My post on PPD to Joy – Taking off my mask

Yael from PPD to Joy kindly asked me to share with you all my journey on recovering from PPD within a Jewish community in Melbourne Australia.

Allow me to tell you a little bit about myself and the most beautiful city in the world, where I live. I’m a born and bred Melbourne-ite. I attended a private Jewish day school and went on to study at Monash University where I got a degree in marketing. I went on to work in the account departments of various advertising agencies over the next ten years before I left to have my first baby.

The Melbourne Jewish community is made up of the largest number of Holocaust survivors of any Australian city – the highest per capita concentration outside of Israel itself. We have a vibrant Jewish community inclusive of Ultra orthodox, Lubavitch, Modern Orthodox and Progressive Jews. There are many synagogues, Jewish schools, youth groups, kosher food a plenty (well, for Australian standards anyway). Most of our grandparents have/had European accents and we grew up eating very unAustralian foods. We are a small community – everyone knows someone who knows someone, who went to school with someone, had a date with someone or is now related to someone by marriage. And this stems global too, as family and friends move, marry and migrate.

When I was in the second grade, my father went to live in Israel for six months in order to study to become a Rabbi. He graduated and returned to Melbourne to take up the position of the Rabbi of Kew Hebrew Synagogue, a modern Orthodox Synagogue in the South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. I wasn’t too sure at the time what to make of his job and new role and most certainly didn’t think about how it would impact my life – after all, it was just my dad’s job!

Soon after my dad took on the position our family was thrust into the limelight. Everyone knew who we were and we couldn’t go anywhere without being recognized or talked about. I recall my parents often telling me that ‘such ‘n such’ saw me at the movies with my friends – it was as though there were little spies reporting where we were, what we did, who we were with, etc. It was as though I lived in a fishbowl.

My upbringing was all about appearances. It didn’t matter what was going on in our home behind closed doors – when we were in public, it was business as usual and we donned our masks. I didn’t realize just how damaging this was until I was nineteen and we had what would be called a ‘scandal’ in my family,  we all continued on with that Victoria Grayson smile and mask covering extreme sadness. I had learnt and mastered to hide pain and put up a front.

Following the birth of my DD and the hell that followed and my admission to the nuthouse I was adamant I didn’t want people to know where I was (other than close family and friends I felt safe with). For once in my life I wanted to control over who knew my business. I wasn’t ashamed, I just wanted to focus on my recovery and not what people thought of me. I just didn’t want to be the topic of gossip as they lined up for bagels on a Sunday morning. (My family was already on the ‘front page’ as my parents separated and divorced after 39 years of marriage and there was a lot of speculation as to why — I needed my time to heal from that too). We told out friends we were off to sleep school as DD wasn’t sleeping very well and we were there longer than the usual five-day admission as she was premature and needed additional support with sleeping and settling.


This photo was taken at a friends wedding the day before I was admitted to the mother infant unit in a psych facility. (L-R) My husband Seon, our daughter Orli and my mask. The name Orli means ‘my light’ in Hebrew. If only I knew how appropriate this was going to be when we named her.

Eighteen months following my admission and well and truly on my road to recovery, I discovered #PPDChat on Twitter – a wonderful circle of mums that came together to share our ups and downs openly (without any judgment), honestly and with an outpouring of love I had never experienced before in the online community. Some of us were in the trenches, some were climbing out and some at the top helping to pull up those below. I started participating in discussions, joined groups (BAPPD – the baby after PPD Survivor Sisters) under a pseudonym – Not Just About Wee – as I didn’t want anyone to know who I was. I have always maintained and still do, that it was never about feeling ashamed of having Postpartum Mood Disorder (PMD), I just wanted to be able to be completely open and honest and feel safe and I wasn’t sure I could do that with people knowing who I was.

What if I had known the person I was chatting to in real life? Would they start telling everyone I knew my story? That wasn’t fair. It was my story to tell – if I wanted to tell it. I was so protective of myself and my (nuclear) family and was adamant I didn’t want everyone knowing my business. I just wanted my own space and privacy to start/continue my journey of recovery.

I was extremely mindful about how I was perceived in the online community by remaining anonymous and not revealing my identity. No one ever asked my name – there was a kind a respectful understanding of someone wanting to remain anonymous. I was never asked to divulge who I was. Despite this, at times, I still felt dishonest by not being completely transparent.

I ‘came out’ to my #PPDChat mamas when the FaceBook support page was created. I felt a great sense of freedom, honesty and truth finally disclosing my real identity. My pseudonym was my virtual mask and I was finally ready to take it off. I no longer cared who knew who I really was. I was sure no one knew me anyway, so it was another way I could ease myself into be open within my community and extended social circle.

The series on Postpartum Progress was the first time I had ever told my story in full disclosure. I stripped myself completely bare for all to see. There were some things in there that I had never told my husband or closest friends. Some of the thoughts I had in the eye of the storm had been revealed in group therapy (with the tidal wave of guilt that accompanied it), however I never really discussed the details of my hell unless I felt completely safe and where I was certain judgment would not be present.

I had spent the previous two years feeling safe on the #PPDChat Support page on FaceBook and various other support groups (e.g. for my sons medical condition). I contributed, I shared stories, offered advice, support and friendship and was unashamedly a recovered mad sad mummy. It wasn’t until my BAPPD sisters and I decided to tell our story that I had to really think about whether I could share my story openly for the world to see. After many days of soul-searching I decided that I wanted share my voice. I wanted to offer hope. I wanted to remove the stigma and the shame of all PMD’s. I wanted to shout from the rooftops ‘this is not forever’. If by my words I could console and comfort only one mother, it would all be worth it.

I was proud of the work I did with my BAPPD Survivor Mamas, however as soon as I posted the first days series on my personal FaceBook newsfeed I immediately felt exposed, fragile and vulnerable – now everyone knew my story and I would be talked about – good or bad, it didn’t matter.

I received lots of wonderful, uplifting and heartfelt messages of support from people who I don’t often interact with on FaceBook both on my newsfeed and in private messages. This made me feel proud in a way I had not prepared myself for. It was truly heartwarming and encouraging and I knew I had made the right decision by opening up. I’m still allowing myself to feel exposed because I am, but I’m working on not caring!

I hoped by sharing my story would help remove the shame associated with any PMD generally and also within the Jewish community. Also it was me sharing my story so nothing could be taken out of context, nothing could be made up, no details could be sensationalized because they were my words. I was able to be in control of the message that went out, which for me has been a huge accomplishment.

I’m not aware of anyone in the Melbourne Jewish community that has suffered from any sort of PMD. And I know lots of people. And they/their partners had given birth. It is just not discussed and this just baffles me. Still to this day when a mother you know attends a baby sleep clinic the assumption is that the mother is struggling with the lack of sleep and it’s the baby that needs help to sleep and settle. There is nothing wrong with the mother and she definitely isn’t suffering with any Postpartum Mood Disorder.

If I’m being truthful, it really doesn’t matter about my background, my upbringing, my religion or anything. Postpartum Mood Disorders (PMD’s) are still not talked about in our community, in most communities and it’s as though the problem doesn’t exist. I find this extremely sad and disheartening.

I am not going to say that everything happens for a reason as I believe things just happen because they happen. There is no reason I got my PMD over the girl next door. It’s what I am doing about having and surviving from my PMD that matters. I would like to think that sharing my story will start the dialogue and get people sharing, talking, listening, helping and loving so that the shame and stigma of having PPD diminishes and one day is no longer. I want to arm expectant mums, new mums and experienced mums with information about PMD’s – and it’s lack of religious and social discrimination – that help is available and recovery is possible. Most importantly, I wish to impart the message of hope to every mother, no matter what race or creed.

Job application for living my life well

There are many ways to look at oneself in order to gain an insight into how you truly think & feel about certain things & situations & to also learn about how your behaviour is shaped by these experiences (or memories). I enjoy the challenge of trying different things because you never know which approach you’ll resonate best with, which method will have the most impact for you or the technique by which you will learn the most about yourself.

I thought it would interesting to do a job application type of self-analysis & pretend I’m applying to living my life well. Nothing will happen if I’m not hired, I’m just using the categories that one tends to use when applying for work. I’m hoping to get a good look at myself & my life & to get an insight on how I think others might see me. I’m hoping through this process I’ll be able to better determine & prioritise what is truly important for me to live a healthy & authentic life: not hide behind fear & be the person I want to be & what I want my children to remember me for.

So without further ado: here’s my job application for living my life well.

Name: Yuz or mummy

Age: Old enough to know better, make better decisions & choices, but will never old enough to think I know everything about everything. I’ll never be that age. That age is full of negativity, loneliness & closed minds.

Education & experience:  I completed high school & went on to gain a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a major in Marketing. I went on to work within the advertising industry for the next ten years working in account management. Deadlines, massaging client & creative team egos was part of the job as well as meeting unrealistic timelines, deadlines & budgets. I worked hard, worked really long hours & wanted to do the best I could every day. I was an extremely loyal employee & conscientious too & this was an interesting combination in the advertising industry full of huge egos, employers who would often take advantage & the clients often reminding us all that we were in fact in a service industry. Some days I wasn’t far off table service in a restaurant without the tips.

My strengths:

* Loyal & conscientious – I still see them as a strength.

* I’m extremely passionate about all sorts of causes & will volunteer my time, experience & skills to helping out when I’m physically & emotionally possible.

* I will stand up for my kids health, welfare & their right to grow up in their own time & at their own pace. No one’s (that I know) has won a Nobel Prize for learning to point at six months or been the first to walk in their playgroup.

* I have the global phenomenon – & often ignored or downplayed characteristic – called ‘mothers instinct’. I might not be the best mother in the world, but I’m striving to be the best I can be, & while I don’t have a medical degree, I know my child: I know when they’re in pain, when something’s wrong & when to speak up when I don’t think I’ve been heard when it comes to their health & wellbeing. If you want to see my mama bear come out, just insult or talk down to my child or disregard, downplay or ignore my pleas for assistance when it comes to their wellbeing.

* Generous – with my time & with our money, but mostly time. I volunteer for many organisations & support groups that I am passionate about & rally up the troops for our annual Relay for Life event.

* Give people the benefit of the doubt – always. No matter how hard this is. The disclaimer here is that everyone gets three chances & depending on how much this person means to me, I either approach them about it or I let the friendship move down a rung on my importance-in-my-life ladder.

My weaknesses:

* Not stepping up to my intrusive thoughts about my worth, my doubts & my fears.

* Not being able to shut my mind down during discussions or an argument already thinking of the next thing I want to say & not hearing or listening to what’s been said.

* Channelling my inner Archaeologist: I dig up shit from the past & am passionate about holding on to it even though it holds no value or will help my contentment & happiness in the long term. And what’s so confronting about this is that I now have an audience to this behaviour & I don’t want my kids learning this trait through my actions & inactions. I want them to learn to deal with stuff & move on, let it go & not to assign any more meaning nor perceived worth to things that don’t deserve it.

* Lying to myself about when I’m not ok & putting on a brave face or mask.

Ok, now to stare down these weaknesses, confront them & make a concerted effort to do something about them. I know there’s no such things as a perfect person, but I know there’s always room for improvement. I can be & can do better.

Now to work out the ‘how’ in doing that…….


Mama’s Comfort Camp – Happy half-birthday!

Mama's Comfort Camp

Most of my regular readers will know about a closed group on FaceBook called Mama’s Comfort Camp, but for those of you that haven’t, allow me to share some things about the group with you.

Essentially this group is what we call a refuelling station – a safe haven of self-care and self-kindness for mums – the much needed space & place to visit at the end of a hard day, during nap time or first thing to help you get moving! We have all sorts of threads like the ‘tell me something good’ thread we start each month, to the ‘I wanna’ thread where we dare to dream big or just wish we all had a maid. The ‘I don’t wanna’ thread is also our lighthearted attempt to whinge about the groundhogness (i.e. monotony) of some days & knowing that you’re not alone. And mostly, we support each other on the hard days & with personal issues with the utmost respect & understanding. On these posts, we post ‘PT’ which stands for ‘potential trigger’ thereby warning others in the group that the content may be triggering or painful to them.

There are many more heartfelt & uplifting threads & posts, like ‘Flashback Friday where we post pictures of ourselves/our kids/partners & also our own Google map where most of us have placemarked where we’re from which brings us all even closed even though some a millions of miles apart.

The group was the brainchild of my friend Yael Saar (from & together with the Den Mothers (myself, Jaime Harker (@jamesandjax,, Melissa Hogan (@story3girl,, Jennifer Pody Gaskell (@jenrenpody & Jenna Farelyn (@frelle, & Robin Farr @FarewellStrangr,, we’ve just celebrated our six month anniversary.

To describe this group, using Yael’s words, ‘over 200 moms from around the world come together to nourish ourselves and each other by sharing our ups and downs, our joys as well as our doubts. In this safe space we are free to give ourselves permission to feel all of our feelings and disarm what is painful by conscious interaction with our fears and demons. We’ll be sharing experiments in self-kindness and self-care without “shoulds”. We also talk about ways to disarm the inner critic that lives in the head by finding and befriending the inner wise woman who lives in the body’.

Because Mama’s Comfort Camp is a closed FB group, only members can post & read posts & nothing you post there will be visible on your regular FB newsfeed – keeping your rants about your MIL or step family private from them!

Please note, the URL that all the MCC links on this page will direct you to is the Mama’s Comfort Camp open FB page. If you would like to join the closed group, please let us know on that page & you will be added. New members are added every week on New Member Monday, so I’ll just say, see you on Monday!

Spam invaders

My fellow bloggers know this feeling. The feeling you get when you see you’ve got some comments on a recent blog post & you get a little burst of excitement to see who it’s from & what they’ve thought about your words. You check them only to find spam invaders. There are three categories of spam invaders. There are those that post what looks like some kind of ‘coding’ language or spammish as I like to call it which, in my opinion, a real waste of their effort. Then you have the spam invaders that go straight into a product or service sell which is a little insensitive to the content you’ve carefully constructed & composed but does get straight to the point which is actually quite considerate. The third kind of spam invaders are the ones that make a real effort to connect in order to make their sales pitch seem more relevant. I’m talking about the ones that make a serious attempt of trying to tie their product/service into your content which makes them sound hilarious & ridiculous at the same time. These spam invaders are my favourite & an easy source of entertainment on my busy days.

So this post is dedicated to those nuggets of spam I’ve received on various posts I’ve done. I would like to acknowledge these spam invaders with some more air time as they’ve made the effort to reach out to me. So, enjoy the read & don’t forget to add some of yours too.

Oh & PS, my name is not Maria, Sally or Hilda. Just saying.

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* You made some clear points there. I did a search on the subject matter and found most persons will agree with your website.

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* I would very much like to do my masters in early coidlhhod Education because I love to kkow more about how childresn learn, and I want contribute by preparing the right materials.

* Congrats- your liinvg my dream since you won’t see your family/ friends for a long tie you could go cheesy- wish you were here or on the trail again or Where in the world is (your name)? Best of luck!

Medico mumbo jumbo

I’m feeling angry, frustrated & a little sad right now. And it’s all because of some snot. Flynny’s snot.
Flynn is still considered ‘failure to thrive’ according to medicos as his weight is not on the graph yet. He’s been consistently sitting on no percentile just following the graphs incline but nowhere near where he’s ‘meant’ to be. In laypersons terms, he’s actually not failing to thrive because he’s doing great. He’s meeting his developmental milestones, alert, engaging & just so beautiful.
He does however have feeding issues. He still has reflux & an extremely sensitive gag reflex & will vomit easily if he feels he needs to. He’s still being fed pureed food as any lumps or grains makes him gag or choke. He’s been assessed by a more than one speech pathologist & they both concluded that his chewing & swallowing is delayed but will improve over time. If my kids have taught me anything is that they’ll do things in their own time when they are good & ready. Orli was developmentally delayed & walked at 25 months, Flynn is still eating pureed foods at 15 months- whatever. I digress.
Three weeks ago I noticed that Flynn was chewing on his puree – he was starting to understand to use his jaw when eating. I had been encouraging this motion by offering him rusks & other dissolvable snacks & he seemed to catch on to what he needed to do. I gave him a little Rafferty’s fruit bar & he ate it pretty well with only a few coughs & no vomit which was fantastic! I felt I was in tune with him & letting him decide when he was ready to progress to this next stage of eating. By feeding himself he can control what goes in his mouth & how much & my gut tells me his chewing & swallowing will improve with him being in the drivers seat.
When Floo gets sick he really struggles eating & drinking which is really hard to witness & manage. Whether or not his tonsils & adenoids are too large I don’t know, but with the build up of mucus at the back of his throat doesn’t leave much room for his food & his sensitive gag reflex goes into overdrive. My maternal & primal instinct to feed my child has to be left by the wayside while we manage to get enough food into him so he doesn’t get hungry whilst not forcing him to eat & then vomit & then be averse to being fed at all. It’s a very slippery slope which I’ve had to climb many times this Winter.
Flynny’s also had four ear infections this Winter (so far) so I got a referral to our ENT for a review on getting grommets. My theory (& yes, I don’t need to be reminded I’m not a doctor) was that if he could better drain the mucus it would help in lessening the likelihood of ear infections & also help to empty the mucus at the back of his throat so he doesn’t have to endure the gagging, chocking & vomiting each meal when he’s unwell. I also wanted the ENT to check his tonsils & adenoids & check if they’re obstructing any pipes & also because Orli had sleep Apnea & had her tonsils & adenoids removed when she was two. And grommets as she has up to 40%  & 25% hearing loss in both ears due to glue ear.
The ENT appointment confirmed minimal hearing loss but not enough to warrant grommets just yet. I explained to the ENT (who was filling in from our actual doctor who was away) that my concern is his gagging & vomiting but she felt we should wait another few months & be reassessed. As much as I was disappointed by her using the hearing test to determine whether or not he neeed grommets (which is correct), I wanted her to also consider his feeding issues when making that decision. I was also sad that he had some hearing loss. Why should he have any hearing loss? I also reminded her that he had Laryngomalacia & didn’t want his breathing to be further restricted by excessive mucus or large tonsils & adenoids. And I’m also fearful that he might aspirate when he’s sick which I want to avoid. I need to point out here that I don’t want my son having surgery if he doesn’t need to – which mother would – but I would very much like for him to not have to struggle breathing & eating.
So today I took Flynn to the GP as he’s been miserable & very snotty the past few days. His feeding has been hard work & he’s projectile vomited at least once every meal. (I am careful not to get upset or worried or jumpy when it happens as I want to ensure he doesn’t get any feeding anxieties by my reactions). I wanted to have his ears checked to see if he had any infections as each time he has been sick this Winter it has led to him having infections. The doctor informed me that his ears were not red nor bulging & suggested I manage his cold with Panadol. I told him that his colds usually lead to ear infections but he was confident that he’d be ok – so was another doctor at that clinic & I was back two days later & left with a script as an ear infection had developed.
I just wish I didn’t have to explain each time why I wanted some action taken. I wish medicos would take on board what I say to them, I wish they would listen, I wish I wouldn’t be disregarded & treated like any other mother & child. We’re not. We’re Yuz & Flynn. And to say Flynn’s medical history has been like any other child is just wrong. I want to medicos to be consistent. Don’t ask me what I’m doing to increase the amount of calories Flynn has each day to try & get him on the graph when you won’t help me to help him to eat, stop refluxing, stop chocking & stop gagging.
I know that Selma accompanies me to my medical appointments, but so does my love & care for my child. I try very hard to keep Selma muted & not impact my decisions when it comes to Flynn, but rather my maternal instincts & the fact that I know my child. For the five minutes you’re in a doctors office & the five minutes the doctor is part of our lives it feels as though we’re all being compartmentalised & pigeon holed based on little information & lack of proof nor experience of having to live with it each day & night. It leaves me feeling as though I am catastrophising, inviting & then emersing myself in drama all while second guessing myself for even doing anything to start with.
I’m not sure what will happen at our next ENT appointment when I ask for a sleep study to be done as Flynn has started snoring & breathing through his mouth when he sleeps. I need to know if he has any Apnea because if so, I want it managed & if not, I will be thrilled & relieved. I just want to help my son & I wish they could all see that without wearing their compartmentalised glasses & limited experience when it comes to LM kids. If it’s not your speciality, then be humble & refer us on. I won’t think any less of you even with all the initials after your name, I will be grateful because it’s shown you that you care & also want to help.
I know I am feeling even more frustrated than usual as I’ve got other things occupying my mind at the moment & also because some of Flynn’s malacia friends are unwell & their mums are having a hard time with their medicos & I’m sure I am wearing some of their frustrations & anger too, so I really needed to get this on paper & try & calm down about the whole thing.
I just wish it didn’t have to be this hard.


Allow me to introduce to you to my close friend, protector & social deflector…. Avoidance.

Avoidance has been my fire blanket for as long as I can remember, so much so that I don’t want to fold it up, pack it away, or even consider it not being my ‘go-to’ comforter.

I think I learnt this skill early on in life as growing up we had many people coming in & out of our home due to the job my parents had. We often had people sitting at a dinner table not knowing each other & sometimes not knowing us either. We were ‘briefed’ beforehand & given a rundown on how this person landed up in our home & at our table & were also provided topics to avoid due to it’s sensitivity or inappropriateness towards our visitor. Hence, the dinner dance I grew up with was created – the very essence of avoidance & masking uncomfortableness. There were times I recall my brother & I almost performing for these people to break the silence, encourage conversation & topics of interest or just talking amongst each other in the hope that the deafening silence & awkward social situation would be drowned out by our banter. We actually used to call each other ‘social lubricators’ & it became instinctual when our services were required.

Over the years, I perfected avoidance so much so that performing became a breeze & it also manifested itself into a mask. I hoped as my confidence grew & as my strived to achieve my hopes & dreams socially & professionally, that I would be better confronting people & situations. However, it wasn’t to be. And sadly, as my depression increased in it’s frequency this was just something that I just didn’t have the energy or room to work on. My avoidance isn’t prejudiced either as it involves both situations & individuals so all my bases are covered in terms of any potential conflicts.

I don’t know what my issue with avoidance is & how I’ve become so resistant to confrontation. What am I afraid of? What’s the worst that can happen? Isn’t confrontation just standing up for myself? I’m not a weak person, nor a pushover, so surely this should come easily! Am I just wilfully ignorant?

I want to get to the bottom of this. I really do as I feel it holding me back to the person I want to be for myself & for my family. So, what is my issue exactly? Is it feeling overwhelmed at the time of confrontations & not saying what I want to say? Is it that I think of things to say after the fact & get angry with myself for not thinking of them at the time? Is that my excuse for not even starting the conversation that needs to be had? Am I scared what the other person will think of me? If they’re my good friends I shouldn’t care & the friendship is supposed to strengthen. And If we’re not good friends, then I shouldn’t even bother, so it’s not avoidance rather disinterest. Am I scared about the unknown outcome therefore not even wanting to find out? Is it a control thing – that I can’t control the outcome, my feelings etc?

And then I start thinking: what lesson I am teaching my kids by all this avoidance? Is this the kind of role model I want to be to my children? If I want people or my kids to have respect for me then surely I need to be able to genuinely respect myself & be content with my life’s decisions. Is my avoidance a form of self-respect sabotage?  Is my fear born out of self-preservation? How do I go about & what do I need to do to give myself permission to be vulnerable enough to stop this tango of avoidance? If I want to be the best version of myself, then surely something needs to change in my thinking.

Like my realisation that the word ‘forgiveness’ had the word ‘give’ in it, the word avoidance has the word ‘dance’ in it. This is perfect for me as I actually see myself dancing around topics & hop stepping about in order to deflect from the real issue. In actual fact, I would rather dance instead of facing a confronting, uncomfortable or excruciating event.

At the beginning of this post, I called avoidance my ‘fire’ blanket as opposed to a safety blanket. Is there really going to be a wall of fire thrown at me for standing up for myself? Do I really have to snuff it out before it starts to sting? Is this how I view confrontation – that the consequence is me being told off, questioned or hurt? Are all confrontations going to be an attack on my character? Is that how I see confrontation – as personal attacks? At the end of the day confrontations & arguments are just words. They’re just noises that come out of peoples mouths & form things called words which we use to communicate to each other. It’s all it is. I can make these words bounce off me or go right over me depending on the level of value I hold in the relationship with the person in conversation with. Surely this is nothing to be fearful of!?

I’m sure there are some people that see & view my avoidance as a weakness & an area in which they can exploit & take advantage of. Surely this alone should give me the motivation & impetus to make a change & stop dancing around the real issues. And I need to be honest too & admit that I’m not proud of this personality trait, so this together with my feelings of exploitation just have to be the architects of change.

I really don’t know the answer here, but I hope that exploring my thoughts & feelings in this space will provide me with some insights & in time possible paths of exploration.

Does anyone else have issues with confrontation? Have you managed to overcome your fears? What have been your strategies? I’d love some tips.