Finding Joy after Post-Partum Depression with guest Susan Scollen

Can you emerge from the depths of post-partum depression stronger than you were before? Absolutely. You can love yourself, find your voice, and grow through the journey. In this episode, Dr. Amy Moore and Teri Miller, MS Psy talk to health and life coach Susan Scollen about her post-partum depression experience, how she conquered it, and how she embarked on a journey to teach women how to enjoy life again after post-partum depression. If you’re pregnant, thinking about becoming pregnant, or in the throes of post-partum life right now, this episode is for you!

Read the transcript and show notes for this episode:

Episode 126
Finding Joy after Post-Partum Depression
with guest Susan Scollen

Dr. Amy Moore:

Hi, and welcome to this episode of Brainy Moms. I’m Dr. Amy Moore here with my cohost Teri Miller, coming to you today from a beautiful sunny and hot Colorado Springs, Colorado. Our guest today is health and life coach Susan Scollen. Susan gave birth to her son, Teddy, in November 2013, and within a month, she knew she wasn’t herself. With ongoing sleep issues, breastfeeding issues that led to mastitis and surgery, and being told that her baby wouldn’t survive, it was at the six month mark where Susan was in a big black hole and she knew that things had to change. She tuned into her intuition, believed it was possible to create a life she loved and she went to work doing exactly that. She’s here today to talk to us about a very important topic, enjoying life after postpartum or postnatal depression.

Teri Miller:

Welcome Susan. So glad to have you here.

Susan Scollen:

Thank you, Teri. It’s great to be here. Thank you, Amy. I’m really excited for this conversation today.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Me too.

Teri Miller:

Well, you have a story and a message I think that’s going to really resonate with our listeners. I think it’s a big issue, something that a lot of moms struggle with. I want to hear your story and I want you to start off, tell everyone where are you today? Where are you coming from?

Susan Scollen:

I’m coming from Burrum Heads in Queensland, Australia. Up until 10 months ago, I actually lived in Canberra, which is the capital of Australia. Most people don’t know that. It’s south of Sydney. My husband and I were looking to move to the coast. He said to me, with COVID happening and everything, he goes, “The bottom’s going to fall out of the property market. We’re not going to be able to afford to move, blah, blah, blah. We’re going to be stuck here forever.” Like really fatalistic kind of language. I just said to him, “What’s one thing that we could do to move towards our dream of living by the coast?” And within a week we had a phone call from his brother telling him that he was buying a property close to where we ended up buying. Chris said to him, if you don’t buy it, I’m going to buy it. The rest is history. Everything just kind of fell into place. Now we’re in Queensland and we love it and it’s like sunshine all year round, which is really beautiful.

Teri Miller:

So nice.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Before we talk about your story, I do have to ask about the sharks. Are they as horrific and scary as we hear they are on the coast of Australia?

Susan Scollen:

Well, they can be in certain areas. There’s certain areas of Australia that you potentially don’t swim in. Western Australia is one of those areas. Again, it’s particularly localized, so it’s not everywhere around Australia. Like you don’t look at a map in Shark Central. Where we live, Fraser Island has a shark area on the end of Fraser Island. So if you want to go diving and be around sharks, great. But in terms of swimming, generally you’re fine. It’s not so bad. There are certain times of the year that perhaps you don’t want to go out into certain areas, but generally I’ve never seen one and admittedly I don’t go under the water and look for them as well, but I’ve never been in an area where I’ve had a shark scare.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Okay. Well, thank you so much.

Susan Scollen:

So you’d be safe. [crosstalk 00:03:20]. It’s spiders and snakes and stuff like that as well. Where we moved to, my nephew was staying here for a couple of months and he was telling us how he found brown snakes and that there were baby brown snakes across the property. We’re on a half acre block. Sorry, I’m just pointing as I look out the window kind of thing. He had killed a couple of them, maybe about four. I was just like, I haven’t seen one in 10 months. Like I’ve been here that long. Maybe I’m not looking for them, but I just haven’t seen one. And so it’s okay. We’re not infested with sharks and snakes and spiders. We do get to breed and do other things as well.

Teri Miller:

That’s awesome.

Dr. Amy Moore:

This is the question. I’m an indoor girl. And so those things would influence whether or not I would want to come to your area of the world and visit.

Susan Scollen:

That’s so funny.

Dr. Amy Moore:

I’m not super adventurous outside.

Susan Scollen:

Well, I think you’re fairly safe then. You can just come and see the beautiful parts of Australia and you’ll be okay.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Sounds great. Okay. So back to you, let’s hear your story.

Susan Scollen:

I’ve always been into health and wellness, so that’s probably… Back when I was growing up and all that sort of stuff, I was always into health and wellness, but it was just this sort of yoga ride that I would be on because I played netball, which is a sport here. The Commonwealth countries typically play it. It’s like basketball. And so I would play that through the winter. And then through the summer, I’d generally have some downtime and my health would be good through the winter and then not so great through the summer, that kind of stuff. But what happened was in 2013 I had Teddy. We had gone through three rounds of IVF to get him. So a doctor said he was a special baby. And then we had some complications through the pregnancy and I ended up going through the fetal medicine unit in Canberra at the time, so far a higher risk pregnancy.

Susan Scollen:

I was 38 if I remember correctly. Yes, I was 38. And because we had gone through IVF, they recommended we go through the fetal medicine unit and that was an amazing experience. I had placenta previa and so a low lying placenta. So I had to have a cesarean. Again, went through pretty much unscathed through that process. I didn’t do a lot of research, which was probably one of my downsides. But at the same time, I knew that I had great care, which was great. But within a month, as per what we talked about earlier, things weren’t going so well. Teddy wasn’t feeding well. He was feeding an hour on, an hour off. And for a person that loves 10 hours worth of sleep, I always knew it was going to be a challenge, but it was like next level kind of challenge.

Susan Scollen:

I was just not myself pretty much like within that month. We in Australia have a community nurse come in and see you. She gave me this form to tick off. I knew that if I ticked one way, they would say I had postnatal depression and if I ticked the other way, that she would walk out the door and I chose to tick the way for her to walk out the door. I had these stories that I had to figure this out, but there was it should be easy. The other people have done it before me, like my husband already had three boys. So I was like, well, he kind of knows what it’s like to raise a child. My mom had five children. She knows what it’s like to raise a child.

Susan Scollen:

So I was constantly looking outside of myself for the answers and thinking that things would just figure themselves out. Well, they didn’t. And so because of the breastfeeding issues being an hour on, an hour off, I would seek support from the community nurses. They suggested that I do a breast pump and see what came through. Well, nothing came through and that was one of the most excruciating another hour of my life sitting there with this thing stuck on my breast and I got mastitis out of that. I didn’t know what mastitis was. And so I was just like, oh, it just feels warm, it feels odd. I was Googling things. It was over the Christmas break. So my doctor was away at the time or the surgery was shut down, so I had to go to another doctor. They were really good. They gave me antibiotics, said, yes, it’s mastitis, but go back to your doctor if challenges continue.

Susan Scollen:

Things did continue. So I went back to my doctor. She suggested that I go and have the milk that was building up inside of my breast excised through ultrasound. So I went and did that. And you’re doing this in amongst trying to breastfeed a child, do it on sleep patterns with the child, like keep him sleeping at the right times, trying to do some sort of movement for yourself after having a cesarean. I couldn’t do a lot of movement, but just trying to look after myself in that space as well. And so fitting in any sort of extra activity was always going to be more challenging.

Susan Scollen:

Anyway, I went to this specialist to have the milk excise and I was lying on his table and I was half naked, babies in the cradle. He just said to me, “You’re killing your baby. You’re going to kill your baby.” He came from a perspective of you’re on antibiotics and that’s not healthy for a child. I knew intellectually that that wasn’t correct but I just hadn’t found my voice at that time and I knew that I needed him to get the milk out of my breasts so the pain in that site could lessen. I got that done and I just got out of there and I never went back. I went into my doctor and she reassured me that everything was fine, Teddy was going to be fine, even though I was on the antibiotics to try and sort out the mastitis.

Susan Scollen:

So that was one of the things that sort of really challenged me mentally and my inner critic had gotten really loud and continued to be loud over the period. I guess over sort of a 12 month period. The next sort of thing that happened was I had somebody really close to me coming into my house unannounced. They would just turn up at my door and she would say the same thing to me that I was going to be taking my child’s life. And the reason that she was saying it was because I would get up, I would be breastfeeding at the time generally that they turned up. I’m not a person to get my boobs out to the world. And so I would put a cloth over him, covering myself, covering him. He was safe, he could breathe, and I would open the door to this person.

Susan Scollen:

And on the third time I went, “That’s enough. It’s not appropriate.” I had to explain to her why I was doing what I was doing and she never mentioned it to me again. I don’t care if she mentioned it to anybody else, but I just kind of mention it because it actually has a massive effect on somebody and it’s something that I still talk about today. The fact that I bring it up actually had a big impact on me and being a new mom, being a first-time mom, being perhaps an older mom, I really didn’t know what I was doing and I’m not sure… Teri, you’ve got nine children and as you would know, each child is different. So even coming into a second, third, fourth, fifth child, it’s always going to be a different experience. So that was really challenging for me because that was somebody that I would have thought had my back and would’ve been able to support me. But the lesson for myself was that I needed to listen to my own intuition, I needed to find my voice and I needed to step forward.

Susan Scollen:

On top of that, the mastitis got worse. We had our wedding anniversary and Chris and I went out for dinner. My sister beautifully looked after Teddy. I had given her two bottles to feed Teddy with. But we missed the second feed. And so that then led on to Teddy actually sleeping through the night for the first time ever. Of course my breasts were a mess by the next morning. So my sister had done all the right things. Teddy was happy. I was physically just not coping. So within a couple of days, I was back at the hospital. The first time that I had the milk excise, they took out 50 mils. This time they took out 160 mils. That’s the size of a small coke bottle that’s within my breasts. So it was just massive and it was painful and it wasn’t great.

Susan Scollen:

I even had doctors at the hospital who had come into and brought the students in to have a look at me and this site. I’m open for learning, but I’m also open to how quickly can we get this done and that wasn’t happening particularly fast because I went in on a public holiday Monday and wasn’t till after lunch on the Tuesday that they were able to actually take the milk out and it was very painful. And again, I felt like I had a student taking out that milk, so their hand was wobbly. I was in tears. It was not fun. That then led me to going to have surgery. So I was referred to a doctor or a specialist.

Susan Scollen:

Again, another really smart person, but I said to him on our appointment, “I feel like the issue is coming from the inside out.” Often with mastitis, it’s a bug on the skin on the outside coming in. He said, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” Anyway, we went through surgery. Everything went really well and he came to me in recovery room and said, “You were right.” So it’s kind of that whole anchoring back into what do we know? What do I know as a person about my own body and being able to speak my truth even in the midst of other people not being able to support me as I needed the support at that point in time. So I felt like I was constantly in this kind of fight and battle and because of the surgery on my breast, I had to have my breasts packed. So the wound was left open and it had to be packed every day for six weeks.

Susan Scollen:

Initially that was a nurse coming in to see me. So again, coordinating around times and things like that. And then my husband would do it for me before he left for work every day. So like it’s just the management of all these extra things on top of trying to just function as a human being. And then trying to be a new mom, doing all of the breastfeeding and changing nappies and making dinner and cleaning the house and washing and everything else. And then trying to look after your mental health on top of that was just like this cascading waterfall effectively for me.

Susan Scollen:

And so it wasn’t until the May that I went to get milk. I went down to the shops to get milk. I had to drop into my brother’s on the way and I just I literally fell apart on his couch. He was amazing and really supported me. He just sort of said, “This is a point in time. This will not be your forever and it’s okay.” Like two hours later, I turned back up at home without the milk expecting for my husband to kind of go, “Ah, where’s the milk, we need the milk,” but he didn’t. He was really great and he just held space for me and I just said I just need some time. I just went out in the backyard later that afternoon. I was in our spa, which was great, but not everybody has a spa and I was just kind of, it’s like this oxymoron of I have all these privileges yet I want none of them. I knew at that point that I really hated my life yet I had created it.

Susan Scollen:

And so what did I want to create next? I played through all the scenarios of potentially taking my own life and what would that look like. Did I really want to be here on this earth? Did I want to be a mom? Did I want to be a mom and a wife? Did I even want to live in this house, and just sort of played out all of that sort of stuff. But on some level, I knew that things could be different and perhaps it was just looking into those other women who were around me who were doing things differently and went, okay, what would be the first thing that I would do?

Susan Scollen:

Being kind to myself was probably that first thing. I was just going, okay, this is a situation, but we can move forward from here. I know it’s going to be tough. I know the work’s going to be tough, but you have an inner strength somewhere there. You’ve gotten yourself to this point, you’ve survived this long. How can we move forward from here? And that was sort of me moving into the next stage of figuring out who I was and how I wanted to move forward and learning to trust my intuition and just eating well, cleaning up exercise, all of those sorts of things, doing the basics really well to then be able to take a path forward from there.

Dr. Amy Moore:

My goodness. You went through it. Oh my goodness, so hard.

Susan Scollen:

Yeah.

Teri Miller:

Yeah, I mean, just listening to your story. I mean, remembering my own experiences that were so tough but obviously nothing like what you had to deal with, that’s, oh my goodness. I think that’s where you’re coming from is that you were able to turn things around. Is that what I’m hearing you say is that after all of that, you were still able to turn things around.

Susan Scollen:

Yeah. And I shared with you at the start of this call that we moved to Queensland 12 months ago. I remember standing in the house before we had sold it, our home in Canberra. And I thought six years ago I stood in this same home not wanting any of it. I didn’t want my life. I didn’t know whether I was going to be in the home or with the husband or have my child. I didn’t know if any of that was even possible to love. Here I stand six years later, I love my life, I love my husband, I love my son, all same environment. Like nothing had changed. The only thing that had changed was me. And so I had gone in and then done all the inner work to be able to create the life that I actually loved and now we’ve been able to grow that into something so much more and so much more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Wow. I want to talk about the timeline from when you were in your spa at rock-bottom going through those scenarios that included possibly taking your own life, to the turnaround. How long did it take you to get from being rock bottom to saying, no, I’m going to take my life back, and then start that first step.

Susan Scollen:

I’m a pretty fast mover. My first step was the next day and the first step that I can recall, exercise is really easy for me to kind of bring into my life. So there was a couple of non-negotiables. One was around making my bed in the morning and having a shower. That was something that I sort of said we’re going to do. And then fitting in exercise. I was committed to doing an hour’s worth of exercise. Not even an hour, just getting out for a walk every single day. And again, when I say every single day, I did build in flexibility. So if things came up, then I would shift things.

Susan Scollen:

But generally speaking at 10:00 AM on the next morning I was out the door and I didn’t have rules around… People say babies should sleep at a certain time and I’m like, well, if it’s his sleep time, he’s going to be in the baby beyond and we’re just going to go, or he’s going to be in the pram and we’re just going to go. I didn’t have to be at a place or a certain place or a certain time. I just went 10:00 AM, that’s what we’re doing, that’s how we’re going to move our day. So that was what I started with the very next day. The other thing that I did, and it’s just slipped my mind but it’ll come back to me. But yeah, it was just around creating some simple non-negotiables for me that I knew that would start to help move me forward was really important.

Susan Scollen:

The other thing that I started to do was just before I even opened my eyes in the morning, I would ask myself, do you feel happy? The answer to that was no, but I would still get out of bed. It took two weeks for me, which again I think is quite a fast timeframe to actually get a yes. And then perhaps the next day it was no again, but I kept asking myself that question and slowly over time. I don’t ask myself that question anymore but it was just something that I needed to sort of pay attention and be aware of what was going on. And even though I got those nos, for me it was still important to turn up and to do the things that I had to do. Even though that I wasn’t really physically or emotionally or spiritually even there, I was just doing the things that I needed to do.

Teri Miller:

Yeah.

Dr. Amy Moore:

You talk about that you didn’t have a voice, that you hadn’t found your voice. And so you were listening to lies basically. Talk to us about your thoughts on the importance of finding your voice and how that happened for you and then how we can apply that to others.

Susan Scollen:

Yeah. And I think we’ve touched on this a little bit already, but it’s that whole when you have a baby, millions of women have done it around the world, so why isn’t it a one size fits all? And it’s not. Every baby that is born is unique. You are unique. So you need to find, as a mother, what works for you and what works for you doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll work for the next person. I’m a health coach. So I know this now through dietary theories as well. What I eat is not necessarily what you eat. So why is it that we put this or have this story that it’s a one size fits all, that everybody can do the same thing and we’ll get the same outcome? But the reality is there’s a million ways to do the same thing and to get the result that we want to do.

Susan Scollen:

So putting yourself first. This can be really challenging for people because they see it as selfish, but actually putting yourself first and creating some self-love around that then expands the world around you. So that has a flow on effect for me to my son and to my husband and to my family that gives them permission to create more abundance in their own lives if they choose to do that. But the only way that you can do that is through voicing your opinion around or standing up and saying, no, this doesn’t work for me. And like having that person walk in my front door and tell me that I was going to take my baby’s life, it just became a non-negotiable for me. I wasn’t willing to have those sorts of conversations with those sorts of people.

Susan Scollen:

Now, that person is still in my life because of who they are in my life more broadly, like there are some people that you can just let go of and there are some people that you can’t. And so I’ve had to manage that relationship differently, but it’s that whole putting boundaries around what you’re willing to accept and what you’re not willing to accept. And the only way you can do that is through voicing your opinion. It’s not about having a go at someone, it’s just saying enough. This is how I need to show up. This is what’s working for me. Can we not celebrate that as women? Can we not go, wow, that’s amazing. I never thought to do it that way. So showing people different ways to do things is also something to be celebrated.

Teri Miller:

But that finding your voice, speaking your own voice, it sounds like that’s so related to when you said having your intuition, knowing your intuition, following your intuition. And so I think I’m hearing that that’s pretty interrelated but tell us more about that, about how do you know? What is your intuition as a woman? How do you know? Tell us about that.

Susan Scollen:

Yeah, absolutely. Intuition has been something that I’ve definitely played around with on my journey. It’s trusting that inner voice. I didn’t have a child because I thought it was a smart decision. I said that I needed 10 hours worth of sleep. If I wanted that every day, there would be no children. Like that would be the smart decision. But prior to having Teddy, the whole premise of having him was my intuition, which speaks to me through my gut, is this whole knowing that something is going to grow and be better. And so I would see my husband interact with my niece and that would just melt my heart. I went, oh, this is so beautiful, but I’m not going to get 10 hours worth of sleep, but I kind of want that.

Susan Scollen:

So having this narrative that I had for a few years around let’s make a smart decision versus an emotional decision. And I don’t mean from an outburst kind of perspective. But for me, that intuitive voice, listening to that voice never does me wrong. Like there’s no way that I would be doing… I don’t believe that there would be any way that I’d be doing the work in the world that I’m doing now if I never had Teddy because he absolutely opened up and cracked open my world, but it just wouldn’t ever have happened or it wouldn’t have happened to the depth of the work that I’m doing right now. So for people to start tuning into their intuition, just listening to how they make heart-centered decisions, that can be the first step in terms of figuring out how you listen to your intuition.

Susan Scollen:

For a lot of people, that is their gut. But for some people, it’s a visual as well. They can actually see things and project things into the future and starting to trust and just play with it. Like I would play with it with traffic lights and go, okay, I want the traffic light to go green. Can we make it green, and have that sort of conversation. Like it sounds stupid but it was really good. Or I would visualize myself across the road walking past the traffic light. So the light had gone green even though it was red, but I would visualize myself across the road. And so I would start to project out to what I’d want to create. It was just playing around with those sorts of things. Picking an apple versus an orange, which one am I intuitively drawn to? Okay, I’m going to eat that one today.

Susan Scollen:

So you can play with the little things which will then give you confidence and self-trust to be able to play with the bigger things. I could have let that person continue to tell me that I was doing the wrong thing by my baby and I could have continued to beat myself up on that. But at some point I had to make a decision about my own health and wellbeing and that wasn’t supporting my health and wellbeing. So, being able to then speak to them and say, “This isn’t…” Intuitively I knew this was wrong.

Susan Scollen:

So I’m going to tell you that what you’re saying isn’t appropriate and then move into the space that I can, which then helped me with that specialist where I’m going to be under the knife, I’ll be knocked out while he’s cutting me open again. And if I can’t tell him that this is an inside out job, like when do I start to use my voice? Otherwise I start to hold that in and it starts to manifest in other ways in my body and that anxiety, the depression and all the stress that I was going through played out through my son as well. So the fact that he was an hour on, hour off sleeper, I don’t think… I look back and I kind of go there’s no reason… Sorry. It is because I wasn’t listening to myself. He is a reflection of me and if I had have paid a little bit more attention, if I had known myself a little bit better at that point, maybe we could have done things differently. But that comes with the lessons that you learn over time.

Teri Miller:

And that every kid, every experience, like you said, it’s different every time. I think it’s hard to look back and say… Well, I mean, I think we do that anyway as moms. Well, if I had known then what I know now, but we didn’t know what we didn’t know. And so, I don’t know, I mean, there’s something about being able to look back and… Like I want to say, no, you did just right. You did what you could and you were doing the best you could.

Susan Scollen:

Yeah. Like Steve Jobs talks about it, you can look back and see the dots that got you to where you are, but you can’t see that looking forward. I can’t project those dots out. To me, the dots are the fear of walking forward. Part of having Teddy, there was a lot of fear around that. Would it work? We have to go through IVF. What are the impacts to me physically from taking all of those drugs? What are the impacts to him? What’s going to happen going forward? I don’t know what that journey is going to look like, but I know that it’s going to make me grow. Like I knew that that was going to be a thing. So I went, okay, this is something that I need to do.

Teri Miller:

So beautiful.

Dr. Amy Moore:

My first child would nurse for 45 minutes every hour and a half. So I was also chronically sleep deprived. I was a child development specialist. I knew that there were different types of cries. But when it’s your own child and you’re in the moment and you are sleep deprived and you have a child who is crying and you think it’s hunger, then that’s how you respond. And so that’s what we did. So I get, and I of course have my own postpartum depression story as well, but I get how the sleep deprivation starts you on a path that can lead to a very dark place. I mean, sleep deprivation is a form of military torture.

Susan Scollen:

Yes.

Dr. Amy Moore:

They use that for a reason. And I think that-

Teri Miller:

So harsh.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Right. And I think that as moms, if we don’t recognize, hey, there’s a physiological response to this lack of sleep that’s happening right now, if we don’t recognize that it’s a physical issue that then is creating a mental health issue, then we start feeling guilt and shame and helplessness for sure.

Susan Scollen:

Yeah. And we’re not meant to raise babies by ourselves, but something within us and perhaps society is telling us we need to be able to do this by ourselves. But that’s not the reality. There are a million ways, again, to raise a child, but having some support that doesn’t leave you feeling alone during that time is crucial to the success of mom’s mental health and wellbeing and physical health as well. And then, like I said before, that has a flow on effect to your child. It has a flow on effect to how they show up. Teddy was an hour on, an hour off because potentially I didn’t have enough milk. Like those sorts of things because I was stressed and I was strung out and here I am trying to produce milk and trying to feed myself and do all the things on top of being sleep deprived.

Susan Scollen:

There’s so many women out there that are just struggling and you just kind of use the term just get through, just push through. But what if we just stopped and what if we said, okay, I can’t do all of the things that need to be done because they’re not important and I’m here to raise a child. For 12 months, that’s my key focus. How can I do that in a way that is supportive for me? So perhaps bringing in a nighttime doula or bringing in other resources, having family members come and stay, all of that sort of stuff to be able to help with the times that you need help with. And then they can do all of the other things that you just don’t need to focus on.

Dr. Amy Moore:

What would your advice be on how to ask for that help? Like what words do you say so that you don’t… Because then there’s the fear they’re going to think I don’t know what I’m doing, then they’re going to take my children away. I mean, it dominoes. So, what is a healthy way to say I need help?

Susan Scollen:

Yeah. There’s two things I’d say to that. One is around the timeframe. Start asking for help now. Don’t wait till you’re pregnant and having a baby. Start asking people for help in your life in areas that you need support with. Getting that cleaner if that’s what you need to do. Ask that work colleague to do extra hours because you need support in a particular area. Start practicing asking because we don’t ask already. We tend to take it on and just trying to push through and get it done. So start that as a practice as early as possible. And if anybody on the podcast has children, get them to start asking as well. Like it has to start at a younger age.

Susan Scollen:

But then once you’ve had a baby and perhaps you haven’t had that kind of practice, just getting curious. I think curiosity is the one thing that we can start to do that doesn’t have judgment around it. So getting curious and saying, well, what if I could do this differently? What would that look like and who would be the people that then I would invite in, because you don’t want to invite just anybody into your circle. You want to invite people in who will nourish you and who will support you. So identifying who those people are. It’s like dating. You’re going to bring in the first person and it might be your partner. But for a mom I spoke to recently, with her first child, her partner went AWOL for like two years. And so he actually left the… She had given birth and within two days he was gone because he was having some trouble from a PTSD perspective for other things that had come up for him but the birth trauma had bought all that out for him.

Susan Scollen:

So with her second child, she went, all right, these are the resources that I need, and she went and locked them in. She had a plan. Of course, you’ve got to be flexible about that. But she got that nighttime doula. She got her mother to come in for a period of time. So actually just taking that time to kind of identify who are the people that can really support you in this area and then starting to date. And don’t put judgment over it because the first person may not be the person that you need to bring in and they may not work out. But then just going from that curious perspective, maybe I can try this out and see what happens. It gives you a small permission to let go of the judgment and have some fun in that space.

Teri Miller:

Yeah. I’m sitting here thinking about it in the opposite perspective in that when I am asked for help. Okay, because I think I’m cautious, we’re all as moms we’re so cautious to ask for help. We don’t want to ask for help because I’m a hassle, it’s going to be hard. I don’t want to be needy. I’ll be such a pain in the rear for this person, whatever. But then I think about the times that I have been asked and I’m so honored. I feel so like I’m honored to come and pick you up and take you to that appointment or whatever. I feel so honored to be included. And I think-

Dr. Amy Moore:

And you want to bless people with help. I mean, how many times have you been asked for help and you thought, I don’t want to help. I mean, that is not our instinct. If someone we care about asks for our help, we’re typically happy to help. But then we have this problem asking for it ourselves. So I love that. I love the idea of just making it a habit of recognizing when we need help in our lives and using our resources and just making those connections so that then it doesn’t feel so uncomfortable when we’re desperate.

Teri Miller:

Yeah. Practicing like dating, that’s so good because, yeah, my dearest friends moved away to a different state and she was always my go-to. And so then I’ve been in this process of who do I call on now that’s nearby? I’m really encouraged thinking, nope, you know what, I need to take the risk. I need to step out and start practicing that. Good words.

Susan Scollen:

I heard recently, and this was from a woman who had lost her husband suddenly, but the resources that came, because often people will bring food. And same with the new mom, they will bring food. But potentially you could do a meal service rather than that. But what about a washing service? For this woman, she had a friend who said, “Just leave your washing basket on the front step Tuesday, Thursday. I’ll come and pick it up. I’ll drop it back later that day. You don’t have to think about it.” And she was like, “No, no, no, no, I can’t do that.” She goes, “No, Tuesdays and Thursdays, I expect it to be there.” And so she would leave it out there. And for a year, this woman did her washing for her.

Susan Scollen:

Another gift that was given to her was, this was obviously in the bereavement space, was a VA to do all of the things around changing over because everything that they had was in the same accounts. So the same names. They had jewel accounts for everything. So she had to change over everything and this VA did all of that for her. So she didn’t have to worry about ringing the telco company and saying, oh, my husband’s died but we need to change this over. So thinking about it from my perspective, I was running a company at the time. So I was doing all the payroll and I was doing all the bills and all of that sort of stuff on top of being a new mom. So potentially I could have got a bookkeeper or had somebody come in and do the bookkeeping for me so I didn’t have to worry about that aspect and it was kind of all done for me. So there’s lots of things within somebody’s life that you can actually help and support with beyond food I think is my point.

Dr. Amy Moore:

And just for our listeners, VA is virtual assistant?

Susan Scollen:

Yes. Sorry. Yes, yeah. Doesn’t have to be virtual, but this happened to be a virtual one. That can be people in the local area.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Well, that’s convenient because there’s a larger pool of them to choose from if you’re going online.

Teri Miller:

This is the perfect segue to kind of the next thing we wanted to ask you about, and that’s your philosophy about why it’s important? Why does it matter so much to learn how to put yourself first? Tell us more about that.

Susan Scollen:

Yeah. Self-love was a cornerstone to everything that I started to do and I realized that from early on that I really just needed to focus on the things that lit me up because when they did, then there was a flow on effect. I said to my husband at one point like if I’m happy, you’re going to be happy. The family, the house is going to be happy. There’s just going to be more energy going on. And it’s that analogy, if you’re giving from an empty cup, you’ve got nothing to give and there’s nothing coming back from you. Whereas if that cup is overflowing, you’re giving from the overflow and you have so much more to give to everybody around you.

Susan Scollen:

So yeah, it’s that analogy. Matthew McConaughey, he talks about it as well. To be selfish, to be selfless. So, knowing that when you prioritize yourself, when you come back into the things that light you up, that creates energy in your own life, and that then has a flow on effect to everybody around you. Like my husband kind of this year he was talking about it on a podcast or a seminar that I was doing. He jumped on and I had shared my story and he was just spouting off about how proud he is of everything that I’ve achieved and everything that I’ve done. You look back at the story. I could have stayed in that black hole. That was always an option. I could have stayed right there and I could have been the victim and hated my life.

Susan Scollen:

But to then kind of go to him, which is what I said to him was I love you but it’s time to listen to me now. And so to then start to tune into my intuition, create the self-love boundaries, create my soul hour, which is something that I did as well, just that first hour for the day, which didn’t always happen as a mom but it was the first hour of the day that was just for me to kind of figure out who I was, what woke me up and just learn to identify with who I am now and who do I want to be effectively. And so once you get to know yourself, and the only way that you can do that is by those self-help tools. So bringing in the things that light you up is just going to create more abundance in your life. So if I leave everybody with nothing else today, it’s just the importance of doing you and doing you from an authentic place and a loving place is just so powerful for yourself and for everybody around you.

Teri Miller:

That felt so hard because I think as wives, as moms, it feels selfish. It feels like if I’m going to put myself first, I’m just being selfish and the people around me are going to think, oh, well, don’t you need your hour to yourself. Aha. Poor little baby. I mean, the self-talk, the inner critic, oh, that’ll mean… Damn, I hear what you’re saying in theory and yet I’m thinking in practicality how do I as a mom and a wife not feel like that’s just selfish?

Susan Scollen:

Yeah. But tell me, if you don’t give yourself that time, how do you show up? Do you show up from a place of, oh, this is amazing, life is good; or you’re like, oh my gosh, I’m just shoveling shit and I’m continuing to shovel shit. You know what I mean? And so the argument with my husband, because it did get to a point where he’s going, you’re doing too much of it. Like seriously, you got to slow down or you’ve got to stop at some point. And I said, okay, we can find a compromise in this because I was actively doing my soul hour every day and we took a few days off and that sort of stuff to rebuild my relationship with him.

Susan Scollen:

But I said, I’m a better person for it. So if I am a better person for it, that means you’re going to be a better person. We’re going to have a better relationship because otherwise I just don’t want to turn up. I don’t want to have sex with you. Like seriously, I haven’t connected with you. I don’t want to go out to dinner with you. Oh, we’re going to the movies again. Great, that’s just something that I really want to do when I just don’t know who I am and I don’t know what I want. So, I get where you’re coming from and a lot of people say that to me about it’s just selfish, my kids come first.

Susan Scollen:

I’m like, at some point you’ve got to come first because it’s the oxygen mask. If you don’t put it on yourself first, the rest of the people in your family are going to have no chance at survival because you can’t function. And so giving yourself that gift, even if it is just sitting, taking a breath in and a breath out and that’s it, and you do that consciously, that’s where it can start. It doesn’t have to be an hour a day. Some days Teddy would come into my bed and I was just about to get up for my soul hour. I just knew he wouldn’t go back to sleep, so my soul hour was in bed with him, and that was okay.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Well, I mean, if the batteries die in your toy, that toy doesn’t work anymore. It’s completely useless unless you recharge the batteries. And so if you think about self-care and self-love as just recharging your batteries so that then you have something useful to give back.

Teri Miller:

So good. I think this is a big, big, big challenge for us. Moms, listeners, are we hearing this? Are you hearing this challenge? Take the time, carve it out. Try to reframe it mentally as not selfish but as self care so that then you have the ability to care for others.

Susan Scollen:

Yeah. The time is there and it’s not about running away from your life. It’s about incorporating it within your life. So knowing what your intention is. Often we will go and get our hair done or our nails done just because I need to get out of the house for an hour and I’m running away you from my family. What if you took your kids with you because you’ve got a daughter who would love to go and get her nails done and you had a great time with her? That can be self-love as well. It doesn’t have to be singular. It doesn’t have to be on your own. So getting out there and incorporating it, and that’s what happens when you start to do this work on yourself. That’s the flow on effect that happens.

Susan Scollen:

Yeah, so just making sure that you can just take that time a little bit for yourself, but then look at that bloom, look at that glow because you don’t want your children to be running around like you are running around, exhausted, unhappy in your life, unfulfilled, all of that sort of stuff and going, oh, this is good enough. What if it could be better, because it can be better.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Absolutely.

Teri Miller:

Nice.

Dr. Amy Moore:

We need to take a quick break and Teri’s going to read a word from our sponsor. And then when we come back, I want to talk about your idea that going on your journey is about who you’re becoming and not who you think you should be.

Susan Scollen:

Yeah. Sure.

Teri Miller: (Reading sponsor ad from LearningRx)

Is your child struggling in more than one subject in school? Have you tried tutoring but still aren’t seeing the improvements you were hoping for? Most learning challenges aren’t caused by a lack of instruction, they’re typically caused by cognitive skills that just aren’t strong enough, skills like auditory processing, memory, reasoning, attention, and processing speed. LearningRx one-on-one brain training programs are designed to target and strengthen the skills that we rely on for thinking and learning in every subject. LearningRx can help you identify which skills may be keeping your child from performing their best. In fact, they’ve worked with more than 100,000 children and adults who wanted to think and perform better. They’d like to help get your child on the path to a brighter and more confident future. Give LearningRx a call at 866-BRAIN-01, or visit learningrx.com. That’s learningrx.com.

Dr. Amy Moore:

And we’re talking to Susan Scollen about postpartum depression and getting your life back and your happiness back after that. And so I mentioned that I was really intrigued by your idea that going on your journey is about who you’re becoming and not who you think you should be. Talk to us a little bit about that.

Susan Scollen:

Yeah. I can look back on my journey and I can tell you the markers, like I can tell you about the mastitis. I can tell you about the sleepless nights. I can tell you about the surgery. But that doesn’t tell you who I became on the journey. They’re just points in the sand. So this year my intuition was telling me that I needed to explore who I had actually become on the journey and start to tell that kind of story. There’s a certain amount of resilience that comes in any kind of journey that you go on. There’s a leadership. For me, leadership has been really strong and we’ve talked about finding your own voice. But knowing no matter what journey that you go on, what are the lessons that you learn through that space? It’s not about, oh, I’ve ticked a box. It’s actually who I’ve become. Does that make it clear?

Susan Scollen:

That’s sort of the process that I’m thinking about. So that’s what’s sort of playing around with me at the moment. Clearly it’s still a little bit undeveloped, but just encouraging people to think about things more broadly rather than, like I said, ticking a box and go, okay, well, I consider myself now recovered from postnatal depression. Not saying that depression will never come back in to my life or that there are never sort of relapses and that sort of thing. Identify with it as something that happened but not someone that I am.

Susan Scollen:

And so now thinking about who I have become, if I was to articulate that, I am much stronger in what I want and how I want those things to play out in life. I’m stronger about my conviction around what I want to create. I’m stronger in the person that I am. And authenticity, love, turning up for myself. I embody those on a daily basis as opposed to the big things that I talk about and perhaps not doing. And so putting myself out in the world, like having this conversation with you ladies today, that can be really challenging for a lot of people. But to me, that speaks to the importance of the message and sharing with people that it is possible to go through these things and come out the other side of it. And for me, I didn’t get a diagnosis and I didn’t take medication.

Susan Scollen:

And that’s okay if people choose to go down those sorts of paths. I’m not saying that it’s not, but that then spoke to me about, well, clearly I am strong. There’s a strength within me. And I think that every person on the planet has that strength that may just be underdeveloped, but there is a strength in there. That has really cultivated through this journey that I’ve had to the point that now I know when I say yes and no to things, whether I’m meant to be there or not meant to be there, and I couldn’t have told you that I could do that six years ago.

Susan Scollen:

There were certain challenges that I would’ve faced along that journey. So yeah, encouraging people to look at whatever they do on their path, whether it be through a work project that they’re rolling out or whether it be through not just being a bum but being a mom and seeing the things that your children are bringing to the world. Well, they’re actually helping you grow too. So who have you become on that journey? Don’t just tick the box because it’s another year and they’re celebrating their birthday. You’ve actually grown through that year and what are the things that you’ve… Who have you become during that time?

Teri Miller:

Yep. Oh, that’s so good. Yeah, because I think it’s like having multiple children. I mean, the mom you are with your first kid, you’re a different person by a year later, two years later, three years later, whatever. You’re a different mom. You’re a different person when that different kid comes along and things are constantly changing and growing. I think it’s good, I appreciate that you touched on it is important, for some people it is needed to look to medication, to look to help with a psychologist or a psychiatrist. That postpartum depression is on a spectrum in a sense it can have many, many different degrees and levels. And Amy, you can speak to that a little bit more, but I want our listeners to hear that too, that there are times when you do need to call on help from professionals.

Susan Scollen:

Yeah. And not being afraid to do that. It comes back to asking for help. Just come back to that dating. There’s nothing wrong here. I’m just feeling out of my depth for some things, just not feeling in myself that I am myself and going to talk to that health professional. If I knew that health coaches existed back when I had my postnatal depression, perhaps that would’ve been the route that I took. I didn’t want to go back into a medical route because clearly I was dealing with some of those people but I wasn’t having a great experience in that space. So it just didn’t resonate with me. So finding what works with you and coming back into that whole dating spectrum of going I’m just trying this on for size. And back to the talk in terms of medication, sometimes that will help you get from point A to point B and that’s what you need in that time and that’s completely fine. Do what works for you I think is the message that I would like to put out there.

Dr. Amy Moore:

You mentioned if you had known about a health coach. Let’s talk about what you do as a coach. Tell us about your program.

Susan Scollen:

Yeah. I work with women to find the fun in health and life beyond postnatal depression. I certainly see that they’re is an opportunity to move upstream around let’s not even get into depression, like let’s have the tools beforehand so that we can work through everything that’s going on. But yeah, I work with women in a one-on-one basis. Programs are coming, but just talking through the challenges that they’re facing. Using the mindset tools to be able to see how our thoughts create our results. I think that’s something really critical that everybody needs to know is that the thoughts that we have, and women have around 70,000 thoughts a day. So no wonder we’re just constantly going, going, going with our brain. Men have around 50,000, so that’s why they’re a lot slower, just if ever noticed that.

Susan Scollen:

But if we can start to have a look at some of the thoughts that we’re playing on repeat and then come back into, well, what do I want to think on purpose, and start playing around with that and knowing that our thoughts connect to our feelings. So some people will feel feelings first and then they go, oh, these feelings are just happening to me, and that’s not the truth. You’ve actually got a thought about something that’s creating that. So sitting and working with my clients around that. Often people come into me because I’m a health coach. I’m also a life coach. But often they’ll come into me from a food perspective. So we’ll work through food. But how you do one thing is how you do everything. So that has a flow on effect into your relationships, into your career, into physical activity and into your spiritual practice, whatever that might look like for you.

Susan Scollen:

And as health coaches, we predominantly work on that primary food. Primary food is that career, relationship, spirituality and physical activity because when they’re in balance, everything that happens on your plate is secondary. So whilst people will come into me from the outside perspective, so looking at their plate and their food, we naturally eventually end up into the what’s going on in your career. Perhaps you’re eating because you’re not really happy in that space or perhaps you’re eating or you’re drinking because you are not happy in your relationship, and starting to create this space where, again, they’re coming back into their own intuition and they’re starting to trust themselves and build that self-efficacy so that they can make decisions and start to grow and experiment sort of in a safe environment with me. And then that starts to naturally have a flow on effect into the rest of their life as well.

Teri Miller:

Tell us about your internet, your special offer. Not internet offer, your special offer that you’ve got going right now.

Susan Scollen:

Yeah. That would be like a free session with me. Is that right? Is that what we’re doing? I’m happy. Yeah, I’d love to offer everybody who is listening on the call today. I’m actually going to extend it for you. It would be just like a 15 minute connection call. So just reach out to me at hello@susanscollen.com, a 15 minute connection call. And if they are a right fit, if you think that I’m right fit for you and you’re a right fit for me, we will then go into a one hour call, we’ll book that in and work through your wellness plan. Have a look at what you’re creating now. What do you want to create? Have a look at the gap and then set you up with a plan to start moving forward. Now, whether you stay and work with me on that, that’s fine. That would be amazing. But you may feel like you’ve got enough information out of that one session just to start making some small changes in your life and start moving forward.

Dr. Amy Moore:

And so who would be the ideal client for that? Who should call you?

Susan Scollen:

Yeah. Typically for that, it’s those moms that are ready to make that move. They may not have had postnatal depression but they’ve just kind of struggled with the change of becoming a mom and they’re ready to make a move forward. Like they can see some space in their calendar. They’ve just got some space in their day effectively and they’ve got some space in their mind to start making some small shifts and changes. So it’s that mom that’s ready to start making those shifts.

Teri Miller:

I would say this is a big gift people. Listeners, this is a huge gift. If this is something you could take advantage of folks, I think this could… Sometimes it’s a catalyst like this that can just start turning the ship of frustration and discontent and problems in your life. And so, yeah, let’s do it. If you’re struggling with things, if you are feeling depressed or lost or where do I go next as a new mom or even as your kids are transitioning into different ages, yeah, take advantage of this. Tell us again, what do they need to email? Just say it one more time so our listeners hear this.

Susan Scollen:

Yeah. So it’s hello@susanscollen.com. Just come and date me. That’s all you’re doing. Let’s experiment. Come and date me.

Dr. Amy Moore:

I love that. So we are out of time and do need to wrap up, but this has been a really important conversation that we’ve had and we so appreciate you, Susan, for sharing your personal story with us and your insights on this topic that is just so much more widespread than new moms and moms want to talk about. And so we appreciate your vulnerability and coming in and bringing some awareness to that. Again, if you want to learn more about Susan and her work, you can visit her website at susanscollen.com. We will put her email address, her website and her social media handles in the show notes.

Dr. Amy Moore:

As a mental health professional, I do want to say that today’s episode is not a substitute for medical advice. If you are suffering from postpartum depression, please ask for help. You can talk to your doctor or visit Postpartum Support International at postpartum.net where you can find online support groups, telephone support, and lots of other resources to help you as well. Thanks so much for listening today. If you like our show, we would love it if you would leave us a five star rating and review on Apple podcasts. If you’d rather watch us, we are on YouTube and you can follow us on social media, @TheBrainyMoms. Until next time, look, we know you’re busy moms and we’re busy moms, so we are out.

Teri Miller:

See ya.

Susan Scollen:

Thank you.

Show Notes
Follow Susan on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susanmscollen
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/susan.scollen/

Visit her website at:
http://www.susanscollen.com/ 

Optional special offers for listeners:
 A free 1:1 coaching session for any  listeners who reach out to Susan within the first two weeks of the podcast episode being released. If you have a health or life issue that you’d like coaching on, email Susan at Hello@SusanScollen.com