Writing and sharing this post isn’t easy. But this isn’t the first time I’ve been in this position!
I hit publish on my first post in 2015 and with that shared my experience of maternal mental illness. It was called “The Words I Couldn’t Say” and doing so was very difficult, I had it saved in drafts for a few weeks before I had the courage to allow it out in the open, for anyone to read. With that simple click, what now is “Have you seen that girl?“, was born.
I didn’t plan that. I imagined I’d share 6-8 posts on my then old blog, and perhaps they might help someone in my friendship circle, and that would be that. But from that first post, everything took on a life of its own!
For the last 7 years, via Have you seen that girl?, I have been dedicated to Maternal Mental Health, with a particular focus on campaigning for Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Services for NI (#SpecialistPerinatalNI) for which we’ve had recent success!
(If you’ve missed that news, it’s here – https://www.haveyouseenthatgirl.com/news-spmh-services-for-all-of-ni/ )
It’s been a whirlwind of work! It’s also been an absolute privilege. I’ve met and worked with so many wonderful people (parents, professionals, politicians, public figures, peer supporters) as well as various organisations and groups; I’ve had lots of opportunities to campaign and speak; I’ve learned new things and new skills. The whole experience of Have you seen that girl? has changed me and I’m so thankful for it.
It grew very quickly and over the last 5 years has become a full time (voluntary) role.
While so much of the work of Have you seen that girl? has been public e.g. campaigning/advocating; organising events; speaking at conferences; delivering training seminars; Bags of Hope; Parcels of Hope, podcasts; interviews; writing articles; creating and delivering leaflets; sharing social media posts etc – there’s also been lots of ‘behind the scenes’ work e.g. admin; Board meetings; supporting groups; peer support; working groups and forums; endless meetings; networking etc.
There’s been ups and downs, as in any role, but I have enjoyed so much of it. So it’s a very fond farewell.
But in truth, it’s also been a long goodbye.
In the very early days, the work helped me personally and allowed me to process the pain of mental illness and the impact it had on me. As the work grew, it provided me with much needed purpose and reason to keep going and believing that change and good could come.
“If you get tired learn to rest, not to quit.”Banksy
Over the last year, I’ve sensed the time was coming to share a post like this. I haven’t rushed it. I have learned on this journey that sometimes what I’ve needed is rest and, after having taken time a step back from things, fresh vision and renewed energy arrives. That’s happened a number of times over the last 7 years. I tried that this time. But the more I sat with what I was experiencing and feeling, I realised my time working in this way was coming to an end. It was no longer rest I needed and I wasn’t quitting because of tiredness that could be overcome with time off.
Lived experience campaigning and advocacy takes its toll – mentally, physically, emotionally and financially. That’s not a complaint but a reality.
I have found myself living in and reliving a season that was hugely difficult and personally very painful. While, as I have said, there were many months and years during which the work helped me to process and gave me purpose – in fact I could go as far as to say it gave me life or gave me back my life – that has recently changed. I have noticed, this past year, that’s no longer the case. I don’t want to relive those dark days anymore. I don’t want to talk about them or share them openly. I now find when I do I’m dragged backwards, reliving traumatic events and resurfacing painful memories. Instead of giving me life, it’s now draining it from me. I now have to give myself permission to move on and to properly/fully heal. This is what’s best for my mental health and wellbeing and that of my family, especially Reuben who, in September, turns nine. It feels like long goodbye because it’s taken me almost 9 years to “say goodbye” to those 2 1/2 years of mental illness but the time is right to make this decision.
It’s isn’t easy at all (I truly love the work work I’ve been able to do) but knowing it’s the right thing makes it easier.
What now? I’m not at all sure!
Here’s what I do know: from the end of June, Have you seen that girl? will no longer be my day-to-day, week-to-week work doing all the various things (and more) which I detailed above. That doesn’t mean I won’t be involved in some things from time to time, as my spare time allows but its does mean that they are things I now have to stop doing and other opportunities I will have to say “no” to. Again, I can’t say that will be easy!
I remain committed to and passionate about mental health and wellbeing for all.
The Have you seen that girl? website (where you are reading this post) will continue as a resource for maternal mental health, holding information and research, raising awareness, signposting to help/support and as a place for parents to share their stories. It remains regularly used for all those purposes. I’ll monitor it and if/when it ceases to be of use, I’ll rethink.
I will also continue to host The Faith and Mental Health Project resources at www.faithandmentalhealth.co.uk
For now, you’ll still see me or find me on social media (Twitter, Facebook or Instagram) sharing all sorts of things.
But it’s time for a new chapter. I think (recently) I have allowed this one to hold me captive, perhaps out of fear of who or what I am without it.
I’ll openly admit I feel daunted, much of the time, by the thought of this change. On ‘good’ days, I imagine there will be something else for me to “do”. On other days, I’m very unsure I can be of use to the world around me, especially when I look at job advertisements and qualifying criteria, doing anything else. Most days, I float between those two positions and hope that things will become clear!
I’ve spent almost all of my 30’s (I turned 40 last week!) immersed in the Perinatal Mental Health world, either via my own experience (I became pregnant and mentally ill when I was 31) or working on Have you seen that girl? Before that, I spend a signifiant part of my 20’s either in Theological training or full time Church/Para-church ministry. What comes next, what my 40’s will be about, I have very little clue. But it’s time to find out.
As I finish up, I want to say a huge HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who has been involved with or part of Have you seen that girl? in so many various ways. You have all been amazing. This would not have been possible without you all. I’m not going to name people personally but I have been overwhelmed with love, support, generosity, encouragement and opportunities from so many different people these past 7 years.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
“It’s not goodbye, it’s hello”.Sugarland
I’m holding onto that, as I move forward. I don’t know if it’s ‘hello’ to a new chapter of this story or an entirely new book. What I do know is, I won’t find out if I keep re-reading and re-living what’s gone before.
So here goes…
10 thoughts on “A fond farewell after a long goodbye”
Lindsay, thank you for your support and for knowing that I was not alone in going through what so many mums went through. 31 years ago it was very different to today, I struggled every day for years, no support at all. I am grateful for having been able to read your blogs over the years and realise that I was not the only one going through maternal mental health issues. No-one prepares you or indeed, advises you of those dark days when you do not want to do anything, but curl up and hide. I will be forever grateful to you Lindsay, you have been a God send. X
Thank you so much, Christine! x
Thank you Lindsey for all the hard work you have done to improve maternal mental health care in Northern Ireland. You have also raised important issues/emotions that Mum’s are often too ashamed to admit they are feeling.
Take care and enjoy spending time with your family knowing that you have made a difference to many lives.
Thank you, Diane x
Best wishes for your future. It’s an exciting time for you. Go live your best life and continue to be the very awesome you. Blessings.Enjoy the journey.
Thank you 🙂
I am encouraged by your decision to lay this particular role down recognising that it is pulling you back. That’s courageous! I look forward to seeing what lies ahead for you as you enjoy being the mum of a nine year old! Glad you’re retaining the faith and mental health dimension, I’d like to chat about that at some stage if you’re available. L
Thanks, Lynda! Love to chat about that
Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication, and thank you for sharing your story, because I saw myself in you and that began my journey to recovery. I will be forever grateful. Best wishes to you going forward in life, it will all fall into place for you.
Just thank you for all you are and all you do. Vikki of Blue MumDays x
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