Helpful Steps: When the planets align…

Have you ever had those times, regardless of any obstacles, when things just seem to work out?  When you’re talking about someone and they call at that exact moment?  When you walk under a street light and it suddenly goes out?  When you think of something completely random and your partner says EXACTLY what you were thinking?

Is it purely coincidence, or is there more to it?

I used to be a really cynical and sarcastic person.  Cynical because I always felt second best to everyone around me, and sarcastic because it was my defense mechanism – I’d always put a barrier up first, that way (I thought) I couldn’t get hurt.  Over the past 10 years or so, I’ve worked really hard breaking down these chinks in my armour and feel I’ve done a pretty good job.  Books like The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield, and The Secret by Rhonda Byrne (not to mention my bestfriend’s blunt honesty at times) have had a lot to do with my ability to turn my thoughts around.  Whilst there is a lot of speculation and criticism for both schools of thought, I found their basic principles extremely beneficial with respect to all walks of life.  The idea that our innate energy impacts on our surroundings, and others, makes complete sense to me.  We see examples of this positive and negative energy at play every day, in every way –  in our relationships, friendships, at work, at home – everywhere!  And doesn’t it always seem to be the most obvious when our energy is working in the negative…  When we are so down and out within ourselves, feeling terrible and against the world, the only way we can deal with it is by soaking and zapping the energy from everything and everyone around us.  If I’m completely honest with myself, my cynical self of old was definitely an example of this.  It can ultimately be such a drain on those positive people in our life that they choose to be around others less demanding of their time and energy.  It’s a vicious, revolving door and one I now try to steer as far away from as possible (very hard to do when suffering from PND).

So, the idea that there are no coincidences in life and everything is put in front of you for a reason (we just have to be conscious of it and explore what that reason may be), really resonates with me.  The cynical me of old would tell you it’s all a load of crap, however too many things have happened in my life since opening myself up to this way of thinking I simply can’t explain.  Whether it be with regard to job opportunities, relationships, or just the type of home or lifestyle I wish to have, there have been numerous times a much larger force seems to be at play in order to make things happen.  The act of visualising my wants and desires, the act of positive thinking things into fruition, has actually helped move my life forward.  I know it sounds crazy, but I believe it to be true.

Just recently, such forces of nature seem to have been at play again.  Whilst I was pregnant, and then again whilst on maternity leave, I started thinking about what my “ideal” job would look like.   The project management position I currently hold is definitely my idea of an “ideal” job.  However, being funding dependent my team are often faced with the dreaded question of “what if” our funding is discontinued?  What would we each do then?  For me, the answer has always been simple.  I need to find a job as close to the “perfect fit” and as rewarding for me as what this job has been – it is no doubt an incredibly tough ask.  Then I was diagnosed with postnatal depression and both my confidence and self-worth took a battering to the point of non-existence.  Forget about what my “perfect job” would be, as far as I was concerned I held no value for any workplace, let alone my own family.  Since starting my medication and work again, things have definitely improved.  Although I’ll always be the first to admit I still have quite a ways to go.

Through my postnatal journey, I’ve been fortunate to meet and be connected with many wonderful mothers who are struggling with the same debilitating illness.  We share our thoughts, feelings, incredible guilt, the very worst, and the very best of ourselves.  It is an amazing community and one within which I feel extremely lucky to be a part.  During a particularly dark time for me, by an amazing twist of fate, I happened upon a local news article outlining two mothers on their own unique postnatal depression journey.  Their journey has resulted in their establishing an organisation whose mission is to educate and connect with mothers suffering mental illness in a supportive, non-judgmental, community environment.  So, I “liked” their Facebook page.  From there, they in turn started supporting my blog posts by re-posting them for their Facebook friends.  We each then started commenting on various things, until ultimately it was decided we should meet and share our own experiences – both personal and business.  And wouldn’t you know it… I felt instantly connected with these women and completely at ease from the moment we sat down together over coffee.  It was like I had known them all my life.  The conversation flowed easily, I was in awe of their achievements, and I walked away feeling as though something incredible was about to happen.  The planets aligned…

I’m purposely not naming names, or organisations, as I believe there is still a lot of ground to cover.  But I will say this:  Always stay true to yourself and listen to your intuition.  The doors that open due to your willingness to connect with the things you don’t yet understand may very well pave the way to an unforseeably wonderful and rewarding future.  At this stage, I’m not quite sure where this chapter of my life will take me, but I can honestly say I am extremely excited as to what my future may hold.  I guess only time will tell, and until then I have to keep believing there is a bigger picture and what unfolds is ultimately meant to be.

Who would have thought my postnatal depression diagnosis would lead me to where I am today?  Not me, that’s for sure.

And just in case your “cynical” side is doubting my current outlook on life… Here’s some more proof!  After writing my post this afternoon I put off publishing it as like to leave a little time to read over it again.  Unbeknownst to me, my HF then decided to surprise me with a lovely Thai take-away dinner and a DVD movie.  The movie he chose for us was  “The Lucky One” (with Zac Effron).   The opening quote at the start of the movie was this:

“You know, the smallest thing can change your life.  In the blink of an eye, something happens by chance when you least expect it and puts you onto a course you never planned, into a future you never imagined.  Where will it take you?  That’s the journey of our lives, our search for the light.  But sometimes, finding the light means you have to pass through the deepest darkness.  At least, that’s how it was for me.”  – Logan (Zac Effron)

A coincidence given what I had written this afternoon?  I think not.

I’m curious to know if you’ve ever encountered these types of “twilight zone” moments in your life?  Please be sure to share with me if you have, I would love to hear from you.   Enjoy your weekend, everyone, and I look forward to sharing more with you soon.

Take care,

TSM  xx

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Helpful Steps: Inspirational books…

The books recommended below have helped me through my Postnatal Depression, some by providing me positive inspiration, others simply providing me a guide in how to deal with the LM’s (and my) day-to-day issues.  Regardless of their initial introduction into my life, they have each proved extremely powerful in helping me get to where I am today.

Girlosophy – Anthea Paul (Soul Survival Kit / Love Survival Kit)

I know, I know… These books are aimed more at the spiritual, carefree, “young woman” market but I have to honestly say… I love them.  I really love them!  The imagery in these books, together with the beautiful quotes about womanhood are a true escape for the imagination.  Not only uplifting, they provide a sense of self I personally was struggling to find as a single woman in my late 20’s.  Admittedly, I hadn’t picked up either of these books for a very long time, but when the reality of my postnatal depression diagnosis set in I knew within them I could find the solace I was looking for (desperately needed!).  And true to their word, after digging them out of storage, they have helped me considerably.  I often find myself casually picking up either of these books on any given day and flicking through the pages.  Some days I read the quotes, others I simply look at the beautiful pictures and let myself get lost in the tranquility they provide.  If nothing else, I urge you to go into a bookstore and flick through the pages yourself… Let me know where they take you!

You Sexy Mother – Jodie Hedley-Ward

A wonderful girlfriend of mine (who I reconnected with on Facebook after 20 years!) brought this book to my attention during my pregnancy.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, she had suffered postnatal depression 4 years prevoiusly after the birth of her first child.  In hindsight it is easy to see why this book resonated so much with her as a new mum, because it resonated for me during my struggle with PND in exactly the same way.  The advice offered in “You Sexy Mother” is simple, yet empowering.  It simply reminds you of what is important in day-to-day life, the things you let slide due to the pressures of being a new mum.  Throughout the book, Jodie shares her own diary excerpts about different issues, her thoughts and feelings.  In particular, I loved her ideas about reconnecting with beautiful lingerie, creating the home of your dreams, and learning to accept yourself without being defined by your career.  Oh, and her thoughts around weekly planners appealed to me also – being the habitual “organiser” I am!

Save Our Sleep – Tizzie Hall

This recommendation may not sit comfortably with all mums, however I must say it was a saviour for me.  There is a great deal of debate surrounding the issue of “on demand” v’s “routine” for new and older babies when it comes to feeding, sleeping, and playing… Studies have proven many different outcomes mostly in favour of on demand feeding, for example:  on demand feeding prevents obesity in later life, and babies fed on demand have higher IQ’s.   Personally, I am not completely convinced either way is correct 100% of the time.  I believe a great many other factors must be taken into consideration regarding a mother’s preference for raising her baby, be they with respect to both mother and bubs personality, environment, medical conditions, etc.  The judgement quite often imposed on new mums for their choices isn’t fair and becomes a great deal more harmful than good in most situations.

For me, I was fortunate enough to have a baby who very quickly settled into his own routine with very little guidance from me at all.  Save Our Sleep had been recommended to me by my bestfriend who had enjoyed success with her first baby utilising Tizzie’s routines.  That being said, she made sure to explain that Tizzie’s routines are best used as a guide ONLY and obviously the natural connection between you and your baby is what’s most important.  Flexibility is most definitely the key, and you as “mother” must still trust your own instincts and intuition.  Taking this advice, I found Tizzie’s routines were very much in line with the LM’s natural rhythm.  As he progressed through each developmental stage, I would notice his sleeping and feeding patterns changing.  Sure enough, as soon as I looked up the next age appropriate routine in the book it would become clear he was naturally moving in that direction.  So much has this been the case with the LM, I’ve quite often joked that he and Tizzie must have had some connection in a former life – it really is uncanny!

An example, however, of the need to be flexible with any advice you are offered with regard to your little one, is Tizzie’s advice on how best to express your breastmilk in preparation for growth spurts and the like.  I for one could not express milk early on and only had enough for the LM himself.  By not taking on Tizzie’s expressing advice, I soon developed my own expressing routine I could use when required.  Had I become frustrated at not being able to follow her routine to the letter, it would have imposed a great deal more pressure and anxiety on me to do something I naturally just wasn’t capable of doing.  And in the end, it all worked out well for us… So again, flexibility is the key!

A Happy Mum Blog – Jackie Hall (no relation to Tizzie, I believe – ?)

I personally think this blog speaks for itself, so won’t go into it in too much detail… Other than to say, if you are suffering from postnatal depression you will find this blog (and website) a wonderful resource and support centre during your darkest times.  I spent a great deal of time simply reading through blogs and articles, finding some comfort in the fact I was not alone.  Please do have a look for yourself.

Baby Love – Robin Parker

If there is anything at all you are wondering about your child, then this is your “go-to” book!  Even though it was first published in 2005, I have found the advice offered in Robin’s book extremely helpful, simple and to the point.  Whether it’s different types of rashes, how to recognise and treat a mastitis infection, types of car seats to buy, or different methods for settling your little one, Baby Love has it all.   Simply go to the appendix and look up your desired topic – I guarantee it will be there!   The other thing I liked about Robin’s style of writing was the fact she would always offer all available opinions regarding different issues (eg. “on demand” v’s “routine”).  Whilst she would have her own thoughts and opinions, she would still offer the other side of each arguments as well.  Very respectful and easy to read.

Of course there are many more, however these would be the main resources I would lean on during those times I found myself constantly questioning what I was doing and who I was becoming.  Trust me… There were a great many fiction novels thrown in there too, but perhaps I’ll leave those for another time.

Thanks so much as always and hope you enjoy a wonderful weekend.

Take care,

TSM xx