Archive for October, 2015
It would be fair to say that for some mothers who have developed perinatal depression/anxiety, the “temperament” that researchers speak of that make some mothers more prone to developing it than others is not only that we’re naturally a sensitive soul, but we can also place high unrealistic expectations on ourselves – setting ourselves up to fail and becoming disappointed with ourselves time and time again. Whether you are recovering from your first episode of perinatal depression or you are challenged with the ongoing management of chronic depression, dealing with those unrealistic expectations is vital to our wellbeing.
As a person who now manages chronic depression (quite likely as a result of delayed diagnosis and treatment of my antenatal and postnatal depression), I certainly have these characteristics as part of my temperament and learning to deal with those high expectations is something that will be a life-long challenge for me.
In those days, dealing with a newborn baby – I expected that I would bond and absolutely fall in-love with my baby… I was blindsided (and later grieved the loss) by my traumatic birth and the hospital’s negligence by significantly delaying the opportunity for me to hold my baby post-birth, the breastfeeding problems I experienced and how I was at high risk of developing postnatal depression. I expected that I would be able to breastfeed well. I expected that I would find things a lot easier than I did. I expected that I would be able to cope with everything, despite a strained (and failing) marriage and insufficient support and my mother going into hospital for chemo the same year my baby was born and my marriage dissolving. I didn’t know where to go for help, but I also expected that I should be able to manage this all on my own without help and I felt that I was failing because I wasn’t coping and it was hard to admit it.
These days, I am well and high-functioning and very often I forget that lurking in the background is a mental illness that I will have for the rest of my life. I still don’t want to have it. I would still like to ignore it and pretend it didn’t exist. I still have these high expectations of myself to achieve this or to meet demands as if I do not have a mental illness that I have to be mindful of. And then the old “black dog” lingers on the edge of my yard (ironically I have an actual black dog but she’s rather nice and cuddly and has a habit of licking me rather than biting me although she is a puppy and still chews a lot of my son’s toys which is really annoying.)
It’s not about being a victim and letting depression define you – living under the banner of “I can’t” – it’s about being realistic and above all, it’s about being kind to ourselves. I have chronic depression. The unrealistic expectations I have of myself to be super-human is ridiculous.
If you want help for the stress or depression/anxiety you are experiencing, please fill in this online form
~ Kristina Paterson (Founder of Mothers Helpers)
Valued member of our Management Committee, Karyn Churcher tells us why she is involved with Mothers Helpers:”
When I heard about Mothers Helpers, I liked the way they give practical help to many mothers that are struggling. Having suffered with PND myself, been a single parent and supported woman and families, through fostering and teaching, I thought this would be something I could use my experiences to benefit other women and families, focusing on early intervention rather than at the bottom of the hill that some of my years of fostering had been. I am learning from and working with some passionate people. They have a very different skill set from me so it is a learning curve. It is great to be involved with passionate caring people who are doing this for the good of others, no financial gain just a belief that they can make a difference.”
Kiri Windross is our General Administrator for Mothers Helpers. She’s worn a number of hats since she has started with us including that of Auckland Area Manager, and we honestly could not have been able to do as much as we’ve been able to do without her. She has also filled a need whenever she can – whether that’s been relieving a volunteer offering childcare or whether it’s sponsoring a mother so she can attend our PND Recovery course. We are so grateful to have her as part of our team. Kiri shares what motivates her…
“I chose to volunteer with Mothers Helpers because I know there is not enough government support for this debilitating illness, and it is an illness that can have a huge impact not only on mums, but on children, fathers and the family unit in general. I also feel passionate about the fact that being supported by people who understand what you are going through makes the journey of depression less lonely. I remember feeling when I was going through depression, that I would not wish the experience upon my worst enemy. That seems a strong statement, but it expresses the desperation I felt at the time. To know that my efforts may help to reduce the impact or severity on other people’s lives and this make every minute of volunteering worthwhile. There is a big difference between receiving help from someone who actually cares, as opposed to receiving help from someone who is being paid to help you. It feels really good to know you are making a difference.”
Judy Moore has recently joined the Mothers Helpers team as a Recruitment Manager. With a background in Human Resources in the health industry, we are very fortunate to have her volunteer her time to help us. Judy shares here why she has chosen to do that…
“The world today is very busy and demanding place for us all, but especially parents in general. Families are often separated and neighbours do not know one another so when times get tough for mothers/parents there is often a lack of available support or a lack of understanding of how to help. Mothers Helpers is there to do exactly what it says in its title ie help and support mothers during times when they need help and guidance. It is a cause I truly believe in – family is the heart of our nation. I think volunteering should be part of an individuals commitment to society. For a community/society to prosper we need volunteers and to be a well rounded citizen I believe we need to give back to our community through volunteering.”
We are so fortunate to have Bridget Baker on the Management Committee of Mothers Helpers. Like the rest of us, she brings her own personal experience of Postnatal Depression but she also has an amazing background in Communications that has helped Mothers Helpers significantly. Her time, her commitment and dedication to the role is so appreciated and so valuable. It’s wonderful to have her as part of our team.
After experiencing PND and witnessing first-hand the gaps in the current health system, I was passionate about giving back to the community to help other mums avoid or minimise the type of experience that I had. The Mothers Helpers recovery course was recommended to me. Having just completed the 10 week course, which was amazing!, I knew that this organisation had the right services and information for other mums out there to fill that gap that existed. At that time Mothers Helpers had put out a call for volunteers so I jumped at the opportunity.
I feel very fortunate to be a part of this organisation. I have gained so much from volunteering for Mothers Helpers such as –giving me a greater sense of purpose that I’m helping make a difference in our community; focusing on others and not just myself has helped with my depression; I have been able to apply my professional skills to the organisations needs; I’ve learned a lot from my colleagues in the organisation; and I have also made some new friends.
I would highly recommend others to volunteer for Mothers Helpers. The organisation is run by a collection of incredibly intelligent, passionate and caring people. Every person is totally dedicated to helping mums and their families recover from (or avoid) PND. It’s a wonderfully supportive environment and I have learnt a lot from my colleagues. Plus it is amazing to be a part of something that is truly making a difference in people’s lives.
Annabelle Caesar volunteers to take care of mothers’ babies so that they can attend the PND Recovery course in St Heliers. Without her efforts, these mothers could not spend time focusing on their recovery for a few hours each week. Annabelle tells us why she volunteers…
I am a mother of 3 children aged 9, 11 and 13. I have worked in paid employment part time on and off since becoming a mother, however in October last year the contract I was working on came to its completion and we decided I should stay at home while our two eldest children started new schools.
For some time I had wanted to give back to the community so I looked online and found Mothers Helpers which appealed to me after having 3 children myself.
I registered to help and one day received an email from Kiri asking if I could look after the children while mothers attended a course at St Heliers Bay Community Centre on a Wednesday morning. This suited me so I sifted through our youngest son’s room, found the old Thomas the Tank Engine train set and took off for St Heliers.
I looked after 3 twenty month olds and a 2 two year old. Its amazing how quickly you forget the business of little people. They are quick on their stumbling feet and have the most amazingly inquisitive minds. Over the course of 10 weeks the children and I become great buddies. The satisfaction of giving something back to the community was fantastic, I was rewarded by cuddles and lots of laughs with the children. It was also great watching the mums grow and blossom in each others company.
I would recommend volunteering to anyone who has the time and wants to give a little back.
Ingrid Papau is one of our volunteers helping with childcare so that mums can focus on their 10-week Postnatal Depression Recovery Course. Without her help, mothers would struggle to spend those few precious hours discussing their needs and their journey towards recovery. Ingrid shares her story about why she chose to volunteer with Mothers Helpers…
“It feels like a lifetime ago that I was attempting to talk to the receptionist at the medical centre with tears streaming down both checks, in reality it was only eight weeks ago. With gratitude in my heart I feel far removed from the post natal anxiety and depression that covered several weeks following my daughters birth. This was not a new experience for me, I had been through a severe bout of PND six years earlier after having my son. Equipped with a tool-belt of self-care and resilience skills, PND the second time round was a shallower valley to walk down, and shorter in it’s duration. I wasn’t completely in the clear of PND when it occurred to me I wanted to help other mums struggling with this season of their lives. I came across the website for Mothers Helpers and thought what better way to take my eyes off my own suffering, than to assist other mums.
“I enquired to see if an assistant facilitator was needed in my area. There were no openings for that role however they were in need of someone to help with childcare. As long as I could shine some light into someone’s distress I wasn’t worried what role I volunteered in. Having walked through what I had previously experienced I knew I could bring hope. And hope, which is that eager expectation that good is around the corner, that we will be feeling better soon, is the light that mums need. The Ten week Mothers Helpers course provides relevant course material and support, to aid mothers experiencing stress or PND. Meeting weekly I ventured out with my baby at my side to assist the mums with theirs, hoping that they can focus better on the session they’re attending. I sometimes thought my being there was pointless and I felt I wasn’t helping much at all. As the weeks progressed the course facilitator continued to allow me space to share my own journey with PND. When I spoke I saw hope fill other mummies eyes. Seeing other woman encouraged by the fact I was feeling so much better in my recovery brought me tremendous joy! I felt privileged to have the opportunity to hear other womens’ stories and to share my own. Giving two hours of time a week was a small price to pay in comparison to the reward, fulfillment and healing I received in volunteering with Mothers Helpers.”
Karen Arada is a trainee counsellor working towards her registration with NZAC as a counsellor. Karen starting working with Mothers Helpers at the beginning of the year and though she will be finishing her last Postnatal Depression Recovery group at the end of this year, she will continue to provide one-on-one counselling for some of our mothers who have finished the course. Karen has been a wonderful member of our counselling team facilitating groups and providing support to mothers who are under considerable stress. Karen needed a placement to complete her counselling hours to work towards registration but she talks here about why she chose Mothers Helpers and what she’s got out of the experience…
“I am currently volunteering at Mothers Helpers as a group facilitator and counsellor. Mothers Helpers is an organisation which provides assistance and advice to mums who have either a diagnosis of Post-natal depression or are struggling with the many pressures of motherhood and would like to learn some tools to help manage. The organisation also tries to link mums to various other community organisations that are specific to their needs.
“It almost seemed fated that I would volunteer at Mother’s Helpers as my own personal journey led me firmly to their door. While I never received a diagnosis of post natal depression, my experience with my first baby was much harder than I could have imagined. My first son was diagnosed with reflux at about four months. While this did give us a label to the behaviours that were grinding us down; the crying, the inability to sleep without hours of rocking, the surgically precise movements of settling him in his cot without him waking again. It didn’t help with the feelings of inadequacy I felt over my inability to calm my own baby and the overwhelming feelings of complete incompetence at being a mother. When severe sleep deprivation was added into the mix, it seemed like a perfect storm of hopelessness. However, it did get better, slowly, very slowly! My son started to outgrow the reflux and so his, and then my sleep became better and I started to emerge out of the fog.
“I had decided to retrain to become a counsellor once I started to get a bit more of a handle on motherhood. I enrolled at university and I literally handed in my last assignment for my post graduate diploma ten days before giving birth to our second son. I decided to take a year off, expecting my experience to be much the same as when I had my first son, but it was completely different. This baby didn’t have reflux and would go to sleep when he was tired! All the sleeping tips and hints that I had tried and felt that I failed miserably at with my first baby, worked every time with my second. Through this experience, I was able to realise that every single baby is different and while some might follow what the book says, some do not!
“After a year, it was time for me to think about returning to my brand new profession. I was in a position in which I didn’t want full or even very much part time work but I still wanted to build my experience and start to specialise in a particular area of counselling. Mother’s Helpers seemed to tick every box for me. I am able to use my training in counselling and also my experience as a mother of two very different children. While I already had one on one counselling experience, since joining Mother’s Helpers, I have been able to develop my skills as a group facilitator and appreciate the healing that can emerge from the group dynamic. Most importantly it has allowed me to be part of our client’s journey of motherhood and towards wellness. During each session I facilitate, I am truly inspired by the strength, determination and often sheer bloody mindedness that our mothers have, that ensures they come week after week in order to develop tools and skills to assist them through their fog. When I catch a glimpse of their fog clearing, it is the most wonderful moment which is a privilege to be part of.
“Volunteering has been a really great experience. It has allowed me to develop skills and knowledge, have flexibility in my hours which I can work around my family and most importantly be a part of making a real difference in our client’s and their family’s lives.”