I know you're mid-mental breakdown, but did you know about purple cauliflower?
The morning I was packing and preparing to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital with severe postnatal depression and anxiety, my Mum arrived to look after my three-year-old, Ivy.
I was ready about an hour before we had to leave - just the perfect amount of time to sit on the couch, stare vacantly into the distance, and sob about how entirely fucked my life was. As I sat in silence, my mother made polite conversation.
"Did you know there's purple cauliflower now? Did that happen naturally, or did they do it on purpose?" she asked.
Purple fucking cauliflower. How utterly hilarious, in retrospect, that of all the things she could have said in that moment, that's what filled the space between us.
We've laughed about it since and I know exactly what she was doing. Mum couldn't stand watching her child in so much pain with absolutely no ability to fix it, so she filled the awkward silence with purple fucking cauliflower.
The truth is, being there with Ivy and keeping things as normal for her as possible was all I needed from her, and she nailed that gig so hard.
Over the coming weeks, our family and friends wrapped around Alex and our girls, providing childcare, sending food, flowers, and gifts, and generally making us feel very loved.
But given that one in five Australians experience mental illness every year, you'd think we'd be better at talking about it.
If you find yourself on the receiving end of someone sharing about their mental illness, an honest 'fuck, that must be hard' is so much better than fluff and platitudes. Having a major depressive episode IS really hard! Simply having that fact acknowledged helps.
If you really don't know what to say, may I suggest zipping it? Say nothing, just listen. Hold hands, if that's your thing.
Sitting in silence is a rare art, and I'm hopeless at it, too. But the truth is, there's almost nothing you can say that will make the situation better.
'Being with' is what's needed, 'fixing for' is impossible. Random vegetable facts are fucking useless, but provide excellent blog fodder, thanks Mum!