“My dark Stranger” living with me

I am a UK mum of two little girls (aged 4.5 and 6 years old) and a survivor of two battles with my maternal mental health.

Following the birth of both my daughters, I was left fighting my way through severe Postnatal Depression and the terrifying illness known as Postpartum Psychosis. The Psychosis, unfortunately, started with me seeing demons flying around my home threatening to kill my baby girl. And then led to me having what I not-so-fondly refer to, as “my dark stranger” living with me. This manifested itself, into a dark, shadowy figure, who would turn up unannounced around my home, making my blood run cold with fear and spitefully whispering to me that I was an unfit mother and that my girls would be better off without me. To say that this time of motherhood was akin to living in my own personal horror story, would be an understatement and to this day I still find myself talking about my experiences and thinking “Wow, did that really happen to me” and questioning “How on earth did I get through it?”.

But, it did happen to me and I did get through it, and now, fully recovered I still struggle with the knowledge that my illness and my lack of prior knowledge of maternal mental health resulted in me losing many precious moments and memories with my beautiful girls. The thought of other mums going through this and suffering at the hands of this illness during a time that should be one of joy (sleepless nights and sore nipples aside) was one that lit a fire in my belly to “do something” to help other women.

Therefore, during my recovery, I started to write about my experiences which quickly turned into a blog and then a book to help other mums. However, after a two year struggle to get the book published and two years of being rejected as my book was deemed “ too honest” and “too risky” to publish as I wasn’t a celebrity mum, I was left feeling that I was not good enough and decided to halt any dream I had of becoming a published author.

A year later, I found myself, with a second baby on my hip and spring cleaning my kitchen when I came across my old manuscript amongst a pile of old magazines and bill reminders and decided; “To heck with the publishers not thinking it’s good enough” and decided to publish the first part on my blog. All in the thought that if what I wrote helped just one mum, then that would be good enough for me.

It received a phenomenal response from fellow mums and off the back of that was picked up by the national press, calling it the parenting book that needed to be published. This, in turn, got the attention of leading UK publishers Harper Collins and Penguin, who then went on to offer me a publishing deal. The irony, of the fact that a year earlier both had rejected my book, was not lost on me! Life, at times, works in mysterious ways!

You can take a look at the book.

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