Why I’m Asking You To Show Us Your #MUMBAG And Raise Funds For A Post Natal Depression Charity

Someone I really admire came out about their PND on Facebook the other day and it really threw me.  (And of course I have to mention the amazing Adele’s admission which has happened since writing this.)

Not because it’s still taboo (it is) or I think she should keep the darkness from the positive PR machine that is social media (I don’t) but because if you asked me who had it, she would be on the absolute bottom of my list.  She is a great character and is super hot and happy and funny on social media even with a small baby in tow. It just surprised me.

I admire her even more now.

So it made me think if she, a seemingly ok type, has it there must be loads of other mums squirrelled away suffering with PND on their own, putting on a brave face or not knowing what to do about it. Or even knowing they have it.

It is hard to out yourself.  It takes guts.  Because you feel that people might think less of you, that you are a bad mum, that your kids will be taken away, that you are a failure, or even a cross-the-road-from-her-she’s-not-very-well type.

A friend of mine had it with her first child and said:

“I just felt SO ashamed.

Ashamed at how I felt towards my baby and how badly I was coping.

I put on a facade to friends and family but my Mum knew.

I think it’s taboo because it feels like everyone else is coping.

Everyone else can do it, why can’t I?”

 

The fact is that 1 in 7 mums will suffer from a bout of Post Natal Depression.

Dad’s can suffer form Post Natal Mental Health Illness too.

The biggest cause of death for women with children between 6 weeks and one year old is suicide.

Read that last one again.

 

There is such a strong Mama presence online at the moment that now, more than ever, talking about PND should be easy and un-judged.

We have moved on from a time when gin ruined mothers. It’s now being celebrated. Hurrah!

It’s encouraged to admit your #parentfails.  The Tiger Mothers seem to have been put back into captivity and it’s not cool to be smug anymore.  We’re slummy and scummy all the way, waiting for wine-o-clock and dissing ourselves before anyone else does.  Been there, got the #GoodTee shirt.

 

Early motherhood chucked some PND at me too.

I never went to the doctor about it.   I didn’t know that feeling that bad wasn’t how it should be.

Its only now when I look at the symptoms of PND do I realise I could have ticked off 90% of the list for the first 16 months of my daughter’s life.  In fact that’s when I realised I’d had it, when it lifted.

I had nothing but love for my baby girl and tried SO hard to get everything right for her.  I remember feeling almost paralysed by it.   Hung up on the rules made by power crazy baby whisperers; I felt smaller somehow. I went from massively sociable to socially anxious. From fun-loving to not being able to see the joy.  And I was wound so tight yet could unravel so easily.

I had always defined myself by my exciting jobs in the media.  It had taken a while to get pregnant and I had fantasised about being a stay at home mum.  Now that I was, I was lost at sea.

I took this new ‘motherhood job’ very seriously.  I found it impossible to relinquish any control or accept help.  If Dom ever tried to offer me any advice or suggest something different I would get so defensive and would often use the analogy “I wouldn’t come to your work and tell you how to do your job.”

My sense of self had well and truly left the building, it took my confidence with it and they didn’t leave a forwarding address.

I had *just* enough in me to give to her but little else left for anyone else, especially not myself.  I thought this was just how Motherhood was.

Sharing my experience is not about pity, it’s about hope really.  I have been through it and come out the other side in a way I would never have expected.  I started a business off the back of it that has changed my path. From a dark, confidence-less place something managed to grow.

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I have also felt totally different after baby number 2, hi-lighting the difference even more in some ways but also showing that you don’t automatically get it twice.   Of course I have had my moments; like fantasising about having an accident (just a little leg break) so I could have a night in hospital and read magazines.  But that was dog-tiredness talking not Black Dog.

If you recognise any of the symptoms in yourself or in someone you know then please do seek out some help.

I wish I had known about PANDAS Foundation who offer support nationally to mums and dads.

Claire Nethersole, the fundraising manager at PANDAS, explains more:

“PANDAS Foundation provides support for people affected by pre or post-natal mental illnesses and their families.  We have a helpline, email support, support groups based in the community and also a closed Facebook group. All of our volunteers either have first-hand experience or have cared for someone who has.  Last year we supported 11,000 people and demand for our services grows every day.  We are funded by the kind generosity of people who donate and hold events for us and we are grateful for every penny we receive. ”

 

I started this blog to champion mums. I marvel how much people manage get done as well as raising small folk.  One of the things I do on the blog is a brazenly nosey peek inside people’s #MumBags. I am fascinated about what we lug about to sustain and facilitate the small people.

 

I asked a pal if I could see inside hers the other day and she said “Oh OK, I’ll share the shame with you.”

 

That was my lightbulb moment.

 

I thought, there is no shame in that bag.  That bag goes a long way to keep your babe alive. Fed, watered, entertained, clean, dry, in pennies for this and that, in Calpol and raisins.  Raise up that bag for it is a life-giving source.

And there is no shame in PND either. It’s not baggage. The shame needs to be lifted and replaced with it’s OK not to be OK.

So here’s my plan … With your help I’d like to go some way in raising money and awareness for this small yet brilliant charity.

How? By sharing the contents of YOUR #MumBag on social media and by texting a donation.

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Here’s what to do:

  1. Tip/ display the contents of your mumbag on the floor and take a pic from above
  2. Post it on Instagram and/or Facebook
  3. Make sure you include all of this blurb:

I’m sharing my #mumbag (or #dadbag) to help mums with Post Natal Depression

Text PANDAS £3 to 70660 to donate to Pandasfoundation.org.uk

INSERT MUMBAG PIC HERE

#showusyourmumbag too TAG MATES HERE

#PND #noshameinit #showusyourmumbag #showusyourdadbag

#PANDASfoundation #itsoknottobeok @pandas_uk @mrsyellowblog

Text costs £3 plus network charge. PANDAS Foundation receives 100% of your donation. Obtain bill payer’s permission. Customer care 01691 664275 Charity No 1149485.   

  1. Remember to text a donation
  2. Encourage as many people as you can to do the same by tagging them in your post

 

Only by talking about this stuff can we normalise it, lift the shame and help people get the help they need.  We will keep you updated on how we get on.

Go on,

#Showusyourmumbag …

Thank you.

 

Follow @MrsYellowBlog on Instagram or find and follow her blog at http://www.mrsyellow.com

 

 

Aside

Mum-Bling 2: You be The Beast Mummy

My daughter wants to role-play ALL the time.

On a daily basis I am directed to re-enact various dramatic scenes from Disney Movies. I am always evil and always have to ‘do the voice’.

“Be King Triton and smash up my things with your stick because I love Eric.”

“Be Mother Gothel and tell me I can’t leave the tower ever again.  But do it in a scary voice… That wasn’t scary enough.”

“Be Hans and sword me and then I’ll freeze and go blue and then you can be Elsa and hug me ’til I breathe again.”

These little vignettes often end up with her fake crying on the floor.  Quite convincingly too.  My mum has been fooled more than once.  “What’s the matter Gracie?” I have heard her coo.

“I am not Gracie, I’m Aurora and I can’t go outside because Maleficent will get me.” She manages between sobs.

With the role-playing comes the fancy dress.  She changes her outfit to match the song we’re singing, the film we’re watching, the princess she’s imagining.

And then there’s the underwear. Knickers are changed to match the costume.  Anna, Elsa, Ariel, Aurora, Cinderella, Belle, Rapunzel. You name them, there’s a pant with their doe-eyed mugs on them.

So when I saw these in TopShop yesterday I thought she’d love them and I went over to take a closer look.

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Aladdin, Toy Story, Tinkerbell, Little Mermaid, Disney Princesses.  All her favourites, so I looked to see if they had her size.

8, 10, 12 …14.

These aren’t AGES, they are adult sizes. I am in TOPSHOP. These are for women.  With money of their own.  And the ability to make decisions by themselves.

Then the REALLY bad thought happened.

I am TOO OLD for TopShop.  I don’t understand this product. It can’t have happened.  Not to me. Not Yet. I mean, I live in my Joni’s.  Step away from the tweeny-pants. Leave. Just GO.

After you have taken a photo, obvs.

When I got home I decided to do a straw poll of the TopShop aged people I know.  My 27 year old stylish cousin.  And my 26 year old stylish brother.  They both have experience in knickers and Disney.

She said: “WTF?  I want to feel like a woman. Those are for kids. TopShop is for 14-23 year olds. I want to like TopShop, but just don’t anymore.”

He said: “Fucking hell, I thought TopShop was for grown-ups.  Are they spoofs? Grossness for sure.”

Phew.  My wrong-dar is definitely still working.  But what is this about, TopShop?  I need to know who buys these.  Just an age, first name, job title, town and postcode will do.  So I can send round whoever you send round to burn terrible things.

This morning we watched Beauty and the Beast.

“You be The Beast Mummy.  Just eat messy and then we’ll get married.”  And by married she means hold hands and dance round in circles while she slow-blinks like her cartoon idols.

We went upstairs for her to put on a blue dress and her Belle knickers.

“You need some Beast knickers, Mummy.”

Well yes, I suppose I do.

But not from TopShop.  I had a little look online.

These will be with me by Wednesday.

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#Mumbag – Number 1

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I have been reading Marie Kondo’s book Spark Joy which is about the art of tidying up. The crux is that you only ever have to tidy up using her method ONCE in your whole life. And from then on it’s just ‘putting away’ because everything has it’s place.

It is inspiring stuff for an indecisive sentimentalist like me and I like her (obsessive) thinking especially as we have always had a chair of doom in the bedroom and several corners of crap that multiply by the day. Poor, homeless items.

One of Kondo’s thoughts is that at the end of every day you should empty your handbag completely and thank it for all it’s hard work. Then put all the contents away in their correct places AND the bag itself for an overnight rest. She says this should take no more than 3 minutes.  You then put all the bits back in the bag in the morning.  I am pretty sure I would be locked out on the first day, phone-less and cash-less with an empty bag. But how rested that bag would be.

But it has made me think of the huge vessel I lug about daily and when it last had a rest. (No, I am not talking about my husband, though he wouldn’t turn down 40 winks.) 

Not since I bought it 9 months ago is the answer. 

It is a pineapple coated hold-all of gubbins; a lunchbox, medicine cabinet, shopping bag, nappy bag, fancy dress box, bin and bank and with all those jobs it should probably be asking for a raise or a part in Mary Poppins as her carpet bag’s body double.

So … To give it the respect it deserves and to see what is causing me to walk even more weirdly than usual, I have emptied it and photographed the evidence.

My 5 most surprising findings out of the 47 items in the bag (and my mother is my witness) are:

  1. A cone of magic reindeer food from early December 2015
  2. A piece of waffle – from lunch 2 days ago
  3. An antique book on childhood illnesses given to me by my stepmother with a post-it attached that says, “Never allow a blister of Spanish flies to be put on your child!”
  4. An Anna from Frozen Cloak
  5. A battery operated tea-light

 

As with all experiments, key learnings must be made:

  1. I am a disgusting creature
  2. My bag is tired
  3. I am tired of my bag
  4. I am tired
  5. I need a new home for all the things in my bag
  6. I need a new home

I think this maybe where Marie Kondo wants us to get to.

I am genuinely fascinated by this.  I want to see inside your Mum Bag. Can I?

You’re talking out of your front bottom

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This is not a new topic I know.  The age old “what shall we call the lady bits when we discuss them with our daughters?” question.

We know it’s important to get it right to protect them in situations I don’t even want to think about (see the NSPCC’s Underwear rule ) but why is it so hard to get it right at home?  So it’s not cringey and awkward, so we don’t scar them for life, so they don’t mock our parenting skills in 2027, so we CAN talk about stuff if we need to.

Willy is just so perfect for boys. Not sexual. Not dated. Not offensive. Just fine.

But for girls there is nothing of the same ilk.  All the options are just so, well, Benny Hill.

Fanny. No. Just no. Too 70s.

Foof. What?

Nunny. Too TOWIE.

Mimi. My friend has a cat called Mimi.  I actually have a friend called Mimi.

Minnie. MOUSE.

Cookie. Yuk. Really? *Giggles every time the biscuit tin goes round*

Daisy.  We pick daisies.

Flower. Flowers ARE FLOWERS.

Ha’penny.  Is it 1882?

Vagina. Weirdly too technical. And too open to error. Badge-ina and Old China have both been reported by friends.  Plus, as my mother kindly pointed out, the vagina is the hole not the labia.

C*nt. Hmmm. That would go down well with Nana/ Nursery/ The Doctor/ Everyone Ever.

No. No. NO.

The Swedes are clever (at everything. I heart Saga Noren and her cashmere-leather-face-pulling-funny-walks-out-of-shot-on-the-spectrum-porsche-combo more than you will ever understand) and came up with a new word for it.

Snippa made the Swedish dictionary back in 2006 after being promoted in Malmo schools and nurseries by a social worker back in 2000. The male equivalent is Snopp.

Snippa and Snopp. It just works. A nice wholesome little pairing.

Knowing that my 3 year old doesn’t have the same Scandi-lust as I do, I thought I would just have the conversation with her and see what would stick.

We currently use front-bottom which my Mum always used with me but I find it clunky (not my front bottom, you understand, though admittedly it has changed since birth) and a bit confusing.

I gave her a few polite options from the list above.

She vetoed the lot.

“No Mummy,”

Long.  Pause.

“I want to call it Mrs Yellow.”

So there we have it.

And that’s why I’m on here.

I’d had an idea for this blog, but needed a name.

Mrs Yellow was born.

I am plucking up the courage to enquire about the whereabouts of Mr Brown.

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