MENTAL MUTHA MEETS MUM ON A MISSION
MENTAL MUTHA MEETS MUM ON A MISSION
Are you a mental Mum or a Mum that’s mental?
I think I am somewhere in between the two. The trauma I went through when my son, William, was born has never really left me and I was diagnosed with PND when he was smaller but never offered any help or support to cope with it and 9 years later, it has never really shifted. I suspect all parents with disabled children have PTSD of some level and are just left to get on with it as the medical support is always focused on our kids while we seem to be an afterthought. You can’t go through the trauma of having a crash section and then seeing your baby in intensive care, full of wires and tubes, having seizures and then at 4 days old being diagnosed with brain damage without it leaving you traumatized but we have to get on with it don’t we.
I’m also a mental Mum, you’d have to be - to constantly rant about toilets!
What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Meditate? Talk? Hide?
It really depends because when it comes to my mental health I am pretty private and don’t really share that side of me with anyone. If I am feeling overwhelmed instead of talking, I tend to try and distract myself by trying to solve other people’s problems or by eating. Chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate. And when it all gets too much you’ll find me on the sofa watching some trash TV under a blanket cuddling my boy.
Do you discuss your mental health with your mum mates?
Rarely. I tend to put a brave face on everything, see the positives in every negative and hide the things that are overwhelming me. I find it difficult to talk about mental health because many of my friends are experiencing worse things than me and while I know its not a competition it can still feel awkward because you don’t want to offend anyone going through a tougher time.
I am lucky that I have some amazing life-long friends who have been with me through the toughest of times in my life and I know that I can talk to them if I need to, but I tend to lean on them for distraction rather than discussion about things that are bothering me.
How do you tackle mental health chats with your kid’s?
Williams disability means that it’s not really possible (or necessary) to have these kind of chats (yet), which I am kind of grateful for. I really admire parents who are dealing with mental health with their kids, it must be really terrifying.
Who helps you in the dark? (In your pits, your mental rock bottom - who is your hero?)
My husband and my friends. My husband was next to me through out darkest times when William was born, we went through all that together. The NICU stays, feeding tubes, diagnosis and every step we took to finally bring our baby home. He’s been there through the sickness, seizures and operations, the darkest times and the brightest throughout the last 12 years. But I am very conscious of his mental health needs as he could easily fall back into his depression, so I am wary of leaning on him too much these days.
My friends will always cheer me up and bring my focus back to positive things, even without knowing they need to and I couldn’t do without them.
The true hero of my story is my son. William might be severely disabled, but his determination is so inspiring, he is the happiest kid you could ever meet. If he can be happy and smile despite everything he has to cope with then I should be able to deal with anything shouldn’t I?
What helps you in the light? (Meditation? Procrastination? Perspiration? People?)
Music. I will dance around my kitchen with music singing at the top of my voice (yeah singing might be pushing it, wailing might be a better description). It doesn’t matter how I feel, there is always a song, or an album which fits that day’s mood and will lift my day. Right now, writing this I am listening to the Greatest Showman soundtrack which has been on repeat for weeks now.
I also find social media helps me so much, I have friends from all over the country who have disabled kids and we know what each other is dealing with. I speak to some of my Facebook friends constantly throughout the day and it is so nice having that ‘social’ connection even when you can’t get out of the house much to socialize with real life humans!
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'?)
I think in general the stigma is lifting and I would have no issues in speaking my mind at all when it comes to this, but only when asked. I’m so uncomfortable starting conversations about my own mental health, possibly because I am afraid of where it might lead and because I am afraid of showing emotion? I am a terrible crier so I try not to engage in conversations that might lead to that if I can help it.
I think that when you have a disabled child you’re so busy talking about their medical issues and trying to be positive about everything that you sometimes just don’t want to talk about the negatives including how you might be feeling. Having so much contact with medical professionals, therapists, social workers etc can also leave you feeling constantly judged and under a lot of scrutiny so it makes you really wary of letting anyone see any chinks in your armour.
Where’s your head at? (Right here in this moment, today)
This week is always a tricky one for me as it’s Williams birthday, it’s a time when I struggle to separate my feelings. There is huge sadness and guilt about his disability (which was caused at birth) and thoughts of what if’s as I remember the day he was born and wonder if things would be different had I gone to the hospital sooner. Facebook showing me posts from back then doesn’t really help either! But I also feel over whelming happiness and it is a time to celebrate all he has achieved and be excited about what the next year of his life will bring us so I am tring to focus on the positives and live in the moment.
Soft Play or Rehab?
Rehab. Soft play is a real slap in the face for me as it just highlights the differences between my son and other children, and my life and the life I was expecting. Although in reality I’d never change my life now and I’m sure the life I was expecting would simply have thrown up a whole different range of issues for me to cope with (I mean, I would actually have to spend time at soft play wouldn’t I and that sounds like hell on earth!)
Jacobs Creek or a Jacobs Cracker?
Jacobs cracker… because 5 years as a holiday rep has wrecked me and put me off alcohol so I only really drink a couple of times a year (which of course ends up VERY messy)
Nut Job or Nut Allergy?
Nut job. Only a nut job would spend as much time as I do ranting about toilets and trying to change them so they are usable by disabled people!
Self Care or Self Sabotage?
Self care always.
Journal or jog?
Journal (if Instagram stories can be classed as a journal?)
Ask for help or happy to hermit?
I’m always reluctant to ask for help, so I’ll say hermit. I am so bad at asking for help. I am a natural helper and am always offering support and help to others, so it feels really unnatural for me to admit when I am struggling and ask people to help me. But I am learning to accept the help that is offered these days and want to make a conscious effort to ask for more help when I need it.
FOLLOW LAURA AKA MOAM
Laura – Mum on a mission
If you'd like to read more conversations with Mental Muthas, click HERE.
Women talking unashamedly about their mental health and parenting innit.