Dolls help heal Gladstone mum's postnatal depression
NEW Auckland mother Kim Johnstone has suffered from crippling anxiety and post- natal depression ever since losing her twins during birth, until she discovered "doll therapy" 12 months ago.
The mother-of-seven, who lost her twins more than two decades ago, said she has never properly recovered from the grief, but having lifelike twin dolls among 10 others has filled a "hole in her heart".
The 44-year-old has collected a dozen lifelike dolls in as little as 12 months, her most expensive doll costing her $650 and handcrafted by an artist.
But Ms Johnston is not alone with her collection.
"There are lots of women who are using therapy dolls all across the state. They just don't talk about it," she said.
"I had my tubes tied due to ongoing medical problems and it wasn't something I wanted to do but I knew I had to.
"Knowing I will never have another baby or twins again left a hole in my heart."
Ms Johnstone is a member on a number of Facebook groups for the "born-again babies" lifetsyle including Cuddle Therapy Reborn Dolls and Reborn Baby Group.
"I was having panic attacks just going down the road to the shops," Ms Johnstone said.
"But last week I drove 19 hours with my partner Andrew to Mt Isa for a road trip and I was perfectly happy.
"Even my partner was surprised.
"He knows I always pull out of plans at the last minute because I get anxious."
Ms Johnstone said when she feels an attack coming on or is having a bad day she gets the dolls out.
Made from vinyl and cloth, the New Auckland mum even has a special baby milk mix made from glue, water and vanilla essence.
While her twin dolls are the most important to her, Ms Johnstone is selling four others to buy a $1500 silicon born- again doll.
But they don't come cheap. Ms Johnstone's dolls' starting price is $200.
"The dolls are great for people suffering from dementia too.
"I am even thinking of donating one to the nursing home," she said.