When is the right time to tell your story? I’ve been asking myself this for a long time and now is the time.
This is the REAL story behind The Doors of Berry. Today is my daughter’s 4th Birthday, 10 days after her birth The Doors of Berry began. So soon after my first child you ask? Yes, absolutely so soon after her birth. But within 10 days of having her my life had changed and not necessarily for the better. What I thought would be motherhood was anything but.
As I sit here writing this I am here with a very different version of myself. More confident, more at peace, a better mindset and the ability to give to others.
Its been nearly 5 years since my husband and I planned a trip to Europe where we booked 10 days in Paris and planned to fall pregnant. Paris is the city of love and it worked. We were flying home not as 2 but as 3. Sounds like a story of a movie, right? What an amazing way to start a family.
We were very prepared for parenthood (we thought). Pushing the pram around the house practising how we would walk into town for coffee never knowing that a dark cloud would follow me once our baby was here.
The day finally came when we packed our things and headed to the hospital for a very unexpected traumatic birth. After all that, there I was with my new little girl. What was I supposed to feel? Overwhelming love and joy like a movie?
Over the next few days I kept searching for that feeling but it didn’t come. I felt very unconnected to this tiny human who I was supposed to look after and keep alive.
Once we all came home I discovered breastfeeding was worse than the birth. Surely this will get easier? Will I ever leave my house again?
So, this was motherhood? Instead of being a beautiful mountain to climb in a new way of life I was realising it was a very deep dark hole I would have to climb out of if I was going to survive it.
My weekly outing was breastfeeding clinic where a room full of women were struggling and not much joy was being experienced. We were collectively encouraged to take Motilium, a drug to help bring in more milk and supposedly make breastfeeding easier.
Even if this drug promised to improve my situation with no side effects explained to me I could not have prepared myself for a new level of all things terrible that was about to enter our home. One side effect is Psychosis which is more horrible than anything else I have ever endured. In this time s beautiful friend made the link when she knew something wasn’t right with me. I was scared to be alone, I was scared of the night. My anxiety would build around 4:30 pm knowing that night was near. The thoughts that entered my head were not of a joyous mother full of love but of all kinds of visions involving my new daughter and things that could harm her.
When I would go to sleep I would ask my husband to hold me tight as I didn’t know if I or my daughter would be there in the morning. I would yearn to hear that first morning cry to know I didn’t do anything during the night to our precious girl. If I didn’t hear her I would ask my husband to go in.
Every time I would use a knife I was mindful in that moment of my struggle with my thoughts.
I’ve never prayed so much to God to help me escape this darkness. After so much desperation, my prayers were answered. God sent an angel into my life at my next follow up appointment with one of the nurses. I was asked to fill out a form where most questions were easy: Am I supported? More than anyone else I know. Am I in a loving relationship? To the sweetest man of earth. Do I have people I can talk to? A beautiful church community and deep long-standing friendships. Last Question: Have you thought about suicide? I couldn’t answer. I knew the answer but to write it down made it very real. How could a mother feel this way? She has just been given a precious gift in a child but she wants to leave it all behind? I burst into tears and the angel nurse handled the next moments so perfectly. I knew Id fallen into the right arms for help and a little light was way up ahead on this journey.
From this I got an appointment with a phycologist who I was scared to see. If I tell her the truth about my thoughts and feelings would she take my baby off me? But I found the opposite, after each appointment I was encouraged and uplifted that I was doing a great job and I can over come this.
In all this struggle something beautiful bloomed. It actually saved my life to be honest. While struggling with breastfeeding for 16 hours a day in our lounge room, I couldn’t help but think how our bespoke fireplace needed a Wreath as Christmas was nearing. I started looking for one and couldn’t find one for an Australian home. In this moment My reality was my world was falling apart quickly, I was experiencing mental health on an extreme level, I was unable to achieve daily tasks and felt like I was losing the old me. I needed something and I needed it fast. Everything I knew before was gone and I needed a goal I could achieve, control and stay focused on while my world around me fell apart.
So, within 10 days of giving birth The Doors of Berry was created. Too soon for many but for me it was a perfect life vest to keep my head above water while I continued to get help.
So, I told my husband: ‘I am going to start this business’ (classic Post Natal Depression behaviour) but I had entered survival mode and this is what I held onto.
I was overwhelmed by the wonderful collection of women who loved what I did. When I would get an order, it would get me out of the house, up to the post office and into the sunshine which was very therapeutic for my mental health.
Especially the women of Whyalla, South Australia. You will never know the part you played in me getting better. I can never thank you all enough but you will be very close to my heart forever.
I’ve learnt more about myself in running this business than ever before. My business has held me up when I could not stand.
The woman I am today was a dream to me back then. My new reality which was motherhood was a massive challenge to overcome but it has actually changed my life for the better. I am stronger and now know how tough I am. I am less judgemental and more encouraging of others. I see amazing things in people before they can see it in themselves. I am a better mother and an amazing example to my daughter of resilience and strength, two qualities I wish I always had but didn’t realise the road I would have to travel to get them. One day I will tell my daughter this story of how she taught me to be a mother and so much more than that.
Now, on the other side of PND I am so passionate to tell others that its not your fault, there is no space for guilt and you are definitely not alone. There is so much help out there and yes you do deserve it and the right to be happy and enjoy motherhood which is a gift to be cherished. If you’re reading this and know this story has been written to encourage you please reach out. RUok? Please tell yourself the truth and know your dream life is worth the fight against PND.
My Earth Mama T-Shirt was bought by my beautiful friend who made the link with Motilium and Psychosis. She believed in me through my entire journey of PND and still to this day.
Earth Mama T-Shirts are produced by www.childrenofthetribe.com and support PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia – 1300 726 306 www.panda.org.au) The message behind my Earth Mama T-Shirt is to focus on the positivity of the mother and child connection. 10% of every T-Shirt sale is donated to PANDA, to help them in their mission to support new parents and families struggling with their emotional well-being at this life changing time.