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The Hub

      Sharing the Storm of Postnatal Psychosis      For Deborah Vickers, becoming a new mum was a deeply traumatic experience. Now she is supporting other women who have experienced postnatal psychosis through a unique community, writes Elisabeth Carter.  Deborah Vickers seemed to be super-mum.  After her first baby was born, Deb didn’t feel the need to sleep. She took dozens of photos of her newborn. She was out and about attending conferences, baby in her arms, just a few weeks after giving birth.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     But in reality, all was not well. In fact, while on the surface Deb appeared to be coping amazingly well with new motherhood, this quickly tipped over into mania, which for her was characterised by obsessive behaviour and worry. It wasn’t long before hallucinations, delusions and paranoia set in.  For Deb, a family history of mental illness meant she and her husband were wary of postnatal depression. But postnatal psychosis (PP) came as a complete shock. Frustratingly, the symptoms of PP are the complete opposite of those of depression, so warning signs are often missed by those on the lookout for mums who aren’t doing so well.  Deb ended up in a general public psychiatric ward for a couple of months, on strong medication and unable to see her baby. Unlike other Australian states, in NSW there are no public Mother Baby Units where a family can receive the perinatal specialist care the mother needs, while also maintaining the important mother-baby bond.  It took nearly three years for Deb to feel herself again after her first baby was born. But sadly, despite careful plans having been made, PP struck again after baby number two.  Deb is a Christian, and although her faith was her stronghold while she was unwell, some of the doctors and nurses saw it differently. “In PP,” Deb explains, “religious grandeur can be a symptom of the illness – meaning women think that they are Mary, or that their baby is Jesus, or even that their baby is the devil … Being in a general psych ward where they were watching out for these things, it made it harder for me to read the Bible or to have the chaplain come and visit. Some people thought this was part of my illness and that I should be more medicated.”  Throughout that time, Deb clung to  Psalm 71 , which speaks of being protected by God when in horrible places, and of God caring for children and infants. Even when Deb was away from her babies, she recalls, “It was reassuring that God could still take care of them and they could rely on him.”      
   
     “ From birth I have relied on you;     you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.     I will ever praise you. I have become a sign to many;     you are my strong refuge. ” 
   
   — Psalm 71:6-7 
 
     While Deb had her faith to cling to, PP is such a difficult storm to weather. It seems bizarre that so few people know about this serious illness in Australia, and Deb saw this as a major problem. She wondered how women were supposed to get the support they needed to work through the pain of what has happened to them – the effects of which are felt for years to come.  An online community for those who had suffered from PP existed in the UK, and Deb decided to reach out to those in this community who were living in Australia and New Zealand to see if they’d be interested in forming a smaller, localised community. ‘Beyond PP’ was born.  Since it began in 2016, Beyond PP has been involved in raising awareness about this distressing condition. They are also active in connecting people with PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) and their resources, which include checklists of symptoms, stories from those who have experienced PP, and a hotline for those who want to chat.  Most importantly, Beyond PP is about connecting women with each other. As Deb says, “The best healing comes when you have someone you can relate to, share your story with, and talk about the good, the bad and the ugly with.”     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Deb Vickers (centre) amongst 4 PANDA Community Champions, 2 BeyondPP Mums, 1 Politician raising awareness for Postnatal Psychosis at a PANDA fundraiser  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     Deb is hopeful that Beyond PP is a safe space where women can share the highs and lows of their journey – from the strangely funny moments, to the grief of missing out on the first few months with newborns, to the difficult process of considering a second child after such a harrowing experience. She hopes that it will provide a united voice for the 600 women and their families who experience PP every year in Australia.  As Deb says, “Women are good at taking care of each other”, and Beyond PP is a place where women can do what they do best.  This year, Deb is participating in The Hub program at ADM. She will receive one-to-one mentoring, essential training and guidance to help develop Beyond PP. She is looking forward to seeing how God continues to use this community as an encouragement for women who have faced PP.             Read more about Deborah and how she is developing Beyond PP through the Hub program  ...    Find out more about    Postnatal Psychosis    through    PANDA    - Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia    PANDA supports women and their families who are suffering from antenatal and postnatal anxiety or depression. If you or someone you know is worried about feelings or emotions associated with becoming a new parent, please call PANDA’s Helpline on 1300 726 306 (9am – 7.30pm AEDT Monday-Friday).    If you'd like to connect with the Beyond PP community,    send them an email.

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Sharing the Storm of Postnatal Psychosis

For Deborah Vickers, becoming a new mum was a deeply traumatic experience. Now she is supporting other women who have experienced postnatal psychosis through a unique community ...

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      Workship – With Author Kara Martin  Kara Martin has wrestled with issues of faith and work for decades. Her new book  Workship: How to Use Your Work to Worship God  is a comprehensive and highly practical guide to integrating your faith and work. Kara shares some of the insights in her book.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Can you briefly explain why you wrote this book?  I have wrestled with issues around integrating faith and work for 30 years, so this book is a natural outflowing of all my teaching, speaking, preaching and writing. It is one of the first Australian books on this topic, one of the few written by a woman, and it deals with practical as well as theological issues.    How do you define ‘workship’?  Workship brings together two things we often treat as separate: work and worship. Workship also summarises the two approaches we can make to work. We can either worship our work, or we can use our work to worship God.   What are some of the main barriers that prevent Christians (women in particular) from integrating their faith and work?  Generally, we separate 'God's work' from secular work. However, if we see work as anything we do with purpose, we understand that all work can be 'God's work' if we do it with a desire to honour God and serve others.  Studies show that women tend to undervalue the work we do, whether paid or unpaid. We need affirmation that what we do is important to God in fulfilling his commands to steward his creation, to care for his creation, to fill the earth and to do all things for his glory (see Genesis 1:26–28 and 1 Corinthians 10:31). I also think that women tend to struggle to balance our lives, wanting to serve others before we take care of ourselves. We need to learn the spiritual discipline of resting from our work.   What is the main piece of advice you would give to women who are leading two separate lives: the work life and the faith life?  I had this experience in my first job as a TV journalist. I was overwhelmed by the ethical challenges and the challenging work culture. I felt there was ‘Christian Kara’ on Sunday and ‘Journalist Kara’ on Monday. I was literally disintegrating as a Christian. I joined some other Christian journalists and we talked through issues and prayed for each other, and we held each other accountable. They helped me develop a bigger vision for my vocation as a journalist: telling stories, treating people with dignity, revealing truth, inspiring people, exposing evil, demystifying pain and struggle.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Author, Kara Martin  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     So, my tips would be to read the Bible with fresh eyes, looking to see God the worker and how he works, and look for glimpses of him at work in your workplace. Also, share your work struggles with other Christians, so you have people praying for you. We need to see our workplace as our mission field, and we need prayer and support to be an effective witness for God there.   What are some key insights you want readers to take away from this book?  My book has three sections: a biblical theology of work to orient our minds, spiritual disciplines for work to shape our hearts, and some practical wisdom for work to inspire our hands. I hope people will be energised to honour God with their ordinary, daily work, giving people a glimpse of the Kingdom.   When can we expect the second volume of  Workship  to be released?  I have already written Volume 2, which includes some more practical wisdom for the workplace, as well as ideas for churches to better equip workplace Christians. However, the publisher is waiting to see how well Volume 1 sells, so I am hopeful the demand will continue to be strong ...      To find out more or to purchase a copy of Workship, go to    workship.com.au     There are also copies of the book available for loan in the Mary Andrews College library.

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Workship – With Author Kara Martin

Kara Martin has wrestled with issues of faith and work for decades. Her new book Workship: How to Use Your Work to Worship God is a comprehensive and highly practical guide to integrating your faith and work. Kara shares some of the insights in her book.

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      The Hub and Jesus Club     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


    

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


       Mel Fung was selected as a participant in the Hub Winter Class 2016, based on her idea to help churches reach people with intellectual disabilities. Today Jesus Club has over 80 members in seven locations across Sydney, with another three clubs set to commence later this year. As The Hub 2016 classes finish in June, Mel shares how The Hub has enabled Jesus Club to develop and grow.      How did the idea for Jesus Club originate?   In 2004 God introduced me to a group of people with disabilities through my work as a disability support worker. I started a low-key Bible study program called ‘Jesus Club’ for some of my intellectually-disabled clients in 2006. Over the past 11 years God has grown this ministry so that the original Bible study program, run in Gladesville, has been replicated at six other churches in Sydney – with three more to start this year. This was never the vision when Jesus Club first started, but God does more than we can hope or ask for!   How has being part of the Hub program helped to realise your goals for Jesus Club?  The Hub program has been instrumental in transforming Jesus Club from a one-person-led ministry to one upheld by many Christians, each contributing their various gifts. Jesus Club now has the structures, resources and support to endure for many years and reach many people.    What is your vision for Jesus Club in the next five years?  Our vision is to see churches all over Australia reaching out to people with disabilities and genuinely welcoming them into their community. We have spent the past four years building a network of clubs in Sydney, and are planning to do the same in other states. Already there are churches in Victoria and Queensland that want to set up their own Jesus Club ministry.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     We also want to produce a comprehensive library of Bible-teaching materials for people with intellectual disabilities. Jesus Club has employed several writers, including Christians with special education training, to write material that can be used at the Jesus Club program or by anyone in the world. Our deep desire is to see our friends with disabilities enjoying all the blessings that other Christians can often take for granted, including Bible reading and teaching.   As your time with The Hub draws to a close, what would you say to other Christian women who are considering applying for The Hub program?  God has done more than I could hope or ask by providing this Hub experience. The Hub has opened my eyes to how to use entrepreneurial tools to build a ministry that can reach more people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. On a personal level, I’ve enjoyed meeting with like-minded women each week. God uses the various members of the body to sharpen us in our faith and our missions.    

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The Hub and Jesus Club

Jesus Club has over 80 members in seven locations across Sydney, with another three clubs set to commence later this year. As The Hub 2016 classes finish in June, Mel Fung shares how The Hub has enabled Jesus Club to develop and grow.

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