Mental Health

Surviving Mental Health for #DoSomethingYummy

Mental Health

This post is being written as part of the blog prompt for #DoSomethingYummy  from Typecast which is the campaign for CLIC Sargent Charity for children with cancer.  I’ve picked the prompt ‘Something I’ve survived‘.  

Yummy Mummy Week is 10th-18th March, so if you haven’t had a chance to add your own post, you still have time. OR just donate a few quid.

I do hope that you will think about donating even a little bit to CLIC when you think about what those children and parents are surviving and dealing with.  This is a great practical charity, that does loads of things to help the families and help them survive the awful stress of a sick child.

 

I’m going to talk about how over my life I ‘survived’ a ‘nervous breakdown’, ‘suicidal tendencies’ and more recently some kind of ‘Identity/Midlife Crisis’ or ‘Mummy Breakdown’.

I’m really nervous of writing this post.  I don’t know why, as the stats show that at least 1 in 4 of us will have some sort of mental illness in our life.  Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve had a few experiences of it that bothers me?  Makes me sound a bit ‘unstable’.  I didn’t even know I was worried about it, until I tried to write about it.  Plus I’ve been very ‘lucky’ with the help around me and knowledge I had, so I think that I feel a little guilty.

The other thing is what on earth to call it?  Because I’ve been in the alternative healing or therapy world for 12 yrs, I never had to go the medical route, so I was never labelled.  I don’t want to upset anyone who has had a label and get it wrong; there are so many different types of problems with mental health.

I’m not sure that it matters what I call it though, does it?  It was definitely something I survived; just.

My first experience was more like a sudden ‘nervous breakdown’, probably on the verge of a full ‘mental breakdown’.  It felt like I was teetering on the edge of a black hole.  I was pulled back from the edge by fellow therapists in a Kinesiology based therapy.  So I just experienced the shut down of my body for about 6 months.

In my second experience I just didn’t want to be in this world any more and grew an unhealthy fascination with trains; i.e. suicide.  (I know that makes no logical sense, and also I should have thought of the train driver; but I wasn’t ‘thinking straight’).  This time I was even luckier, as I was trained in a much deeper form of therapy and my mentor was in the UK.  After 2 very tough hours he got me back to life and able to work through the baggage.

What ’caused’ these two situations you might ask?  Why does someone, as we often see in the media these days, just crack?

I suspect the stresses of the previous 30yrs had taken their toll.

I was very up and down in nature at the time.

My very unhealthy belief in something that was impossible was a huge part of it.

Ironically learning all those therapies can make people less stable for a short while.

Plus I wasn’t taking care of myself well; always pushing too hard.

And I didn’t have a wide spread of interests.

It’s proved to be true that someone who has a wide spread of interests is more likely to survive the vagaries of life, because although one area of life might have the rug pulled from under it, the other areas will be able to keep them stable.  I had given up a well paid job, moved house and lost a lot of my ‘identity’ or ‘personal power’ in the process.  So since then I’ve very carefully watched my beliefs, and got rid of most of my ‘baggage’ and tried to keep a broad range of interests.

But it happened one last time, because I missed on important part of the equation; my basic foundations, which is pretty typical for a Mum.

It kicked in a little a few months after Little Dimples was born, I’d had a health scare and things weren’t going well at home.  I became the most pathetic version of pathetic that you can imagine.  A friend politely described it as ‘losing my mojo’; you know when a mum goes ‘grey’ and starts to disappear.  That’s where I was and I was TERRIFIED; sorry for the capital letters, but it seems such a silly thing to be scared of, and yet it felt like a life or death situation.  I was scared that if I didn’t do something I was going to soon end up a half-dead shell of a Mum, who cooked, cleaned, did all the basics, but that was all.  It could be considered a ‘mid-life crisis’ because I was just over 40.  It wasn’t the fog of depression.  It felt paralysing, so maybe it was some sort of long panic attack or ‘Identity crisis’?  Maybe I’ll call it a ‘Mummy Breakdown’; i.e. something to do with being a Mum, not PND, and not life/coping threatening?

This time no one else seemed available to help me, and I wasn’t in a space to use all the techniques I’ve learnt.  So what to do?  Run away?; I tried that, it didn’t help.  Give up?; However pathetic, there is something a bit bloody minded about me.  At last listen to the cliches and practical stuff I’d been spouting off about about looking after myself and the basics of life; Bingo!

After nearly a year, on the 11/11/2011 I woke up and thought ‘F*** this for a game of laughs’ and started to sort my ‘Sh*t’ out and blogged as I went.

The cliches were surprisingly true:

Change Yourself To Change Your Life

I was stunned by how really simple things could make me feel a thousand times better, within just a few months without changing anyone else or any of my circumstances.  I didn’t even ‘do therapy’ stuff as I would normally have done.

All I did was change me and look after my health.

I sorted myself by focussing on the things that I did have control over, rather than the things that I was missing or had no effect on, and by looking after myself and my body; And so was born my book ‘The Mummy Whisperer’s Six Steps To A Sparkling You And Enjoying Being A Mum’, which maybe should have been called ‘How To Survive A Mummy Breakdown’.  I decided that the things I did have control over where my thoughts, how I managed my time, my nutrition and fitness, how my house was laid out, some of the finances of the house, and getting a bit of sparkle back into my life.

I wouldn’t say that my ‘journey’ is over; I’m half way through finishing writing ‘Losing Weight for busy mums without diets or bootcamps’ and there are a good 3 more books to come after that I suspect.  But I love to write, so maybe that is the ‘silver lining’ from all of this?

In the next couple of days I’m going to write up a simple set of tips to help anyone get started who is feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

If you are currently suffering from a mental illness it will help you too, but it depends on the depth of it as to how much you’ll be able to do without a external help from someone else; I’m not in anyway underestimating how difficult it can be to pull yourself out of it on your own.  Maybe the stars where just aligned well for me that day to give me a kick start?  So I’ve got an idea for that too for how I could give you a little kick start and pick me up, so come back next week to check it out.

Most of all I hope that any Mums who don’t take basic care of themselves will now understand how potentially harmful it can be.  You need healthy food, a bit of exercise and sleep to manage as a Mum.  Running around like a headless chicken, in a house that stresses you out, and not getting your budget under control can lead to so much stress that you will one day not be able to deal with it.

Think of your kids and start to think more about yourself.

I’d really love to know what you think of my post as it’s the most honest I’ve ever been about these three times in my life, so feel free to add lots of comment love!

 

** The picture at the top comes from an amazing australian artist called Craig Martin www.craigmartinillustrations.com


47 comments

  1. I know it is isn’t easy to share difficult experiences but I think posts like this are so important in helping break down the stigma of depression and mental illness. So many of us will be able to relate to aspects of your post, Lisa. I’m really hoping the experiences a lot of us have shared this week will get others thinking and talking about issues they have perhaps kept hidden or considered taboo. I’m certain all of this is doing a huge amount of good. Helpful, I feel, that some positives can come out of what can only have been a dreadfully difficult time.

    1. I certainly feel lots better now it’s out Rosie – both because of the lovely way it’s been received and because I feel that I’ve been honest at last.

  2. It’s always liberating and tremendously helpful when brave souls like you let out stuff that has been, hitherto, suffocating for some. It’s lifting the lid. Well done to everybody concerned and thank you.

  3. I think mental health is one stigma that as yet we have not dealt with and well done for admitting to suffering. We all suffer trauma and few of us refer to our reaction as mental health issues, but they are. I myself blog about my “identity crisis” having had my world rocked, and I think you are brave to be so honest. I believe that the more we talk about it the less of an issue it will be.

    Take care of yourself, I am still learning that lesson!

    1. You’re right – and then it won’t take people as long to admit to a problem and get help if it’s more acceptable.
      And you lovely – see you at the next evening St Albans blogger event hopefully!

  4. Hi Lisa. I felt sad reading this post because you are always so bright and positive and encouraging to all those around you. Sharing is a good way of raising awareness for the CLIC campaign you mention and it is very brave. xx

    1. Thank you Ren – in a way I do the cheerful thing because it makes me feel more cheerful, in another way it’s a front. I tend to just disappear into the background and go quiet, rather than ‘pretend’ too much. I did try to give hints as to what was going on – but you are right I didn’t make it obvious. Maybe I wanted to wait until I could offer a message of hope to people?

  5. That is a really honest and beautiful post. Thank you for sharing this. So often we fear sharing the truth about ourselves and how we really feel. I’m not a mom, but I have felt some of my parents’ struggles at times ie our puberty ;). Struggles that naturally come about in a family with growing children, yet so often hidden from the public, causing outsiders to buy into the myth of “the perfect parent”, “the perfect family”, perfect all the time. Causing so many moms to feel pressure to live up to a fantasy, the picture they compared themselves to as they looked into their neighbours window. Thanks for showing the world of moms the truth of what it can feel like sometimes and simple tools to make things a little easier and saner again. And thanks for making it through – we still need you!

  6. Thank you and I love you Lisa Pearson, I feel so blessed with the friends I have when I don’t know which way to turn, one or all of them push me or ask the right question and this post could come at a better time, I don’t stop to breath as one lovely friend put it today and this post, has made me think about Shelley and looking after her before, desiding if it would be a good idea to have another child. One thing I am going to practise due to this post and my beautiful friends, is that I’m not lucky to have lovely friends, the reason I do is because I’m lovely too, thank you darling love you xxxxx

  7. Oh wow, I relate to a lot of this alright. And I think that even though life as a Mum can be overwhelming, they can also save us from ourselves, because we know we have to be strong, healthy and here in order to support them xx

    1. Yes you are right – maybe this is why I didn’t go as deep as I have done before – plus they are the clear impetus in getting strong enough for it to never happen again as well.

  8. Hi Lisa,

    Such a brave post to write. Your honesty is admirable. I was interested to read about your experiences after growing up with my mothers depression, and remembered you had mentioned your struggles in your comment on my article about mental health.

    I hadn’t appreciated that those experiences had been quite so recent for you, based on the positive, focused, warm and engaging Lisa we see here on your blog and twitter.

    I can’t say enough how great it is that you channel your experiences into your writing, and in such a positive and helpful way for others too.

    Surviving mental ill health is a big deal, yet there are still so many myths and falsehoods surrounding mental illness.

    I’m glad you are a survivor and I hope your frank account provides strength for others who are suffering to draw from.

    Take care of you.
    X

    1. Thank you Julie – yep I think it will be a shock to many people to know how recent my problems were – but the good news is how quickly I got things back under control; hopefully that is a good message for everyone.

      I’ve been thinking about twitter recently – there’s another blogger who I know often has bouts of proper full on depression, but her avatar is a picture of her smiling – it makes it very difficult to not think that she is always smiling. How weird the effect of an avatar!

  9. Good Lord – you mean there are Mums out there who DON’T feel like this at some point? I think, if we are honest, we can all relate! As you say, it depends on the scale of your illness and your personality type but as anyone who knows me will already know: I’m still on the tablets!

    I feel no shame, no urgent hurry to “get off them” I understand that this time is just a season in my life and if I can look for the joy each day, this is the time I will look back on with most fondness when it’s my turn to be wearing diapers and be wheeled around 🙂 Big love to those who are still finding their path x

    1. LoL – I reckon St Albans is probably the biggest hub of Valium users in the UK don’t you?! So glad you have such a pragmatic approach to this – big hugs hun xx

  10. All credit to you for talking about this. I can certainly relate to this – have had many a moment of late when I’ve felt like booking myself in somewhere! One of the messages I get from your post is not to assume that people who appear bright and über confident (like you! ;-)) aren’t experiencing pain too and we should always be sensitive to that – especially where the pressures of parenthood are present. Hugs to you!

    1. I regularly book myself in for reflexology round the corner at a local mums, before I have to go to more extreme measures – you should try that!!
      You are right – we make a lot of assumptions about people, and a huge percentage of them are probably terribly wrong.

  11. I can see a lot of ladies relate to this, I certainly do as well! I think what did help is by being busy in a productive way! I put a lot into personal development! That did help immensely! Thank U for your honesty!

    1. I agree Adriana – the blog post and ideas I have coming up tomorrow will hopefully help Mums to focus on stuff that is heartfelt to be productive in, rather than the normal rushing around.

      One word of warning though – the world of personal development is littered with manic depression and break downs. Always remember the basics first (as I learnt!!) – nutrition, hydration and exercise.

  12. Thanks for sharing this, I found your blog through MrsShorties carnival. Something I used to try and do was always look for the next thing to “look forward to” however small that thing was, easier said than done though.

    1. Hi Sheila – I’m going to sit down and read that carnival tonight, I’m really looking forward to it as there are so many different types of experiences on it.
      Again I agree with you – I sit down at night and count my blessings, and then have 3 Life priorities to focus on each day (see my blog tomorrow – you are going to love it!).

  13. Wow! Thank you for such a heartfelt post. Your kind words will be sure to help others survive and thrive their similar incidents. Depression, thoughts of suicide are difficult topics to address. Thanks again for sharing your experiences.

    1. Thank you patty – it’s been an interesting time, what with all the stuff we were both doing on ‘BIG’ etc with Nicola!

  14. Wowsers missus I feel like I am getting to know you a lot more through this post. I know it’s hard to write about but ultimately it is empowering – not only for you but for others who read it. For me it was an unhealthy obsession with cars ie. driving into the back of one. We are all so different in what we do, act and say but deep down posts like this make us realise that actually we are a lot more similar than we think x

    1. Thanks for letting me know I wasn’t the only one with an unhealthy obsession. I really enjoyed your post, I hope you get lots of reads.
      Many people think that life must have been easy for me because I tend to look cheery – they find it a shock that they didn’t want to know that it’s not all been plain sailing.

  15. I agree so much with what Rosie said at the top of the comments and it’s almost time for me to truly speak about my husband’s battle with mental health – or at least, my side of it. But I’m not quite ready yet. Maybe I never will be. I also know that I suffered from some sort of depression myself for a while but couldn’t let myself suffer because of what was going on with my husband. I still haven’t worked through that part of my own life yet either. We all have baggage and we all need to decide what we’re going to do with that baggage, i.e. let it destroy us OR use it to make us stronger.

    Thanks for joining in with the final week of the #dosomethingyummy prompts

  16. It’s been a pleasure to be involved Nickie.
    I think there is always such a thing as the ‘right’ time and nothing needs to be rushed. By waiting a while I’m now more able to help the people who have since messaged me for advice, whereas beforehand I needed more time for just myself. Plus I wanted to give a real message of hope.

    I think that you are a little like me in that people were surprised the depths that I had struggled with, and they will be surprised that someone as ‘strong’ in appearance has also survived so much. There will be sense in the reason why it’s the right time to share when the right time comes for you.
    big hugs xxx

  17. I think it’s brilliant that something so positive has come out of your darkest times, now I’m off to order your book 😉 Thanks for all the support you have shown during the #dosomethingyummy campaign

  18. Wow I can really respect how hard this was for you to write. What comes across is that we’re all different and need to try different methods to get through our mental health ‘issues’. And you’re right, labels are difficult too when it’s a feeling and you don’t really know what it is. For me, it’s always been about feeling invisible and like I’ve disappeared and nobody notices me (and that’s not in a ‘look at me’ kind of way, it’s just feeling unimportant and worthless). Blogging has really helped me and counselling did a lot for me too.
    Thanks for linking this up to #parentonomy. PND carnival going up next week – I’ll Tweet you the link.
    D
    x

  19. Thanks Donna – yes I can understand that ‘invisible’ feeling, I think that I definitely felt that I might disappear totally. It seems that blogging has been a brilliant outlet for a lot of us.
    No probs about the carnival – I’ve only just really got into the idea of carnivals, despite blogging for a while. I really like the ones like you are doing because they are such a useful source of information for mums. xxx

  20. Lisa, thanks ever so much for sharing this. Having just written a personal post about my mental health issues, I can appreciate something of the strength required to do so. Reading your experiences and knowing that you are working through your issues is a great help to me. I’m sure others facing mental health woes will find this post useful as well. Your post gives hope as well – thank you!

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