Becoming a branch manager

Let’s talk trees. Tall ones. Whithered ones. Evergreens. Jacarandas. They seemed to be a prominent theme in therapy today. But its not the first time they cropped up in a therapy context.

Years ago, our marriage councellor used the analogy of two oak trees.  They cannot grow if they are too close together because their roots need lots of room. So too, said the therapist, is it with marriage. We need to give each other space to grow, we cannot suffocate each other by being together constantly. I struggled with that one. Because, up to that point, I expected to be everything for and to my husband (and vice versa). Unrealistic. Unhealthy.

But back to the future we go. Today, the therapist told a story: all the animals in the jungle gathered to compete. The test? Well, they had to climb a tree. I’m talking monkey vs elephant; lion vs leopard; fish vs pidgeon. Sounds ridiculous? It is. Unrealistic expectations and our desire to out do the other.

Still on trees, my therapist asked me to think of myself as a tree. He illustrated my attempts to prune my branches and bend them to the will of my perfectionist vision, only to snap the poor branch when it inevitably fails to perform. He spoke legacy. About how I need to break the cycle of cynical criticism. He reminded me that I am helping to nurture a young sapling, my baby girl – who will look at what I show her and not necessarily heed what I tell her.

But to branch out on therapy, I realised something which goes to the core of why I decided to start writing this blog. I messaged a good friend to let her know about my having been admitted to a mental healthcare facility. She was surprised. Said I seemed to have it all together. All figured out. And then it struck me: I have been wearing a mask! Addicted to social media, I have been judging myself according to my facebook friend’s best. You know, the selfies of perfectly made up mom and her little angel doing “lunch, darling” or the endless stream of photos from the recent family vacay to Italy. And of course, I know myself at my worst, so the hyper-critical voice was pretty shrill! Self-flaggelation central. Little ol Annie at the end of a sin filled day at the nunnery, making sure she uses her leather strap to the full extent!

So I decided to focus on the positive. I pat myself on the back for having a (relatively) drug free labour and delivery. I commend myself for delivering a healthy baby girl naturally, supported by a midwife, my husband and my amazing mom/doula. I am particularly grateful that I fell in love with an amazing man, my partner, my soulmate and the one who loves as he lives: selflessly. I am proud that I continued breastfeeding despite the pain and the insensitive nay-saying of my mother-in-law. I am grateful for the support of my family during my hospitalisation. I am so relieved that I had the courage to reach out and ask for help. A quote on the wall of one of the therapy rooms, resonates with me: “Courage doesn’t always roar”. I am grateful that I had the courage it took to throw a light on my journey with depression. I hope this blog competes in the same space as those endless facebook “happy family vacay” picture album posts. Competes for the attention of a mother, who, like me, feels overwhelmed by it all.



Ministry of Hugs

I’m reading TD Jakes “Woman, thou art loosed!”. In Chapter 5 “Walk into the newness”, he speaks about his ministry of hugs. He explains, “When something happens, and I really can’t fix it, I just hug them.”

I am brand spanking new to this parenting thing. My baby is only 9 months young. As long as her basic needs are met (food, love, shelter, sleep, dry nappy, comfort), she is happy. But already, I have seen the power of a cuddle. It calms her. Softens her. Seems to make her feel secure. Granted, most of our cuddle time is at the breast…but still. The ministry of hugs works wonders.

Leads me on to my breastfeeding conundrum. Its been holding me back in terms of drug therapy. But its also become an unhealthy crutch. My fear is that outside of breastfeeding, I don’t share a connection with my daughter. 

Big things to grapple with.

Being is better than doing. Minister by hugs. Baby steps.


That Thing

I am still trying to get to grips with my diagnosis. Post-natal depression. It is not who I am. It is an illness that is slowly robbing me of my sense of self. I feel empty alot of the time. Like I have nothing to give. To offer. Like nothing.

My doctor related a story to me the other day. He told the story of Annie who had signed up to become a nun. After selling all her earthly posessions, she went to the nunnery to start her new life. The Mother Superior welcomed her, introduced her to everyone and explained her daily chores. Then she was shown her room: a basic affair with a simple bed and a desk at the window. She noticed a leather strap hanging near the desk. When the Mother Superior had finished her tour, she asked if Annie had any questions. Annie asked about the leather strap. “Oh! That’s for you to beat yourself with at the end of everyday!”

Pause for laughter.

My doctor reckons that I am Annie. That I set unrealistic expectations of myself, only to severely chastise myself for failing to reach them.

He is right.

There is a constant script rolling in my mind. “You’re so stupid” “Why don’t you buy nicer clothes. shoes.” “Gosh, can’t the earth swallow me in” “How I yearn to be the fly on the wall. Wait! I am. ugly. disgusting. unwanted”

It all sounds so inane when I spell it all out like this. Maybe that’s what depression is? ridiculous. moronic. asinine. 

I am here because I couldn’t manage out there. I kept looking for “that feeling” toward my baby. The elusive. The magical. The seemingly unnatainable maternal glow. Its all over facebook. It permeates momma groups. Crunchy moms sprout forth easy quick fix recipes for any ailment, using breastmilk and coconut oil. Be crunchy! Be mommy! Be like me!, they seem to shout.

It’s all a lie. That feeling. I will develop a bond with my baby through caring for and nurturing her. That’s what my sister told me earlier today  Perhaps she’s onto something. I tried that today. I held my baby (MY baby. I think I need that to sink in some more) close. I fed her lunch. I distracted her when she was upset about losing the tube of handcream someone had given her. No pressure. “Being is better than doing”, someone once told me. So I am trying to be. Be Lailah’s mom. Be there. Care. Just be. 


Time is on my side

So, at the care facility, we have restricted access to our cellphones. I guess I never realises how much I rely on my fone until it was taken away from me (promptly at 20h00 only to be returned at 17h00 the next day)! I had to start wearing a wrist watch, jus so I could time my breastmilk expression sessions! Only good can come of this, though! I rely on my handheld way too much.

A form of expression

As a novice blogger,  I sure do “express” myself alot. looooooolz 😂 I am a breastfeeding mom and seeing as my boobs haven’t gotten the memo (that I’m away from baby to recuperate) I need to express breastmilk often. And by often I mean, at least every 2 hourly. The staff have been kind enough to loan me their kitchen for this purpose. It can be the longest half an hour in my day. Thank gosh I found blogging! 

Lunchtime ramblings

So at lunch, I was treated to some class a gossip. A lady I had just met, mentioned that this was a 5-star mental healthcare facility! “Oh! Its been graded like they do with hotels?”, I quipped. “Not exactly,” came the reply. “A celebrity of a political persuasion was treated here”. “like really high up”. This was after she had sworn me to secrecy. She ended with a flourish, “so now you know its top class if celebs choose to come here”. I guess now I do! 

Being Mom

This is the post excerpt.

My name is Candice and someone calls me mum-mum. I have a gorgeous baby daughter, pushing 10 months. I have recently been admitted to a…erm…I’m not sure what to call it?! Ok, well I have been diagnosed with depression (post-natal depression) to be exact. 

I’ve decided to start blogging about my experiences. I intend to be raw and bare my soul in a bid to aid my recovery. 

The title? Well, I’m a journalist at the public broadcaster in South Africa. I mainly cover the Constitutional Court (the highest court in the land). And momster is kind of a play on monster (read mother) in-law (more about that hyper complex relationship later). I guess I feel like a momster: afraid and misunderstood.

For a long time, my career WAS my identity. But, as a new mom, I am having to relearn Candice. Thank you for walking with me and I hope you gain as much value as I intend to impart in taking up this blogging project.

I’m a complete novice. Haven’t written anything (aside from news) in a long time. maybe forever. This is my first blog.

Cheers 😁