1) How old were you when you began to experience symptoms of mental illness?
It affected me a lot when we had to have IVF to conceive, I again became very depressed and withdrawn. I had a very rough pregnancy and started to suffer with anxiety. When I gave birth I unfortunately suffered a traumatic birth and negligence via the hospital I gave birth in. I was diagnosed shortly after with PTSD and PND.
2) Did you have support and seek treatment immediately? If not, why?
I didn’t at first no, I felt like a failure as a mother. I felt like it wasn’t meant to be after everything I had gone through to get pregnant and then the pregnancy and birth was a cherry on the cake if you like. It took my husband to sit me down and say to me that he thinks I would benefit from speaking to a therapist. It was roughly six months after she was born. That’s the first time I sort professional help.
3) What would you tell your younger self knowing what you know now about mental illness?
That its ok to have bad days. Its ok to speak up and seek help. It does not make you a failure. It makes you stronger for admitting you need help and deciding to put yourself first, for looking after yourself. It will take every bit of courage you have. But it is worth it in the end.
4) What do you think are the biggest misconceptions those with mental illness have to face?
That everybody with a mental illness is crazy. We have movies to thank for that. I suppose it is the same with giving birth, we think it's going to be like the movies when in reality it couldn’t be more different.
5) How do you feel about the stigma surrounding mental illness? Do you feel we’ve taken positive steps? In your opinion, what needs to be done in the future?
I think there certainly is a lot more information out there surrounding mental health, I think people are more aware and sympathetic. I see more positive than negative thigs via social media. But then all it takes is one bad comment and it brings you down. I believe that mental health should be a subject discussed in all school's worldwide. So, children understand from a young age that its ok to not feel ok. Its ok to speak up. That way it may shape our next generation to understand that mental illness is an illness and not something that should be seen in a negative light.
6) What do you do to get through the bad days?
Therapy has helped me a lot. I tend to write, I am currently writing a book and it is kind of therapeutic. You don’t have to be the next JK Rowling but even writing how you feel helps to get it off your chest. I listen to music or go for a walk. Even having a hot bath and closing my eyes to have some peace and quiet helps. If I am having a really bad day sometimes I don’t feel like doing anything so I watch box sets. I have days where I can't sit still and have to keep busy just to get through the day. I guess its finding what works for you as an individual.
7) Do you have any projects that you’re working on that could benefit the mental health community?
I am currently writing a book I don’t know if it will help the community but I hope in sharing my experiences and sharing what heled me get through will help at least one person struggling in the early days.
8) Please give us some of your social media screen names in case someone wants to get a hold of you.
Twitter – Http://Twitter.com/ktmummy
Huffpost Blog: http://m.huffingtonpost.co.uk/author/kerry-thomas