I DECIDED TO CREATE MOMUMENTAL MOTHERS TO CELEBRATE WOMEN FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE. EACH OF THE WOMEN I WILL FEATURE ARE DIFFERENT, BUT THEY ARE ALL UNITED IN MOTHERHOOD.
I am excited to share a very sweet lady with you today. Merrel and I met through our blogs on WordPress and became friends on Twitter and Instagram. She is one of the first people I followed on both Twitter and Instagram and it has been fun getting to know her. She has a blog, Beauty of My Chaotic Mind, where she chronicles her life, her family life, and her experiences with anxiety and depression.
Merrel, tell me about yourself.
I am a mother of two lovely little boys. I used to be an actress and after I had my first son I decided to leave the industry and spend time with my firstborn son. Since then I’ve worked in various industries, but I enjoy being in finance a lot more. I have worked in finance for nearly five years and I am currently a complaints manager for a large UK bank. It can be challenging but I enjoy it.
I’m currently also working on my honors degree in Psychology with the hopes of becoming a mental health therapist. I am also working on my mental health as I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and I also blog about my journey. Mental health awareness is something I am extremely passionate about.
You are not originally from Scotland. What brought you there?
I am South African. My husband was working in South Africa doing some shark diving when we met. After he proposed we decided that living in Scotland would be better for us. It is a lot safer and although I miss the sun, I really love living in Scotland. I find people generally very friendly and hospitable. Scotland is amazingly beautiful and has such a rich history that I really enjoy. I have always been a history nerd and just love learning about the country I now call home.
How old are your children and what grades are they in school?
My eldest son is nine and my youngest is two years old. He just completed primary five. Not too sure what grade that is.
What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a parent?
This is a difficult one because there are so many things I love about being a parent. I love the cuddles and kisses I get from them. I think my least favorite thing is having to tell them off when they misbehave.
What do you feel is your biggest struggle as a parent?
Like many working mothers I struggle with the guilt of leaving my kids with their nanny to go to work. She is absolutely amazing with my kids, but I especially feel very guilty when the littlest cries some days when I leave him.
Do you think it is possible for women to have it all? How do you find a work/life balance?
Yes most definitely. I don’t see why we can’t have it all. Sometimes we are our own biggest critics and as women that can hold us back. My mental health has robbed me of so much, but I’ve come to realize just how important it is to have a balance.
I work full time, so I try to exercise in the morning before work whilst the kids are sleeping. Then we will all have breakfast together. My time after work is all about my little family. I do have the odd evening where I have to attend a uni lecture, but I’m fortunate that it is all online and mostly when the kids are in bed. When I have a class my husband would have a bath and once the class is finished we get our time together.
In terms of hobbies, I love horse riding so I attend my lessons whilst my eldest is at his tennis training. Tennis lessons are two hours long and my riding lesson for one hour, so I get to watch him and get a riding lesson. I also enjoy the outdoors so we always go hill walking together as a family. I think having it all is all about planning.
What is your normal day like?
On a normal day, I wake up before the kids and try to have a coffee with my husband before he goes to work. After he leaves I would jump on my treadmill, then get myself showered and ready for work. Once I’m done I get the kids up and we have our breakfast before taking them to their nanny’s house. I don’t always get to exercise, but having breakfast with my kids is a must. After work, I collect the kids, make dinner and get them ready for bed. My husband runs me a bath every evening so I get some me time! I just love a hot bubble bath!
What are your tips for staying sane each morning as the family gets ready for school and work and also at bedtime each night? For me, these are some of the most stressful parts of my day.
I don’t usually do much in the mornings in relation to staying sane, but evening time I make sure that I have a long hot bath with lost and lost of bubbles. That is my escapism. I get to drift away daydreaming or reminiscing. Bathtime is me time. That’s where I dream up my next blog posts or activities I’d like to do.
What do you think your parents did when you were growing up that helped you become a successful adult?
My parents didn’t grow up with much. They and I too were born and raised in a township in South Africa so we didn’t have luxury items such as a bath. They provided me with a life better than what they had. One thing I’d say they taught me was to always be grateful for what I have, but most importantly was that I can do anything I set my mind too. My father also always taught me the value of saving and working hard for what I want.
Is there anything you wish your parents would have taught you or given you that they didn’t?
There is honestly nothing I wish I had or they could’ve done for me because they gave me the best they could and the most valuable thing they provided me with was the opportunity to a great education. I am still the only one in my family who graduated from university. You see my parents had to leave school early on in primary to school so that they could go to work as laborers and cleaners in order to provide for their respective families.
They have given me the best life and for that, I’ll always be grateful. The lessons they’ve taught me are what I am teaching my kids. I tell them that they can achieve anything they set their minds too and to always believe in their abilities. I also always talk to them about respect, respecting others and themselves is another valuable lesson my parents taught me.
On your blog, you talk about mental health. I really identified with your post on parenting with anxiety, especially where you discuss hiding your emotions from your family. The section describing hiding in the bathroom to cry hit home for me; I have done the same on some of my most challenging and stressful days. How do you handle everyday stressors?
I have only recently started identifying my stressors. Through working on my mental health I have come to identify what triggers stress and anxiety in me. I walk away from people and situations that cause me stress. I do also talk to myself out loud. I always ask myself if my reactions in stressful situations are warranted and if there are other ways to deal with it. I found walking away and taking a minute to talk to myself really helps and calms me.
Why did you start blogging and how did you decide to write about mental health?
I have always wanted to blog, but just never made it a priority so I never got started. When I graduated from University I majored in writing because I really enjoyed it. Writing is another form of escapism for me.
Blogging became a reality when I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and I found it was the best way to express myself and how I felt, and it just continued from there. It has become a priority and I really enjoy it!
Mental health awareness became paramount to me as I experienced the negative impact stigmas around mental health conditions can have. It is also a form of therapy for me. Blogging about my personal journey is very therapeutic and through that, I am hoping that I can spread awareness on mental health issues and hopefully someone will read it and have a better understanding of mental health issues. I also started my blog hoping that if anyone suffering from a mental health condition reads my blog they would realize that they are not alone.
How has blogging helped you on a personal level?
Blogging has been amazing for me. Being able to write my thoughts and emotions down has made it real. What I mean is that reading what I wrote, I am able to sit back and think about where I am emotionally and the progress I have made. It gives me a sense of finality. Like I’ve mentioned before it really is a form of therapy and it provides me with the opportunity to work on myself by questioning my reactions and finding alternate ways to handle my anxiety and stressors.
Do your friends and family know about or follow your blog?
Very few friends and family in South Africa know of my blog. At first, it was because I was concerned about their reactions, but also because friends and family back at home still believe that mental health conditions all comes down to a lack of faith in God or just being mentally insane.
My friends in Scotland know about my blog and they read it very often. I have had a few friends reach out to me and open up about their own struggles with their mental health and that makes blogging about my journey even better.
Thank you, Merrell, for allowing me to interview you and to share your story!
Please visit Merrel’s blog, Beauty of My Chaotic Mind, and show her some love. Also, follow her on her social media links listed below.
If you are interested in being featured as one of my Momumental Mothers, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org