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“If there’s something weird and it don’t look good. Who you gonna call?” (Part 2)

If you do find that you are struggling with mental health issues or are feeling as though you can’t cope with life, what do you do? And where do you turn? This month, I’ve connected with some mental health practitioners to provide guidance as to what the different mental health practitioners do, to guide those of us seeking therapeutic help and guidance.

Interview with a Social Worker:

What does a social worker do?

People normally think of statutory social workers who are involved with the removal of children. This is only one area of social work, and you need to be designated to statutory social work.

Our goal within social work is about how to develop communities and to help communities thrive. We work with individuals, groups and families. We consider what are your resources – what are you lacking and what have you got. Social work is about developing and helping people thrive individually, group and community.

We look at using resources. For example, how do we help families, we try and work with what you have available to you. If you are struggling to move, we build in exercises to help you move within your environment. We play to your strengths and sensory capabilities. It’s about using the resources you have to manage mental wellness

What is the difference between a social worker and a psychologist?

Although social workers are not involved in any diagnostic work, they work with people, and can be your first source of therapeutic healing. We can refer for extra support or input around diagnosis if required. We help clients develop skills and help to manage symptoms, once they have a diagnosis. We look at the impact on your life, and what we can do with that. For example, what are your triggers for depression, and when you see that happening, what do you do, what are your options, and strategies in this space eg checking in with a friend.

Social work gives clients practical resources. What does your depression mean practically? Where is it stopping our life and what can we do

When would someone need to see a social worker?

There is no one size fits all when it comes to treatment. Depending on approach you’re needing, at the time, it will determine who you approach. At the end of the day, if you are struggling to function – you need to speak to someone. And you need someone who is going to listen and understand to help you pick up the different threads. If you feel like things are unravelling, you should seek help, before you feel like you’re too stretched. It’s hard for many people to admit that they’re not coping.

How do you find a social worker?

The best place is to look at the SAASWIPP Website, and search by interest topic. Social workers need to be registered to be on the website, and you will find information on whether they are cash only or you can claim medical aid. All this information will be available

Anything you would like to add?

Different people connect with different practitioners – this is about a process and a journey.  While there has historically been a hierarchical perception and at times, real division between psychologists, there is most definitely space and a need for both.  Even as mental health practitioners, we should always be working within the best interests of our clients, ethically and professionally.  This should always guide practice.

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A permanent solution to a temporary problem

TRIGGER WARNING: Suicide

It was the middle of the night. And the fourth night that week that I was up at 1am, unable to sleep. I was reading package inserts to see the dosage I would need for overdose. And bemoaning the fact that based on the number of tablets I had, I would only damage my internal organs, and be forced to face the world anyway.

I’m no stranger to suicidal thinking. I have never ever attempted suicide, but I know far too many people who have, and of too many people who have committed suicide.

Project Semicolon quote

When it comes to suicide, people are confused by the act, think that it’s selfish, question what would drive someone to take their own life? It’s considered an act of weakness for people who are not brave enough to face the trials of life.

And in contradiction, when we hear someone talk about how they want to die, or they want to commit suicide, we brush it off as attention-seeking behaviour. If nothing else, please give these people attention. Rather a few minutes of attention to hear what is bothering someone, than a lifetime of missing someone who saw no way out other than taking their own life. And we are always left wondering why a person would take such extreme measures to end emotional pain. So let’s have these conversations before we have to grieve a loss.

Some things to understand about suicide:

  • It’s not death that the person desires, but the end of deep emotional pain.
  • The pain from challenging life circumstances is ongoing and there seems to be no end in sight.
  • Deep feelings of hopelessness
  • A deep-seated sense of loneliness and feeling alone in the world.
  • Self-hatred so deep that the world would seemingly be better without them.
  • Having nothing to live for because of perceived failures.
  • A sense that death is the only escape.
  • Certain medications have been known to cause suicidal thinking.

What can we do if we sense our loved ones are feeling suicidal, or if someone we know expresses suicidal thinking:

Help them seek professional help. Either psychologists, psychiatrists, suicide helplines.

Listen to them. Without trying to give advice, just listen. Accept how they are feeling – it doesn’t mean you are condoning the act of suicide, but that you are condoning them having very difficult feelings.

Anyone suffering with suicidality needs to be seen and heard, and shown that they are valuable and that the world needs them. Someone considering suicide, might feel like there is no one in the world who cares about them, and it may take just that one person to listen to make a difference.

The conversation you have needs to be matter-of-fact. If you react with emotion, like daring them to do it in anger, or acting shocked, or being judgemental, it will create further distance and feelings of loneliness. At this stage, this person needs to feel connected, and not experience any further challenging emotions.

The person may experience shame for feeling this way, but don’t let them swear you to secrecy. You need to seek help from a professional. Ask them if you can contact a family member.

If someone has expressed suicidal ideation, do not leave them alone, and do not leave them with the means to commit suicide. In that moment, seek the help that they need, through a suicide hotline, contacting hospitals, psychiatric facilities.

Show them that they are not alone in the world, and that you are there to listen to them. Sometimes that’s all someone needs is one person who shows them that they are wanted and needed.

Risks and warning signs:

  • Talking about death or suicide
  • Giving away possessions
  • Change in behaviour
  • Feeling worthless/hopeless/helpless
  • Not experiencing belonging
  • Sleep disruption
  • Feeling trapped
  • Feeling like a burden
  • Isolating from friends and family and withdrawing from activities
  • Calling people to say Goodbye
Semi colon your story isn't over yet

If you are experiencing suicidal ideation, first and foremost, seek professional help, or contact a helpline. And, if you are prone to suicidal thinking, it’s a good idea to have a safety plan for yourself:

  1. Know the warning signs, of how your mood, thoughts and behaviours change
  2. Have a list of people you can turn to (in the depths of emotional pain and loneliness, we sometimes forget who those people are)
  3. Make a list of activities to distract yourself (if you are feeling hopeless you could struggle to think of anything other than suicide)
  4. Make sure that you don’t have anything that can be used to commit suicide
  5. Make a list of relaxation techniques (e.g yoga, meditation, deep breathing, dancing)
  6. Make a list of professionals, and helplines you can contact.
Semicolons bring hope to fight instead of ending it all

At the end of the day, suicide is preventable, and it is important to have transparent conversations with loved ones whom you think are at risk. And if you are someone experiencing suicidal ideation, know that there is help out there, and it’s not weak to feel suicidal, nor is it weak to seek help.

References/Resources:
www.sadag.org

https://www.psychologytoday.com/za/basics/suicide

https://www.psychologytoday.com/za/blog/the-mind-body-connection/202009/the-myths-and-warning-signs-suicide

https://www.psychologytoday.com/za/blog/the-savvy-psychologist/201909/how-help-loved-one-struggling-suicidal-thoughts

SADAG contact details:

0800 21 22 23 (8am-8pm)

0800 12 13 14 (8pm-8am)

SMS: 31393

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Black Mental Health Matters:

Two black women surrounded by space and stars

For a moment in time, we have stopped talking about COVID-19, and focused on humanity, and the current discourse is about how none of us should be silent about racism. There is a call for us all to be anti-racist. As people of colour, if you do not speak up, you are agreeing with racism. As white people, you are colluding with racists by not speaking up.

I am a believer in justice and standing up for the disenfranchised, because I know what it is like to not have your voice heard. Without systemic justice, though, nothing will be fixed. Within a system that is just, individuals all have access to all opportunities. And no one is discriminated against for individual characteristics such as race or gender or socioeconomic status. Or, mental health.

Historically, mental health has been developed by white males, and still today, the majority of the field is still white, so where does that leave the unique challenges of suffering with a mental illness as a person of colour. A lot of research has gone into the diagnosis of mental illness and the development of the diagnostic tools. And these are reviewed to ensure that our definitions are relevant to the context within which we live. However, we are still using diagnostic tools, which are predominantly developed with a Euro-centric, Western understanding of human behaviour.

As an example, there is still an underdiagnosis of girls with ADHD because the symptoms were initially based on boys, and hyperactivity may look different for a girl, which is why many women are only diagnosed with ADHD in mid to late adulthood. The same goes for Autism. And because women are socialized differently in society, women on the Autism spectrum, are able to hide their symptoms, because there is a societal expectation to fit in, and behave in a certain way to be regarded as a woman in this society.

There is also an underrepresentation of men with mental illness, because there is still the stigma of mental illness being an indication of weakness. Men are not readily willing to admit that they are suffering, and also willing to seek help, for fear of not “manning up”, or appearing weak. Boys are taught that they are not to ask for help, or cry.

What about the cultural meaning of “hearing voices”, such as when the ancestors are speaking? Or when you are called to be a sangoma? There are a number of beliefs within the African, South American or Asian cultures, which can be explained away as a symptom of a mental illness. So how do we differentiate between cultural understanding and mental illness symptoms?

Aside from the stigma of mental illness, there is the stigma of seeking help for mental illness, and seeing a psychologist for a “white” disease. As a person of colour your family might not understand or agree with you struggling with a mental illness, and you might be judged, or ostracized for seeking help for a mental illness. And being that many causes of mental illness relate to family dynamics and triggers as a result of lack of family support, this presents quite the predicament.

And finally, access to mental health practitioners. The majority of psychologists are white, and the majority of therapy is conducted in English, and Afrikaans. When searching for a psychologist, you may want to see someone who fits the same demographic as you do, or speaks the same language as you. How difficult must it be to undergo therapy to uncover deep-seated emotional and identity issues in a second, or third, language?

 Also, the socioeconomic barrier for people of colour in having access to the mental healthcare professionals that they may need. A number of studies have been conducted on the inequality of healthcare systems, and mental health care is a privileged form of care, which further creates a barrier between the races and socioeconomic classes. Healthcare systems in South Africa have been shown to be unequally distributed within the country.

It’s also important to consider the fact that certain behaviours are prevalent amongst the impoverished, and when impacted by mental illness, they are not subtyped as being afflicted by mental illness, but are viewed as criminals or deviants. Because of unconscious bias in regards to race, there are certain characteristics attributed to certain races, like violence, which have the potential to result in misdiagnoses, or underdiagnosis. As an example, being lazy is attributed to being black, but one of the key symptoms in ADHD or depression is reduced productivity. This will be missed as a diagnosis, if it is assumed that the person is inherently lazy.

When considering mental wellness within the context of race (or gender, or sexuality), we need to acknowledge further layers of challenge, and stigma associated as a result. And ultimately the fact that anyone with mental illness, regardless of demographic wants to be heard and cared for, and understood.

Sources:

Counselling Psychology in South Africa by Jason Bantjies, Ashraf Kagee, and Charles Young

HPSCA Report of the Working Group on Promulgation of Regulations

Synergi Collaborative Centre briefing paper on priorities to address ethnic inequalities in severe mental illness

mental wellness · Uncategorized

Mental health in the time of Corona

The global pandemic has us all a little fearful, and paranoid, and stressed and anxious. And as someone for whom this is a daily experience, I thought I would share some ideas for maintaining mental health during these very uncertain times. Partly from my own experience, and partly from the advice from my psychologist:

  1. Routine routine routine

It may sound boring, but one of the best things that has worked for me, has been maintaining a routine, albeit very different from my pre-global pandemic life. During these uncertain times, there is not much that we can control, but how we structure our days is something we can (relatively) control. Having that structure lessens my anxiety because I know what is coming. There is a lot to be said for having a plan. And look, it doesn’t always look the same, but if we have this plan, and try and stick to it, it gives us one less bit of uncertainty in our lives. And a small semblance of peace.

2. Yoga/Meditation/Mindfulness

Our minds are overwhelmed with work, the Corona statistics, home schooling, staying fit and healthy, but also wanting to eat everything in sight (which is rarely a carrot stick), concerns about the health of our family, the general paranoia of not being able to touch anything before you’ve washed your hands and sterilized.

Spending some mindful time doing yoga or meditation will do wonders for your mental health. The key objectives of the yoga or meditation is to spend some time focusing on your body, and allowing thoughts in and then letting them go. These types of mindfulness activities, allow us to clear our heads, by making us focus on our breathing and body position. An easy meditation you can do for a few minutes a day, is body scanning: start at your head, feel its position in space, tense and release your face/jaw, and then continue to tense and release as you move down your body, from your shoulders, arms, chest, abs, legs, to your feet.

Spending time focused on something other than the thoughts running through your head will give you a space to think more clearly, and help with that feeling of overwhelm. Meditation has been scientifically proven to calm anxiety, so I definitely recommend spending some time out of your head.

3. Self Care

Ok, so right now, we’re able to go to meetings in our pajamas and slippers and no one would know. My advice here is to get dressed for work. And yes, for most of the week you will wear your apocalypse gear (stretchy pants /workout gear/ day pajamas), but try at least 2 days in the week to dress up for work, do your hair and make-up, wear shoes you can go outside in. Getting up and getting dressed is sometimes one of the easiest ways to alleviate anxious feelings. Look good, even if you aren’t feeling great. It helps, in a weird way, but it does.

Include some selfcare activities into your day. Selfcare isn’t always big activities like sitting in your bath, with a face mask, reading a magazine, with a glass of bubbly. It can be something as small as rolling your shoulders a few times at your desk to relax your body if you are feeling tense. Spend a few seconds deep breathing to calm down. Looking at a photo of your family. Micro selfcare is about anything, no matter how small, that is going to aid your feelings of anxiety or uncertainty.

4. Exercise

So before the global pandemic, I had fitness goals, which have subsequently been put on pause. But nonetheless, exercise gives me energy. And in the moments when I’ve felt awful, lethargic, and demotivated,  doing some form of exercise gives me those endorphins and energy to get me through the day. It doesn’t have to be a lot, I am currently doing about 15 minutes of basic functional fitness, using my body weight and things I have around the house, like chairs, and my children’s board books.

You don’t need to come out of this global pandemic fit enough to complete an Ironman, but doing a few minutes of exercise a day, will definitely help with the stress, anxiety, paranoia, loneliness, and general overwhelem.

5. Limit social media and news coverage

Social media is like a lifeline to the outside world, and if we stop, what are we going to do with our time? And if we stop scrolling, where are we going to see all those Corona memes? All true. But being on social media, and reading the worldwide corona stats daily will function to make you more paranoid, and feeling less than you are. Seeing all these super moms out there with perfect home school routines, and time to make their own playdough and paint, and making nutritious meals and snacks for their children, while your child ate cereal and a chicken nugget for supper while watching his 100th episode of Paw Patrol, is bound to make you feel like a failure. Not something you need right now. Also, try and limit your intake of news on Corona. We need to know what is happening in the world right now, but try to not go down a Corona media black hole, it’s just not healthy. Another tip, is to read/watch serious news in the mornings/early afternoon, going to sleep with those hard hitting news stories, can cause undue stress, and impact your sleep.

But stay on social media, we need those memes. Humour is so valuable in a time of crisis. So keep reading and sharing, but try and limit the time you spend there, to protect your mental health.

6. Video calls

Video calls is an awesome way to keep your distance, while staying connected. I’ve been able to stay in touch with my family and friends, and my kids are able to show them their toys and art that they’ve made. My kids have used Zoom for classes with their teachers, and parties with their friends.

Also, I happened to celebrate my birthday a few weeks ago, and we took to Zoom to party. We shared drinks, danced to music, it was one of the best birthdays I’ve had. I don’t know when last I’d laughed like that, since social distancing. It helped me to feel close to family and friends… healthily.

When you’re feeling lonely, video call a friend or family member or five. That’s one of the most difficult things we are going to experience during a pandemic that requires us to stay away from people. And we humans are social beings. Even us introverts. We all need our people time. So reach out when you need to.

7. Calming hobbies (reading, writing, knitting etc)

For me, one of my favourite things to do is to sit with a good book, or spend some time writing creatively. These type of activities have come in handy while I’m staying home. A few suggestions are reading, colouring in, knitting, painting, playing with playdough, sewing, drawing etc. Activites that will allow you to sit quietly for an hour or two. These type of activities are also mindful activities that enable you do move outside of your mind, and focus on doing something practical.

Another suggestion here, is to dance. It may not be a calm activity, but who feels stressed after having a dance party in your lounge? (knowing that you can literally dance like no one is watching). So move that coffee table out of the way, put on your favourite tunes, and dance it out.

8. Writing – even if you don’t normally

Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, it is really helpful to journal right now. We are all overwhelmed by what is happening around us, stress about the “new normal”, fear for ourselves and our families, having to fill multiple roles, and feeling lonely and distant from our friends and families. And it is so useful to get those thoughts down on paper. If you are lying awake at night, get out that journal and write down the thoughts that are keeping you awake. It may start out as a grocery list, but then evolve, like “buy tomatoes. Replace remote batteries. Why does my life suck right now? Is it because my dad never showed me enough affection?”

Hey, who knows, maybe you’ll find a hidden talent you didn’t know you had.

9. Sleep and wake times and meals

One thing that has become so easy is eating all day, but then also staying up all night because we’re binge watching Netflix, and then we wake up late. My advice here is to try and maintain the same bed time and wake up time. It won’t necessarily be the same as before, but it will relate to that routine you have set up for yourself. It sounds simple, but once again, something that you can control during a time when there is so much that is out of our control.

Closely linked to this is sticking to meal times. And yes, we are snacking an inordinate amount, but we need to ensure that we have our regular meals. If this is out of control     , it can negatively impact your mental health. One thing I try and focus on, as a sufferer of anxiety, is to limit my coffee and sugar intake, and to ensure that I have regular meal times and snack times.

10. Time outside (Vitamin D)

Finally, spend some time outside, in the sun. We need to make sure that we get our vitamin D. Maybe have your lunch outside, or when you are journaling, do that outside in the sun. Also, something simple that you can do for your general physical health that will aid your mental health.

There is not much that we can control right now, so try focusing on what you can control.

Stay Safe. Stay Home.

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The Mental Health Starter Kit

From Left to Right: Positive affirmation; medication; hydration; relaxation; more medication

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a mother of two. What I did not mention is that I’m a mother of two children, under 4, who are 20 months apart. That is enough to make anyone go a little crazy. And then to top it off, my second pregnancy was complicated, and then my son had heart complications, and then the cherry on top was me getting retrenched while on maternity leave, on the anniversary of my father-in-law’s death. More on that in a later post.

And did I mention that I had been suffering, undiagnosed, for at least the last 30 years? I started on the road to recovery roughly 2 years ago, so I thought I’d start with a post on mental health.

Words of Affirmation

Now, here, I’m not talking about platitudes, or those messages you leave on your mirror to motivate you as you start your day. What I’m talking about are those words that speak deep into your soul. For all my life, I have struggled with issues of inadequacy and feelings of not being good enough. I need to remember that I am capable, and that I do not need to hold myself to anyone’s standards but my own. And also to remember why I started. My word of affirmation is tattooed on my arm, “Powerful beyond measure”, from the Marianne Williamson poem:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” — Marianne Williamson

Self-care

Hydrate. Eat your vegetables. Get a massage. Stay in bed all day. Get up and shower. Read. Watch a movie. Whatever is healing for you. We need to find ways in which to look after ourselves, and there is no one-size-fits-all.

Some days, self-care is about getting up and doing the things. And then other days, it’s staying in bed because facing the world is harmful. But the most important thing is that we take time out to look after ourselves. And heal. Whatever that looks like.

Be Mindful

What was your left hand doing while your right hand was brushing your teeth this morning? Not many of us can answer this. Because we are very rarely living in the moment. By the time we start getting ready for work in the mornings, we are already prepping for our 9am meeting in our heads. Mindfulness is something I am trying to practice, particularly with my kids. To be honest, I’m learning from them to live in the moment, while I try to parent consciously (also something I will chat about in a later post).

Something helpful that I was recently guided through, was paying attention to your body when you feel an emotion. Even if it’s a positive emotion, it just means that we are being more present. Once we can acknowledge our thoughts, our emotions and our physical reactions, we can start thinking about how to react, and what we need to do before we feel overwhelmed by the emotion.

I’ve got a squishy toy in my desk drawer, for when I feel tension, or stress, or the need to emotionally eat. And it helps me release the anger, or stress in a different way, if I’m not able to take a walk, or scream or exercise. All methods I use to manage difficult emotions.

In the moment, when you start feeling overwhelmed, try a grounding exercise. Look for 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. What a grounding exercise helps you to do is to be take the focus off the emotion and focus outside of yourself.

And if you can, dance it out.

Medidate

Linked to mindfulness, is spending some time in meditation. I struggle to sleep, and I started using a meditation app, to meditate just before I went to sleep in the evenings. Just spending 5-10 minutes focusing on my breathing, did wonders for my insomnia. I managed to fall asleep quite quickly, and I have also been managing to stay asleep throughout the night.

What is also helpful, although I am the first to admit that I haven’t been able to, is to try and get a meditation in, in the morning, either before you get out of bed, or before you leave the house. Whichever is more stress provoking. And also, before you go into the office, spend 2 minutes in your care, focusing on your breathing.

I do a lot of meditation with my therapist, and in the mom’s group that I’m a part of, but outside of these, I have a meditation app. At the moment, I’m using Headspace, but there are plenty available in your app store. You can find one that works for you

Medicate

Sometimes, you just have to. (under the guidance of a licensed medical professional of course)

I will admit that I was very hesitant when my therapist first suggested using medication, but now that I’ve found the right medication, at the right dosage, it’s changed my life. For me, the medication, helps stabilize my mood so that I can face everyday life. And then I see a therapist to help me deal with everything else. Medication can fix today’s mood, but it cannot fix the past. How I see it, it brings my mood to a functioning level, just like everybody else, so that I’m better positioned to deal with life stressors.  It doesn’t mean I float about and never experience stress or anger, or sadness. It just means that these very normal emotions don’t debilitate me, like before.

Some tips from my journey. While a GP and a psychiatrist can both prescribe medication, my preference is a psychiatrist, because it’s their area of specialty. And they will be able to assess why the medication is not working, or maybe it is working and the real reason you’re feeling down is PMS (it’s happened to me), or other such things. And also, if you have a good one, they won’t just look at the diagnostic criteria, they will look at you holistically, and consult with you on how you are feeling, what is happening in your life etc etc. Generally because they spend their entire day working with mental illness, I feel like they are more equipped for when you bring your concerns to them.

Also, you may be wondering how it works. And that is what most people worry about, is that taking psychiatric medicine messes with your brain chemistry and who are you. So I am not equipped, to explain it, and also I am not a qualified medical professional so cannot be dispensing medical advice, or explanations. What I will explain here is how it happens from the patient side.

Once you are diagnosed, your psychiatrist will prescribe medication that she/he feels is right for you based on a variety of factors. For example, when I started medication, I was still breastfeeding, so that had to be taken into account. And that medication is the only medication I am on, so I didn’t have to worry about interactions with other medication. You will start taking your meds, but you won’t necessarily feel a change for at least 4 weeks. Which is why you will need to go back and meet with your psychiatrist. If it works –  great, then you will stay on those meds for a period, determined by your psychiatrist. And so it will go. Sometimes, you’ll be fine for months, and then it won’t work, or something will happen and you need to adjust your meds, but your psychiatrist will keep a close eye on you, and also, if you do feel changes that are concerning, contact your doctor. On one type of meds that I was on, I felt numb, which is kind of a feeling I was struggling with, as part of depression, so that was defs not working for me.

And a final note on treatment, I am currently seeing both a psychologist and a psychiatrist, for an holistic treatment. Together they deal with all my stuff both inside and out. Like I said before, medication helps stabilize your mood to “normal” levels, and then a psychologist will help you with other factors which lead to you seeking help.

Talk

You may be one of those lucky people with a large support group, but if you are not, there is a host of therapists out there. You may need to search for a while to find one that you have rapport with. I went through 3 before I found The One. Also, if you are lucky enough to have friends and family who are good at dispensing advice and providing support, that’s great, but sometimes professional help is what you really need, particularly if there is trauma or mental illness involved.

One last note on my starter kit, my disclaimer on the above is that I am by no means a mental health professional, these have been my experiences, and you may have completely different experiences. What I will urge you to do though, is if you are feeling big emotions, that are overwhelming, or are causing you to not be able to manage your everyday life, seek help. You do not need to suffer alone.

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What does it all mean?

I was born Leila (pronounced LIE-LAH) Gardner on the Thursday the 12th of April 1984, by Caesar, on a date chosen by my mother, so that I wasn’t born on Friday the 13th. And while it may sound like an overshare, there is a lot to be said of your birth experience and how it impacts the rest of your life. If you believe in the weird sciences. And I tend to flip flop between the weird sciences and the actual sciences. Just like my name is spelt like LAY-LAH, and pronounced like LIE-LAH.

Just like my name, I am complicated. And generally don’t fit into the boxes. I can be a lot for some people. And it’s taken me 30 some years to realise that that’s ok. I hope you’re all still reading, because I’m just getting started.

To describe myself, in one word, I would say: quirky. And I hope that this blog will give you some insight into my quirky world.

A world which I inhabit with my husband and two kids. My birth family is spread around the world, but I have a big family of inlaws who mostly live within 5kms of me. We like each other at least. And then there is my friendamily, made up of people that share my brand of crazy.

By day, I am a marketing “professional”. And that’s all I’d like to say about that.

By night, I’m everything else. I do a little ballet because I enjoy dance and I wanted to do contemporary, but it clashed with my son’s swimming. Hashtag momlife. I do a bit of writing. Not this blog only, but I’m writing a screen play and a novel. The plans/outlines of which mock me every day as they are above my dressing table. And then I try and fit in some running and some swimming and other fitness type things.

I used to consider myself a triathlete, but now the only tri sports I do are feeding my kids, bathing them and getting them ready for bed.

Also, I bring this up, because it’s a part of me, although I don’t allow it to define me is that I suffer with Anxiety, Depression and ADHD. And I hope I can share some insights of living with the triad of mental illness and my journey towards mental health. So while I am on this journey, of mental health, motherhood and other things, I hope I can share my life with you and maybe you’ll laugh, maybe you’ll cry, because you’re laughing so much. And maybe you’ll just think I’m weird but carry on reading anyway. But hopefully I’ll make you feel ok, and maybe I’ll inspire some of you. To do what, I dunno. But if you feel good then my work here is done.