Sunday, August 16, 2015

Going back to my roots

I'm a TCK (Third Culture Kid). This means that I "have spent a significant part of my developmental years outside my parents' culture". 

My Dad is Swiss. My Mum is English. I grew up in the Ivory Coast from birth to age 13.

In two days, I am going back to my birth country.

In two days, I am going back to one of the countries that has made me who I am today.

In two days, I am going back to the country I felt uprooted from.

In two days, I am going to smell humidity, heat, dust, sweat, rubbish.

In two days, I am going to taste sweet juicy mangoes, tender red papayas, deep-fried plantain bananas and fire roasted peanuts.

In two days, I am going to hear mosquitoes buzzing, toads croaking, locusts clacking and buzzing.

In two days, I am going to hug my Mum and Dad, my brother, my sister and my new brother in law.

In two days, I am going to say goodbye to my husband and two children for 9 days.

In two days, I am going back to Africa.

Myself as a child in the Ivory Coast

I've never felt whole since leaving the Ivory Coast. I spent 13 years in Switzerland after we left. Now I've spent 10 years in New Zealand. Nowhere is home. Home is where my heart is, where my family is. But even that doesn't mean much as we're all spread around. 

Nowhere do I really feel at home.

I wonder what I'll feel when the air plane doors open and I can step down onto the tarmac. Will I feel at home again, after all these years? Or will this be yet another "almost home, but not quite" moment? I've buried so many memories since I had to say goodbye that I'm almost scared to go back. And yet I can't wait. I know it's going to be one of the trips of my life.

It is time to go back and then to face the future with my past firmly in hand.

Are you a TCK? Do you feel at home anywhere?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Today I am thankful!

I had a good day today. We all had a good day today.

I don't know why or how, but the planets and the stars aligned for me today.

I was relaxed. I was cool. Mr 3 played nicely by himself several times. We cruised. He almost didn't whine. He almost didn't cry. He said please and thank you. He got into his car seat when asked. 

At 3 o'clock, the dreaded school pick up time and "what am I going to do with them for 2 hours?" time, I was calm! I couldn't believe it.

Nothing beats sunshine and Vitamin D

The sun was shining so we went to the park and had ice cream. We hung out for one hour and I didn't get bored (I normally find playgrounds the most boring place on earth, please tell me I'm not the only one???). My kids' smiles and excited shouts were like warm waves of love washing over me.

Back home, they played nicely (?!) and my son helped me chop the vegetables for the fish pie.

All day, I just kept asking myself: why? how? I have no idea. Maybe it's the PND lifting a little more. Maybe it's the fact that I've been allergy free for almost a week thanks to the new meds, maybe it was the sunshine. Maybe it was all three. Maybe it was none of them. 

Today was a good day. It was a moment in eternity. A ray of sunshine in a sky which has been tainted by fogginess and greyness. A drop in an ocean of emotions, feelings, and anxieties.

Today, I am thankful. I want to encourage you who are going through harder times, that there will be days like this one. They are worth waiting for, and when they come along, savour every little second of the day. Engrave each moment into your heart and mind. And smile!

Kia kaha! Be strong!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

So what if I have PND?

I've had PND (Post Natal Depression) for 6 years now. 

After both kids. And that's okay. I can live with that, because I'm lucky enough to have access to treatment and supportive friends. I've never felt inadequate or guilty or ashamed.

Quite the opposite really. I don't mind talking about my experience. I always hope it will encourage another Mum or make her feel less alone.

But I was thrown on Thursday last week. I went to see an allergy specialist for my never ending runny nose and eyes. A German doctor. He was loud. He sounded German. He did his job. He asked about my medical history and what medication I was on. I told him I took citalopram because I suffer from PND. When told my youngest was now 3 he raised his eyebrows very high and said:

"Is that still PND after 3 years?". I just stared at him, gob-smacked.

Then he asked a few questions about allergy medications I've tried over the years. After a few minutes he stopped and said:

"I can't believe how many people take anti-depressants in New Zealand. Doctors just give it out to everyone. Don't you think you could stop now?" Wow. Just wow. I spluttered. I stumbled on my words. And then I said:

"I ended up at the CATT (Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team) centre in Porirua when my baby was 4 weeks old. I wanted to kill myself. I..." He interrupted me and said, "Oh, you were suicidal. Please keep taking the pills then!".

We then proceeded with what I was there for: allergies and prick testing. He was highly efficient in that regard and I'm already doing much better on the new treatment. Thank you German Doctor.

I feel so lucky that I'm in a place now where I can hear such statements and not take them too seriously. He did make me doubt for a few seconds...

"Could I stop my anti-depressants now?", "Do I really need them?"

Was the German Doctor right?

But then sense took over. I mean, come on. It's ok to take anti-depressants if you're suicidal but not otherwise? Just come off the pills, you don't need them anyway? Imagine if he said that to a woman who was feeling very unwell mentally, or felt guilty, or lost, or angry about her PND? I left that office worried that a highly qualified doctor, who gets paid $375 per 45 minute consultation, feels he has the right to give a woman he doesn't know advice about her PND and her treatment. 

Would he have told my friend with diabetes to stop her injections? 
Would he have told my other friend with severe asthma to stop using her inhaler? 
Did he tell me to stop taking medication for my allergies?

There is obviously still a stigma attached to all forms of depression. Maybe more so in Europe than in New Zealand. My very talented Mum, who has suffered from depression her entire adult life and has come up against a lot of judgement and stereotypes, wrote a great little book called "Thank God for Anti-Depressants". I agree with her 100%. Thank God for all medication that saves life, be it diabetes, cholesterol, depression, asthma, infections, etc.

So what if I have PND? So what if I was suicidal? It's okay. It's called life. PND is still a part of my life. Mostly in the form of anxieties these days. But it's still there. I'm better and better as the years go by though and I find that exciting.

So what if you have PND or depression? It's okay. Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise. You will get better, with or without the help of pills and/or other remedies. Life is a journey and it will throw things at you, but I've found that it's the way you accept and deal with life's lemons that transform you into a better and stronger person. I've gone through two very bare and lifeless winters, but spring is a pretty exciting place to be: summer is just around the corner!

I would never trade my journey for an easier one. It has made me who I am today. Your journey makes you who you are today.

You are amazingly and fearfully made. Kia Kaha! Be Strong!

I'd love to hear from you!

* If you are suffering from depression and you are worried about your safety or the safety of others, please don't suffer in silence. Contact your doctor, or call a friend. Ask for help.*

Sunday, August 2, 2015

"Ahhhhhh-tchoo!" Confessions of an Allergic Mum

Really loud. Fills the room. 
"Atchoo, atchoo, atchoo!". Snuffle, snuffle, blows nose.

Seriously, hayfever is not funny. I've had it on and off forever. But the past 2 years have been terrible. No respite. As if having two young children wasn't tiring enough. 

"Ahhhhhh-tchoooooooo!". Pause. Blows nose. "Arghhhhh".

I'm seriously over it. Hay fever doesn't sound like a serious condition. It's not. But it can be debilitating at times. And oh so tiring.

This is what I've tried:

"Atchoo! Atchoo!"

So, nose drops now give me nose bleeds. 
Anti-histamine tablets don't work any more.
Steroids are miraculous but I can't have them more than 2 or 3 times a year. And they are baaaaaad for you.
Acupuncture helped my allergies a little, but especially strengthened my immune system and energy levels.
Vicks Vaporizer. Smells amazing, and I do seem to do better on the days when I've used it the previous night.
Avoiding milk as much as I can, but I can't give up cheese and yoghurt and butter and cream!!
Tempted to chop my head off, but.........

I mean, try cooking a meal. I have to stop every two minutes or so to sneeze or blow my nose. Then wash my hands. Then keep going. Then stop again, wash hands. Keep going. Drives me nuts!


Some days I get up and I feel like I can't do this one more day. The smiling, the being patient, the educating, the cooking, the cleaning, the policing, the entertaining, the looking good, the caring, the running around, the shopping, the teaching, the hugging, the kissing, the nose wiping, the being reasonable and rational, when all I really want to do is lock myself up in a room, curl up with a book and rest. Oh blissful rest!

But do you know what keeps me going? My faith - as always.

I'm seeing a super duper German allergy specialist this week. Dr Robert Winkler. I have very high expectations and hopes. Actually, he better have some answers and solutions for me otherwise I might actually strangle him (just kidding!).

So if you have any tips that have worked for you, please please please share the looooooove!

In the meantime, Kia Kaha! Be Strong!

Bloggers love comments. So do leave me a note. I will always take the time to answer. Thank you!

In this series, you can also read:

And if you'd like to follow me on Facebook, please click here. Thank you!