Sunday, May 31, 2009


Big changes are afoot for me. I have been offered a job in a company that I believe is completely in tune with where I am in my life right now. To take this job means leaving the only career I have ever known and to take a leap into the great unknown. I have been and am very excited about this change, but tonight all those annoying little 'what ifs?' are creeping into my head. I know that I want this job, I know that I don't want to keep teaching, I know I want to spend more time with my little man, I feel like there is enormous potential for me to grow personally and professionally down the track. I know in my heart that this is the right place for me to go right now and everyone keeps telling me how great they think this step will be for me. But the only thing I can think of tonight is the fear of financial stresses. How will we pay for everything with me taking quite a substantial pay cut by working part-time? This is making me feel really crappy because all my positivity is deserting me right when I need it most. I want to enjoy this, not stress about it (as I have done with so many things in my life). I only hope that when it comes to the crunch I really do have the strength and courage to follow my heart and to trust that it will lead me in the right direction.......

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Girls night out....

I am so lucky to live in an apartment building with some of the best neighbours ever. Many of us are couples around the same age, with two other couples having babies last year, just like us. This shared bond has ensured that we have become really close and it is so wonderful to have two other women to swap concerns with, to share good and bad stories with, to take walks around the park with and to have as a support network. As couples, we have had numerous 'building bbq's and tapas parties on the common rooftop' (very Secret Life of Us for all you Aussies), however, us girls have never been out on our own, minus children and husbands.

Until last night....We had such a good time, starting with drinks at a local pub, followed by dinner at a tapas restaurant and ending with cocktails at a nearby club. Despite being very tired this morning, I had a great night and am so glad we finally did this. I woke up this morning feeling very lucky indeed to have crossed paths with these gals and it is so lovely to think that our little ones will grow up together. If you are reading this girls, thanks a bunch and I look forward to our next 'outing'! X

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A picture to warm your heart....

Image by Le fabuleux destin d'Amelie (via flickr)

Ball of confusion....

Messy, twisted, head hurts, exhausted....thats how I feel today. I HATE feeling this way. I know why this is happening but the hard part is breaking old habits. I need to stop wishing for things, worrying about what will be, needing to reach something etc. I need to JUST BE.... When I can achieve this state, I feel as though the weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders. I just wish I was better at doing it! Here are two quotes to remind me (and everyone else!) to do exactly this:

"Go for long walks, indulge in hot baths, question your assumptions, be kind to yourself, live for the moment, loosen up, scream, curse the world, count your blessings, just let go, just be" (Carol Shields)

"The secret for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly" (Buddha)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Giving a gift....

As I have mentioned, I am a teacher. I am currently teaching one of my year groups about mental health, with the focus being on depression. We teach this unit of work every year and, regardless of my personal experience, I think it is such an important issue to address. It is predicted that mental illness and depression in particular, will become our largest health concern over the next decade. So it is vital that young people are educated about what mental illness is, where to get help, and how to promote positive mental health.

One of the hardest things to overcome is the stigma surrounding mental illness and the perception that it is something that affects "someone else". Initially when I started teaching this unit of work this time around, I wasn't going to share my personal story with my students. I figured that since my passion and understanding of the issue comes across well enough anyway, it wouldn't be necessary. But a little voice in the back of my head kept nagging at me telling me that if I didn't share my story with these students, I was failing in what I have proclaimed to be my new duty in life and I would miss a prime opportunity. (If I am completely honest the thing that was holding me back was the fear of being judged by the girls or have them think differently of me).

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I did share my story with the girls and I am so glad that I did. Yes it was nerve wracking and scary and yes, the girls were quite surprised to hear it. But very quickly it became quite clear that my exposing myself was in a sense a gift to them. At some stage down the track, they or someone close to them will experience a mental illness (a sad, but very real fact). And when that happens, hopefully my story will pop straight into their heads - and they will know that its ok to ask for help, that they are not alone in what is happening and that no matter how bad things may seem there is hope to get through it. The students were able to gain a much greater understanding of the issue by hearing about it from someone who has experienced it first hand. What was also a clear sign to me that I had done the right thing was when two students came up to me to talk about their own mothers' experience of post natal depression. I could sense the relief from them that they finally could speak to someone about it and that since I had also experienced the same thing, there wasn't something 'wrong' with their mothers. That to me was priceless........

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Another one for the romantics....

The romantic, heart hurting ones must really be appealing to me tonight. Have also been listening to this a lot lately. The lyrics are so sad and sweet and Daniel has a great voice. Enjoy....

The Most Beautiful Song In The World.....

I was so excited to see that one of my all time favourite singers, Maxwell, is back in action after seven or so long years. If this is the first time you are hearing about him then you have been missing out and you absolutely HAVE to download his tunes. His version of Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" is the most beautiful song in the world. No matter how many times I listen to this song, it always makes me cry (It makes my heart hurt but in a good way). I hope you love it as much as I do. 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Guardian Angel....

My family is a large and somewhat complicated one (which I won't go into here but may do somewhere down the track). Over the past year my perception of life, my past, my family and who I am have dramatically changed (in ways that have been both painful and positive).  My parents separated when I was quite young and my mother re-married when I was about 9 years old. Along with my step-father came three new siblings. One of these siblings, Alex, was 3 years older than myself, and it is to her that I want to turn the attention of this post.

I'm not sure what has compelled me to want to write about Alex at this moment (perhaps it is because earlier today I was recollecting the way we used to watch movies over and over again and recite all the lines when we were young; or perhaps its because the anniversary of her death passed the other week?). Being born with a physical disability, much of Alex's life was a struggle. Despite this, she lived every part of her 24 years to the full and she had a profound impact upon everyone she met. 

Last year, Alex's mother had a book published, which was a compilation of pieces of writing completed by Alex. This book was given to me a few months after my son was born, as I was slowly coming out the other side of my post natal depression. Reading it was extremely emotional for me. It brought up a number of issues that I know I haven't fully dealt with from my childhood and also brought to light a number of aspects of Alex's death that I also haven't dealt with. The hardest part for me, however, was the realisation of just how much we lost when we lost her. Of course I always knew she was special and her death devastated me. But to a certain extent, my youth prevented me from being able to fully understand and appreciate this wonderful person when she was here with me.  

I have always missed and thought of Alex in our good times and have such fond memories of all the laughter, but this past year was the first time in which I had craved her presence in a bad time. In reading about the depth of her understanding of life and people and her devotion to helping others all I could think of was that I would give anything to be able to have a conversation with her now and to seek her wisdom and advice in such a dark time. Even though Alex could not be with me physically over the past year, I now view this book as a gift from her. One that came to me at the perfect time (kind of a coincidence - why did it happen to come now as opposed to some other time over the past 10 years?). I haven't seen Alex's mother since I received the book but I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to her for sharing this wonderful gift with all of us. Through this book I have been able to gain a deeper understanding of just how amazing Alex was. 

Despite living with people every day, many of us will go a lifetime without ever really understanding them or having a glimpse of their inner most thoughts about life. When I stop and think about this it just seems so sad and crazy. Aren't these the important things? Why do we let all the mundane, trivial things fill our days and interactions with the people closest to us? This book is a timely reminder to me to look for, appreciate and recognise the gifts inside each person in my life, right now. Look at everything I will miss out on if I don't.


Gorgeous Autumn Sky....

We went for a walk around our neighbourhood late this afternoon and I couldn't resist snapping a few shots of the gorgeous sky through the autumn leaves as the sun set.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Nice Surprises.....

Last night was a night of little surprises. I went to the hairdressers after work to discover that when you go there at night, they serve wine. So I had myself a nice little glass of Rose`whilst I sat back and read my magazines and had two lovely hours to myself. Then I returned home to find that my lovely husband had left a present for me on our bed. It was a beautiful Glasshouse scented candle (The packaging and look of these candles is gorgeous). What I love most about it is that the candle is called "Manhattan - Little Black Dress". Ahhhh, my husband knows me too well. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Strange title I know, but I am actually referring to my youngest sister who is currently living in Germany (Don't you love nicknames that your family give you?).  I haven't seen her for 7 months and won't see her again for at least another 5 months. She is the best youngest sister a person could ask for and I just wanted to tell her how much I miss her:

Fluff, it warms my heart to know that reading my blog is part of your morning ritual - so here is a happy morning message just for you!. 
Many hugs and kisses xoxoxoxoxoxo  x Bel 
(P.S. Your last comment on my blog worked. Thank you!)

Creative Spirit....

As I have mentioned, I am a bit of a creative spirit. At the end of last year I asked myself the question "What would I attempt to do if I knew I could not fail?" and the answer was that I would love to start my own business.  I have been working on this since the start of this year and was really on a roll. Sadly this roll has slowed over the past month due to the re-introduction of full time work and what not. (If I'm completely honest I would say that a healthy dose of fear is also contributing to the stall in progress). 

This goal or dream is one thing that I haven't really mentioned in my blog up until now. I suppose that is because there is such a risk associated with it. It will also require a great deal of commitment and effort since I am a newbie in the area of online business and business in general. (Not to mention that it is quite far removed from the world of health and physical education teaching which I currently inhabit). But nonetheless I am determined to give this a go as I feel it is my time to move in a new direction. 

As seems to be the case of late, the right thing has appeared to come along just as I am in need of it. Last night I was checking out one of my favourite blogs, "Creative Thursday" and discovered that the lovely Marisa has just introduced an e-course called "In The Fish Bowl::Life As an Artist Online". The course is aimed at helping other people live their creative dreams through an online business. PERFECT!!!!!! So I am all signed up and ready to start on 18 June. I can't wait as Marisa is an amazing artist and a beautiful soul. 

Which leads me to say how life changing my leap into the blogging community has been. The friendship, support, wisdom and love that has been shown to me in the short time I have been blogging and completing the "Unravelling" course is overwhelming. I feel so lucky that all of these experiences and wonderful people have come into my life - Thank you!!!!!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Lessons learned...

The topic for this week in my "Unravelling" course is "Reflections". I have left it right up until the last minute but I have finally posted two photos for this week. To be honest, up until yesterday I had only taken one photo and I wasn't even going to take any other pictures or upload anything. I was stuck worrying about what I look like or how I would be perceived etc etc. But tonight I just became so angry with myself and I thought what am I doing?. I have already wasted enough of my life (particularly the teenage years and early twenties) being extremely self conscious and feeling as though I don't measure up. I have come so far in terms of self acceptance, so why have I resorted back to my old ways of thinking as soon as my physical appearance is concerned? 

Anyway, I posted a photo of myself (as you can see above), just as I am tonight. I am who I am and no amount of self criticism will change that. Over the past 9 months I have learnt beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is my attitude, my actions, my values, my heart and my spirit that define me and have drawn other people to me. These are the things that have helped me get my life back - not my physical appearance. When I look in the mirror now, I see a person who is caring, determined, mentally strong, passionate, hopeful and happy. I am now genuinely proud of who I am. And that is what has finally made me feel beautiful.

Friday, May 15, 2009

4am playlist....

This morning the little man decided to wake up just after 4am. Often the only way he will go back to sleep is if we play music and dance around with him in our arms. Eventually the motion sends him off to sleep and he can return to his cot. Once upon a time I would have been consumed by how annoying it was that he was awake and I would be fixated on getting back to bed. I do still have those thoughts occasionally, but this morning I managed to focus instead upon the fact that in 20 years time I will look back and think fondly of such a moment. Of holding my little man in my arms and rocking him to the music; of this precious, quiet time with just the two of us....

As I listened to each song that played this morning I couldn't help but notice how different they were to each other. I love the fact that I enjoy so many different types of music. I also find it very interesting to see what songs other people have on their ipods as it can reveal alot about them. Here are a few of the songs that came on mine today.

1. Closer - Ne-yo
2. Bad Girls - Donna Summer
3. Heart's a Mess - Gotye
4. Daydreamin' - Lupe Fiasco
5. No Lies - Noiseworks
6. Dreaming with a Broken Heart - John Mayer

I wonder what these songs say about me? What do the songs on your ipod reveal about you?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Acts of kindness...

Tonight I want to mention two acts of kindness that I witnessed this afternoon in the space of about 15 minutes. After I picked my little man up from daycare we went into the convenience store across the road to grab a few things. The gentleman behind the counter was really lovely the last time I was in there and today was no exception. He kept telling me how cute the little man is (even though said little man looked like an absolute wreck - I have no idea what went on at daycare today but it didn't appear to involve removing breakfast, lunch or snacks from a certain person's face, hands, clothing, hair etc). Anyway, the man insisted that I take a lollypop, on the house, for the little man. It was such a sweet gesture (even sweeter when I realised that the little man was too little for lollypops and I would therefore have an unexpected treat!). Then, when we were driving home I saw two young people pushing an elderly ladies' car to the side of the road for her, as she had broken down in the middle of a very busy road in peak hour. A simple thing I know, but so often people would just kept driving past or around someone, rather than help (especially when they don't know them). So often its the random acts of kindness that leave such an impression upon you and its so lovely when they come your way. 

Oh, I don't know how I nearly forgot this one but THE LITTLE MAN CRAWLED FOR REAL TODAY. YEAH!!!!! Granted, he shuffled on his hands and knees a sum total of about 4 times, but its better than he has done before. Some mothers may fret about the fact that their son isn't crawling and STILL HAS NO TEETH at 9 and 1/2 months of age. But it only makes me love him more for being 'my unique, relatively stationary, little Gummy Bear!'

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Little Angel...

I just had to post this picture of my little man (He was so tired after daycare the other night that he fell asleep in my husbands arms). I can't stop thinking about him tonight and I seem to fall in love with him more and more each day. I am so lucky to have been entrusted with this precious little life.....

Nan and I are in Operation Nice!

I'm so happy - I sent a story in to Operation Nice and the lovely Melissa has posted it. My nan is going through a rough patch at the moment so I hope this brings a little joy to her day. (I'm sure you will all agree that she looks beautiful in the photo). Check out the story and the Operation Nice website - it really is inspiring.

Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Shoe Envy.....

I started my "Unravelling" course last week and the topic of our first assignment was 'feet'. Today was the first chance I had to read some of the comments that my fellow 'unravellers' had written about my photos. As pathetic as it may sound, I was like a proud mother when I read the compliments paid to my AMAZING brown boots from Barneys New York. They are one of my most treasured possessions in the world. They make me feel so happy when I wear them and I love everything about them. I love their colour, texture, the wedge heel, the hidden zipper, the front shape......ok I will stop now because I'm going a bit overboard - but they are one HOT PAIR OF BOOTS. I promised my 'unravelling buddies' that I would add some photos here to show the full effect of the boots. I also haven't been able to control myself and have included two other pairs of shoes that were purchased on the same trip. (There were others as well but this will do me for now). It may seem excessive, but when you consider that I bought these shoes on a trip 3 years ago and I have not purchased any other shoes since then, I say that is value for money. They are still all going strong and I hope they bring as much joy to you as they continue to bring to me.........!

Marc Jacobs black bow heels
Barneys New York boots

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hitting the pavement....

In my pre-baby life I used to run at least four times a week. I was very disciplined and used to get up at 5am or 5:30am to run. With a son who wakes up at 4am every morning that is now a thing of the past. I have tried quite a few times over the past few months to get back to consistent running but I haven't been able to do it. In the past I would have been really down on myself for this and felt like I had failed. But these days I am a lot less hard on myself. I have been able to stand back and say 'Hey, I'm not superwoman and I can only do what I can do and that's ok'. So whilst its taken me a while to get back into it, I finally managed to hit the pavement again this afternoon. And it felt great! I pushed myself but I didn't try to kill myself by tearing around the park at 100mph like I once would have done. I made sure I was actually present in the moment and enjoying my surroundings rather than focusing on my need to get home and get something else done. The afternoon sun was so beautiful as it fell across the lake and lit up the autumn leaves, and it was great to get a little bit more of myself back. I hope everyone out there had a lovely day. Sweet dreams!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mothers Day...

 Mother and Child in Ethiopia (image by Alison Wright)
I have had a wonderful first Mothers Day, I received beautiful flowers and a gorgeous painting on a canvas from my little man (thank you lovely husband for the flowers). I hope all the other mothers out there had a fabulous day and enjoyed spending time with their precious little (or big) ones!

Postnatal depression - confronting times....

One of the hardest things to come to terms with when I had postnatal depression was the fact that help and support did not come from the people I expected it to come from the most. I know that lack of understanding and people's own personal situations contributed to that and to a certain extent that can't be helped. But when you are in the deepest darkest situation you have ever been in, it is very confronting to find that at the end of the day you can only rely on yourself. But what do you do when yourself can no longer be relied upon and you are at the point where you truly believe that the only solution for everyone is for you to not exist anymore? That may sound melodramatic to some people but it is reality for many women with postnatal depression (and indeed anyone suffering from depression). This is why I am so lucky that my husband didn't give up on me even though he must have been wondering how much longer he could deal with the situation. At the time he was the only person who came close to understanding what I was going through, who realised how serious the situation was and who didn't give up until we got help. In hindsight I can look back and thank my lucky stars that I didn't give up or cease to exist when I really wanted to, as I would have missed out on so much. But I am so conscious of the many, many women who are not thrown that lifeline at the last minute when they need it the most. And that is why I am so passionate about doing everything I can to make a difference for mothers, families and little babies who are affected by postnatal depression.

As devastating as it was at the time to deal with the lack of support, a  positive came from that situation. In being forced to seek support from new sources in my life, I have learnt so much about life and myself. I now have some amazing new relationships with people such as neighbours and family members I hadn't previously been as close to. My life, my husbands life and the life of my son is now so much richer and for that I am truly grateful. 

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Another gorgeous day...

Today was another gorgeous day, just like last Saturday. The little man came with me to school sport this morning and he was so good he broke my heart. For over two hours he smiled at everyone and didn't once cry. I enjoyed every second of being with him today. The lovely husband and I are lucky enough to have a baby free night tonight so that we can go out to dinner with my cousin and her husband (my dad and step-mum are kindly looking after the little man).  We are going to a wonderful French restaurant (snails here we come!), and I can't wait to catch up with family members who I love dearly.

As tomorrow is Mothers Day here (yes, my first one!), I was searching the Internet for some relevant images for tomorrow's post. My first port of call was to the website of photojournalist Alison Wright. I have been following her work ever since I came across her book "Faces of Hope" in a bookstore. Alison has dedicated herself to portraying the lives of children in the developing world.  Her ability to capture the spirit of her subjects is truly amazing, as is her ability to capture the simple joy that children find in play, their family and the world around them. Alison's photos are a celebration of children, their heritage and the promise they hold for all our futures. 

Child in Tibet
Alison has written a book about her astonishing survival and recuperation following a devastating bus accident in Laos. I haven't read it yet but am going to go out ASAP to buy it as it sounds so inspiring. Here is the blurb from her website that will make you want to run out and buy the book right now as well:

"I strived to find a way to balance my not-so-subtle yearning for a sense of inner peace while bearing witness to life’s atrocities and injustices. Apparently the universe  felt I needed more than a gentle nudge. In fact, it took the impact of a one-ton logging truck to find it."

-- Alison Wright

The air was heavy and smelled thickly of burned rubber, of brakes and tires stretched beyond their limits ..In the distance, I could hear muffled voices calling, "My God, someone do something! This woman is bleeding to death!"

I silently prayed that someone would help whomever that woman was… I saw the deep arm-length gashes. The open flesh looked like it had been attacked by a shark, a dark wine color rapidly spreading across the front of the light blue sleeveless denim shirt… That’s when I realized that the woman they were talking about was me." -- Taken from the opening of LEARNING TO BREATHE.

In LEARNING TO BREATHE: One Woman’s Journey of Spirit and Survival (Hudson Street Press; August 2008; $24.95; 978-1-5946) Alison Wright, a renowned photojournalist with a lifetime of world travels behind her, tells of riding a packed bus on a winding mountain road of Laos in the first few days of the new century. In an instant of crushed metal and shattered glass, her life utterly changed: taking a dangerous blind curve, the bus collided head-on with a logging truck, nearly killing her. In unbearable pain, severely injured and barely able to breathe, Alison lay by the side of the road and drew upon her years of meditation practice, concentrating on every breath as if it were her last.

It would be fourteen excruciating hours before Alison finally received any medical attention, although in a life-saving gesture her glass-mangled arm was first sewn up by a young man with a needle and thread. Eventually reaching Thailand, she began a series of excruciating surgeries which continued back in the States. She had survived injuries no one thought she could, and now determined to get her life back, she struggled to remain positive when her doctors discouraged her from thinking about returning to her previous career and athletic lifestyle. Never one to accept defeat, Alison set herself the goal of achieving a new dream: to one day climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

LEARNING TO BREATHE is Alison Wright’s searing account of the accident, its aftermath, her recovery, and her triumph: from Kilimanjaro on her fortieth birthday, through an extraordinary pilgrimage of gratitude to Mount Kailash, to an eventual return to Laos and a reunion with the people who helped her in those crucial first hours. 

Filled with stunning accounts of a lifetime of adventure and photojournalism, and informed by a spiritual quest to find a universal human connection among cultures around the world, LEARNING TO BREATHE is an unforgettable tale of one woman’s urge to not only survive but to live a life filled with meaning and compassion. 

Friday, May 8, 2009

The end of another week....

My second week back at work is over. It has gone by in a flash really. The little man is as cute as ever, although I am convinced that he is slowly trying to torture his parents by getting up every day before 4am. No matter what we have done in the past week, he has not stayed asleep past this time on any morning. If anyone has any tips or advice it would be greatly appreciated as my husband and I are going insane! 
My sister and I have recently caught the knitting bug and have begun to knit our little ones scarves. Mine is coming along quite nicely considering I haven't knit since I was about 10 years old. This is the first time that I have attempted anything other than straight knitting with one colour so I'm pretty happy with how it is going. Hopefully I will complete it in time for the little man to wear it this winter....
I have to mention the bed cover that the scarf is sitting on. I recently bought it from a new vintage style shop in Paddington. It is sooooo lovely. They have them in really cute pastel colours but I figured I better go with something a bit more 'manly' given that my husband has to live with it as well.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Living in the moment....

The following passage from Shantaram (sorry, one day I will get over it and move on to another book) really stood out to me:

"There's a kind of luck that's not much more than being in the right place at the right time, a kind of inspiration that's not much more than doing the right thing in the right way, and both only really happen to you when you empty your heart of ambition, purpose, and plan; when you give yourself, completely, to the golden, fate filled moment".

This notion is soooo true. Ever since I decided to let go of all my pre-conceived ideas of what my life HAD to be, and WHO I had to be and just focused on living in each moment and getting the most out of each moment, my life improved dramatically. As soon as I just let myself be open to wherever life was going to take me and embraced whatever came, I found that suddenly I attracted wonderful people and experiences to my life. I also feel as though a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I am excited for each new day to arrive so I can see where it will take me and what it will bring. Initially I feared that bearing my soul and being honest about my life experiences may make others uncomfortable or negatively affect their opinion of me. But what I have found is that in being true to myself, discovering who I really am and letting others see the real me, I am finally living. The feedback and support I have been receiving from people makes my heart want to burst and I am so grateful to be in the place that I am right now in my life. 

By the way, I started my "Unravelling" course this week. There are 126 of us altogether and it is so much fun to get to know everyone and to be making connections with people from all over the world. Thank you so much to the unravellers who have visited my blog and left me wonderful comments - it means so much to me and encourages me to keep going on my journey.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A positive note...

'one day' via flickr

I always like to end posts with something up-beat or inspirational. I think this does the trick. Truly beautiful.......

Feeling lost....

I feel a bit lost this week. I suppose its only natural since I just went back to work after quite a while away, but it is frustrating me a bit. Everyone at work is fantastic and I will always love interacting with the girls. But I moved forward so much personally while I was away from work and now I feel as though I'm losing momentum and almost going backwards. Perhaps its a sign that I need a change????? I think its time to go and draw something, that always seems to help..... 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Wonderful Weekend.....

i.anton via flickr

This weekend has been really, really good. The weather yesterday was fantastic and I got to spend the whole weekend with my lovely husband and my little man. One of the best things I did was go back to St John of God hospital (see last post) to give them some cup, plate and bowl sets to use in the mother and baby unit (makes it a bit more like home when you aren't eating off hospital plates and trays or using plastic cups etc). This is the first in what I hope will be many donations/gifts from my little family to the unit. I had a great chat to the two nurses who were on duty (I knew them from my time there). They were so grateful and genuinely amazed at the gifts. I have to admit that I was a little bit nervous about returning to the hospital as I hadn't been there since the day I was discharged. But any worries I had completely disappeared once I started talking to the nurses. They told some of the women there that I was living proof that there is life beyond St John of God and that you can come out the other side of postnatal depression. It must be really rewarding for the nurses to ever see anyone once they leave because I don't think many women go back (which i completely understand). But its nice for the nurses to see what a difference they are making to people.  I'm so excited because they asked me if I would like to come in and talk to some of the women and I would absolutely love to. I know from my own experience that just having people who understand what you are going through and who you can talk through things with is so helpful. 

It really saddened me to hear that the unit has not been full due to the current financial climate. There is hardly anywhere for people to get help as it is, and it kills me that the only place that is an option can't be accessed by people. My dream is to be able to raise enough money to pay for women to stay at the hospital. Its a big goal but I will get there. Its all part of my desire to 'be the change I want to see in the world'. If you feel passionate enough about doing something, just get out there and do it. You only need to start with tiny steps and eventually these will all add up to make a huge difference. Even if you can make a difference to one person in this world then that is fantastic.

The work of your heart,
the work of taking time to
listen, to help, is also your gift
to the whole of the world

Jack Kornfield

You have found 
true joy and happiness
in life when you give and 
go on giving and never
count the cost
Eileen Caddy

P.S. Sadly, I finished Shantaram last night. I wanted it to go on forever and ever....

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Postnatal depression - the next chapter

St John of God hospital is the hospital I admitted myself into when it became obvious that it was the only place where I could get the help I needed with my postnatal depression (PND). Having to admit myself into a psychiatric hospital was the hardest decision I have ever had to make (even though I was in the Mother and Baby unit, St John of God hospital is a psychiatric facility for patients with all manner of mental illnesses). But after living through the most harrowing 2-3 weeks of my life after my son was born, there was absolutely no choice but to accept a bed when one came up.  My husband had done an amazing job of looking after our newborn son, working full time and trying to help me, but the problem was so great that we had reached the limits of what we could deal with on our own. The Mother and Baby unit is the only place of its kind in this state and even then it only has 8 rooms. So out of all the people who desperately need the help provided here, only 8 women at one time can access it. The average stay is roughly 2-3 months (although some women are there for anywhere up to 6 months or leave and end up having to return). If you have private health insurance then the financial burden is lessened, but for women who do not, they are basically looking at thousands of dollars a week to stay there. The only other alternative is to admit yourself to a psychiatric hospital where you cannot be with your baby. So the barriers to women with PND getting help are enormous and it is no wonder that so many women feel there is no solution to their problem and that there is no hope. 
Even though I can look back now and say how remarkable the hospital is, at the time I would have rather been anywhere on earth but there. It really does feel like you have disappeared into a black hole somewhere and that you will never return to the life you once knew. Your life becomes this ward of a hospital where you exist in your own room with a bed and a bathroom and that is it. You are sharing a very small space with complete strangers and you have no idea how long you will be there for or what is going to happen to you. Meanwhile, no-one on the 'outside world' really knows you are there (at least in my case they didn't) and everyone is just picturing you sitting at home having this amazing experience with your new bundle of joy. It truly was surreal. I just kept hoping that i would suddenly wake up and realise it was all just a bad dream.

I was in the hospital for approximately 2 1/2 weeks which is a very short space of time compared to most people. I gradually started to get used to being there and with the help of my husband and the nursing staff was able to regain the confidence needed to take care of my little man. It was a hard slog but the relief of being in a place where other people know exactly what you are going through is indescribable. I honestly do believe that I wouldn't be here today if I hadn't been able to go to that particular hospital. I am one of the lucky ones who was able to get back on my feet relatively quickly. But there are so many other women who aren't that lucky and who struggle with this for years (and through multiple pregnancies). My heart breaks thinking about all the women out there who can't and don't get the help that I received. The effects that PND has upon the lives of mothers, their babies, the rest of their families etc is devastating (particularly when it is left untreated). So that is why I am so passionate about raising awareness and doing what I can to help other women who find themselves in the same position that I did.

Before I sign off from this post, I really do need to say how amazing my husband was through that period. He had to shoulder so much responsibility and it takes a very strong person to be able to watch someone you love lose themselves right before your very eyes. He never once gave up on me and he was the one who constantly rang the hospital pleading for a spot for me. He stayed with me in the hospital (I was the only person fortunate enough to have this. Other partners were either at home looking after other children or were not supportive of their wives), got up to our son all through the night, constantly reassured me that everything would be alright (even though he didn't know for sure that it would be) and offered support to all the other women in the ward. All whilst holding down a full time job as well.  I will never be able to thank him enough. 

Friday, May 1, 2009

Feeling like me again....

Tonight I was able to sit down and do something creative (I needed to make a card to accompany a present). The minute that I started to get lost in the colours and picture I felt as though I was me again for the first time this week. I have been very fortunate over the past couple of months to be able to discover the things that I really love doing and to do those on a regular basis. And boy did I notice a difference in myself this week when I wasn't able to tap into my creative side. Next week I am determined to allocate four nights to doing something creative because I feel lost without it. It is so important to make sure we set aside time to do the things that bring us joy. Even spending 20 minutes a day doing something that you truly love makes the biggest difference to your sense of wellbeing and to your outlook on life. 

By the way, one of my current addictions are 'copic markers'. They are so much fun to use and come in heaps and heaps of colours. A word of warning though, once you buy a few you won't be able to stop (isn't that true lovely twin?).

The highs and the lows...

I've made it through my first week back at work and whilst it hasn't been bad at all, it has certainly been really different. Half way through the week I really struggled with the tiredness (my husband will say that is an understatement), and I was hit quite hard by the guilt of not seeing my little man very much at all (I had three nights where I wasn't at home this week, plus the being at work all day thing). Whilst I certainly want to be home every night next week and get to see my son more, the low of that was actually followed by a high that I might not have had otherwise. Even though I can't wait to see my son every night, the excitement I felt when I finally did get to see him at night this week made me feel like a kid on Christmas Day. So next time I have a bad day, I will try hard to remind myself that sometimes its the 'lows' that actually end up providing you with the most amazing 'highs'.