Koemba Blog

 In the fourth blog of this CHRISTMAS series, Val Mullally looks at Inspiration – how to breathe life into your passion. 

What’s been your film of the year? For me, the film of the year has been the BBC documentary “Drowning in Plastic” presented by Wildlife biologist Liz Bonnin. We urgently need to do things differently.

 I is for Inspiration

What about the mental pollution that we’re drowning in? Like the plastic in our lives, we initially think all this information and technology is useful, or fun, and we don’t realise how it’s seeping into every corner of our existence in ways that are toxic and destructive.

Seabird -Drowning In Plastic

Like the seabirds that are swallowing rubbish, are we unaware what we are ingesting? We don’t recognise how it’s strangling us – mental pollution that leaves little space for the psychological nutrients we need to thrive. Like the seabird chicks with stomachs full of useless plastic instead of life-giving nutrients, are we gorged on negative news, useless trivia and manipulative advertising that screams we are not good enough.

It is as Kabat-Zinn says,

Not only does unawareness go with the territory, it is the territory.

What can a person do?

It’s time to stop the madness.

Become aware. Notice what inspires you –  what fills you with hope and joy.

The root of the word inspire comes from the Latin inspirare – “to breathe or to blow into”.

What dreams do you want to blow life into?

Interestingly, in the paragraph above I accidentally typed “dreams” instead of “screams”. And it got me thinking – what is screaming in my life and how do I replace that with my dreams?

It’s time to clear the psychological clutter.

How do I substitute the mental pollutants with the things that inspire me?

Make space for the things that breathe life into your being

I know as a parenting author I  have to deliberately and systematically create space and time to write. If I wait until I am inspired I would hardly ever write. It’s about getting my bum in the chair every day and beginning to write. Then Inspiration comes. Not only when I am writing, but, she whispers to me as I walk the dog. She nudges me as I iron a shirt or stir the soup. I’m attentive to hear her when I’ve given the first part of my day, while I’m at my freshest and best, to writing.

Whatever inspires you, whatever your passion, breathe life into it daily.

whatever your passion breathe into it daily

At a global level, we urgently need to do things differently. It’s not only about the supposed “big stuff”.

When we follow our passion we each find our unique way of contributing to the greater good.

My passion, my inspiration, is that we can raise a generation who will:

think more clearly,

connect more compassionately,

behave more response-ably

and live more joyfully.

Will you join me in breathing life into that dream?

This Christmas let’s slow down and become aware of what matters.

(More about this tomorrow).

So it’s over to you.

In what ways will you choose to cut the mental pollutants in your life? 

Who and what inspires you? 

What things breathe joy and hope into your daily life? 

How can you bring more of these into your life in the year ahead?

whatever your passion, breathe life into it.

The third blog of this CHRISTMAS series:

What bugs me about Santa is that the one question he asks children is, “Have you been good?”

Where’s the unconditional love in that! Have we even stopped to question that!

What are the presuppositions in our society that are shaping our perception of the world?

At an individual and a societal level, we create a narrative of life from what we experience. This narrative subconsciously influences our thinking, our interactions, and our way of being.

R is for Relationship

Neuroscience is opening amazing new doorways to understanding that Relationship is essential to our well-being. But for at least the last century we’ve been seduced into believing that relationship is the poor cousin to what really matters. We’ve been brought up to perceive a false narrative as truth.

The narrative we have been sold is snake oil. We have ingested it, believing it will do us good. But it is a lie that has eroded our societal well-being. It undermines the fabric of society.FAKE NEWS that independence is maturity

And what is this snake oil that has been promoted as the solution to our problems?

Here is the 20th century deception that is still plaguing us, stated by Nathaniel Branden in The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem:

the central goal of the maturational process is evolution toward autonomy

What is True Maturity?

We were fed the lie that independence is the pinnacle of maturity. We were made to believe that if we were truly mature we wouldn’t need anyone else. Autonomy – pursuing a course for myself , often regardless of the consequences or impact. Doesn’t that sum up what’s wrong with our world today. Autonomy as the mark of maturity has been a dangerous and destructive narrative. That narrative is one of the greatest 20th century deceptions. It’s a narrative that destroys lives and destroys society. If we are focused on independence we lose sight that we are born to be relational beings. We forget the humanity of the other. It is a narrative that feeds fear and war. It’s a deception that has caused us to disconnect from who we are – beings who are made to be in relationship.

It is FALSE NEWS that independence is the mark of maturity!

Scientific Discoveries About Human Well-Being

A new and healthier narrative is evolving – one our world desperately needs. And interestingly that narrative is evolving from science. Neuroscience has proven our brains are designed to be in relationship. The neuroscientist Cozolino perceives a parallel between the neural synapses of our brains and what he terms the “social synapse – the space between us’. He states that our brains’ development is directly impacted by social interaction as “people, like neurons, excite, interconnect, and link together to create relationships.” Amie Senland*

Neuroscientist and parenting expert Daniel J. Siegel states,

For ‘full’ emotional communication, one person needs to allow his state of mind to be influenced

by that of the other.

It’s time to create a new narrative – a narrative of interdependence and co-operation as the goal of maturity – drawing from both ancient wisdom and cutting-edge science for a healthier, happier society. Human well-being is dependent on healthy relationships. We are not designed for isolated independence, we are made to be in relationship – to be collaborative and interdependent. We need to model this to the next generation, while there is still time to create a tipping point back to harmony and balance.

If we use how we were taught yesterday to teach our children today, we are not preparing them well for tomorrow.  Daniel J Siegel

Relationship

At an individual and societal level we need to heal breaches in relationship. What makes us fully and joyfully human is being in collaborative, nurturing connection with others. And this is especially true in parenting. Our children rely on us to heal the ruptures in relationship. We as parents are responsible for the emotional temperature in the home.

If this thought challenges or inspires you, you may enjoy reading my blog post on MyKidstime, “How to Avoid Christmas Meltdown By Understanding Your Child’s Temperament”.

Maturity is about collaboration and cooperation. This Christmas I invite you to think about how to create relationships that recognise this as the true goal of maturity. In our homes, education, work and social environments, how do we let go a narrative of authoritarianism and independence to embrace a narrative of collaboration and cooperation?

FAKE NEWS: independence equals maturity

So it’s over to you. I invite you to notice where you may have encouraged or modelled independence rather than cooperation.

What’s the one doable step you choose today that nurtures interdependence and cooperation in your relationships?

 In what ways can you support others to value cooperation and collaboration?

* Quoting Cozolino: “The Neuroscience of Healthy Relationships: Attachment and the Healthy Social Brain”   https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03057240.2014.971483 15/12/2018

Hope in the Darkness

In the second blog of this CHRISTMAS series by Val Mullally

H is for Hope

What a strange year. Global chaos, and for some the turmoil is much closer to home. 

Perhaps every generation has years where the future looks incomprehensibly bleak. 

Yet there are glimmers of hope – of what is possible when people pool their resources and respond with compassion.

Stories of hope and courage, like the amazing international response to rescue a huddle of Thai boys, who would have been doomed to die, if people had not been inspired by hope. 

Light In The Darkness

Many years ago I visited the Sudwala Caves in South Africa, which also tunnel many miles into the bowels of the earth. There are caverns so huge that music concerts have been held underground.

When our tour group had walked some distance into the interior the guide warned us she would turn off the lights for a few minutes for us to experience the darkness.

We think we know what dark is. But unless you have been in that situation without even a twinkle from a star, you cannot comprehend a darkness that feels stifling in its totality.

So intensely black that nothing is visible. Not even your finger right before your face.

A cold fear begins to rise, even though you know this darkness is only temporary.

And then the guide lights a match.

The light of one little match flickers into the darkness.

I can see my hand. I can see my husband next to me. I can see the tour group members and the guide and the cave walls beyond. My anxiety melts away.

How amazing that in such extreme darkness the light from one little match can make such a difference.

Hope Lights The Darkness

Hope Lights The Dark

Yes, there is darkness.

And light dissipates darkness.

Every time you and I hate, fear, compete, attack, judge, separate—thus avoiding the necessary letting gowe are resisting the full flow of Love, the energy which is driving the universe forward.   Richard Rohr 4/11/16

The rescue of the Thai youngsters is a narrative of hope. Somehow those youngsters did not give up – they had hope. The task to rescue them seemed impossible – but those involved had hope.

Not a vague, wishy-washy hope – but a hope that takes action. A hope that makes the difference.

Collaborating. Cooperating. Drawing from collective wisdom. Ingenuity. Determination. Giving of oneself. Experiencing hardship and discomfort for the greater good. Taking action despite fear. Forgetting differences of religion and culture. Creating a different outcome.

Will we be light? Will we be hope?

Hope is what inspires us to keep going, to have courage, to find a solution, in our own families, in community, and at a global level.

Hope

You may also like

my blog that calls for a clear strategy to create a happier peace-full world.

If you are battling with post-partum depression, or want to give hope to someone who is,  here’s a true story from a guest blogger.

Mindfulness, hope, and compassion enable us to be resilient and function effectively even in the face of challenges   (Boyatzis and McKee, 2005, p. 63)

So over to you.

Are you allowing yourself to stay stuck in the turnip of your world or are you seeking narrative of hope?

Who inspires you? 

 What stories inspire you? 

How do you model hope in your own situation? 

In the next blog in this series, you’ll discover the 20th-century deception that erodes Relationship.

The first in our Christmas 2019 series.

How do I offer Charity without undermining a person’s dignity?

Here are two words that can make a huge difference: 

C  is for Compassionate Curiosity 

“All I want is a room somewhere…”

I hum along to the familiar tune on the radio.

And suddenly I notice the words in a way I never have before.

“Far away from the cold night air.”

 Eliza Doolittle is homeless!

My Fair Lady - Eliza Doolittle with Henry Higgins

I’ve never thought about it. I’ve known this song as long as I can remember but I’ve never seen the situation through Eliza’s eyes.

I watched the film “My Fair Lady” years ago.

And what I most remember are her amusing mismatched interactions with ‘Enry ‘Iggins.

I’ve never stopped and seen her as a person who has suffered.

A person who has had to face the dangers and the freezing conditions of sleeping rough. Nowhere to call home. Nowhere to be safe.

What is it like to have so little that your life’s wish is to have just one room where you can be out of the cold?

To wish you had just one chair!

What Can We Learn From Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle?

Yes, we want to make a difference.

We want to ease the other person’s suffering. But how do we offer charity without undermining a person’s dignity?

The secret to offering help without damaging a person’s self-respect can be found in two words: compassionate curiosity.

We need a curiosity that goes beyond a scientist’s passion for discovery. We need a curiosity that is infused with compassion – a genuine desire to understand and respond to the other person’s unique situation and experience.

It’s much more than dropping a few coins into the bowl, or writing a cheque.

We need to see the other person.  We need compassionate curiosity for the vulnerable people in our own communities, and also the people we see through the television screen, who may be on the other side of the globe.

We need to see the humanness of the other. We can fall into the trap of  Henry Higgins mindset that we must clean them up, and make them look and act like we do.

Let’s stop. Let’s stop and recognise their need for human dignity, as well as their need for food, shelter and safety.

Compassionate curiosity - the path to Charity

 

When we want to offer charity let’s recognise we’re in danger of seeing the other who is in need as our ‘project’ – like Henry Higgins did. He demeaned Eliza by not seeing her as a person in her own right.

Yet ultimately it was Henry himself who was probably most impacted.

It was Eliza that made him confront his own shortcomings, and the shortcomings of the system of which he was a part.

 

If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.  (attributed to  Aboriginal activist Lilla Watson)

Isn’t it time that we see the other with compassionate curiosity –  to seek to envisage life through the other person’s eyes.

And, like Henry Higgins, we often are oblivious to the systems that keep people trapped in poverty.

Power systems that replicate fear and war.

Isn’t it time we address the real issue of systems of power that seek to hoard humanity’s privileges for a limited few.

Starting From Home

I believe that the solutions start in the home and in our school systems.

It starts with viewing ourselves with compassionate curiosity rather than with critical judgement.

If I want to be a kind, connected and compassionate person it begins with being kind, connected compassionate to myself.

I’ll only be able to give to others what I give to myself.

“Charity begins at home.”

The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world

Charity in our communities will grow from having a compassionate curiosity for those closes to us; we need a compassionate curiosity for those in our care.

What is life like when we see it through their eyes?

Eliza, like so millions of others, was a victim of her circumstances.

She didn’t choose poverty.

We overlook the huge disempowering impact of the systems of society.

CAN we make a difference?

If we want to change the systems of power it starts with changing those systems in the very first environments our children experience – our homes and our schools.

So often, with the best intentions, we have a Higgins’ mentality towards those in our care. We expect them to “behave” as we think they should, rather than seeking to understand and support them in ways that are meaningful to them.

We expect the other to behave as we think they should

 

I perceive the systems of power in the world will only be transformed when we model compassionate curiosity and mutual co-operation in the very earliest interactions in life, rather than impose our agenda.

It’s an old adage, but we often overlook the potential within it:

The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

If you’d like to perceive what this looks like in the practical day-to-day living with a young child,  you will likely enjoy reading my book, “Baby and Toddler On Board – mindful parenting when a new baby joins the family”.

Isn’t our culture still  immersed in a Victorian “Henry Higgins” mentality that we have to “fix” the other  person, whether it’s our own child’s behaviour that we don’t like, the child in the classroom,  people who’ve taken different life choices to our own or people’s situations that threaten our own  level of comfort.

Higgins wasn’t able to make a difference, no matter how good his intentions were, as long as he saw the other person as a project.

He had to come face-to-face with Eliza’s humanness – and that transformed him.

My awareness challenge today is to notice when I slip into a  Henry Higgins’ mindset.

So over to you,  is there any way in which these thoughts on compassionate curiosity have challenged you?

Thanks Val for a powerful, inspirational and creative coaching session.

Parenting Expert Val Mullally gives a call for peace –  a  call to every parent to take action for a happier, peace-full world.  

Do you ever worry about what sort of world your children will have to survive in? 

What sort of future will your child have?

It’s scary to have people in control of situations who are not in control of themselves.

It’s time for change. We need to be clearly anti-war. War is not an option.

“The cost of war not only to lives but to minds and imaginations, to the integrity of whole societies, is still unsurpassed.”  Rowan Williams

Cost of War to Lives, Minds, Imaginations and Society

 

It’s time for us to do differently. It’s time to raise a generation of people who know that all of us need and deserve mutual respect. We all need to learn how to cooperate.

It’s time to raise a generation who will lead well.

It’s our job as parents – and as grandparents –  to raise that generation.

“The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”

Such an old saying we often don’t stop to think about the power of that statement. You, mothers and fathers, parents are the ones who rock the cradle. And grandparents, we rock the cradle too.  This task is so huge and so urgent that every one of us needs to be on board  to make peace a reality.  You, parents, are the ones who rule the world because you are raising the next generation. You are raising the next generation who will either continue to repeat the same patterns of using aggression as their tool of choice to force their own way, no matter what the consequences, or you can raise a different generation who know how to calm themselves so they can stay in the clear thinking “Green Zone”, and model how to find better, kinder solutions, that take everyone’s needs into account.

We, as parents – and grandparents – need to demonstrate by our own lives that any form of bullying behaviour is NOT OKAY.

Will you choose to set the example in your own home?

“There is a choice in everything, but in the end the choice makes you.”

The choice is yours. The opportunity is here.

We all hope we will be parents who act in a loving way, but, as my colleague Elizabeth Garry Brosnan says,

Hope is not a strategy

Always we hope for better, more, greater… but dear friend, hope is not a strategy!

If we want to stop having bullies running the world we need to have a quiet revolution in our homes and schools. We need a clear strategy to raise a generation of children who know how to navigate relationships in a way that is mutually respectful.

We CAN make the difference.

Homes where there is joy, where there is harmony, start with ourselves and with our family interactions.

And we have the potential to raise happier children who will create a happier, more peaceful world.

You are the cradle-rockers!

Decide to be one of the growing numbers of parents who have a strategy for a happier home, for relationships that model cooperation, communication and connection. Let’s rock the world! 

But how?

One small step in the direction to peace in the world and peace in our families is to be more peace-full in ourselves. Then we will have the inner calm to perceive what’s needed and to respond helpfully, even when things aren’t going smoothly.

When we know how to respond, rather than react, we’ll also be able to model to our children how to move from conflict to connection –  a core skill that makes for happier day-to-day living, and is needed at every level of our social, education, business and political interactions.

But how?

May I suggest you have a look at my  live online bootcamp “Stop Yelling – nine steps to calmer, happier parenting”.

It’s a starting point to being the cradle-rocker who makes the difference – even when your children are well past the cradle stage!

Let’s call for peace by living it. Let’s BE the difference that makes the difference.

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Every parent remembers those sleepless nights when your child isn’t well. When you are so tired all you want to do is sleep – but your sick child needs you!

Here is a beautiful reflection from our guest blogger Rebekah Florence. Please share your thoughts in the comments

Sick child - sleepless night

Ewan the dream sheep’s playing his harp,

Your blue teddy dummy is glowing in the dark.

My hand feels warm on your tiny toes,

I wish I could clear your snuffly nose.

It’s the third time tonight that we’ve heard you cry;

Your voice cuts through the silence and I heave a sigh.

It’s past midnight and the whole village is asleep

As in the creaky rocking chair our vigil we keep.

You cry, I sigh, ask God why? and curse your reflux –

Back arching, fighting, til your tired head to me tucks

And then, rocking together in our unsought midnight diad,

Met somewhere in between our dreams, and feeling deeply tired,

It strikes me how enormously this moment cheers my heart;

As we hold each other in the darkness, not wanting to part.

We would not these sacred chance embraces have collected

If your sleep was as the books on babies told us to expect it.

Shared with permission:

Rebekah Florence

copyright©RebekahFlorence2017

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If you want to know why good manners matter for your kids  – and what to do about it, then read on because I’m going to share with you a recent “AHA” moment I had about Parenting and raising children with good manners.

 

My Big “Aha” About Children and Good Manners

In this past week, my mind was mulling over the topic of “Kids and Bad Manners” for this blog, when I posted  a Facebook Live about “World Values Day”. Suddenly I saw something I’d never seen before.

Here it is:

If manners was a ladder, many parents have their ladder leaning against the wrong wall. They might be ‘well up’ on the manners ladder – but if it’s against the wrong wall, it’s not going to be any help at all.

 

# LADDER 1 – leans against the “Ego Wall”

Good Manners Matter but EGO gets us to the wrong place

You see, our manners ladder is often leaning against the Ego Wall. Ego is self-centred, so the motivation for good manners is,

“Will people think I am a good parent?”

“Will people think I have a well-mannered child?”

If this is my focus, getting my children to have good matters, means it’s really all about me – not about what my child genuinely needs to thrive and grow to be a caring, compassionate and responsible person. (Confession: I’ve been there and done that, even though I couldn’t have recognised it at the time).

 

# LADDER 2 – leans against the “Values Wall”.

So here is my “AHA!”

The manners ladder that will genuinely make life smoother and happier,  leans against the Values Wall. Manners matter because they help us, as a society, to live by what we cherish.

Values guide us to respectful and loving relationships

Integrity, inclusivity, courage, empathy, caring, learning, compassion, courtesy, health, authenticity, respect, kindness, patience, responsibility and gratitude are all building blocks of the Values Wall.

We help an elderly person with their shopping, because of our values.

We give up our seat on the bus for a pregnant woman because of our values.

We chew our food with our mouths closed because of our values.

We say “Please” and “Thank you” because of our values.

 

What Has This Got To Do With Teaching Our Children Good Manners?

My “AHA” moment was a recognition that when we try to teach our children good manners, if our ladder is leaned against the Ego Wall, we will be trying to impose a behaviour.

Perhaps like me, there have been times when you unthinkingly demeaned your child, in your attempt to impose “correct” behaviour on them.

“Eat properly!”

“Don’t interrupt!”

“Say, ‘Thank you’!”

Often these orders leave our children feeling embarrassed, upset, misunderstood and unhappy because it’s likely that when we said these things, we were not modelling patience, kindness, empathy or caring. We weren’t modelling our values.

And wouldn’t you agree, there is a natural alignment between these values and emotions of well-being like joy, peace and contentment. When our motivation for encouraging good manners is based on our values, rather than our self-centred Parent Ego, we are likely to intuitively find ways to helpfully guide our children.

Here’s my “AHA”:

When  we genuinely nurture our child’s sense of values, that will be their compass for respectful and loving relationships throughout their lives.

Values - compass to relationship

Before you jump in to correct a child’s manners, pause and check whether you are coming from a place of ego or are you making a values-based intervention, that encourages values like kindness, gratitude and compassion.

Manners isn’t a flippant topic. It’s the foundation of healthy society.

Did my “Aha” moment strike a chord with you? Perhaps it brought back memories of times when “good manners” was inflicted on you, leaving you with sad, unhappy or angry memories. We can’t change the past but we can change the future. Let’s help our children have Values based manners – that will naturally be GOOD for all of us. For practical tips see my blog on the Mykidstime website  “7 Simple Ways  To Help Your Child Develop Good Manners”.

What question, or what one thought, have you taken from this post? We’d love to hear from you. Add your comment below.

Values give compass for respectful and loving relationships

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This is the true story of  a young mother’s journey through postpartum depression:

Today is World Mental Health Day. On this day last year I was going to work to see people who were struggling with mental illness. I had little personal insight into what it was actually like. Fast forward one year on. I have seen it from the other side. And it is harder and darker and more terrifying than I could ever have imagined. But there is hope and a future to hold on to. This is my story.

Postpartum depression

I am a psychiatrist. I am trained in ‘what-to-ask-people-who-might-be-depressed’. I have studied lists of symptoms and screening tools and questionnaires. I have even done exams. But in clinical practice I often come up against the fact that people’s actual feelings and real-life experiences aren’t as easy to articulate and as clear-cut as the textbooks would have you believe. I never truly appreciated the depths of the chasm of a depressive illness until I abseiled right into it, scarily quickly and unexpectedly.

It started last November, 2 weeks after my second baby was born. I began to despair. I cried, and cried and cried until my eyes were blurry. I felt sick and I didn’t want to eat. I couldn’t shake the feeling of guilt. I didn’t want my baby anymore. I didn’t want to be a mother anymore.

At the time I remember wondering: what is wrong with me? I am a coper! I haven’t had a difficult pregnancy. My labour was straightforward and my baby is healthy. I wasn’t like this last time. Why do I feel like this now?

It’s because I have two children. It’s because I’m tired. It’s because I have a second-degree tear and the healing is slow. It’s because “Breast is Best” but I’m bottle feeding. It’s because when I sit in the stinging salty bath to wash my sutures the milk that my baby can’t have drips into the water like tears. It’s because I stopped breastfeeding and no matter how much I force myself to carry/wear/be close to my baby, I’m never going to produce the same amount of oxytocin. It’s because I ended up back in hospital 8 days post-partum with severe abdominal pain and I sat in the assessment room surrounded by the “breast is best” posters, silently sobbing, my chest tight because of the milk and the dread and the despair. It’s because it wasn’t meant to be like this; I had decided that this baby will be different, easier, better; there will be no lactose intolerance or reflux or weeping or gnashing of teeth; there will be no trauma and failure to thrive and screaming; there will be no auditory hallucinations secondary to sleep deprivation. It’s because I am genetically predisposed to depression; I’ve seen my strong mum weakened by it, I know her tears and her tablets. It’s because my body is exhausted, my brain is exhausted and my neurotransmitters are depleted. It’s because I am ill. It’s because I have postnatal depression.

When hope fades

Depression; when you feel exhausted and yet unable to “sleep when baby sleeps” like everyone keeps telling you. And when you do snatch some sleep your dreams are vivid and disturbing. You feel hungry and then the thought of eating makes you feel sick. The colour starts to drain from the world around you. You feel anxious and exhausted after attempting to be sociable for 5 minutes in the day. Behind your smile and pleasantries lie a thousand achingly awful thoughts. When you venture out to the supermarket to get nappies it is like being in some sort of weird bad dream world, and you feel panicky and hot and surreal and you just want to run away from it all and crawl into a dark hole and never ever come out. When you see your baby you feel guilty, numb, regretful, inept, a failure. You lock your tears in the toilet so that your 4 year old won’t see them. When you wake up in the morning you cannot face the world and it takes all of your strength just to persuade your aching body to get out of bed. When you hear your baby cry, you want to run away or freeze and you feel useless, rubbish, incapable, hateful. You can’t stop crying and you do not even know why you are crying anyway. Your heart and stomach and brain and soul feel dull and sore and washed out and numb and aching and hopeless all at once. You are overwhelmed with shame and guilt and crippled by it all. You feel alone, in the dark, hopeless, worthless. And you wish there was no baby at all.

If you feel like this, please please hear this: there is hope.

Despite what your brain is telling you, it is NOT because you are a joke, or you are a rubbish mother, or incapable or useless. And your children DO NOT deserve a better mother. And, despite how you feel right now, it WOULD NOT have been better if your baby hadn’t been born at all, or if you were no longer around.

Hope for those suffering with postpartum depression

There is hope.

You ARE a good person; you CAN get through this. This too shall pass… but you will need help and support, and it is an illness which needs treating (just like diabetes needs insulin, and high blood pressure needs antihypertensives). Go to your GP, read about it online, tell someone how you feel. You can get better.

It took me 48 hours to pluck up the courage to take my first dose of antidepressants. My head was full of all sorts of lies: “you’re such a fraud”, “you’ve seen depressed people in hospital, you’re not that bad”, “you just need more sleep”, “you’re a rubbish mum, tablets won’t help with that”, “you know how these tablets work – they’ll change your brain chemistry and you’ll not be able to think straight”, “you don’t really need them, give it another few weeks”, “what a joke! You’re supposed to look after depressed people, not be depressed yourself!”. After I took the first dose actually nothing happened. I didn’t get better or worse. And as the weeks went by, nothing dramatic happened, except that my brain gradually stopped lying to me, and I started to feel tiny flickers of love for my children again. I can pinpoint the day when I noticed that I felt better. I could see in glorious technicolour instead of sepia, and I felt love and hope again. It’s taken me nearly a year to feel ‘normal’ again, but I have gained insights into how my patients actually feel that will stay with me forever.

Today is world mental health day. Postpartum depression can happen to any mother. Today we declare that there is absolutely no shame in talking about how we feel, in sharing our pain and fears and exhaustion and guilt. Because 1 in 4 of us knows how it feels.

And because no matter how low we get, there is ALWAYS hope. You are not alone in this.

#worldmentalhealthday    #herstoryishopeful

If you are looking for help in dealing with depression:

Samaritans: 116 123

http://www.cry-sis.org.uk

http://www.pandasfoundation.org.uk/helpline/

 

Thanks to Rebekah Stobart for her courage to share her story and for the beautiful photo, that speaks into the pain and the hope of many mothers in situations like this. 

Please share this post if you know anyone who would benefit. What questions does this raise for you?

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