Category: support networks

Beauty in Small Things: My Birth of Daisy | Guest Writer Toni Gordon

Being pregnant was pretty great for me. I was lucky enough to not get morning sickness, I stopped working at 5 months, I went to yoga, ate ice-cream, watched Netflix, lazed in a hammock and snuggled with my pup. I was such a calm pregnant person. My husband who worked away was very caring and made sure that I was as comfortable as possible from afar. He’d send me flowers, and make sure that I had everything that I needed. My doctor ensured that I had to relax, as I was “high risk” with psoriatic arthritis. I was in a moderate amount of joint pain, from my hips and lower back, but I managed because hey… women have been doing it for centuries. I was really lucky. My obstetrician seemed to be very attentive, he told me “Don’t worry, I will be there through out your journey because you are high risk” As my husband did work away, and that I was high risk, we all decided on a date in which I would be induced.

(Mistake #1)

The day before my induction date, my husband flew home. I had my bags packed and we set off for the hospital. I was pretty excited to meet Daisy. Daisy was always going to be Daisy… it was a very strong lightning bolt that hit me in 2012 which was a whole year before she was even a sparkle in my eye. The day started like expected, the tried to ripen my cervix and the doctors and nurses wore my privates like an old glove. I think that was the point where I left my dignity at the door. Anyway, I was in the zone. I had no drugs, I have the song playlists, the calming lavender mist sprays, pillows, breath mints you name it, I had it I was prepared AF for the labour. I had watched every episode of born every minute and I knew there was no turning back. 8 hours passed and I was 4cm dilated.

They warned me that I may need to have a caesarian because of the risk of infection. I was fine with that, my OB would call in every 30 minutes and I was on the happy gas. I was fine. Then, the next call, the babies heart rate was dropping with every contraction, we are prepping you for surgery… I was cool, I was prepared for any which way they were going to give me Daisy as long as she was okay. They doctor care to give me the epidural. My mother and husband nearly fainted as 3 attempts to place the needle were too much to take. But that was fine. Finally after 10 hours I was getting prepped for surgery.

They took away the happy gas and as I entered the taxi rank my OB approached me and my husband… “Look, its my wife’s sisters birthday and she would be very disappointed if I wasn’t there, I am going to put you in the hands of my associate… do you mind?” WHAT THE FUCK do you want me to say? Where do you go from there? I had been in induced labor for 10 hours, 3 botched attempts at an epidural and now my OB that said he’d be there all the way through as I was high risk, was not going to see my delivery through? FINE. Go …

The surgeon that I did have was lovely, for someone that had been called in last minute and had literally just come from having his evening run. He cracked a few jokes, made the delivery and seconds later, I had this red slippery vulnerable thing on my chest. All I could think is you need to bond with this child this is the most important time. You need to breast feed right now. All I wanted to do was vomit and pass out. I just had my belly cut open and all my organs were pushed around which feel bloody terrible. Its not painful but I will never forget that feeling. The nurses ripped down my gown and latched the baby on to my breast.

(Mistake #2)

I don’t remember much for a few hours, but I remember being back in the room and having absolutely no idea what to do. I was pretty happy and success my baby was healthy. On day 3, I began to complain of an incredibly sore wound and I could hardly walk. I was sweating and became violently ill. My wound become infected, I had a super bug MRSA. I was transferred to Fremantle hospital isolation ward. My new baby and I, stuck in a cold room and everyone who came in had to wear top to toe infectious disease gear. I was isolated. My husband was in Mandurah, he came everyday but he also had to go home. This was not part of my plan… I had been pretty open to anything until this point, I wasn’t fussed how Daisy came into this world as long as she was okay. I didn’t care if I had to stay in hospital, but as long as I got to take her home.

I started spiralling into depression, They told me it was the baby blues and I needed to rest. They suggested that my husband take my daughter home. I was mortified, there was NO WAY anyone was taking my baby away from me. They told me I needed rest I refused and told them that I didn’t trust them. A nurse finally talked me into letting Daisy go into the baby ward for a night so I could sleep, I agreed and they let me sleep. After 2 gruelling weeks stuck in that shit hole, having blood tests, X-rays, endoscopies I was finally discharged.

I had a pic line and had to carry a bum bag of antibiotics with me 24/7 for another 2 weeks. I was home though, I had a whole 5 days left before my husband was due to go back to work. He was FIFO 4/1 so I was scared shitless what the hell was I going to do? The last 5 days, I couldn’t sit back and let my husband wait in me. He was doing everything and I had to learn how to do it. Because of the fact I was on such heavy antibiotics, I stopped breastfeeding. It was a huge decision, but the added pressure of it all was too much. Yes, I felt like a failure and yes I felt super guilty but I didn’t have time to dwell on it. I was now a single mum for the next 4 weeks. I remember how the air really chilled off as soon as I was alone.

A Revelation

Four years later, chilly April mornings still bring back the daunting feeling of being abandoned. The next few weeks, alone with my newborn, a daily visit from a nurse to change my Vank (Vancomycin) alone with my thoughts and the changing of season, was the perfect recipe for deep depression to slip in. I felt so alone, I felt so silly for feeling so alone. I felt like I was weak for feeling abandoned. You may think that my feelings of abandonment was from my husband going back to work?

No, they were from my doctor. The one who said he would be there through it all because I was high risk. The one who made me fill in mental health forms because I was a fifo partner and because I had a chronic auto immune disease. It was he who abandoned me. I thought of ways that I wanted to end his career. How was a dinner more important than my health or the health of my newborn? I set up a meeting. He apologised for what had happened. It wasn’t at all sufficient. But it woke me up. I realised, that there was not anyone that was going to make me feel better, but myself. I realised that my child (thank the universe) was 100% healthy and that I had to make sure that this child never ever felt abandoned or that she was a burden. It was hard, I never knew how hard being a parent could be. I was one of those women who thought that being a mum was an easy way out and a way to not work!

Yep. I was one of those. Well, there isn’t a man alive that I respect more than I do a mum. We do the best that we can with what we have with the absolute bear minimum, which is primal organic love. I could never have thought that I would be where I am now, with clear vision and goals, without have being a mother. Before being a mother, I was flippant and fickle. I swayed with the wind and was as shallow as a spill of milk. I may still be flippant and go with the flow, but there are things I will never do again and one thing I know I will never give up on and that is Daisy. Being her mother has taught me how to be patient, and to realise that things grown with time. I have also realised that the things you say today will not be forgotten tomorrow. I wish that I had some incredible thing to end with, but I don’t. I just want to say, the love that motherhood has given me is closely followed by the love I have got from fellow Mothers since.

Toni Gordon is a social media marketing & content creator. She started Left Coast Australia to showcase the best of the West Coasts people, places and products. If you would like your brand to stand out with video content that show the authentic you, get in touch.
Visit us: www.leftcoastaustralia.com
Or Email: Toni@LeftCoastAustralia.com

What to Do When You Suspect Your Loved One Is Struggling with Addiction | Guest Writer Bethany Hatton

Addiction

Addiction is a word thrown around a lot these days. People will say how “addicting” their new favorite Netflix series is, or how they are a “chocoholic.” For those whose loved ones have struggled with drugs and alcohol, addiction is a very serious matter. When someone you love battles an addiction, it’s almost like they’ve become a different person, and the damage done to families can be devastating. The best way to beat addiction is to recognize the signs and get help as soon as possible. Here are a few steps you can take if you believe that your loved one might be an addict.

Recognizing Signs of Addiction

The line that separates addiction from casual usage is perilously thin. Substances that are more or less socially acceptable, such as alcohol, can be seemingly harmless at first. By the time you realize that a loved one has substance abuse issues, it’s already a major problem. But how do you catch addiction before the situation becomes dire?

There are a few signs that you can look for, and if you spot a few of these occurring simultaneously, it often points to a loved one having an unhealthy dependence on a substance. Drugs that are highly illegal such as heroine or methamphetamines are usually taken in secret. Signs that a loved one may be using an illegal drug might include withdrawal, repeatedly poor judgement, or financial problems. If a loved one openly uses a substance such as alcohol, you also may notice that they have an increasing tolerance and are therefore drinking more frequently.

Staging an Intervention

Once you are sure that there is a problem, you need to take some sort of action. If you catch addiction fairly early, you can try holding an intervention on your own. However, when the addiction has gotten out of hand, you may have to take more immediate action—especially when the life of your loved one is at risk.

There are many ways to go about staging an intervention. Many families choose to do it together. It can be difficult to express concern with a loved one on your own, and having more people there in the room can help you discuss the underlying problem and work more efficiently toward a solution. It’s hard to say how a loved one will receive an intervention. There may be denial, hurtful words, and heated moments. But it’s important to keep a safe and open environment for everyone to keep the intervention focused on love, not accusations.

Seeking Treatment

Usually, it’s not enough to simply address that addiction is a problem. The next step usually comes in the form of treatment, be it a traditional 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous or another religious-based recovery program. There is no one correct way to go about addiction treatments. Sometimes people attend retreat-style rehab clinics, and other times individuals will commit themselves to holistic therapy to address the underlying issues of addiction. How you proceed depends entirely on the needs of your loved one, in order to give them the best chance of recovery.

The Healing Process

Once a loved one begins treatment for their addiction, the damage does not immediately go away. Oftentimes, addiction leaves a trail of wreckage in its wake, and the friends and family of the loved one are left picking up the pieces. Once an intervention occurs and treatment is underway, the healing process begins. Damaged relationships will need to be mended, and trust will have to be reestablished over time. In these instances, it takes effort on both sides to really allow the healing process to take hold.

It takes courage to recognize and then confront addiction. One of the hardest things to do in life is watch someone close to your heart fall into addiction’s treacherous trap. While addiction can damage relationships, there’s always a way for love to enter back into your life and mend the bridges between loved ones.

Bethany Hatton, a retired librarian with 32 years of experience, created PreventAddiction.info after her oldest grandson became addicted to opioids. Using the research skills she honed during her work as a librarian, she dedicated herself to searching the internet to find the most reputable, reliable information to share on her site. Though she discovered there is no guaranteed way to prevent addiction; she was able to find many helpful resources that can keep the public up to date on the latest prevention, addiction, and recovery information.

It’s time to talk about Mental Health | Guest Writer Kym Woolcott

Looking at these two photos side by side is really an eye opener! The left photo was taken in September, 2012, and the right was taken a few weeks ago, so approximately 5.5 years difference, but that’s not all. The girl on the left and the girl on the right are 35 kilos and four dress sizes apart. The left was a smoking, regular drinking, anti-depressant taking, confident, outgoing, happy person, even though she’d only lost her brother a couple of months prior. The right is a non-smoker, occasional drinker, medication free, often quiet, withdrawn, anxious mum, even though she physically looks her best ever. This is Mental Health!

Mental Health Does Not Discriminate

This is what mental health has done to me and my body. I am EXTREMELY proud of my body and it’s capabilities, and I’m certainly trying my best to be the most positive person I can be, not to mention I couldn’t be happier that I kicked my cigarette smoking habit, BUT I wouldn’t be this size if my mind was healthy. I get many, many compliments regarding my weight loss, which I love and appreciate, and without them I wouldn’t be able to share this with such ease, because its important, and everyone should read it.

Last year was probably the rockiest year for me. In July, a young man was killed not far from my home. He and I were friends years ago, and spent considerable time together, before drifting apart when I moved out of Mandurah in 2008. He was an incredible person, and my heart aches when I think of the love he left behind.

This man’s death was a major trigger for me. He passed away on the 8th July, two days before the anniversary of my late brother, Ben’s death on the 10th July. I distinctly remember walking past the TV set on my way out to a family dinner when his face appeared and stopped me in my tracks. I’m generally very open about the fact that my brother took his own life, but I rarely go into details, and I’m not going to now, however I will be as honest as I can about this, because, as I said, it’s important.

When I learned of my friend’s death, I began experiencing all the stages of grief for Ben’s death from the beginning, some I hadn’t yet experienced. It began with denial. Did he really mean to do it? What if it was an accident?

Then, pain and guilt. Why did he do this? Was there something I could have done differently? Did I contribute to his death? And, my lowest point, anger. This one took me a long time to come to terms with, and it took a heart to heart with my mum, with lots of tears, to verbalise WHY I was so angry, which was something I couldn’t put together in my head until that moment.

Ben and my friend were the same age, well had Ben still been alive they would have been. My friend left behind two children, and had his life taken. Ben took his own. It was so hard to come to terms with, and even admit to myself that this is what I was angry about. I thought I was angry at everyone else, and I took it out on them regularly, but I was angry at Ben. And it was literally eating me up.

Did I think Ben was selfish? Absolutely not. I never would. He was dealing with inner demons that, to this day, I will never understand. But for him to do what he did to himself has always shown tremendous strength. Do I wish he was still here? Absolutely, but I would never wish someone stay alive for my benefit. I miss him. Every. Single. Day. And will continue to for the rest of my life, but I WILL make him proud.

Some of the Effects of Mental Health

The three weeks following my friend’s death were the worst of it all. I hardly ate and lost 13kgs, almost broke up my family and experienced many disgusting thoughts. I experienced a mixture of both the anger and depression stages of grief for many months following.

My mental health was, is, affected by the changes my body has experienced. I have loose skin where I’ve never had it before. I was starting to hate the person I saw in my reflection. She was like a stranger. And for a long time I felt like she was a shell of who I once was; a carefree, happy person.

So, not only was my mental health affecting my appearance, my appearance was affecting my mental health, and I was literally going around in circles. Where I once stood on the scales and hated watching the numbers continue to go up out of my control, I was now watching the numbers drop, and I felt like there was nothing I could do to stop it. I wasn’t hungry, so I couldn’t force myself to eat, as much as everyone around me tried to make me feel like I should (which actually made me want to eat even less). It was something that had to be adjusted to in my own time.

I received comments like “you’re being silly”, “you’ve become obsessed” and “you’re loosing too much weight” – none of which were helpful in the slightest. What would have been helpful would have been to have someone sit next to me, and truly listen to what was going on in my head. I felt that the people who were supposed to love me the most in the world were making no effort to comfort oeven understand me, so why should I burden anyone else with the information? I closed up, and put on a front so noone could figure out what was going on. I put my weight loss down to clean eating, and people believed me.

I was angry, stubborn, and hard. I hardly smiled, or laughed. Or, when I did, it was faked. Hardly anyone knew the truth regarding what I was dealing with internally, and some who did know treated me like my feelings weren’t justified or valued. I knew this was something I was going to have to want and push myself to get through on my own, so I decided 2018 was the time to do that.

Now is the time to discuss it!

I started to love my body, and remind myself everything my body had achieved. My body had carried my child for 41 weeks. My body recovered from a c-section that birthed that child. It has produced breast milk to nourish that child for two years and three months, and counting. It has recovered from illnesses, surgeries, injuries and beatings. It has stood back up every time life has knocked it down, and I knew now wasn’t going to be the time it held me there. I had a daughter and a boyfriend, my own little family, that I needed to make myself healthy again for – beginning with my mind, and following through with my body.

Now, I’m going through what is called the upward turn stage of grief, and boy I’m so glad I’ve made it to this one. I wasn’t too sure I’d get through those months, but I did thanks to the amazing people I surround myself with daily. I spent way too long receiving comments like “you look great” and responding with an ungrateful “thanks”, because I knew in myself that I didn’t deserve praise. I decided, when I was ready, that I needed to be honest about this.

While my diet is a hell of a lot better than it was 8 months ago, my mind isn’t, so it’s not fair to put my weight loss down to a change of diet, which is what I was palming it off as previously. But if you’ve read this far, now you know the truth, too. It’s important to look after our vessel, but let’s not forget to cherish the mind and soul inside it. I will never stop thanking the amazing people who stood by me during my lowest moments, who listened to me dribble, watched me stumble and fall, and who were always there to pick me up. You know who you are.

Please, please, look after you. You are important. You are incredible. And the world deserves you. Please know there is always someone who will listen, even if you don’t make any sense – trust me, I know. And regardless of what size is stated on the tag of your clothes, it does not equal your worth. You are beautiful, and perfect, just the way you are.

Kym xx