Sarah Short Circuit

Heal, Nourish, Nurture

Tag: Gratitude

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.

Missing in Action

Wow, the past few months have flown past and things have been pretty quiet here on the blog, but I can assure you it has been far from quiet for me. So much has been happening. Here is a snippet of the whirlwind:

May – The MINDD Forum and Day with Cyndi were action packed. As a family we enjoyed the Vivid Light Festival in town.

2015-05-26 027 Vivid

Vivid at Customs House, Sydney

June – From the MINDD forum I was in a spin with some new found direction on healing my body, finding a new piece of the puzzle to work on. I found a couple of Integrative doctors and started working on improving my health in a new way. My mind was racing with the new knowledge and how it has impacted on my life, even since high school. What kept me grounded was my focus on Twenty8 HLE and my fortnightly webinars with my Sparklers.

DSC_1023 Rainbow

Double rainbow in June

July – End of July was a very eventful time with the graduation of Twenty8 HLE Program in Mooloolaba Queensland, I commenced the July Intake of Changing Habits Online Education Course plus I also commenced a TAFE course. I have a love of learning, a passion to expand myself and a tendency to keep myself busy. 

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With Kim Morrison at the Twenty8 HLE Graduation Dinner

August – I began to realise that I had a bit too much on my plate and the stress, anxiety and sleepless nights began to creep back into my life. Not good timing considering it was also the time of my son’s birthday and the time of year where I reflect on the journey I have been on with postpartum psychosis and bringing up a lot of emotions for me.

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My son’s birthday cake (sans lollies)

In the craziness of August I won tickets to the Wellness Summit in Melbourne! Wow, this was definitely an experience not to pass on, so my husband and I had a quick weekend away in Melbourne. It was amazing to be surrounded by almost 700 people who are wanting to be the change in their wellbeing.

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A multitude of speakers at the Wellness Summit, Melbourne

To top off August I did my first market stall at my local gym!

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My display of Twenty8 essential oils and skincare at Fitness First Sylvania

September – A hard slog of long nights and strung out days completing the TAFE course; I am so grateful it was only a 9 week course. TAFE consumed all my spare time meaning little time to share my story with you.

Well September is almost at an end and it is time for me to slow down a bit. My mind has been racing a lot trying to work out my health issues, wanting to do so much as a new graduate of Twenty8 HLE, as well as juggling the family, the household and work. My head hurts just looking at what I have been up to lately. So you may be wondering, how did I cope? How did I manage to take on all these bits and pieces?

To be honest I have struggled a lot in the past few months trying to keep it all together. I overstretched and overwhelmed myself attempting to do too many things all at once.  When I overstretch some things suffer; when I am overwhelmed I suffer. Unfortunately these tend to be things that are most important to me like my wellbeing and my relationships with those close to me. Thankfully the universe is looking out for me and has sent in supports to give me strength and keep me moving forward, with friends contacting me just when I need it most (Thanks Christin, Henry, Maria and Stuart!).

There have been two crucial things that have kept me from falling apart recently; self-care and simplicity.

Self-care – my daily rituals of self-care have been my anchor on days when things seem tough. My rituals have been my way of checking in with myself and showing myself some compassion, that I am doing enough, I am enough and I have enough. Twenty8 Peace and Meditation has been my go to a lot lately in my daily rituals as way to calm the chatter in my mind and ground me to the present moment.

2015-04-26 007 Peace

Peace and Meditation

Simplicity – I have simplified and slowed down my life in the past 3 years, resulting a simple rhythm I follow day to day. I have de-cluttered over time, reducing the amount of possessions I have to care for and clean. Each day I have one chore to achieve like Monday is the day I wash the towels, and if that is all I get done for the day, that’s ok. I have slowed down our schedule, not over committing ourselves on the weekends, which allows us opportunities to go with the flow like go on a bush walk to ground ourselves again and disconnect from the world. 

2015-08-22 025 Karloo Pools

Recent bushwalk to Karloo Pools

Have you had a lot on lately too? What way some of the ways you cope when you are overstretched and overwhelmed?

 

Changing Habits

You’ve got a friend

Friends are there when you need them most, even if they don’t know it themselves. They are there when you need them, picking up where we last left even though it has been months (really where has the months disappeared too).

The first Friday of the month a bunch of girl friends get together over lunch, women of different ages coming together over a common shared interest. We are connected by a volunteer organisation we are all apart of so usually end up chatting about how we are going in each of our groups, sharing ideas and discussing challenges. These women have been a huge part of my life, even knowing me from a young age as some have watched me grow up, or have children themselves the same age as me. These women without knowing themselves have been a huge support to me, particularly after I had my son.

One of these special ladies, a close girl friend of mine, was there for me in my darkest hour during my Postpartum Psychosis episode, and she has a very special place in my heart. This bunch of ladies every month were my safety net as I ventured back into the real world just a few months after my episode, though most did not know the depths of what I had been though. I knew I could go out for lunch with my son tucked up in the stroller and enjoy a hour or so of social chit chat and a laugh in the company of these lovely ladies and feel safe, to be myself.

It has been a few months since I last went out to lunch and it was so great to see everyone’s smiling faces again. I haven’t seen them since my last psychiatrist appointment (that’s another story), since I have lost a big chunk of my weight, and since I have found the strength to acknowledge and speak out more about my journey. Over lunch the conversation twisted and turned and I somehow stumbled onto a conversation with a lady who happens to be a nurse working in a Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Service in a local hospital. As I felt comfortable enough with these ladies I was able to share some of my story with her knowing that she has more of an understanding that most people of what I have been through. She shared her knowledge of the system, of psychiatrists with expertise in perinatal mental health that she recommends, and tips to navigate the hospital system if I were to fall pregnant again.

This lady shared how in the past 18 months NSW Health have put in place SAFE START positions, like a specialised perinatal mental health midwife, to provide comprehensive psychosocial assessments as a component of routine antenatal and postnatal care. As a mother at risk mentally I would routinely have my history reviewed, a care plan would be set up and I be followed up throughout my pregnancy and after birth, which in my case would minimise the change of falling through the cracks in the health care system. Though our conversation I discovered another service Jade House through Karitane for women with perinatal mental health issues. Now I am forearmed with questions I can ask my local hospital mental health service to see if they have a SAFE START clinician as part of the perinatal team. How I wish that more can be done to link together all the health services so that it is easier to navigate the perinatal mental health care system. This lady said to me it was huge step for me just to be able to talk openly about Postpartum Psychosis, and that she knows of a woman recently diagnosed where both herself and her husband were both in denial that she had had an episode previously. It made be realise that I have come a long way in my recovery and acceptance of my episode of Postpartum Psychosis. I am so grateful for this group of girl friends that are part of my life.

This song was playing as I walked back to my car after lunch. It brought a smile to my face and tear to my eye all at the same time.

Time to get a journal

We have all had a moment in time, usually in childhood, where we write our deepest, darkest secrets in a diary. For most of us though the act of writing our inner thoughts in a diary wanes after a while. For others it morphs into list making as a way to keep life organised. I have always been one for lists, written on odd bits of paper, post it notes both hard copy and virtual, and running to do list in my head. This system of lists had worked until a big gust of wind came along and scattered lists everywhere.

Those winds were Postpartum Psychosis. As I descended into psychosis my list making increased, writing endless notes on bits of paper to remember what I needed to do, when to feed the baby, what questions to ask people about things I wasn’t sure of, list after list. I remember getting an exercise book out one morning as a journal and pouring out the contents of my head to try to get my thoughts to stop racing. I even attempted to get a diary working for me to work out upcoming appointments for our son and me as I was having trouble keeping track of days and time.

As I recovered, with my memory shot to pieces, I struggled to keep track of what things needed doing. If it wasn’t written down, it didn’t get done. I started off using our kitchen whiteboard to jot down what chores needed doing, upcoming appointments, and general tid bits. I progressed to Evernote app and Google calendar, both of which were very handy as I can sync with my husband. The downfall of technology however was it was out of sight, out of mind and not a reliable method of recording quick thoughts as notes.

This all changed August last year when I came across bullet journalling. Back to the old school pen and paper method the original bullet journal concept makes it so easy to be organised. Just jot down tasks on a day to day list, any tasks not done in the month get rolled onto the month to do list, as well a monthly view calendar. Any special topics e.g. Christmas lists, holiday checklists can be created as a separate page and indexed. Everything is in the one place with symbols distinguishing between tasks, events, notes. There is not any particular type of diary you have to buy for it to work, any blank note book will do. The lists can be as big or as small as you like, with no pressure to write in a pre-defined area, and its ok if you skip a day (or two!) So simple!

Here is a video by the creator of Bullet Journal to give you an overview:

Since I started bullet journalling my productivity has sky rocketed. I feel a sense of accomplishment as I tick off things on my to do list. I am motivated to complete tasks that have been hanging around on my monthly lists for too long. I don’t forget the little things to do as I now write them down on the day I think of them; it doesn’t mean I have to get it done that day. I even started a bullet journal at work to help keep organised and on track with all the tasks I am working on. I would be so lost without bullet journalling.

I still use the kitchen whiteboard as a place for meal plan ideas, chore prompting, and the occasional upcoming event. All events are synced into our Google calendars, so my husband and I both know what is coming up for our family. I use Evernote a lot for occasional notes like books to read, photos of receipts, wish list items and other random notes. My go-to master list is now my Gratitude Diary 2015 (from Biome) with the bullet journalling to do lists and notes, as well as my daily gratitudes, all in one convenient location. If I feel like I am getting overwhelmed or lost my rhythm I call a 5 five minute time out where I can brain dump everything into my diary.

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My gratitude diary (from Biome)

I start the Twenty8 Health and Lifestyle Educator Program next Monday and I am so excited to be learning everything there is know about essential oils and self-care from the passionate Kim Morrison. I received the first email this week in preparation for the start of the course and it was titled “Time to get a Journal”. At first I was hesitant to be writing my flowing thoughts into a journal. I now see this as an opportunity to expand my daily journalling practice, and as a way to document my feelings, thoughts and learnings on the Twenty8 HLE course as an investment in myself.

Are you a list maker? Do you write your musings in a journal? Or are your a bullet journal fan?

If, not when

“So when are you planning to have the next child?”

It’s the question everyone seems to be asking, especially as my son has reached the grand old age of 2.5 years. My voice quivers, I take a deep breath and quickly say “I had health problems when we had our son so I am not sure when we will have the next one”, leave it at that and change the topic abruptly.

The truth is I am not sure if, not when, we will have more children. Our hopes and dreams were a family of four, for our son to have a sibling to grow up with and to have our two children with a reasonable age gap of 2 to 3 years. The nightmare of Postpartum Psychosis has changed this considerably.

I was chatting with a friend this week about having more children and it shone light on another perspective I had not considered. My friend has one child and she too had severe health issues during her pregnancy and after birth. My friend weighed up having a second child against her first born requiring more care, attention and resources due to special needs; her marriage was on the rocks; and she was living a considerable distance from her parents. Her hormones were wanting another baby but her head was saying one child is enough. My friend was grateful to be able to have the joys of one child in comparison to her close friend undergoing IVF at a similar time. My friend could not imagine going through her health challenges with a toddler and a new born, as the toddler would effectively not have a mother for the 9 months of pregnancy and she would not be able to manage the care of two young children due to her health. She herself did not want to go through the experience of severe ill health again. Her choice was to be content with one child.

What is if there was a way to skip pregnancy and birth and be given the child when they reach say 4 years old? A way to skip over the pain of labour, the sleepless nights, the endless demands on you as a mother as well as the health challenges the mother may face? We had wondered if there was a way of fast forwarding this joyous stage we are in currently of toilet training. But what fun would that be missing all those snuggles, the smell of a newborn, and reaching those precious milestones?

Perhaps an option could be surrogacy? My friend had considered this but a suitable close family member or friend was not in the picture at the time to make it an option. I hadn’t even thought of this possibility as a way to expand our desired family. Sure surrogacy would be a way to eliminate the hormone crashes one experiences after birth that may contribute to Postpartum mood disorders, but you still have the cruelling routine of sleep-wake cycles attuned to the newborn. Disrupted sleep for me was a huge factor in tipping me into Postpartum Psychosis.

My husband and I had always joked that if we were to go through Postpartum Psychosis that it would be ok for me as I wouldn’t remember it. There is a period of about a week, around the time my son was 3 weeks old, where I have no memory whatsoever thanks to the psychosis. My memories of the first year are shaky at best and I so grateful to have done Project365 to capture these precious moments. So I wouldn’t remember the full force of another psychosis but those close to me would remember. I don’t want to put my husband through this traumatic experience of seeing his beloved totally out of her mind. I don’t want to put my parents through this stressful harrowing ordeal. I don’t want to cause worry and concern from fear of the unknown onto my family and friends. How fair is that especially the second time round?

One child could work for our family. At this stage I am able to manage caring for my son, working part time, and running the household. Our finances are managing the cost of a family of 3, though at times it can be tight. Growing our family would be a greater expense. However, the stress of full time work is daunting and having two children in day care is not an option for our family. Our family of 3 could continue comfortably living in our lovely unit without the pressure of upgrading to a house due to space constraints. We could devote more time and resources to our son, and with a small family there is a greater possibility of travelling together.

But the longing of having another child is still there. It would be ok if I were to experience Postpartum Psychosis again as we would know what we are dealing with this time round, what signs to look out for, and how to minimise the triggers. We would devise a support plan including regular psychiatric monitoring throughout pregnancy, and voluntarily going to the Mother and Baby Mental Health Unit straight after delivery before I even develop psychosis. Scripts would be written just before I give birth so that I have the medication on hand to buffer me as soon as possible after delivery. I would plan to formula feed right from the start to minimise the hormonal impact on myself. I would have a support team around me to manage with the feeding, sleeping and to be with me closely in the first few weeks. But I still have this big “What If” hanging over my head, a toss of the coin, a 50% chance of it occurring a second time. I really do not want to have people hovering around me, watching over my shoulder and waiting even if they are doing it with the best love and intention. I just want to be like every one going through pregnancy and birth.

Truth is I am scared. Scared of developing Postpartum Psychosis again. This new perspective has rattled my husband as he hadn’t fully thought through the impact of a second episode of Postpartum Psychosis would have on me and on our family. I do not know what the universe has up her sleeve for our family. At this point in time I cannot make a decision as to if one child is right for our family, nor do I need to make a decision yet.

Have you had more children even if it means confronting your own health issues head on?

I keep hearing this song this week “Where’s your head at”. Very timely!

P.S. Cyndi from Changing Habits has released dates for her Australian ‘One Day Speaking Event’ tour commencing in May 2015 . Get in quick as tickets are on sale now! Highly recommend this event as I attended last year and this is what catapulted my journey of health.

 

Changing Habits

Scar

While I was pregnant I envisioned my soon to be natural birth. I learnt everything I could about how to give birth naturally. I had a fear of going under the knife if anything were to go wrong during birth, in my head having a cesarean section was not an option for me. I was given information about how to prepare in the event of a c-section and I choose not to read it. I glossed over the hospital guidelines for c-section.

The reason for the aversion towards a c-section was the scar. For me it wouldn’t just be little faint line but a large raised red zipper of keloid or hypertrophic scarring. I have a few keloid scars from previous surgeries, minor injuries and burns. Keloid scarring is when a wound over-heals , an overgrowth of collagen tissue. Keloid is not contagious, and is not harmful to your health, the most damage keloid does is to your vanity and self-love of your body.

My birth did not end up the way I had envisioned, as births never do follow the birth plan you painstakingly detail with every last wish and whim. After my waters broke on my due date I waited four days of stagnated contractions. My doctor worked with me as I tried to get things moving to allow me to give birth naturally. As each day passed I became increasingly tired and nervous that my labour was not progressing. If nothing happened after the fourth day we would need to plan for either an induction or c-section. My baby intervened, by the morning of the fourth day he went into distress and I was rushed in for an emergency c-section. It was such a blur as I was wheeled into the operating theatre within 10 minutes.

Normal is history - pinky

(via Pinky McKay)

My beautiful son was delivered into the world safely and the only sign of his distress was being covered in merconium. I was so thankful for the delivery of my son but I now have a permanent reminder of how my son came into the world. I was worried how the scar would turn out despite my husband reassuring me that the doctor had done an exceptional job with the stitching, my scar did not look like the rest of keloid scars. There are so many images in the media of women bouncing back to a fabulous body after birth, I felt I had no chance to look good again after being stretched as well as scarred.

Every now and then I would think about my scar, my imperfection, my mark of being out of control. Now I have lost the baby weight and more my scar is more visible to me. The feeling of inadequacy of not being able to have a natural birth the way I wanted to simmered to the surface of my thoughts. Reading Wellness Mama I realised that I need to make peace with my scar.  Reading Peppermint Magazine (Summer 2014) I discovered the beautiful bodies of mothers through the eyes of Jade Beall.

ABBPCover

(via http://www.abeautifulbodyproject.com/the_bodies_of_mothers)

Through photography Jade uses portraiture as a powerful tool for healing and empowerment. Jade uses her camera to explore the physical aspects of motherhood from the pressure of looking a certain way the media portrays, to breastfeeding to c-sections. The camera reveals the truth and beauty in mothers, shows the self-love and self-acceptance as inspiration to others who may have a distorted body image or self-loathing and trying to be someone else.

Seeing these beautiful bodies of other mothers made me realise that I too am a beautiful mother. My scar is a testament to what I have been through and I now am learning make peace with my scar and be more accepting of my amazing body.

“Little by little, we can all relearn to see ourselves as utterly magnificent. Just as we are, right now” – Jade Beall

(quoted from Peppermint Magazine Summer 2014)

 

Welcome 2015!

Happy New Year everyone!

Last year I didn’t write down resolutions, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do in 2014. I am not big into setting resolutions as I don’t tend to stick to them or they are too wishy-washy for my liking.

I read yesterday on Alexx Stuart’s blog her 5 minute New Year’s Eve project, and I thought I can do that! So here it is.

1. Something that I really mastered this year, big or small, that I feel really happy about.

I have mastered changing my habits with food, though still have a way to go. I have learnt to make real food from scratch like baking a loaf of bread, and making it yourself is way more satisfying and delicious than if I bought it from a shop. There is nothing better than fresh bread baked that morning, yum!

2. Someone I met who makes me feel awesome, that I want to consciously invest in building the friendship.

I met three amazing ladies at Awaken the Change Within Retreat in November; Cyndi O’Meara, Kim Morrison and Carren Smith. I felt awesome and so inspired with how they live their lives, how their mindset on wellness is infectious and their collective message on living the best life that we can is empowering. I hope to cultivate the friendships in 2015, especially with Kim as I embark on her Twenty8 Health & Lifestyle Educator (HLE) Programme in February.

3. Something I know that if I commit to doing better at, will bring me a lot of happiness this coming year.

Working on bettering my self-care. I want to commit more to my daily rituals like body boosting, taking time out for myself, doing things I enjoy, using my Twenty8 essential oils as part of my daily routine and learning to love my self through better nutrition and lifestyle.

4. Something I want to make more time for this coming year.

I want to make more time for gratitude in 2015. I want to start writing down things that I am grateful on a daily basis, so that it helps me appreciate the little things in life, things that put smile on my face.

5. Something that frustrated me on more than one occasion that I need to master / learn to deal with better.

My perfectionist tendencies frustrate the bejeezus out of me (not to mention my family). I need to let go of such high expectations of my self, that it is ok to make a mistake or to not get it completely right the first time I do things. Relax!

6. Something I need to let go of altogether that isn’t a ‘must do’, or that someone else an put their hands up for, as I dislike it, begrudge it, and if I’m to be honest, just don’t want to make time for it.

Not letting go is what I need to let go of. I need to let go of the clutter, that it is ok to throw some things away, I do not need multiples of the one thing ‘just in case’ and I do not need to keep everything as a memory token. I also need to let go of control; trying to control every last detail of a situation creates more stress and anxiety, which is not worth it any more.

7. And lastly, what’s my favourite way to do good in the world? A great thing to learn, because doing good and helping, basically helps us live a life of goosebumps and feel super useful and appreciated.

To lead by example. I love to be able to help others by showing them another way to look at things or a different way of doing things. I tend to think outside of the square and love to learn new information and want to share what I know. I love to help others by creating ripples of change, not a tsunami crashing over their heads. That is one of the reasons for starting my blog Sarah Short Circuit, to help other mothers who have gone through what I have see that there is another way on the path to healing and health.

So lets enjoy 2015, it’s going to be fantastic!

Wish I had done

(via Changing Habits)

 

My land is your land

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

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King Parrot on our balcony

This song has been sung many a time around a camp fire and resonates with me each time I take in the beauty which surrounds us. I live in a beautiful part of Australia and am privileged to live part way between the beach and the bush. I am grateful for the morning I spend with my family sitting by the beach, watching my son run back and forth between the waves, building sand castles, giggling with delight. I am grateful for the afternoon on the beach spending quality time kicking back and relaxing with friends and watching a pod a dolphins swim close to shore. I am grateful for the day I spend soaking in the sun on a ferry ride with my son on our glorious Sydney Harbour. I am grateful for the animals that share our environment and come visit regularly. I am grateful for the National Park on our door step beckoning me to step foot within her serene nature on a invigorating bush walk.

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Ferry ride on Sydney Harbour

There is beauty in our world and we all must protect what we have before it is too late, before we lose and damage what we have. We need to make better choices with the way our world, our technology, our conveniences impact our precious and limited environment. Otherwise there will come a time soon (or we are already there?) where there is no beauty, only a landscape littered with rubbish, plastic debris and pollution, choked with toxins leaching into our bodies poisoning us slowly. Though the land may be made for us, it wasn’t made for us to trash it. We need to be grateful for our land and what it provides for us so that we can all live and prosper happy healthy and fulfilled lives.

nature - food matters

(via Food Matters)

(Words and Music by Woody Guthrie)

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