Six years ago today I received the first copy of my book 'Eyes without Sparkle - a journey through postnatal illness'. I remember the postman bringing it and Dom, Nick and I sat in the bedroom as I opened it. It seems like yesterday in some ways and a lifetime away in others. I know at the time that I felt that first copy the pride at having achieved it and also the notion that if it went no further than for me, I was content. It was a huge part of my recovery, yet would it achieve my aim of offering hope and help to others?
Today on reflection, I thought I would review briefly was has happened in those years. Perhaps it may inspire others who want to share their story of triumph over adversity?
The book has literally been sold worldwide! I get messages not just from the UK but Canada, Australia and Malta to name a few! I still find it surreal that people across the globe feel they 'know' me!
The biggest impact has been that two people have told me that my story was the difference between them taking their own lives or not. I am so humbled by such testimonies and if I do no more with my life then my purpose has been fulfilled.
It seems not only has it saved lives but also encouraged others (with other relevant support) to go on to have other children after a previous episode of postnatal illness.
Care of others has been improved judging by support groups set up as a result of my story and also in the individual actions of health professionals and students.
I am told relationships have been saved between new Mums and Dads and in some cases between new Mums and their Mums. Families whose loved one was/is poorly have told me how my story gave them to hope they needed when their 'new mother' was in the dark place I once was.
I left my teaching career the summer after my book was published and have spoken in and/or visited many countries as a result including UK, USA, Australia, Dubai, Belgium, Latvia, Italy. A French edition of my book is now published.
My audiences have included health professionals and students, midwives, nurse, doctors, NHS leadership, business communities, Children's Centre staff, parents, school children, support groups, Samaritans, mental health groups, charities, Chamber of Commerce to name but a few! I haven't counted the number of delegates!
I have appeared on BBC Breakfast and local BBC news; national radio and local radio stations and many national newspapers, journals and magazines. My website and blog have hits from across the globe.
I have sat on several committees and meetings involved in improving perinatal and infant mental health; been a critical reader for nursing programmes for the Open University; am an expert registered with https://www.greatvine.com/ and trustee for a Foundation formed in memory of a lady who tragically took her own life last year.
Financially the costs to me have been huge having left a steady teaching job but my new career satisfaction is immeasurable.
Personally I know I have grown and changed in many ways. Nick and I are now divorced and Dom lives with him. They both remain supporters of my career. Dominic, now approaching 15 is a wonderful boy and makes us proud on a daily basis. He is now taller than me!
Following a hysterectomy last year I am healthy and although it was an ordeal in the years up to the operation I am so glad I had it done now!
My parents have yet again supported me through the last few years, not just with a home and meals, but their unconditional love and hugs. My younger sister Claire and husband Martin had baby Sophie last year and she is a source of joy to us all. My Grandma passed away a few years ago but not a day goes by without me thinking of her and my Grandpa - especially as my partner Clive Gott www.clivegott.com has many of his traits! Grandpa didn't climb mountains or run deserts but he had a great sense of fun, warmth and delight in life. My brother Kevin is now a Grandpa with the arrival of Alana last year to daughter Indra and husband Philip. My sister in law Annie continues to work hard along with Kerita. Cousins Brendan and Dominic are still good friends although the family holidays have changed.
Some of my friendships have faded, other new ones begun in this next phase of life. Sue Woodward remains a true and beautiful friend in every way.
As this year begins I look forward to continuing to spread my messages about the impact of postnatal illness.
All of the above deserve my thanks but words are not enough. I can only show them that appreciation by the differences I can make to others and in the happiness of myself.
Yes life still can be a roller coaster but the difference these days is that there is a rationality to it, unlike the days of postnatal illness.
If you would like to comment on any impact I have had to your life, please feel free to add it.
My life may have taken a new path than the one I had expected and the exciting thing is who knows where it will take us!
For being part of my journey, I thank you and if I have helped in yours I am delighted.