MENTAL MUTHA MEETS MAMA'S SCRAPBOOK
MENTAL MUTHA MEETS MAMA'S SCRAPBOOK
Are you a mental Mum or a Mum that’s mental?
A mental mum in so many ways! I’m a little crazy in my sense of humour. I’m a Psych with a passion for women’s mental health, so I’m always chatting ‘mental mamas’. Plus I’ve also got my own mental health journey with anxiety and depression.
What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Meditate? Talk? Hide?
When I feel overwhelmed, tears and rage are very close to the surface. Yoga and a good workout is my go to and helps diffuse some of that energy! I BREATHE to lessen that fight or flighty feeling. Before I gave birth, I always felt a little eye-rolley about the use of breathing for anxiety and stress, but once I learnt about what you can do on a physiological and hormonal level with some good breathing exercises (and saw through two marathon 42 hour labours using hypnobirthing), I am now a huge cheerleader of using breathing for mental health!
Do you discuss your mental health with your mum mates?
I didn’t used to. I used to very much ‘I’m fine ta’ even when inside (and outside) I was drowning. It kept me in that place, alone and scared. I’ve learnt through my work that vulnerability is absolutely vital to good mental health, but it has taken me years to grow in confidence in being open with friends. The more you chat stuff through, the more you realise that not everyone is going to do a runner when they hear your story. In fact, it can be hugely empowering and incredibly contagious. Discussing my mental health has saved me.
How do you tackle mental health chats with your kid’s?
My little boys are young, but my way of tackling it is to enable them to communicate emotion without shutting them down with a ‘don’t cry’ or ‘don’t be silly’. I want them to feel like their emotions are valuable and not to be silenced.
Who helps you in the dark? (In your pits, your mental rock bottom - who is your hero?)
I’ve got a couple of friends who I know will pick up the phone to me whenever I call. They’ve always been there, but I’ve been terrible at using them, as I feared being a burden. But, I realise it was like pushing a birthday gift back at someone. It’s a way of letting someone love you, and it deepens relationship when we let people in. Plus…I’m there for them too so it’s a two way street.
What helps you in the light? (Meditation? Procrastination? Perspiration? People?)
I have to remind myself to keep doing the things that help, even when I feel I don’t need help. I write a lot, I need to talk and slow myself down with yoga. I need to accept support in the little things so that when I need it most, I know it’s not a message of failure. It’s so easy, when I’m feeling good, to drop the coping mechanisms that help me and think ‘well, I’m fine now’, but often, those things are keeping me in that healthier place and I need to remember that.
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’m finding it increasingly okay to talk about my mental health. It has kind of turned into my job. I have always written as a therapy, and now I make it public on Instagram in the hopes that it might encourage others to share their stories and journeys too. The more comfortable you become with sharing your story, the more you’re reminded that you’re absolutely not alone. Loneliness and the feeling of certainty that you’re the only one to feel that way, is such a huge barrier to sharing. It’s so silencing yet it’s such a lie.
Where’s your head at? (Right here in this moment, today)
It’s fuzzy. I’m feeling hormonal and I always find that I feel low for a few days. I hate it and it makes me impatient and irritable. Sometimes it feels like such an echo of my depressive periods that I end up fearing that I’m ‘back there again’, but then the hormones shift and the fog lifts. I have to really utilise those good coping mechanism and remind myself about the power of hormones! I feel like hibernating, but with young boys who never sit still, it’s not possible. So we’re playdating this afternoon with a friend who I know I can be myself around. The kids will run riot and we will sit and be how we are, and that is therapy in itself sometimes.
Soft Play or Rehab?
Oh man. I can’t stand soft play. Unfortunately my kids absolutely love it. This year I joined a David Lloyd club and it has been an utter Godsend. My husband encouraged me as he was concerned that I literally never did anything good for myself. They have a small soft play, so I grab a coffee and the kids play, before they pop to the crèche and I head for a quick work out and a spa. That’s my place of rehab right now. It feels like a gift. So, we do the soft play and I get my rehab.
Jacobs Creek or a Jacobs Cracker?
Jacobs Creek. I’m not a cheese and cracker fan but I do love wine. I got to a point not long ago where I realised I was drinking every day. Just a G&T once the kids were in bed, in that window between tidying up and starting to cook for my husband. A kind of ‘yes, you made it through the day. High five’. Anyway, I realised that I was using it as a way of exhaling. So, now I put on some good music and have a herbal tea. It’s not quite the same, but alcohol as a whole is a depressant, even though it can feel like a hug. I still drink, but consciously not daily anymore.
Nut Job or Nut Allergy?
You only have to watch my Instagram stories to see where I fall in this! I find it so liberating to share my ridiculous sense of humour and my mental flaws, because really, it takes you further into the place of self-acceptance than when you’re constantly trying to hide and bat them away out of fear of what people may think. Authenticity brings us together more than it pushes people away.
Self Care or Self Sabotage?
My past was driven by self-sabotage, but over these recent years, I’ve been slowly changing that. I have to kill it with kindness, which for a long time felt so uncomfortable and totally counter what I felt driven to do. When you’ve struggled with self-hatred, it takes a while to see that drive losing power. But I’ve found self-care to be a life-changing antidote, and therefore something I have to keep doing with relentlessness that I don’t always have energy for. It’s not about whether I ‘feel worth it’, it’s a necessity for me to keep me mentally healthier for my family and for myself.
Journal or jog?
Both! Absolutely. I write for the therapy and I workout for the happy hormones. I used to work out purely to watch the calorie counter increase, but now I do it for my mental health. I absolutely recognise the difference when I step back on either of these things.
Ask for help or happy to hermit?
Asking for help is hard for me but I’m getting better. It still jars me as I’ve had such a historical, ingrained belief that asking for help is an admission of failure (despite not believing that for others). Accepting help has changed my life. Asking for it is still something I’m challenged by, but I’m working on it! As I’ve grown to value my voice and listen to my needs now, it’s not such a terrifying prospect.
If you'd like to read more conversations with Mental Muthas, click HERE.
Women talking unashamedly about their mental health and parenting innit.