Mental Health

For the first time in my life I have the proper treatment for my mental health. It is utterly amazing what medication, and the right help from professionals can do. I have been medicated in the past and/or seen a psychologist and done tests, etc., but never have I felt [consistently] like this.

[side note: one of my pet peeves is when people ask me what happened to make me depressed or anxious… or tell me to be thankful for what I have… I know that sometimes, depression and/or anxiety are triggered by external events but in my case, it was/is primarily a chemical imbalance coupled with my reaction to situations, because of my nature. I know it is just ignorance but I wish that mental illness wasn’t so taboo so the general public could be more educated. SO MANY people deal with a mental illness of some kind in their lifetime. It would be so awesome if they didn’t feel wrong or alone while suffering]

Part of me can’t help but feel ripped off for the past however long of my life where I’ve struggled and struggled with depression and anxiety. It’s like a veil has been lifted from my face and I’m shocked into the realisation that this is how most other people feel all the time. Sure, I’ve had periods of my life without depressive episodes or major anxiety… but in the past month (since my psychiatric evaluation, mental health plan and consequent med dose increase) it as though I’m finally seeing in colour. Everything is clearer.

But you know what? Aside from happiness, contentment and feeling so damn greatful… the strongest emotion I’m feeling is PRIDE. Because now I can see that I coped so freaking well with that heavy veil of negativity clouding my thoughts. I am phenomenally strong. Depression, especially, is like walking through life in heavy layers of cold, soaking wet clothing with rain belting down on you – but everyone else sees a dry, warm version of you.

Depression robs you of basic motivation. Not in a ‘oh, I can’t be bothered right now’ kind of way… but in a deep-set, heavy, burdensome way that hits you out of no where. Often I would wake up with no will to do anything, I felt utterly hopeless – but I DID. Even though nothing seemed worth it. I kept going. I was a fucking brilliant mama considering the inner struggle I fought most days.

Anxiety weakens you. So alongside all of the above, I found myself doubting every action that I did make. At it’s worst I felt immobilised by fear. Anxiety attacks sure can be traumatic. Despite being mental illnesses, I went so much physically. The scariest part of anxiety attacks and suicidal ideation for me was that I partially dissociated anytime that things got too heavy.

My mind was so cruel to me. I was my own worst enemy. Every doubt and fear was fleshed out in my mind and I turned it in on myself. There was so much self-loathing.. so much pressure and expectations from myself. I think to those who had no idea, I came across as negative and self-centered. However, these thoughts are uncontrollable. Without help, it’s simply a downward spiral.

I had a bit of an epiphany yesterday when I was talking about the future with Mike. I said to him “It’s so strange, since Lucy’s birth I have this overwhelming desire to make our dreams a reality.” I have always been determined, even when depressed, so it didn’t even occur to me that my drive was altered. But here I am with what feels like an injection of ambition and strength. & again, that makes me proud, to think that despite all the chemicals in my brain robbing me of my motivation and ability to positively look forward to the future; I sure fought through it.

It is funny adjusting to not dealing with the symptoms of severe depression or generalised anxiety disorder. Who knows what the future holds, but hopefully this will be my new normal. Depression and anxiety are so familiar to me. Particularly in the past 4 years. I’m still working through some of my internal dialogue and those automatic thoughts that have been my ‘go to’ when things get hard in my life. I feel like I have got to get to fully know this ‘new’ Rachel.

I don’t like what it took for me to truly actively seek help and help myself (I may talk about it in the future). But I’m so proud that I did. I’m so proud and thankful for the people in my life who have helped me through this (especially my husband and sister). Nothing I could do could repay them.

Anyway, I’m writing this quickly to share where I am at… and hopefully to inspire others to actively seek help if they are in that dark place. Things CAN be better. Believe me, I never thought so until proven otherwise. I always said that ‘it’ (depression and/or anxiety) was “just how I am”. & you are so much stronger than you think.

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OH, & I’m 24 today! Happy birthday to me :) Waking up to little Lucy and Cammy cuddles was the best birthday pressie ever!

Lucy Violet is here!

Lucy Violet entered the world at 6:25am on the 25th of March after a 17 hour labour. She weighed a petite 6 pound 8, was 51 cm long and had a head circ of 34cm. I pushed her out in one push!

We are all in awe and in love with her! She is just beautiful and such a dream baby. Aside from a post-dural-puncture ‘headache’ (so not a headache, as those in the know would know!) & the consequent visit to theatre for an epidural blood patch, we have been doing beautifully. I am so blessed and this is such a different experience to last time!

Keeping Busy

With the hubby away every evening doing Tafe work (gaining more qualifications and endorsements for his trade), Cameron and I have been keeping busy.

Aside from the usual hum of the day, from caring for pets, to singing and reading or outdoor play, we have filled our days with new engaging activities.

We went back to our local nature centre. Last time we went there Cammy was quite a bit younger. This time it was such a more interactive experience. It’s so great to have ‘real’ experiences like this; so much more is absorbed by a toddler when they can see/smell/hear/touch things up close!

Cameron even learnt some new words (goana and wallaby amongst others) and loved the big lazy sleeping wombats and the noisy dirty pigs. We will definitely have to return one day soon.

We brought some new shelving for Cam’s playroom. Now I feel much more organised with a place for everything and everything in it’s place. The bottom two cubes on the left even have Bud’s things ready for him/her.

It has been HOT here lately too so we popped down to our closest water park to cool down the other day. Cameron really got into it this time and got soaked & played for ages.

I posted a couple of short, cute clips of Cammy being his adorable self up on my Youtube channel. I plan on doing a gender reveal video and pregnancy vlog this weekend.

Cam loves interacting with my bump & Bud.

ther excitement has been my sisters new puppy! My nephews birthday is coming up and Cam’s Aunty Vicki got a bulldog x for him. She is only 8 weeks old and very sweet.

We have still been playing with the water beads frequently but the other day I switched things up and added paint (watered down, non-toxic acrylics) and paper and invited Cam to go wild bouncing, squeezing, rolling and painting with the water beads. This was a hit!

This afternoon after Cameron’s sleep we went to the lakes armed with some bread to feed ducks. This was such a relaxing experience and we got to see some other critters (turtles, lizards, native birds, fish and an eel!) too.

Only 2 sleeps until I get to see ‘Bud’. I’m nervous and excited… I just can’t wait. Here’s to hoping time goes fast!

My Babies

*sighs* It’s so lovely to say/type/think “my babies”…

Today I am 15 weeks pregnant! Most of the more unpleasant symptoms are gone (goodbye nausea!) but I’m still always tired and the reflux has begun. These things pale in significance to the wonderful things… like my belly button starting to pop out (yes, already!) and teeny flutters below my belly button. Hi Bud, Mummy feels you!

Cameron is 21 months old! This is a busy age where I can literally witness his development daily.

New developments include: drawing lines and circles. Pointing out shapes (circle, crescent, star, diamond). Doing rolly poleys! (too cute!) and his colour sorting skills are evolving. He also expertly kicks a ball with the inside of his foot (much to Mike’s delight).

He is eating so much more. He has cut some new eye teeth and since then his appetite is crazy. He starts most days with two weetbix and loves snacking all day (cashews, berries, sultanas, crackers and apples feature heavily).

Cameron can now undress himself (shirt, shorts, nappy and all!) so I have to watch him in public! I encouraged undressing himself for bath-time and toileting so now it’s time to teach appropriateness of timing :P

Speaking of toileting, toilet learning isn’t going so great. With a combination of a busy toddler who only vaguely is interested half the time and a Mum who is equally as wishy-washy with enthusiasm, we have a recipe for little progress. We have only had a couple of potty successes. Although he enjoys the routine – running to the toilet, taking off his pants and nappy, getting up on the seat (with trains on it!) and asking for tissues… and he looks mighty cute in teeny ‘big-boy’ undies!

Next weekend my Dad is getting married so you can expect some super-cute photos of Cameron all dressed up in a mini-suit! I also have several posts in drafts that I’ll hopefully get around to finishing soon :)

Thank you for the lovely comments on my last post!

{sweetness}

Some sweetness to share:

* As I fixed myself some tea I heard Cameron yelling “down!” very cross. I came outside to see this:

Tiny Charli on the roof!

* I distracted Cameron with my digital camera so that I could talk to Mum on the phone and watched as he went over to Charlotte, aimed the camera at her and said “smile!”

* Bright masterpieces from Cam displayed ont he fridge always make me smile. He knows the colours red, yellow and blue now and tries to draw circles all the time.

* Yesterday my sister picked us up to get us out of the house and I gave Jo’lee (my niece) one of the flowers from my garden (it’s a Aunty-Rachel’s-house-ritual) and snapped this cute grin.

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I’m doing tonnes better now (regarding the Zoloft withdrawl). All the symptoms are barely there.

Thank you so much for your support and advice. It means a lot to me.

Nature and My Tot

Our herbs are going well. Our garlic has shoots and the other herbs have grown a lot. We have lavender in the middle of the big pot, surrounded by thyme, coriander, oregano and chives and there is mint in the seperate pot (it tends to take over if planted with other herbs). Cameron enjoys watering the plants with me. He likes catching the dripping water from the strawberry plant that hangs above them.

Cameron and I love going to The Daisy Hill Koala Centre and the native park that is joined to it. It’s such a lovely area with tonnes of wildlife and little walks that are the perfect length for toddler-paced adventures.

Cameron laughs when the koalas scratch themselves and he says “shh” complete with little finger-to-the-mouth action when they sleep (most of the time). We were lucky to see a kookaburra up very close who was hanging out with the koalas.

Cameron spent a lot of the time pointing at the sky spotting aeroplanes and yelling “pane!” rather than caring about the interesting wildlife. I swear he was more fussed by the dog (“wow puppyyyy!”) than the wallabies on our walks.

He does, however, say wallaby and koala now and was excited to answer his Daddy’s question about what he saw today with his attempt at “wallaby baby” (wowaby bay-bee).

Do you see it???

Mostly, I love watching him collect leaves, sticks, stones and leaves along the way, and point out ferns, vines, bark and wildlife. He loves to sit down randomly in the grass.

Tomorrow we have a less-lovely day with a doctor visit and his 18 month immunisations. Wish us luck!

Lately

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We went on a couple of trips to the petting zoo to feed/pat/brush baby farm animals. Cameron is so naturally caring and gentle. He tried to kiss the baby goats and giggled at the snuffling piglets. He loved to sit down amongst the animals and watch them closely. He’s so beautiful.

We went to my nephews Easter parade at his kindy and Cameron surprised me by wanting to eat with the bigger kids, join in with the circle song time and happily left my side to explore the entire time. He seems to really love my niece/nephews kindy and the carers.

Jo’lee, my niece, stayed with us for the rest of the day on Thursday and the night. We played with dough, had tonnes of fun outdoors with chalk, the water table and sandpit, played with the wooden blocks indoors and read some stories. The dough kept them entertained for a surprisingly long time.

I took my sister and the kids to the Koala Centre in Daisy Hill. It’s free with some koalas on display and tonnes of information and is attached to a conservation park with several nature walks. The kids loved seeing the koalas up close (or co-wawa as Jayka called them!) and Jayka found it funny seeing them scratch, sleep, climb and eat and walked away saying “co-wawa scratcha bum!”

I went back with Michael yesterday but the centre was closed so we went on one of the nature walks. Cameron randomly talked to a bug and liked finding rocks and spotting all the dogs at the BBQs around the area (“PUPPYYYY”). Mike and I spent most of the time in silence and only really spoke about how calming nature is.

I watched The Last Exorcism (I’m a fan of horror movies) and Love & Other Impossible Pursuits (very touching movie but tough emotional content). I really enjoy movies but have to be in the mood for them. I’m definitely not one of those people who can regularly re-watch movies. Even some of my most favourite movies I’ve only seen a couple of times.

We are also in the process of gradually, gently weaning Cameron from breastfeeds. He’s been doing so much better than I expected considering he has been demand fed for over 15 months. He only had one feed a couple of days in a row! Michael has also been able to get him to sleep without me or boobah. It has been, admittedly, difficult for me emotionally. But it’s all a process and it means one step closer to our family growing. I’ll give this a post of it’s own soon :)

I’m looking forward to time with family tomorrow. We’re having an Easter egg hunt at my sisters place for the little ones. We bought Cameron a toy truck with some small hollow chocolate eggs in the back. We also have a trip up to the Sunshine Coast on Monday with Michael’s family so it’s going to be a fun long weekend :)

Hope your Easter is lovely too!

Racheous <3

Cousins

Jo’lee and Cameron reading together
(Jo’lee 20.5 months, Cameron 15.5 months)

These two.

They ADORE eachother.

They squeal with delight when they first see eachother. Cameron giggles and says “Jo Jo” when he sees her house. & Jo’lee has progressed from calling Cam “Mammy” to “Tammy” to “Cammy” in high pitch.

They excitedly hug and trip over eachother in a mess of happiess before they toddle off to play.

They fight. Like siblings. We are always having to settle disputes of who had the toy first or who hurt who. Yes, already.

There is 5 months between them and it’s becoming more and more apparent as time goes on that this is no time really.

They copy eachother (both the good and the bad!) Cameron has great manners (“taaaah” and “tan-too”) thanks to Jo Jo. & Jo’lee has taken to signing “milk” and pretending to breastfeed! LOL They copy eachothers dance moves and teach eachother different things.

They glance over at eachother in the car. I love looking back to see them sharing a moment with little grins on their faces. Each must have the same or equal of whatever is happening at the time (food, drink, toy, book, etc).

They love eachother. There is a constant supply of smooches and cuddles amongst the playing and fights.

They are really different tots. Cameron is careful, sensitive, cautious, determined, bright, observant and a sweetheart. Jo’lee is firey, adventurous, independent, strong and one of the most affectionate kids you’ll come across.

Their hugs show a lot about their differences. Cameron is a sook and will wrap his whole body around you with his head on your shoulder and sit with you for as long as you like. Jo’lee, on the other hand, will damn near strangle you in a head-lock of love that is quick and fierce.

I think that is why they are attracted to eachother’s company – they compliment eachother.

I love that they may go to the same school and be in the same grade.

I love the love that they share. I love thinking ahead to the memories that they will have of a childhood together.

The games, the jokes, the pets, the endless list of “remember when”‘s.

<3 Racheous xox