The Summer Day / by Emily Ellis

It's just past 7pm and it's 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 Fahrenheit.)

I would love to say that I haven't posted on Instagram for a while because I’ve been on a fabulous summer holiday at the beach. I was too busy, there was no Wi-Fi or at the very least it was deliberate, or something. But the reality is, I’ve not been my best.

Though blessedly I have never felt the common ill effects of post-natal depression, now on my third pregnancy it is blatantly clear to me I am one of the large number of women who experience perinatal anxiety.

It's not severe and certainly not unique but none the less at about 25 weeks during each pregnancy I have become incredibly over sensitive, teary, really irritable and often consumed with worry about my children.

I suppose biologically this makes total sense. After all, I am getting much bigger, slower, less agile and my mind is making up for the extra risk my body can no longer accommodate.

I am not someone who thinks that Instagram or social media should be populated by happy shiny thoughts only. If you want to rage? Rage! Give me all the melancholy. I adore my friends who share their trials and their victories, who so honestly express their insecurities, speak up and make their negative positive.

I just don't seem to be someone who can do that easily. I find it very, very difficult. It's definately not because I want everyone to think my life is perfect and happy all the time (hint: that's not even possible). Perhaps it's because I genuinely don’t want to touch anyone with my sadness lest it's passed on by them and spreads further. (Like that little blue character in the Inside Out movie.)

And it's hot. The central west is 300km from the coast. No sea breeze or cool change. The best we can hope for is a reasonable thunder storm.

So, I have been throwing myself into work (in front of the fan). My normal childcare job is casual now so I have been spending hour after hour on my upcoming exhibition with my wonderful and clever friend Helen (@helenwhittlephotgraphy on Instagram).

'Wild and Precious Life' will be opening at the Corner Store gallery in Orange on February 16th.

I'll write more on that later but I wanted to share this little video I made with the kids (and the cat!) at the end of yesterday (which was just as hot as today.)

Our exhibition title is lifted from the wonderful Mary Oliver Poem "The Summer Day."

Last night Evie and I lay in bed and she listened to me do the voice over and told me which clips she wanted in it (I think she wanted it to be 100% cat video.)

I hope (though she's far too young to understand) that maybe subconsciously she'll see that the very best thing to do when you're feeling not yourself is find your way back by making something. Doing something, anything?! Grounding yourself in what makes you happy even if it's just a little video to go with your favourite poem. Even if it doesn't last. If the next day you have to drag yourself up again and find something else to focus on.

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

from New and Selected Poems, 1992
Beacon Press, Boston, MA

Copyright 1992 by Mary Oliver.
All rights reserved.

If you want more excellent info on perinatal anxiety there are loads of resources and your midwife will help. I think Beyond Blue is really good.