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Strong Connections Lay the Foundation for Mental and Emotional Health

Mental emotional healthThe bond between parent and child is the child’s primary source for emotional health.  Therefore building strong connections lay the foundation for mental and emotional health.

By having a strong connection, it gives your child the capacity to have satisfying relationships the rest of their life. A weak or anxious bond could reverberate through your child’s entire life in the form of low self-esteem, impaired relationships, and the inability to seek help or ask for it in effective ways.

Research indicates that over one-third of the children in middle-class families suffer from anxious attachments to their parents. This insecure attachment tends to be transmitted from one generation to another. Every parent wants to know what early experiences enable a child to feel that the world is a positive place. We ask ourselves how a child becomes equipped with enough confidence to explore, to develop healthy peer relationships, and to rebound from adversity. We seek to know what builds a child who sees himself or herself as being loved, loving, and valuable. We wonder, “Do I have what it takes to raise a secure child? What can I do to support my child or change myself?”

Secure attachment is created by the subtle quality of adult-child interactions. It does not happen because a parent holds, feeds, bathes, or responds to an infant’s cries. It is based on how the adult responds. We have all had the experience of talking with a spouse or friend who looks as though he or she is listening, but something is missing. We have gone to the movies and out to dinner with a friend, having a reasonably good time, but sensing that something is missing. Conversely, we have had experiences with spouses and friends when we felt that a wholeness was present—that they were truly “there” and that we were attuned to the moment and each other. This connection is at the heart of our bonding with children and with each other.
Young children up to age four or five rely on the parent’s affect, or demeanor, to determine whether a situation is safe. Later in life, they can discern this information themselves by environmental clues.

In our hurried society, many are finding the mechanics of parenting all they can handle.  The joy of parenting is lost. Parents are overwhelmed with the pressures of modern life. These demands create times when parents are sometimes physically absent and other times when our bodies are present but our minds are elsewhere.
The ramifications of our well-intentioned absences may manifest themselves in certain behavioural characteristics in our children. We may see our children acting like bullies, taking advantage of more vulnerable children. Or we may see them victimized and excluded by others or excluding themselves to manage their anxiety about failing. We may see our children being impulsive or shy, showing poor concentration skills, getting easily upset, and lacking initiative. Or we may see rampant independence that hardens into stubbornness and bossiness. We may see our children struggle with friendships, jealous and afraid that they may lose the security of a best friend. We might see them shy away from risk and group activities or leap in and take unsafe risks. We might believe these behaviours are part of the child’s genetic temperament. Temperament is a factor; however, brain research indicates that although nature provides the raw materials for brain development, nurture is the architect.
How we interact with our children profoundly shapes their brains. We literally custom design our children’s brains. Many of the behaviours we see can be traced to the original bonding experience between children and their caregivers. As daunting as it may seem, there is hope. Just as children are forgiving, so, too, is the brain—especially in the early years. The brain can be shaped and reshaped by each new experience; like a house that gets dirty, a good cleaning is all it needs.
I Love You Rituals are designed to strengthen the bond between an adult and a child and, in turn, re-establish the child’s sense of security. This secure base then frees the child to explore the world with greater willingness and success. It also builds healthy ties between the adult and child, increasing the child’s willingness to be cooperative. Imagine that you are sitting on your couch at home with your spouse. Lately your relationship has been going very well—communication and connection are at an all-time high. If one of you were to get up and the other asked, “Honey, while you are up, would you get me a sandwich?” more than likely the answer would be, “Sure, what would you like?” Now pretend you are on the couch and the relationship is going poorly—so poorly that you wonder why this person is sitting on your couch. Suppose one person gets up and the other asks for something. The likely response would be, “Get it yourself; you have legs.” Cooperation is directly related to the connection we feel with each other. The same is true with children: Strengthen the bond and increase the cooperative spirit.

Don’t Give Up On Your Partner

This post has taken me a while to write because it has brought up past emotions but also a sense of strength of how far our family has come. So please if this triggers any emotions for you,  remember how far you have also come or will go by showing yourself love.

After the birth of our first daughter Grace, I was diagnosed with major depression.  Parenthood was far from what I expected and I was not prepared for emotions from past events to surface the way they did.  I was sinking quickly into a black hole whilst struggling to be a mum to Grace.  However with the help of professionals I started to recover and find the real me.

Then Emma came along and I became unwell once again whilst I was still in hospital and I was sent to a mother/baby unit.  I spent 3 months in there trying to form a relationship with Emma and get through each day without self harming.  I kidded myself thinking I could go home and within a couple of months, my psychiatrist put me into a psychiatric ward in the hope that spending time with myself will help me to get on the road to recovery.  I have had treatment that I wouldn’t want anyone to go through but it all saved my life.  I spent 7 months in Emma’s first year of life in hospital trying desperately to get better.

I could never thank my husband Steve enough for what he did for me.  He was my rock the entire time.  He was devastated watching me go through what I did and it was tough looking after two children.  This was definitely far from what he expected parenthood to be like. Nevertheless it was the best thing for me as I came out a better person than ever and I could let go of the past demons.

Then our children were diagnosed with autism and sensory processing disorder and we did not know where to go from there.  Every dream that we had were shattered from our hard journey into parenthood.  Steve has also gone through a bout of depression.  There have been times where we spoke little and I was expecting him to one day come home and say the marriage is over.  It may have helped that I knew how he was feeling but I knew I would never give up on him.  It has been tough but now we are a lot closer.

Within families with autism and sensory processing disorder we find that some partners really struggle and it does cause separation.  A lot of families do not receive enough support to move through the grief cycle and it ends in depression.   It is hard when everything is being completed by one member of the partnership.  Your partner may not seek help but they need a place to be listened to without judgement.

Living in a Dark Place

I have been living in a dark place for the last few months.

It was getting darker and darker.

I was struggling with self harm thoughts.

I wanted to end it all.

I have been there before and I did not ever want to go back there ever again.  I have been on medication to ease physical pain but they were interacting with my anti depressants.

They made me go back to the dark place.

I did not self harm because I knew that it was the medication was creating this world and I just went into survival mode just to keep my head above the water.

My husband needs me.

My girls need me.

I have to be kind to myself.  It was just the medication.  I tried to keep silent and pretend that I was fine. This is the worst thing I could have done. How can you battle those dark thoughts and feelings by yourself.  YOU CAN’T. It is impossible and one reason why people take their lives.  Those voices (you don’t have any control of them) just get the better of you and you are convinced that you would be better off dead.   I finally opened up to Steve and told him the self harm thoughts were back.  I had someone to help me fight through them. Someone was on my side.

I had done it once and I knew I could do it again.  I got up everyday which is one of the hardest challenges.  It is easy to hide under the doona but then I was letting the depression win.  So I kept as much as a routine that I could just to keep me functioning.  I was moving in life but the dark thoughts kept trying to pull me down.  It was exhausting.

I focused on making sure I was putting nutritious food into my body and not food that feeds the darkness.  No point giving the darkness even more fuel to beat me.  I kept moving which helped to bring some light into my day even if it was just walking.  I coloured in the mindfulness colouring book which is swamping the book shelves.  I also knew that once my Doctor came back from holidays and he took me off the medication all will go back to normal.  I also refereed to my suicide first aid plan that gave me strategies to complete before I self harmed or put a plan into action.  I have 12 steps that I must complete and the first step is call Steve and I do not get much further.  If you are struggling create a 12 step plan to give you a life line.  Believe me it works.

My body is exhausted and I have had the flu this week and I have been made to rest.  I am back into using my essential oils to get rid of the negative thoughts and now I am feeling back at peace.  I got out my Dalai Lama books to help centre myself and I am not surrounding myself with any negativity.

Those thoughts will not win. You have to hold tight and fight.  It is worth it.


Are Setbacks A Reason To Give Up On Your Dreams?

I would love to know your thoughts about setbacks?  Do you use a setback as an excuse to give up on your dreams?

I am putting my situation over the last month out there for all my readers (sorry guys it is a female issue lol).  I have always been quite aware of my body and how it affects my mental health.  Over the last month I have noticed a hormonal change and a few symptoms in connection which I have not suffered from since Emma was born 5 years ago.  My body was in chaos and I know that as I had two cold sores in two weeks which is a clear sign my body is in meltdown.  Plus I noticed that my mental health had changed not really for the best as thoughts of self harm became strong again.  I waited for a couple of weeks to see my GP and psychiatrist and I am waiting on test results.  My psychiatrist also wants me to put me back on a medication, that I managed to get off successfully for the last 12 months, in the hope it will help my mental state whilst I figure out my hormonal change.

I was expecting myself to feel really down about myself as I am going back onto a medication but I know I do not want to be daily fighting against the urge to self harm.  I have had to change some of my goals around a bit whilst I have limited energy.  But I also know the minute that I lost focus, I felt life was again spiralling out of control.

Setbacks are a number part of life but if you are really dedicated to reaching your dreams, see these setbacks as learning lessons. You have to be kind to yourself whilst dealing with a setback but don’t ever give up.  You want to have a fulfilling life.  Never give up on your dreams.  I know I never will give up on my dreams and no matter how I might be feeling I will not give up on my clients.


When Can I Trust My Thoughts Again and Not The Depression?

“You are a bad mum.”

“Your children do not love you.”

“You would be better off dead.”

“No one loves you.”

“You are hopeless.”

Is your mind telling you these statements?  Are they real?  Is it postnatal depression, depression, anxiety, PPD, PPA telling you them?

It is so draining to hear these types of thoughts running through the head 24/7 and no wonder people feel drained and tired.  It is extremely hard to decide which thoughts are real and which ones are not.  When it is dark around you and your struggling to reach the light, you believe these thoughts as real.  You keep thinking how could they not be real.  But how do you decide?

All the statements above are all false.  They are unhelpful thoughts and they should be labelled as unhelpful every time they pop into your head.  Say to yourself:

“No I am not hopeless.”

“No, my children love me.”

“No, I am not a bad mum.”

“No, I do not deserve to be dead.”

You really need to focus on every time you hear a voice saying this to you as it takes time to break these old thoughts.  The more you stop them, the more your brain will start rewiring and the unhelpful thoughts will stop in time.

When I was in my dark world, I had constant thoughts of self harm as a means of escape.  I had to dig deep inside (felt like I had to reach my toes) and every time I heard these voices I stopped them in their tracks.  The more I did it, the more I noticed that they reduced to finally they stopped.  But what I am trying to encourage you to do is realise it can take a good 6 weeks to break the old habit.

If you are sitting there thinking I really need to do this, you do not need to do this alone.  It is not an easy thing to break by yourself but I am here to help you through it.  On the link below I have a 12 week program that focuses solely on YOU.  You could easily make this one of your goals.  I will be there to hold your hand through challenging these thoughts until they no longer exist. You can do this and achieve amazing results.  All you have to do is take that first step.