Health

There is no shame in having a mental illness, our mums share their stories

Did you know 1 in 5 Mums are affected by mental illness, yet many don’t seek help. Having a mental illness can be all-consuming. Often, mums feel ashamed of their struggle, making them feel isolated, inadequate and unlovable because they feel differently from those around them.

THERE is NO SHAME in having a mental illness and we want to TALK ABOUT IT!

We can all do something to help shed a more positive light on mental health. Remember it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to ask for help. You are LOVED & you MATTER!

Those of us who have suffered with a mental illness have felt drained day after day from overcoming obstacles that seem effortless to others. We continually compare internal struggles to other people’s external life. It can affect our relationships, thoughts, behaviour, mood, sleep and self-esteem.

If this sounds like something you may be experiencing, here are a few thoughts and tips and stories from other mums in our community who have struggled with mental health issues.  We hope they will help you change your mindset so you can take the appropriate steps towards getting help.

Tips to help you change your mindset

Be kind to yourself

If you suffer from a mental illness, chances are you don’t treat yourself with kindness, which makes it harder to recognise your triggers, respond to your moods, and also stops you from realising that you do have a choice to seek help. In order to truly see your current situation, it is important to practice self-compassion. This can be in the form of attending group therapy or information sessions by counsellors. Doing this may help you realise you are not alone and help you gain a sense of interconnectedness.

One the mums from our community Mel Flynn shared this advice, “Be kind to your self and let yourself feel. There is no right way to live or deal with the drama called life and once you accept this and be kind to you the rest happens. Never be too proud to ask for help or too shy to help, we are all playing the life game together and together is the only way we will get through.”

Stephanie, mum of 3 looks forward to the day when mental illness is accepted just like any other illness.

She shares “Mental illness has touched my life in many ways. I’m a survivor, a carer, a friend and an advocate. I understand I’ll have good days and I know I’ll have bad days but above all, I know I’ve gotten through them all and I’ll keep doing that as I’m strong even when I feel I’m weak.

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I stay well by seeing my Psychologist, my Psychiatrist, exercising, eating well and knowing it’s okay not to be okay. Every four months I have treatment called TMS in a private Psychiatric hospital to keep well. I haven’t been on daily medication for almost 7 years but when I was, it saved my life. I practice mindfulness, self care and doona days when required. It’s been an interesting journey and believe me when I say I have an amazing story to tell. I am not ashamed.

There is no shame having a mental illness. And there’s no shame in asking for help.

Lifeline provides all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to online, phone and face-to-face crisis support and suicide prevention services. Find out how these services can help you, a friend or loved one. Call them on 13 11 14. You are not alone. “

Change your inner voice

Being conscious of what your inner voice is saying is an important step in overcoming the stigma and shame you may feel in having a mental illness. How many times a day do you tell yourself that you’re not capable or good enough? The more we repeat these beliefs the more they negatively impact on your moods and behaviours. Think of an area in your life where you put yourself down – maybe you can’t keep to certain lifestyle choices or perhaps it’s in your day-to-day functioning as a parent.

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For every negative you tell yourself, force yourself to add two positives. It won’t magically make you feel better but it will help reverse the negative thoughts you’ve gotten used to circulating and help your self-esteem rebuild slowly.

Mum Kim O’Neill says, “Reaching out can be hard when you feel down. It’s important that you acknowledge how you feel, know that’s its ok to feel how you do and then reach out to someone to talk about it. Even if it’s just a text message to a friend asking to go for a walk. Break the patterns you’re in and you will see improvement.”

Be brave

Denying or feeling ashamed of having a mental illness can also mean you are not willing to deal with painful feelings. By acknowledging you have a mental illness, you may feel your self-identity and the way people perceive you, will change drastically. While you have no control over other people’s perception, you do have control over your self. If you take the first step in admitting you have a mental illness, you are taking a step towards recovery and a life full of potential, where you are not isolated or left feeling inadequate.

Mum Kerry Yacoumis says, “There are many with the same struggles once you’re brave enough to open up you’ll find out there’s support there.”

Mum of four Amy took some time before she found the help she needed. Below she shares her story. Trigger Warning.

Agreeing that I had a mental health issue was something that didn’t come easy for me. It took me quite some time to come to terms with and speak openly about it and even took longer to make that appointment to talk about it. I knew I had some form of mental health issue and I would make an appointment after appointment but cancel them when the day came.

My issues started well before I had children and while I can’t remember the exact triggers that caused my anger and depression I know being overweight and the bullying from other students lead to it. During my later teen years I devolved the need to self harm landing me in emergency needing stitches. And the scars remind me every day that I should have sought help but I didn’t. I was afraid to speak up, I was afraid of what people may think and I didn’t know how to ask for help. I felt like ideas in a very dark place but I was good at pretending to be happy.

When I met my children’s father and had my first child this was just the start of a whole new type of depression. Postnatal depression. I knew I had it but once again I didn’t speak up. One child turned into four children. At each postnatal check-up I would pretend everything was so chirpy and everything was great. Those little tests that the health nurses get you to fill out 6 weeks postpartum I would lie. But in reality, there was no need to lie, because I now know that it’s ok to not be ok. I wasn’t going to be judged for admitting I needed help, for admitting that I suffering from PND.

Three months after the birth of my 4th child I found Healthy Mummy. Yes, The Healthy Mummy has helped me lose 8.6 stone but it has also given me life and so much more. The Healthy Mummy was also behind my back when I got the courage to leave my violent relationship which once again saw me go into some pretty dark places. It gave me the courage to speak up and go and seek help. I was finally able to get a proper diagnosis, I was able to get medication to help me. Healthy Mummy has helped me a lot throughout my 3 year journey. And I can honestly say I don’t know where I would be today if I had not come across The Healthy Mummy.

Yes I still have my bad days but that is 100% ok. We are only human.

So please remember to speak up and know that it is OK to not be OK!!

Reach out

If you find you can’t change your mindset and feel stuck, visit your GP for a mental health plan or call a counsellor who will guide you against the tide of mental illness towards living a more fulfilling life. You have a choice, which life you choose is up to you.

Mum Nicole Taylor offered this insight, “I hate asking for help. I have to think about how I would feel and react if someone close to me asked me for help (I wouldn’t think twice and help them), to realise that I’m denying them the opportunity to help me when I need that. It’s ok not to be ok, but it’s ok to reach out too.”

Mum of three Sascha says “At one point or another, mental health issues will more than likely touch your life and the most important thing you can do is embrace it and speak up. It can be hard but keeping quiet feeds the beast! It’s OK to not be OK! Talk to someone today.”

Call SANE  on 0300 304 7000  for immediate support.

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The Healthy Mummy

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