Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

  1. All in the mind: thoughts on post-natal depression

    November 1, 2012 by The Kraken

    Screenshot of Mail Online, 31.10.12

    Oh, for fuck’s sake. I just had the misfortune of reading some of the mouth-breathing comments on the Daily Mail’s website following the report about Felicia Boots, the post-natally depressed mother who smothered her two small children as a result of her illness. As you’d expect from DM readers they lacked empathy and intelligence to the point of parody, which makes grim reading for me because, if these cheese-brained nose-pickers are any judge of character, then I am as wicked as they also believe Felicia Boots to be.

    See, after Kraken Junior was born I developed severe post-natal depression and I too had moments of peering into her cot and wondering what would happen if I just took that pillow and… Now I was ill. Very ill. It was suspected by my psychiatric nurse that my depression began when I was pregnant and then went supersonic after giving birth. By the time Kraken Junior was three weeks old I felt desperate and exhausted. When she was three months old I felt unable to cope and when she was six months old I was simply suicidal. All that got me through the 3am feeds was the promise to myself that once she was content and settled back in her cot I’d walk into the busy road outside my house and end it all. To me suicide wasn’t the problem. It was the solution.

    Of course, the rallying of family, friends, doctors, psychiatric units and even pharmaceutical companies all brought me back from the brink and helped me through what was a complete mental breakdown. It’s taken five years but I am on my way. What I haven’t left behind though is the complete and utter understanding of what it is like to be so engulfed by depression that even the unthinkable becomes doable.

    See, many people will look at Felicia Boots’ actions and judge them from the standpoint of people who have never had mental illness. They have never suffered depression, never seeing the brightest colours turn grey, never cried because they felt so desperate and never believed that the world, and their newborns, would be better off without them. They’ve never panicked because the tea or coffee question confused them, never become hysterical because even the sound of the rain is too much to endure and never grabbed the hand of a friend and whispered that they feel possessed.

    So how in the fuck can these same people judge Felicia Boots? They have no idea what it is like to look at their small child and believe that death can solve everything because they have never experienced the illness – not the lifestyle choice – that forces you to want to kill against your terrified will. It’s the laughable equivalent of squirrels understanding the Special Theory of Relativity.

    Yet even if people cannot understand Felicia Boots’ action, they can at least try having some empathy or sadness or thought for it, for a woman who was clearly so desperately in the grips of her mental illness that she killed her children. See, because while she physically smothered her babies it was her broken brain that really did the job, a brain stolen by an illness so terrible that it also stole the loving mother that she really was.

    So the next time we read of a story like this one – and there will be a next time – we should stop and think before waving those pitchforks. Yes, that even applies to Daily Mail readers. Because post-natal depression doesn’t discriminate or select its victims according to character type. It rampages through the minds of even the most devoted of mothers, mothers who, at times of crisis, need support – not this disgusting senselessness.

     The Kraken is a ‘furious and ranty ex-freelance journalist’. She has a wonderfully rage-filled blog, with the excellent title, ‘The Kraken Wakes’ and you can find her on Twitter right here

  2. Sex Education; is it really working?

    August 21, 2012 by Jenni

    Image from of all places

    For a while I have wondered why if the sex education system in the UK is relatively good (compared to some) we have so many  teenage pregnancies. I’ve always assumed that these kids just haven’t bothered to use any form of protection, rather than simply not knowing enough about it to help.
    Personally, I’ve never felt inadequately prepared after sex education. Perhaps this is because I was a bit of a geek and liked to actually listen to authority figures when they spoke, perhaps it’s because I started thinking about it from a youngish age or perhaps it’s because I had the helpful insights  of  The Period Book’ to introduce me to puberty and all its joys.

    Memories of my sex-ed experience include when we got to chapter 7 (Reproduction!) in the science textbooks we were allowed to move from our boy-girl seating plan and sit where-ever we liked(!) which I’m sure was more interesting than the anatomy of a penis/vagina. I remember the school nurse telling us about how the ‘clinic in town did some lovely passion-fruit flavoured condoms’ and everyone  thinking “EWEWEWEWEW!” at the thought of our slightly overweight middle-aged nurse STILL HAVING SEX. I have a horribly accurate memory of being in college studying reproduction/fertility and having to watch that video where someone thought it would be a good idea to put a camera on some poor woman’s cervix and film her being ejaculated into by, what was at the time, a giant wide-screen penis. This definitely just felt like far too much information. Especially when it also went on to show the same woman giving birth in graphic detail too. I feel so sorry for that kid-teenagers across the country have watched their conception/birth whilst squirming in their seats and trying not to look.

    However, I digress. The sex-ed I got at school certainly gave me enough information to choose what I would like to happen to my own body when I needed contraception myself. I knew the different choices and that some suited other people better than others and, possibly more importantly, that I would never feel safe having sex with only a condom between me and an unwanted pregnancy. Now, of course, I am a lot more clued up, but I did OK then too.

    Having talked to friends and read a couple of blogs on the subject (over at the Vagenda) it seems that this is not the case with everyone. Friends who went to more religious schools than mine were basically taught not to have sex rather than how to protect themselves. Another friend said “If you hadn’t got pregnant by year 8/9 in my school you were in the minority.” This is clearly a MASSIVE FAILING. (And more worryingly still is-1 in 4 pupils apparently still receive little to no sex ed at all.The way people view it also needs to be changed-it’s not stripping kids of their innocence and it’s not more likely to make them go out and start having sex with everything.  Even if it does, they would do so armed with greater knowledge about contraception and keeping themselves safe, how can this be a bad thing?

    Kids need an open and frank discussion about sex because they’re so curious and there’s not a lot of places they can get answers from that aren’t going to potentially do them harm. Kids need to be taught more than just the ins and outs of sex too. They need to be taught that straight, gay, bisexual and transgendered people are all normal, plus all the other inbetweens. They need to know that there is a whole spectrum of relationships they can have and that not all of them boil down to which part goes in who and where. They need to be encouraged to explore the emotions surrounding sex-they need to be told that sex and love often get tangled up in complicated ways (and that’s fine!) but that sex doesn’t always equal love.

    They need to be shown that it’s not about gaining notches in the bedpost but a shared experience between two consenting people that they should only enter into when their emotions are ready as well as their bodies. They need to be told that wanking won’t make you go blind and yes, girls can get in on the action too. The need to know that they shouldn’t have a baby without being emotionally, financially and physically ready for it, and that if they’re not any of those things they should be given advice on abortion and why it doesn’t make you a murderer or any less of a person if that’s your decision. They should be told that if you choose to sleep with lots of people it doesn’t make you a “slag” or a “stud” and that everyone’s sexual experiences are different and that is definitely OK. And they should be given details on all types of contraception as a mandatory thing. These kids can be in charge of their own futures but only if they’re given all the information to begin with.

    It’s obvious kids need more information to get a proper handle on the big issues of SEX AND RELATIONSHIPS and it’s obvious that not many people who are in charge seem to care about this. Television shows like Channel 4′s The Sex Education Show have been trying to make people more aware about these issues and it’s a start, albeit a slow one. I’ve signed this petition because I think every little bit helps.

    Let’s encourage our kids to grow up to enjoy sex, but enjoy it responsibly with a full grasp of all the things they need to know about it first.

    It’s time to stand up for Sex Education, who’s with me?

    Jenni (@circlethinker) is a science geek, a theatre aficionado (both on and off the stage), and a big fan of socks. She’s in her early twenties and recently finished up a Biomedical Science degree at Sheffield. Jenni has a lovely blog over here (where this post first appeared) and you can find her on Twitter right here

  3. From here to maternity

    July 26, 2012 by Anon

    Image from

    Figuring out what to do with regards to your maternity leave isn’t as easy as one might expect. For the record, before falling pregnant, I didn’t have a clear idea on how long I would take for maternity leave – I thought that as soon as my uterus was no longer advertising a vacancy that I would just know, you know?  It turns out though that all of the usual umming and aahing that we do about our careers isn’t resistant to pregnancy hormones.   The two lines on the pregnancy test also happened to coincide with two little lines on an email –

    “We really liked you at the first interview. We’d like to invite you back for a second interview.”


    I’d been to an interview a few weeks previously at a company I really liked, whose ethos and manner of working were so me I felt that, as vomit inducing as it might sound, I’d “come home” when I stepped into their offices. I clicked with the directors and shared their values and vision for the firm. They also did some really cool shit. I now had a bit of a dilemma – I wasn’t legally obliged to inform them of my situation so could technically go to the second interview and accept the job (were it to be offered to me) without letting them know about my internal Hummingbird Bakery activity. On the other hand, the thought of doing that that made me feel dishonest, uncomfortable and a bit of a bitch. I find that when someone starts to italicise (verbally or otherwise) the word “technically” then they generally know that what they’re doing isn’t 100% above board. You know what I mean, it’s like when you tell yourself it wasn’t technically a lie when you said there was a problem on the tube when you arrive late. There was a problem – but it was on the District line, and you came on the Northern line.

    So I told them. And, as they are legally obliged to interview me anyway, they still invited me for interview. Long story short, they liked me, I adored them, they offered me the job. I turned it down.  I didn’t feel that I could take the job knowing that I would be on maternity leave within 6 months of arriving. It didn’t really seem fair on anyone. I felt that I would be judged for taking a job right before going on leave and, in typically dramatic and overly poetic fashion, I imagined my colleagues’ resentment growing alongside my unborn child. I’m not kidding. I was imagining their resentment with actual kidneys.

    So it was pretty interesting to see one of last week’s big news stories about Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s new CEO. You may be more familiar with her being referred to as Pregnant Marissa Mayer, which is apparently her full name.  For anyone who hasn’t heard the story, it’s quite a controversial one and Mayer has been alternately lambasted and held up as a bastion of feminist example, for accepting the job at Yahoo at 6 month’s pregnant. Yahoo has been praised for their “evolved thinking” of employing someone whose uterus is currently in use.

    Except I don’t think that it is all that controversial. I mean, for one thing, Mayer is taking all of about 5 minutes of maternity leave. Well, okay, two weeks. So really, Yahoo is doing the equivalent of employing someone who already has a fortnight’s holiday booked. So not that evolved then. As for the amount of maternity leave, that is totally Mayer’s choice. To be honest, she could have it either way – she would be more than able to afford to take a more extended period of time; equally, childcare from the minute the cord is cut wouldn’t be a financial hardship either, with a base salary of $1 million. If I were in that enviable economic position, I reckon I too would play fast and loose with what’s regarded as “normal” up the duff etiquette.

    And that’s it really – at the end of the day it is Mayer’s choice. I really don’t think she’s trying to make a point – for or against feminism – as has been variously claimed. But if what she’s doing is making the choice that is best for her and best for her circumstances then that’s got to be good for the sisterhood – regardless of whether those travelling pants are maternity or not.

    If you have a story you would like to share anonymously, please email or DM me on Twitter for the anon account log in details. Thank you.

  4. Guest post: What I would teach my daughter

    February 7, 2012 by Ashley

    This post comes from Reposted with permission from the author.

    Photo from

    It’s ok not to be the most popular girl in your teens. Focusing on your studies and your interests may make you Geek of the School for a while. I am not going to lie to you, “a while” can sometimes mean years. Push through it. Focus on your studies. Broaden your horizon. Go as far academically as you can. The world will be your oyster. That über cool girl who gets all the boys and has branded you a massive loser? One day you will be chairing a meeting and find that she is serving you coffee. It’s a triumphant moment – you will have one, too.

    Learn about Photoshop. Realise that all those glossy pictures of flawless women are fake. Embrace your curves. Be the weight and shape you are comfortable with. Celebrities don’t eat what they want and stay skinny. It’s as much a myth as Father Christmas (my apologies if this is news to you). Ignore sizes. Accept that some companies use their clothes as marketing tools and design their cuts so they don’t fit anyone bigger than a broom. Don’t ruin your health and teeth with an eating disorder. Develop a healthy relationship with food because if you don’t, you will miss out on one of the big joys of life.

    There is nothing wrong with being sexual. Explore your body. It’s an enigma but a beautiful one. Learn to love yourself first before you let anybody else influence your journey of discovery. Ask questions. Find your own boundaries and never ever let yourself be pressurised into anything. Never ever fake. There is no right age for the first time but remember this: It will turn out to be an important moment so share it with someone you will remember fondly. And always, always protect yourself.

    Even if you don’t expect or even want him to leave his wife, don’t sleep with a married man. You are worth so much more – a true partner and a friend. He is not your friend. He lies to the woman to who he vowed, in front of witnesses, to cherish, love and respect for the rest of his life. He doesn’t stick to the big promises. The long, heart-felt emails, texts and phone calls will stop once the deed is done. He will then discover that his wife is actually not as bad as he had portrayed her. You can convince yourself, you don’t love him and that what you have is enough. However, there will be a moment you need a strong shoulder and you will see his suddenly oh so busy backside doing a runner faster than Sonic the Hedgehog on acid. Don’t be the other woman. Be the No 1 woman or enjoy being single.

    You will hear that woman have the same rights and privileges as men. Chances are very high though you will encounter or even hit the glass ceiling. You will have to deal with sexism, you will be overlooked. Yes, it’s not fair. It’s ok to cry about it. Then move on and fight for your rights. Be realistic about your abilities and never forget that they don’t depend on gender. Remember what Samuel Johnson said: “Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little.”

    To see the original post from Swissminx, click here, or to follow her on Twitter, click here.