How Many Hats are YOU Wearing?

Recently, a ‘challenge’ circulated Instagram where everyone posted four different images; How they look on Faceook, Instagram, LinkIn and Tinder.

It was fun and harmless and I happily posted my own. It was one of those silly, fun, giggle-inducing challenges and most of us enjoyed watching the collages popping up.

We all wear multiple hats. As parents, we have eleventy billion hats to wear in a single day; fun Mammy, strict Mammy, cross Mammy, huggy Mammy…the list is endless.

We have so many different sides to us; so many different qualities that we reserve for different versions of ourselves.

This USED to simply be our personalities, our “Identity” and we only showed each identity to the people who needed to see them. Now however, with social media and the necessity of online profiles, we are ALL of our identities at once, to whoever wants to see us.

Once upon a time, we changed our hats as we changed situations throughout the day.

We were ‘Mammy-Me’ at home, ‘Professional-me’ at work, ‘sassy-me’ with partner or when out, ‘fun-me‘ with friends etc.

As the day progressed, we put on whichever hat suited each situation and while most of us wore many many hats throughout the day, we were usually able to wear one at a time.

We still do this in our “real lives” each day.

But now, online, we often wear lots at the same time. It depends which platform you are using. There is an awareness of how you are viewed.

On LinkIn, it’s ‘Business-Me‘ all the way; Trying to come across as professional, approachable, reliable, intelligent and to stand out without shouting too loudly. Aware that any eyes are watching and that possibilities are constantly coming and going.

On Twitter, it’s socially and morally ‘Vocal-me‘… Trying to make a point without inviting every troll from Trollville for tea, trying hard to be heard in a wave of wit and controversy. Trying not to tag the wrong person or use the wrong hashtag. Most of us aren’t quite sure which “me” to put on Twitter.

On Instagram, it’s usually more ‘Fun-Me‘ for most people. To share or not to share? To filter or not to filter? To care or not to care? It depends on why you use it.

Thankfully, I don’t DO Tinder… I don’t think I’d have the energy for that craic anyway!

For me, I have my blog, so on that, I’m wearing my Mammy-hat, my wife-hat, my writer-hat, my friendly-hat, my honest-hat, my sensible-hat, my opinionated-hat and sometimes my Fancy-hat. 🙂

Then on my business page, it’s my pro-hat, my motivational-hat, my fitness-hat, my marketing-hat…

Add on Facebook, where again, many of us have personal pages as well as blog or business pages, not to mention all the groups we might be in for business or hobbies or kids’ activities.

And yet, once again, popping onto one little app for 20 minutes can be exhausting as we switch our hats over and over again depending on who we are interacting with. Often, we flick from app to app, navigating a few different platforms and therefore many different hats at once.

… and suddenly we can see why we can find ourselves wearing so many hats that our neck begins to crane under the weight and sometimes, it all gets too much.

There’s a lot of falsity on the internet. Lots of “Just Be YOURSELF” and “You do YOU!” (I’m all for these by the way), but hang on a second. We are MORE than just one version of ourselves. It’s completely natural. Someone who is only ever ONE way online, is probably the one who is false.

Being different versions of yourself is not false. We have ALWAYS done it. We always will. We ALL put on the phone voice, or speak in different voices depending on who we talk to. (Who’s a cutey witto baby gurl? Where’s a Mammy’s bestest wittle beebee?”)

We’ve all got different personas that we adopt depending on our physical audience; Boss, friends, clients, students, customers, relatives, neighbours, colleagues, family… everyone who knows you in real life, knows a different version of you.

Online is no different, and it’s not fake to show all of your different sides. It’s a must, especially if you have a business. The difference is however that it’s constant and it can be all at once.

In real life, it’s a bit more simple.

At home, I’m Mum and wife.

At work, I’m colleague/friend.

In my classroom, I’m teacher. (and even that depends on the age of the class in front of me.)

In the gym, I’m motivating Maria, trainer and smiler.

In my classes, I’m strong and invincible and Duracell Bunny.

In my rehearsals, I’m loud and bossy and creative, and all the things a Director must be to mould 60 talented adults into a show.

With friends, I’m… well it depends who I’m with I suppose. We have different friends who bring out different sides of us too, don’t we?

And when you combine all of the real life hat wearing with the online hat wearing, it’s exhausting.

Sometimes, when the hats all pile up, we get tired.

Sometimes, all of the hats topple us over.

For most of us, we have to pick up all the hats and keep them on our heads; all are valuable and necessary. Very few of the hats can be removed completely, (not without HUGE life decisions!)

But what we can do to lessen the weight, is to sometimes switch off our online selves and focus on the real life Me.

Remember that you can switch off. That you don’t have to answer every message immediately. That you can pause platforms for a few hours, or days, or weeks… the internet police are not going to hunt you down.

Keep wearing all of your hats. Wear your favourite hats most and often.

But when the hats get too heavy to wear so many at once, take them off for a while, and just be you.

And remember, every one has their own style and we all wear different sizes. 😉

M x

Reposting – Because Anxiety Doesn’t Go Away

Grab a cuppa Ladybelles… it’s a long one today.

It’s #Worldmentalhealthday so I’m reposting!

💙💙 My little Bitch, Anxiety💙💙

Being a Mammy is hard.

Everything changes.

Your body. Your home. Your routine. Your relationship. Your friendships. Your mind.
Everything.

But it’s worth it. It’s soooooo worth it.

Yes, you’ll experience exhaustion like you’ve never imagined.

Yes, your hormones will be a mess for a few months (I’d argue forever more, but I’m no expert!).

Yes, life will never be the same again, but the love and the joys generally outweigh the negatives.

And while you might feel like you’ve lost “you” on your journey to bring another human into world, YOU WILL return, a better, stronger, more wonderful version of yourself.

Before I had my Mini-Me, I thought I was on top of things.

I’d never really struggled with my thoughts, with my mind. I could sleep when I was tired. When I went to bed at night, my brain generally allowed me to sleep. I lead a ridiculously busy life and I felt invincible.

We were over the moon to find out that she was on her little way, and began painting and shopping and all the rest.

Then, at 16 weeks, my heart decided it was going to misbehave and landed me in hospital. It misbehaved for the duration of my pregnancy. I was put off work for the remainder, I had to give up so many things that I loved: my exercise, the show I was choreographing and (gasp) caffeine. I went from being Everyone’s “reliable somebody”, to sitting on my ever expanding bum at home…

The world carried on around me…
For the first time in my life, I struggled.

It was only 5 years on and another baby later, that I recognised that I was probably, definitely, possibly, certainly dealing with anxiety and I was probably, possibly, definitely, a little bit depressed.

Have I ever been diagnosed with anything? No.
Have I ever told my Doctor I was struggling? No.
(I was afraid they’d take the baby off me. Ridiculous eh?)

Can I say categorically that I have struggled with my mental health, both after and during pregnancy?
Yes.

For the first time ever, I can say it, or rather, I can write it.
In the same way that I now know, The Him knew. My Mum probably knew. My sister has no slows on her.
My closest friends probably knew. But of course, because I pretended that I was fine, no one said anything out loud.
I convinced everyone around me, and myself, that of course I was fine.

I’ve still never said it to a Doctor. I have however said it to my Husband. And the day that I told him that I was struggling and that I didn’t know what exactly was wrong with me, things began to get better.

I still have shit days. Who doesn’t?

And even though I know on certain days that I have NOTHING to be sad about, it doesn’t stop me being sad. There are still days and weeks where, regardless of how wonderful my life is, (and it is mostly!), I can’t see past the great big clouds that seem to be getting in the way of my sunshine a little bit.

I’ve come to realise that that is not just me.
That is life.

But I’m learning how I need to deal with it, for me, as me.

I’m feeling good now. I can honestly say that 18 months after Princess was born, was when I finally started feeling like the old me again.
Physically and emotionally.

But the anxiety is always there.
She lurks.
She fizzes through me, usually when I’m not stressed, ironically enough. It seems that adrenalin and stress keeps her at bay, and then when things are sailing along nicely and I’m physically relaxing, she bubbles from my tummy, right into the tips of my fingers and it stays there until she’s done.

How do I deal with her?

Writing. My blog has been my therapy, even when I didn’t understand that it was. Also, for me, exercise, walking and music … and telling My Him.

Getting outside helps…cliched but true.

Even saying the words “I’m anxious and I don’t know why” makes it OK. Once I know that it’s not just me, in my head, it’s easier to batter that little bitch back into her box.

She’ll never go away. She’ll sit in the box and wait until she senses my weakness again, until life seems quiet and good and this Mammy thinks she’s got her shit together again.

And then she’ll pop up and say “Ahahahahha! Oh no you don’t Madam”…

And if I think back over the years, she’s always been there. Hindsight is 20:20 isn’t it?

I just didn’t recognise who she was. I thought she was low blood sugar, or exhaustion, or stress.

She was actually panic attacks and I was just so ridiculously sure of my own mental health that I didn’t recognise her.

Why do I say “she” and not “it”?

Because how I feel is not an IT.

My feelings are part of ME. But these particular feelings are not only ME, they are a different, unwelcome little PART of me, and so I will refer to her as She, because it makes me feel like I’m in charge.

I’m not afraid of her. I’m just sometimes influenced by her negativity. But I will not give her a name.

She’s not THAT significant. And just like my two minions, I’m in control of her…mostly!

I’m not sure if this makes sense. Maybe it doesn’t.

And I’m very aware that someone who has suffered and been diagnosed properly with such issues, might be tutting at my ramblings, but all I can do is say how I have felt and how I feel sometimes.

I’m not saying that I understand depression or anxiety. I’m simply saying that just because a Doctor has never typed it in someone’s notes, it doesn’t mean they haven’t dealt with it.

Was it becoming a Mum that brought it to light? Yeah, probably.

And a few other things over the last few years made me re-evaluate important parts of, and people in, my life.

Mammies are afraid that admitting weakness makes us weak. One of my most empowering moments, as a Mammy, as a wife, and as a woman, was realising that admitting weakness gives me strength.

“There’s strength in numbers”.
“A problem shared is a problem halved etc”. Clichés yes, But there’s truth in most clichés, isn’t there?

And so there we go.

The post I never thought I would write. Because S-Mum has NEVER suffered from mental health problems. Officially. On the record. I’ve never been diagnosed, but yes I have struggled. Show me someone who hasn’t…

Maybe there is nothing to diagnose now, but in the past, if I had only had the guts, or in my case, the cop on, to realise or admit that things weren’t right, a doctor might have said the words out loud.

Who knows?
She might some day.

And so be it. Because it’s about time that we, mums especially, should be able to admit that sometimes, it’s not all simply a phase.
Sometimes, it’s not just tiredness. Sometimes, it’s not just hormones.
Sometimes, it’s something more and sometimes, we need help.

I’m not qualified to counsel, or diagnose, or treat. I am not a psychologist. I am not a Doctor. I am not a councillor. I’m not going to suggest that just because I’ve come to realise that I have a little Bitch called Anxiety to batter every so often, that I am an expert.
Of course I won’t. That would be ridiculous.

Just because you’ve sat in a Ferarri doesn’t mean you can fix one does it?

NO, so just because someone has experienced something, that doesn’t mean they know what YOU should do to fix YOU.

But if you feel that you can empathise with a little too much of what I’ve written, please ask for help.

Tell someone you’re struggling. Be strong and admit that you feel weak.

Say it out loud. It won’t sound as ridiculous as you think it will.

And you’re allowed to be weak. No one is strong all of the time.

And do you see that little Bitch Anxiety?

She’s only as strong as we let her be.

She’s like a bully. If one person stands up to her, she stands her ground, but when she sees that you have back up, she’ll soon retreat to her box.

So ask for back up.

And put that bitch in her box.

anxiety pic