Are you a mental Mum or a Mum that’s mental?

I am a Mum that lives a very mental life! Being part of a military family is never straight forward, moving, long periods of separation, navigating various emotional hurdles…. its mental!

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Meditate? Talk? Hide?

Feeling overwhelmed is actually a familiar feeling for me, hiding away and wallowing is often my first port of call so I can process my feelings and emotions, why do I feel overwhelmed? Then it’s a list, I write a list as this has always seemed to help me, lists upon lists. Then when I am ready I will talk to a select few, some close friends and family who I don’t mind seeing my vulnerable.

Do you discuss your mental health with your mum mates?

‘Mum mates’ itself is a term which makes me anxious because I don’t really have any. I joined the British Army as a soldier when I was a teenager, I got married and had a baby at 20 years old while living in Germany and remained in the military until my daughter was older. I never did antenatal, baby classes or the school run when she was older because I was serving in the Army.

I have actually never made one friend through having my daughter, all my friends are from my school days, work, military. I do have two very close friends and my sister who I have been honest with over the last 18 months or so about how my husband going away for long periods affects my emotional well-being and they have been super supportive.

How do you tackle mental health chats with your kid’s?

My daughter is now 14 and will be 15 this year, I remember being that age and all that comes with it, on top of that I do worry about my daughter having additional challenges in that we have moved so much, she has moved school every September for six years due to our military life plus her dad is often away for long periods. We are close and have open discussion, nothing is off limits and I want her to know, it’s ok not to be ok.

Through the charity I founded for the children of our British Armed Forces, Little Troopers, we are launching a Military Child Well-Being course in 2018 that will be delivered in schools across the UK helping the children understand their feelings, emotions, challenges associated with being part of a military family and encouraging conversation around those.

Who helps you in the dark? (In your pits, your mental rock bottom - who is your hero?)

When he is around my husband, we met 18 years ago and have been through so much together. He has sat up holding my hand until I fall asleep, he has held my drip up in hospital while I pee and he has hugged me when I’ve sobbed uncontrollably. He tries so very hard to understand mental health but he’s been in the Army for over 18 years he is sometimes emotional sterile. My best friend is also the person who seems to have a magic wand, I’ve known her over 20 years wherever in the world I’ve lived she’s been there and no matter how dark a place I am in she swoops in and spreads some glitter.

He tries so very hard to understand mental health but he’s been in the Army for over 18 years he is sometimes emotional sterile.
— Louise Fetigan

What helps you in the light? (Meditation? Procrastination? Perspiration? People?)

I am a really sociable person, many who know me would have no idea of my struggles over the years (unless they read my blog!) from the outside looking in I’ve got my shit down but over time I have realised sharing is important. In the light I feel I can share the dark.

Is it hard to talk about your mental health? (Doesn't mean on Instagram necessarily, but do you feel the stigma is lifting and do you feel safe to speak your mind, even if it is possibly 'mental'?)

It is less scary to admit you have your vulnerable moments I think more recently, no one has it all sewn up and we are all in this together. I have definitely found sharing the realities of the emotional rollercoaster I live has made so many others relate and realise they aren’t alone. I still find it hard to open up about the severity of a couple of chapters of my life but I can be reflective and know the cause and now I try to be kinder to myself. Our expectations of ourselves are so high.

Where’s your head at? 

Right now, I’m a bit all over the place! My husband is off on an overseas deployment at the end of January for six months, he’s then home for 8 weeks then off again for a couple of months so looking down 2018 feeling a bit bleak. Even though I have been in the Army and this is our seventh long deployment as a family it never gets easier, communications are sporadic, he won’t have his phone or anything and six months is a really long time. This pre-deployment phase is such mixed emotions for all of us, I have a huge mountain to climb and I just don’t know if I can do it, of course I will but I need to dig deep and find that strength and remember all the coping techniques that have got me through it before. The last long deployment of Afghanistan he did I was probably in my darkest place, stress induced OCD ruined me and I’m stepping into this deployment a little scared as I don’t want to revisit that place again.

Soft Play or Rehab?

Luckily for me teenagers aren’t into soft play centres, whooo hoooo!

Jacobs Creek or a Jacobs Cracker? (Not sponsored)

Both?! Wine and Cheese all the way. I do have to be careful when I do choose to go the Jacobs Creek avenue…. if I am in a dark place when my husband is away it tends to compound issues for me so I steer clear if I feel like I might be heading that way.

Nut Job or Nut Allergy?

Chuck me some Cashews and I’ll be happy

Self-Care or Self Sabotage?

Definitely self-care, as I get older I really try to remember to me kinder to myself

Journal or jog?

Jog although not if its cold I’m a fair-weather runner! I like the head space a short run can give you

Ask for help or happy to hermit?

Bit of both really, I will hermit to begin with them if I can’t sort things myself I will turn to my nearest and dearest


Follow Louise Fetigan @littletroopers_

Founder of charity Little Troopers 

Instagram: @louiselittletroopers


If you'd like to read more conversations with Mental Muthas, click HERE.

Women talking unashamedly about their mental health and parenting innit.