Last Thursday, Felix fell asleep in the car on the way home from town, as babies tend to do and because we had nowhere to be and didn’t have a 4-and-a-half year old to get bored with us, so I decided I’d park somewhere and let him sleep.
Waking a sleeping baby is something I hate to do, yet I do at least once most days because, life. So, this day I took the opportunity to let my little man sleep. It was a beautiful day. Warm and sunny, with the waves lapping at the rocks, birds soaring through the sky.
Felix slept and slept and slept. I didn’t have a book and spent the time creating a Steller story aptly named ‘Out my window while baby sleeps’. Listening to Felix’s little-man-snores, I thought about how lonely I have been feeling. Somehow, this time around I have found life with a baby to be more isolating than I did when I was stuck home suffering from postnatal depression, knowing nobody and going nowhere.
I’m finding it frustrating and ridiculous that I feel surrounded by people yet still feel like I’m talking to myself most of the time.
During my woe-is-me session, I looked out the window to see whales frolicking out towards the horizon. One, in particular, caught my eye as it leapt from the water.
And just as it caught my attention Felix woke up. With an hour until school pick up, we got out and watched the whale for a moment and as we sat he disappeared but we stayed, soaking up the sun and playing in the grass.
It was a perfect afternoon, leaving me feeling warm, happy and recharged.
It was the perfect reminder that this parenting gig (and life in general) is a mixture of the good and the bad. Moments of sadness can be changed by moments of happiness. Moments of happiness can be tinged with sadness. As our children grow we celebrate their milestones while mourning that they are not our little babies anymore.
He wants to grow up so fast and I can’t believe that this big boy was my tiny little baby just four short months ago.
Sometimes, you need a little sea air and sun to remember the loneliness won’t last forever and babies don’t stay little for long. I’ll take those lonely hours while he sleeps so that we can then share our special moments before we need to be rushing about again.
I’m looking forward to this Thursday, when we can do it all again. When it can be just him, me and the sea.
When did you last sit and just enjoy the view and company?
Linking up with Essentially Jess for #ibot
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I have readily agreed to Switch Off for myself and my family and wanted to share with you in case you also would like to switch off. I was sent a digital detox kit to help with our ‘downtime’. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
In this day and age we are constantly connected. At any given moment, we can be checking our emails, flicking through facebook, tweeting, posting photos, playing word games, drawing games, messaging, blogging, reading blogs. Or, we could even be making phone calls. Through these amazing technological advances we are able to keep in touch with friends and family near or far and we are able to do it where ever we are, whenever we feel like it. We no longer have to wait until we a home to sit at our computer or haul out our laptop. The whole world is accessible and we keep it in out pockets, bags, or in my case, bras.
As a stay at home mum of three children, I certainly appreciate that I am never more than a moment away from adult interaction. Having spent the first two years of my parenting life feeling completely isolated, I find much comfort in the knowledge that I can reach out when I need to and I often do.
At one stage I was always checking my phone or always getting on my laptop to check my comments on the blog, on facebook, on instagram. I found solace online as I struggled with Postnatal Depression and it was all too easy to get lost in the cyber world.
Then, I happened upon Hands Free Mama, her beautiful words broke me. I was hiding in a world away from my children and it was a painful reality to face.
I implemented rules for myself about the use of my phone, my online time, blogging time and when I could have my laptop out. I moved all blogging, writing and reading, to when the children were sleeping. No phones at the table. No social media when my children wanted to be interacting with me.
If you’re connected with me online you probably see lots of photos on Instagram. I do take heaps. But, generally, I wait for a more appropriate time to upload them. I take a snap or a video and then put my phone away. Or, if I needed to upload straight away (for reviewing experiences and so on), my rule is to upload and move on.
If there’s a quite minute I might update a status or check my blog comments, but my rule is to not get distracted and only when the children are happily engaged elsewhere.
Obviously, the above is easier said than done. If it was easy to not get sucked in there wouldn’t be a problem, would there? I’ve just been sent some research revealing that one third of people are connected to technology for between 8 – 16 hours every day*. At reading that I was slightly alarmed but then I thought about it and I know how it can happen. You get sucked in.
While my rules guided my usage strictly for some time, I have noticed recently that I am getting my phone out more, scrolling through facebook instead of doing the things I promised myself I would be doing. At first, I denied it but more recently I’ve noticed that the longer it is since having some quality alone time (with or without James) to get my mental state realigned, the more I find myself ‘escaping’ online to try and grab what normalcy I can. Because I am struggling and I have to do what I can to find calm and balance. (If you have a holiday to offer me please contact me pronto).
I am not happy with it and it’s not okay.
Because of this I have put my hand up to participate in Switch Off Sunday this weekend. While I know nothing of Amaysim as a provider, I am pretty impressed that a company which makes it’s money from us being switched on and connected is initiating a campaign to help us take some downtime.
James is thrilled. I think his exact words (via SMS) were ‘Switching off is not my favourite lol’ but I think (hope) he will be surprised on the day. I believe we need it. I certainly do.
What about you? Do you ever have a day to switch off? Do you think about it? It’s a daunting idea and can readily be seen in the comments on the Switch Off Sunday post. People freak out. I panic about being contactable, but my kids will be with me, as will most of the people who contact me!
While being able to reach out into the world is such an amazing privilege which has blessed me with many friendships that see me through the tough times, it is also so very taxing. On our families and friendships. On ourselves. I don’t need to be constantly wired. I don’t need to know every little thing that’s going on. Right. Now. I can live and be free without the constant distractions and enjoy my connectivity on occasion.
I am going to challenge myself to stay off for as long as possible during the weekend and come back next week to tell you how we went and what we did. Are you interested in joining us?
* Research conducted by Pure Profile on behalf of Amaysim. March 2013.
So, last week this thing happened. Every parental blogger in the whole entire world went to a conference except me. Every. Single. One. Trust me, I know and I do not ever exaggerate. Ever.
I grumbled somewhat to the hubby about not being there and followed along with the #DPCon13 chatter. I read the tweets, stalked on facebook and watched on Instagram. All the talk, all the photos of other bloggers being with ‘their people’, being surrounded by people who get them, making friends got me thinking.
Once upon a time I was going to things, I was ‘being’. A part of the community.
Recently, however, I’ve been unable to attend things. For various reasons.
I have been feeling a little out of the loop. Like, the friendships I once thought I had aren’t. Like I’d somehow slipped out of the community I thought I was part of. Not in a ‘they’re so mean and excluding me and cliquey’ high school kind of way but in a ‘I’m not there connecting and being’ kind of way.
It’s not just the events and conferences, either. I feel like I withdrew last year from the blog, from social media. I did the opposite of what I did the first time I suffered badly with post natal depression and, I guess now I wish I hadn’t because that first time I was surrounded and pulled through. This time, I’ve come through and am even off my meds, but I feel alone.
I want to reach out, but I am awkward. Socially inept. I want to be at these things dancing, laughing, growing and making friends but even when I AM at things I can’t make myself accessible. I can’t just go back to those I thought I had a relationship with and think we can just be how we were.
I sometimes think I will probably simply end up in obscurity. I’ll be that blogger nobody remembers or is remembered vaguely for some really strange reason. Yeah. That blogger.
Oh woe. Woe is me.
But, not really. I know this is all on me and this is me taking a step. This is me reaching out. This is me saying I don’t want to accept being socially incapable anymore.
Were you at the conference last week? Tell me how utterly boring it was and that you did not have a fabulous time, making tons of amazing bloggy friends (lie to me) 😉
Have you entered yet?
Last Thursday night I took myself off to hospital. I’d been having chest pains for three days and a weird indigestion that was getting worse instead of better as well as a few other symptoms that made me uncomfortable.
The doctor was sufficiently concerned that my symptoms were ‘suspicious’ and suggested that it may be a blood clot. I had an EKG, a blood test and some blood thinners. All tests were clear and the doctor didn’t actually offer any answers as to what might be the problem, but I am thinking stress and/or my PND ‘flaring up’ again. It does show itself in the most inconvenient ways.
I have to admit that this is the second time I have been to the hospital with chest pains. The first time, it was a ‘chest wall injury’ and, I felt like an idiot.
For me, making the call to go to the hospital is very difficult because I know I have a tendency to be a little bit of a hypochondriac. Someone just died of a brain tumor on House? I suddenly have quite a bad headache. Wes Bonny died of melanoma at age 26? Suddenly, I am paranoid about skin cancer. Even a week after I’ve had a scan and every single time I see that ad.
For me, it’s a huge struggle between keeping my penchant for the extreme response in mind and acting appropriately in the situation. It took me three days to decide to go to the hospital. And, the whole time I knew it could be a mistake to be umming and ahhing. Yet, I could not decide.
It was a different pain to any I had experienced before. Knowing that is an important part of beating my mind because I do get stress related chest pain and I do, always, have a moment where I think ‘is this a heart attack?’ but I am able to discern that it isn’t because it’s the same as it always is. It was more painful. It was coupled with random indigestion and helped along with some advice from Dr Google.
I don’t know whether to be embarrassed, annoyed or relieved that I took the 10 minute drive into town.
It is highly frustrating. I drive James completely mad when things like this happen. He’s just lucky he isn’t in my head, where I am so confused and worried and annoyed all at the same time. Where I analyze every little thing, trying to figure out if it’s serious, different and sometimes, real.
Maybe, I don’t need to worry. Maybe, in a real emergency I will know. I just will. I’d like to think so, but I’ve read enough to know that, sometimes, people don’t get the really bad pains or the most obvious symptoms.
Thankfully, my worries so far have amounted to nothing and I’ve only been a pain in the ER twice. But, I wonder about next time. Well, not all the time, just right now. I wonder how I can keep having these insane moments. At the time I am experiencing real pain (for the most part and to be honest, I prefer the ‘fake’ as I am quite quickly able to discern and quash it. Also, it doesn’t actually hurt. That’s a bonus), displaying real symptoms and honestly think there could be an issue all the while I am doubting my ability to know what those things really mean.
I feel like the Boy Who Cried Wolf. I know that’s how James sees me. As soon as I murmur “Do you think it could be …. (insert illness here)” I can literally hear his eyes rolling about in his head and I don’t blame him for a second but I do wish he could understand.
Do you have hypochondriac tendencies? Can you suggest a way to help me ease mine?
Postnatal Depression. It’s not always black and white
Did you know that this past week has been Postnatal Depression Awareness Week? I have tried to write this post three times now, which is why I am sharing at the end of the week rather than earlier, but I am passionate about raising awareness and want to actually get something posted.
Right now, James and I are at Number 4. Packing, cleaning, tending to the house and sleeping in because we are childless.
We are childless because my mum, my husband and I have made a point of being aware of my PND and made the appropriate steps to give me – and them – a break.
Being aware of my feelings, moods and triggers is a huge part of my management plan.
Almost exactly 2 years ago, however, I was hospitilised because I didn’t pay attention to the signs that I wasn’t coping. In fact, I didn’t know the signs because after my initial diagnosis, 5 months before, I thought I could take my medication and pretend nothing had happened.
By that time, I had been suffering from postnatal depression for 33 and a half months. Or, since Ellie’s birth.
When I first brought her home, all I wanted was to be a good mum. The best mum. I thought that the exhaustion, crying – about everything, anything and nothing, anxiety, irritability, loss of confidence and self-esteem and complete and utter overwhelm would go away with time. I thought if I wanted it bad enough, it would dissipate and I would be that mum I always dreamt of being.
I thought that if I admitted to not coping I would be a lesser mum. A bad mum.
Once I was officially diagnosed, I didn’t talk about it with anyone but James. I didn’t want to disappoint. I didn’t want to be seen as being weak, which is how I saw myself.
I had no idea that I was one of many.
- One in 7 new mums and 1 in 20 new dads are diagnosed with postnatal depression each year in Australia – that’s 15 per of mums and 5 per cent of dads
And I didn’t know my silence was part of the problem.
- Lack of community awareness often contributes to parents remaining undiagnosed
The stigma surrounding PND and all mental illnesses is a dangerous one. We need to talk, be open and honest. We need to tell our stories and raise awareness for others but also for ourselves. We need to be able to speak up and ask for help because doing that and getting healthy is the best thing for our families.
Postnatal depression can’t be ignored. It doesn’t just go away. Admitting that you’re struggling doesn’t make you weak and it’s a step towards becoming the kind of mum you want to be.
Know the signs, know the risk factors, know your triggers and take action if you feel there is an issue, whether it be yourself, your partner or a friend.
Visit PANDA or call their National Perinatal Depression Helpline on 1300 726 306for more information, resources or help.
If you have a friend who suffers from PND and you would like to know ways you can actually help, pop over and read this awesome post on Good Golly Miss Holly – it is the most practical advice I’ve read.