22 May 2013

I'm a mum in a million said millions of mums

Becoming a parent is one of the most amazing adventures you can ever embark on.  It's not quite the same as skinny dipping under the stars off the Turkish coast, or climbing Mayan ruins in Guatemala but its still pretty awesome and friends become just as bored by the sentence that starts 'Did I tell you about this one time...' whether it refers to a new child or a recent holiday.  It is what it is.

But if you plan a holiday and it doesn't turn out the way you expect it to - it is okay to talk, even bitch, about it. It becomes part of the rich fabric of the story where things you thought were going to go one way, went another.  My trip through Central America is what it is because I had the Panama Poos, the Costa Rica Runs, The Nicaraguan Nasties, the Honduras Horrors, the Guatemalan Ghastlies and the Mexican Movements.  (TMI??) All there was between me and a bad holiday was Imodium.  God bless Imodium.  And Central America - that place is truly fabulous. But there were times, when I was huddled over some putrid, festering drop toilet on the side of some obscure mountain where I was not having a good time.

And becoming a parent is exactly the same time.  Except that you want it to be amazing. You want to be amazing.  Everybody expects it to be amazing.  You're supposed to fall instantly in love with this small person and live a life of rainbows, flitting butterflies and sun dappled romps through local parks.  

Nobody mentions the chest constricting panic that comes with the responsibility of keeping that little person alive.  Of having to compulsively check several times a night whether they are still breathing because babies die all the time for no reason.  Nobody says anything about the overwhelming sadness that king hits you while you're driving, knocking the breath out of you and leaving you crying for several hours.  None of the brochures talk about the physical tension, the disconnection, the out of body appraisal by yourself to check that everything is okay, everything is all right and you're not doing it wrong.  Because the whole time these things are happening, you are still smiling - still cooing - still cuddling - still cooking - still shopping - just generally getting on with it - because otherwise people would know you are a failure as a mum.

And nobody wants to be that. 

My initial diagnosis for post-natal depression came as the result of a study on new mums I was taking part in via the hospital for the Black Dog Institute. It never occurred to me to talk to anybody because nobody I knew (apart from Jessica Rowe) had ever had it.  Plus, people like ME don't get depression.  I'm pep. I'm energy. I'm loud. I'm happy goddamnit.  I love my new baby.  I love my husband.  They love me.  I can't be depressed.  Look how fucking happy I am! Then I'm pregnant with my next child and I was way in over my head.  I spoke to my doctor and he's all "Ok. Here's how we can help".

Really?  This isn't rare?  This isn't odd?  Um no.  And the stats are showing that with the big boom in breeding going on in Australia at the moment, demand for post and antenatal support services such as PANDA (which is the Post and Antenatal Depression Association) is soaring.  Do you know how common PND is?  It's got an association.  That's right people - turned out I was NOT the first or second (kudos Jessica) to visit PND-land. 

Apparently - it wasn't all about me.  I wasn't sucking at the new mum thing.  Me and my amygdala were having issues.  And so I got help.  Lots of it.  And I still do.  I am getting to grips with my amygdala and the rest of my mind so that together, we can put our best efforts into not fucking up my two little forces of nature.  And that ultimately, is what its all about. 

So why am I banging on about PND (again)?
  
PANDA - the only national dedicated helpline for PND receives support for the government and what with all our breeding, demand is outstripping supply.  They have a campaign called Million Mums In May to ask the government for extra funding to keep the hotline running 24/7

"The goal is to get as many people as possible to visit the www.millionmums.org.au website and click on the "email your MP" link - all people need to know is their postcode and they can send a pre-scripted email to their local member of parliament to ask for their support."
 Go on - click. It's a little bit of armchair activism which will keep you feeling pretty darn good about yourself!