Archives for : June2016

A visit to the gynecologist taught me something about perfection

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“Contrary to my long-held beliefs, doing an imperfectly fine job isn’t shameful or embarrassing.”

In my gynaecologist’s dimly lit examination room, I told her she was perfect. “I think you’re perfect”. It sort of slipped out, involuntarily and awkwardly. She bit her lip and replied, “I’m imperfect but trying my best”. I nodded, “Yes, of course.” We dropped the subject.

I’m very fond of my gynaecologist. She is kind, professional and intelligent, with a great bedside manner. When she had walked in a moment earlier, she’d begun telling me about a patient who gave her a nasty review online. She seemed troubled by it and I felt compelled to make her feel better.

A day later, I remembered my “perfect” comment and recounted the incident to a friend. “Did you boop her on the nose after you’d said it?” he teased. We giggled into our glasses of wine. It was a funny story and one easily forgotten, but I continued to mull over the exchange – it bothered me that I had chosen the word ‘perfect’.

Perfect isn’t a word I use to describe others or myself often, the reason being that I’m generally opposed to it. It’s an inutile descriptive because clearly, nobody is perfect. The dictionary definition is “excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement”, as well as “exactly fitting the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose”. No person is beyond improvement or “exactly” anything, yet it’s a compliment given to people and things regularly, without much thought.

A few years ago, I became aware of a hidden desire to be perfect, a tendency that had been disguising itself since childhood. This is never something I would have dared say out loud or even admit to myself because – for obvious reasons – it seems so pretentious. I hate it when people say they’re perfectionists.

Yet, it was the best way to describe the overwhelming pressure I’d put on myself to be the best that I could be. While in and of itself perfection isn’t a necessarily destructive goal, the way it had manifested in my life was more inhibiting than motivational. I had become so afraid of being sub-par that I’d begun subconsciously setting the bar low. I was “exactly fitting the need in a certain situation”, but I had been careful to make sure that “situation” was always within my capabilities and not further. It was safer than pursuing something seemingly unattainable and falling short. Mediocrity terrified me but I was embodying it.

Researcher and author Dr Brene Brown has made a living out of trying to dismantle this kind of thought behaviour. “I’ve failed miserably, many times,” says Brown in one of her TED talks. “I don’t think the world understands that, because of shame.” She explains that striving for perfection is motivated by the belief that it will help us avoid or minimise feelings of shame and judgement. Daring ourselves to try something we may not be great at makes us vulnerable and many of us choose to avoid the emotional risk, exposure and uncertainty.

The simple decision to distance myself from ‘perfection’ sparked a change within me; within a few months, I had changed jobs and switched careers. I dared to start my own projects; those things, hidden and locked away, that I had fantasised about doing one day. I was moving with new momentum and embracing it; and at the core of this transition were new expectations, that were far more realistic but just as terrifying. I’d raised the bar, but I might never reach it.

In her book Stroke of Insight, neurologist Jill Bolte Taylor recounts her experience of having a stroke and her subsequent recovery. At 37, doctors removed a blood clot the size of a golf ball from her brain. When she awoke from surgery, she had barely any memory of her previous life and the person she had been. In spite of all the challenges that came with her rehabilitation, Taylor says that ultimately, she was grateful for the opportunity to press the reset button. It meant that she was able to inadvertently let go of many of the things that had held her back up to that moment. Past insecurities, resentments or self-expectations – dismissed. What rare freedom.

In an attempt to press my own reset button, I have decided to eliminate the word perfect from my vocabulary. It is not a standard by which I wish to judge myself, my work or those around me. The most rewarding part of this journey has a been embracing imperfection. Contrary to my long-held beliefs, doing an okay job isn’t shameful or embarrassing. It’s liberating. I’ve come to interpret perfection as wholly restricting: beyond improvement actually means being opposed to it – and resistant to growth.

Learning to let go of perfection is a process, and occasionally, I’ll still stumble upon the word, sometimes unexpectedly, like when talking to my gynecologist. As soon as I’d said it, I realised how pointless it was. But my doctor had already figured it out and we moved on to something more important.


Henry Sapiecha


Can your violent partner be rehabilitated? Here is the report


Behaviour change programs are highly effective for domestic violence perpetrators.

Two thirds of violent men who attend behaviour change programs completely stop abusing their families within two years, but they always fear slipping back into their old ways.

The first Australian study into the long-term effects of interventions for domestic violence perpetrators found that court-ordered participants in behaviour change programs were the most likely to stop being violent.

Monash University followed men who attended behaviour change programs in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia for two years after they completed the program.

Monash social work professor Thea Brown said 65 per cent of men were classed as violence-free at the end of the study. This meant they no longer physically, emotionally or sexually abused their partners, or made them afraid.

“That’s a good outcome. The men do improve considerably,” Professor Brown said. “It shows that the programs are effective.” After the initial three-month program, most men continued to use professional help to remain violence-free.

Men who had been ordered by the courts to attend a behaviour change program did better than their peers. Professor Brown suggested this could be because they were more tightly monitored, had been rattled by their court experience, or feared the legal consequences if they didn’t succeed at changing their behaviour.

All the men said it was difficult to remain violence-free. “None of them ever felt they were in a secure position and wouldn’t slip back,” Professor Brown said. “It’s very hard to do as well as they should every day of the year.”

One man said: “I only feel confident when I’m doing the program.”

This daily battle was identified by some of the men’s partners who contributed to the study. “He’s good most days, not every day,” one woman said of her partner. Overall most women were optimistic about the future with their formerly violent partners.

Half the men had broken up with their partners before they started the behaviour change program. Forty per cent of the program participants were born overseas.

Older men who were in relationships and had a higher standard of education were marginally more likely to permanently change their behaviour. However Professor Brown said: “We still don’t know why some men change and some men don’t.”

Men said the program facilitators, rather than the actual content, made the difference to them. They also liked the group dynamic. “They found a lot of individual support, they felt they were being accepted by other people, they felt less evil,” Professor Brown said.

Men were disappointed the programs didn’t provide any help with their parenting.

The programs failed to reduce the incidence of mental illness among domestic violence perpetrators. Thirty per cent of violent men have mental health problems. The programs did halve the incidence of alcohol and substance abuse.

Professor Brown said her research, which was funded by Violence Free Families, showed there was a need for closer monitoring of participants in men’s behaviour change programs, and proper exit assessments that could refer men to ongoing support services. Parenting advice also needs to be provided.


Henry Sapiecha

Heaviest babies in history are huge

An Indian mother has given birth to a 6.8kg baby girl, putting to shame baby whopper Ziad Kadic, who was born in Perth Australia weighing in just under 6kg three weeks ago.

The baby girl weighs the same as the average six-month-old and is reportedly twice the size of a regular newborn baby.

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The newborn, who is unnamed, was delivered by caesarean to her 19-year-old mother, known only as Nandini.

Doctors believe her weight overtakes the alleged current record holder, Carisa Rusack, who was born weighing 6.5kg in Massachusetts in 2014.

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Dr Venkatesh Raju, the local health officer, said: “In my 25 years of experience, I had never seen such a big baby.

“She is a miracle. I believe she is not only the heaviest baby born in India but the heaviest baby girl ever born in the world.”

Doctors and family were surprised by the size of the baby, because the pregnancy had gone smoothly.

Nandini, the mother, weighs 92kg and is 175cms tall, and was unaware she was going to give birth to such a large child.

Health workers are monitoring the child in an intensive care unit to check her developments, before letting her go in a few days.

The gynaecologist who delivered the baby, Poornima Manu, said: “She came as a big surprise for all of us. The surgery took place for almost half an hour and it was free of any complications. She is really big and beautiful.

“She does not have any health issues like irregular sugar levels or thyroid and breathing normally. We were initially concerned about her sugar levels but that is fine.

“The mother had made regular visits for check-ups at the hospital and never showed signs of gestational diabetes or thyroid disorders.”

Despite being “big and beautiful”, the unnamed baby is far off the current Guinness Record holder for heaviest birth.

This is held by a baby boy born in Italy who was born without any health issues at 10.2kg to Sig Carmelina Fedele (Italy) at Aversa, Italy in September 1955.

On May 2nd Perth mum Breanna Sykes gave birth to 13-pound whopper Ziad Kadic at Joondalup Health Campus, who is understood to be one of the heaviest babies in WA history, weighing in at 5815 grams and measuring 57 centimetres.

“One of the doctors said ‘this is the biggest baby I’ve ever seen in my 15-year career’. It’s pretty amazing,” Ms Sykes told Nine News.

“They said he’s just not going to fit, if I try and push the baby he would break my pelvis so I had to get a caesarean.

“But, he’s here safe and happy and that’s what matters,” she said.

Telegraph, London; 9 News Perth

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Henry Sapiecha