I'd like to introduce you to Amanda Cox aka Mad Cow , Amanda is our first Bluebird Community ambassador and here is her story:
There’s a bit of fun to be had, bouncing around to the beat of the music, fluorescent g-string leotards holding up your lycra bike shorts, yelling instructions along the lines of “hold those abdominals tight! Tighter! TIGHTER!”
It’s way more fun when your 36 week pregnant belly prohibits the view of your toes – the look on people’s faces is priceless.
It’s also a pretty great feeling, knowing your body, it’s strengths and what it is capable of doing when you first walk into the labour ward.
Beaming with excitement, and terrified as hell at the same time, and 11 days overdue I wandered in, ready to take on anything. Especially the epidural, which I think I’d requested a good five weeks earlier.
My preparedness wasn’t enough for the emergency c-section that my pregnancy culminated it. Sure, it also produced a gorgeous baby boy, who fed well and slept well and was just the cutest thing every. He was the very epitome of “good baby”.
But all I could see was how I had failed in my very first role as a mother. Giving birth; millions of women do this every year … and I had failed.
I spent the next ten or so months raising this baby, feeding him, cuddling him, reading to him, being with him. All the while I was reading, reading, reading, taking on every piece of information I could. If I couldn’t get the birth right, then I would do what I could to get the rest of it right.
I was going to be the World’s Best Mother.
Whilst I tended to the physical needs, my mind was doing its own thing. It kept reminding me how badly I had started, telling me I was useless, I couldn’t do anything right, that not only was I not a good mother, I wasn’t a mother at all. How could I be? It’s not like I actually gave birth or anything like that?
And I started to make sure this baby was raised properly. So when “they”, his “real parents” came to get him, he would be ok.
I slipped further and further into a darker place. The more I read, the more people I spoke to, the more I was aware I was doing wrong. Well, sometimes. This book said to do this, that professional told me something else, my mother-in-law told me it was my fault I had a c-section, and an aunt called me “evil”.
I was confused, conflicted and slowly losing control over … well, everything.
Although married to a chef, and living at a function venue, complete with commercial kitchen and two professional chefs, I took on the cooking of the evening meal.
I was the only thing that I could control, implicitly. It was an exact science, I followed a plan and everything worked.
It also put me in regular contact with the professional chef’s knives in the kitchens where, whilst dicing the carrots and slicing the onions, I could fantasise about slitting my wrists or cutting my throat.
I’d ponder how long it would take before I died.
Driving to and from uni, my outlet and the one thing that kept my mind active, I would contemplate the many choices I had before me; do I run into that pole, or that tree. Should I drive into a truck, or perhaps just slam the brakes on hard so the one coming up behind me could finish me off.
Oh, the possibilities were endless.
I’d have a bath, you know, to relax. Hot, bubbly, and locked in a room by myself. I’d immerse completely in water, my face submerged and the peace was welcome. I wondered how long I would have to remain under, before I was completely at peace … and who would find me.
I didn’t have “thoughts of suicide”, as the brochures suggest. I was completely overwhelmed with thoughts of dying. They consumed me, and everything I did in my day.
Two things stopped me.
The first was that my mother-in-law would be involved in the upbringing of my son.
The second was the words of my beloved grandmother, whom when I was ten, and upon hearing of the suicide of a 15 year old boy, muttered “Why don’t they just talk to someone?” To this day, I don’t know if she was talking to me or herself. But I knew I could do nothing until I spoke to someone.
I did. I visited my GP, under the pretense of a pap smear, when I burst into tears. I was fortunate to have someone so amazing as my GP, and within a day she had me seeing a psychologist, and within a week, they both had me on antidepressants.
My illness had caused me to drop all the group exercise classes and personal training clients I had. I just couldn’t summon the energy to lead a group, or a person. I missed exercise incredibly.
I realised, then, that for all the time I was feeling sad – so deeply and debilitatingly sad – I had continued to walk. Daily. Everywhere. It was the thing that I could do that wasn’t hurting myself. It was sunshine, that made the teensiest of cracks in the black. It was the vast space that made the noise of my son’s cries seem quieter. It was me out in public, so I couldn’t break down, or cry, or throw myself off a bridge.
I continued as part of my treatment for PND; counseling, meds and walking.
I had an amazing support team around me in my husband, a sister-in-law, my GP and my psychologist.
I got myself three additional sources of support; a good pair of shoes, a decent bra, and some great friends to join me.