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:
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