Well, as you know, last night I was incredibly honoured to speak at the opening of Mental Health Week in Geelong.
And, after thinking long and hard, I decided to tell it like it was. Yes, I was honoured, but the truth was I was also embarrassed and ashamed because a big part of the reason I was invited to speak was because of my ‘lived experience’ of mental illness. (It was also because of my book Happy Pants – Why is Mummy so sad?)
But I got to thinking yesterday as I was preparing my talk that what if the depressed me and the kick-ass children’s author and mum-about-town were the same person! Like doh! And then I thought what I need here is Winnie.
And so I drew the analogy of the Winnie the Pooh me – the cuddly teddy bear who loves to eat – and the Eeyore me – the gloomy donkey.
I read an excerpt from Eeyore’s Birthday Party. I know you never really got into Winnie but your Dad bought me a beautiful colour-illustrated volume when I was pregnant with you and we used to read it to each other in front of the fire while you were incubating. It was quite romantic!
The theme for Mental Health Week is Looking Ahead and so I finished my talk by asking whether the time had come for us older folk to be up-front about our mental health difficulties so that you young whipper snappers might not feel embarrassed. I don’t know, it’s a weird one to shake – the whole stigma around mental illness. Even now, when I feel myself sometimes sliding into depression I like to think I can ‘think’ my way out of it and I’m sorry to say that that’s not always possible. But no-one says to someone with cancer or arthritis, well you could have headed that one off or don’t you feel bad/weird talking about that…
So I think we should all take time out now and then to nurture our inner Eeyore and extend a little patience and kindness to those around us who might be struggling with their own gloomy donkey.
Anyway, honey, I just want you to know that unfortunately because of your genetics you are more likely than the average camper to suffer from depression but if this ever does happen to you, you know that Dad and I are right here for you. And seeking help early is the best way to feeling good again.
And that’s enough deep talk for 9.24pm at night.