I’m going to make quite a dramatic statement for the opening of this book review.
This book will change lives. It do believe it will actually save lives too.
Bonkers “A real Mum’s hilariously honest tales of motherhood, mayhem and mental health” is Olivia Siegls’s mission, in book form. Writing has been a creative outlet for her and created an international support network with The Every Mum Movement.
If you are anything like me, when pregnant, you have been seeking information left right and centre. When “with child” it all about the growth of a baby, and symptoms (“Is this normal”) and truth about the birth. Then, when baby arrives, it’s about sleep, and the colour of the contents of the nappy. Then weaning, talking, school …. the list goes on.
However, the one thing that is often mission is the truth about what happens you to, the Mum, through all of this. We are presented with a “best life” version, with the more challenging sides of parenthood either glossed over or, even worse, totally ignored. So, when things don’t go to a “plan” it can be easy to feel isolated, scared and lonely.
Does this sound familiar? “You see, pre-motherhood, I had this image of the sort of motherhood I was going to have. Happy, confident and in total control, breezing through my perfect new mum life, clad in white linen with a smiley, easy-going baby attached to my hip. But then, something happened”
You see, amongst the joy of bringing their little girls into the world, Liv developed post-natal depression, and the often-misunderstood post-natal psychosis. It is rare that the truth about maternal health in discussed so openly, and humorously, alongside childbirth, weaning, breastfeeding and post-baby relationships.
I am nearly six years on from having a new-born in my life (24-7 that is, I still have the joys of having a “munch” – that is a baby cuddle from a Brummie if you weren’t sure- but can hand the baby back). Even so, I was able to relate so much to this book; and I hope that you will too.
This is one that every new parent should have on their shelf! But in true Clara Cliff Notes style, these are the four things that you should know about “Bonkers”
- Don’t stereotype maternal mental health
Pretty much everyone knows about the “baby blue” – we are warned to expect it. For me, it kicked in, almost clock work, on day three-post birth for both my babies. However, post-natal depression shows up in ways you may not expect. I learnt so much, and I feel like I am pretty clued up on the symptoms!
So, the mum who seems anxious. Who appears “over protective” of her child. Who is particular about where things go. Who is “coping” as the house if always clean. There can signs that Mum needs some support.
So, don’t assume you know what post-natal depression looks like.
- You probably don’t know about PNP
The media, like most things, has done a “great job” (note the sarcasm) of portraying PNP in a particular way. A dangerous way. Post-natal psychosis a serious issue – no amount of “self-care” advice will help! By knowing the signs and reducing the taboo around it will help all to access the support they need and get well as soon as possible.
- Having PNP/PND doesn’t make you a bad parent
Again, misconception 101 is that the number one symptom of PND is that Mums don’t feel like they love or are connected with their babies. I must confess, I used to think this myself (before I experienced PND myself). Again, I think this has crept into the day to day “facts” around maternal mental health.
Olivia’s opening up about her journey (and the others that have shared as part of The Every Mum Movement) that maternal mental health shows up in a variety of ways. Don’t make any assumptions!
- The power of conversation
This book has opened conversations about parenting in general; how bloody hard it is and how wonderful if can be. In a world of Instagram Mums, filers and online worlds, it can be hard to share when things are difficult. Olivia has started, and continues, the conversation so well. She has given new parents a “heads up” for what MAY happen.
She has given friends and family an insight into what to look for.
She has given mothers the strength and hope to show that you can get better.
So, there you have it. My take on Bonkers. A funny, uplifting, honest and educational take on all things parenting. It’s a must-read for any new parent. To make them understand they are not alone, that having a newborn is an interesting ride and to give them a heads up on their mental health.
What do you think? Join The Balance Collective with Clara Wilcox to share your view on the book. Has it helped you?