Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The long-haul battle

There is something to be said for the short term battle. Short and hard, but over in a flash. The flu maybe. Giving birth. A disagreement with a friend or colleague. An overtired child. Resisting that mouth watering dessert, or that extra piece of cheesy pizza. They mark our everyday lives. They are like little molehills we stumble on, but overcome pretty quickly and easily.
And then there are the long-haul battles. Cancer, maybe. A broken relationship. An eating disorder. The loss of a loved one. The impossibility to conceive. Unfaithfulness. And the list goes on.
My long-haul battle is post natal depression and anxiety. My second child is now 16 months old and I’m not free of it. Six months ago I cut down on my anti-depressants and was coping really well. I felt amazing and on top of the world. But I didn’t have emotions and couldn’t cry. So I cut down and felt pretty confident that pretty soon I’d be finished with them.
I don’t know what happened. But very slowly, anxieties, anger, bitterness, impatience, curled their ugly heads out and showed up in my life once again. It got to the point where the person I love the most on this earth, my dear husband, and I had a big disagreement and I ended up saying, “But I can’t do any more than I’m doing, I still have depression!”. Life had just become too much. I’d taken on too many responsibilities and I was drowning. This admission hit us both very hard. Honestly, my husband deserves a medal for everything my PND has put him through (please note I didn’t say “I put him through”). He wants to be free of it just as much as I do. But we’re not. And we’re in this together, for better or for worse.
So I had two choices before me:  go back to the doctor and put the meds back up again, or look at my activities and cut down. I chose the latter. I’ve asked for time off from my responsibilities at church. I still have too much though, but it’s tricky knowing what to cut out next. Everything I do, I do because I love and I believe in it, or believe it is my duty to do it. Being proactive about making these changes is one side of the coin.
On the other side is accepting the fact that I am not healed from PND. I am still a control freak. I don’t burst out laughing like I used to. I’m tired. I’m easily irritated. I love my kids to the ends of the earth and back, but some days I wish I could just go away for a very long holiday without them. I snap at my family. I get angry. And I sigh… a lot.

I look at my dear sweet husband and kids and I wish and pray with all my heart to become a soft, loving wife and mother. I want my beaming smile back. I want the bursts of laughter. I want to want to smell flowers and sit still on the beach. My mountain today is to accept the notion that I still suffer from PND, to capture it and go with the flow. I am already so much better. I have come such a long way. God carried me through. He is carrying me still. I’m in this for the long-haul. My husband is in this with me for the long-haul.

So to finish, I’d like to pay a tribute to all the husbands and wives who live with, stand by, support and love their partner with depression. Who climb the hills and mountains with us, who pull us out of our black holes, who accept us and whisper “I love you, just the way you are”.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

How do I know I'm loved?

How do I know I'm loved? How do you know you're loved? I mean, really know, from the depth of your being, from somewhere you can't even really name?

This is something I've been pondering a lot lately. First of all because the past year has been a tough year marriage wise. I mean, let's face it. When I got married, it was for better and for worse. But I had no idea what the worse could look like. I don't think I even believed the worse would actually happen to ME. Am I the only one who was so naive? So as we hit some bumps, and then some pretty big holes, I wasn't ready. It hurt, and I wanted to run. But I didn't. Why? Why didn't I leave the house, get into the car and drive away? LOVE. Because I love my husband. I love him with all of my being. He's inside every single skin pore and body cell. I became one with him when I agreed to marry him. For better and for worse. I am dedicated to the love I have for him. And to be honest, he's not always loveable, just like I'm definately not always loveable (PMS, anyone??), but I love him. Not only that, I choose to love him. Every day. Every hour. Every minute. And so when my whole being is aching to run away from the hurt, from the argument, from the tears, I don't. I open the bedroom door (or rather I don't lock it so that he can come in when he's ready), I try not to lie down in a solid ball with my back to him, but lie on my back or facing him. I choose to talk to him with an open heart. Yes, it hurts. Sometimes a lot. And it would probably be a lot easier to walk away or not talk things over... for now. But oh the sweet reward when misunderstandings are explained, when sorries are said and forgiveness is offered! I have seen my love grow deeper than I ever thought was possible.

I know I'm loved because my husband is still by my side. Despite my mistakes, despite sickness (and believe me Post Natal Depression is uuuuugly), despite all my imperfections (did someone say too stressed? control-freak? over spender?). He loves me. And I see reflected in his forgiveness and in his love, the love that God my Father has for me and for every single one of us.

My God loves me. Just as I am. He doesn't even have to choose to love me. He just does. Isn't that amazing? But last night, someone asked "How do you know God loves you?". I stayed stuck on that one all evening, and all night and it inspired me to write to you today. How do you know God loves you? I know God loves me because he pulled me back from the depths of depression twice. I know God loves me because when all I wanted to do was die, I could just about physically feel God's hand on my shoulder, holding me back. I know God loves me because he has sent angels in disguise to help me every single time I needed it. I know God loves me because he has blessed me with an amazing (but very human) husband and two gorgeous (but very human) children. I know God loves me because I was lucky enough to grow up with Christian parents who showed me God's love. Who didn't favor one child over another, who have stayed together for better and for worse. Who modeled God's love in their lives.

My God loves you. Just as you are. How do you know you are loved? By others, and by God? Take some time to think about it. And let me know if you have a good way of telling others about God's love for them. Because I struggle with that one.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Time out, please!

These days, my body and mind are screaming "Time out, please!". I have reached that point where I haven't had any time to myself in a very long time. It's been so long that I can't even remember when the last time was. I really don't like reaching this point as it usually means a grumpy mummy/wife/person for everyone around and concerned. My powers of self-control are highly active, but they too will run out pretty soon.

I'm doing an amazing parenting course called Incredible Years. We're a great group and there's lots of talking and sharing and ideas on all sorts. However, a few weeks ago, the facilitators asked us to think about how we, as parents, recharge our batteries. There was silence. Then a few ideas here and there, but the list was pretty short. Wow. Reality hit home. When it comes to the ones we love, mothers (and fathers) have a tendency to give constantly and to put loved ones first, and we forget that we too need to refuel.

One of the biggest obstacle to Mummy time is our husband/wife/partner. It goes without saying that without their help and support, time out just ain't going to happen. My husband and I have this agreement that Saturday mornings are mine to do whatever I please and Saturday afternoons are his. Sunday is family time. This was working quite well until I started a new job and sometimes have to work weekends. Since then, our carefully laid out plan has gone with the wind (and boy has it been windy in Wellington lately), and we somehow need to put it back in place.

So, here are some ideas for Mummy time, and I hope they inspire you to take time out for yourself.




i am writing this post from a local cafe with wireless access. I figured if I went home, then the kids and the to-do list would interfere with my blogging time once again. Nope, not this time I thought. So I stopped on my way home from work to write to you, dear readers, and I look forward to reading your views and thoughts on MUMMY TIME OUT ;-p.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Food, Glorious Food!

The other day, I turned my nose to the most exquisite looking chocolate eclair! It looked perfectly puffy, oozing with cream and laced with chocolate sauce... Oh torture! I grabbed my take-away cappuccino and high-tailed it out of the newly opened Titahi Bay Cafe 236. I however highly recommend this new family held cafe as all their food looks scrumptious and their coffees rock.

Ah Food, Glorious Food! On Tuesday the 26th February 2013, my scales indicated without a doubt that I had reached my goal. I had lost 20kgs! I jumped for joy and would have climbed on my roof to shout it to all the neighbours if our roof wasn't so high. I'm onto phase 3 of my diet: stabilisation!

I can now eat a little cheese every day...

I can enjoy one fruit a day... Oh the taste of that mango with my yogurt!!!

I can very slowly chew 2 slices of wholemeal bread a day (bread was my biggest love in life before I met my husband and had kids by the way)...

I can have carbs one meal a week. And... I am allowed one CELEBRATION meal a week! Don't you love that name? Let's just celebrate food! For my first celebration meal I was out at a local pub with some girlfriends and I chose a good ol' burger and fries!

I enjoyed it and battled with guilt at the same time. Ha ha. I only ate about two thirds of what was on my plate though. Then I ordered dessert - because I could and only just managed half. I was so full and it was soooooo sweet (remember I haven't had any sugar since October). But hey, it felt good to be able to order dessert.

Last week, we had pizza for my celebration meal. I love pizza. My bread-maker takes care of the dough, then you can just about put anything on it! So much healthier than bought pizza, and my daughter absolutely loves helping.

I so enjoyed myself that night and we had raspberry ice-cream for dessert. My Grandma's recipe. It is THE MOST DELICIOUS ice cream ever! And I'm not too sure I want to share it. If enough of you beg for it, maybe it will be in my next post ;-p.

So hey, let's celebrate good food. Let's savour every single mouthful. Let's think about all the flavours tickling our taste buds.

Oh and by the way, I'm curious... If you hadn't had cheese, carbs, fruit or sugar for the past 5 months, what would your celebration meal be (you can have 1 entree, 1 main and 1 dessert, all in restaurant proportions)? Looking forward to hearing from ya! x

Friday, February 22, 2013

The elusive 1 kg

I have been on the diet journey since mid October 2012. That's not very long ago, even if some days it seems likes eons ago. Since then, I have lost 19kgs. And I've been stuck there for the past week. Why can't I lose this last @#$% kilo??? I will win though, of that I am certain.

Hey, I managed to lose 19kgs. Me, Ann, who was mostly always overweight. Who LOVES food with a Passion. Who doesn't remember places because of their beauty - but because of this nice cafe, or that delicious restaurant.

That's me, at this great cafe in Nelson a few weeks ago. I had a delicious chicken salad. The chef was happy not to crumb the chicken so that I could have it. I must say, every single cafe and restaurant I've been to has been extremely accommodating.

This morning, my dear other half said, "Good morning my slender wife". I thought he must be talking to someone else. Me? Slender? You gotta be kidding! And yet, I can now easily fit a size 12. I guess what I'm trying to say is that even though I've dropped 3 sizes and lost all that weight, I still think of myself as overweight most of the time. So the other day, as I was about to pull up these gorgeous size 12 trousers, I thought, "OK Ann, brace yourself, you're gonna get stuck half way up." I didn't. They fit fine and were even almost too big. And I just looked at myself, bewildered.

So I've been wondering. Am I so conditioned to demean myself that even with proof before my own eyes, I have doubts? How did this happen? I guess it's just many many years of trying to accept myself as I was, of making do, of being disappointed when something didn't fit. And yet I grew up with the knowledge that God loves me, that He accepts me the way I am, that it doesn't matter what I look like. See, I wish I could say that I loved my body as much before as I do now. But the absolute truth is, no I don't. I'm being very honest with you here, dear reader, and with myself. And I'm definitely not saying that either way is right or wrong. And what's the BIG deal anyway, you might ask?

I guess more than anything, losing weight has made me feel so much better physically: I'm less tired (I have more energy than my super fit husband now, ha ha), I'm more energetic, my mood is much better, I don't have sugar highs and lows, and I feel so much more confident and strong.

You know what? If I can do this kind of diet, you can too, if you want to. I was lying to myself for a long time and finding lots of excuses not to try and lose weight. But at the end of the day, I just wanted to be fit and healthy for my kids. I want their Mum to stick around for as long as possible, and I wanted to be able to keep up with them.

Has it been difficult losing 19 kgs in 5 months? YES! But, it was way easier than I ever anticipated. My dear husband even ate chocolate and home-made ice cream next to me in the evenings - and I resisted.

Because there was no way I was going to fail this challenge! And the cool thing is that with the Dukan Diet, you can actually eat as much as you like, just not of everything. So I'm never really hungry. Sometimes a bit bored by the same old same old though. As I said, I LOVE food. So I put my passion for cooking and my creativity at the service of my diet and created lots of yummy recipes that are not in Dr Dukan's book.

Anyway, that's me for tonight. Women rock. We are so much stronger than we often give ourselves credit for. Go for your dreams, reach for your goals and don't let self doubt and years of conditioning stop you.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What defines me?

I sat down with a hot mug of coffee 45 minutes ago to write this post. Then the phone rang, and it rang again. Now the coffee's finished but the baby is still sleeping so here's to hoping he stays asleep long enough for me to finish what I have to share today ;-p.

I have always been overweight. As far back as I can remember, and as photos can testify, I have never been the pretty and slim kind of girl. I like food. No, scrap that, I LOVE food. I love cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. I love showing my love for others by cooking for them. It's a hobby, it's a love affair.

And so I have never dieted. Oh, my Mum - bless you Mummy! - tried to get me to diet and lose weight when I was young, but I just wasn't interested. I hated my body, often with a passion, but I loved food more. Food was also my comfort in a world where I often felt alone and lost. Yes, I turned to food to try and heal the pain inside. Guess what? It never really worked! All it did was make me feel guilty because yet again, I'd caved in.

In my twenties I came to accept myself as I was a lot more, and my body didn't bother me as much. It was kind of frustrating not being able to find lovely clothes that I looked lovely in easily though. When I met my husband he fell in love with me for my heart, and my eyes. He thought I was cute, which I believe I was, but that wasn't enough. I wanted to be beautiful. Don't you want to damn those ads and the image of perfect beauty the media throw at us day after day after day?

I grew up as a Christian. I am a Christian. I know that God loves me just the way that I am. God created me in His perfect image. And yet, I wasn't satisfied. I didn't love myself. Even being loved just as I was by my husband wasn't enough.

And then I had two kids and the scales went even higher. But I loved my pregnancy body and belly. I felt beautiful and proud to be carrying my precious babies. Those were probably the times in my life where I was most comfortable in my own body - when I was at my heaviest. Go figure!

And so I had to ask myself... what defines me? Is it the way I look? Obviously! But I believed I could never have a slim figure. I put barriers and stumbling blocks in my head and on my own path. It was as if even though I hated what I saw on the outside, that was who I was and who I felt comfortable being. I strongly believe that it is a lot easier to stay the same than to face change. But the easy path is not always the right path, is it?

After I had my second baby and was hit by PND once again, I just couldn't live with myself anymore. I wanted change, and I wanted to feel better. I started doing things and saying things to change the course of who I was. I chose to believe not only with my head, but also with my heart, that God truly loves me, that my husband really does like me the way that I am. I started saying no, and I decided I was going to ask for help when I needed it.

And one day, I decided to lose weight! Not because I wanted to conform to today's ideal of beauty, not because I wanted to be more beautiful for my husband, not for anyone. But because I wanted to. For me, for my health, and to prove to myself that I would not be a stumbling block for myself any longer. Our limits are the limits we give ourselves.

Last October, I started the Dukan Diet. I have lost 14kgs so far. And I feel great!

I'd love to hear from you if my post has talked to you in any way.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Why oh why??

As a child, I think one of the most common thoughts to enter my head was "Dad, I need help". Fastforward. I got married. I had my first child. And suddenly my whole being was screaming "Mum, I need help!, I don't know how to do this Mummy thing, I don't understand this baby or what I'm supposed to do with it, what the f#@*& is all this breast milk spewing everywhere, and why can't I stop crying?" Well, those were just a few of the many questions racing through my head.

Three weeks after my first child was born, I was still crying. So my precious Mummy literally flew - from Switzerland to New Zealand - to my rescue. I can't begin to describe the feelings of relief as she arrived and took over the kitchen and the running of the house for most of the time she was here. But the most precious gift she gave me was to help me get organised before her departure. About a week before she left, she got me into weekly "meal planning". I have since become this super organized meal planner and shopping list maker. I have the weekly menu on the fridge (thank you to The Organized Housewife), and next to it a super cute magnetized shopping list (thank you Pheonix Trading!). As soon as something in the pantry or the fridge is running out, up it goes on the list.

I don't know about you, but one of the biggest stresses of running a household is "what's for dinner?", whether from your husband, your partner, your kids, your flatmates or yourself. Moreover I hate going grocery shopping with a passion. While it does usually mean a break from home and the kids, it gets my stress levels soaring and my feet just itch to run right out of the store. So now, I just have to go once a week, and I only need to worry about what to cook once a week too. Thank you Mummy!