THE BIRTH OF TWO MINUTE MOVES
I always had a positive approach to life
I always had a very positive approach to life. I got that from my mum who is an incredibly positive woman. We refer to her as ‘Pollyanna’. When the sky is black she’ll always see a small amount of blue. I was taught to have a positive approach to life, to be grateful for what I had, to not take things for granted and to be thankful. My friends at school would joke that even when I was angry I would still have a big smile on my face. Every morning before school I would get up an hour before I had to and head down to my doorless garage where I had set up a bit of lino, a ballet barre and mirror and I would dance - not giving a damn about the curious looks of those walking or driving by. I did it because I loved it and it made me feel so good.
I was so ashamed I wasn't coping
It came as such a shock to me when I arrived at a time in my life that I was not able to find that positivity anymore. I had a beautiful, healthy baby, a toddler who was full of laughter, a husband and a family that I could call on, yet I felt desperate, depressed and alone. My rational mind told me that I shouldn’t be having a hard time in my fortunate position but no matter how many times I tried to talk myself out of how I was feeling, I couldn’t seem to get myself unstuck. Not that I was revealing this to anyone however. Not even to my husband, Felix, my friends or my family. This was my own secret because I was so ashamed that I wasn’t coping. I kept telling myself to get over it, to look at how lucky I was with all that I had. I’d say to myself, ‘You’ve got no right to be feeling like this. Put a smile on your face and get on with it.’
A thought came in to my head, I'm going to kill myself
I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. I didn’t want to leave the house in the day. I would count down the hours until night-time and then go to bed with a sense of dread of how many times I’d be woken up in the night. The ‘put on’ smile on my face got bigger and bigger as I tried to fake my way through the day and not reveal to anyone how depressed I really was.
One day I was lying on my bed having just put my newborn, Ruby, to sleep and Stella started crying. Instead of jumping up like normal to comfort her, I didn’t move. A thought came in to my head loud and clear, ‘I’m going to kill myself.’ It then kept repeating over and over, ‘I’m going to kill myself, I’m going to kill myself.’ From that moment, any time I found myself not feeling good; my secret mantra would start up and repeat, ‘I’m going to kill myself.’ Instead of feeling shocked at these words that were so foreign to anything I had ever felt before, I felt like I had found a comforting mantra that was a way out. I never questioned this chant and how far removed from my regular way of thinking it was.
I would think about throwing my baby out the window
What I thought would be an incredibly joyful time in my life had turned in to one of the darkest. Never before had I experienced such uncontrollable emotions. I was punching my brick walls with anger as I went up the stairs of our home to settle one of the kids after trying to get them to sleep. There would be an incident, like Stella not eating her dinner, and it was like my top would blow. I’d scream in frustration, yell at them, all the while telling myself to stop, but I felt unable to. I stabbed a knife in the cutting board (snapping the top off it) in a moment of fury and frustration. I’ll never forget seeing my oldest daughter’s face looking at me in terror as I was screaming in a fit of rage. Never would I imagine having a child that was scared of me. These feelings were so unrecognisable that I was scaring myself. Once I grabbed one of my daughters and felt like I wanted to shake her. On the top floor where my daughter’s bedroom was, I would look down out the window and think about throwing my baby out when she wouldn’t stop crying.
I have always resisted getting help
Sometimes it takes hearing from someone else – be it a friend, partner or doctor – to make us finally take action. Sometimes it’s not only until we hit rock bottom or burn out that we know deep down that the time has come to not wait any longer. Sometimes we just know that the time is now.
I have always resisted getting help. I come from very stoic stock. No matter how sick you are you respond with, ‘I’m fine’ and there are many stories of my farmer grandfather in the paddock being bitten by a snake or chopping a finger off and continuing work as normal. It has to be pretty serious to take even a paracetamol or go to a doctor in my family. But as my thoughts got darker, I realised there was too much at stake to not get some help so I made an appointment to my doctor feeling like a total failure.
Arriving in her office, reluctantly admitting how I had been feeling (I didn’t tell her about the suicidal thoughts as that was still too hard to admit), I expected her to tell me to toughen up and get over it. However, to my complete shock, she told me what I was experiencing was postnatal depression and gave me a prescription for antidepressants. I didn’t know there was such a thing as PND and couldn’t believe that I had it. I took the piece of paper and was about to get up and go when my doctor put her hand on mine and said, ‘You know how when you get on the plane and they tell you to put on your oxygen mask first before assisting others? That’s what you have to do.’ With those words repeating in my head and a prescription in my hand I headed home.
Finding my oxygen mask
I arrived home to an empty house and knowing I only had a few minutes until my family returned. I sat on the edge of my bed, put the prescription on my bedside table, and felt myself exhale like I hadn’t done for a long time. I knew in that moment that trying talk myself out of how I was feeling wasn’t the answer. It hit me that I had been so focused on making sure that everyone else’s needs were taken care of that I’d forgotten to take care of myself. I needed to do something for me. I made the decision that before I took any medication I would first commit to taking action every day to make myself feel a bit better. But what could I do? I had forgotten what it was that I used to do that made me feel good. I exhaled again and closed my eyes.
Then like letters being written up in the sky, through my tears I saw what I needed to do.
I had stopped making my body a priority, and as a result my mind and soul were in a terrible way. I had to do something to start bringing myself back. Reclaiming my body, my brain and my spirit.
Straight away my mind started bombarding me with excuses:
I’m too tired
I don’t know how to start
I won’t be able to stick to it
I’m ashamed of my body
I don’t have time
and how the hell do you do it when you are feeling at your lowest, completely overwhelmed? I could hardly get my children out of the house or hang out the washing let alone do some kind of exercise.
All I needed was two minutes
But I also knew that I had to try something so the next morning after I made myself the promise to move, I put a television show on for my kids, went and stood at my kitchen bench and, even though it was the last thing I felt like doing, I practised some of my old ballet barre moves: raising my leg up and down behind me, then some bending and straightening of my knees. I’ll never forget feeling this tiny bubbling of emotion, a kind I hadn’t felt for so long that it took me a while to recognise it. It was hope. I did ten push-ups at the bench, and the feeling of strength through my body sparked an inner strength that I thought was lost. I only lasted two minutes before my daughters called out that they needed something, but that was all I needed. That sense of achievement and connection to myself, brought me back for another few minutes the next day and the next. This was the moment that Two Minute Moves was born and to this day these little workouts continue to be my oxygen mask.
Photos by Tanya Lake
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I am a certified Personal Trainer, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Presenter, Speaker and contributor to MindBodyGreen, The BubHub, BellaMumma and more. My workouts have been featured in Lorna Jane's YouTube channel, news.com.au plus many other fabulous online publications, programs and blogs. My 2 Minute Workouts get sent each week for free to thousands of women who have become part of my community. I have been up on stage speaking and getting audiences off their chairs and moving at Golden Door Health Retreats, Mindd, IIN, Mama Creatives, Mum Society and more.
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