Category Archives: Post natal depression

Ten tips for beating the baby blues

**This post was written a really long time ago. Before I even had Lillypilly! This was my list of strategies to avoid PND. Well we all know that didn’t really work, so I never bothered to post it. In reality this is still a great list, and I have continued to use these strategies alongside my medical treatments. For mild PND or just in general this might be a good resource to help you get through. Always remember that if this is just not cutting it for you, you may need some extra help, and that’s okay too**

1. See a naturopath

There are numerous effective and safe natural medicines that can provide significant relief from depression and anxiety. Natural medicine got me through my pregnancy, and I still use it now alongside my medication. Always work with a qualified naturopath to ensure safety.

2. See a counsellor and make a plan

When I was about 36wks pregnant, I went to my GP and got signed onto a mental health plan to give me access to free counselling. I found a counsellor and had my first appointment before baby arrived. This gave me a chance to meet my counsellor, find the clinic and get some advice before I had to cope with two kids. This was an even better decision when I realised my first person wasn’t right for me as I had time to find another. I think having a counsellor in place is really important even if you’re coping quite well. Post natal depression can hit hard and fast. Better to be prepared.

3. Get out in the sun and fresh air

This was so important for my AND, and is something I still do now. If I feel overwhelmed and unhappy, I bundle the kids down the stairs and get out into the yard. Spending some time with the sun warming my body and looking at the sky really calms and refreshes me.

4. Exercise

I find this so tough to do but the research is pretty clear on this: exercise improves mood. Lately I have found that even tiny bits of exercise add up. I think it is easy to think that unless you are at some crazy bootcamp every morning, then there’s no point. I recently dropped a couple of kilo’s just by doing a couple of 30 day challenges. They took me hardly any time, but they built up my muscle mass which helps burn fat. Every little bit counts.
5. Have a daily routine

I had a really interesting experience while pregnant; I woke up one morning feeling just awful. I didn’t want to get out of bed, I felt so overwhelmed with responsibility and I was so low. Over the past year I had created some routines to try and bring my chaotic life into order. On this lowest of days I just automatically started doing this routine of little things, cleaning ‘that’ bench that acquires all the junk, putting the washing out, wiping the benches etc, and all of a sudden I realised I felt much better. My day had started to take shape, little niggly jobs were getting done and getting through the day seemed more achievable. At that moment I realised the value of a daily routine (even just a morning one). So write a routine, even if it’s a basic as get changed, wash breakfast dishes, clean the messiest room in the house. You will be surprised by its effect. (If you need some help to do this check out FlyLady)

6. Get some chores done

When you have a baby, everyone tells you to ‘forget the housework’. The problem is when you are tired, depressed and sitting on the couch breastfeeding all day that mess can be pretty irritating. I am so not a neat freak but it drives me wild. My advice is to get a few chores done if you can. You’ll feel much better if you know at least the floors are swept or the washing is out. You won’t be able to do everything, but doing something will help. The best option is to hire yourself a cleaner for 3 months. If you are worried about money ask people to put in for that instead of baby gifts. But if this is not an option for you just do one thing a day.

7. Eat well, eat often, eat protein

This is so important, but perhaps one of the hardest. I’ll be honest, my diet is no where near what I want it to be. Often I’m grabbing a muesli bar at lunch time while holding the baby under my arm and stopping the toddler from breaking something with the other. However do your best to eat good nutritous food at every chance. Sugary processed food will give you a short energy boost, but once it wears off you will feel even worse. Eating regularly keeps your blood sugar stable which is important for mood regulation. Low blood sugar makes you feel shaky and anxious, as well as low on energy. Protein foods provide essential amino acids used in the creation of neurotransmitters. These are responsible for our mood.

8. Have a support network

I believe as a mother you need two types of support: people who can help care for your children, and other mums. These aren’t mutually exclusive, but usually family or close friends can be trusted to look after your angels, while a broader group of mums to share advice, tea, and the occasional whinge session are also important

9. Lose yourself in child’s play

Playing with your kids can give you a huge boost if you really lose yourself in it. Children find everything joyous and magical, and that can be infectious. I find imaginary games the best. Anything that involves mess can become stressful, so grab a box and pretend to be pirates for an hour.

10. Keep up the grooming

We are all guilty of those days when we live in our pajama bottoms, and our hair doesn’t see the brush. However spending every day like this will just make you feel dowdy, and you will lose sight of who you are. First thing in the morning brush your teeth, hair and get changed into clothes that you would wear to the shops to get milk. You will feel better, and if you do have to leave the house unexpectedly it won’t be such a hassle.

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Filed under Mummy health and wellbeing, Post natal depression

A quick update

It’s been awhile since I lasted posted, so I thought I would give everyone a quick update, before I bomb you with posts all April. I’ve decided to take up a 30-day blog challenge, with the key goal of posting every day. There are so many things I want to post, so hopefully this is the inspiration to stop thinking about it and actually do it.

So, how are you feeling?

The funny thing about being so open about my post natal depression, is that everyone asks me this question is such a new way. It’s amazing how much tone and inflection can change a question! Anyway, to answer, I’m really good. A couple of months ago I had a crazy-bad set back, which saw me become almost as sick as I was at the start. In response to this my doc added a new medication, which has been fantastic for me. It’s totally changed my life around. I still feel a bit weird swallowing pills, when I’ve dedicated my life to natural medicine, but hey, sometimes a girl just needs to make these decisions. I was really resisting this drug, as its known to make people gain weight, but it has been so good for me. Any weight gain has been offset by my finally feeling like I can live healthily again.

I’m quitting sugar: take two

So you remember the resolve to quit sugar? Well that went really, really well. Until it didn’t. Christmas threw me a massive curve ball, by seeing my in-laws fridge stocked with 3 types of cheesecake and a few other assorted baked goods. My mother-in-law makes great cheesecake. I felt awful every time I ate sugar for about two months after quitting, but like all good addicts I kept at it (insert sheepish face here). I was never quite able to quit it again. Well the time is nigh, the motivation is at peak levels and tomorrow I go cold turkey again. While I have PMS. Please forgive me if I start yelling obscenities at others; it’s the (lack of) sugar talking. Seriously though, I am really excited. You will probably hear a lot about this.

My babies are getting big. 

I now have a 3 year old and an 18 month old. How did that happen? I am still unwilling to advise anyone to have children close together (seriously, don’t do it!), but it is getting easier. I look forward to updating you on some of the cool things we are doing lately. A big addition to our family has been 6 laying hens. The girls adore them, and I adore producing another food in our own yard.

That’s it for now….

It’s time for me to sign off, and get some sleep. But stay tuned, and hopefully you will see a lot more posts soon.

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Surviving a really awful day

NOTE: I actually wrote this post months ago. I have been meaning to edit it and post it, but life just gets in the way. Today, I had a crap day. It made me realise how much I rely on these strategies, and that it was time to share them….

A few months ago I had a hideous day. It was one of those days I truly didn’t know how I was going to get through. When you have kids you can’t just call in sick, and lay on the couch all day. You still need to feed them, change them, play with them and stop them eating bugs and hitting each other. There is no day off. The day started bad, and got worse. I felt so overwhelmed. I have learnt a trick or two now, and I’m going to share them in the hopes they help others just starting their PND journey. I can’t promise they will, as each Mum experiences PND differently, but these do help me.

Just do one little thing

I woke in the morning to unwashed dishes, clothes overflowing from the basket and toys everywhere. As a whole it looked insurmountable. So I just washed one bowl. Then I wiped a small part of the bench. Next I picked up the blocks. Then I ate cake. Then I put a plate in the dishwasher. By only doing one teeny tiny little job I was able to muster the energy to actually get it done. It sounds equal parts simple and ridiculous but it really works. After awhile I had gathered some motivation and got the house somewhat tidy. That’s a win.

Seriously, TV won’t kill them (or lower your perfect values)

If you read this blog regularly you know I am passionate about not letting my children watch TV, especially in the early years. One thing I have learned over the previous year is that high ideals are fantastic when you are coping well, but not so much when you are super depressed. The research does suggest that TV is harmful to kids, but you know what? A stressed out Mum who is losing her cool is also harmful. Using TV for an hour while you get breakfast on is sometimes a really good way to reduce the pressure of two grumbling kids.

Eat the best food you can with the resources you have

On a really bad day it is so tempting to eat lots of sugary foods and quick carbohydrates, but this will make you feel worse and make the kids act like little terrors. Try to make the meals more protein based, and very simple. My two standby meals are boiled eggs and baked beans. It might not be gourmet, or meet the fresh vegetable requirement, but these two things are quick to make, easy to clean up and will help keep everyone calm.

Get out of the house

This will not work everytime, but often leaving the house will give you a chance to enterain the kids, and distract yourself from your thoughts. For me the best outing is visting friends with kids the same age as Boo (going to visit babies with a toddler is not the best idea, you need kids the older one can play with too). The kids can play together, and you can collapse on the couch with some tea, and chat to your friend.

Get dressed as early as you can manage

When I am having super crappy day I just want to stay in my PJ’s. All day. I have found though that this makes me feel worse. There’s also the universal truth that someone will drop in, or you will need milk if you stay in your pajama’s. Getting yourself changed into clothes that you would run to the shop in will make you feel better, and mean that leaving the house to get the milk will be slightly less traumatic.

When you have post natal depression (or any depression really) there will be days that are just so difficult they seem insurmountable. Drop your perfectionism, and just muddle on through however you can. One thing I have learned is that each day is a new opportunity, so get through the bad ones, and there is hope for the new day.

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A thank you, and a promise

The response from my last post has been overwhelming. My blog had double the amount of views than I had ever had, friends and strangers sent messages of support, and the whole experience was very positive for me. It also made me realise how important writing about my experience with post natal depression is. So I have made the decision to continue to write about it. When I first started this blog, I wanted it to represent the journey I was on, and what I was learning. The truth is, the major part of my journey now, is trying to overcome post natal depression. Home made play dough, and teething rusks are all well and good, but to be honest some days my journey consists of trying to survive the day without committing myself to hospital. If I truly want to share my journey, I must also share this part.

I truly hope that in doing this other sufferers of mental illness may find support, ideas, comfort and hope. I use the general term sufferers because it’s not just mothers with PND who I write for, it’s everyone who has ever had to struggle to live under the shadow of mental illness. Maybe I’ll even find a measure of peace for myself in writing about it.

I will still blog recipes, fun play ideas, and other aspects of motherhood too. Those things are also present in my life, and deserve to be shared. I want to thank everyone who read the last post though, for showing me the kind of support that allows me to put my journey out there and show motherhood in all its aspects. Much love and gratitude to you all xx

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Hi. I’m a Mum, and I have post natal depression.

With RU OK day just around the corner, I have decided it’s time to write this post. I have no idea how to start this, what to say, or whether this is a terrible idea, but I feel like it’s important I share my story, and maybe it might help someone else.

Deep breath..

I have blogged before about developing antenatal depression in my second pregnancy. At the time of that post I was feeling pretty good, but things got a lot worse during the pregnancy, and by the end I was severely depressed. I had a wonderful natural birth, and brought a gorgeous little girl home, and for a few weeks things were good. The new baby bliss was not to last though, and over the next few months my mood went up and down, and slowly it got to a crisis.

I thought I was okay. I thought it was just normal fatigue, that I was still in my pajamas each day at 3pm because I had a new baby. The truth was I was so depressed I wasn’t functioning. My toddler, Boo, would beg me in the mornings to give her breakfast, and I was so depressed I would give her a packet of sultanas, or a yoghurt. I literally could not move off the lounge room floor. This was nothing compared to the anxiety. It manifested in strange ways: screaming at Boo, excessive anger, a paralysing indecision that left me rooted to the spot wondering how I was going to look after the kids. I would open the fridge door, and see all the food but had no idea how to put it together into a meal, so I’d close the door and just cry. The weirdest thing was that I STILL did not realise how unwell I was.

The turning point came when I could not leave my house one day. I was supposed to visit a friend, but had a stream of panic attacks so intense I could not move. My phone was next to me and I called my good friend, and naturopath for help. She asked me to come to the clinic, took one look at me and took me straight to the doctor. I believe she saved my life.

The next month was hell. It was obvious I needed medication. I had been taking natural medicines this whole time, and it just wasn’t enough. The doctor prescribed some Valium and an SSRI, and I committed to try them. It did not go well. My super sensitive, breastfed baby reacted badly. I stopped taking the medications. I thought her health was more important than mine, and I was committed to breastfeeding. It took me two days to be completely dysfunctional again. It was then I realise I had to be on medication, even if it meant weaning. I felt like a failure, and was absolutely devasted.

At this stage I was recommended to see a psychiatrist who specialised in PND. This was the turning point in my journey. This wonderful doctor found me medications my baby could tolerate and that were effective. She pulled strings to get me into a brilliant psychologist. She saw me weekly, and charged me a reduced rate. Finally there was hope again. It took months to get my levels right, and to start feeling better. But, it did happen.

Am I okay now? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Today I am anxious and sad. A week ago I felt amazing. In another week, I’ll probably feel amazing again. My life is up, and down. My family suffers through my moods, and our lives can be chaotic. Slowly the down periods are getting less, and the happy periods are really good. Even when I’m down I can function now, and I am a good Mum again. Life has hope, joy and is constantly improving. I know one day soon, I will be able to answer that question with an unequivocal yes. That feels good.

Post natal depression is a serious issue. It’s sneaky, and devastating to families. It is driven by hormonal changes, and is not just about the woman worrying about daily stressors. It also has nothing to do with how happy the mother is with her new life. I adore my girls. They give meaning to my life that I have never known. They are the best thing that ever happened to me, but that did not stop me developing PND. If you think you have PND, I want you to know that you are not alone, and that there is help out there. And, there’s hope. Because one day you will look back and realise you have left the dark behind and reemerged into the light.

This RU OK day, ask your Mummy friends how they are; how they REALLY are.

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