(***TRIGGER WARNING – this blog deals with mental health issues***)
This month is Liptember.
Liptember Foundation is asking us to wear bright lipstick every day in September, in an effort to spark a conversation about women’s mental health, between the wearer and those she comes across.
I can’t get behind this initiative enough, for many reasons, but the main one being the feeling that we, as mothers, don’t have time to breakdown, to come undone, or feel broken, to lose our sh*t…..do we?
We are far too busy for that. After all there is a home to keep, friends to maintain, extended family to keep track of, social connections to nurture, children to feed, clothe, bathe, raise to be good people (we hope). We are expected to do all this (and more) while working in one way, shape or form – whether we work at home or from home, are professionals, shift workers, we come in so many variations, the list goes on.
We are far too busy to take stock of our own well being, after all we have the well being of so many others to consider first.
We start off busily preparing for the arrival of our cherub, furnishing and filling out a nursery, preparing for parenthood and deciding how much “advice” to take on board. Then preparing for the hospital stay and all that childbirth brings. Next we are preparing for the day we bring bub home and how to be responsible for another human for the rest of our days.
What we can’t possibly prepare for is how the experience will change us. How our mind will not work like it used to, our body won’t look, feel or behave like it once did and time will never pass in the same increments again and how we, as women, will never be the same again.
We are just very different now and much like motherhood itself, everyone has their own journey to travel.
For me, that journey included what I now refer to as my “May Meltdown”.
A simple title for what was the most complex of experiences. A title I use to describe what it was like to be driving to work, on a bluetooth call to my husband, and all at once have the previous 5 months since returning to work ( trying be the same wife, friend, sister, daughter, cousin, volunteer and worker I had always been, the one with her sh*t together) hit me in the stomach with sledgehammer like force.
I hung up and then I cried, no, I wailed. I was driving to work, he was 6 hours away at his own workplace, how the hell was this happening and why the hell was it happening to me, why now, why at all?
I was in physical agony, I could not face my work colleagues, but for one, who I knew might understand and I cried a river right there in the perfumed gardens in the city. To this day I can’t recall entirely what I said to her.
Several weeks of sick leave followed. No one knew what I was going through, outside those that needed to. My employer was great throughout, but nothing was pulling me out of this.
I was exhausted, embarrassed, I was sore (my eyes have never hurt so much, been so dry, I could not cry anymore), I was confused about what had happened and why (we all know why, but somehow not at the time).
Broken, the only word that kept coming to mind, was broken, that’s what I was. It is what I had to admit to myself, to my husband, my family and a counsellor (something I had never done before and am now ashamed to admit that I parked down the street from her office, just in case someone saw my personalised plates parked there?!)
As someone who has always considered themselves to be a strong person, someone others can lean on, I had no idea how to lean on others, how to ask if I could or even should. I didn’t know how to start the conversation, not for quite some time.
But when I was finally able, I reached out to a select few and they simply listened, they heard me, they hugged me, they have no idea how much they helped me.
Now, after much love and support from an amazing husband, my incredible mum and my most trusted circle of friends, I am ready to say publicly, here to you, to anyone reading this that thinks to themselves “pfft, that would never happen to me”, I WAS YOU and I am telling you, no I am begging you, don’t be so stubborn, don’t think you’re immune, don’t think your feelings or thoughts are trivial, don’t think you can’t reach out, don’t think seeing a mental health professional is any different to seeing a physical health professional – your brain can get sick too and it can turn on you, I KNOW!
Please, for your sake, for that of your friends, family, all those that love you,
DON’T GET TOO BUSY TO TAKE CARE OF YOU x
*If this blog raises issues for you please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 ( Accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week).