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/

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,

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 

The one question I am asked multiple times per day is what do you do for a job?

For those of you who have followed my journey since the beginning would know that Baxter came to work with me from 3-8 months. I am extremely lucky to work in a company that allows this and an industry where this is possible.

So, what do I do?

For the past 10+ years I’ve worked in the Social Media/advertising space. It’s a space that I am obviously very familiar with and know that is only going to grow in size and power. My role is General Manager but I do a bunch of things aside from managing the day to day operations. I help with content strategies, pitch work, photography, content production, Facebook apps/competitions and advertising. We’ve somewhat recently delved into the VR/AR space which is so exciting and I am looking forward to seeing where that goes.

As you can see, I live and breathe Social Media why is why I sometimes need my ‘digi vacays’.

Alongside my full-time job, I’ve been a Photographer for the past 10 or so years. Photographing all things lifestyle. Weddings, Maternity, Births (yes, childbirth) and most commonly, Families. I LOVE creating memories for others to cherish for a lifetime. I have a real laid-back attitude and documentary style to my photos, capturing all those small details and emotions that are often missed.

I took a break from the Photography when I was pregnant with Baxter as it was simply too time demanding and from years of hard work, I was starting to burn out and lose my love for being behind the camera.

And with this much-needed break. The blog was born. I am one of those people who always need to be busy. I always have this burning desire to do better, do more and do amazing things. I was feeling pretty shitty pregnancy wise and had no idea if this was normal as everything I seen were these beautifully curated Instagram feeds of these amazingly gorgeous, glowing women. Here I was at only 13 weeks finding any excuse to wear fat pants and stay in bed ALL day. Admittedly, I had bloody cruisy pregnancies with both kids having no morning sickness or anything. For me, there was a lot of fear and anxiety at the thought of being responsible for a small human and these were the things I couldn’t find people talking about, opening up about or admitting. I decided to start documentary my pregnancy and thoughts via a secret blog that was not published or public. I shared it with a work colleague who thought it was really good (who was clearly already well aware of my humour and views on life). After a bit of convincing and self-doubt, the blog was published, the Facebook page was created and it’s all gone down-hill since there – haha.

The blog has and always will be a side thing. I am already so immersed in this social world through work and know how easy it is so get sucked into the vortex. And I won’t lie, sometimes I do. You focus on numbers and you lose sight of why you do it. I fell into that trap and quickly snapped myself out of it when I realised numbers don’t matter. Of course, it’s cool to know that so many people follow my journey through motherhood (or want to see me fail) but ultimately, I am doing it because it helps me to write/share and I’ve learned over the past 2 years that its helping others and for me, that’s a huge driver for me. After learning there is a huge need for mums and real honest support, a year ago I started ‘The Mum Hub’ which is a support group for mums which now has 19.5k members and is growing rapidly by the day. I have since had to create a team of 15 admin/moderators to keep the wheels turning who also share my vision and they do an amazing job. Maintaining such a high quality would simply not be possible without them.

For me, I would never turn the blog into a full-time thing. It’s not something that interests me and it was never my intention. In my own personal opinion (cue all the judgement from the people that do this) I feel that once it’s your full-time gig, you do NEED the money and therefore the blog gets more of a commercial edge to it and it shows in the content. To me, that loses a bit of authenticity and sometimes makes me wonder if the endorsement is genuine. This is not always the case, it’s just my personal opinion and observation.

I’ve turned down many paid opportunities due to the fact they have not aligned well with my brand + audience, or I truly do not believe it’s a good product therefore would not feel comfortable promoting it to you all.

So, you could say, I’m a pretty busy person (and you’d be right). After Lily was born I relaunched my Photographing, solely focusing on Birth + Lifestyle. But am super cautious on how much I book because obviously, I am a Mum of two and my kids also need my time and attention. All of the side things I do and enabling me to provide and create a better future for the kids and makes me a better Mum.

Lots of you also ask what Reuben does and how we manage the lifestyle we do with him being at home with both kids. He does work to, just around the kids. I just said to him, “what do you do babe?” cos’ I have no fucking idea haha (definitely not housework). He responded, “I’m an Automotive Performance Parts Broker, and I dabble in buying and selling performance vehicles”. So basically, he’s a wheeler dealer – and it works. He’s a real hoot as you would have worked out from our live chats and his ridiculous snapchats/instastories. Having the two kids home with him is currently working for us, it allows us both to work and maintaining some sanity while still paying the mortgage and ensuring the kids and entertained and cared for.

There we have it. This is me (and Reuben) in a nut shell (god I hate that saying).

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