I’ll be honest with you, I’ve been debating about writing this article and raising this question, however, in light of certain recent experiences, I feel I need to voice this question and I also feel I need to do this as my duty of care to fellow mums who have battled through a mental health illness and are now using their experiences to help other mums through attending events, helping with media campaigns and sharing their stories with media outlets.
Since suffering with severe Postnatal Depression and Postpartum Psychosis I have wrote and shared my experiences on social media and for different forms of press and I’ve done this because I have a deep seated passion and a ferocious drive to help other mums and their families going through the hell that is suffering with a maternal mental health illness.
Of late I’ve found this ferocious drive rearing its protective head to stand up and look out for the amazing fellow mum campaigners and social media influencers who are running their own projects and support services every day to help as many mums as they can. Mums who alongside this and taking care of their families are also giving their valuable time, advice and resources to either help provide stories for the media, be attendants at an event or show support for a national campaign and rallying their followers to do the same.
Since I started my blog and movement to help empower mums to take care of their maternal mental health, I’ve been one of these mum campaigners invited to attend a number of events. I’ve appeared in numerous national papers and magazines and have been interviewed on radio and TV all in the bid to raise awareness.
But I am not the only one.
Along my journey from being ill to using my experiences to help other mums who are now ill, I’ve met many wonderful women all working towards the same goal. Inspirational, kind, focused, driven and down-right kick ass women putting themselves out there, day-after-day, media-request-after-media-request, event after event, to help others and to try and make a real difference.
However, recently after a couple of personal experiences with such requests I have been questioning;
How myself and other campaigners help others and at what cost is this to our personal mental health and as crude as it sounds our personal finances?
So let’s get the awkward elephant out of the room and firstly address the subject we all feel a bit uncomfortable talking about – MONEY and knowing our own value. It is a very real fact that with every request to attend a conference, every invitation to attend an event, a round table or a meeting, there also comes a very real financial cost to be able to attend it. Most of us are in family situations where we are juggling finances, childcare, part time jobs or are families with just one main earner. Therefore, for the majority of us mums making a difference, we cannot afford the extra expense that comes with attending these events and are then left wracked with guilt for putting money and our lack of funds before helping other mums coupled with (If I’m being really honest) a feeling of low self-esteem and low self value, as we question why these large organisations asking for our support and involvement do not value us enough to cover the cost of us being able to take part?
However, even greater than the financial cost there is also the emotional cost it can have on our own mental health.
You see, as well as being driven and fierce women who have battled and overcome some of the most awful of experiences. Us mum campaigners are also incredibly fragile. We have been through trauma, heartbreak and debilitating battles that yes, have left us stronger and more kick ass than we ever believed we could be but have also left us incredibly vulnerable.
We have all been left with triggers, we have all been left with the fear that one day we will be ill again. And we all have days crippled with self doubt and anxiety as we face the mountain of responsibility we have taken on to help others. To attend events organised by larger establishments. To share our stories with media outlets. All spurred on by our passion to make a difference. To do the best we can for fellow mums.
Recently I’ve found myself wondering if this is right, if this is what we should all be doing? And the most haunting of questions of is any of it making any “real” change? And if so at what cost?
You see, with every media request we fulfil, every time we share our experiences, every event we attend, every campaign we take part in, we are also reliving and revisiting the most traumatic times of our lives. We are taking on little chinks in the armour we have shielded ourselves in. We are taking care of others sometimes at the cost of taking care of ourselves. It is a big price to pay.
Therefore, I am pleading with every organisation, media outlet and national campaign currently working with and/or requesting the invaluable help of mums who have suffered with their mental health to please, please know their value. Please understand the depth and level of what you are asking them to do by helping you or by being featured in your media. To know that even the women fiercely campaigning and putting themselves out there to help others need protection, need to be cared for. They need to feel that you understand and recognise their incredible value to your organisation and that you respect their self worth.
Yes, everyone campaigning and passionate about helping other women struggling with their maternal mental health want and need the exposure that certain events and media coverage can give them and their smaller organisations and projects but it cannot and most importantly must not be at the personal cost of the very people who are adding value and authenticity to your projects and news content.
This is one cost too far.
If you believe “Every Mum Deserves the Right to Enjoy Motherhood” then please come and join The Every Mum Movement by liking The Facebook page, following on Facebook, Instagram and signing up to the movement on the website.
If you would like to join the closed Facebook group called The Every Mum Club please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.