Mental health, it’s depressing, isn’t it? Drab material, technical terminology, clinical colours. Where’s the information that speaks to me?
And then a post on Instagram catches your eye; on closer inspection, you discover a mosaic of colourful typography and striking female icons, all accompanied with powerful, positive and provoking affirmations. Panic the Mother! You can almost hear her. A real person, with real experiences offering a fresh perspective; making sense.
Over time Claire Possamai, the mother herself, has invited us in. Open about her own struggles with mental health she recently shared a conversation with her therapist, reflecting on her personal journey whilst offering tips to others experiencing similar symptoms.
I caught up with her to discuss the vision behind the brand, how she juggles it with three young boys and what the future has in store.
So, what is Panic the Mother?
CP: It’s a brand and a business but it’s also a mindset, a lifestyle; it’s about positivity and it’s about mental health. I always wanted to do something with mental health and fashion and Panic the Mother will bring the two together.
People have said it won’t work, but it doesn’t matter what they think, this is something that I need to do. I’m not really into fitting into a marketplace. I’m more interested in making a marketplace fit around me.
For years people have said ‘you don’t look like someone who’s got a mental illness, you don’t dress like someone who’s got a mental illness. This is the message we need to break down, mental health has got nothing to do with what you look like. The highstreet are so focussed on money they say, ‘if you buy this pair of jeans you’re going to feel amazing’ It’s bullshit! If you don’t feel amazing you’re not going to feel amazing. You need to get your mind in the right place to feel amazing. Panic the Mother will cater for all women. I want them to feel good about themselves I want women to think fuck it, I love it, I’m wearing it! Once people get over the fear of what other people think that’s when they can truly grow.
When can we buy our first piece from the collection?
CP: My first t-shirt is coming out in April. I’ve designed the artwork to look like it’s from a vintage era, like an old band T I’ve had for 20 years. I will always be putting mental health first over the fashion, I think it’s incredibly important and there are going to be donations made to a mental health charity from every T-shirt sold.
What did life look like before PTM?
CP: I’m a stay at home mum, and have been since I was 21. I had my three children and they’ve had their own troubles, they needed me and I was fortunate that I could stay at home. This whole girlboss thing, I think it’s often misinterpreted and can put another layer of pressure on women. A girlboss to me is living a life that you want to live, whatever that is!
Starting a business from scratch, a brand so dependent on yourself, how do you manage it all?
CP: People have this thing with time ‘oh I don’t have enough time’ Really, it’s about managing your time consistently. If you find something that you’re passionate about, your drive for that will take over any excuses that you have. I’m a mother of three incredibly demanding children, I have my own mental health issues, as do they, but I make sacrifices to make things work. I get up at 5am every day, and after bedtime, I’m back to work until very late at night. At the moment, I value this business more than sleep!
How do you go about breaking the stigma surrounding mental health within your own family?
CP: Everyone has different parenting approaches, different aged children. For me, it shouldn’t be a ‘sit down I need to talk to you’ I’m incredibly open about things like sex and drugs (and rock’n’roll!); it has to be a very normal thing. I think it’s important to remember our children don’t belong to us they’re their own humans and they’re going to be around things whether we like it or not.
Now my children are a bit older it’s usually when I put them to bed that I find they’re most willing to talk about their day. We talk about the positives and I try to get them to go to bed with a positive mindset. As they’re getting older I’m finding a lot of challenges with parenting. But in return for consistently making them aware that it’s okay to talk and to be honest, my sons are incredibly open, they tell me pretty much everything, especially my oldest. I have to pretend that I’m really cool talking about some things when really, I’m like ‘oh fuuuck!’
Did I notice you’re talking to women directly, away from social media?
CP: Yes! Every day I give an hour of my time, I’ve spoken to loads of women now. I’m not a professional, I’m not giving professional advice, but being there and listening, that can really help.
And finally, is there anywhere individuals suffering in silence can go to seek information or advice?
CP: Panic Loves Company is a closed group on Facebook. There will be a therapist talking every week, a yoga instructor uploading classes, guided meditation, a nutritionist talking about a spectrum of different food types and what they can do for you. There will be events starting in the summer.
It wasn’t meant to launch until the end of this year but after my Instagram Live I was inundated with women struggling. Initially, I created a WhatsApp group to try to support them and encourage them to talk to each other but that quickly got out of hand so I just had to jump into Panic Loves Company. I’m currently interviewing people so hopefully by March everything will be in place. It will be a very supportive, positive place to access information on mental health; for women to make friends and be there for each other; a place to be ok with not being ok.
If you aren’t already following Panic the Mother head over there now
Or to access information and the support of others struggling with mental health issues the Panic Loves Company Facebook page can be found here