So the last post I wrote was a soul bearing monologue of my secret battle with anxiety and depression since becoming a Mummy.
To say I was blown away by the response to my ramblings would be an understatement.
From the school gates to social media, I have spent the past nine months being perpetually surprised and amazed at the amount of seemingly ‘having-it-all-together’ and ‘winning-at-life-mums’ around me who have shared with me, (sometimes confidently and sometimes tentatively, but always with a sense of relief for getting it off their chests), their own battles with anxiety and depression.
Despite the unprecedented response both in terms of volume and encouragement, it has been a long nine months since I last posted a full blog post.
My draft file sits healthy and bulging, yet my radio silence has been caused by my anxiety disorder questioning my ability and right to write and share my experiences of mental health problems, motherhood and my physical issues.
Yet here I am about to travel down the blogging road once again and not for the first time I’m asking myself ‘why?’
Why share aspects of my life online?
Why not keep things to myself?
Well personally I don’t think this is how we evolve effectively as a society or as a species.
We grow through learning and we learn so much from one another, both in terms of things we might aspire to improve upon in our own lives and of course we learn from other people’s mistakes and perhaps most importantly I feel we learn we are not alone in our worries and problems and that is reassuring and empowering to someone who is feeling isolated and insecure.
In the age of aggressive or some may say intense social media sharing of our family lives, social lives and our once personal lives, it is all too easy to think that everybody else has their sh*t together!
I love and loathe social media in almost equal measure for this and I see both positives and negatives to this medium.
Like most things in life, I feel it is a double edged sword.
As someone who in a former life has been a dancer, an air hostess and a military wife (and yes, I do believe the latter comes as a job description in itself at times- particularly when children are involved!), I have moved about a fair amount in my near on two decades of adult life (frightening! Surely I should be better at ‘adulting’ thang by now!)- as a result I have friends all over the country and the world and I love nothing more than catching up with these incredible and inspirational humans I once shared pivotal stages of my life with and delight in seeing them succeed in dreams we shared as wistful teenagers or wide eyed twenty somethings.
Over my years of blogging I have also made some incredible connections with inspiring, interesting and encouraging people who I have learned so much from. Through my blog I have been invited to meet politicians in Westminster and been featured in the national press, yet as a mother who lives with quite an intense anxiety disorder, I have also disabled my accounts at 3am on more than one occasion for fear of over sharing, second guessing peoples negative responses to my views or life choices and/or encountering the less savoury fractions of our society as the incredibly unpleasant and unnecessary phenomena of social media trolls.
What always brings me back though is that amazing sense of community, particularly amongst the mummy bloggers of Instagram, that we so desperately need as Mums or parents (or indeed any other like minded group of people with similar interests), who don’t physically have the time or opportunity to pour out our hearts over a cuppa together and receive the reassurance from friends in person that we are all secretly drowning under the pressures of motherhood or modern life in general.
None of us are perfect, which is why I believe the rise of the honest ‘mummyblogger’ has been so monumental over the past few years.
Secretly we all hide from the kids in the utility room eating left over party bag chocolate when we haven’t managed to sit for a meal all day (or even if we have!), and man is it reassuring to see a humorous Instagram pic of someone else covered in unidentifiable child stickiness, or to watch a humorous parenthood paradody (see Tired And Tested’s Ed Sheeran ‘Shape of You’ it’s brilliant!)- to know that we aren’t the only ones mucking it all up at times and making it up as we go along!
It isn’t just the physical or funny truths it is good to share, but also the hidden emotional quagmire of uncomfortable emotions that we need to make more acceptable to talk about if we ever want our collective mental health.
I feel incredibly passionate about this.
The truth is people take their lives because they feel like they are drowning in the pressures and complexities of life and don’t feel like anyone else is feeling the same and don’t feel like they can talk about their feelings.
I believe that talking is one of the healthiest habits we can cultivate in life.
I have been so encouraged over the past year or so to feel a sense of a shift in acceptance and enlightenment of mental health as a topic to be discussed and shared on social media and this is one of the main reasons that despite all its flaws, that I won’t delete my social media accounts, as at the end of the day the people I choose to follow, (foodporn and cute puppy accounts excluded!), are on the whole a collective voice of positivity and empowerment for mothers, women and disabled people.
None of us are perfect, which is why sharing when we aren’t perfect is as important as sharing the highs and #instagood moments which I believe have their positive part to play too.
We all need a bit of happy!
We need to keep talking, keep a sense of community and support one another even if this isn’t always possible in the physicsal sense and the perusal of Facebook or Instagram is all we can muster when we fall onto the sofa at the end of a long day.
To read that you aren’t alone in hitting the 4pm witching hour and starting the countdown to bedtime (and the glass of wine and children’s Easter eggs whilst blubbing at DIY SOS!), to know that we aren’t the only ones to have put the jumper lovingly knitted by the mother in law in the hot wash and to know that we are all just muddling through in our own well intentioned way.
I’m returning to blogging for this reason.
Sharing is caring. At least I think so anyway.
Yes, there might be an element of pride sneaking in when my child has done a ballet show and I share a pic on Facebook, but we are human and the family members and old dancer friends I live miles away from find joy in this and if others don’t, they can simply scroll on or unfollow if necessary. On the whole we are in control of what we look at.
The caring part comes in those who feel they can share with others the difficult aspects or experiences of their lives so we can all be a little more enlightened and empathetic.
(*See Feathering the Empty Nest and Mummy Social to feel really humbled and inspired by the strength of others!)
Let’s not judge but encourage. Let’s be a team and a community ready to support one another through these intense years of parenthood and life in our thirties and forties in general when things seem to hit us from all angles!
After all, it really does take a village or community, be that physical or virtual.