It pays to ask the tough questions

Are you okay? It’s three little words with so much meaning. Once upon a time, I really wasn’t okay. The kind of okay where I was questioning if I wanted to be here anymore. Even just typing that brings up so many raw emotions. It’s still hard to believe that thought passed through my mind, especially with two little people in my life that depend so much on their mummy to look after them. But it’s normal to have feelings of utter despair when your whole world is turned upside down. Too often the subject of mental health is pushed aside. It’s not weak to struggle. It’s not a bad thing to say you aren’t okay. Yet it’s seen as such a taboo topic.

While I certainly have moments where I don’t feel like talking, other times you can’t shut me up. My poor family, right?! Haha! I understand it’s not easy for everyone, but I have no shame in admitting my struggle.

Anxiety is a big part of my life. Those of you who know me well are probably thinking, no way not the always confident, friendly and chatty Sheree. But yep, believe it not I experience excessive worry over sometimes nothing, tiredness for no reason, nausea, a deep horrible feeling in my belly that just won’t go away no matter what I do and I can get cranky for no reason at all. These are just some of the things that I can go through. Even now, just a tense feeling hits me while I talk about anxiety. It’s likely something I’ve had for a big chunk of – if not all of – my life, but it was a few life changing events that brought it to the forefront. There are days that it does consume me a little and as hard as I try not to let it, it doesn’t always work. But other days I manage to live with it. I know there are people out there who are far worse than me!

I’ve also gone through depression. This was something I ignored for a very long time after my babies were born. I was fine, nothing was wrong. Of course I put on a front, a smile was on my face but it didn’t go much further. The feeling of being useless and unwanted was just how I felt. I didn’t want to admit I was failing, that I felt like a bad mum. I know now it really wasn’t the case. I was asked if I was okay and I did say yes but looking back I know it wasn’t true. But maybe it helped just a little bit, to keep me going, and I didn’t realise it at the time. It wasn’t easy. There are things I can’t even remember, sadly even some moments with my girls I can’t recall. But I think part of my solace is knowing they were too young to remember “sad mummy”, although it’s something I will always live with and try to better myself from.

I also have no shame in admitting I did seek help from a psychologist. It took 3 years to get a big part of “me” back again and to be honest I really enjoyed talking to someone who didn’t know anyone I was talking about, it felt amazing. But I did learn a lot about myself and how to not let certain aspects of my anxiety and depression rule my life and be my life. Now I’m not saying it’s easy or anyone can just do that, everyone’s story is different. This is me and how I managed through my struggle. How I still manage my struggle to this day. Do I still have crap days now? Of course I do, who doesn’t? It’s normal, it’s not weird and that’s a big part of living life.

Today (September 10) is R U OK? Day. It’s a day to remind us to start a conversation with someone and check in to see if they are okay. So even if you aren’t sure, ask someone are you okay? While you might ask the wrong person who tells you to mind your own business (it happens), you may also change someone’s entire day! Let’s keep the conversation going and hopefully make a difference to someone who may be struggling. I’m always here if anyone wants to chat!

Depth of change

Just something a little different….

Who am I?
The cheeky response would be Sheree, of course. But I often wonder if I am anymore. Since becoming a mum, that’s what my label has been. First Izzie’s mum. Then it became Izzie’s and Phoebe’s mum.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being their mum (on a good day that is!). But I also feel a sense of loss sometimes for what happened to the confident, not backwards in coming forwards person I was a few years ago.
I know I’ve changed, we all do as we get older. It’s how we and the people around us handle and react to these changes that determine our path.

It’s World Mental Health Day today (October 10) and I’ve made no secret about my mental health struggles.
I’ve lived with anxiety longer than I was aware it was lurking in the background and more recently I have dealt with depression as well.
I don’t see it as a weakness but just a part of who I am, who I have been and who I have become. It will always be a part of me.
It’s taken a lot of acceptance (and many hours in counselling, which I don’t regret) to actually say that. I’ll still have days where I’ll go backwards and struggle to admit that.
It shouldn’t be seen as any form of weakness to admit you’re having mental health problems but even I struggled to say I needed help. A lot of things in my life went really bad before I finally admitted something was wrong.
I look back now trying to work out what took me so long.

These days I know I’m in a better place, for me. I’ve still got a bit of work to do on myself but I’m getting there.
I have good days, bad days and really bad moments where I get hooked and it’s hard to get out of that headspace.
My first priority is always for my girls. For them to have the best mummy possible. I can’t always be the happiest and sometimes I’m really sad. And there have been many times I have felt like a complete and utter failure. But they sure know how to give an amazing hug to make me feel better.
Little kids may not always understand what’s happening but they definitely have the skills to change a situation, whether it’s making you laugh or giving you a reassurance of some kind.

I think one of the hardest things about living with your struggles is it’s not always easy to explain them in ways so that other people can understand what’s going on in your head. We all have our own ways of dealing with different aspects of our lives and just because someone thinks they have the answer, doesn’t necessarily make it the right one for you. As hard as it is, we really shouldn’t judge other people (even though we all do), you never know the internal battle they may be dealing with.

For me and everything I have been through, talking to my girls about how they’re feeling is even more important and something I think I will try to make a regular habit as they get older. Talking isn’t for everyone, but with so many people struggling with their mental health, I feel it’s something that can make a huge difference. We can all do something to help shed a more positive light on mental health.

“Never judge a book by its cover.”

“Everyone is fighting their own battle and you may never know.”

But always try to be kind to yourself.

Feel free to let me know your thoughts….

Looking from the outside in

You never really know what type of mum you are going to be until you’re living the role. And even then, you’ll still find yourself all over the place.
Because kids are unpredictable.
There’s no manual, no rule book and definitely no remote control! Although that would make some things a lot easier to deal with!

And while some days I wouldn’t change a thing, there are others I know I reach my limit. It’s normal to feel like you’re doing a bad job. But it’s hard when that brings you down!

This is not an easy topic to talk about but I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few years in a difficult head space and dealing with anxiety and very likely depression.
I’ve doubted myself big time as a mum and as a person, I still do in many ways, and I’ve probably missed out on enjoying a lot of life both with and without my girls.

I got lost in a world where I thought I had to do everything myself and do it perfectly or everyone would think I couldn’t handle being a mum.
I thought I was on top of things but was barely floating on the surface and I spent a lot of time with a smile plastered on my face that hid the real truth, I was struggling but never wanted to or could actually admit it to anyone.

I felt that if I admitted I needed or asked for help that I would be seen as a failure or didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Yes, it sounds silly I know but that’s where my head was at. I had to prove that I was not only capable but awesome at everything when it came to being a mum.

I think a big part of why I put so much pressure on myself was because I was also a stay at home mum. I didn’t want anyone to think that because I was able to stay at home I did nothing all day. I had to make sure it looked like I was on top of everything.

So where did it really get me?! Nowhere good that’s for sure and it’s cost me in many ways. I’ve faced many down moments and it’s been very hard to pick myself up again. Even now it can be hard to smile, especially when my mind takes over. But I’m very unashamed to admit I’m seeing a counsellor and it’s making a big difference. I’m feeling better within myself and learning different ways to deal with my thoughts.

I’m far from being fully back to my old happy self. But I’m working on ways to try to find myself again. It’s definitely not easy and I still have days where I find myself falling into old thought processes, it’s a habit that’s hard to break. But I keep telling myself I can do this and my two little girls are counting on me to be the best mum I can be for them. They are my world and the very reason I know I can and must do this!

So if I can impart any wisdom to other mums or anyone out there struggling in any way, it’s don’t be afraid to admit you’re not okay or that you need help. Don’t let things get on top of you, it’s okay to say things aren’t alright. I know firsthand that’s easier said than done but the first step is always the hardest! No one is perfect and we all make mistakes, it’s just not always easy to admit that to yourself, especially as a mum.

To sum it all up I found a quote from my favourite show Sex and the City. Carrie Bradshaw is a part of the reason I became a writer and that thought alone helps me smile again!

“Sometimes we need to stop analysing the past, stop planning the future, stop figuring out precisely how we feel, stop deciding exactly what we want and just see what happens.”