Wow! What a crazy couple of years it’s been for everyone in so many different ways but the obvious being COVID wiping out the world and pushing all of our mental health to the absolute brink. People already suffering with their mental health have been tested (and not just in the means of PCR & RAT tests.. LOL) in ways they never thought possible and others that never had even considered they’d experience anxiety or depression are now experiencing it firsthand as the tolls of COVID start to show. The constant worry, the separation from loved ones, long stints of isolation and the list goes on.. never ever would I have imagined that this is what the last couple of years would have looked like. Now at the beginning of 2022 and we are still feeling the stress and strain this virus is having on us all as we RAT test our children before school and continue to wear mandatory masks. I know I’m not alone when I wonder ‘when will this all end?’

Personally my own mental health has gone in ebbs and flows over the course of the last couple of years. The first year I took it in my stride and used my time wisely to write my first book “The 3 M’s”. Such an accomplishment but with it came a lot of anxiety around the personal details I was sharing with the world but also pressure on myself to make the book a success. Trying to find the time to market the book on top of working full time shift work with ridiculous hours as well as being a full time mum whenever I was home, it all just got too much so I put my book to the side. I was burning the candle at both ends but at the time I could only see work as my savior, the place where I could truly excel and feel appreciated because let’s be honest, motherhood is a selfless role with little to no gratitude involved.

I’m not even sure why, but one day I decided to read my book again and I started to see a pattern in my behaviour, a pattern to which I was repeating again now. I would over commit myself at work thinking it was where I was happiest but it was actually making me exhausted which was not allowing me to be the mum I wanted to when I was home.  I was drowning in responsibility and needing to please everyone that I was back to square one with my mental health and spiraling downwards  which is when I had one of those light bulb moments that made me realise I needed to reset my priorities so I didn’t keep repeating the same actions and this is when I began to put a plan in place for 2022.

When Hanky got accepted into preschool three days a week this year it was the final piece of the puzzle we needed to confirm we no longer could financially justify a live in nanny on top of the cost of school fees nor did we require around the clock care any longer for the boys. Last year our work also introduced a “job share” role which allows two people to for fill one person’s place by one working the seven day shifts and the other working the seven nightshifts per month. I opted for the dayshifts so that I could remove the shift work but also be home every night with the boys to give them some normality back in their lives. For this change in roster to work I had to change to a different crew to Ray so one of us was always home but we both agreed it would be good to have time on our own at home as well as with the boys and still get some time off together.

Over the past three years I never really thought about how having someone living with us full time was affecting my mental health. We had the same nanny for that entire time and she was a god sent in so many ways but it wasn’t until she left that I realised the pressure I put on myself by having someone else there, you feel judged and under the spot light at all times and it’s exhausting. I was trying to be the best mum I could at the time but I would forget things and I found it hard to stick to routines when our roster changed so much it was hard to find one that fit. She was raising the boys and teaching them things I never had a chance to and that was hard to witness. That’s why I knew it was time for me to step back from work and put a priority on being the best mum I could for the boys and I’m glad I did because I have been loving every minute of it and so have they.

With cutting back work I was telling myself that this would finally be the year I have time to concentrate on my health and finally cut the binge eating and drinking out. My body was one step ahead of me and was tired of being used and abused as I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s at the end of last year. I don’t want to get too much into it here as I’ll write a separate blog on this topic but it is an autoimmune disease caused from the thyroid not being able to work to its full potential causing fatigue, anxiety and unexplained weight gain, just to name a few symptoms. The diagnosis of this has led me to introduce a Gluten Free diet as well as trying to remove as much dairy and soy from my diet too but I am working in baby steps. It has led to a huge reduction in my intake of sugar which has been a blessing for my anxiety, moods and energy levels.

Yesterday I even attended my first CrossFit class in what feels like forever but would atleast be six months and it felt so good to get my body moving again. It’s felt like it’s been in the too hard basket for so long now to try and fit it into my busy schedule but I can now make it part of my schedule and enjoy doing it.

Part of my anxiety is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and it makes me kind of a psycho when it comes to the tidiness of the house. I’ve managed to tone it down over the years as my husband is the complete opposite but I am full on after I do a massive clean of the house. I basically stalk Ray and the boys around the house with a banister brome cleaning up every crumb they drop and anything they leave just lying around drives me completely batty. Because of this I budgeted in the ability to afford a cleaner once a fortnight that cleans the kitchen, bathrooms and floors. It feels like a huge luxury and for some a waste of money but the time it frees me up to hang out with the boys and get other things done as well as the pressure it takes off my anxiety is worth every cent.

Freeing up my time and being blessed with time at home with no children to distract me I can also finally start doing what I love again, writing. I have had so many blogs I’ve wanted to share but just have not been able to have the time to sit quietly and type them up. This year I can do that plus work on marketing my book and social media presence. I can finally have time to do something for me, something I love and fill my cup so that when I pick the kids up from school I’m all there’s with no distractions.

The last thing I am really trying to work on this year for my mental health is the relationships in my life. I want to see my bestie in SA more with COVID restrictions easing and I want my marriage to be a priority because it’s been pushed to the side and we are just getting by with issues not being resolved and the bond between us is getting further and further apart and its heart breaking but it’s also what marriage is all about and it’s whether we let it keep breaking or pull it all back together that matters.

This year I’ve put my mental health at the top of my priority list by reducing my responsibilities (work), giving myself time to enjoy motherhood, looking after my health by fuelling my body with nutritious food and exercising but most importantly doing more of the things I love and surrounding myself with people that have the same outlook on life as me.

How is your mental health coming into 2022? Is this your year to take control too?

I’d love to hear your response in the comments section or if you want to keep it private you can reach out to me on my socials or via email.

Pen xx