On returning back to blogging

Hi everyone,

Hope all is well with you.  It’s great to be back, writing again.  I just had at a look at the last post I had written, in August 2016, which was on self care, and, thought I would bring you up to speed about what has been happening since that last post.  I remember I had sat at my computer many times over the past three years, but, I just couldn’t bring myself to write.  So, I closed my laptop and put it to the side while I worked on myself.

I have to say, my mental health over those last three years was not great.  I was functioning in the world and being a good mum to Leo, but, there were times when I felt pangs of pain and sadness.  I had been in therapy after being diagnosed with post natal depression, for about a year, but I couldn’t go anywhere near talking about Tony in those sessions.  After much deliberation, I decided to stop therapy as I knew we were nearing uncovering that pain and I was not prepared to talk.

Jo and Leo

In hindsight, that was an error of judgement on my behalf.  As time went on, the pain and sadness grew bigger than me and after chatting to Hugh, I decided it was time to go back to therapy.  This time I knew I needed to talk.  As luck would have it, I found an incredible psychologist and quite quickly, I’d say after about 2 or 3 sessions, Tony came up in discussion and I just howled.  I cried all the tears I didn’t shed at his funeral, I cried for my mum who was missing her son, I cried for my sisters missing their brother, and, I cried for myself for coming to the realisation that Tony was never coming back.Tony

During this time, it also became evident that I longed for another baby.  So, throughout the therapy sessions we spoke about what that would like, the fears that I had of experiencing PND again and the challenges of being a mum to two children whilst living with anxiety.  It took another 12 months before I felt robust enough to begin the process of trying for another baby.

 

My next post will be all about Lily (another baby after PND).  Yes, Lily deserves a whole post about herself and you will see why in a little while.

Love and hugs to you all.

Josie Smyth xx

If you or someone you know is struggling from perinatal anxiety or depression please contact PANDA’s national helpline on 1300 726 306 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Josie Smyth is a Melbourne mum of two.  Three months after giving birth in 2014, Josie suffered severe anxiety and depression and was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Post Natal Depression.  Then in 2018, four months after the birth of her second child, Lily, PND reared its ugly head again.  Since those experiences, a healthier, happier and a better person emerged.  Through recovery, Josie wanted to give back.  Josie is currently volunteering with Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA) as a community educator.  Josie is a mental health advocate and, is inspired to give hope to parents facing the same challenges that, even in the darkest days, recovery from PND can be possible.

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Guest Post – Zelma Broadfoot, The Postnatal Project

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I would like to thank Zelma Broadfoot from The Postnatal Project for the following piece written for Smiling After PND.  Zelma Broadfoot is the Founder of The Postnatal Project, a supportive and informative website and blog – incorporating a social work background with personal experience to create a safe place for parents and their families to explore treatment options and self-help solutions for a self-directed, sustainable and soulful recovery from postnatal depression. The Postnatal Project is dedicated to increasing awareness and reducing stigma of postnatal depression.

This is Zelma’s experience through postnatal depression….

My daughter, Cadence Grace, has just turned one. There were times where I didn’t think I’d make it – I didn’t think I’d survive what motherhood had presented me with. But I’m here – telling my story.

I entered the birthing arena clutching a hypnobirthing guidebook and a sense of ease. I left with scars. A large scar on my lower abdomen – and an even bigger scar in my heart and on my soul – memories, trauma, disappointment. But I didn’t see the second scar until we left the hospital. I remember sitting in the hospital bed – in excruciating pain, sleep deprived and still making sense of everything I had experienced – and saying to my fiancé, Brad: “isn’t it great that I avoided the day 3 blues? Everyone said I’d be crying my eyes out over nothing today.” Now that I look back, I didn’t avoid it. I just didn’t feel it – I was numb, empty, broken.

Everything suddenly felt like it was falling in around me. I imagined that I had dug a deep hole in the sand to protect myself. The sand was made up of grains of expectations, hopes, dreams and plans. Suddenly, I was no longer safe in my hole. The wind was stripping away the sand – grain by grain – living me bare, cold, scared and ashamed. Cadence cried. A lot. Breastfeeding hurt. A lot. I have never felt so helpless. This was not how I expected motherhood would be – but I couldn’t think that. Motherhood is beautiful, sacred, a blessing – it’s not meant to be this hard. There must be something wrong with me.

I started to feel panicked as soon as the sun would go down. My fiancé, Brad, would say: “Zel, are you alright?” I would say that I was. But the tears would flow – and they wouldn’t stop. We both agreed that it was the hormones and that I just needed some sleep.

Nights were the hardest. I was exhausted but I couldn’t sleep. I remember trying to use my hypnobirthing relaxation techniques – counting backwards from 40, pressing my tongue up against my teeth to relax my jaw and repeating positive affirmations. But a voice inside said “hypnobirthing didn’t help you then and it won’t help you now”. Cadence would feed every two hours and some nights, I would be awake until the next feeding – lying in bed, thinking about whether it would be better to die now while Cadence wouldn’t remember me. I recall thinking that she’d be better off, anyway.

These thoughts were overwhelming – I couldn’t keep them to myself any longer. I booked an appointment with my doctor the next day. I asked to complete an Edinburgh Scale. The midwife said “if you score 8 or higher, we might start thinking you’re experiencing postnatal depression”. She stopped adding up the scores half-way through. I felt relief. I felt like I was in safe hands.

I saw a psychologist for a while and maintained regular contact with my GP and clinic midwife. I also trialed some medication. I was very proactive in seeking support – even requesting a referral to a mother and baby unit in the city. But my blog and online resource has been paramount in moving forward, healing and choosing a path of recovery. Expressing my authentic self to the world – and helping others to know that they aren’t alone on this journey – has changed me. I feel free.

For more information about The Postnatal Project, please visit http://www.thepostnatalproject.com

You can also find The Postnatal Project on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Love and Smiles

Josie xx

If you, or someone you know has been touched by perinatal anxiety and depression, please call PANDA’s support helpline on 1300 726 306