Getting back up

“If you have made mistakes, even serious mistakes, you may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call “failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.”
— Mary Pickford

I wanted to call this post “fail” or something like it. Not long after writing about all my September goals, I was already failing to follow through on some of them. Apparently, I wasn’t ready to put in even that much effort yet.

I haven’t failed at everything. Some things I’ve done nearly every day. Some things will require a little more time and support than I thought I needed. I’m not going to change my list. I was going to, but have decided to leave it as is, to remind me. To keep holding me accountable.

So I am choosing to make another “fresh start”. And I realise I will probably do that more than once. But I now realise that that is okay.

Permalink Tuesday, 6 September, 2011 1:08 pm, by Mamma Email , 161 words, Categories: Goals ,

Spring cleaning

I’ve never really been a “spring cleaner”. I’ve often thought about it, and I like the idea, but it never seems to happen. However, it’s been a rough year, and this place needs some serious attention. By this place, I mean not just my surroundings, but me, too.

And it’s spring.

So I’m making myself a list of things to accomplish during September, springtime resolutions, so to speak. If I write it here, it makes me slightly more accountable.

Every day:

  • pray
  • drink at least two litres (water, herbal tea etc)
  • clean the kitchen (keep it functional!)
  • spend time outside (not just going to and from the car for school pickup/dropoff)
  • knit
  • brush my teeth (yes, really)
  • go to bed before midnight (aiming for earlier, but being lenient to start)

Every week (at least once per week):

  • blog something
  • do some intentional physical exercise (again, aiming for more than this, but it’s a start)
  • have a family vegetarian day
  • clear the laundry (keep it functional!)
  • attend Mass (this has been a really difficult one for me)

By the end of September (at least once):

  • walk to church with the husband and kids
  • walk to school with the kids
  • ride my bike somewhere (away from the house)
  • start to shift some leftover weight (healthily — more on this later)
  • get at least one room of the house in some sort of order

I may add more. That’s just what I could think of off the top of my head right at this moment.

So far (after one day!) I’m doing OK on the daily list.

Baby is “helping” me sort the box of papers under the desk…

Permalink Friday, 2 September, 2011 2:24 pm, by Mamma Email , 275 words, Categories: Health, Food, Bike, OCD, Goals ,

Highs, lows and plateaux

This poor, neglected blog. I keep thinking of things I want to write, but never seem to write them. Sometimes it’s because I’m doing well and have better things to do. Sometimes it’s because I’m doing badly and just don’t have the strength to string a decent post together. So here’s a bit of a glimpse.


  • I’m doing better, generally. Two steps forward, one step back, all that stuff. I’m constantly trying to keep in mind that “setbacks are a sure sign of progress” - from the lovely Yael at Postpartum Depression to Joy.
  • I’ve found support in some surprising places. Fellow PND/PPD sufferers and survivors on Twitter, friends who don’t “get it” but support me anyway, the very rare friend who does get it and trusts me enough to share their own struggles.
  • Admitting, somewhat publicly, that I’m struggling has lifted some of the pressure to appear “normal”. People either accept that I’m not able to do everything yet, or they ignore me and get on with their lives. Or they try to help. If they’re talking behind my back, then that’s their problem, not mine.
  • I’m actually entertaining the thought of riding my bike, or walking, in places that I’ve been too afraid to go. Places I used to go without worrying unduly. Places that normal people go. I have actually walked to certain closer places, not without anxiety, but it’s a start. It’s not enough, but it’s something. Even if I entertain the thought and then shrug it off, it’s there, trying to peek through.


  • I’ve regained some of the weight I lost during the first few months post-birth. Not a lot, but enough to feel like it’s not a minor fluctuation and that I’ve gone backwards.
  • I’m still trying to modify my diet because we haven’t completely solved baby’s apparent intolerance issues. Baby is doing better, but there’s still something missing. It’s a slow process. Ironically, cutting stuff out of my diet doesn’t seem to be making me lose any weight.
  • I sit, locked up, “safe” in my car for school drop-off/pick-up. I see so many other parents walking with their kids, like I used to do, and I feel incredibly guilty, helpless, powerless. Envious.
  • My bike sits in the backyard, gathering dust. The bike that took me adventuring less than 18 months ago, that helped me lose all that weight, sits neglected because I’m too afraid to ride it past the front gate.


Sometimes it feels more like two steps forward, two steps back. Treading water. Sometimes it’s too hard to see any progress. Sometimes I’m afraid to acknowledge progress, just in case I jinx it or something.

Weight fits in here, too. It’s an interesting one. I didn’t consciously try to lose weight after baby. It just happened. This is actually great, because it’s always been a struggle for me - except when I’ve had PP-OCD. With PND/PPD I went the other way.

Throughout my life, weight loss attempts have often followed a pattern of loss, plateau, loss (if I succeeded at passing the plateau at all). Plateaux would happen at particular weights, often corresponding to “milestone” numbers (10s or 100). It also seems to happen at significant weights that have been hurdles in the past. This time I barrelled through the previously hard-won milestones, but stalled at around the weight I was when I married. I was overweight then too, and had been trying to lose weight for the wedding, but didn’t get to where I wanted. A few months after my first PP-OCD baby, I was lighter — with relatively little effort — than I had been on my wedding day.

I haven’t broken that barrier yet. As I mentioned above, I’ve gone backwards. But I’m trying not to see it as a total failure — yet. It’s not exactly a plateau, but I’m trying to see it that way. I’m not “dieting”, just trying to be healthier. While breastfeeding, deliberate dieting can be a bad idea anyway. Getting back to some decent exercise will also help. I just have to find the courage.

Permalink Sunday, 31 July, 2011 4:35 pm, by Mamma Email , 678 words, Categories: Health, Food, Pregnancy, Bike, OCD ,


I’ve been reading a lot lately from other women with postnatal difficulties (anxiety, depression etc), either current or past. I was hoping that would help me feel like I’m not alone in this.

Weirdly, the main word I’ve been thinking about is “unqualified”. Usually that means something else to me, but right now I feel unqualified to claim I have PPD/PND or PPOCD. The more I think about it, the less I feel I fit in. Yes, I had PPD last time. This time, I have OCD — but I’ve always had OCD. It’s just worse right now, and there’s probably some depression thrown in too. It worsened during pregnancy, and it made an extra effort soon after the birth. However, apart from a bit of baby-specific obsessive worrying, the rest is just my usual stuff, amplified. I wasn’t “normal” before and then suddenly developed OCD once baby was in arms, or even in utero. It was already there. Circumstances just allowed the perfect storm to brew.

So now I’m not sure. I feel like I’m looking for a label (which I keep telling myself I don’t believe in, since we’re all individual and all need personalised care) just so I can feel like I belong somewhere. After all, if I don’t belong in the wider world (yet), maybe the PPD world will take me in. And then I feel like I’m being unfair to those with real PPD, the good mothers who really qualify for the support that I’m craving. That I should just accept being an outsider in both “worlds”, and just make a bigger effort to redeem myself and my failings. The guilt of not being the mother I should be is equalled by the guilt of wanting support from real sufferers of PPD.

To top it off, since I’m seeing some improvement, I feel like I missed the time I should have reached out to other PPD/PND sufferers, even if I “qualified” before. Besides, I’ve never been good at joining in a new circle. I reached out elsewhere, but it’s not the same, and apart from a wonderful few, most people really don’t get it.

So for now, I’ll just continue here, and figure it out as I go.

Permalink Monday, 2 May, 2011 11:48 pm, by Mamma Email , 372 words, Categories: Anxiety & stress, OCD ,


Let me start by saying that I am doing better. But I still have a long way to go. I know this because I’m still afraid. The thought of going to church on Easter Sunday is freaking me out. I haven’t been to a church service this year, unless it was one I “had to” go to. So far, this has included two funerals (I was paid for one of those, and the other was my grandmother). A priest has asked me to play at more Masses, at an unfamiliar church, to cover for their regular organist, and I still haven’t managed to get to my own church, let alone commit to helping with the music. I still don’t know what to tell him.

I’m agoraphobic. And claustrophobic. And a whole bunch of other phobic labels, if I really want a label.

Remember, this is the woman who rediscovered the adrenalin rush of bike riding a couple of years ago. I figured out I was pregnant again after I took longer to recover from a ride than normal. I missed my bike during the exhausted phases of pregnancy. I looked longingly at the bike paths, and envied the cyclists. Before baby was born, I was researching how old she would have to be before I could ride with her in a baby/toddler seat or a trailer.

I’ve ridden my bike once since the birth. In the back yard. The idea of riding it in public scares me more than it did when I was 25kg heavier. Driving a car stresses me out. Thinking about walking on footpaths that I used to walk on every day is anxiety-inducing. Actually doing it is terrifying. Crippling. Pathetic.

I won’t go into all the things I’m actually afraid of. That’s really not the point.

But, I’m doing better than I was. Believe it or not.

Permalink Friday, 22 April, 2011 5:47 pm, by Mamma Email , 311 words, Categories: Anxiety & stress, Bike, OCD ,

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