“Once upon a time there lived a girl” was the start to pretty much every fairy tale I read in my youth.
Growing up in the slow sunny beach town of Coffs Harbour, castles and fairy godmothers seemed a world away. The only great adventure was going to the beach after school or getting a Bubble O’Bill from the ice cream van. Would a handsome prince come and rescue me one day, I wondered?
Being one of four girls in my family, there was a strong feminist undercurrent to my upbringing. My mother told us that a) education was our gateway to opportunity and b) women are equal to men, if not MORE powerful due to our multitasking abilities, whilst my father taught me about the importance of a strong work ethic, being a self-employed labourer and how to never give up. Both raised me to have deep empathy and a willingness to help those in need. Being a damsel in distress was never on the cards.
Now I look back on my ‘fairy tale’ life and realise how different it was to the stories I was told. I do live in a castle (as we bought a home West Footscray) and I married my prince, but the happily ever after part is something I still need to work hard on every day.
You may not know this, but I live with mental health challenges. Yes, even princesses can have them. Not many people get to see this side of me and some just don’t ‘get it’, because unfortunately, mental illness is often misunderstood.
One of the key issues for those suffering with a mental illness is having an overwhelming sense of isolation and lack of self-worth. You may want help, however feel unable to ask, accept it or worthy of receiving it. You could have wonderful friends and family around you, but you still feel a void.
In my early 20’s I got outside help for my anxiety and was at a stage where it was manageable. I knew my triggers and worked on past issues. However, once I had my children, my anxiety had paired up with post natal depression and I was unable to keep the negative feelings at bay any longer.
The sleep deprivation, trying to raise healthy happy babies, and running a household lead me into a deep fog. I am not the first mother to go through this and unfortunately, I won’t be the last. We all know someone with mental health challenges, be it diagnosed or not.
Mental health can creep up on you, like a villain in a story. It can rob you of light moments, trick you into thinking it is all your fault, scare you into silence and even shame you. I was surrounded by loving and supportive people, but it still got me.
I am not ashamed of having anxiety and PND, in fact the exact opposite. I now use every opportunity I can get to talk about it. Why? Because it can free you, connect you and heal you.
Through the help of a coach and doing my mental homework, I am no longer looking for the reasons why it happened to me. Instead I am looking at ways I can use it to help other mothers.
Over the past year I have turned my experience around to become my biggest motivator. I created Bad Mums Club in January 2019 and we are now over 1000 voices strong. Often mothers put themselves and their health on the bottom of the priority list, but at Bad Mums Club you are at the very top. Prevention of isolation and maintaining a positive mental wellbeing is key in breaking the cycle. Through workshops, events, and free campaigns, we are connecting like-minded mothers. We offer space where they can be themselves, no fluff or filter.
Aligning with Beyond Blue as a fundraiser and ambassador has given me a fantastic to opportunity to be in service to mothers across Melbourne.
This princess wears a lot of hats – wife, stay at home/work from home mum, and official Bad Mumma. The juggle to wear all of those hats at once can be triggering, to say the least. But I can now stand strong in my power pose, knowing that I can be the voice for those mother’s unable to speak up.
I use social media, podcasts, interviews and public speaking to draw attention to the growing need for services, changes to mental health policies and social stigma. I am not a martyr, I am a Mumma and my life lessons
have led me to where I am today. And I will keep pushing for greater social awareness and change.
Once upon a time there was a girl who rescued herself. She was rich in experiences and not gold which suited her just fine. She lived happily, no, sincerely, every after.
By Lisa Kroesche Boyce, Melbourne mama and founder of the Bad Mums Club
Join Lisa at her BAD MUMS CLUB – XMAS Party on Nov 30. An epic year deserves an EPIC celebration. www.badmumsclub.com/tickets/xmasparty