Back on October 10th 1999 I did a single spontaneous gesture which has subsequently changed the direction of my life and impacted on others! It was the day I attended a service at church to recognise World Mental Health Day. At that service I felt the urge to briefly share my story of postnatal illness. From that it lead to two more presentations and inspired me to write my book 'Eyes without Sparkle - a journey through postnatal illness'.
Publication was on 17th January 2005 which resulted in appearances on national television, media and subsequently a speaking career which has taken me to New York , Sydney and Dubai. I haven't missed my teaching profession. My marriage did not survive the changes though in myself (which my ex-husband says began the day I spoke at that service). Perhaps it was then my purpose was ignited?
Due to my story being told I am humbled by being able to report that I am aware of it being the hope that prevented two ladies from taking their own lives whilst suffering mental health problems following childbirth. On a daily basis I am told I inspire and give hope.
Along the way mental illness was the 'introduction' for my late partner Clive Gott and I being encouraged to work together. Even though he was 'Mr Action Man' Clive too had suffered a period of depression which had made him realise that it CAN and does happen to anyone - it is not only for those considered weak, pathetic, etc. - which had been his previous opinion. That business idea turned into an incredible romance which was brought to a sudden end when he died in February this year. Once again I found my emotional state in tatters but have 'survived' by accepting help, making better choices and connections and caring about myself and others. I fully recognise how bereavement could have been a pathway to developing a depressive illness again.
It is quite incredible as I reflect on the last 12 years. How could I have known the outcome of that one speech? Is there a 'grand plan' that is mapped out for us? Would we want to know?
Over the last six years of my speaking and writing career, it is in the last one that it has begun to 'come together'. My contacts, knowledge, experience, etc. has found at home within The Joanne (Joe) Bingley Memorial Foundation. Joe took her own life last year 10 weeks after giving birth to the gorgeous Emily. Today the inquest into her death begins. My heart, soul and love goes to her widower Chris and the families and friends.
We are anxious that her death is not in vain and as a result the mental health care for pregnant and new mothers and their families will be directly improved as a result. I urge you to visit the website if you haven't already.
Mental illness does affect many people. There is still a stigma which we all must fight. My plea to you today is to make one single action to help reduce it. I am not expecting anything as life changing as my action turned out to be back in 1999, but perhaps you could share the Joanne (Joe) Bingley Memorial Foundation details to your contacts?
Perhaps you could look at the links and information around today?
e.g. World Mental Health Day
What can you do to reduce stigma and increase knowledge about mental health?
Together we CAN make a difference. Please do not suffer alone!