“I’m Not 100% Today”

Say these words out loud. “I’m not 100% today.” Say it out loud until you can hear it ring through your head. And when your husband, wife, friend or family member asks you if you’re ok, you’ll be able to say “I’m not 100% today.”

Sure, we must say positive affirmations over and over again. It’s so important we do that. “I’m beautiful!”, “I’m happy!”, “My life is GREAT!”, “I’m going to beat all my challenges today!”

But you know what? Some days are just SHIT. You’ve woken up with a heavy heart and you don’t know why. You can’t shake it off, you can’t look in the mirror and put a fake smile on to face the world. 

And that’s ok. 

But don’t hide your feelings because they’ll fester for days. Tell someone, as soon as you feel it. Don’t pretend and say “Yeah I’m ok.”, or “I’m fine.” There’s no need for that. Be honest. 

My husband was annoyed a few weeks ago. I kept asking him what was wrong and he kept saying “Everything’s fine.” But I knew he wasn’t. He was quiet and a little tense. A few days later, we had a long talk about how angry he was over a certain issue. “Why didn’t you tell me straight away? Why wait this long, until you’re so angry?”, was my response to him. We’ve talked about it and have decided that we are going to try and voice our unhappiness immediately (but gently of course).

The other day, I woke up feeling unhappy. No reason. I was just unhappy. I knew I was going to be snappy. I was quiet and prickly. 

But I did what I’ve never really done before. I spoke up about my true feelings straight away. We’d already had breakfast and I crawled back into bed. He came into our bedroom and I looked up at him and said, “I’m not 100% today. I don’t know why, but I just am.” 

And he heard me. 

All day, he came up and cuddled me. Kissed me. Hugged me. No words, no questions asked, no solutions offered. Just pure love and affection. And I could feel, within a couple of hours, I was back to my happy self again. 

Because I felt loved. 

Don’t be afraid to say how you feel, don’t try and be brave and say “It’s all ok”. You don’t have to yell it out or scream. You can just say these simple words “I’m not 100% today.” This could be something you could talk to your partner about now, to let them know that when you feel this way sometimes, is to just give much needed attention and affection, or whatever you think will help lift your spirits. 

Head over to my other blog titled #MyRescuePlan for more help with your bad days. 

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Christmas Rescue Plan

5 more sleeps til Christmas.

To many, it’s a joyous occasion and they can’t wait to spend the day opening presents with their family and their loved ones. Spending time with people they love and care about, and an opportunity to catch up with people they don’t get to see very often.

To some, it can be a very anxious time of the year. You may feel like you have to spend the day with people that are negative or are quite toxic to you and your family. Maybe some of them have made it very clear to you that they “just don’t like you”. Some of you may feel like you haven’t got a choice, you’ve got to just suck it up and play “happy families” with everyone on this one day that is meant to be happy and joyous. Some of you may have decided that this is the year you’re going to “do our own thing”.

Either way, don’t forget to protect your own sanity, your own safe space in your head. Choose what you want to do on that day, choose to make that decision where you’re not going to let certain people get to you and how you are going to react to those people.

It is not them that is going to affect your version of Christmas Day. It is YOUR reaction that will affect it. Keep calm and enjoy the day the best way you can. Come up with #myrescueplan, think about how you’re going to deal with difficult people – in a positive manner for YOU. Think about it NOW, before Christmas Day, so you don’t react in a negative way at the last minute. Or they will win, by ruining YOUR day. Protect yourself and your family. And find a way to enjoy this day.

 

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Exercising Makes You Feel Better!

The other day I said I’ve started to do something about my weight. I love love love food. Cheese, fried chicken, noodles, rice, curries etc. I cringe at the thought of eating anything that resembles healthy-eating. “I’m not eating rabbit food.” – is my normal go to excuse. I’m not a big drinker, but I’m a big eater.

So what’s the other alternative? I’ve started exercising. I used to say to everyone that I exercise “solo”. I’d put on my headphones and go for a run. I used to love it so much. Just being on my own. But over the last few years I lack the motivation and the time or time management skills to actually get out of the house to go for a run on my own. Family came first. Then cooking meals or catching up with friends for coffee was waaaay more important. Oh and joining the gym is just financially not possible.

Then the weight piled on. I went off my meds, hated my body etc etc

One day my friend Kerry asked to join her for a 30 min exercise class at the park. It was fantastic, I was sore for days. So I put on my personal FB page “Who wants to train with me? It’s only for 30 mins!” And I was so happy that quite of few of them said YES!

The moral of the story is, it’s so much better exercising in a group, especially if it’s with your fellow sisters. ASK your friends to do this with you, and if they do, EVERYBODY WINS. It’s sociable, great for your mental health and you get to lose weight.

Look for exercise groups in your local area. Then drag a friend or a group of friends with you. Our trainer charges us $5 per session and it’s only for 30mins (for a high intensity work out). We take our kids with us and they play together while the mums work out. You might even make new friends.

And remember, ACTIVE WEAR IS OPTIONAL 😂 T-shirt and shorts is fine. Nobody actually needs fancy active wear to exercise.

Today’s session, someone said, “Oops I peed a little” and we all burst into giggles. Our trainer nearly swallowed a fly and we all cracked up.

Take the first step. Ask your friends. I did. I had a shit day yesterday. But I feel great today. Let’s motivate each other ❤️ One day at a time ❤️

 

#MyRescuePlan

So Adam and I talked about having a “rescue plan”.

I’ve been on and off my meds for a few years. Every time I went off them, I had no real plan to deal with the aftereffects and the withdrawals. I would wait for the side effects to happen and then the meltdowns. I can handle the physical effects (head zaps and wobbles) but the mental ones were really hard. I didn’t know how to cope, and Adam didn’t either.

We talked about it last night, about how to deal with these uncontrollable meltdowns – when my state of mind is all hazy and messy and all over the place. When I’m like that, nothing Adam could say would help me. So I came up with a plan. A “rescue plan”. For days like I had a few days ago.

The plan is for Adam to first recognise the signs. Then this:

Don’t offer solutions
Don’t say only I can fix this
Don’t remind me it’s my depression (because I already know that)
Don’t tell me to “calm down”
Don’t be defensive – It’s not about you

INSTEAD

Be soft with me
Tell me you “get it”, you understand
Let me ramble, even if you don’t know what I’m rambling on about
Hold me tight while I cry
Kiss me
Stroke my hair
Offer to take me out for a meal, just the two of us
Go for a walk with me, hold my hand or put your arm around me
Tell me you love me ❤️

Please remember I’m not telling anyone to go off their meds if it’s working for them. This post is for anyone who ISN’T on their meds. This doesn’t have to be targeted to husbands only. This could be for partners, parents, friends who are here to support you. Come up with your own “rescue plan” and the plans can ALWAYS be changed and altered ❤️

Please please please share 🙏🏼

#myrescueplan #postnataldepression #awareness

I Screamed At My Husband and He Didn’t Deserve It

I screamed at my husband on the phone this morning. He didn’t deserve it.

As some of you may know, I’ve come off my meds. It’s been about 2 months now that I’ve been completely off them. Most days I can handle. And when they’re really good, I keep thinking I should put up a positive blog on here to let everyone know that it’s all good. But I didn’t because I didn’t want to jinx it.

Last couple of weeks have been hectic and quite the strain on me emotionally and physically. More so emotionally. I’m letting idiots get to me. I’m letting people from every part of my life get to me. I’ve allowed people I don’t even really care about get into my head.

My kids are driving me crazy. Both toddlers and teenagers. The younger ones broke one of my favourite Christmas bells that I’ve had for 15 years. When I got home from work last night I found about a hundred (ok maybe less) sultanas all over the living room floor. And then I couldn’t find Miss 4’s school uniform, so I had to turn the house upside down. I can never seem to find anything in MY OWN HOUSE.

And the tears. The tears keep flowing.

I go to bed every night planning the next day and nothing goes to plan. Other shit keeps coming up because I can’t say no.

It’s end of the school year and I see everyone all organised with gifts for teachers. I haven’t even started and it’s the last week of school.

There is so much more but if I listed every single thing, my words would seem hazy and messy.

Last two nights at work have been mentally draining. So I let out a rant on my personal FB page about feeling so burnt out. I got so many messages from friends asking if I was ok and lending me support. So I quickly deleted that post. Last thing I’d ever want is for my friends to roll their eyeballs thinking I was being dramatic or attention seeking.

Then this morning I got a message from one of my friends, who opened up to me and was so honest in how he feels about his life. He said his life feels like it’s “wash, rinse, repeat”, and it annoys the shit out of him. Then he went on to give me the best advice “You’re a ripper Sharon. You’re a good person and the people around you enjoy your company. That’s a bloody good start. Take a small problem and make it go away, then work on the next one.”

I dropped Miss 4 off to school and went to Coles. Sat in the car for ages and stared out the window. Is it still postnatal depression? My youngest is now 3. How long is this supposed to last? Or is it no longer PND? Is it something else? Is it just “regular” depression? OR is my life just too busy?

I rang my husband on the phone in the car. I started off silent because I was all choked up. We talked about how I’m feeling. And as I’m telling him, I know those things are nothing in the grand scheme of things. But I couldn’t quite articulate it as well as I can write it. So it sounds like everything is shit. But it’s not. I don’t remember the whole conversation but it ended up with me screaming. I don’t even know what I screamed about.

I came home from Coles and there he was, Adam pulling up into the driveway. We had the same conversation in the kitchen. Everything he said or asked me, I took offense to. Naturally, he’s at a loss. I started crying again and told him it’s better if he left.

How do I explain to someone that it’s “not you, it’s me”? It’s not the untidy house, not the usual stress that we all go through, not anything that can actually be fixed. It’s my STATE OF MIND. It’s all over the place. Ask me what’s wrong and I can rattle off a list of things that’s pissing me off but I know every single thing on that list can be fixed. So what else is it?

How do I fix my mind though? Exercise? Straight jacket? Meditation? Medication? Probably. But right now, I’m just expressing my raw honesty of what’s going through my head. And the honest truth is, I don’t know what the hell is going on.

I’m okay though, really I am. I’m not suicidal (but possibly just a tad homicidal), I still love my husband and kids with every cell in my body. I don’t want any of my friends to come up to me and feel sorry for me, or even worse, see me as someone that needs fixing. If they try to fix me, I’ll probably fix their face with my fist.

Adam, I’m sorry. And thank you for coming home and I’m sorry for today. I appreciate your love and your patience. Don’t know where I’d be without you, I love you so so so much.

Friends who have sent me messages and the big warm hug I got from one of the most awesome friends I’ve got, thank you.

My state of mind right now, is all fucked up but I know I can fix this 💪🏼

Mr 3 has fallen asleep in my arms and there’s no better feeling than this. Look at that squishy face.

 

To Pregnant Mums: The Power Of Mothers’ Groups

What do you do to prepare for a baby? You’ll think about the baby’s name, probably the colour of the nursery, disposable or cloth nappies, to breastfeed or bottle feed, or which stroller to buy (omg there’s probably about 1,734,093 of them to choose from!).

But to all pregnant mums, have you thought about what happens to your social life and what kind of support you’ll have after the birth of your baby? Maybe you’re a new mum, you haven’t got friends that have babies yet or you started later than them, or you’ve just moved into your area and you still don’t know anyone yet. Or like me, whose two older kids were nearly teenagers at the time.

When I had my third baby (I had a 10 year gap), I was in a new suburb, and I didn’t really know a lot of other mums in the area. A couple of weeks after the birth of my baby, I was offered to join a mother’s group, organised by the local Child Health nurse. I thought, why the hell not?

The group started with maybe 10 mums. We sat around and listened to the Child Health Nurse, who taught us all about baby stuff (it was a fantastic refresher course for me!), and at the end of each session, we would sit around and chat amongst ourselves, about our families and share our experiences with our own new precious little bubs. After the last session, we all exchanged phone numbers and addresses, hoping that we would start catching up and continue on with our new found friendships.

So our group started off from 10, down to 7, trickled down to 6, one moved states, and the other, she moved house and we sort of lost contact with her. Then it was down to us 5. Me, Krischelle, Holly, Vicki and Ange (who joined our group about 2 years later!).

We try to catch up at least once a month, maybe more often, if we can. We all come from different backgrounds (Krischelle and Ange from Australia, me from Singapore, Holly from the UK and Vicki from South Africa). We celebrate our kids’ birthdays together, host play dates in our homes or we go to the park if the weather is beautiful.

We have very different personalities (I’m the one that swears the most!) but we have one thing in common – Our children. Is that enough? Yes, I think it is. With our different personalities in our group, we bring different opinions, suggestions and ways to support each other. We laugh and cry together. We care about each other, we ask each other hard questions (we kinda got lucky that one of us is a doctor!). Whenever one of us is down, we pick each other up. That’s just how we roll. 

It is so important to have a close network of friends who have babies around the same age. It’s not so much about the kids forming lasting friendships (though that would be a bonus), but the bond and friendships that are formed between us mums that is so important.

I’m not sure how I would have survived without the support from my mother’s group (and my hubby’s support too). They have, at times, been my pillars of strength. They were there for me when I suffered the dreaded postnatal blues. Some of us have experienced the passing of a loved one, miscarriages and postnatal depression, but a phone call or a group text to say “Who wants to catch up?” is all we have to do. And the support is instantly there.

So it’s been 4 years, all of us have had our second babies (fourth for me). We are so lucky to have each other, and I am so incredibly grateful to have them in my life.

Remember, if you’re pregnant for the first time, make sure you join a mother’s group once you’ve had your baby. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a good support network around you. Do not isolate yourself from the rest of the world. Having your husband and other family members around you, is sometimes, just not enough.

I’ve heard from some mums who have said they’ve joined mothers’ groups in the past but couldn’t seem to click with them; then this is my advise – try another one. If the next one’s no good, try another one again. At some point, you’ll find someone (or a group) that you can click with.

It’s best to also join a group with an open heart and mind, to expect – and respect – that we all have different personalities. Different personalities can be a positive thing, having different opinions, experiences and insights can be very helpful in seeing things from another person’s perspective. What can we learn from each other? What can we do to lift each other up?

Don’t forget, being in a mothers’ group does not limit you to socialising only with your babies. When the time comes, there’s also opportunities to go out with each other WITHOUT your kids. My group of mums and I have had lunches and dinners together and also much needed girls’ nights out!

“Love love love our group… I am always amazed that we come from different walks of life, our ages ranged from 21-35, and we had nothing in common except we had a baby at the same time in the same neighbourhood… but we have never judged, just always supported, encouraged, cheered and cried together… bam instant village xxx” – Krischelle

“I honestly don’t know how I’d got through hard times without you guys and totally agree and can’t stress enough how important this is.” – Holly

“Having no family support I truly see my mothers group as my primary support lifeline. Women supporting women. As loving and supportive as my husband is he’s just not a woman – he’s from Mars! I couldn’t be the mother that I am without these amazingly supportive, encouraging and strong women.Right place at the right time and now hopefully friends for ever” – Ange

“We have been so blessed with our MG- every time I mention my MG to anyone they have always been so surprised that we are still going strong and stay connected!!” – Vicki

Good luck with the birth of your baby, and I wish you all the very best!

“The best people let me talk without judgement and without pity”

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Donna contacted me through my website www.120fingersandtoes.com and requested for me to interview her. She wanted me to help share her experience with postnatal depression and how she learnt to overcome it. Donna is a wife and a mother of two children. And before she had their first baby, she suffered 5 miscarriages.

Postnatal Depression

Donna discovered she suffered from postnatal depression roughly around 8 months after the birth of their first child. Her baby had to be breastfed every 2 hours, 24 hours a day. She said she felt angry all the time and was constantly tired and frustrated. Her baby would cry and wanted to get picked up but Donna would get angry at her. Her husband would say to her, “You can’t talk to her like that…” And that would make Donna even angrier.

She felt very isolated, and that no one understood what she was going through. She felt like everyone was seeing it very differently to how she saw things… “But I was the one seeing it differently, I guess.” Although she felt like she had a very good support network, she felt she had no one around to help her. But she knew it wasn’t how they were, she knew it was how she was feeling. There’s been times when she’s thought, “They’d all be better off without me, I’m ruining everything.”

Donna also experienced a lot of anxiety. “If I had to see anyone out of my normal routine, I’d get really stressed out about it, then I’d pick a fight with my husband, hoping he’d say ‘right, we’re not going.'”

Donna’s husband, mum and sister were very concerned. They all suggested for her to see a doctor. She laughed, as she recalled what she thought at the time, “Fine, I’ll go see somebody and prove them wrong!” So she went to the doctor…. and bawled her eyes out! After talking to Donna, her doctor spoke to her husband to make sure she would get home safely. She felt bad, that people thought she was suicidal and would hurt the baby. She said she can now understand how some women could be driven to do certain things, just out of sheer desperation and exhaustion. We both talked about how we heard that exhaustion is used in criminal warfare as one of their torture tactics!

She recalled a time when her first child was about 13 months old. Her baby would cry and Donna would scream and swear at her. She then thought to herself, “Oh my god, why am I talking like this? Then I would feel really guilty, sit there and bawl my eyes out for hours. This child is going to learn to be this way and I realized I was being a bully to her.” Donna recalled another time when, out of anger, she wanted to say something to hurt her husband. So she said, “You know, last night, I thought about leaving you.” Only to have her husband reply, “You know I thought about leaving you too.” She laughed, saying, “Are you serious? I thought… Shit, I’m that much of a bitch, he’s going to leave me! I was just being a bitch to get him upset! That really upset me.”

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Support

Donna says she now sees a very good psychiatrist, one who has shown her different ways to deal with her feelings, taught her how to cope and change her way of thinking. She’s taught her to see what’s really important in the grand scheme of things (does the house REALLY need to be super clean when someone comes over?). She felt that talking to her psychiatrist has been very liberating for her. She also meditates and when times are stressful, she’s found that reciting the Lord’s Prayer over and over again, has had a very calming effect on her.

Donna also takes medication to help with her PND. She takes 10mg of Escitalopram a day. She giggled and called them her “Non-psycho pills!” “So many people say you shouldn’t be on medication, ‘You don’t need it’. I’m like, well, clearly I do! I figure if I’ve got a headache, I’ll take an aspirin…. if you’re not feeling well, take something to make you feel better.”

“I couldn’t have asked for a better husband.” Donna’s husband is very patient. Having learnt from their first baby, when they had their second, he did a lot of the night time feeds, made sure Donna got enough sleep and was looked after (awwwwwww!! *applause*). She also has a very good group of friends that support her. She’ll never forget that one of her friends had said to her (after Donna started on her medication), “I didn’t realize how ‘NOT’ Donna you were until I’ve seen you on your tablets, and how ‘back to normal’ you are now. I didn’t realize how sad you really were.”

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What Do You Want The World To Know?

“It is OK to talk about how bad you feel. Nothing is ever too bad that it can’t be fixed or helped. Postnatal (depression) does not discriminate, it hits the strongest and the weakest, it hits the confident as much as those who have little confidence, hits first timers and those with one or more kids. You have no idea it’s coming and often no idea it’s there. But boy, does it play games with your mind and your life.”

“Women are strong, we can endure many things but the best way to heal is to talk and to have support. No matter what was said to me during my times of sadness after losing a baby, it was helpful. The best people let me talk without judgement and without pity. And remember your partner is going through it too.”

Thoughts

If you met Donna for the very first time like I did, you would not have thought she suffered from PND. She is funny, bubbly and so full of life. Every woman going through PND, while they experience similar feelings, are all in different situations and circumstances. And we all use different ways to cope with it.

Thanks Donna, for sharing with us your experience and I hope someone out there going through it may try one or all of your methods of coping. Donna, I wish you and your family all the best!! Oh, and thank you for taking the time out on your birthday to see me!!