….let there be shopping….

Archive for the tag “psychology”

Gloria Gaynor Revisited

“Iiiih    ammmmm what IiiiH ammmmm

Iiiih am my oooooown



                                                                                                                                                                    ( 1980-something???)

I’ve been thinking.

Thinking happens a lot when one drives from a farm to most places where there are more people than animals and more shops than trees.

Yes, I know reading about someone else’s thoughts is right up there in the  “shoot-me-now” category with listening to someone else’s dream-from-last-night told in boring detail after boring detail.

But I’m in the mood for sharing titbits of wisdom so you’ll just have to read it.

Granted, these are my titbits of wisdom concerning my own life.  And my memories coloured by my take on what happened.

Right or wrong and most probably twisted. But I need to put a few things in sentences for my own sake.

What I’ve been thinking about goes more or less like this:

– I studied psychology to the point of doing an honours degree mostly because I wanted to “get” other people and their doings and most of all to “get” myself.

– To this day the only thing about those gruelling years of working and studying that struck a chord with me was cognitive psychology. In short, cognitive psychology treats the thought process of an individual. If the client says : “Everybody thinks I’m fat and ugly” the therapist says : “EVERYBODY? How can you be sure of the thoughts of others? Can you read minds? No, you can’t. So your statement that EVERYBODY thinks you’re fat and ugly is UNTRUE. ”

– Cognitive psychology made me question my ingrained assumptions about most things. Mostly my assumptions about the way others are in the world and about what they need. In short, I started moving away from MEH- MEH- MEH ( carried firmly along since teenagehood where I wore only black for years, thought I was hideously ugly with a face that “worked funny”  and during which I sulked and frowned myself into teenage drama-delux. )

Stay with me here. STOP YAWNING.

– The point I’m trying to get to is : Why did it all centre around me so much? Granted, I had parents always ALWAYS impressed with beauty, thinness, achievement, awards. I liked those things too. I liked being “the best”. And being “the best” meant coming first. Second meant “you lose, dear.”  Second or silver or 70% meant grovelling in the dirt with 95% of the population. NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

– I married a man who is happy to just “be in the world”. He never got a prize or an award for anything in his life. Not even a certificate for 100% school attendance. And he couldn’t give a rat’s ass whether our children come first or last in the class/race/party- invite- popularity contest.  I found this quality of his to be hairpullingly frustrating in the first few years of our marriage. Now all I feel is intense relief.

OK. I’m almost done. Hang in there.

During me thinking all of this over on the gravel road to town I have come to the conclusion that I never, ever really “got it”.

I never “got” the simple concept that people need people. And in essence, people don’t care about your hair, your weight, your clothes. Your degree, your published article, your stuffed-with-real-goose-feathers pillows.

They really, really just…well……..don’t.

People care about how you make them feel.

That’s it.

I wish I could tell my 16-year old self that.

You know?






There’s a dimly lit room at the end of a dimly lit passage.  Shadows move along the walls of the room as two figures bend over a bed. A gagged woman lies tied there. Her straightjacket gleams white against the leather of the straps pinning her down. 

There is a big, monstrous machine next to the bed. Electrodes connect her brain to the beast.

( cue Chopin’s piano sonata nr 2 “funeral march” )

 A low,  gutteral inhuman sound comes from her throat  as the big black machine next to her is switched on. 

Someone quickly closes the door and the screen fades to black…but not before her body is seen lifting  off  the bed in one big convulsion…

OK PEOPLE. You can wake up now.

And breathe….slow….In……

…a …..n…….d……


What you just read is not the truth about ECT. It is a scene from a horror movie. Which modern-day “shock therapy” is NOT!

I received ECT as treatment for Post-Natal Depression two years ago. It literally saved my life.

At the time I was barely functioning. ( not eating, not getting dressed, unable to read or have a conversation, unwilling to get out of bed, unwilling and unable to take care of myself, much less my son who was 2 years old at the time. Also, I had almost no short-term memory.)

I had suffered from Major Depression all my life. I had been on different treatments on and off for the almost  20 years. ( starting at the age of 18 )

I had 4 unsuccessful suicide attempts behind me. I was “self medicating” with pain killers and alcohol right through my twenties and early 30’s.

And then my mom passed away suddenly in my 4th month of pregnancy. She would never meet her first grandchild.

All of these things caused chemical chaos in my brain.

“I couldn’t be with people and I didn’t want to be alone. Suddenly my perspective whooshed and I was far out in space, watching the world. I could see millions and millions of people, all slotted into their lives; then I could see me—I’d lost my place in the universe. It had closed up and there was nowhere for me to be. I was more lost than I had known it was possible for any human being to be.”
― Marian Keyes, Anybody Out There?

Marian Keyes

Incorrectly treated depression for such a long period of time causes the brain to eventually “shut down”. The nerve endings literally stop firing . 

Sylvia Plath

“It seemed silly to wash one day when I would only have to wash again the next.

It made me tired just to think of it.”
― Sylvia PlathThe Bell Jar

Researchers have noted differences in the brains of people who are depressed as compared to people who are not. For instance, the hippocampus, a small part of the brain that is vital to the storage of memories, appears to be smaller in people with a history of depression than in those who’ve never been depressed. A smaller hippocampus has fewer serotonin receptors. Serotonin is a calming brain chemical known as a neurotransmitter that allows communication between nerves in the brain and the body.

And this is where ECT comes into the picture.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a procedure in which electric currents are passed through the brain, deliberately triggering a brief seizure which “wakes up” the nerve endings. Electroconvulsive therapy seems to cause changes in brain chemistry that can immediately reverse symptoms of certain mental illnesses. It often works when other treatments are unsuccessful.


I had 6 treatments over 15 days.

Electrodes were attached to certain areas on my scalp and I received just enough anesthetic to be “lights out”( ! ) for more or less 5 minutes.

I felt no pain and had no memory afterwards of the seizure induced.

When I woke up I my head felt “hot” and I was slightly nauseous. These feelings passed within minutes and I could go home straight afterwards.

No big deal.

Am I “cured”?

I will have to be on medication for the rest of my life.

I have to be careful with things like flu meds and especially with pain killers which affect my mood negatively.

But I’m happy, motivated, energized and completely in awe of my family and how far we’ve come.

I do have “down” times or rather “down moments”, but they don’t overwhelm me and they don’t keep me in bed!

I hope this post debunks some of the myths around ECT and mental disorders.

I finish off with this excellent observation by Andrew Solomon. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

“Since I am writing a book about depression, I am often asked in social situations to describe my own experiences, and I usually end by saying that I am on medication. 
“Still?” people ask. “But you seem fine!” To which I invariably reply that I seem fine because I am fine, and that I am fine in part because of medication. 
“So how long do you expect to go on taking this stuff?” people ask. When I say that I will be on medication indefinitely, people who have dealt calmly and sympathetically with the news of suicide attempts, catatonia, missed years of work, significant loss of body weight, and so on stare at me with alarm. 
“But it’s really bad to be on medicine that way,” they say. “Surely now you are strong enough to be able to phase out some of these drugs!” If you say to them that this is like phasing the carburetor out of your car or the buttresses out of Notre Dame, they laugh. 
“So maybe you’ll stay on a really low maintenance dose?” They ask. You explain that the level of medication you take was chosen because it normalizes the systems that can go haywire, and that a low dose of medication would be like removing half of your carburetor. You add that you have experienced almost no side effects from the medication you are taking, and that there is no evidence of negative effects of long-term medication. You say that you really don’t want to get sick again. But wellness is still, in this area, associated not with achieving control of your problem, but with discontinuation of medication. 
“Well, I sure hope you get off it sometime soon,” they say. ” 
― Andrew SolomonThe Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

Andrew Solomon



I had my annual check up with the psychiatrist yesterday.

It’s been 2 years since I ended up having shock treatment for untreated PND ( Post-Natal Depression ) .


Of that horrific time in our lives I remember very little.

Lying in bed for days. Enjoying nothing. Wanting nothing but sleep,sleep and more sleep.

Incapable of brushing my teeth, reading or concentrating on anything for more than a few seconds. Unwilling to get dressed, unwilling to go shopping.Yes.ME.

Not wanting my son, not wanting my marriage, not wanting MY LIFE.


Two years on the right treatment and fast forward to yesterday:

I walked in there with my perfect baby  in my arms, now a year old. I looked into that man’s eyes and proudly said:

“Meet my daughter!”


Three proud words after “they” all said “How can she even THINK of having another child?”

Three proud words after the stress of a pregnancy while on anti-depressants. Wondering and worrying for 9 months whether this baby I was carrying would be ok.

And husband worrying about whether I would make it through in one piece.


I made it.

I’ve gone from zombie-with-no-memory to  a mentally strong  mom and wife with a sense of humor, a dream to write and the ability to deal with ( most ) of what this here life throws at me.


A full box of chocolates?



Elevator going all the way to the top?

Most days, yes.


Wanting my life?



( ps. If you know of anybody needing support with issues around depression and/or PND PLEASE show them this post . I’d be more than happy to provide information and a listening ear where needed. )










( No. I’m not suggesting that you “drink-and-parent” although sometimes that ice-cold white does take the edge off the lego you’ve just stepped on.)


I have several things on my parenting mind.

First thing

Two kids under the age of 5 must be the worlds’ ultimate contraceptive.  After a day spent saying “Leave-your-sister-alone-don’t-grab-her-toys-Don’t let her near-your-full-potty-call-Mommy-when-you’re-done-SHIT!!! Now-she’s-full-of-wee!!-I-TOLD-YOU-TO-CALL-ME-THE-MOMENT-YOU’RE-DONE-What? WHAT??-NOW-YOU-WANT-RICE-CRISPIES-YOU-JUST-TOLD-ME-YOU-WANTED-WEETBIX-WITH-RAISINS!! ” I’m just put off kootchie-cooing altogether. Kootchie-cooing was the thing that got me cleaning wee off a 1-year old in the first place.


Second thing

I love Nanny Nopop. I especially love her on a Monday morning when her glorious smiling face says :”Molo!” . And what I love most is her taking over nappy and bum wipe duty for a few hours each day.


Third thing

Irate children react positively to water and paint.

Water: Immerse them in it or cover a floor area of 5X5 meters with plastic and hand over a bowl to splash around with.

Paint : Cover an area of 5X5 meters with plastic. Also cover child with plastic. Hand over water based paint, paintbrush and paper.

Peace for at least 10 minutes guaranteed.

You can clean up later. ( while having a glass of ice-cold white )


Fourth thing

Children are lovely. Sometimes children are heavenly. Just-out-of-the-bath-baby-shampoo-smell-heavenly.

There’s nothing quite like a warm little body on your lap. Or a pudgy little hand around your neck. Or a wet  kiss on your cheek.

Or all of the above just before they fall asleep.

Ahhhhh….nap time. Don’t we just LOVE naptime…


Fifth thing

I love my children. Which is WHY I’m prepared to clean wee and paint and other stuff off of them.


Ice- cold white, anyone?



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