Sarah Short Circuit

Heal, Nourish, Nurture

Tag: Always Learning (page 1 of 2)

Unsure

I have been unsure how to write down my feelings of being unsure. This unsure-ness has been building within me for a while. Unsure of making a choice…

I always had thought that I would have many children, at least 2. I have always been very maternal and nurturing since I was a teenager. I have to forewarn any mums whose baby I hold that I will put them sleep, not matter the temperament of the child. Any where I go I catch the gaze of a baby and it’s like we connect with an unspoken language. I looked forward to becoming a mum myself, though terrified of the process, the snuggles at the end would be worth it.

I had no idea the journey I would go to become a mother, the overwhelm, the struggles and the postpartum psychosis. I now savour each moment with my son after the shaky start we went through.  As the first few months went by I focused on healing myself, recovering day by day. The doctors had cautioned my family that if I were to fall pregnant too soon after my psychosis that there would be a chance I may not come out of it.

As my son approached the age of 2, the questions began to start ‘When are you going to have another baby?’. I would quickly mutter ‘I had health problems so we are not sure yet’ and quickly change the story. I knew from my own research that there is up to a 50% chance of postpartum psychosis recurring in subsequent pregnancies. So I did what I did best and sought out more information.

I had heard that for mums in my situation it would be best to have a mental health care plan in place which included being able to access a Mother Baby Unit (MBU) to be able to receive the appropriate care. There is only 1 MBU in NSW and to have the best chance to access this care I knew I would need a Perinatal Psychiatrist as part of my care plan. One of the mums from my son’s play group opened up to me one day about her experience and I asked for her recommendation of a perinatal psychiatrist at St John of God Hospital, Burwood, where the MBU is based.

My husband and I went together to the first couple of appointments at St John of God, reliving our experiences of my postpartum psychosis and emphasising to the psychiatrist that were some details I do not remember and choose not discuss any further. It was the first time since being discharged from the mental health ward that I was able to talk about what I had been through, the distress, the trauma and the impact on me and my family. By the third appointment I felt comfortable to attend on my own, as I opened up more the psychiatrist thought that I was no coping and starting to write something down asking me ‘Do you want it on or off label?’ I was flabbergasted, what did that mean? The psychiatrist thought I was hypo-manic and was wanting to write Bipolar Disorder on the medication script to make the prescription cheaper. All I wanted was someone to listen to what I had been through! I quickly ended the session and have never been back. I was totally distraught, in tears to my husband on the phone and thought to myself ‘I’ve burnt that bridge’.

I strengthened my resolve and began to work more on myself, starting with Awaken the Change Within 2014 retreat only a month after my distressing appointment with the psychiatrist. Focusing on self-development was almost like a distraction, not having to make that choice, that it is ok to wait as I am working on healing myself more. I discovered a passion for wellness as learnt about self-care, essential oils, nutrition and food. The choice was always lingering in the back of my mind.

The Marcé Society Conference 2016 was the first time I met other women who had experience postpartum psychosis like I had, who truly knew the turmoil I was going through in making my choice. Brenda spoke with me about discovering my ‘maternal number’, that perhaps my maternal number is 1 and that is ok. Connecting with other mums who had gone on to have another child or two, and being apart of an online group of other pp mums sharing conversations of weighing up whether or not to risk having another child, it was reassuring to feeI I was not alone in my making my choice.

I drew a line in the sand to make a choice by February 2017 and be at peace with this choice. As February drew closer, my health started to take a dive with headaches. Seeing my Chiro, he indicated that the headaches had an emotional element, ‘was there something I was unsure about?’.

Why February? The choice was not just about emotions and feelings, it also came down to finances. February was went my son started 3 days of preschool and we need to update (and stretch) the budget. Our family was fortunate that we had top hospital cover when I experienced postpartum psychosis, and this cover was my only chance of gaining access to the MBU provided I am voluntarily admitted. We kept our top hospital cover as this was the only level of cover that included psychiatric hospital care. Mental health has a major impact on one’s income due to reduced capacity to work, higher unemployment rates and less savings. Money for us was tight even though I was back working part-time, our savings is virtually non-existent. Fortunately at the time I read Barefoot Investor whose advice around health care cover was to drop Extras and keep Hospital cover. We were had just changed our cover to lower hospital cover with extras and were still in the cooling off period. With a quick phone call I put back in place my safety net of top hospital cover with no extras, so if any thing with my health changes in the future I know we will be ok!

As I was coming to a place of peace with my choice, I was chatting before a yin yoga class with my former yoga teacher Iknew from before I was married. She always seems to know when to ask the right question and I opened up to her my thoughts in making my choice. Thinking I how much my health has improved for the better, the impact on the relationship with my husband and my son, she reassured it was was a choice made with wisdom not out of selfishness. On my yoga mat tears trickled down my cheek as I surrendered, I am enough just as I am.

Today I shed some more tears even though a few months have passed. From the wardrobe I pulled out the piles and boxes of my son’s clothing that I have been hanging onto to pass onto another baby, another toddler, another child of mine. As I folded up the little jumpsuits, singlets, tshirts and shorts I knew in my heart I was passing onto another little one, another family in need who will be so grateful and appreciative of these little clothes of love. Next week local charity Dandelion Support Network is having a Donation Day on Sunday 18 June 2017. Dandelion is a volunteer run charity who accept, sort and safety check nursery items, clothing, toys and linen to pass onto families in need free of charge. Recently Dandelion put a call out for newborn clothing and boys size 2 and 3 so I knew now is the right time for me to donate as my son is now almost 5.

At the end of the day I am at peace with the choice I make that is best for me. Taking into account many factors including my health, sleep triggers, finance, my husband and more I have made my choice. First and last!

Resources

 

ACNEM 2017

Totally in my element over the weekend with all things Brain Health for Better Life Outcomes at the 7th Science of Nutrition in Medicine (ACNEM) Conference 2017 (except for the chilly Melbourne weather).

What is more important than a well functioning nervous system?

Prof Felice Jacka, Nutrition and brain health over the life course, discussed 10% of Australia adults and less than 50% of children eat according to dietary guidelines with a dose response to vegetable intake and health outcomes. Information of on what to eat has been muddied by industry with the productions of processed foods pushed out as healthy foods. Mental and substance disorders are the leading source of disability, there is a growing burden of dementia and cognitive disease, and an increase in prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders all linked to diet and lifestyle. Diet quality is linked to common mental health disorders, particularly depression, with either not enough good or too much bad, both are independent factors that increase a person’s risk independent of their socioeconomic status, education, health behaviours, weight and irrespective of the form the diet takes. Genetics and early life trauma are less modifiable than diet and pregnancy is linked to the childrens later mental health. The biological pathways of how diet influences mental health include inflammation and oxidative stress, cytokines, low grade activation of the immune system, brain plasticity and gut microbiome. 70% of our immune function is our gut, with the importance of fermenting foods and fibre. Biological dysregulation (see slide).

Prof Felice Jacka ACNEM 2017

A leaky gut is many things degrading the gut lining resulting in the transportation of these factors into the blood stream and mounting an immune response. Experimental evidence suggests exaggerated stress, blunted immune system and increase blood brain barrier permeability is similar to autism and that microbiota is essential for brain development. The sources of bacteria are transient and can help out e.g. probiotics can alter anxiety like behaviours. After 4 generations cannot resuce our microbiota except by facel transplant. We can improve our diet and our mental health. Find out more at the Food Mood Centre.

Prof Felice Jacka ACNEM 2017

Prof Michael Berk, The role of mitochondrial dysfunction in mental health and nutrient treatment options, was a fascinating talk on mitochondria in a range of disorders and is an essential feature of bipolar and resting energy phase dysregulation. Many factors including diet and inflammatory markers impact on mitochondria. In mitochondria the failure to up-regulate in the presence of demand and down-regulate when the demand goes. Treatment of hyperthermia increase mitochondria and reduces depression under red lights/sauna. The use of nutraceuticals as treatments are not benign, can worsen some disorders, everyone responds differently to the same foods (recommend viewing Eran Segal).

Prof Michael Berk ACNEM 2017

Dr Felice Gersh, Estrogen and Brain Health: Exploring estrogen’s vital role linking the brain, the gut microbiome, and the immune system, made me realise just how important our hormones are to our overall health. Dr Gersh explored the vital role estrogen plays in linking our brain, gut, microbiome and immune system. Females have three times the prevalence of dementia, rapid cognitive decline, more depression, bipolar, more brain issues due to estrogen. Menopause is the end of metabolic homoeostasis. Estrogen is neuroprotective, and has played an evolutionary role in survival, telling the body you are healthy and able to reproduce. Estrogen receptors affect many organs in the body and regulate mitochondrial production. In Pubmed estrogen replacement therapy is listed as an endrocrine disruptor! Estrogen promotes neural plasticity, cognitive function and is a glucose transporter for the brain. Estrogen controls our circadian rythym, it sets the beat, and controls out autonomic nervous system. Our microbiome is diurnal also influences our circadian rythym and disease susceptibility. Circadian dysfunction can cause leaky gut and our immune system is highly regulate by our circadian rhythm.

Dr Felice Gersh ACNEM 2017

Dr Denise Furness, Nutritional genomics and mood disorders, discussed how our genes give us a risk or predisposition not a diagnosis. We are so pro-inflammatory due to stress upregulation which from our evolutionary advatage was great for infections and wounds compared to now we have different types of stress (recommended viewing Julia Rucklidge).

Dr Denise Furness ACNEM 2017

Dr Felice Jacka, Dietary intervention for adults with major depression (The SMILES Trial), asked the question “If I improve my diet, will my mental health improve?” by carrying out a 12 week RCT with people with a poor diet quality, stable, not psychotic/bipolar, tended to be treatment resistant and not vegan/vegetarian. Patients had 7 sessions starting weekly then fortnightly with a modified Mediterranean diet. The study focused on sustainable changes and has various measures of dietary adherence. Patients received a food hamper to try new foods (see slide). It was challenge to recruit to the study, there were many limitations and in hindsight it would have been great to collect samples to test the microbiome. Results showed that those in the dietary intervention had greater reduction in depressive symptoms and one third were in remission. Read more on the SMILES Trial.

Prof Felice Jacka ACNEM 2017

Dr Natalie Parletta, Evidence and practical applications for improving diet in patients with mental disorders and impact of diet on mental health from the HELFIMED study, talked how people do not make the connection between diet and our health. Over 35% of our food are from discretionary foods. The HELFIMED was a 6 month RCT on dietary behaviour change and the Mediterranean diet, including teaching people cooking skills and encouraging to eat more whole foods with food hampers, healthy menu plans and cooking support. Results see slide.

Dr Natalie Parletta ACNEM 2017

A/Prof Ross Grant, Brain Inflammation – an ageing time bomb, discussed the brain inflammation with leaky gut stimulating inflammation in the body as well as the brain and cytokines may be stimulating our vagus nerve. The hippocampus is vulnerable to inflammation and is one of only 2 areas in the brain where neurogenesis is possible.

Dr Dave Jenkins, The Professor Dale Bredesen protocol for reversing early Alzheimer’s disease, was something new to me, how we optimise not just normalise metabolic perturbations, with a lot of behaviour change required, this protocol goes against the silver bullet mindset with a team approach and 50% diet. This integrative approach is based on diet, exercise, sleep, stress and core treatments turmeric, DHA and magnesium with the objective to remove factors that cause or exacerbate damage to the central nervous system and provide with elements to protect, repair and perform to stimulate the central nervous system. Read more on the protocol here.

Dr Dave Jenkins ACNEM 2017

Dr John Hart, Cognitive decline case study, was inspiring to see such a comprehensive treatment plans including light and circadian rhythm management

Dr John Hart ACNEM 2017

This ACNEM weekend continue to support just how important our nutrition is for our mental health. Looking for a simple holistic approach to health and nutrition and want to learn more? Study new online ‘Introduction to Nutrition’ Course at your own pace – 10 modules. Learn and implement new skills, allowing you to make sustainable changes in your health and diet.

 

Introduction to Nutrition Course

Let trauma go

Podcasts have been my way of learning and discovering as I heal and recover and this episode has been no exception. I had never heard of TRE so had no idea of size the rabbit hole I was about to fall into when I tuned into Let trauma go with TRE and Sharon Mullan.

Here are my highlights from this discussion with Alexx and Sharon.

  • TRE is trauma releasing exercises that trigger the natural mechanism within out body to release tension through a shake, tremor or sometimes a stretch; connective tissue in our body releasing tension.
  • The tremor is natural to the body; always been there but has been socialised out. Dr David Berceli the founder noticed every culture does this natural physical response.
  • Tremor is coming into safety, coming out of fright, not going into threat, body is regulating as threat has passed.
  • Not enough psychologists, psychotherapists etc. in the world to deal with the number of people who are traumatised.
  • Created in communities with a tight-knit culture where people can continue to cry or continue the effects of the release had culture to look after each other, which is different to the Western culture
  • Creating safety, people don’t tremor unless they are safe, tremor comes when the body regulating back down to be able to be social engaged and calm. For people to truly heal it’s really important that people go home to a loving and safe environment.
  • Trauma is mostly physiological, only 10% cognitive, its in our body. Trauma creates an immobility and lessens their range of capability.
  • Our body chose TRE, our body is trying to guide us
  • Panic attacks are often the body releasing so fast that the mind can’t keep up so the mind blanks out, passes out

Our body has our true memory, not our mind

  • Polyvagal theory, based on safety, how do we make people safe. Introduced psychophysiology, that we don’t just have fight or flight, we don’t just have a sympathetic nervous system, we have parasympathetic nervous system where we are socially engaged or we are freezing or voluntarily being immobile e.g. meditation. When we are dissociative not have a choice, we have a traumatic reaction in our body, body has decided best for survival that we freeze, from full collapse to not saying anything, it is physiological response. Body decides it needs to go into fight or flight, it happens automatically, autonomic system. For us to survive, because we are designed to defend and survive, that it is best for fight or flight, when the threat is perceived to be too big to fight or too fast to run away then we go into the collapse, the freeze. After the traumatic experience, if did use flight or fight they are often not traumatised as they used up the energy, the freeze puts a lid on the energy. Tremor is releasing the lid, immobile to mobile, return to socially engaged.
  • Teach you to take care of yourself during the exercises, gentle, designed to make you tired
  • Trauma can be so severe that can go back into the freeze response if they talk about it. Why do I feel nothing? Because it is too scary, we are designed to not have to over-feel something again. Tremor is doing the physiological work of releasing tension, trauma and stress.
  • If we are traumatised, we are caught in the loop of our system is traumatised, through the vagus nerve we sending message to the brain and all is not well, stay on alert. Reducing the message, we are calming the system down. Calming the nervous down is for everyone.
  • Reducing tension in the body so the nervous system relaxes and the message to brain to rewire so don’t have to deal with level of constant hyper-arousal
  • All trauma has the capacity to be transformed into something more useful. It is not a disorder, it is you body doing what it does, a natural response.

Taking care of myself is within my control

  • Nurture the safe environments. It is ok to search for people and places where we feel it is ok to be ourselves
  • Trauma two biggies in childhood are neglect and parenting the parent. We are only as good as what we have been shown. Following the body, get to know ourselves, observation and kindness.

It is possible to free of your history

To find out more about TRE check out TRE Australia. Stay connected with me as I will be learning more in depth about TRE as part of my healing after my shaky start to becoming a mum.

Discover more about the Polyvagal Theory and all things stress on the upcoming Global Stress Summit with the creator of the Polyvagal Theory, Stephen Porges, discussing Developmental Stress and How to Re-Wire Neurological Safety. During The Global Stress Summit, researchers and thought leaders will teach you about the “new” science of stress, which shows that you can be in control of your experience! Don’t miss this event from April 24 – May 1, 2017, free and online!

Global Stress Summit

Postpartum and the Thyroid

Listening to Dr Kelly Brogan on the Thyroid Sessions back in 2014 was the first realisation that my thyroid may be a piece of my postpartum psychosis puzzle. Dr Kelly discussed the triangle of psychiatric symptoms, gluten intolerance and thyroid dysfunction and this was the first time I heard a medical doctor discuss postpartum psychosis directly. Women with first episode postpartum psychosis were 19% positive for thyroid antibodies and within 9 months 67% had a higher risk to develop autoimmune hypothyroidism (1). Dr Kelly discussed how postpartum thyroid symptoms can be easily attributed to being a new mum, such as lead limbs, feeling fatigued, super forgetful, mentally disorganised which at 9 months postpartum could be symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease or postpartum thyroiditis. Postpartum issues lead straight to psychiatry, no acknowledgement of the female hormones, not even a test for thyroid function. Dr Kelly says that psychiatric symptoms are usually endocrine related: thyroid or adrenal or blood sugar regulation with insulin or leptin or your sex hormones progesterone or oestrogen. Also, zinc, selenium, magnesium and iodine are key nutrients in thyroid function. To find out more about these psychiatric pretenders I recommend reading A Mind of Your Own.

Typically when you go to your General Practitioner, the thyroid test is limited to blood test TSH, which is a pituitary hormone measure, an indirect measure of thyroid function. To get the full picture of your thyroid free thyroid levels T3 and T4, reverse T3 and thyroid autoantibodies. My GP was reluctant to do further tests as my TSH came back ‘normal’ until I showed him a copy of the research paper (1). Remember there is not one size fits all, you may have symptoms even being in the ‘normal’ range.

The Thyroid Secret is on now and I am looking forward to tuning in to Episode 7: Motherhood Interrupted to discover more about the role of thyroid in the postpartum period (starts on Wednesday 8 March 10am Sydney time).

PS: My test results including my thyroid antibodies came back all good and my GP has noted on my file to check and monitor my thyroid function  if and when I fall pregnant.

References

1. Prevalence of autoimmune thyroid dysfunction in postpartum psychosis. The British Journal of Psychiatry Mar 2011, 198 (4) 264-268

Further Reading

 

Click

I am about to listen to another speaker at the MINDD Forum 2015. A gentleman stands up and starts clicking his pen as he speaks. He continues to click and click and CLICK! I become irritated with all that clicking not being able to fully focus on what he is saying. Why won’t he just stop that infuriating click?

Dr Frank Golick pauses and asks “Who in the room is finding this clicking noise annoying?” Now you have my attention. Dr Golik proceeds with his talk on ‘Pyrroles: Mental Health impacts’ and as I sit there having never heard of pyrolles before it clicks. It is like Dr Golik is describing me and my health issues right back to high school.

Symptoms that I could relate to include:

  • stress intolerance
  • high irritability and mood swings
  • morning nausea which is aggravated by smells and taste (since high school for me)
  • tendency to skip or delay breakfast (I have always tended to do this)
  • difficultly taking supplements in the morning (always make me gag)
  • dry skin
  • little dream recall
  • white spots on nails (this is due to Zinc deficiency not Calcium as we all think)
  • stretch marks (who doesn’t have these especially after becoming a mother)
  • poor wound healing
  • anxiety and inner tension
  • headaches and migraines
  • tendency to stay up late (I have never been a morning person)
  • sensitive to bright lights, loud noises and smells (why I the clicking irritated me!)

There are other symptoms and traits of pyrolles though I have ticked the majority of the boxes. We all produce pyrolles, though some of us have an excess. This excess binds to vitamins B6 and zinc as well as other vitamins including manganese and B3 and leads to over excretion of these nutrients in the urine and a potential nutrient deficiency. This leads me back to my initial thoughts of nutrient deficiency triggering my postpartum psychosis.

Dr Golik continues his talk relating the symptoms and traits of pyrolles to conditions including schizophrenia, bipolar and depression. As he discussing these Pyrolle Disorder Biotypes a name keeps popping up: Dr William Walsh. Dr Walsh has a book Nutrient Power:  Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain on the power of nutrients on mental function.

Looking into this further I look up the Walsh Research Institute to find a practitioner to get tested…

Further Information

A Quirky Journey 53: Pyroluria with Jules Galloway ND

The Low Tox Life Podcast #18: Jules Galloway – Is Pyrroles the key to you feeling better?

Functional Nutrition Academy Feb 2017 Intake

Shifting the perinatal paradigm

Conference breakfast with Dr Vijay Roach from the Gidget Foundation was sensational! It was so enlightening to listen to a doctor share their personal story of his family experience of perinatal mental illness from both a husbands and a doctors point of view. Dr Vijay reminded me of my own obestrician, who I still can recall visiting me in the mental health ward in his jeans and a tshirt, visiting me to see how I was going even though as doctor his duties were completed. This presentation by Dr Vijay was like an apology speech to me from the health professionals for what I have been through during my pregnancy, my traumatic birth expereince and my episode of postpartum psychosis. In tears, I gave Dr Vijay a huge hug of gratitude as a thank you on behalf of all consumers.


Different people have different perspectives including those in the birth industry. The birth industry is all about the things we ‘must’ do; natural birth, not drink alcohol, breast feed or demand feed and it goes on. Consumers are in the best position to understand what they experience. The Gidget Foundation is run by consumers and the Marce Society should be overrun by consumers (certainly not the case from what I saw at the 2016 conference). Illness works for health professionals, as an authority, understanding big words, knowing what is best for you even though they have never listened to your story, they disempower us with the words they speak.

Doctors will interpret the patient in the first 18 seconds of an appointment. Do women have a choice? Can women decline an exam? Refuse a test? Which woman wants to be the difficult patient? Doctors fail to recognise our feelings, beliefs, values, history, stories. What if the doctors don’t know all the information?

A male gynaecologist is no more disadvantaged, not limited by gender, as they too have the lens to make decisions, to listen actively in planning, pregnancy, trauma, birth to see the world through the woman’s lens. At no point in time did someone ask how we felt. We forget that women are people too, expect to do everything right, the pressure on pregnancy and mothers is huge.

We need to acknowledge what women give to us all. What doctors see as reality as correct is not right. Doctors communicate the fear yet missed the point. What happened to me? I need to understand why? We felt disempowered, no choice, had to do what the doctor said. Doctors hadn’t deliberately tried to harm but by participating in her trauma as health professionals we need to examine ourselves.

Think about the words we use, the posters of motherhood bliss in hospital wards. The gutless implications of the words we use. We do medicalise pregnancy and birth yet no one talks about the wonder of becoming parents and the human inside the womb. We forget the joy of existence. If we miss that, what else is existing? Consumers are people. If we are going to shift the paradigm we don’t need to disempower the consumer, we need their input. The true gift of the health professional is to empower those who seek their help. Its powerful to do no harm and to care; maybe we can make a difference. If we are going to change the paradigm we need to make the shift.

Gidget Breakfast Session – From Illness to Wellness; shifting the paradigm in perinatal mental health care, Dr Vijay Roach, International Marce Society Conference 2016.

Factors influencing decision making

1 in 5 risk of postpartum psychosis and half are considering pregnancy plans. Research is revealing the large variety of factors influencing decision making for women with bipolar disorder including social support, family history, stigma and fear.

Understanding the importance of stigma, contextual factors such as time pressures and social support from their partner and family, local service provision, fear including the fear of becoming ill and fear of social services, and the centrality of motherhood.

This study also enabled the inclusion of views of women who decided against having a child because of bipolar disorder (26%).

This highlights the problems of getting reliable information and advice to women with bipolar disorder and what women want from services as well as the need for more training for health professionals.

Read the full study here http://bjpo.rcpsych.org/content/2/5/294 (open access).

Factors influencing women with bipolar disorder when making decisions about pregnancy and childbirth: a qualitative study – Clare Dolman, International Marcè Society Conference 2016.

Marce Conference books

I indulged at the International Marcè Society Conference for Perinatal Mental Health in getting a few books!

📗Eyes Without Sparkle by Elaine Hanzak – the first book I read about a lived experience of postpartum psychosis.

📘Another Twinkle In The Eye. Contemplating another pregnancy after perinatal mental illness by Elaine Hanzak – haven’t been able to read this yet despite borrowing a few times from the library. May bring me closer to making peace with my decision.

📙 Beyond The Baby Blues by Catherine Knox, Benison O’Reilly & Seana Smith – a must have after hearing Dr Vijay Roach speak at the Gidget Foundation breakfast and chatting with Catherine personally.

📗A Mother’s Climb Out of Darkness. A Story about Overcoming Postpartum Psychosis by Jennifer Hentz Moyer – Jennifer is pioneer spokeswoman for education and support for postpartum psychosis and shares her lived experience in this book. This can be a tricky book to find.

📘The Polyvagal Theory. Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions Attachment Communication Self-Regulation by Stephen W. Porges – been on my wish list since meeting Holly Bridges at the MINDD forum.

📙Scared Sick. The role of childhood trauma in adult disease by Robin Karr-Morse with Meredith S. Wiley – how our innate fight-or-flight system can unexpectedly become an agent of chronic illness if overworked in the early stages of life. This intrigued me with knowing the SD Protocol.

If you can’t find me you may find me curled up with a book…

Marce Society Conference 2016

From being discharged from the local mental health ward 4 years ago from one day to the next day attending the 2016 International Marce Society Conference Frontiers in Perinatal Mental Health I was looking forward to connecting with others and learning more over in Melbourne.

It was an epic 3 days filled with plenary talks, symposiums and workshops of scientific and clinical knowledge on perinatal mental health. Absolutely loved my first Marcè conference connecting and working together to make a difference to reduce the impact, and to increase the awareness, treatment and prevention of maternal mental health.

Particularly loved connecting with consumer organisations Terri from PANDA, Viv from Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness, Jane from Postpartum Support International and Postpartum Action Institute, Prof Ian Jones from Bipolar Disorder Research Network and Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP), Emily & Alain from Maternal Mental Health Alliance UK, Vijay Roach and Catherine Knox from Gidget Foundation, and Kellie from Mindfulness 4Mothers.

The highlight for me was meeting and chatting with other mothers Deborah and Brenda who share a lived experience of postpartum psychosis. Another highlight was dining with the international researcher Professor Ian Jones who focuses on research in bipolar disorder and postpartum psychosis discussing my experiences. My vision is to create an Australian network for Postpartum Psychosis to support families with a lived experience of PP and to create awareness in our community about PP.

GAMMH

On Day 1 the Global Alliance for Maternal Mental Health (GAMMH) was launched by Dr Alain Gregoire uniting to improve the lives of mothers and their infants everywhere. If this were physical health it would be a national scandal, yet we allow it to carry on. It is critical to establish perinatal mental health as a global priority. We need to demand action, we have evidence of the individual and population needs and we know enough to do something everywhere. We need to broaden our approach, not just health care centred. GAMMH needs you. Aspire. Inspire. Locally, nationally, globally. TOGETHER WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD!

How to influence national policy and service provision: the experience of the UK MMHA and Everyone’s Business Campaign – Promoting awareness and service development in perinatal mental health – Dr Alain Gregoire and Emily Slater, International Marce Society Conference 2016.

It’s time to ACT! National accountability, engage community, training for health professionals. Australia it’s time to ACT, to follow the UK’s example and create an Australian Maternal Mental Health Alliance to bring together a diverse range of organisations to create a broad vision with a clear pathway to improve awareness and take responsibility.

At the end of this workshop we wrote down something we will do to initiate change. I wrote to create an Australian network for Postpartum Psychosis supporting mothers and their families and creating awareness in our community. Now is the time to ACT!

I was excited to learn that Louis-Victor Marce, the psychiatrist which the Marce Society was named after, published the first treatise entirely devoted to puerperal psychosis, illness and insanity in pregnancy in 1858. Postpartum psychosis is rare but not a new maternal mental health disorder.

World Maternal Mental Health Day – Dr Angela Bown and Dr Alfonso Gil-Sanchez, International Marcè Society Conference 2016.

Save the date! Wednesday May 3, 2017 is the next World Maternal Mental Health Day. The 2016 theme was #maternalMHmatters. What can you do to create awareness and support for maternal mental health? Check out wmmhday.postpartum.net for more details. The theme for 2017 has yet to be announced so stay tuned…

This conference was inspiring and motivating, I was filled with ideas and wanting to take action! So many aha moments which I will share!

Cracked

Finally cracked it! 40kgs weight release!! I’ve been on a long plateau of almost 40 for months. So proud of myself for how I’ve come in the past 2 and half years. Remember it’s not all about the numbers; it’s about the quality of life you live and the state of your health. The numbers on the scale are not are reflection of who you truly are.

However, I did not set a goal to lose 40kgs. I didn’t even set a goal to lose 10 kgs. Goals have never sat right with me, I always feel like I am setting myself up to fail. For me goals are overwhelming. Instead, I started to ask deep questions of myself, what was I doing? What can I do better? I kept going with what felt right, finding things that I love, taking responsibility for my health.

Living a values based life is the crux of it – Brooke McAlary

I felt I needed to slow down. There is no one size fits all ideal of the slow life and I loved listening to this conversation Caring more and caring less. Slow living defines life based on what we don’t want it to look like. Standards trying to live up to, are they really that important? Are they really what we should be chasing? Slow living is about where our mindset is, taking time to answer your own questions, figure out what you want and forming your life from there.

Overcoming that urge to measure your life by any standard, and accepting what is and being mindful of that. – Erin Loechnar

Who says I should live life a certain way? I became more aware of the life I had been living before becoming a mum, trying to live up to societal expectations. I became aware of the life I was creating now with my family, defining my own expectations.

A big key in living a slower life is understanding and accepting that it is what is, you do what you can, you make the changes, you shift, you clarify and live according to your values. – Brooke McAlary

I began to let go of control, let go of trying to keep everything in order, let go of perfection, let go of the shoulds. I started to realign with my values.

We can try to shift every aspect to live the ideal balanced perfect life but still things happen, you have to loosen the reigns and let go and decide you can be with or be defined by the pace of my life or can define what I want from this instead and not let circumstances define who I am and how I react – Erin Loechnar

I started to figure out what is important for me. Stop worrying about things weren’t important and focused on things that were. I started to live according to what was important for me.

I care less and we care more, its the shift in what matters and what doesn’t – Erin Loechnar

This shift in awareness, this shift to a slow life has not been all rainbows and unicorns. There have been tears, fits of anger and frustration. Two steps forward, one step back. Listening to If not crying you are not trying, frustrations come with having a go no matter what you are doing made me realise that my tears are not a sign of failure. “Crying is a sign that going somewhere never been before, you are breaking through stuff, that you are actually trying”.

What I have been through, what I have experienced, and the adversity I have faced has led me to be the person I am today tears and all. “You set out to make a goal, to achieve goal yet when faced with adversity you ask why is it happening to me? Why because you ask for it, because can’t get stronger or smarter without it so how you did you expect to achieve your goal.”

Once you decide consciously to make a decision and accept or not accept certain things into your life, you can control that by putting intention to it and making it a part of who are – Lauren Heys

I may not have consciously made a goal to lose weight but I made a decision that things needed to change in my life. “Attaching meaning to something, you will learn it more.  Space of adversity, when you go through your adversity, cause you will, that adversity is giving you an opportunity, don’t miss this opportunity because you are too busy being a victim,  its something you need to face because facing that and coming out the other side will give you the level up that you need to be the person that you are trying to be. Even single time you look back at your adversity you have gone through in your life you are thankful for it happening. Adversity you go places you have never been before, you realise you are physically emotionally strong enough and to make it better. Pain is to move forward and use as reference point, you so much stronger than you believe you are. Most people are not aware of what they are capable of achieving until they are put into a situation. Not everyone will do it, but at that moment at that level of adversity it became possible.” – Dave Nixon

My pain led me to discover what is truly important to me. Letting go of control means I am in control of who I am. I have a choice.

What am I going to stand for that’s important to me and that my values and morals really dig deep and that are important to me? – Dave Nixon

So how did I get here? I went through adversity. I became a mum, I experienced postpartum psychosis. I had the opportunity to read the Changing Habits Changing Lives book by Cyndi O’Meara of Changing Habits and began to follow the Up For A Chat podcast. No protocols or programs, no quick fixes. Taking the time, slowing down. Self-Awareness. Deciding my impact. Releasing 40kgs, not losing 40kgs for I will not be finding this weight again.  For me it was cracking myself open, changing my habits, just eat real food, daily self care rituals as well as moving towards a slow, simple way of life with a low tox approach. I have a story to tell…

Sometimes the adversity you are going through isn’t for you, sometimes the adversity you are going is to help someone through their adversity in years to come,  all you need to do is tell the story, you just have to get through it “- Dave Nixon

You are on a different road… I don’t care!!

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