It’s almost the end of 2019 and I thought it would be nice to reflect on some of the more uplifting moments we experienced this year. I know there is a lot of shit going on in the world right now but I am all about #Gratitude and believe that we can always choose to focus our thoughts on what we have rather than what we don’t.
So in the spirit of gratitude, here are a few of the things I am choosing to associate with 2019.
- My clients’ commitment towards therapy
To start things off I want to reflect on something close to home for me and for Carly’s Couch. I started this year having just returned from maternity leave. It was quite an adjustment getting back to work after having a baby. I started with very few clients and really had to build my client base up again. It feels like this is always the case for me, but I have been blessed with the loveliest bunch of clients this year. I am always so impressed with people who are prepared to prioritise their mental health and who take that brave step to start therapy but this year I have been really blown away with the level of commitment my clients have shown to this process. More than ever, the clients I have are committing to the weekly ongoing sessions despite a number of barriers and perceived limitations, both externally and internally. So to my clients, I thank you. You are an inspiration and your showing up keeps me motivated to keep showing up and doing this work!
2. Music Biopics
I saw so many amazing music-themed movies this year. I would find it hard to choose between A Star is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody, or Rocketman but the latter biopic of Elton John’s early career made a particular impression on me. I think also because of how it relates to mental health. If you haven’t seen it yet, I won’t spoil it for you but interestingly the storyline is quite analogous to a therapeutic process and I really loved that!
South Africa, you beaut!
3. Rugby World cup fever
I wrote here before about the incredible emotions we were all feeling after winning the rugby world cup. Here in SA, rugby is so much more than just a game. And it isn’t straight patriotism either. We have come through so much as a nation and we are a country of believers. Give us half a chance and our hope knows no bounds. I love experiencing collective excitement and so the weeks that followed our historic victory were intoxicating and magical.
Let us not forget that there have been other wins for SA this year including our great comedic export who has made a name for himself in comedy and is now a full blown celebrity and verified commercial success.
5. The KFC Proposal
There was a week when Trevor sold out MSG just after we won the rugby and there was this delightful story about a man who proposed in a KFC (the video went viral and prompted this huge outpouring of donations to the couple – so sweet!) and someone wrote on twitter: “Just call us boerie, because we are on a roll!” Gosh I just loved that. If you’re not from SA you prob won’t get it haha. Anyway…
6. The Ndlovu Youth Choir
Another delightful story from this year was the Ndlovu Youth choir making the finals of America’s Got Talent. They were so full of life on stage. I don’t think the Americans knew what hit them. We were all just so happy to see our own represented on yet another world stage and making us so proud by being positive and exuberant and overflowing with that amazing quality that only South Africans know…GEES!
Saving the planet
7. Greta is our gal
I think what Greta Thunberg has done in a year has been incredible. She has been excellent in getting people to start having a conversation about what really needs to be done about climate change. Somehow thousands of really smart, educated scientists who have been saying the same things for years haven’t been as successful as a 16 year old girl. It’s great that she is also representing people on the autistic spectrum. I know a lot of people who struggle with her mechanistic, almost inhuman demeanour. But how come all those people aren’t more distressed with the inhumane practices perpetrated by all the world’s most powerful organisations and governments? I say, “Go Greta!”
8. The Game Changers
A little documentary on netflix started shifting people’s relationship to food, most importantly their relationship to dairy and meat.
I am not vegan but I am interested in being conscious and I can tell you that more and more people are starting to become aware of what they’re consuming, whether it’s plastic or meat, and that this is an important first step in any process of transformation. The more aware we are, the more empowered we can be to know what are our options are and maybe make alternative choices. When we are conscious it is much harder to continue being destructive to ourselves, those around us and our planet.
Vulnerability in vogue
9. Megan Markle gets us to ask “Are you ok?”
As you might know, I have started working with The New Normal to bring psychological antenatal classes to Cape Town this year. Together we created “Oh baby, WTF!“, which is a 2.5 hour once-0ff session to help prepare expecting and new parents for the emotional and psychological changes and challenges that may occur after you have your first baby. I have since become even more passionate about supporting new parents and especially moms in the delicate postpartum period. It really is quite tragic how alienated and isolated many new moms feel these days. We are naturally tribal creatures and without our tribe around us in those early days and months with a new baby, it can be very hard to find one’s equilibrium. This is compounded by physical and hormonal changes and the challenges that come with taking care of a tiny infant. It’s clear why 1 out of 3 women suffer from some form of mental health challenge after giving birth.
In case you missed it, the Duchess of Sussex hinted at the fact that even she struggled adjusting to life with a new baby and commented that no one actually ever asks her if she is okay. This created an amazing collective catharsis for women all around the world who also felt similarly and there was a palpable shift in consciousness as moms all over the internet started asking one another about their mental health. I am here for any increase in acknowledgement of mental health difficulties. The more we can normalize these things the better. So FYI, motherhood is not all soft lighting and baby snuggles. It is challenging in numerous ways and moms especially are expected to manage this alone. This needs to be debunked. We cannot do it. Reach out to those around you and lean on others for support whenever possible. And please, if you know a mom, ask her if she is ok.
Another famous mama who shared her vulnerability this year was Kayla Itsines. The fitness and instagram sensation documented her pre-pregnancy exercise routine daily but when it came to after baba was born she really struggled. Although she only shared this much later on, when she finally did admit to it I really appreciate how honest she was with regards to the anxiety she felt. I think it’s important to remember everyone’s experience is different and that includes the kinds of mental health issue you may suffer from as well as the content of your anxieties. I think for Kayla, not being able to physically do what she always could was extremely challenging.
So let this be a reminder to all moms and to all of us humans, really. We need to take it easy on ourselves. Each and every stage in life comes with challenges and crises. If you’re a new mom and you aren’t okay, please reach out. If you’e suffering in silence with crippling anxiety or depression, please contact a friend or family member or a clinician.
This festive season, please remember you are not alone! Everyone struggles. Everyone suffers. Everyone feels alone sometimes. Everyone feels like a loser sometimes. We have to be kind to ourselves. Give yourself the best gift of being loving towards yourself. Happy holidays from everyone at Carly’s Couch!
And remember: If you need some professional help you can contact us on 0712287084 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The only days we are not available is on public holidays. If you are struggling and cannot get hold of us please go to your nearest emergency room or contact Lifeline.