Tuesday was a day of extreme highs and lows for me.
On a professional level, it was one of the most glorious sunny days at Westminister, attending the Menopause Mandate rally, which gave me the opportunity to meet up with so many of the amazing grass roots campaigners, drs and public figures who I’ve had the privilege to interview, work and campaign with over the last 6 years.
So many incredible women, who have done so much inspiring work in this space, for no personal gain, over so many years and….. whilst inside parliament, the government was in turmoil with no leadership to speak of, outside there were many of us who could’ve done a far better job!.
But on a personal level the day ended with a huge black cloud, hearing the devastating news of the passing of a dear friend of ours*.
Hearing this news, standing alone on my train platform, silently weeping behind my sunglasses, was not how I had expected this day to end.
And that night I experienced a full blown anxiety and panic attack - something I have not experienced since the nights of my untreated peri menopausal lows a decade ago.
Arriving the next day at the funeral, seeing so many beautiful heartbroken souls, including many friends who I regrettably hadn’t seen for far too long, all gathered together for the same dreadful reason, brought the emotions of the past day and weeks before, pouring out.
It showed me how absolutely fragile and precious life is.
How this incredible man had touched SO many peoples lives in so many different ways.
In the Jewish religion we call a man like this a ‘mensch’ - in Yiddish it means a person of integrity, morality, dignity, with a sense of what is right and responsible.
This word is as relevant today as it has been for centuries before, also meaning ‘to be supportive, to be a good friend, to be calm in troubled times, the anchor, a guiding light’; the qualities of which were reflected in his oldest sons incredible speech to his father and his beautiful wife's poem to her children too.
He would’ve made the most incredible Prime Minister anyone could have hoped for, had he wanted to go into politics, but his family were lucky enough to have him put all his energies into leading them through life instead, instilling his kind words of wisdom along the way.
So why am I telling you all something so personal?
Well it shouldn’t have taken a day like Tuesday to give me the wrong sort of wake up call.
So many of us are so busy juggling all of our responsibilities, that it can be hard to find the time to process our own emotions, when we are experiencing very important or impactful moments in our lives.
Many of us will just ‘push through’, but then many of us will know that by doing so that can also lead to burn out.
The past 6 months of work planning and delivering the Midlife Festival (which I’m so incredibly proud of) took up so much mental energy and headspace that I didn't really have time to think about what we were doing, I was just on auto pilot.
So when the incredibly humble emails and dm’s started pouring in this week from women all over the world, telling us how much we had helped them, I was pretty overwhelmed to say the least.
On top of work, my home life over the last month, has also taken up quite a bit of mental and physical energy, including sorting and taking one teen up to uni in Liverpool, then flying over to Dublin a week later to do the same with another, only to come home in time to then immediately rush right back up to Liverpool to spend a week staying nearby to the first one, who had been admitted to hospital with severe food poisoning!
And as I woke up this morning feeling totally blue, I texted my now friend and colleague Kate Moryoussef (one of our amazing speakers at The Midlife Festival) and asked her why I felt this way.
Was it the shock and utter sadness that grief presents you with?
Was it the lack of sleep?
Was it the overwhelm/overwork?
She texted back almost immediately and explained that it was all of the above and that what I was experiencing was pretty close to ‘Burn out’.
She said my brain was exhausted, it had run its own sort of marathon and I should listen to it and down tools for a few days.
She suggested I find ways to delegate, pull back, shift the agenda slightly, put up some boundaries, find some ways to relax, so that I could allow my brain to mentally rest and reset to process everything properly.
Because if I was to ‘push through’ it could lead to me feeling far worse and then I would be no good to anyone.
And I need, and want, to be there for everyone.
For my lovely friend, for my family, for my friends and colleagues, for our partners and for the entire Latte Lounge community too.
In life there will be times of great joy and then there will be times of great sadness, but as we were all reminded by the passing of the Queen not so long ago, and more recently for my beautiful friend on Tuesday - grief is the price you pay for love.
So I'm going to stop being a hypocrite and start practising what I preach now, by taking a few days of quiet time just to gather my thoughts so I can get back to what I do and love doing best next week - helping all of you!
Please hold your loved ones tighter, tell them you love them, phone them, go out with them, take time for you and have some fun - because life is short and precious.
And can you all do me a favour please? - Live your life as our amazing friend did, by being a true ‘mensch’.
Thank you! xxxxx
*I have purposely chosen not to name our friend, to honour, respect and protect his family's privacy at this incredibly difficult time.