Are you a mental Mum or a Mum that’s mental?

I’m probably a mum that’s mental. I’d definitely seen the inside of (many, many) therapist’s offices long before I’d seen the insides of maternity wards so yeah, let’s go with that.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Meditate? Talk? Hide?

I do all of the opposite of the things I know will probably help. I clam up, I try to mask over all of the problems I have by acting as though everything is dandy, I avoid people, I avoid answering emails or phone calls, I usually make these things much much worse by not just addressing the problems and dealing with them right away. Avoidance is probably the keyword here…I avoid. A lot.

Do you discuss your mental health with your mum mates?

I try to. It’s funny actually, I’m very open about mental health online – I hold nothing at all back. I’ve written about pre-natal depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, domestic abuse and the impact it’s had on me…I feel completely comfortable sharing anything and everything on the internet. It’s become second nature. So because I’ve been doing that for so long, I’ve noticed that I don’t seem to have the same filter that other people do in “normal” offline life…and quite often I’ll start chatting about mental health in the middle of a conversation at a playdate and notice that people suddenly seem a bit uncomfortable.  I’m definitely the over sharer of any group!

How do you tackle mental health chats with your kid’s?

My kids are really young so right now it’s all quite straight forward – we have lots of books about feelings, I have all boys so we make sure that outdated phrases like “Big boys don’t cry” are never used around them and that they’re encouraged to talk about their feelings and cry it out.  We home educate so I’ve recently downloaded some self-care worksheets for children from a company called which we’re about to start using too – I think anything I can do to encourage them to talk about emotions and help them to understand them can only be a good thing.

I also don’t hide my own emotions from them and I try to answer their questions about my bad mental health days as honestly as I can. I think children understand a lot more than we give them credit for.

Who helps you in the dark? (In your pits, your mental rock bottom - who is your hero?)

I have plenty of people who try to be that person, but in all honesty…the only person who can truly help me in my darkest days is me. It’s a battle in my own mind. I have to be willing to let people in to help me, and quite often it takes me a while to get there. I push everybody away on purpose. I can feel myself doing it, but I can’t stop myself.  But the one thing that can consistently make things feel brighter, even if just for a few hours, is my children. I can be in the lowest mood but send my baby in to the room and I instantly feel lighter.

What helps you in the light? (Meditation? Procrastination? Perspiration? People?)

Time outside in nature. I only discovered this quite recently, because I’m anything but an earth mother! I’d always rather be sat inside watching friends and eating Chinese on the sofa than out in nature, but I do notice that going for a walk in the woods with the kids does something to my mood. It lifts me somehow.  Also, positive people…I have specific Instagram accounts I look at when I need a mood boost and they are like a quick tonic, they give me fresh enthusiasm for life somehow!

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 find it depends on who you’re talking to. I tend to surround myself a lot with people who “get it” and so I rarely find it difficult to discuss, but the main struggle for me is trying to talk to my parents about it. My mum in particular is the kind of person who doesn’t “believe” in depression or anxiety…even though she knows these are things I’ve been in therapy for since I was a teenager. And I find that quite tough.  I’d say speaking with my family is the one place that doesn’t feel like a safe space for me, which isn’t ideal.

Where’s your head at? (Right here in this moment, today)  

Right now, I’m feeling pretty positive. I have lots of things planned to look forward to, I’m feeling pretty on top of life and I washed my hair last night and it smells good so…that’s always a mood lifter! If my hair is freshly washed and not covered in days of dry shampoo, I feel like I’m winning at life!

Soft Play or Rehab?

I would choose ANYTHING over soft play. ANYTHING.

 Jacobs Creek or a Jacobs Cracker?

Jacobs cracker, assuming there’s some brie to go with it!

Nut Job or Nut Allergy?

Nut job!

 Self Care or Self Sabotage?  

Oooh I wish I could say self care…I try SO hard to remember to fit in some self care, but then I usually self sabotage it all by telling myself something else is more important.  Has to be self sabotage for me, I am by far my own worst enemy. But at least I recognise that now! Which is new.

Journal or jog?

Journal. I tried jogging, it just reminded me how out of shape I am and made me panic more!

Ask for help or happy to hermit? 

Neither. I don’t ask for help, but I’m also NOT happy to hermit. Somewhere in between! Hermitting away, wishing I could ask for help!


Hayley McLean

Twitter: @Sparkles_Blog


If you'd like to read more conversations with Mental Muthas, click HERE.

Women talking unashamedly about their mental health and parenting innit.