MENTAL MUTHA MEETS SUSIE VERRILL
MENTAL MUTHA MEETS SUSIE VERRILL
Are you a mental Mum or a Mum that’s mental?
A mum that’s mental. But I think all the best ones are.
What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Meditate? Talk? Hide?
What ordinarily happens is I’ll have a wobbly day every so often where I feel all butterfly-y and nervous for absolutely no reason. Worry about it for a few hours. Greg will notice something’s up. I’ll tell him about it and cry. And then I'll feel absolutely fine again. I think it’s only normal to feel overwhelmed sometimes; as modern day mums we’re expected to do all the things all the time to a decent standard and while I love being busy, I sometimes feel as though I’m on a treadmill without getting anywhere. Trying to get back to shore but stuck in a rip tide, that sort of vibe. But then I also find being busy with work/having a project actually helps keep anxiety at bay a lot of the time so I’m a real mixed bag. I just have to assess what I think will keep me balanced at that particular moment.
Do you discuss your mental health with your mum mates?
Without putting a label on it actually being ‘mental health’, yeah I guess so. I’ll happily chat about how rubbish I’m feeling or how I’m finding certain things a struggle, it’s certainly not something I’m too proud to admit. Since having Milo I’ve been more than quick to sniff out other women and be all ‘come on, it’s a little bit crap sometimes innit?’ because I think a huge part of the problem when it comes to PND and motherhood in general is that you’re seen to be unloving towards your child if you’re unloving towards the shoddy bits of motherhood. I just want that conversation to start becoming the norm. You’re never going to love everything about everything. I love being fake tanned but I don’t like smelling of burned coconut. I love monkeys but they eat their own shite. Why on earth can’t I love my baby but not be a huge fan of sleepless nights and the endless screaming that comes with reflux?
How do you tackle mental health chats with your kid’s?
Both of my boys are very young but we try to talk to Milo as much as possible if he’s shouting and it’s obvious he’s frustrated. Or he’s angry or doesn’t understand. Nothing’s a big deal, we just try to be relaxed wherever we can and thanks to us both enduring unstable and turbulent childhoods, their happiness and feeling of being safe is our priority. It’s just all about being willing to have those chats and letting them know they’re not compelled to feel happy/chipper all the time if that’s not what comes naturally.
Who helps you in the dark? (In your pits, your mental rock bottom - who is your hero?)
Greg’s great because without me having to ask, he’ll take the wheel. I’m evidently not great at hiding when I’m having a wobble because he takes charge in a totally calm and unassuming way, allowing me to focus on myself for a bit. My mum’s also brilliant because she normalises any sort of anxiety which might be flaring up and I’ve got a lot of good friends I could chat to if I needed to.
What helps you in the light? (Meditation? Procrastination? Perspiration? People?)
Being surrounded by the people I love the most in a relaxed environment. Calm music, a good book to get lost in, a funny boxset or podcast. My blips are very short-lived so it’s really just about lifting my mood and flicking that switch back on. I’ve got to stage in my life now where I know what works for me and I don’t dwell on 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’?)
I don’t find it hard no, but then I do think that’s come with time. I suffered with mental health issues from the ages of 11-13 and found it terrifying, isolating. I was incredibly anxious all the time, found school daunting, thought I was going mad… because when you’re young and everyone else seems to be having a great life, it can be heartbreakingly lonely when you’re struggling to just do the most mundane of things without overthinking it all. I grew up around violence at home and now I’m old enough to realise my behaviour was a perfectly normal reaction to dealing with what was out of my control.
I remember thinking there had to be something wrong with me because I was petrified of staying away from my own house (sleepovers, camps, that sort of thing) but it was because I worried without me there keeping watch, something might flare up and members of my family would end up hurt or worse. I’d often struggle to eat and doctors/other adults presumed it was the beginnings of an eating disorder. It wasn’t, I was just so nervous all the time. Who wants to eat when they’ve got a tummy doing somersaults?
I’m happy as an adult to talk about how I’m feeling because it’s a way of rationalising it and feeling less ‘crazy’, plus I just feel like it’s the norm. If I meet someone who does have all their shit together, I find that far more of an anomaly these days.
Soft Play or Rehab?
Soft play. Yes, it’s an attack on the senses for parents but it means the kids have burnt off some energy and I’m aaallll about that.
Jacobs Creek or a Jacobs Cracker?
Jacobs Cracker. I’m not a huge drinker.
Nut Job or Nut Allergy?
Nut job. Gosh I love a cashew.
Self Care or Self Sabotage?
Self Care; it’s an excuse to do nice things.
Journal or jog?
Argh. Both. Although not at the same time because I like my handwriting to look neat.
Ask for help or happy to hermit?
Happy to hermit purely because I know what steps to take to get myself chipper again.
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Women talking unashamedly about their mental health and parenting innit