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

I'd say on my good days I'm a mental Mum, like in the best possible, "I'm not like a regular mom, I'm a cool mom" kinda way.  But, really, most days, I'm absolutely a Mum that's mental.  Like in the, "GET YOUR SOCKS ON GET YOUR PANTS ON YOU NEED TO WEAR A COAT IT'S -25 DEGREES OUTSIDE STOP HITTING YOUR SISTER GET THAT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH DON'T YOU SPEAK TO ME THAT WAY WHAT HAVE I DONE WITH MY LIFE" kinda way.  

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

Ugh, I wish I could say that I meditate or deep-breathe essential oils, or some other hip, new-agey thing that fits into the "self-care" trend happening all over social media.... but what I actual do is hide.  A good ol' Hide Fest.  Hide, run away, lock myself in the bathroom, turn on the fan, put in my earbuds and watch ridiculously complex beauty tutorials on my phone until the door stops shaking from small bodies throwing themselves against it and/or when the clock reads past 8pm. Up-side to this, though, is now I know how to contour like a Kardashian.  

Do you discuss your mental health with your mum mates?

Yes, 100%.  I think, day-by-day, the conversation about mums and mental health is getting louder and spreading farther.  And as a survivor, I feel it's important to be a part of it and discuss my own experience whenever I can.  There are so many women suffering and feeling the shame and isolation that, tragically, goes along with depression.  And, if by talking openly helps just one other mum, then the conversation is working.

There are so many women suffering and feeling the shame and isolation that, tragically, goes along with depression.  And, if by talking openly helps just one other mum, then the conversation is working.
— Beth Barnes

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

On the nights that are particularly hard, when the thread completely unravels and I lose my shit on everyone, I'll wait until I'm calm before slinking into their rooms to apologize, and explain (yet again) that mummies and daddies need time-outs, too.  That it's normal for all people, whatever their age, to have Big Feelings.  It's just so important to express it with words instead of actions. I'm big on talking things through; I'm hoping it'll stick somewhere deep in their psyche, and when they're wretched teenagers they'll be comfortable being open and honest with me about drugs and sex and...... HAHAHAHAHAHAAA.  Yeah, I know.  Dream on, Barnes.  

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

My sister.  She's the greatest, strongest person I've ever known and I adore her more than life, and we can talk about everything and nothing on FaceTime for hours and laugh and cry and she will always turn me around and make everything right again.  Plus she has a fabulous wardrobe, and on those rare occasions when I have somewhere fancy to be will let me borrow something shiny and won't mind that I lie to everyone and say it's actually mine.  

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

I'm reading more these days, which helps calm me down before bed (currently on The Vanity Fair Diaries by Tina Brown.)  Listening to a good podcast when cooking, or enjoying a nice glass of wine after the kids go to bed.  But also, something I've been doing a lot of lately, is playing with makeup.  And really, just typing that is so ridiculous, because if you had asked me a year ago what the water line was, I'd probably have answered, "the underground lines where the water comes from."  The past several months I've found the ritual of slapping on a face quite therapeutic, especially on weekdays when the mornings are insane.  It tends to level my nerves before shuffling everyone out the door.

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'?)

No. Not at all.  Maybe I have my meds to thank for that, though (75mg of Sertraline daily, for those curious.)  But since I've been through it - lost deep in the darkness, struggling for air - I understand how mums who are suffering can feel hesitation and shame around voicing their pain.  So it's up to us, the mums that have suffered and come out a bit better on the other side - us survivors, us ADVOCATES -  to share the responsibility and speak up.  To be the voice for the voiceless.  We're only going to break the stigma if we work together, by having one open conversation at a time.  However hard it may be, we'll get there, mamas.  

Where’s your head at? 

It's sleepy from a week of solo-parenting, but getting to do this - spilling my guts, writing this out -  is making me feel really good.  Like a therapy session without my usual anxiety of "oh God, I'm not doing this right."  

Soft Play or Rehab?

Soft play followed by Jacobs Creek followed by Rehab.

Jacobs Creek or a Jacobs Cracker? (Not sponsored)

See above.

Nut Job or Nut Allergy?

Nuts to that.

Self Care or Self Sabotage?

Both: self sabotage in the dark times.  Self care in the light.

Journal or jog?

Journal, but meaning to get back on the jog train, though. 

Ask for help or happy to hermit?

I'll hermit until I need help.

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Women talking unashamedly about their mental health and parenting innit.