MENTAL MUTHA MEETS ONE STRONG MUTHA
Are you a mental Mum or a Mum that’s mental?
Both, definitely. Some days I feel like the frantic squirrel in Ice ace “Scrat”, who loses his nut and spends his entire time chasing it, only to lose it again. That’s definitely some of the darker days for me and on the better, even good days I am in full battle armour and ready to take on the world.
What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Meditate? Talk? Hide?
I find dependant on my mood it’s a mixture of the above and more. I have been diagnosed with Bipolar 1 and PTSD following the birth of my son, during which we both nearly lost our lives. I spent the following 8 months in the depths of depression, suicidal thoughts, paranoia, delusions and psychosis. So for me it’s a battle of my mind, I can quite easily swing from manic or hypomania to depression and back again. During a phase of mania, to whatever degree I often find I am likely to become more open, more talkative, less aware of others and certainly more reckless in my decisions. I often feel compelled to act on something, which I otherwise wouldn’t agree with or advocate. During the more depressive phases I become more withdrawn and pull away from family and friends. I find writing, particularly posting on IG a sort of therapy for me during those darker days and have found great support in the community. I definitely need to try harder to recognise my triggers and put actions in place for when they arise.
Do you discuss your mental health with your mum mates?
I would, I am very open about my mental health and I encourage others to open up through my honesty and transparency, although not to sound like an absolute Sally-no-sisters, I managed to push away any friends I had made during antenatal groups by withdrawing from conversations and flaking out on meet ups. The paranoia and delusions really did get the better of me during that first year. So I don’t really have any “real life” close Mutha mates to discuss everything with.
How do you tackle mental health chats with your kid’s?
My son is just 2 so we haven’t had any meaningful conversations as yet, but I do encourage him to act out his emotions and I will never try to suppress him and his feelings. We talk about sadness, feeling pain and the effect of causing sadness in others (often because he has punched me straight in the face or bitten a chunk out of my thigh), but I will always be here to listen and validate his feelings should he need me to.
Who helps you in the dark? (In your pits, your mental rock bottom - who is your hero?)
My husband - Sanjay. Over the last 10 years he has seen and been put through A LOT and yet we still stand together, stronger than ever. He is my biggest advocate and cheerleader. Sanjay has sat by my side through attempted suicides, times when I couldn’t bring myself to leave the house and has continued to work tirelessly so the pressure to work full time has been taken off of me, all to aid recovery and enable me to build myself back up again and find the new-old me.
What helps you in the light? (Meditation? Procrastination? Perspiration? People?)
Quite honestly - social media. I get so many lovely messages of how I have helped someone take that first step to recognising a problem and then seeking help, all thanks to my honesty and support. I set out with One Strong Mutha last year with the mindset that if I help just one person recognise they are going through a difficult time and it might not be entirely “normal” then my honesty has been utterly worth it.
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 hard, I think naturally as humans we feel the need to preserve and protect ourselves from negativity and negative feedback. It’s definitely hard to rehash the dark days for the world to see and there have been many a time when I have posted something and then deleted it immediately, because what is too much? Is oversharing actually a thing and who decides if you have crossed that line? That said, I do continue to share and it’s as much as my husband and I are comfortable with (after re-reading it about 20 times). There is definitely a wave of dialogue in regards to mental health and I hope it continues but there is still a long way to go, 50% of CCG’s in this country are not equipped to support women with severe mental health crises postnatally. Women are therefore then shipped across country for a bed, away from family and their children, which is the people the do need around in order to aid recovery.
Where’s your head at?
In a really good place actually, I feel pretty good. I am on a new fitness plan, work is going well, home life is calm and settled, my medication is a bit rocky but I am managing.
Soft Play or Rehab?
Soft play is my idea of hell, I still find interaction and anxiety quite difficult somedays and I can’t cope with the idea of germs in those places. Rehab however, room to myself, no sleepless nights. Joking aside, anywhere my husband and son are is just fine by me.
Jacobs Creek or a Jacobs Cracker?
I don’t drink because of medication so crackers for me, covered in cheese and pickle of course. Yum!
Nut Job or Nut Allergy
Definitely a certified nut job! The world is a better place thanks to Nutella and Peanut Butter (crunchy of course).
Self Care or Self Sabotage?
Self care, but that doesn’t mean bath bombs and candles.. it simply means being self aware of your own mental state and being able to validate your emotions.
Journal or jog?
Jog at the moment, I have started The Body Coaches 90 day Plan to get ready for my hysterectomy later this year and the exercise is working wonders for my mental health.
Ask for help or happy to hermit?
Both are equally important during different situations. Sometimes you need to protect yourself in order to recover or eliminate the trigger and if that means hiding away at the moment in time then do it, come off social media and give yourself head space. If that doesn’t help then maybe it’s time to ask for help, seek reassurance, call in reinforcements from loved ones or physicians, there is no shame what-so-ever in asking for some help.
If you'd like to read more conversations with Mental Muthas, click HERE.
Women talking unashamedly about their mental health and parenting innit.