What Can We Teach Our Kids About Mental Health
I don't know if I've mentioned it but next week I'm doing five hot yoga sessions in one day to raise awareness around maternal mental health. I decided to do it because I suffered post-natal depression after the birth of my first baby and it's so important to me that we do everything we can't to normalise this stuff so that people feel they can ask for help. What I didn't bank on was being faced, once again, with my own mental health issues. I thought I had it under control, I thought I was fine. I'm a doer. I say yes to everything and then figure it out later. This is a great way to remain open to opportunity and possibility but it's not great when you suddenly realise that you're drowning. I've spent so much time talking about mental health that I guess, to a certain extent, I neglected my own. The last couple of months have been hard - my business Hustle & Fox is growing, the blog is mental and then I've added this huge challenge on top of all that.
When you're asking people for cash, you have to offer something pretty spectacular in return. My Hot For Mental Health challenge seemed appropriately bonkers - it required four months of training and it's the kind of challenge that I genuinely don't know how it's going to go on the day. Despite the training, the wonderful thing about hot yoga is that it's humbling; there's no room for ego. The room won't let you get cocky - all of a sudden you can have a session where you just can't do it and you have to surrender. That could happen on the day. My body could fail me - I could cramp, faint, vomit through dehydration and over exertion. I am working hard on nutrition and training to make sure that doesn't happen but who knows?
When I began this journey, I did it from a place of, "I'm through my issues. Now I want to help other people." What I've realised is that isn't the case. I suffered a huge anxiety attack on Monday night. I was just about holding the blog, the business, the event and the family together but when we heard that my eldest had been given a shit school, it just got all too much. My husband found me on the floor, in the foetal position, hyperventilating so, you know, basically losing my shit.
I've suffered depression, I'm Type-A, high achieving, control freak. I find it very difficult to not take responsibility on. I'm highly organised and may look, to those on the outside, that I'm an expert at juggling all the balls but in reality I'm anxious a LOT of the time and while my anxiety bucket is only just about full, I'm ok. When it starts to spill over, I collapse. I need to learn to manage this more - I need to delegate, to learn what isn't my responsibility and to say no when things get too much. This is all a work in progress but I'm getting there.
What Monday's anxiety attack proved to me is that it's just as important as ever to talk about the ugly side of mental health and normalise it. The comments I received on Instagram where overwhelmingly supportive and many of them admitted to struggling themselves. This isn't a rare disease - this is something that so many women and mothers are struggling with in this day and age. Our generations has been told over and over again that we can 'have it all'; what they've failed to tell us is that we don't have to 'do it all'. We can pick and choose and not choosing something doesn't mean we fail or that we aren't strong enough or good enough.
The real lesson we should teach our children is that they are FREE. They are free to choose what and how much they want to do. It's not that they can do everything, but that they can do anything.