It’s World Mental Health Day. I wanted to mark it by sharing personal insights. Forgive me for writing something somewhat disjointed.
Yet the images that come back over and over again … I’m not ready to share. It was scary.
Instead I want to share a post I wrote over a year ago though I’m still not ready to tell you how I was self-harming. Maybe I will never be ready. Reading this post, I feel again the shiver of cold that ran over me when I looked at the handout on ways to self-harm.
I’m so ashamed. I felt so out of control. I still can’t believe some of the things I did. How relieved I am that it didn’t affect my children. (At least it’s not obvious if it did). At times I want to weep for the woman I was, the woman I became. It felt like I was in some state of madness.
Yet weeping now isn’t going to help. Though it did help me to grieve. During my recovery, I joined an online self-help group. After a few months, I left and moved on. Although I felt fully recovered, I felt that staying in the group full of drowning women was just too hard for me. I feel kind of bad that I didn’t stay longer and try to help. However sometimes you have to look after no 1 first.
It’s easy to recognise now that I was going through burnout because of mental health issues. It’s easy for me to recognise now that my difficulties were because I’d had a tough time as a teenager (which I share in my book). It’s not easy at that age going through bereavement and divorce. I feel today like the mother tiger. I am fiercely aggressive about wanting to protect my daughters’ mental health. I know, in hindsight, how vulnerable teenagers can be.
40 years ago and I still feel tears for that teenager. Tears of shame? Tears of grief? Tears of pity? No. Not pity. I don’t feel sorry for myself. It is what it is.
Because I know what it feels like to be in the very darkest of places, I promote awareness of mental health and will always happily talk about my own mental health issues. I am fully recovered and have been for a long time. I love my life. I love my family. I love my work. But it’s not always been that way. I used to be that woman on the brink.
If that’s who you feel or fear you might be right now, I encourage you to ask for help. Seek support. Tell somebody. Speak to someone who’s been there and come out the other side. It’s not you going mad. It’s not that you’re not a good mum. It’s not that you don’t have the maternal gene. It’s an illness. With the right support, you can get better.
If you are worried that you are starting to see the signs of burnout … in yourself or somebody you know, read more about the scary signs here.
What can you do today on World Mental Health Day
Share this blog post. Let’s break the stigma. Let’s talk about mental health and how many people are affected.
Read my #PND Story with a recommended list of resources specific to perinatal mental health.
Sign up to NCT’s Hidden Half Campaign to help new mothers get better mental health support.
Check out the Mental Health Foundation’s World Mental Health Day website.
Have a look at these statistics on mental health published in The Telegraph today.
Listen to the Mad World podcast broadcast by Bryony Gordon.
#madworld #worldmentalhealthyday #breakthestigma #hiddenhalf #beyondbabyblues