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Monday, 23 March 2015

mindfulness

The blog was quiet last week, I have been waiting for the energy to write.  I'm still tired and flat today but I have decided it is time to write anyway.   

I suffered badly with post natal depression with my third child, Henry and it taught me so many lessons.  I thought I might share some with you and a little of my story....After Henry, I suffered from PND.  1 in 4 people will suffer depression at some stage in their life. I don't know how to describe it really.....Depression rears its ugly head in so many forms.  Some cry, some are anxious, some are moody, some are sad, some are angry.  I was angry.  I would rage, like I have never known.  Everyday I would yell, snap, even scream.  I would rage at my husband, and even my children.  I was awful.  The people who I loved the most got the very worst of me dished to them daily on a silver platter.  It.  Was.  Hell.  For everyone.  Even my anger angered me.  I was either angry or numb.  I couldn't cry.  Not a tear. I put on my "work face" and got on with my life the best I could.  People didn't know.  

I believe my PND was primarily caused by a chronic lack of sleep throughout my pregnancy, then needing a c-section, and then having a baby with terrible reflux.  I just got sick.

Every night I would go to bed and pray.  I would pray for patience, for peace in my heart.  That I would be the mother my sweet babies needed and deserved, to be the loving mother I knew I needed to be, that I so desperately wanted to be.  I would pray with all my heart.  I would give thanks for all the amazing things I had.  My beautiful boys, my amazing, patient, loyal husband.  I would give thanks for our little cozy house, our security.

Every morning I would wake up and take time to remember how grateful I was for my life, for my gentle patient Grant, my beautiful children, my lovely little home.  I was warm, safe, dry, fed.  Every single morning I would wake up DETERMINED to do better.  I would clear my mind and focus on being calm and loving. That I would be able to let go of the indescribable anger that gripped my body,.  I told myself I would do better.  That TODAY I would be the mother my boys deserved.

Every day, I failed.  

At first I thought it was hormones, or baby blues.  At about 4 months in I realized it wasn't right, that it was worsening and I decided to go to the Dr and I went on medication.  It was a very low dose of anti-depressant.  Slowly and surely over the next 18 months life got better.  It was not fast, it was not over night and I have had to, and continue to still work very hard on it.
 
Slowly, very slowly I came back.  I realized that awful rage I was consumed by was not me, it was not who I was in my heart of hearts but instead it was the disease that gripped my body.  Slowly the rage dispersed.  I returned. 

I always knew depression was a disease, but you know when you truly "know" something from experience? It is a strong and powerful disease.  It is not merely "negative thinking". You cannot positively think your way our of true and deep depression.  I know because by golly I tried.

Medication, Faith, family, friends and simple living or at least mindful living is what has helped heal me.

My faith is a corner stone to who I am.  Knowing God "would not leave me nor forsake me"  was a line I repeated over and over in my mind.  And it was the truth.  I was truly blessed throughout this dark period though at the time I was not so able to see it as I can in health and hindsight.  And through this illness, God has grown me.  Stronger, but more fragile all at once.

Family - when Grant and I made our vows we really made them.  In sickness and in health, for better or for worse.  My family was my anchor to this world.  They forgave my behavior.  I always apologized, I always acknowledged it but that didn't stop it from causing hurt.  It would be easy to dwell on this.  That I was a really crap Mum.  And an even crapper wife.  My friends came and picked me up and dusted me off.  I have amazing friends.  Some brought food, or something small to make me smile.  They sat with me, they accepted me, they listened.  They still do.  They loved me unconditionally.  And that is a powerful thing.  I am truly blessed by the friendships in my life.

This next bit may sound preachy but I want to share my story, by sharing our stories we can help people understand this terrible illness.  Knowing God was there, knowing he sent down his only son to forgive us of our sin really helped me.  There is freedom in that. You see I really believe we are all broken.  All of us.  I mean we all stuff things up.  No matter how much we INTEND to do well, we fall short.  We hurt people.  We forget important things.  It's human nature.  It doesn't mean we don't try really hard not to stuff up.  It doesn't mean we don't learn from our mistakes, it doesn't mean we don't own it, apologise and try to grow through it.  It's just despite our best efforts and finest intentions, we do stuff up anyway.  And it's crap every time we do.

There is a kind of freedom in realizing everyone is broken, that when you strip us all back we are all just the same.  But that if we turn to God that he can guide us.  That we are loved and valued despite our brokenness unconditionally.  That he will show us grace.  By knowing that truth, I was able to show myself grace.  I have forgiven myself of the behavior that consumed me when I was sick.  It was not who I was but that doesn't stop it from hurting any less.  I could choose to have that guilt and burden hang over my head as a parent, which would be increadably unhelpful as parenting is hard enough without trying to do it through guilt.  But my faith frees me from that.

I'm getting to the simple living part I promise!  

Simple living has helped me to be mindful.  It has helped me strip back all the unnecessary things and focus on what important.  It has helped to bring me quiet in my mind.  It has helped me to live a simplified life, to eat better, to live better.  To not look for the "quick" fixes but to instead look at the problem and deal with it directly.  My eyes were already wide open to the things that are marketed at us as "quick" fixes.  the promises "things" are supposed to bring us.  But they don't.  Things can never bring us joy, well not the kind of lasting joy we are searching for.  For me living a mindful life, and honest life and a simple life helps me to keep whats truly valuable close to my heart.  My home helped to heal me.  It was my safe place.  Where I could be myself, I could hide, I could rest, I could fill up my tank.  

A little over 2 weeks ago I went off my medication, with a plan in place.  I'm ok but I'm tired, I have had headaches.  My mind is foggy.  My emotions have been haywire but I think I am getting there.  I have spent lots of time at home pottering about in the peace and quiet.  In my haven.  So if the blog is quiet this is why.  Because I am simplifying life.  I am filling my tank, I am growing well.  I am here, cooking for my family, sewing and resting.  I'm giving myself some grace. 

xx

10 comments:

  1. depression is certainly a bitch, have suffered with it most of my life too, there are so many different types, done the medication trip too but you know what helped me the most? giving up wheat, then this last year sugar. i can think more clearly, sure i can feel the depression there in the background but it's no longer hanging round my neck. the hardest thing with it is trying to cope on your own, you are fortunate to have good friends to see you through, it does get better, you may have to tweak your diet too to rid it completely. crafting helps heaps as does gardening, anything that makes you happy will help.
    hope you continue to get well & good luck
    thanx for sharing

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    1. Thankyou for your well wishes, they really mean alot. xx

      I think your right, what we eat puts a lot of pressure on our bodies and really affects the way we feel and process things. I'm so very pleased to hear you have gotten on top of your depression!

      I know when I feel crappy I crave sugar, and pasta/comfort foods. Good quality comfort foods with good ingredients but none the less. Possibly the very thing I should avoid...But so delicious!

      xx

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  2. Emma, you are not alone in this as many other young mums will agree. Your story may help them so thank you for sharing it. A friend of mine who suffered from PND was on medication for many years and tried to come off it unsuccessfully. In the end she went on Dr.Sandra Cabot's living cleansing diet at the same time as coming off her medication and was successful. Big hugs!

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    1. Thankyou Chel,

      Yes I think PND is far more common then we hear about and also far more powerful then sometimes we realize. Its exaughsting and it affects so much of your life and the energy you have.

      I have heard a little about this kind of diet....I will have to look into it next time.

      xx

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  3. Emma, Take the time to adjust while trying to come off the meds. This can do a number on you as well. Just wanted to send you a (((hug))) and lots of good thoughts your way.

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    1. Thankyou, I appreciate it so very much.
      xx

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  4. Thanks so much, for sharing, Emma. I can relate to what you said here very well, because I am prone to depression myself. Thumbs up for you, for not ignoring it and dealing with it properly. Yes, family is the second best medicine, it certainly helps, but in severe cases medication is a must, and good for you for getting to Dr on time. My dad is severely depressed and has been this way most of his life. He is ignoring it, we as a family are always for him, but he would be so much better off after a drug course. Cherish your family, they are your angels. ;) Lots of hugs! ;)

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    1. Thankyou Anastaija,

      It is such an insidious illness it can be hard to recognize it in yourself I think for many people. Especially if it has developed slowly over a long period of time as it simple becomes the new 'normal'. That is its danger. And because most often you look well and you have good and bad days....so complex.

      Im so sorry to hear about your father, I hope he cna find something that works for him or a Dr who can make the possibility of medication become a reality. Sometimes it takes the right explanation.

      xx

      xx

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  5. I know this is an old post, but thank you for sharing.

    I have only recently acknowledged that I have suffered postnatal depression in the past. The thing was, I just thought that's who I was.
    I couldn't understand how I could be SO patient and caring and kind in my previous job (aged care) yet SO angry and impatient with the people I love the most. It tormented me that I would call myself a Christian and yet behave this way behind closed doors.

    It didn't seem normal to yell and shout at my child and yet I couldn't help myself.
    I also woke up each morning vowing to change things for the better and by the end of the day feel like an absolute failure. I thought I must be the worst mother in the world because nobody else flips their lid at typical 3 year old behaviour. Most would just laugh, shrug it off, clean it up, use the opportunity to teach, and move on.
    I learned a lot of humility in those days, as time and again I would apologise and beg forgiveness (my son is a champ, he taught me a LOT about forgiveness). The guilt is dissipating over time as I come to realise it WASN'T me. I just wish I had recognised it as an illness and got help for it.

    Stories like yours help others. Thank you.

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    1. Dear Jay, I'm so sorry you also went through PND in the past. Its a horrible thing.

      Children are so wise aren't they? They can teach us so much about unconditional love, forgiveness and just being present in the moment.

      I have long since come to the conclusion, we arnt terrible mothers, we are very loving mothers who are human. Because we DID try, and we DO try, every single day to be the best we can for our beautiful children. Your son sounds like a wonderful little fellow and you sound like a wonderful, hardworking, loving and wise Mama.

      xx

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