Friday, 19 April 2019

The Unimportance of Time

Albert Einstein proved a theory by which time becomes relative, despite the fact that we assume and look at time as passing at a constant speed.

Most people would be sceptical at the thought that maybe time is, after all, not exactly consistent and invariable. Yet we all feel the relativity of time in a way. Despite there being nothing scientific or even remotely connected to Einstein's theory in the phrase 'Time flies when you're having fun', it is nonetheless an observation that makes a lot of sense.

However I would go even further and say that it is we who have turned time into an all-consuming all-important factor in our daily lives and it could very well be unimportant were we not so set on letting it condition us in this society we built.

It is the famous nine-to-five job, the school regime, the business hours and structured social activities that work according to 'time' and not our true inner selves. Thankfully I can see the younger generations have come to appreciate doing things on their own terms; napping when they feel they should, partying if they feel the positivity it brings their life outways the 'nuisance' of then sleeping in the day time afterwards.

Time is, technically, related to how long this world we live in takes to make a complete turn on its own axis (what we call DAY) and how long it takes to make a complete revolution around the sun (what we call YEAR), therefore offering us night and day as well as the four seasons as a result.

This in itself however, would never explain the obsession we seem to have with running against the clock.

In my article I Never Rush Any More I admitted how I have started to embrace doing things on my own terms rather than with a 'have-to' attitude that demands I catch up with 'everything', whatever 'everything' really means. In my later article On Holiday Every Day I turned to discussing how, in choosing to live the life that will make us happy, we free ourselves from the 'need' for a holiday due to being eternally happy with our current situation. You may note that I never said we would not be working to earn a living in some way, but I did suggest that working in a profession we love would allow us time to do other things if only for the simple reason that it would not tire us out as much. And why would that be the case? Simple really. A job you hate will drag you down, as will one you find eternally boring. But by simply choosing a path that will bring happiness in itself, it really feels as though time flies and we find ourselves back with our loved ones and in our homes or wherever else it is we deflate, sooner than we thought, every single day. What's more? The term 'deflated' that I just used is actually out of place in this context. Because when we live days that won't bog down our energy, there is so much of it left after the day's end and we might find ourselves enjoying life even more. Time spent on chores and work become mere minutes in our mind, whilst technically freeing up valuable time (because in society we do after all have to follow a set 24-hour day) to enjoy whatever else we would love to fit in, instead of 'needing' to rest before going to bed and repeating the circle all over again.

Time is indeed relative. It is, in fact, as relative as we want it to be.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

No Mobile Phone!

After work one day last week, I was meant to go visit my son. Only, I forgot the book we were reading together at my home. I decided I could go home to pick it up and still make it on time getting to my son. On arriving home some flatmates stopped me to talk about something and in my rush I picked up the book and ironically left my bag behind instead.

When I noticed I was already on my way. Debating whether I could turn back to get my precious mobile (from which I had not parted for more than a couple hours at a time in the last two years) and still make it on time, I realised I could only know whether that was possible if I could tell the time. My phone is also my watch.

I figured I rather be definitely on time than have my phone with me, never really remembering that my handbag actually contained much more than just my phone. Also, I thought maybe this would be a cool experiment to try; living without my phone for a couple of hours.

So there I was, making my way in the rush hour traffic. Was I gonna be on time? Who knew?! I couldn’t check!

On the way my mind whirled round thinking about random yet deep things as it is apt to do and suddenly I came up with five numbers that meant something that I decided would win me the Super 5 lottery of that evening. I’d get a ticket from a nearby lotto booth after picking up my son, I thought. WAIT! I didn’t have my purse on me, that too was left in the bag at home.

Ok, I could text my mum to buy a ticket for me as I had no way of doing it myself before the evening’s draw. Having arrived and found a parking spot, I thought to myself I’d text mum the numbers I wanted on my ticket. Wait. NO PHONE TO TEXT FROM!

Resigned to the idea I was not going to get my ticket for that night’s draw, I walked to our usual meeting spot, not really sure was I early, on time, or late. I asked a passerby for the time and it turned out I was twenty minutes early.

I paced up and down and even walked down the road and back, willing the time to pass without actually knowing how much had passed. I even calmly went through all my daily affirmations; positive phrases I made up that I tell myself daily since I practice LoA (Law of Attraction) religiously.

Surely, my ex husband would know to get our son to the usual spot when he saw it was time and I hadn’t messaged ‘I am here.’ But what if instead he tried to phone? No one would answer the call. What if, something had happened and there was a change of plan and he’d texted me to suggest an alternate time, place, maybe cancelled altogether? Thoughts whirled through my head, punishing me for leaving my mobile phone behind.

When a car finally pulled up and my son got out, I explained my predicament and how I would be unable to tell the time and therefore get my son back on time. Thankfully my son had his iPod Touch with him so that I could tell what time it was and his dad promised to be back at the allotted time so I wouldn’t need to text a ‘We are back.’

I figured I couldn’t possibly need my phone now that my son was here but trust myself to look for it once again when I felt like taking a photo.

Time flew and we eventually walked back to the meeting point where I hugged my son goodbye and started the long way back to my car. I remembered that I’d been waiting for a message on my phone. I also remembered I hadn’t texted another friend who I’d meant to for a specific reason.

Oh well, I’d do that when I got home. Which I did, around two hours after first leaving my phone behind. A hundred and twenty minutes out of a whole day, out of a week, month, year, more than two years since I’d finally switched to a proper smart phone.

Friday, 5 April 2019

Don't Defile A Natural Place

Anyone who is doing more than just going through the motions on this planet of 'ours' has their sacred space or spaces, where they feel they can deflate, relax, breathe. For those who lean towards a more 'earthly' life, these could be anywhere from a preferred coffee shop to a comfy sofa at home, a bedroom 'retreat' or the library, among other places.

For those of us who live more on the spiritual side of life, our sacred spaces are usually found in natural surroundings. This is not to say we live hidden away in some alternate universe, so our sacred places are actually places that many others visit, if for different reasons. Two weeks ago, a school event of my son led me within inches of one of my most sacred places, in a natural place that exudes peace.

So you may imagine how upset I was when, visiting my realm of pure peace, I came across litter strewn around.

This place is to me sacred for a particularly vivid and powerful memory of a visit there. Despite that it is now guarded by security so that I felt unable to walk to the exact spot where I would have felt most the love and peace, it was still magical to inhale the scent of my wet surroundings as the rain fell all around me, the rain that both me and the person I share the memory with so love. Magical, peaceful, an altar to love, and yet defiled by human intervention in the form of plastic bottles and papers strewn around in a place I had thought not frequented at all. What I don't get is, why go into nature at all if you are disrespectful of it? I mean, this is no school canteen, no candy shop, no games room either. It barely makes sense to me that anyone would visit the place unless they had some peace and quiet in mind. And just as no one pees where they eat (even a rabbit I had was intelligent enough to pee on the opposite side of the cage to where his food was), why would anyone turn their place of rest into a litter garden?

Friday, 22 March 2019

The Straw is NOT the Problem

The last time I went to McDonald's, I saw that the cashier did not put a straw in the tray for my son to use with the lidded carton cup. Forgetting all about the campaign against straws, I asked why was there no straw and was told it is because I need to request one if I want it. Fair enough.

Or rather, it would make sense if it weren't for all the rest of the disposable packaging sitting on the ironically straw-less tray. I once in fact tackled the topic of too much waste in diners as well as other businesses. You may read that article here:

To add insult to injury, a few days after this episode I frequented a well-known coffee place with a friend. We ordered a simple black tea and an espresso. Unknown to us the coffee shop was due to close in less than an hour from when we made our entrance so the barista advised us we could only buy our drinks in disposable cups and would that be alright. Well, I wanted my fix of tea and sit-down chat as well as the bathroom so given the choice between disposable or nothing at all I reluctantly said ok for the throw-away cup option. I understand that staff might not be too amused at the thought of washing those final few cups at the end of a long shift but why should that impact the environment? Most likely, the disposable-only rule applies simply because the management forsee less of a cost in that option than paying the baristas to stay a few minutes more to wash up. After all, selfishness and profit margins reign supreme in most big businesses.

Meanwhile I've seen this careless trend in other places too. One such example is the huge thick plastic bags put in some office and public bathrooms for tampons and sanitary towels. Yeah, I get it - these items are gross to throw away directly in a bin - but that is no excuse for so much wastage when pads are anyway packaged in plastic so it is easy to roll the used one up in the still-clean wrapping of the one just put on and tampons are very very small compared to those plastic bags being provided. In fact, even pads are not that big compared to the size of the bags I've seen. Alternately, though still quite wasteful in my opinion, maybe paper bags could be provided instead?

But back to diners now and some less obvious changes that they could incorporate are things like sugar in shakers instead of little paper packets. They are hygienic enough, provide no paper waste and there is likely less wastage by users than when they can freely grab packets and leave untouched then thrown away once the table is cleaned. I also often encounter plastic containers when I order takeout from various places. The black-bottomed, clear-plastic top variety might make for appetising presentation but I much rather have a cleaner planet to live on than a photo-worthy meal. Another, maybe less used but still replaceable item is the disposable wooden chopsticks sometimes presented in restaurants. Once again, I rather blame profit-margins for this one, that accounts for the time it would take an employee/cost of dishwashing the reusable variety.

All in all, I think we are far from environmentally-conscious most of the time, especially here in my country. As with most other pitiable circumstances, this one is clearly brought about more often by a monetary factor than the effort entailed in making the small changes.

They say money makes the world go round. But maybe, just maybe, it is money that will stop the world after all.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Peer Pressure in Adulthood

Firstly, let me say that although the next paragraphs mention a hot topic of discussion, this post is NOT about the pro-life or pro-choice movements and I only mention the issue in order to examine a particular human trait.

I never hide my beliefs. If I stayed quiet rather than voicing my thoughts about something just for the sake that 'everyone is entitled to an opinion', I would in fact be going against my own belief. So in the midst of a furore about the topic of abortion a couple years back, my then editor invited me to write about my stance on a magazine that had mostly pro-choice authors. You may read the article here: Why I'll Never Be Pro Choice.

Given the current almost volcanic debate going on in my country (Malta) about the possible legalisation of abortion, I thought it was the right time to re-share my article which presents not a religious or hostile pro-life argument but rather tackles pro-choicers' views whilst saying why I do not deem them plausible reasons in favour of abortion. If my article hits too close when read, then I am probably presenting a good argument.

In a bid to share my views further and present my cause, I politely asked most of the people on my contact list to share my article on. Amid the thumbs up signs of pro-lifers and a couple of 'I'm pro-choice' people who respected that our idea differed, I met with a surprise. A person who seemed to me very much a pro-lifer in personal view, pointed out that sharing my article would cause harm to her career. I understand a passion for what you do but to hide who you really are simply to avoid boycott sounds to me very much like the peer pressure we blame on teens.

I personally rather lose some followers and be true to myself than act like someone I am not to please others. What happened to 'Love yourself and be true to yourself first'?! This person argued that voicing any view on the matter in question would always result in haters and that she did not judge anyone for their opinion or what they did so didn't want people to think she did. Say what?! That made my heart thump and upset me till a day later, here I am writing about it. I don't judge others either. I have amazing friends who are pro-choice and although I can never agree with them on the topic, I would not cut them out of my life for that. I actually admire that they are ready to say the truth about how they feel despite knowing my opinion differs greatly.

Knowing I am in the company of, or Facebook friends with, people who have a reaction opposite to mine to the same issue, doesn't mean I shouldn't feel free to voice my own opinion out of fear of how others react. What are we? Ten years old again? What are we? Money-makers who see people as dollar signs that might fade in the face of our true self? If that is how we are, then that is how people will perceive us too. Everyone is what they make of themselves and if we don't believe in ourselves enough to take a stance when we believe in something, then we will be treated as cowards for that is how we will appear.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Loading Match... Wrong Timing... Match Delayed!

There is a film that stands out in my memory and also sits on my DVD shelf at home. I love it and will not part with it despite that I have not watched it in a couple years now.

The name of the film is Love, Rosie and I once wrote comparing it to the book that it is based on, which was originally titled Where Rainbows End. (See comparison article here: Love, Rosie... A book turned into film)

Since it is a romantic comedy I am not spoiling the show by saying that the two best friends eventually do end up together. It is a given, is it not?

The story was originally written by Cecelia Ahern and it explored the lives of the two protagonists through letters that went back and forth not only between themselves but also their families.

In both the book and film, despite how the story was changed to fit the exigencies and limitations of the screen for the film version, it is obvious to readers and viewers that Alex and Rosie are made to be together, though Rosie never seems to see it herself.

They say that truth is stranger than fiction, but I would say here instead that truth is more complicated than fiction. For in addition to how a person can never see objectively that which is too close to home and heart, human beings are in truth much more complex than any fictional counterpart could ever be. Add the circumstances trick that the universe might have up its sleeve, and it really could make star-crossed lovers of real people. Timing is rarely right the first time round is it?

A few weeks ago I had a day off work and I spent it doing things I love, which included meeting one of my girl friends for a long-time-coming coffee. We got talking about new relationships and how easy it is to meet the right person but at the ‘wrong’ time. As I am demisexual, this for me complicates the already next-to-impossible feat of finding a partner even more!

However on the other hand my extreme sexuality type also helps in that when I do find ‘right’ people, I would rather wait out the days, months, even years if Love, Rosie is anything to go by, to be with a person who is a perfect match, than randomly swipe people right on an app in the hope of getting lucky.

So to the guy I met at the bar who was an actual match but had to go back home to his country, I will never forget our meeting. To the man with the most amazing eyes I’ve ever seen, I will never forget looking into them with hope before reality intervened. To the one who came and went from my life over and over again, who knows if you are actually my Twin Flame and will eventually remain?

I do not ‘need’ a relationship to feel whole, something I advocate to everyone in my article Love Yourself First. But if I do have a partner, then I’m gonna have one worth waiting for, like Alex in Love, Rosie.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

The Happy Meal Life

I took my son to McDonalds last week. His invariable meal choice whenever we go there is the famous ‘Happy Meal’, an assortment of junk food and drink with a toy attached. Needless to say, it is the toy that entices him to make his choice and I am happy to comply on the rare occasion we do visit the diner.

My son is not the only child who is magically lured to this ‘Happy’ meal and as I sat looking around me I could see other Happy Meal cartons dotting the whole of the place. Which prompted me to ask myself, why is the kids’ meal the ‘Happy’ meal?

We value our children and try to make them as happy as we can, within our limits that are usually brought about by our own upbringing, our own standard of living, our own big love for those we care about as well as the circumstances we find ourselves in. Children always come first. We give them priority, thrive on their joy and ensure they always get the best of what we can give them. Which is all well and good, human and proper.

However why is it that most of us don’t respect ourselves in the same way that we respect children? We deserve a Happy Meal too in my opinion?

We put our children to sleep early to ensure they get enough rest and are sharp during school hours but I know very few people who have disciplined themselves to get enough sleep in adulthood. Most of the time, adults have an ‘I have to do it all’ attitude. Have to? There is no ‘have to’ and in the long run we usually just end up physically sick till we have to deal with ourselves and give ourselves the rest our body and mind crave.

We tell our children to work hard in school to grow up to choose the career they want. Yet adults invariably get sucked into the 9-5 job to ‘make money’. What is money? It is the means to the lifestyle we want and not important in itself. (Read my Minimalism and the Economy article here: So why not, rather, have a job that makes us happy over the one presenting the bigger bucks or else not even that but just a safety net? I rather land on a slippery rainbow slide than a black safe boring safety net thank you very much.

We let our children play and drive them around to get them to their extra-curricular activities to get their fun. But are we getting enough fun? Do we allow ourselves the time and space to dream, take a class we enjoy, read that book or watch that film without guilt of ‘not having time’?

For a few weeks since the start of this year I had a boyfriend. Unfortunately things didn’t work out and we split after less than a month but it was one month where I had to share my time, answer texts, meet on the allotted day and time regardless of my mood and physical energy. It started to drain me though I wasn’t sure why. When we did split and I started embracing my single lifestyle again I noted how for all the time I was dating him I had given up on most of my meditation sessions, had had no time to read and was only watching films and series in his company, never alone, simply due to that I can only do so much in a day. I am sure that were it a relationship that was going to work I would have felt differently about it but the point here is that we should always give ourselves the time to do that which will make us better versions of ‘us’.

We notice things that drag us down and complain yet not change the situation if it is too daunting to do so. Sometimes I wish adults were allowed the temper tantrums that we expect and accept of children. ‘I don’t wanna’ is a familiar phrase in parenthood but it is never the parent saying those words.

What if we started ‘not wanting to’ do some things and actually accept that of ourselves? To the tired mama out there, it’s ok to not do it all. To the fathers juggling more than one job, it is ok to not give your children the latest new ‘fad’ toys. They might be craving your presence more than the so-called ‘Happiness boosters’ that keep getting advertised. To all of us including the non-parents, being an adult should not s**k.

My son’s favourite go-to when he is pissed off is to say it is not fair that he only gets to do all that he wants when he becomes an adult. Maybe he is right and we are wrong, and as adults, which should strive to do what makes us happy.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

From Strangers to Flatmates

Last Saturday night, as Malta faced one of the worst ever recorded storms in the island's history, I sat in the small kitchen drinking a beer and swaying to an assortment of music videos suggested by myself and four of my five flatmates in turn. (Thinking about it, my current living arrangement sounds like something out of the BBC series White Heat, about which I had written at length here:

The cosy and friendly atmosphere prompted me to comment on how in the three months that I'd lived with the previous flatmates in the same flat, this thing had never happened. Meanwhile, three more months spent in a different flat-share last summer had yielded an even more bitter-sweet experience.

I like to think that I am on a kind of Sabbatical, albeit a forced one. One year of living with strangers out of necessity, but also my first year of living totally away from family which in itself has given me a new autonomy. But back to the topic of the day, living with people who are neither family nor, in most instances, of my same nationality, has opened up the possibility to really grow mentally. I was never really racist but I do tend to be quite guarded as a person and previously would never have even wanted a friend to stay over let alone share my living quarters with someone, or in this case five someones, that I did not previously know.

I grew up in a home where we were very reserved and I remember thinking it very strange when a relative or other of my ex husband would invariably pop into his mum's home without prior notice. Yet here I am now, so happy for the good company that I will definitely miss the long chats over tea of an evening or whilst cooking, as well as walking into 'my' kitchen for breakfast to find one of the other girls there. I have found my multi-cultural rental a real 'home' away from my home and were it not for having my son currently living away from me due to the living arrangement, I would be very content to prolong this sense of comradeship. In fact, just thinking about leaving in a few months makes me kind of sad. We will say we'll keep in touch, and maybe we will. But by now I know very well that distance does damage to any kind of relationship and that family life will almost surely gulp me up in a new lifestyle that will differ to the one I currently enjoy.

Gratitude helps in any given situation and I am finding it easy to feel grateful for sharing my home over living totally on my own. Nothing beats sharing good news and bad, feeling safer when the lights go out in the storms or simply laughing my nerves off. I even enjoy sharing my hairdryer and feeling useful, as well as the fact that we are causing less of a carbon footprint than if we were all of us living on our own.

As previously stated, my experiences with some other flatmates had not been as sweet so I could never draw a line and say I have loved the experience all through. However there is always a good and bad side to each story and I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to experience this lifestyle for myself. As it is said, it is much easier to try something when you know you have a way out and my safety net is my new flat. So I will enjoy my last few months of this hippie way of life before entering a new phase in life.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Billboard Bull***t

Very close to the street where I am currently living is a billboard. Now a billboard is never a friend of mine, given it invariably markets and advertises something or other in a way that tries to make people believe it is something they can't live without. For after all, it also invariably markets something we actually could live without or there would be no need to advertise it in the first place! Even animals can understand what they need to survive and thrive, let alone humans. No business wastes money on advertising things that we anyway need to get.

To add insult to injury, this particular billboard is advertising home loans from a particular bank in what appears to me a very irrational logic. Targeting new parents, it suggests that a new baby might indirectly require a bigger home and that they should 'go with it'. 'Go with it'?!! And who is paying that bigger monthly loan, the taxes on purchase of a new property, the interest that brings the total repayment over the years to practically double the original loan amount?

Yet a more intelligent question, however, is why should a new baby bring about a requirement for more space to begin with? In the case of couples with a starter home without enough bedrooms I might agree, but to suggest bigger is better simply for storage space as the advert seemed to indicate, then I must protest that this is simple bull***t. Then again, aren't all billboards tinting simple bull***t in all colours of the rainbow simply to lure people to their cause?

Monday, 18 February 2019

Would Minimalism on a big scale 'Destroy' the economy?

There is such a widespread notion, even in the Minimalist community itself, that should Minimalists outweigh Consumerists then the economy would crumble as a result. This is very untrue in my opinion, which is why I wrote the following piece for EVE:

Sunday, 10 February 2019

On Holiday Every Day

A few months ago I posted a meme on Facebook. It said something to the effect that we should live a life we don’t need a vacation from.

I got quite a few comments retaliating that that is NOT possible, as well as that why wouldn’t one WANT to take a vacation?!

What the people who answered failed to understand was that there is a difference between a vacation and a trip. Of course life would be more boring for people who love to travel and discover and experience new places, traditions, settings without the occasional (or not just occasional) trip! But the meme never said not to travel or experience things. It merely said we should strive to have a life that we don’t need to vacation from.

Again here there was a further misunderstanding by all those who complained that it is not possible. Maybe they assumed I meant one should be on vacation all the time (ie give up their bread-winning job) or that they would, in order to live a life they love enough, have to give up on responsibilities they feel they cannot get away from. The truth, I find, is the total opposite.

Just because we need a bread-winning job should not have us working our ass off for forty hours or more a week in a setting that depresses us, abuses us, gives us little to no satisfaction whilst dangling in front of us a carrot that we are only allowed to touch at the end of the month.

That carrot, whilst organic and expensive, might be causing us so much stress to get at that we need to split it in two and give half of it to our pharmacist in exchange for headache pills or worse. I think you will agree with me when I say I much rather get a non-organic carrot that I can eat wholly myself and not have to eat up any of the pills in order to get to my NEXT reward carrot, in a never-ending cycle that follows on its tail month after month and year after year.

It is true that we all want a job that rewards us for our studies, money wise and in the type of career we pursue. However we should check whether those are actually the only reasons why we want it. After all, we spend countless hours at our workplace and even carry the resulting good or bad mood into our personal life after we leave the workplace behind for the day or week. Add to that, it makes a difference to our life and happiness to wake up in the morning to a job we enjoy and are excited about as opposed to when we must face a day already knowing we are going to a place we dread and that we would rather not spend our time at.

Money, money, money. Don’t blame the money. As I said earlier, better a lower pay doing a job we love than a higher one that we must then share with anyone from the pharmacist (or worse the therapist) to the takeout place on the corner four times a week for not having time or energy to cook a healthy homemade meal.

Given that life is made up of much more than just our job, I am sure that some people would still argue that changing the job for a lower paid one will not do much to help us with other facets of life that tire us out and make us look at that vacation as a paradise we must strive to get to. If anything, they will say, a lower-paid job will hinder our affording a holiday to get away from it all! Get away from what exactly? Despite the grind of daily chores, the tiredness that comes with parenthood and the hundred-and-one commitments we take on feeling we can’t do otherwise, I would say most of the time it is our perception that should change in order to feel that life is a vacation all the time.

Let’s start with checking all those commitments and being honest with ourselves as to why we take them on. Some might be in our schedule more out of guilt than anything else. Like why are we rushing the kids to three extracurricular activities a week? I am sure our children benefit more from having less stressed-out parents than from catching up with everything. After all, even they need a rest that they might not be getting! Why did we say we would be glad to be on a the Parent Teacher Committee if we then grumble about not having the time for it? Don’t feel guilted into anything thinking otherwise they’ll be short-staffed. There are always people willing to do a job out of their own free will and for their own satisfaction and your own time might be better employed getting a well-deserved rest that makes all the difference when you come to tackle the commitments you actually care about.

Only a lucky few afford regular maid service so it would be unrealistic to suggest that you delegate that work to an outsider in order to switch your mind to eternal-holiday-mode. However I would be surprised if anyone at all minded the daily chores if their minds and bodies were not already overtired from a despised job and an endless list of errands. It truly is a balancing game I find.

I could preach till tomorrow about making the changes that make most of the difference to living a happy life. But that is the point of it I guess; to live a happy life! Who needs a vacation from Happiness? No one, Ever!

Sunday, 3 February 2019

A Harsh Start To Motherhood - An Awareness Article

In March 2016 online magazine CominoMag published an article of mine that I wrote very much from the heart. Rights to the article remained my own and since the magazine has now closed and my awareness article is no longer available online for viewing, I am publishing it again here today as it would be a pity not to let it remain online for people to read or refer to. I myself used to often link the article to people who I felt would benefit from it else who could share it on for further awareness of the subject. So here is probably my longest article-not-written-for-the-blog in terms of word count, for anyone who would like to know more about Post Natal Depression, what it feels like, and how to help a loved one through it else how to get better in the case of being the sufferer.

A Harsh Start To Motherhood

After the long wait, the baby is finally in the mother’s arms. She should feel overjoyed but instead all she wants to do is cry herself to sleep. Not only was labour difficult but she can’t seem to understand why they say it’s worth it in the end.

Many women go through ‘baby blues’ in the first weeks after giving birth. They will be weepy and their emotions all over the place. This is a result of hormone changes that occur not only during the pregnancy but also afterwards. Adding the fact that the new mother might be feeling less than great physically as well as having a multitude of new responsibilities to deal with, it is understandable to feel overwhelmed. A ten minute nap, a good diet and talking about how she’s feeling will help alleviate the negative moods.

A worrying ten per cent of the time, however, the symptoms do not go away after the first weeks. This is usually a sign that the mother might be suffering from a serious condition called Postpartum Depression.

Postpartum Depression is worse than an emotional roller-coaster ride. More than just the irritability and insomnia that are ‘baby blues’ symptoms, the mother will experience an inability to enjoy life, not least because she might feel that she cannot connect with the reality around her. In fact one symptom is that the woman will find it difficult to concentrate and therefore finds herself unable to focus on or cope with her new world. Fatigue and a lack of appetite only serve to worsen the mood and health.

It has been blamed on unplanned pregnancy, a traumatic birth, lack of support from the partner or on being too young (surprisingly a psychotherapist I spoke to about the subject mentioned the twenties as being ‘too young’!) The fact remains, that whether or not there is a reason for it, the new mother is going through a dreadful time.

It is said that a woman suffering from Postpartum Depression will want to harm her baby as well as herself but this is not necessarily the case. In fact it seems more normal for the mother to become so obsessed with her baby’s well-being that her whole world starts to centre around keeping him safe.

When the depression takes on an even more horrible form called Postpartum Psychosis the thoughts of suicide become realistic and might be acted upon. Furthermore, in these severe cases, there is a more pronounced inability to bond with the baby and the patient might even suffer from delusions. In the case of Postpartum Psychosis it is imperative that the situation is handled at the earliest by a qualified specialist who would know how to deal with the problem.

With regards to Postpartum Depression, unless the symptoms go away through sheer will-power in the first months, which is a difficult thing to achieve given the depressed person is not usually confident or assertive, then professional help is very often the way to go.

Despite the seriousness of the situation, antidepressants as well as psychotherapy can in most cases solve the problem. Psychotherapy is much like counselling but based on getting the patient to solve the crisis through understanding what is the underlying problem. Sometimes hidden fears and troubles in the person’s background and history might be relevant to the sessions as they might have a part to play in causing the depression.

Unfortunately, the affected mother will be likely to suffer Postpartum Depression following subsequent pregnancies and in fact is also more likely to suffer from depression in general.

Most women know that it is normal to suffer temporarily from baby blues and find themselves unable to distinguish between it and the more unrelenting feelings that might actually be clinical depression. This is why it is important to speak out and try to help if you feel there is something amiss, however trivial you think it might be.

Family might not always realise just how bad the mother is feeling, attributing any feelings to stress at being inept in the new position as a carer of a tiny fragile new being. Meanwhile the mother might feel too weak to think for herself, speak up, or even contemplate that professional help might be a necessity. She might also erroneously feel that to accept and reveal the problem would be to indirectly blame the baby and no mother wants to do that.

The point remains that it is important to recognise and acknowledge the depression. The sooner this happens, the easier it will be for the mother to have positive recollections of what should be the most joyful years of her life.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

London Holiday - Musings Part 3 - The Experience

I've spoken about 'Me' time and I've spoken about shopping. However I think the biggest highlight of my London trip was the experiences that, as always, are something unique and different to each individual and in this case reflect my own likes, preferences and interests.

Arriving at Heathrow late evening I assumed I would only start my adventure properly on the morrow. The airport knew better than I and surprised me with my first photograph-worthy view. As I casually strolled down through the long corridors following signs to my destined exit, I came acrid the spot where Eddie Redmayne apparently stood with his Oscar when he landed back from America and the Academy Awards in 2015.

The rest of the first night was uneventful and I stepped out on the morrow to my first destination, Camden Town. This artistic place stole my heart, partly for its sculpted and painted walls and also for the delicious shops and items for sale. From Gothic clothes to homemade candles (one of which now burns in my room), the shop that I will forever call 'the robot shop' for its design to the multitude of stalls selling anything from homemade baby clothes to cosy vintage signs to hang around the home.
Just as exciting, my second day led me to Portobello Road, with its endless stalls and shops, including the first Cath Kidston store I visited. One lovely gadget store had the most amazingly designed novelty items but unfortunately at the first snap of my phone camera I was sternly advised not to take pictures inside the shop so I cannot share with my readers. My purchases from that day include a print of a Klimt as well as the oil painting I mentioned in the previous post.

With those two 'must see' locations done to my heart's content, I spent the rest of my holiday just visiting places that might interest me and clothes stores I love. Then just as I started my journey with a snapshot from the filming world, I ended it in the Harry Potter shop called Platform 9 3/4. I found it just two hours before checkout, right under my nose in my 'home' train station, King's Cross Station, whilst I had looked for it in the surrounding streets instead!