old (only?). Where the hell did the last 3 months go? Right now, it’s Baxter. He’s two next month and his personality has changed so much in the last few months. He is so amazing when he is good he is good. When he is bad, by god is he bad. Or is he? I’ve started wondering lately if maybe he’s not that bad and maybe it’s just me and the whole no patience thing? I know Reuben constantly says to me “he’s just a kid”. And he’s right. It’s the whingeing that goes right through me like nails on a blackboard. I physically shudder. It’s the tantrums now when you say no. He’s getting smarter and he’s learning more each and every day. It really is a pretty cool experience watching this little human that you created grow and be so excited about life and their surroundings. Oh to have no worries in the world.

I believe a lot of my stress and lack of patience is linked to my anxiety and depression which I have struggled with a little bit lately. I haven’t been sleeping much and my mind is constantly on high alert. I look in the mirror these days and I don’t really like who I see. Who is this impatient angry person? What happened to ‘the old Jess’? 

While I know this new ‘mum Jess’ is an adaption of my old self, I’m still learning who I am with all of this change. It sounds stupid, I’m hoping one or two of you get what I mean. I still AM the same person, but yet, I’m not? I used to only have myself to worry about and now I am responsible for two tiny humans. It’s scary. Some days I can’t even decide what to wear, yet between Reuben and I – we make decisions for the kids which can shape them for the rest of their lives. It’s often a scary thought.

I’m working on myself, I know I’ll be happy again soon. Genuinely happy. 

Motherhood can be extremely lonely, while I am currently away from the office on maternity leave and Reuben works from home I shouldn’t be lonely. There are 4 of us in the house yet I’m often alone with my own thoughts. Yes, we’re a team but that doesn’t mean we agree on everything. It’s all part of it, right? We’re learning to become parents together and sometimes there are things that I struggle with and Reuben doesn’t quite understand. 

I know in time things will improve, I need to work on some techniques to improve my patience and anger. I need to remember that Baxter is ‘just a kid’ and that often these difficult periods are just phases and they will pass. I need to remind myself that many struggle with these exact things, but we don’t like to talk about it but hey? It’s pretty damn normal. We’re tired, we’re sick of tidying up the lounge only for it to be trashed 5 minutes later (literally). I’m sick of making food only for him to shake his head and say ‘no’. I’m sick of feeling like I am in a constant uphill battle with my own self. Striving for perfection, for the clean house that can’t stay clean for one whole day. It’s sound utterly ridiculous but when I’m surrounded by mess and clutter, my mind becomes the same. When things are clean and clear, I feel so much weight off my shoulders. I am currently on a mission to declutter the house and live in a more minimalistic way. Material things are exactly that and I would much rather be happy than own a few items which supposedly give off some impression of status or achievement.

So here’s to the shit days, I’ve just washed the same load of washing 3 times because I keep forgetting to take it out of the machine and it seems I am the only person in the house who knows what to do with dirty clothes..