MENTAL MUTHA MEETS CHARLOTTE SPEAK
MENTAL MUTHA MEETS CHARLOTTE SPEAK
Are you a mental Mum or a Mum that’s mental?
Mum that's mental. I think. Maybe. I should probably be a bit more committal...the Mum thing came first then the mental bit so I reckon it's probably about right!
What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Meditate? Talk? Hide?
A full on messy cry first and foremost, helps clear me out a bit. Then comes the list....things to do, things that are bothering me, things that needed to be done weeks ago - I might talk then but I'm still figuring this one out. I've always been the calm one, the person other people come to so I have this weight on me that if I panic those around me will too. Since the end of last year I've been much better at sharing though - I got made redundant while I was on maternity leave and my world shifted (for the better). I felt free and like I could take on the world but be comfortable at showing some vulnerability too - I know everybody has their triggers, apparently being given the shove was mine!
Do you discuss your mental health with your mum mates?
The first time I ever did was after a miscarriage at the end of 2015. It wasn't immediate, in fact I didn't even want to talk about the miscarriage for a long time. I suppressed a lot of emotions and I didn't grieve. An old boss took me to one side about three months after it happened and very gently asked how I was doing. I sobbed. I mean really big ugly tears that didn't stop for about twenty minutes. I think looking back it was a combination of a panic attack and a small breakdown. There were only a handful of people who knew what had happened so I hadn't really had a lot of 'how are you?' conversations. I was referred to a counsellor, where in the first session I repeated the tearful breakdown and struggled to say the words 'I've had a miscarriage.' After an incredible hour with her she diagnosed me with PTSD - not what I was expecting. I thought that was reserved for people who had been in mega traumatic situations, y'know like war? I've learnt SO much about PTSD now that I'm actually a bit ashamed of my ignorance back then.
I had homework - I needed to tell some people what had happened to me, and I needed to drive to the hospital where I'd had to have the 'surgical management of miscarriage'. So I talked. I told friends how I had been for a scan and the sonographer (whose job I wouldn't want by the way) had pretty brutally told me there was no heartbeat, she could see two sacs but no heartbeat. I endured an internal scan and questions both my husband and I were asking, being ignored. I had a week of tests, more scans, nurses explaining that my hormone level was sky high so they needed to rule out a molar pregnancy, a gentle prodding from an incredible gynaecologist who explained as much as she could - that this had started as a twin pregnancy (what the??) and my hormone level hadn't risen quickly enough to sustain it. I waited to bleed but it never happened and there was a worry of some complications that I never really fully understood but meant my only option was to have an operation. The anxiety levels were through the roof and I asked a nurse to hold my hand as I went under...needy much. In the ride down to theatre I convinced myself there would be two outcomes - either I would wake up with no tubes and the dream of having a second baby would be gone or I just wouldn't wake up. Thankfully it was neither. My operation got delayed by about 30 hours from when they first wanted to take me down and I'd been nil by mouth just in case I got whipped down quickly. My recovery was slow, I had the mother of all migraines and I passed out in the toilet during the night luckily with a nurse just outside the door! The driving to the hospital part was because I couldn't go anywhere near it without bringing on a panic attack - even just seeing the sign for it started a cold chill.
I didn't realise until I had these counselling sessions how much I had been changed as a person by the miscarriage and all that came with it. I was a bag of anxiety. I distanced myself from friends who were pregnant. I favoured my own company over being with lots of other people. The talking became almost a necessity - not just to explain to people why I'd changed but also to help me understand myself all over again.
How do you tackle mental health chats with your kid’s?
My eldest is three and a half and my youngest (the rainbow babe) is eleven months so I'm not there yet with broaching much. I will though when they're old enough to get it a little more - particularly because since having the miscarriage and going through the counselling I realise my mental health is so important and regularly thrown around. I get 'temporary' spells of OCD when I'm overwhelmed or feeling out of control which are pretty visible in the way I behave, so they'll need to know where that comes from.
Who helps you in the dark? (In your pits, your mental rock bottom - who is your hero?)
I don't think I have one person in particular. My husband definitely helps when I talk but that involves me actually showing that I'm at my pit (remember the whole 'I can't panic because they'll panic?). Anybody that can remind me that normal is how I define it rather than trying to mould me into something I'm not.
What helps you in the light? (Meditation? Procrastination? Perspiration? People?)
Perspiration definitely - it's a new discovery of mine but exercise is a biggy. Nothing too strenuous, but I've gone from seeing it as a luxury if I get time to a necessity to clear my head and get some fresh air.
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'?)
Not hard and the stigma is lifting but slowly. Having to declare things on forms, the impact it has on travel insurance (yeah, I got an additional probing from a well known insurer last year as well as our mortgage provider) makes me raise an eyebrow a bit too.
Where’s your head at?
I'm content but learning.
Soft Play or Rehab?
Soft play. With an alcohol license.
Jacobs Creek or a Jacobs Cracker?
Nut Job or Nut Allergy?
Self Care or Self Sabotage?
Pre 2010 me: Self Sabotage. Post 2010 me: Self Care. Something just clicked.
Journal or jog?
Ask for help or happy to hermit?
Happy to Hermit
If you'd like to read more conversations with Mental Muthas, click HERE.
Women talking unashamedly about their mental health and parenting innit.