With the upcoming release of BONKERS by Olivia Siegl we caught up with the author to find out more about the story behind the book and the journey getting there.
Proud owner of two tiny humans and creator of The Baby Bible and The Every Mum Movement, Olivia has worked to empower woman to take care of their maternal mental health and talk more openly and honestly about motherhood.
As creator of The Every Mum Movement, can you tell us what it is about?
The Every Mum Movement is a global movement to empower every mum to take care of their maternal mental health.
So what inspired you create this movement?
After suffering twice with severe Postnatal Depression and Postpartum Psychosis following the birth of my daughters, I am now passionate about raising awareness of maternal mental health to help other mums who find themselves as the one in five diagnosed with a maternal mental health illness following the birth of their baby.
When did you realise you were suffering from Postnatal Depression?
I was diagnosed when my eldest was seven months old after months of suffering with extreme anxiety, debilitating self loathing and fear that something awful was going to happen to my daughter.
Sometimes people aren’t sure of what to do to help with mental health issues. What can you suggest?
If you know of someone suffering with a maternal mental health illness, the best thing is for you to let them know that you are there to help and support them whenever they need it – whether that be a chat on the phone, a walk in the fresh air, help around the house or help with the baby. Just them knowing that they have a non judgemental support network they can reach out to will help enormously. Also, to let them and their partner know that the support also extends to the partner who often gets forgotten about that they need support too.
Your book BONKERS is out on 22nd February, tell us more about the story behind it.
Pre motherhood I’d read all the parenting blogs, magazines and websites and brought every baby gadget going and felt totally prepared. However, once out the other side of childbirth and with a tiny human in my arms I soon came to realise there was a short supply of people talking about the magical and challenging side of motherhood in equal measure especially covering the subject of maternal mental health. So I decided to do something about it and started to write about all areas of motherhood, the good, the challenging and the terrifying. My writing went from articles distributed to a small reading group, to becoming a secret Facebook group, then a blog (www.the-baby-bible.com) celebrating and supporting all areas of motherhood – no judgement! And is now a book.
Tell us what BONKERS is about?
BONKERS is about empowering every mum to talk about all areas of motherhood- NO Judgement. Similar to the bonkers world of motherhood, the book covers everything from post baby vaginas to postnatal depression, Breastfeeding to “bouncing back”, having a premature baby to dealing with the judgement we face as new mums – it even has a few humorous rhymes thrown in for good measure, So, it has something for every mum out there!
You must have felt under a lot of pressure whilst working on BONKERS, how did you deal with all the stresses of life as a parent whilst writing a book?
I’m not going to lie, with great difficulty! The majority of days it was impossible to get anything done, as the girls are so close in age so were at home together. I enlisted the help of my mum and then enrolled them into a local nursery a few of times a week to help give me some time. However, looking back now I have no idea how I managed to get it all done – it’s all one big blur of toddler tantrums, dribble kisses, cbeebies and chocolate biscuits with a bit of writing shoe horned in whenever I got chance ha ha!
There must have been some challenging moments, what have been your highs and lows on this journey?
It has at times been an extremely difficult, challenging and emotional journey writing the book and getting it published. At times, I didn’t think I could finish it as writing and then editing the parts of the book where I talk about my experiences with my mental health and what we went through as a couple and as a family started to make me feel unwell. I can remember doing the final edit of the book and my husband came home to find me with my head in my hands and declaring “I don’t want to do this, I’m going to call my editor and tell her I can’t publish the book”. The mix of it being the final edit (so there was no going back) coupled with having to revisit some of the darkest times of my life and then share them with the rest of the world filled me with dread and stirred up some of my old demons. However, I worked through it with my husband and managed to get it all done and sent in. And now I can really focus on the highs of the book being out there and helping other mums and feel proud of what I’ve done and that my little girls will one day be able to read it.
Mental illness is still something people find very hard to talk about and accept. How do you think we can help break the stigma surrounding these issues?
My mission and hope is that one day (not so far in the future) talking about our maternal mental health will be as normal as discussing the latest sleep and feed techniques. We can only get to this point if we are empowered with the knowledge of what maternal mental health is and encouraged to talk about it without fear of judgement. As we go into pregnancy and motherhood, the information we receive on how to take care of our mental health should be given the same importance as to how we take care of our physical health. Women should enter motherhood fully armed with the knowledge of what maternal mental health illnesses are, the warning signs and where to get the right help and support.
It is great to be involved with somebody so driven in empowering woman to take care of their maternal mental health. We are strong supporters of anybody who works for woman to have a better parenting experience. For more information on BONKERS, Olivia and the other sites mentioned in this interview please follow the links below.
Remember to use #bonkers and #bonkersbook in your social media posts.