I know exercise is good for your mood… I just don’t wanna do it!

I’ve got something to admit.  I’ve read countless articles that talk about the benefit of exercising for people with mood disorders.  I’ve listened as researchers promote exercise as a way of relieving stress and lifting your mood.

And still… I don’t do it.

Every morning, I open one eye as my husband gets up to train for an adventure race he’s doing in Thailand this month.

And then I pull the covers closer around me and snooze until I’ve got half and hour left before I need to have school lunches made, bags packed and be driving out of the driveway for school drop off.  An hour later, I sit down at work, inhaling a cup of coffee to give me the boost I need to start my day.

Needless to say, I’m not a morning exercise type of person.

Problem is that I’m not an evening exercise type of person either.  By the time my husband and I have our three kids fed and in bed, the last thing I feel like doing is pulling on my active wear and heading out in the cold to the gym.

I could hit the treadmill collecting dust in my garage, but problem is, I’m not an exercising alone type of person.  I prefer to exercise while catching up with friends. Only problem is that we usually skip the exercise and just catch up over a cup of tea.

So this leave me in a dilemma.

If I want to be serious about my mental health, I know that I need to prioritise some form of exercise.  But it needs to be something that I can commit to without it seeming like a chore that I’d do anything to avoid.

I was dwelling on this in recent weeks when a newspaper article caught my eye, extolling the benefits of “tree walking”.  Apparently, benefits of a long walk compound when you add trees to the equation.  Being among nature, with trees around you, is now scientifically proven to boost your mood significantly.

Which brings me to my new resolution.

I am going to commit to going on a walk among trees every week – rain, hail or shine. And I’m going to find a friend who wants to come with me. Lucky for me I happen to live at the base of a mountain range, with lots of trails to choose from.

So now, I just need to get off the couch and up that mountain!

Mariska xx

Do you use exercise as a way to boost your mood or reduce stress?  I’d love to hear what you do or if you struggle with finding the motivation to exercise.

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Longing for a “sick day”

With an impending restructure at work, my days have been a bit more stress-filled than usual.  My team of six has been reduced for now to a team of three – and we’re doing our best to keep things going despite the sense of doom and gloom about the place.

In the midst of all this turmoil, staff have been dropping like flies… with record numbers of sick days.  As for me, who rarely gets sick enough to justify a day off work, I’ve been day-dreaming about taking a “sick day” to just, well… decompress.

Sick Day

Spending a day battling the flu wasn’t quite the “sick day” I’d been hoping for.

In my mind, I imagined I’d time my “sick day” for when the kids were at school/kinder so that I could sleep in ’till 10am and then go out for a brunch with my husband (who is currently studying at home).

I then planned to dig out one of my craft projects – which have been ignored for the past 2.5 years since I went back to full-time work.  And I’d end the day by picking up my kids (who would be surprised to see Mum rather than Dad waiting outside their classroom) and then welcoming them home to home-cooked cookies.

My work has an official name for days like this.  I know it’s “technically” fine to take a mental health day, but I don’t know about you – I still struggle with the idea of taking a day off when I don’t physically appear sick.

Go to work with a hacking cough or a dripping nose and people encourage you to go home and rest up.  But arrive at work crippled with anxiety, depression or stress and no-one is any the wiser.  It’s easier to hide feelings of despair, depression and hopelessness than a fever.  I worked through months of acute depression – and no-one at work noticed, until I made a point of telling them about the struggle I was having.

Not that I advocate hiding your mental illness from your employer.  I have let my manager know about my condition – and I’d like to think my employees feel comfortable enough to share with me.  Yet, I’m well aware that just telling your staff that they’re  technically allowed to take time off to deal with mental health issues doesn’t make it easy to actually do it.  We need senior staff to model that it’s actually ok.

Today, I finally got my sick day.

Only problem was, it really was a sick day.  And it struck on a Saturday morning.  Sure I got to spend the morning in bed…. but that was where I stayed for most of the weekend. And as for a leisurely lunch with my husband – well let’s just say that I wasn’t feeling up for any kind of date.  Instead of feeling free to enjoy a Monday off work… I found myself dealing with 1000’s of tissues and an aching body that didn’t want to do anything but lie down.

Moaning that “this isn’t what a sick day is meant to be like…” my husband kindly pointed out what I was after wasn’t a “sick day” but a “sickie”.  Hmm… I’d better be careful what I wish for next time.

Mariska xx

 

3 lessons psych wards have learnt in the past decade

Psyciatric wards have come a long way in the last 50 years. But what's changed in the last decade?

Psyciatric wards have come a long way in the last 50 years. But what’s changed in the last decade?

Eight weeks ago, I did something that I swore I would never do.  I walked back through the doors of the public hospital psychiatric ward where I spent some of the worst weeks of my life, after the birth of my first baby eight years ago.

This time, I hadn’t arrived in the back of a police divvy van.  I wasn’t disoriented or confused about why I was there. My mind wasn’t racing or tricking me with delusions. And I wasn’t greeted by emergency room staff who held me down and injected me with who-knows-what.

So why was I there?

Well, it started a few weeks beforehand, when I was out walking with a group of women.  When I found out that one of the women was a nurse in the psychiatric ward where I had been a patient, I shared my story with her.

After mentioning  how shocked I was at the conditions in the ward when I was there, she invited me to come and see the changes that had taken place at the pysch ward since then.

So I summoned up all my courage, and I returned.  And here’s three ways I found this psych ward had changed in the past 8 years

  1. It’s finally hitting home: staff can make or break a psych ward

One of the biggest changes I noticed straight away in the psych ward was the staff – and their attitude towards the patients.  Eight years ago, the horrific conditions meant the hospital I was in couldn’t attract or retain staff.  They filled the gaps with temporary agency nursing staff and “carers”.

This may work in a regular hospital ward, but when you’re mentally unwell, having dedicated, committed staff  is critical.  Seeing regular faces  – rather than a steady stream of agency staff – also helps us as patients to trust our carers. When you’re struggling with psychosis, depression, suicidal thoughts or delusions, a kind word or a gentle touch from nursing staff goes a long way.    Patients deserve experienced staff who are committed to their patients and the reputation of the ward they work in.

2.  It’s more than just medical help: the right atmosphere in a ward is integral

Less than two months after I left the ward eight years ago, it was demolished.  To be honest, I’m not surprised.  It was a dark, dingy place – with cramped conditions, unsuitable living areas and a small concrete courtyard where patients could walk in circles for exercise.

Entering the new purpose-built building, I immediately noticed the big picture windows, fresh colorful paint, friendly atmosphere and artwork on the walls.  The head nurse proudly showed me the art-therapy room, family visit room (with direct street entrance so kids didn’t need to walk through the ward to get there) and an outdoor eating and sports area.   There was even a dark room with bean bags, rocking chairs, weighted blankets, soft music, projected light patterns and musical instruments  – a place where people struggling with mania could go to calm or soothe themselves.

I know it’s only superficial stuff.  But sometimes, the way a place looks, smells and even feels can have such an impact on the way patients feel about being there.

3. Our voices have been heard: patients must be kept safe from harm by other patients

I’ve left the best change for last.  The biggest change that I could see was that, while they shared the dining room and common areas, men and women had separate sleeping areas.  Upon admission, female patients receive an electronic bracelet that gives them access to the female-only sleeping quarters and a small lounge room that they can retreat to if they feel unsafe.  The ward was also built with two wing that could be used as required:  one for regular mentally unwell people and the other for those displaying violent or predatory behaviour.

THIS IS INCREDIBLE, AMAZING STUFF!

I guess you’re sensing my excitement.  Well, in my mind this is a game-changer.

In this ward in the past – and most likely in many others around the world –  vulnerable, unwell female patients (and in some cases male)  have been attacked or raped by other patients.  You can’t compare a psych ward to other hospital wards – where patients are there because they are physically unwell.  Genders sharing sleeping quarters in situations where people are psychotic, delusional and not “in their right mind” – and not giving women a safe space – is a recipe for disaster.

I was reassured to see that the safety of women in this psych ward at least, is now top-of-mind for staff.  And in the case that I’m every a patient there again, I’d be very pleased to know that  staff now have the ability to separate out patients known for their violence or predatory behavior.

Have these changes been made in every psychiatric ward?

While I’d love to believe they had, I doubt it.  Less than 50 years ago conditions in psychiatric wards – or mental asylums as they were called – were barbaric.  Change has come, but lack of funds or political will means that it is slower in some places than others.

As people who know what it’s like to be mentally unwell and vulnerable, we need to band together and keep asking for change.   Without our voices, speaking up about the conditions in these wards and insisting that changes are made, others like us will continue to suffer.

Mariska xxx

Have you noticed any changes or improvements in psychiatric wards over the past decade?

 

 

What watching ET taught me about fear

Tonight I decided to introduce my kids to a movie classic – ET.  I had vague memories of a very cute Drew Barrymore playing with the Extra Terrestrial and thought my space-Leggo mad kids would love the movie too.

Less than 10 minutes into the movie, all three kids were hiding under the quilt… terrified by the sight of the weird, bald little alien.  I kept reassuring them it would get better, but when ET seemingly died 45 minutes later and all three kids had tears rolling down their faces, I was kicking myself for my choice of movie.

ET Movie

Who knew the lessons ET can teach?

At the end, my eight year old turned off the TV, turned to me and said: “Mum, you’re banned from making us watch any more movie ‘classics’ made before 2007! I’m never watching that movie ever ever again!”

His strong words reminded me of some I’d spoken myself eight years ago after his birth, when I had gone through an awful experience in a public hospital’s psychiatric ward.  I swore never to go back to that place – and for a long time I couldn’t even drive past it without feeling physically sick.

And yet, things change. Things that seem scary somehow suddenly no longer hold the same fear.  As the years tick by, the anger and fear are still there – but somehow less vivid.  And the bitterness begins to fade.

Two days ago, I walked back through the doors of that psychiatric ward.  This time, I didn’t arrive in the back of a police divvy van.  I wasn’t held down by police and injected with tranquilizers.  I wasn’t leaving behind my precious week-old baby. And I wasn’t declared mentally insane and kept behind locked doors.

This time, I drove to the hospital on my lunch-break and walked through the front doors by choice.  I put one foot in front of the of the other until I arrived at the reception desk.  I took a few deep breaths, smoothed down my jacket and tried to look as sane as possible as I asked for the Head of Nursing, who had promised to take me on a tour.

My husband couldn’t quite understand why I went back.  He said nothing could force him back there.  And I understood why.

The best way I can explain my need to go back there is that I wanted to face the thing that frightened me most.  I’m not a brave person normally (to be honest I found some scenes in ET a little scary myself).  But I wanted to see if visiting that psychiatric ward all these years later would help me see things differently.

As a mum, I help my kids to face their fears.  I talk them through it… trying to show them that what they’re most scared of (in this case, being attacked by a alien on the TV) is actually not all that scary.

I thought it was time to listen to my own mum-advice for once.

Mariska xx

Stay tuned for my next post – seeing if psychiatric wards have changed in the past eight years.

 

 

 

Am I brave enough to face the past?

I’ve never thought of myself as brave person.  I’m the type  who ducks and covers my face when someone throws me a football (or a set of keys).  I’m not fond of putting myself in dangerous situations… you’ll never find me posting a photo on Facebook of myself sky-diving and I shudder at the thought of getting surprise hot-air balloon ride tickets for my birthday.

I’m all for exploring new countries – but my idea of a fun holiday does not include bungee jumping, white-water rafting or eating snails, scorpians or other unidentified objects.

But something’s happened this week that has made me muster up all my bravery.

I’ve spoken before about the most horrific time of my life… being taken from my home in a police divvy-van eight days after the birth of my first baby and being locked up in the high-dependency unit of Maroondah Hospital’s psychiatric ward .

Many of you reading this will have endured similar things: the mistreatment at the hands of “carers”, the scariness of being in a mixed ward with mentally unstable men, the loneliness… desperately trying to get people to understand you, but being met with looks of fear or annoyance.

Which is why when the Head of Nursing at Maroondah’s psychiatric ward invited me this week to meet her in a fortnight for a tour of their new facilities, I found myself feeling the opposite of brave.

When I asked my ever-supportive husband if he’d come with me, he flatly refused.  I can’t say I blame him.  Instead of enjoying the first six weeks of our first baby’s life, we both endured a type of hell-on-earth which we wouldn’t wish on anyone.

While his wife was declared insane and committed to a locked ward, my husband juggled his shock of what had happened with the needs of a tiny newborn.  While most new mums struggle to get out of the house at all, my husband bundled up our baby son and brought him into a psych ward so I could have 30 precious minutes cuddling him.

When I finally came home, we were both so traumatised that we couldn’t stand to hear what the other had been through.  It took six months of counselling to finally accept what had happened and move on.  Still, for the past 8 years, my stomach has still felt sick whenever I’ve driven past the building where the psych ward is located.

So, why would I even consider going back?

Because I’ve now realised that unforgiveness and bitterness was only hurting one person… me.  I’ve made a conscious decision to forgive the staff in that ward for the way they treated me.

And to be honest, I’m also a tad curious.  The head nurse told me that things have improved “out of sight” since I was a patient there.  The ward now has a separate mood-disorders wing for women.  And she gushed in her email about the array of activities that patients can now take part in.

Part of me is skeptical that things have improved.  But I need to know that they have – because I couldn’t live with myself if others are still living in the hell-hole that I escaped.  When I left that ward, I promised to be the voice for those who couldn’t speak up for themselves.

And so, in two weeks, I’ll walk alone into the building that is the place where I lived through the most horrible moments of my life.  I’ll put one foot in front of the other – and I’ll smile and be courteous to the staff.  But I won’t be looking at the fancy new ward or plethora of activities to see if things have improved.  I’ll look into the eyes of the patients.

Mariska xx

Have you ever had to be brave – to face something or someone in your past?  Has the experience made you stronger?  Any tips for how to muster up bravery in situations like this?

Behind this Bipolar Mum is two awesome fathers

Today Australians are celebrating Father’s Day.  Dads across the country are being woken up by tiny hands thrusting a plate of eggs and bacon under their nose.  And millions of men are re-stocking their drawers with new socks and underwear.

I have two reasons to celebrate Father’s Day: my husband (a Dad to our three munchkins) and my Dad.  Both are shining examples of everything that fathers ought to be:  patient, loving, caring, encouraging and Godly role-models to their children.

Growing up, our family of four kids never doubted our father’s love.  As a pastor, he worked from his home office – so he was there to make our school lunches, drive us to school and hear about our day when we returned.  I remember lots of walks up to the local shops together in my teenage years – with him offering his fatherly wisdom.

It wasn’t until I was older – and my best friend’s parents divorced, that I realised how blessed I was.  That not everyone had a Dad like mine – who actually wanted to spend time with his kids.

Now days, as an adult, lots of people tell me that my dad and I are similar in many ways:  we both love homemade pizza, have a flair for writing, enjoy speaking in public, and have a tendency to stretch the truth ever-so-slightly to make a better story.  I’m also told that I’m most like his side of the family in looks.

There’s something else that I inherited from Dad’s side of the family: a genetic predisposition for mental illness.  While it skipped Dad, I discovered at the age of 18 that I had more than his family’s olive skin.  Its never occurred to me to blame Dad or his family for this… or to curse my genes… it’s just the way I was created.

As a parent myself now, it does sometimes worry me that I might pass this legacy of mental illness onto my own children.  It’s the reason why I’m the ambassador of a mental health research project. I’d love to see Bipolar Disorder and other mental illnesses “cured” by the time my kids become teenagers.   But if it’s not (and with my oldest heading towards nine years old, the countdown is truly on) – it will be ok.

When I recently asked my psychiatrist what would happen if one of my children inherited Bipolar Disorder, she told me that they would be lucky.  Not lucky to have Bipolar (I wouldn’t wish that on anyone) but lucky to have a mother who had lived with the illness – and was able to show them that it’s possible to still live life in all its fullness.

Mariska xx

Do you have a father or father-figure who has meant a lot to you?  Would love to hear about how they have influenced you and your life.

What a cup of tea taught me about bitterness

I have to admit it – I love a nice hot cup of tea.  There’s something about being forced to stand quietly, waiting for the kettle to boil that seems to calm my spirit.  And don’t get me started on the lovely feeling of a warm cuppa nestled in my hands.

When I have time – and have someone to share a cuppa with – I love to get out one of my favourite loose leaf teas and use my favourite red teapot.  The English have it right – a cup of tea and a good chat can fix almost anything.

picture of red teapot and cup

My favourite red teapot – a gift from my hubby.

I was standing by the kettle just now, fixing myself a cup of tea (sadly, a cup-for-one with a teabag), when something struck me.  It doesn’t take much to turn a cup of boiling water into a cup of tea.  Within seconds of dunking a teabag, the water has been infused with the colour and flavour of the tea – turning it from clear to murky brown.

Watching my cuppa change colour just now has got me thinking.   I wonder how much the bitterness I’ve been feeling about having to live life with a mental illness has been tainting my life?

It’s not fun having a mental illness.  It’s not fun dealing with the side-effects of various medications.  And I’ll be the first to admit that somewhere, deep inside me, I still hold some bitterness about the cards life has dealt me.   Sure, I can now see a bigger purpose for my life – complete with my bipolar diagnosis – but that doesn’t mean I don’t still sometimes struggle with accepting it.

Most of my friends and family will say that it’s perfectly ok to feel bitter about being diagnosed with a mental illness. The only trouble is, it’s been almost twenty years now since my original diagnosis.  And these feelings of bitterness have a nasty habit of acting like a tea bag: infusing me and my life with anger and regret.

The effects may not always be obvious… but this bitterness got a nasty habit of bubbling to the surface when I’m feeling at my lowest and want something to strike out at.  It’s not something that I want my kids to see in me.

And so, I’m left with a choice.

Do I allow this ‘bag’ of bitterness to continue to colour my life?  Or do I make a conscious effort to finally accept my diagnosis – acknowledging that it will have an ongoing impact on my life and that I will most likely need to continue taking medication for the rest of my life to keep it under control?

It’s a difficult choice.

And yet – looking at the effect tonight that one small teabag had on my big cup full of crystal clear water, I’m determined to not let my diagnosis taint the rest of my life.  Sure it’s almost certainly always going to be part of me – but it’s not going to affect who I am – or the life I was created to live.

Mariska xx

Do you feel bitter or angry because of your mental illness or something else in your life? Have you had to take steps to deal with your bitterness? I’m sure other mums would love to hear about and learn from your experience. 

 

Don’t give up… ever

I like op-shopping.  There’s nothing like walking into an opportunity shop, with a purse filled with coins, and walking out with some amazing recycled finds.

At the moment, my favourite winter jacket, scarf and leather boots are all from op-shops and cost a total of AUS$18. The boots are a brand I really like and had never been worn, the jacket is a stunning blue wool and just looking at the gorgeous orange striped scarf makes me feel happy.

Me in my op shop jacket

Me rocking my op-shop jacket and scarf!

I’ve written before about how much I love taking something set for the rubbish dump and turning it into something beautiful and useful.  One of my favourite rescued pieces is the white buffet, sitting in my family room.

The last time I was in an op-shop, I came across a pile of old sheet music.  Something about the beautiful old music, printed in the 1920’s and carefully wrapped in brown paper,  caught my eye and I couldn’t leave without buying it.  I had no idea what I would do with it – my piano playing skills are a little too rusty for such complicated pieces – but I knew that I couldn’t leave it behind.

Today I woke up to the sound of rain.  Being Saturday, I was looking forward to spending some time with the kids – and a crafting afternoon sounded just about right.  While the kids made cards for friends, I pulled out some supplies and set about turning the sheet music into something special.

A few hours later, I had turned the unwanted music sheets into a couple of cute heart pictures (see below) and a bunch of unique cards for friends’ birthdays.

Recycled sheet music

A new use for old sheet music

Hanging the pictures on my wall, I was struck again by how something that seemed old and not good for anything but the bin, was – a couple of hours later – something so beautiful.

Sometimes life can leave us feeling so down, that we start thinking we’re no longer of value to society.  I know when I was sitting alone, locked in a psychiatric ward after the birth of my first baby, I started thinking that my life was pretty much over.  The fear and loathing in the eyes of the ward staff affirmed this thought – that I was no longer an educated, articulate young woman respected by those around me… but someone who had to be kept heavily medicated and away from the rest of society.

At that time, I pretty much felt like those sheets of music, once highly-valued but now abandoned and destined for the bin. And yet, looking at the new pictures on my wall – made from the recycled music sheets – I was reminded of my own journey.  Here I am, eight and a half years later, not only living with mental illness, but thriving.

Being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at the age of 18 was a huge blow.  And it’s something that I’ve had to learn to live with over the past 19 years.  But it hasn’t meant the end of life as I knew it.  I have still gone on to become a wife, a mother, an employee and a friend.

Like the sheet music transformed into something very different, my life may not look exactly like it used to – but it is beautiful in an equally special and valuable way.

My prayer is that everyone reading this who is going through hard times, will realise that while your life may not look quite like you had planned, it may well in the end turn out to be even better than you originally hoped.  Don’t ever think that your life is not worth living.  Don’t ever give up.

Mariska xx

Does anyone else love seeing the potential in things?  Got any stories or photos of your favourite op-shop finds?

For everything there is a season…

When most people think of Australia, they picture golden beaches, blue skies and the Sydney Harbor Bridge. But for those Aussies like me who live at the southern end of the country – life is a lot more varied than that.

In Melbourne, down the bottom of Australia, we have four distinct seasons: Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring. We go from 40 + degrees Celsius in Summer all the way down to crisp four degree days in Winter.  Weather tends to dominate a lot of our conversations – and most of the time we’re either complaining it’s too hot or too cold.

But would I swap our seasons for a life of constant warm days?  Probably not.

Seasons give a nice rhythm to life… with plenty of positives to outweigh the negatives.  Right now, we’re  suffering through frosty Winter mornings and icy evenings.  But I’m loving the freedom to get into my flannelette Pyjamas as soon as I get home from work.  And I’m spending my evenings learning how to knit and crotchet while curled up in front of a good movie.  There’s something about rainy days that seems to justify taking things a bit easy.

Watching my kids playing in piles of leaves with their cousin (below), I started thinking about how the seasons  are a good metaphor for my moods.

Kids jumping in leaves

Jumping in leaves with cousins…

Autumn

Autumn reminds me of anxiety and the first signs of depression.  There’s a sense that – despite the lovely weather – there’s bleak times ahead.  Like the leaves falling off the trees, there’s an impending feeling of gloom – like things are about to fall apart.  I need to force myself to look around and see the beauty that’s still there…  in the colour of the leaves, in the people who care for me.

Winter

Winter’s cold, dark, bleary days remind me of the dark pit of depression.  No matter how hard you try to wish it into being, there’s a lack of sunshine – or joy – and you crave warmth and comfort.  But like the bare branches – not dead but merely dormant – there is still life within me.  I just need to get through this season.

Spring

Coming out of a depression, is a bit like defrosting after a long Winter.  New buds appear on branches – just as tiny shoots of joy and hope start to appear in my life.  I look around and notice life again – feeling for the first time in a long time that I want to spend time enjoying my friends and family.   Happiness has crept up on me… bringing a smile to my face again and making me – like the trees around me – fruitful again.

Summer

Mania is hard to describe, but if I was to liken it to a season it would have to be the long, energetic, fun-filled days of Summer.  Just like I’m often taken by surprise with a nasty sunburn while having fun on the beach, so to mania is something that creeps up… disguised by seemingly endless energy and ideas.  And I end up needing protection and help to get through this season.

Living with mental illness, I’ve learnt that I need to be prepared for all seasons.  I wouldn’t venture out into the blazing sun without a hat – or the snow without some gloves.  So I can’t expect myself to face the ups and downs that come with bipolar without some form of protection – in my case, medication.

Coming to terms with this – and acknowledging it – frees me up to get on with living life.  There will be ups, and there will be downs, but life will move on – and each season will soon pass.

Mariska xx

Do the seasons have an impact on your mental health?  If so, what do you do about it?  Would love to hear!

 

What shiny pink nails taught me…

I have something to admit….  I’m a nail-biter.  I’ve got a stack of nail files in my bathroom cabinet that never get used.

My nails will no sooner start growing… then I watch a scary movie, or sit through a boring talk, and all that’s left of them is a jagged mess.

I was reminded about my poor nails this week at work, when I got chatting with a lovely colleague while making a cup of tea. Looking down, I couldn’t help but notice her lovely long, shiny pink nails wrapped around her tea cup.

Before I could stop myself, I found myself commenting on her beautiful nails – and asking what it took to keep them looking so stunning.

She enlightened me on the world of acrylic nails… and then told me something that suprised me.

Apparently – underneath the shiny exterior of her perfectly shaped pink nails – her real nails were thin and brittle. Years of applying acrylics had left them in a shocking condition.  So bad in fact that she now had no choice but to continue forking out money each month for the acrylics.

You may be wondering what nails have to do with bipolar.  Well, hang in there – I promise I have a point.

My nail revelation taught me something.  You see, there’s times in life when we as mums can be like shiny pink acrylic nails.

We present with a happy face at school pick-up or work… looking, for all the world, like we are perfect mums with perfect lives. But underneath this ‘perfect’ exterior, we can be hiding our true selves: our pain, our brittleness, our troubles.

My challenge – to myself and to you – is to acknowledge that life isn’t always shiny and perfect.  To know that life is much more like my poor nails… irregularly shaped, jagged and prone to being decimated during periods of stress.

It’s when we can show our true selves to each other, that we realise that noone has a perfect life.  Nobody has everything together all of the time.  Nobody’s life is without its own troubles.

We all have things that we struggle with – whether that be a mental illness like bipolar – or something else. We should feel free to be honest about what we are going through.

Who knows what’s going on beneath the shiny exterior of those around you?

Mariska xx