Occasional care – why it’s so important

Occasional care is important!

If you’ve been reading for a while, you will know that I had post-natal depression (PND) following the birth of both my kids. I wasn’t coping. Little things like insisting my 5 day old baby had to have a photo with Santa for his first Christmas (he was born on 18th December), were clear signs that I wasn’t coping.

I was very lucky with my family support in many ways, however there were times when I needed a break and my family weren’t available. So, I turned to child care.

When the boys were over 1 year old, they were in Family Day Care FDC) 2 days a week, but before that, and even after that if I needed it on the days when they weren’t in FDC, I used Occasional Care in different forms.

I used the occasional care at the gym so I could go to a class, and also my church would put trips on, such as going Christmas shopping, and would look after the kids. There was also an awesome Occasional Care facility that I could use.

This was especially important following the birth of my second son when I ended up in hospital for PND. The boys Dad made use of this.

I was saddend to discover that Occasional Care funding was being cut. There are a huge number of Mums who have PND, and much of this is to do with the lack of support. Occasional Care is an invaluable resource for Mums with PND. It is a cheap way for the government to support these Mums.

The other advantage of occasional care is just that – it IS occasional. With other forms of child care you have to book in to set days and commit to that time frame. With occasional care, I was able to ring up and book the boys in when I had a doctors appointment or some other activity where I really couldn’t take the boys with me.

Occasional care is something that is definitely worth saving.

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Depression – being strong too long?

Depression - not just being strong too long

There is a quote that I’ve seen on Facebook quite a bit about depression. It goes something like this:

“Depression is not a sign of weakness, it is just a sign that we have been strong for too long.”

Now, part of me agrees with this, the other part doesn’t. (I don’t know who started this quote, if you know, please tell me.)

I don’t think it’s that simple. As someone who has been diagnosed twice with Post Natal Depression (PND) and Ante Natal Depression AND) once, I really don’t think it’s that simple. After all, if it was that simple, then medication wouldn’t be needed, just to admit that you need help and accept it.

Unfortunately, dealing with depression is not that simple. There are so many things that people to do get better, and for some, depression is a chronic state that is with them for life. For some, they need medication, others need counselling, others need practical help around the home or a break from the kids. But for most women I have spoken to, it’s a mixture of all these, and sometimes more.

Treating depression is not a “one size fits all” quick fix, unfortunately. What worked for me may not work for you. And so saying that depression is simply that you’ve been strong too long is putting things way to simply, in my mind. There are times when this is the case, but there are other factors involved as well.

I’m just rambling on this, but I don’t know if I’m making sense. I’ve been musing about this for a while and I’m not sure I’ve got my thoughts out as well as I wanted. So, if this doesn’t make sense, I apologise.


Hiding depression

It is easy to hide PND

I was first diagnosed with post-natal depression when my eldest was 3 months old. I remember going to a meeting of my ABA (Australian Breastfeeding Association) group and telling one of the counsellors I had been diagnosed with PND, and she was surprised. I realised how good I was at hiding how I was really feeling.

For two hours a week, I would be showered and dressed and plaster a smile on my face so everyone thought I was doing really well and coping with my life as a new mother. I would then go home and just sit, not wanting to do anything and feeling empty inside.

As a new Mum, it was easy to come up with excuses not to go out or talk to people. My Maternal and Child Health Nurse knew I had PND long before I was officially diagnosed and saw me every week. I didn’t know this was odd, until I had my second child and got confused when I wasn’t seeing the MCN every week. To the untrained eye, however, I was able to hide my depression.

For me, depression wasn’t feeling sad or crying all the time. For me, it was a lack of feeling. I couldn’t feel anything for my baby, my husband, housework, or anything else. I didn’t feel happy, or sad, or anything. I knew the things I had to say and smiled whenever people looked at my gorgeous baby and made comments like “You must be so happy”. In general, the socially acceptable behaviour of a new Mum with a gorgeous baby.

By the time I was diagnosed, I was ready to accept the diagnosis and then tell people. So many people were surprised, even many family members. They hadn’t realised I wasn’t coping, mostly because I hadn’t said anything.

Someone once commented that PND is often called the “smiling depression” as Mums are good at smiling in at all the right times.

With 1 in 7 new Mums suffering PND, just remember that a new Mum may look OK, but may be falling apart inside.

Don’t be afraid of medication

Don't be afraid of medication

One in seven new Mums will suffer Post Natal Depression*, or PND, and I am one of them. Unfortunately, I had it after the birth of both of my children.

PND is a hard thing to live with and there are many causes and many strategies to help Mums get well again.

One of the most common treatments is medication. Many new Mums see that taking medication is a sign of weakness and try to find other methods of coping. I completely understand that feeling. Even now there are times when depression kicks in and I am reluctant to see the doctor and be put back on medication.

Think about it, if you have a broken leg, you will take pain killers, especially just after it has happened and the pain is really bad. Even if you have a headache or a cold, most of us will reach for the medicine cabinet. It is difficult to understand, sometimes, why mental illness is any different.

Don’t be afraid of medication. If you are breastfeeding, there are drugs you can take that are safe (I breastfed both my children until well after their first birthday’s and was on medication for PND). Your GP will be able to advise you of the best medication for you, and they will be able to work with you to find the one that works best. There is no “one size fits all” approach to treating depression and if you or someone you know has it, you will need to find what works for you. If your doctor recommends medication, don’t be afraid of it.

With me, I found the medication helped get my mood back up to a level where I could start using other strategies to help get well.

If you would like more information on PND, visit the PaNDa website. They have some great fact sheets about it, including strategies to help support mothers with PND.

*source: PaNDa