When my daughter was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder OCD at age 9 (and yes, that’s a mental health issue)… it hit me like a big smack in the face. She was strong. Smart. She had great family and friends around her, she was active, she achieved at almost anything she attempted. But just like that, our world crashed… and mental illness reared its ugly head.
I couldn’t understand how a healthy, normally happy girl gets so so sick… so very quick. I would ask myself how did something like this happen to my little family? We were a good little family (not perfect but good). Where did I go wrong? What could I have done better?
Anyway, during Sen’s treatment process I learned a lot. I learned that girls need resilience (and other executive skills) to thrive in today’s world. I’ve learned that self esteem and self love, can combat some of the worst issues that this generation is facing – including bullying and mental health issues. I’ve also learned that sleep and activity (movement and rest) is super important in raising a healthy, happy girl. In fact, getting sleep, diet and exercise right in any girl, will allow her the right foundation to work on her mental health; emotions; and inner belief system.
And I continue to remember, that this next generation of girls are our next generation of mothers. Women contribute greatly to our communities, our villages, our future generations. They need to be healthy and happy too, right?
Please know that my little Sen is doing great. She’s thriving. Every day can be a battle – but her resilience, growing confidence and her focus on working on her health and happiness every day – is holding her in really really good stead.
When I was diagnosed with anxiety I was in my 20s. I wasn’t surprised, just grateful to have a name for what I was going through. I had suffered from anxiety consistently throughout my childhood and teenage years but never had a name or diagnosis for it. I grew up in a generation when anxiety was not fully recognised let alone openly discussed, but I also grew up with my mum; a champion for me and all my nuances.
Anxiety was a consistent theme throughout my childhood and teenage years. It also still likes to show up to this day but I am much more armed and prepared for it now. Symptoms of my anxiety were prevalent at a very young age. These symptoms become noticeable to my nearest and dearest when they manifested in my compulsive behaviour. Terrible and anxious thoughts would consume my mind and the only way to ease these thoughts would be to act out with my compulsions; turning lights on and off, opening and closing doors, tapping objects, you get it right? These behaviours would interrupt and overtake my day-to-day living.
If you put me in a situation just slightly out of my comfort zone, I would inevitably bulk and turn to my good old friends…. the compulsions. Mum and my family watched on, slightly baffled and highly concerned. They were dealing with something that was totally foreign to them. They had no google to ask, there were no online forums to join and mental health most certainly was not a topic that was discussed in the schoolyard.
But my Mum, way ahead of her time, made it just that! She made it a topic and issue for my peers and family to recognise. She voiced her concerns and was met with total understanding and help. Mum, my family and my peers implemented strategies and tools that reshaped me and my future (for the better). They nurtured and nourished three integral components of my core; my mind, body and soul. It took a long time but we got there! I developed into a strong, independent woman and mother of four vivacious children (two girls, two boys).
So how would the above have gone if my mum had access to some form of education, information and inspiration for me as a teen and her as a mum? Although this question will always remain unanswered, it doesn’t have to for our next generation of girls.
When Mel Met Nat…..
Mel and Nat had crossed paths many times but were totally unaware of the similarities their lives shared until they truly met each other. It often takes one conversation, an in-depth, genuine and real conversation to truly meet a person.
It was a typical summer Sunday morning. Mel and Nat were standing on the beach watching as their girls took to the surf for their nippers training. They had often crossed paths at school, sports and events but it wasn’t until this particular Sunday morning when a conversation began and something special started.
During the general chit-chat about their girls, Mel and Nat took the conversation to another level. Mel opened up about what her girl was currently going through with her OCD. Nat opened up about her experience with OCD and anxiety, something she had gone through at a similar age to Mel’s girl. Mel then shared this amazing idea with Nat. Something she had been thinking a lot about during the process of researching and understanding her girl’s OCD diagnosis. The idea was powerful, Pretty Powerful!
So, our mission and our how is pretty simple. It’s to ensure our next generation of girls are confident, resilient and strong; both mentally and physically. With the increase in mental health issues, obesity, bullying – we believe this has never been more important.
We believe that through educating, empowering and inspiring girls to get their mind, body and soul in check… we can achieve our mission.
We will achieve our mission by:
- Spreading powerful and positive messages and information to girls and their mums, that build resilience, self love; and healthy minds and bodies. It will be education, information and inspiration.
- Through our Pretty Powerful Foundation, we will fund opportunities for girls (that may not otherwise be able to be involved) to get active through sport, or attend selected events that will grow and stretch them.
- Collaborate with experts and other organisations to host events and workshops that will help us achieve our mission.
We promise to be brave enough to start conversations that matter, and our stories will educate and empower parents… and inspire and motivate our girls.
Until next time. Mel Stewart and Nat Richards x