My amazing hen-do. Where I suffered an epic panic attack.
I published a version of this list some time ago. For the last couple of years, I’ve largely had my anxiety under control. Or rather it hasn’t managed to control me. But this week it came back with a vengeance. Probably something to do with a national paper slagging off the way I bring up my children. Here’s the thing, logically I wasn’t offended or concerned about the Daily Mail’s opinion of me. I am a confident parent. But mental health doesn’t work like that, it doesn’t adhere to logic.
Here’s everything I have learned about anxiety:
Anxiety is a very broad term.
For me, it comes in a few guises:
Spiralling negative thought processes,
A general feeling of being removed and unable to connect.
An overriding feeling of doom deep in the pit of stomach belly.
All of which leads to broken sleep.
Oh and panic attacks.
I have suffered from anxiety for a most of my life. I vividly remember having a panic attack in my early teens. I was sitting on my bedroom flow, doing my homework whilst listening to the charts when the world began to warp.
I was ok in my twenties, which is surprising given how much I partied.
But my lowest point was 7 years ago. Suddenly from nowhere getting on the tube became a challenge. 2 minutes stuck at a signal and I was a quivering mess.
Then trains begun to make me a bit wobbly. Oh and planes obviously… because they are basically trains, suspended thousands of feet up in the air.
Soon I was so obsessed with how I would get to/from somewhere that it dominated the experience of actually being there.
Why? Why was I feel this way? Very good question.
I can’t be certain, these things are often irrational. Though I suspect it was something to do with being stuck and feeling out of control.
Which sounds bonkers.
But I now know, via lots of research (AKA talking about Anxiety to anyone who’ll listen) that feeling anxious or depressed does not make you weird.
It is SO much more common than you think.
And the people that suffer from anxiety are often the people you’d least expect.
They are the ones putting on a great front of appearing confident and having their shit together.
You see anxiety doesn’t make you a scaredy cat.
Just the opposite.
In my case, I’d done tonnes of ‘brave’ stuff. Thrown myself down black runs Given big-presentations. GIVEN BIRTH. These are not things that wimps do.
It also doesn’t mean you are loony. It means you need help.
Don’t fight it. Anxiety can spiral if you start being anxious about the fact that you are anxious (SIDE NOTE: THIS TOTALLY HAPPENED TO ME THIS WEEK, I WAS CONVINCED I WAS HEADED BACK TO THE DARK PLACE I WAS IN THE YEAR AFTER OUR MARRIAGE).
Think how you’d treat it if it were a physical illness rather than a mental one. If you had a grazed knee, doesn’t mean you need your leg amputated. Experiencing a phase of anxiety doesn’t mean youarea loon.
Also a bit of anxiety is OK.
Sometimes it’s excitement: ‘school disco nerves’, before a night out.
Sometimes it’s actual nerves. Don’t take every raised heartbeat as something to freak out about.
Remember when the adrenaline begins to course around the vein it’s your body preparing you to do something epic and bring your A-game. Which is great if, for example, you about a speech or meet a room full of new people.
My go-to self-medications is Rescue Remedy. That stuff is the bomb. Obviously, I swig it straight from the bottle. Fuck the pipet.
Run. Run. Run. Not away from your problems. That’d be terrible advice. But exercise. Running is free (apart from trainers and a reinforced sports bra). A hit of endorphins is a great step towards keeping you sane.
Go to the quack. Don’t be embarrassed. GP will probably already dealt with a mental health issue that day. Plus its better than having to stick their fingers up someone’s bum.
Be kind to yourself. Being a grown-up is a tough gig. It’s why you spend 21 years (nearer 32) practising before you actually become an adult.
Get some kip. Not easy with kids. Go to bed earlier. Get off your phone. Tag-team with your partners in the mornings. Or do as I do and leave any event at 10.30.
Caffeine is vital. But handle with caution. I’ve recently swapped coffee for tea. It’s not as fun or satisfying, but my mind is calmer.
Find the release. Children compromise your ability to blow off steam or build in self-care But these things are not a luxury. A night gossiping with the girls over a bottle of bubbles is SO good for the soul.
CBT is a game changer. It gave me so many strategies to control my thought processes. Actual therapy is great too. It’s less a means of finding a coping strategy, more as means to understand yourself a bit better.
But talking to anyone is good. It doesn’t always come easily to us Brits. But if you can try and let those around you know that you are struggling it will help.
A beautiful lunch accompanied by horrible sense of dread in the pit of my stomach.
I love a motivational quote too. These are my fave:
“There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Yes, Leonard Cohen! Being flawed is not a bad thing. It makes us human and makes us have great empathy for other humans.
“No rain, no flowers.” When you are in the middle of a shitty anxious patch it can feel like things are such a struggle, but instead, see it as a chance try and embrace the good days as a thing of joy. Much like the feeling on the first day of spring.
“Everything is going to be ok.” The wisest of words from @theyesmummum. She’s right you know. It really will.
You WILL get back to being you. You won’t even realise when it happens. But one day you’ll find yourself worrying about the ‘why the hell there are socks everywhere apart from the sock draw’. Rather than worrying about worrying.
You won’t be cured. That’s not a thing. But you’ll know that you’ve made peace with the fact that anxiety is part of your life, but that doesn’t mean it needs to define you or even limit you. And what hasn’t sent you potty has made you stronger than you thought possible.
Yesmum Cards come in a variety of ranges including Mum, Fertility & Mini. They are brilliant and available to buy here.
There is no easy way to intro this, other than to say how unbelievably grateful I am to the woman (who wishes to remain anonymous) who felt brave enough to share this list about her recovery from rape. 1 in 5 women have been a victim of Sexual Assault, which means this horrendous experience is something more people go through than we perhaps realise.
Two years ago, in the weeks just before Christmas and months before my wedding, I was raped. It is still odd to say or write that. But it is a fact and I live with it everyday. I was not attacked as I walked down a dark alley by a menacing stranger, I was drunk and was raped by a colleague.
I developed PTSD and was robbed of the joy you are meant to feel planning your wedding (a concurrent police investigation is a wedmin mood killer). I lost my career and many friendships. I have only stepped foot in a bar again twice – once on my hen and once for my celebratory pushing-out-a-baby NCT night. I was only able to do that because I felt pretty safe both times. On one I was flanked by 10 women, including my 80 year old nan, wielding penis straws and on the other I was spurting milk at anyone in a five foot radius.
Every hour approximately 11 people are raped in the UK, it is far more common than we realise. Here are some things I have learnt about myself and recovering from rape. I hope they give some comfort to anyone affected by this or help anyone supporting someone going through it.
In the early days and weeks….
You will not be able to comprehend anything that has happened to you. It will all feel like an outer-body experience to a nightmare you cannot wake from.
You will be sure no one, not even your closest friends and family, will believe you.
You will read the legal definition of rape countless times and convince yourself you got it wrong, that it didn’t really count as rape. But you didn’t get it wrong and it was rape.
You will feel utterly terrified. All. The. Time. This is why rape and sexual violence is so destructive, it makes both your outside and inner worlds terrifying. You will be convinced if you report it they will ‘get you’ for ruining their life. You will be convinced that you will end up in prison for defamation. But put yourself in the environment you feel most safe and remember they ruined their own lives.
You will be unable to carry out simple day to day tasks. I remember one night I couldn’t cook a jacket potato as there were some crisps in the bowl I wanted to use. Despite owning over 30 different potential potato/crisp storing containers, I genuinely couldn’t work out how to get the crisps out of the bowl and put the potato in it. So I ate the crisps for dinner, and for the three months that followed too. But eventually, your appetite and ability to microwave potatoes will return.
How you cope will be entirely individual and unique to you. You may not want to tell anyone, I wanted to tell everyone. I needed to see their shock so I could make sense of why I felt so awful. I also needed to have sex. I wanted to take control back of my own body. There is no right way to react, just do what you need to survive the days and take each day one at a time.
In the months and years…
You will find support where you never knew you had it. I received some incredible support and solace from complete strangers – my friend’s mum, my ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend, the receptionist at my GP practice. Three strong and inspiring women who saw me struggling and stopped to help me.
Your favourite pastimes will be ruined. Some because of the crippling depression that will set in but some because you will suddenly realise how prevalent sexual violence is in the everyday media we consume. To this day I still cannot watch Eastenders or House of Cards. And now Broadchurch too. A travesty, I bloody love David Tennant.
Talk. Get in touch with Rape Crisis or your local women’s support group. Meeting people that have been through the same thing, and are also unable to microwave potatoes, will help.
There is no real justice after rape. I didn’t get to send my rapist to prison, but I have realised that criminal justice doesn’t matter. The closest you will come to getting justice is becoming strong enough to move on with your life and reclaim what someone took from you. I’m still working on this one.
You will feel human again.
If you have been affected by this list then please contact Rape Crisis, they are here to help.
I’ve banged on about the huge impact giving birth has had on me. There’s entire list about it here. Until receiving this list I’d never considered how witnessing hundreds of births would affect you. Here Anthonissa AKA @onestrongmother shares what she has learned from being a midwife:
I trained to be a midwife after I experienced a homebirth with my daughter in 2008.
The training and job itself has definitely not always been the rose tinted dream that I imagined as a young mother of 25.
But I have gained so much from the job that being a midwife is an integral part of who I am, and I not being one. This is what I’ve learnt from supporting a couple of hundred Mothers,
This is what I’ve learnt from supporting a couple of hundred Mothers, Fathers and Birth Partners bring their baby earthside.
A good birth can be the making of a new mother.
Supporting a birthing woman, being next to her as her body stretches, pulls and opens up, does something strange to your insides. It can create a strong deep feeling inside of your womb. As though the gravity is pulling stronger there. Many midwives and doulas I know have experienced this strange feeling too. You could call it sympathy pains, or the deep connection of women supporting women. Whatever you call it, it can feel intense.
Being a midwife is physically and emotionally exhausting. To sustain a career, you have to really love it.
You can’t control everything when it comes to birth, there are no 100% guarantees and it is healthy to acknowledge that. But with the right preparation, you can definitely stack the odds in your favour, and this means both mental and physical preparation. I
I see that labour and birth are comparable to running a marathon. It is physically draining, as you use the muscles of your womb intensely to push open your cervix and bring the baby down.
It is equally mentally draining too, as you enter into the unknown and need the mental conviction that you can do it, to get you through.
Being present and part of a birth remains deeply moving no matter how many you have attended. From time to time I still cry.
The smell of birth is unlike anything else, it has its own unique mark. And it changes during birthso that you can smell when the baby is drawing near. I never thought about this before
I started my midwifery training. But bodily functions create smell, and birth is no different.
When I first started training I used to find the smell really potent, but now I understand it is just part of the process and can be a very positive sign!When you watch a baby being born, you are also seeing the birth of a mother. And both can
When you watch a baby being born, you are also seeing the birth of a mother. And both can be equally moving. I’ve watched young girls stare down at their tiny infants, as they begin to
I’ve watched young girls stare down at their tiny infants, as they begin to sink into that moment when motherhood takes hold of them. Touching their face and holding their baby close and protectively into their breast. No longer the child. No longer swaying freely in the breeze without responsibility. Grounded by that little person hard and strong to the earth. And that is a beautiful thing to see.
The mindset that you go into labour with, has a profound effect on how you experience your birth.
If a woman is really well supported by her birth partner and midwife, she feels safe and cared for, you might mistake the noises she makes during birth for good sex. Birth is such a primal experience. When you turn off your thinking mind and go into your body deeply, birth becomes an incredible hormonal dance. My favourite birth noises are mooing like a cow and
My favourite birth noises are mooing like a cow and roaring like a lion.
Women are so much stronger than society tells us.
Having a vaginal birth is not the definition of a good birth. I’ve been with many women who birthed by Caesarean or with assistance by forceps and ventouse, and who enjoyed their birth. I’ve also spoken to mothers who had ‘normal’ vaginal births which felt out of control and frightening. The key to a positive birth is good communication, choices being genuinely
The key to a positive birth is good communication, choices being genuinely made by the mother and her birth partner, calmness and feeling cared for in those seminal moments.
When you look at a woman and fear that she has nothing left, no more to give and it is all too much to bear, she can always surprise you.
Nissa works as a midwife at a busy central London hospital, teaches hypnobirthing and is a mum to one. You can enjoy her free relaxation MP3 here.
To say I am chuffed to have Bryony write a list for me is an understatement. She’s a bonafide journo for The Telegraph and author and now she is an athlete.
Last week she did something epic. She ran the London Marathon. All 26.5 miles of it for mental health charity Heads Together. Bloody amazing. Here she tells us how:
Six months ago, I could not run for a bus. I got out of breath going up escalators, and carrying my daughter. On Sunday, I ran 26.2 miles – like, the WHOLE thing! No walking! – and at the finish line picked up my 4 year old and swung her in the air. Easy. If I can do it, literally anybody can.
When I signed up for the marathon I was 16 stone four pounds, which is really quite fat. I signed up to do it for Heads Together, the campaign led by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to change the conversation about mental health. The subject is very close to my heart – I’ve had about seven breakdowns in my 36 years – but also I thought I might get to have a pasta party with Prince Harry, which is mostly why I agreed to do it. (That’s a joke, obviously).
I started by downloading the couch to 5k app and as I got out of breath running 200 metres I kept thinking ‘how am I going to run FORTY TWO KILOMETRES?! HOW?!”
I soon discovered that you never ever want to go for a run, but that you never ever regret going for one.
And that when you have really big, saggy boobs like mine, you need a good sports bra. Bravvissimo is your friend.
Get some good trainers from somewhere like Runners Need or Run and Become, where they can check your gait and advise you on the best ones for your feet. Don’t worry about what they look like. The more neon, the better. Converse will not cut it. Remember that they need to be replaced about every 300 to 500 miles.
By Christmas, I had run my first 10K, around my local common at night. I felt like Paula Radcliffe. Then I realised that 10k is just six miles, and I had to add another 20 onto that for the marathon. I cried a bit.
But slowly, I upped my distances. And before I knew it, I had done eight miles. Then 10 miles. Then 11. Then… injury. At which point I realised that the hardest part of training for a marathon was actually the resting. Who knew?
What I did know was that there was no way I was going to get through the training programme if I gave up everything I loved. It wasn’t sustainable if I gave up my twice weekly beer and fag sessions. Or my Byron burgers. So I didn’t.
But amazingly, I started to lose weight. Like, lots of weight. Without even really trying. Because as smug as it sounds, when you are exercising hard, you don’t crave the same amount of junk. By the time I crossed the finish line, I was almost three stone down. You can even see my waist!
If I had a pound for every time someone said to me ‘oh I can’t run at all’, I would be able to afford to get the loft done. Anyone can run – it just involves putting one foot in front of the other. I was really self-conscious the first time I went out for a jog, but in reality, the only thing people think when they see a fat girl running is this: what a complete and utter legend. Because she’s trying. Because she’s moving. Because she’s doing something.
I’m not a fast runner. I probably walk quicker. I go at my pace. Slow and steady may not win the race, but it does mean you have a nicer time getting round it (when I saw the elites on Sunday, they all looked thoroughly miserable and on the verge of collapse. The rest of us were having fun. Well, sort of fun).
And speaking of elites, it’s people like me, who take 5 hours and 53 minutes to get around the marathon course, who are the real heroes, not the dudes running sub 3 hour races. We’re the ones with stamina. We’re the real winners.
People with mental health issues make really good marathon runners, because we’re used to wrestling demons. When I got to mile 21 and thought my legs were going to give way, I had a good word with myself. Because moving for 26.2 miles can be no harder than the days when I couldn’t move at all because of the weight of depression on me.
Running when you’re a mum is pure escapism. It’s you time. Stick at it, and soon you will find that it’s like breathing underwater. It’s like flying.
The thing people don’t tell you about running long distances is the chafing. Oh, the chafing. The rubbing of sports bras on tits, and leggings on inner thighs. Vaseline is your friend.
I have hated my body for so much of my life. Now I am proud of it.
The running community will embrace you like a long lost friend the moment you get into it, even if you’ve never run a metre in your life. Check out Run Dem Crew for some really brilliant, supportive people who will keep you going.
Running a marathon is like childbirth. Painful, amazing. But at least nobody hands you a newborn baby to look after for 18 years at the end of it. You get beer and pasta instead. Winning!
I didn’t get to have a pasta party with Prince Harry, but I did get a hug. And the chance to raise almost £44,000 for Heads Together. Which, when I think about it, makes me want to cry happy tears.
When you cross that finish line, you will be so proud of yourself. You will know that not all superheroes wear capes. And you never have to do it again.
If I can do this, anyone can.
Fancy having a go at the London Marathon? The Ballot for 2018 is not open via this link.
And highly recommend Bryony’s most recent book ‘Mad Girl‘ too.
I am really passionate about being a Working Mum. Not suprising really when it’s how I spend 40 hours a week. When ‘Digital Mums‘ , who provide training for Mums to become social media managers, asked me to write a piece for their blog I jumped at the chance.
So here it is ‘Why Having Kids is Great for Your Career’:
Having kids has accelerated my career.
Yup that’s right. Apart from being my greatest ever achievement, my boys have also done wonders for my work.
I am fortunate in that being an advertising creative is definitely the job for me.
When I landed my first permanent role with my creative partner aged 23 it felt like I’d won the lottery. Being paid to come up with ideas and write scripts and go to shoots. Fun people. A free bar once a week. It was a dream come true.
Cut to 6 years later. I’m pregnant and waddling out of the agency into my first maternity leave, absolutely convinced that I would pop a baby out and that my life, and consequently my career, would continue as before.
Of course, I was wrong for the most part. Bertie’s arrival turned our life upside down.
9 months later I was back in the office. Working a four day week and trying to convince myself things were going great.
They weren’t. I was surviving; doing an OK job at Motherhood and an Ok job as a creative. Doing OK isn’t good enough for me.
And neither was being judged as ‘another Mum’ who left at 5.
I wasn’t happy. But I had a plan. I’d have another baby. A fairly drastic approach and not one I’d advise.
Off I went on mat leave number 2. That’s when everything changed. I had an epic birth. I started the blog. I met some amazing women.
All this reframed how I saw Motherhood. When I went back to work the second time I wore it like a badge of honour.
Motherhood gave me perspective. It gave me epic organisations skills. It gave me confidence. Why? Because I’D PUSHED TWO HUMANS OUT OF FANNY.
I couldn’t leave the job I was in (we were in financial shit and I was contracted for a year to repay my maternity contract). So I may as well find a way to make it work.
Time to make my career fit with my life. Rather than just working to live. How? No one big action, but lots of powerful ones.
Walking out proudly at 5.15 rather than skulking out. Delete the sorry’s from emails, choosing to be a present parent rather than attend yet another late meeting is not a cop out.
Playing the trump card… suggest an 8.30 am meeting instead! I bloody love a breakfast meeting.
What have I learnt?
The cliche about babies damaging your earnings. I found it to be 100% true. I complained about. I got angry about it. I beat myself up about it. I cried. A lot. And then eventually I did what I should have done sooner.
I got a new job. And when I was interviewing I researched my market value so when it came to salary negotiations I waa informed. I used the simple but powerful words “I want to be paid what it’s worth.”
When you find an employer who will pay you properly and respect your work life balance. Well, then you have to grab it both hands.
But the responsibility isn’t just theirs. Women are notoriously bad at talking about financial stuff. To make a change we have to face the fear, we have to have those uncomfortable conversations.
What else? Flexible working.
Flexible working isn’t about trying to wheedle out of work, it doesn’t mean that you care less about you career. It’s about work that works for a certain point in your life.
Since the boys, I’ve had many work patterns: four-day week, five days with a day from home (I tried Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Friday definitely works best FYI).
I am full time again. Not because I had to. I wanted to. Because the timing was right for me because we need the money and because right now I want to give my career everything I’ve got.
Working feels good. It makes me feel more like me. It fulfils me in so many ways Which in turn makes me a better Mother.
Doesn’t mean it doesn’t break my heart every time my kids ask ‘how many sleeps till Mummy Day?’
The payoff is they have me 110% when I am with them.
But my one piece of advice would don’t quit work while on your first maternity leave. Try going back for a bit. Hormones and the baby bubble can do things to your confidence and headspace.
Better to give it a go, try and make it work then make an information decision about the other options than to never know whether there could have a been a solution.
4 years as a Working Mum and I have fire in my belly. People often talk about the Male urge to provide for their family. I feel that and then some.
I feel that desire to ‘bring home the metaphorical bacon’ when cuddling them in the dark before bed.
I also feel it when I am anxious before a big presentation, to settle my nerves I picture their gorgeous faces and think to myself: MAKE THOSE DUDES PROUD. BE THE PERSON THEY BELIEVE YOU ARE.
And you know what? Since having them, I do genuinely believe I can do anything at work and at home. It ain’t easy. Often it’s very hard. But just because it’s difficult and challenging, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.
Lorna aka @MrsHHayward is relatively new on the blogging scene, but she has come in with a bang and I for one have relished every minute of seeing her find her voice and do things her way. She is honest, really really funny, relatable, funny (did I mention that already?) and, in this post, taken from her blog The Mumblings, she is brave too as she writes about life with OCD and anxiety:
First things first – picture me writing this hiding behind a cushion. Large vino in hand. Perspiring.
Let me explain. This post isn’t something I’ve been looking forward to writing down for all to see. It feels more than a little awkward. I know that some people (who I really rather wouldn’t) will potentially read this and I am more than aware (less so prepared) for some silent judgement coming my way.
Equally, I could just keep this to myself. But it feels a bit ridiculous to have started a blog as a cathartic way of helping me process my thoughts and emotions, if I don’t do just that. And so, here they are:
A wise lady once said, “Anxiety. She’s a funny ol’ gal…” and she was right. Another told me “OCD is a bitch” and she was pretty much spot-on too.
Both anxiety and OCD have been present in my life for a very long, unwelcome time. In fact, it had got to a point where anxiety was such a familiar foe of mine, that who I was, and how I felt and acted on a daily basis, had become the norm.
The tricky thing is, when you believe that something is normal, and ‘just the way you are’, it’s hard to identify it. And if you can’t identify it, you cannot diagnose it – and so, you just tell yourself to crack the fuck on, pull your socks up and cope better.
And that’s dandy for a while. You can leave anxiety and OCD simmering softly in the background, but ultimately, at some point they’re likely to boil over. And boil over they did.
Three days after returning to work from my second maternity leave I had what you might like to call, a modest breakdown.
I refer to it as a modest breakdown because very few people knew about it.
My ‘modest breakdown’ was fairly discreet.
I wasn’t housebound, shouting and weeping for all to see. I was up after very little sleep, getting the girls ready, leaving for work with Elsie sobbing at the door, commuting, doing my job – but inside, everything felt more than a little bit broken.
My return to work, coinciding with settling my eldest into a new preschool & my youngest with a new childminder had all intensified symptoms of my existing OCD and anxiety.
I was on edge, paranoid, frightened, angry and exhausted.
I felt shitty. Properly shitty. I am still unsure as to where my white flag juncture arose from, but I decided I didn’t want to feel like that anymore, and so, I asked for help.
Due to the stigma that still surrounds mental health, asking for help (namely from my GP) still doesn’t sit comfortably with me. That might sound ridiculous, however for me, and for so many who I have spoken to since, I was not alone in thinking I was a bit of failure for seeking support.
Mental health is awkward to talk about.
But I’ve had to talk about it, process it and indulge myself in the cracks of it to assist me in my voyage to feeling better.
I’m a crier. I’m a moaner.
I’m not discreet in my emotions – happy to howl, cry and shout in public me – and I certainly don’t handle stress and anxiety with elegance and grace.
But I do cover up a lot.
You would think anxiety is quite difficult to conceal, it’s not – least not in my experience.
My anxiety does not manifest itself in nervousness, isolation or fear of leaving the house.
My OCD does an awesome job of shrouding itself behind the impression that I like to live in a perfect show home, so – to those around me I’m just the same old Lorn!
Historically I’ve found it’s easier to make light of my mental health worries; I’m all for a bit of banter so appending a little farce into how I was feeling somewhat took away the sting.
I mean who doesn’t like to laugh at mental health? It’s hilarious right?
No. It’s not really. It’s actually pretty bloody unfunny.
What is mildly amusing though is that after I sought help and made a plan (there always has to be a plan my friends, that’d be the OCD creeping in) I felt such a strange sense of empowerment.
Despite originally feeling pretty disappointed in myself for having to surrender to the shitters that are anxiety & OCD, I also felt a sense of relief – that I could say to my friends and family whom I had confided in ‘I haven’t got my shit together. I’m struggling’
“You keep it on the inside, because that’s the safest place to hide.”
The statistics don’t lie.
In the UK, anxiety effects 4.7 in 100 people and women are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed in comparison to men; and yet, there is still so much notoriety surrounding mental health, and in turn taking medication. Why oh why my friends?
I’m a little reluctant to admit that years ago I might have envisioned an individual requiring medical support, to be sitting rocking back and forth, imprisoned in white washed walls. How wrong I was.
Opening up the forum of discussion around mental health, I have discovered a surprisingly large amount of people who see that accepting the help of a little pill is no bigger deal than popping a vitamin C every morning.
And why should you?
The proven chemical imbalance that comes hand-in-hand with anxiety and depression are just that – a chemical imbalance. Medication simply serves to correct that imbalance. So why all the shame?
For some, I know the process is so much harder – a lengthy road to recovery – but if you do decide that medication is right for you, why would you not snatch the prescription out of the GPs hand, leg it to the nearest pharmacy and cash that bad boy in?
I think it’s shame. Stigma and shame.
Anyone would think it was on a par with shooting up of a morning before sitting down to your latte.
I have lost count the amount of times I have heard “But if you had diabetes you would take tablets for that, it’s the same thing”.
And, in the midst of my epically low days, I would want to scream back “NO NO IT’S NOT – because diabetes is an actualillness and it can KILL you, so you HAVE to take medication”.
Yet, if I was talking to a close friend or relative of mine, I would be battling against every single word I think and mutter.
I would stand forthright and offer words of encouragement to them and say how proud I was of them for seeking help.
Why is it that a lot of the time we are incapable of doing this for ourselves?
I also know that for many, medication isn’t the answer and that’s ok too.
There are many avenues to finding inner contentment again; CBT, counselling, exercise, mindfulness to name but a few.
Whatever YOU choose on your journey to feeling brighter and happier and ultimately less like a massive bag of SHIT is up to you.
A crucial synopsis to this post (I’m still hiding, and sweating behind the cushion by the way) is that you’re not alone.
Although I was lucky enough to have wonderful support from a network of friends and family, I still felt isolated. I don’t anymore.
And finally (if you’re still with me), I believe it has to be your journey. Own that shit.
This has been and still is mine, and it’s certainly a process – but another wise lady once said (And I know a few) – “Forward is forward” and I’ll take that.
Alice & Phanella of The Step Up Club are huge champions of women. They believe that being a Mum can not only be brilliant for your career (something I totally concur with), it also makes you awesome.
I love this upbeat list from them. A Mothers we really give ourselves the credit we deserve. It’s good to be reminded how great we and be given a virtual pat on the back
So without further ado here it is: ‘Why being a Mum Makes You Awesome’.
Change a nappy whilst blow drying your hair whilst eating breakfast whilst packing a book bag whilst buttoning your work shirt. You are a queen of kingdom multi-task.
Theresa May’s got nothing on you. You are the ultimate negotiator. Brexit diplomacy is a breeze compared to a getting a tantruming three year old up off the supermarket floor without resorting to sweets (or at least not every time)
You thought you’d seen it all. But that big thwack of love you felt when your baby arrived is a new mine of empathy and compassion for those who cross your career path.
Mum jeans. Nuff said.
Mum bun. ditto.
You are now a networking ninja. From NCT via hospital ward via sing and sign via nursery induction day to school and beyond. Your awesome female network has just expanded a hundred fold.
8-year-old feet + school yard intel = one heck of a trainer wardrobe
Motherhood can give your confidence a knock. It calls your identity into question into a myriad of ways. But the process of putting those bricks back into order will result in a stronger, surer of yourself woman. The journey is painful – we’ve been there. But believe us when we say there is a rainbow on the other side.
Forget the insta husband. A five-year-old child is almost exactly the same height as a tripod.
You’re gonna fail so many times in your Mum role that you’ll be forced to kick fear of failure to the kerb. Hello New resilient you.
As Kirsty Young told us for our book, having kids forces you to be more strategic about your career choices. If you’re going to go out to work now, it had better be damn well worth it.
NO. The mainstay of your mum vocab. Also useful to employ in work situations in the face of overwhelm, unreasonable demands and unpleasant bosses.
Your public speaking debut in front of a class of fidgety six year olds on world book day will put you in good stead for all pitches, presentations, interviews or any other situation when you need to stand up in front of a critical audience.
You can do things you never thought you could. You’ve created another human being and kept it safe and sound. You are amazing.
Previously restricted to a work wardrobe of neutrals, constant baby sick unwittingly expands your sartorial options. Bet you never knew you suited prints.
That mum who leaned over in your first monkey music class to tell you how her one year old already knows his phonics taught you a valuable lesson. Never compare mainly because it’s all just hype.
Your 5 a day is sorted thanks to leftover blended brocolli, sweet potato chips, mashed banana, et al. And is it just us who loves a sneaky Ella’s kitchen?
We won’t deny that the process of achieving any type of work balance with a bevy of dependents in tow is complex even on the best of days. You’ll be forced to prioritise ruthlessly and it will be hard but you will work out what’s really important pretty quick. Clue: don’t discard the old you altogether. There’s always space in the diary for a Saturday night glass of wine with your girlfriends.
The brilliance that is baby wipes.
You can do so much more than you ever thought possible. Attach a car seat, collapse a buggy, whilst carrying two toddlers, a week’s load of shopping and managing your Mum on the phone asking about Christmas whilst mentally planning your (fledgling) business empire. You can do it. #YesYouCan.
** I also really recommend reading their book too, it’s packed with great advice.. ‘Step Up; Confidence, success and your stellar career in 10 minutes a day’ available from Amazon. **